Tuesday, May 3, 2016

2016 Boston Marathon | Blood, Sweat and Tears Part 2

2016 Boston Marathon | Blood, Sweat and Tears Part 1

I ran with the tissue in my nostril for maybe a half or 3/4 mile. I remember stopping at the next water stop, right before the Girls of Wellesley, to take out the tissue, hoping that the bleeding had stopped. Right before I stopped a sweet southern girl running next to us noticed the tissue in my nose and asked if I wanted a Tampon to shove up there. We chuckled about how well they worked for nosebleeds. I thanked her but explained that I was sure that it had stopped by now. It had.

We could hear the screaming from the well known scream tunnel well before we could see it. It was exciting and I couldn't wait to run through that section to see it with my own eyes and hear it up close! The girls lined the right side of the road, many of them holding sings giving someone a reason to kiss them. I wish I could remember them now as several of them were pretty funny. The girls appeared tiny but their sound was larger than life.  We were then approaching a section I knew oh-so-well as I'd run it every time I went down to run with the team. Wellesley town center. It's such a pretty area and running in the street felt so different than running on the sidewalks that I had come to know so well.

The crowd that had thinned out was getting bigger the closer we go to Wellesley Community Center, my home base for training. I ran past the Oiselle cheering crew and shouted out to them with a wave of thanks for being out there. I was eager to get to the community center and see some familiar faces. I also wanted to let them know about a teammate I'd seen maybe a mile before on the sidewalk with police. She didn't look well and I felt worried for her. At this tent there was a local runner, David, who is a TNT alum and Heather's running coach. It was great to see him and he walked with us for a minute checking in on how we were doing. I told him I was doing ok. He offered me food, which I passed up, and a hard candy, which I happily took. That Jolly Rancher was amazing for my taste buds. After many thanks we parted ways. This was around mile 15.5. From this moment until the end of the race I would play a running game of leap frog with my teammate Kevin. I felt badly that he was having a tough time like me, but it was nice to see him so often. It kept me going, knowing someone I'd trained with was either just ahead or right behind me.

We were approaching another downhill section which can mess you up if you let it. It felt good to go downhill and Heather and I talked about letting the hill carry us down. I voiced how I hated the section after this because it was the longest 2 miles ever. It appeared that you were close to the famous Natick Fire Station, when you really weren't. I don't remember much about this section, except that we had to stop and walk a few times I loved having my name on my shirt because people would shout it and say something encouraging. It was such a boost!

Becky, Ashley and Maranda were right after the mile 17 mile marker. I didn't expect to see them at that point, I thought they'd be closer to the fire station. I was walking up this small incline and was feeling frustrated, so when I saw them it was really hard for me to slap on a smiling face and act happy. I'm pretty sure they didn't think we saw them, but I did and I couldn't react. It felt like it was going to suck out more energy. I was finally able to muster up a weak wave and maybe half a smile. I had nothing exciting to share with them, just that my legs were tired and my calves were not happy. They had food and drink for us, but I couldn't even take anything. I felt full from Gatorade and oranges. I gave my sister a hug and let her hold me for a bit, I was so tired and just wanted to sit down. I didn't though. After a mini grump session I was able to suck it up and strike a pose for the camera. I hoped my strong looking pose would give me the strength I needed to continue on.

Downhill we went and the noise and crowd grew as we neared the fire station. We turned the corner and I gazed at the fire house and saw this amazing water tunnel, I tried to grab Heather to come with me through it but she just missed it. The cool mist sprayed my entire body and I felt goosebumps prickle my skin on the back of my neck and along my arms. A welcomed feeling. Right as I got out of this tunnel I saw Heather running toward her sister. Tears streaming down both of their faces and we embraced in a group hug. Her sister was screaming how proud she was and how amazing we were and how much she loved Heather. It was impossible to not join in the with the crying and the hugging. After a minute or so we were off to tackle the first of 4 hills.

From here to mile 23 or so it's a big blur. I know things that happened but I can't be sure of what order they happened in. I know I had to continue run/walking. I know that I walked all of Heartbreak Hill.

I saw a student and her family right after Heartbreak Hill and my student was so excited to see me! They were so sweet and kind. They had oranges, pretzel rods and freezing cold water. I wish I had gotten a picture with this student but I wasn't even thinking of it in the moment and the mom didn't have her phone out, that would have reminded me to take one! Anyway, we waved good bye and continued on. We were so close, yet so far away. Popsicle were being handed out and I gladly took one. They were cold, they were wet, they were sugary. It was the best Popsicle I'd had in weeks. Thankfully, Darci, a friend  I passed by on the course, saw me and snapped this picture! I'm sad I didn't see Darci and her amazing sign in person! It still means so much that you came out to cheer us on!

haha, thanks Darci for this gem! Mmm popsicles


I was really struggling to stay positive. I felt like I'd been running for days, my legs shouldn't feel this way. My training was amazing. I'd been able to run a 9:18 av pace on my 20 mile run on THIS course. What is happening to me? Why is this happening? I tried to focus on everyone around me. People shouting my name when they'd see it on my shirt was the best. I'd pump a fist in the air or give a small wave showing them I heard them. I'm pretty sure my face looked like death. I tried to smile but I don't think my face muscles worked.  At one point I was stretching my calf, feeling bummed that I had to stop, yet again, and this woman nearby was saying how awesome we were doing. She must have sensed how tired and rundown I felt, because she started saying the nicest things to me. "Remember why you're doing this... you are really so close... the hardest part is over... " I started crying, continued stretching, took a deep breath and thanked her and attempted to run again. If you ever get a chance to spectate at a race, do it! It's the most amazing thing to do and you have no idea the impact you have on the runners passing you by!

Eventually, I saw someone I work with jumping up and down, screaming my name. She was so happy and excited to see me pass by. Her son was running with MR8 and so she'd been out there all day and had hoped to see me. We took some pictures and she told me I was doing awesome. I had to work hard to smile, but with Joy you just smile without realizing it. Her energy always manages to work it's way through whatever you're feeling.

At some point after seeing Joy there was a runner to the far right of me. His name was Paul. I knew this because everyone was shouting "Go Paul!" "Yeah Paul!" "Looking strong Paul!" His name was shouted at least 30 times in the span of maybe 3-5 minutes. I smiled and said Hi to Uncle Paul. I couldn't believe that when I needed it most, he was there to get me through the toughest run. I mean, I knew he would be with me, but to have someone named Paul at the exact moment when I questioned how I'd get to the finish, was truly amazing. I got the goosebumps and tears filled my eyes. I said aloud that if I could run near Paul for the rest of the race that would be amazing. Just as sudden as I heard his name being shouted, it stopped. I don't know where the runner went, I don't even know what he looked like, but he has no idea how much him passing me at that moment meant to me. Thank you Uncle Paul. I love you.  I told this story to my sister and husband through tears and a blubbering mouth on the drive home from the marathon as I processed the day that had just happened. I still cry about it when I think about it, like right now, I can barely see the screen before me.

After that all doubts fled my mind and I had a newly lit fire inside me to get to that damn finish line. We were getting closer to Boston and I didn't care how I got there. The crowd support, somehow, got better and better the closer we got to Boston. Around mile 23 we saw my awesome friends Mel and Matt and their 2 girls, who were wearing t-shirts from my first marathon- seriously, amazing! (I had actually set that same shirt out for my son to wear that day but my husband didn't seem to see it.. ha!) The girls were up on a ledge holding signs and jumping up and down. The cutest sight ever. What I will never forget is the screaming from Mel. The look on her face and the pure excitement and joy coming of her mouth! She was jumping up and down and taking pictures as Heather tossed out her warm oranges for some nice cold ones. A little more than a 5k to go. We got this! I was going to finish 45 minutes later than I had originally anticipated but, I didn't care, we were going to finish!

Running over train tracks felt like I was running up Mt. Washington. It was so much effort to get my legs to life higher than they had been. The buildings were getting closer. Shortly after mile 24 I turned on my phone. I needed to give it time to load all the notifications I knew it would be storing. I could see the city flag for Boston and I was so excited! I took my phone out again and took a picture of the flag. I could now see the Citgo sign. It was so far away, but it was there. We were SO close!!! I was getting so excited and could run longer stretches now. It was like my body overpowered what my calves wanted to do and I could run. With the end in sight it was ready to finish and be done. I wish my body had taken over earlier on! I texted my husband that we had just about to mile 25 and if Carter wanted me to, I still wanted to carry him across the finish line.

I snapped some pics of the Citgo sing, stopping to walk when I needed it. We ran again and I ended up seeing one of my TNT coaches. She waved to me and I didn't register it was her until I was right next to her. She asked how I was doing and I told her I was ok. She ran with me for a bit and then saw that I was Heather and said since I was with someone else and looking good that she was going to stay there. It was nice to see Coach Bintz!

The crowd was going wild! I was feeling overstimulated and energized at the same time! I couldn't believe we were almost done! I was enjoying looking at the crowd and I searched back and forth for my friend Beth. I knew she'd be somewhere towards the end. I wanted to make sure I didn't miss her. Heather and I stopped to walk and take a picture of the Boston Strong on the overpass. We said this would be our last time walking. We began running and somehow my body sped up and I was feeling good. I glanced back to see where Heather was. We ran this whole thing together, I wanted to finish it together.

I must have been looking back and forth so much that I didn't even realize until I was turning that I had made it to the end and was turning RIGHT on Hereford! The sound was absolutely incredible. The sun was gone and I was now in, what felt like a tunnel, a shaded area filled with people screaming like wild banshees. Some how I knew to look to my right and I saw Beth and her son there with a sign cheering and screaming for me! I waved and blew her a kiss. I was beyond thankful that she was there! I was finally feeling good, and she was all the way across the street. I had one thing on my mind... get to my son Carter and finish! I saw a message earlier from Becky giving me their location so I knew what to look for. Stay on the left. No problem. That was actually where we ran for the majority of the race. Heather and I were farther apart but I figured when I got to Carter and hugged my family she'd be close by.

I turned LEFT on Boylston and OMG! The sight of that finish line gave me chills and sent tears to my eyes instantly. This was actually happening. People lined the streets so thick, I once again thought I was an Olympic runner, clearly they were all cheering for me! Ha! Where the heck is the Lenox! I needed to find the sign and look to my left. I glanced all around me, smiled at the photographer and took it all in. Or at least tried to.

Running. Running. Running. I was still running. Finally, the black Lenox canopy flapped in the wind. I could see how far I needed to go to find my family. I spotted them and started crying. I had to choke back my tears when I got close to my son because I didn't want to frighten him.

Everyone was standing there with the biggest smiles on their face. I hugged and kissed my husband, my sister, my mom, dad and grandma. I think (I hope-I hugged Becky). Carter had a huge smile on his face and some how I managed to find the strength to carry my 40+ pound child and run with him.

The look on his face....
I'll never forget it.
I couldn't stop staring at him as I ran.
I didn't even see anything around me but his smiling face. A smile so big and proud that I wish and hope he'll remember it when he gets older.
I swear the cheers got louder when I passed by with my son in my arms, like everyone was cheering for Carter and it was amazing.
I kissed him on the cheek and squeezed him with my arm as I shot up my left arm and crossed the finish line.
I did it.
I fricken did it.

I stopped shortly after the finish line searching and searching for Heather. I wanted to hug her and congratulate her and thank her for an unforgettable day. I even saw her husband as I was walking through the finisher shoot and he asked where she was. The volunteers apologized as they had to shoo me away toward water and my medal. I kept looking around but never saw her. I didn't end up seeing Heather until 3 days after the marathon.

I moved Carter from one side of my body to the other as he didn't want to walk. I didn't blame him, but could feel all of the work I had done that day in every part of my body. I got my medal and a permanent smile on my face. I thanked Uncle Paul for helping me out that day and told him this was for him. I dug out my phone and snapped a picture of Carter holding my medal. The sun was shining from behind us. I'd like to think that was Uncle Paul sneaking in for a picture with us. I posted it to FB real quick while I waited for my family to catch up. They were walking on the other side of the barricade and had to walk allll the way around certain sections. I was surprised to see long time family friends waiting for me after the finish. What a nice thing of Tim and Karen to do... come out and cheer me on!

I never had the bawling finish like I thought I would have. I think it mostly had to do with the fact that I had my son on me and as mothers we hold some of that back as not to worry the kids. I don't know if his 3 year old mind can understand what happy tears are. However, I cried SO much throughout the day, I'm pretty sure I ran out of tears.

The memories and emotions that I had during this experience will always be with me and are far better than any time on the clock. The love and support for my charity and myself are something I'll always cherish. Blood, Sweat and Tears got me through the 2016 Boston Marathon. I can say for certain this is not the last time I'll run this course.

2016 Boston Marathon Finisher!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

2016 Boston Marathon | Blood, Sweat and Tears Part 1

It's 9 days post Marathon Monday as I sit here with my chipped and fading blue and yellow Boston Marathon colored nail polish. I've been wanting to write about the day since it happened but the marathon fog that I was in all during taper only recently lifted. The Boston Marathon was hands-down the most incredible running experience of my life, thus far. From start to finish there wasn't a moment where I tried to permanently etch something -a sound, a sight, a smell- into my brain for safe keeping. It feels pretty impossible for me to capture with words just how this day fed the fiery passion for running and turned a medium sized camp fire into a raging bonfire. I'll share what I can and hope that it paints a picture for you.

In the days leading up to the race my nutrition, sleep and hydration were on point. Everything was going smoothly and I used my nervous energy to focus on packing that post-race bag and making changes to my race day outfit as the weather changed. The expo and my Team in Training Luncheon were awesome and still feel like an out of body experience. It felt as if I were going through each event that weekend with this block in my brain. Running the Boston Marathon has been a life goal since I was in middle school. Something that I tucked away thinking some day and yet, here it was, just a day away. My brain could not comprehend what was happening. Add on the emotional weight of WHY I was running Boston (with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society for Uncle Paul who passed away in November from Multiple Myeloma) and my body just had to squish down all of the emotions into a ball. Looking back on it, I was eerily calm on Sunday. I was surrounded by my family and having my sister (from TX) there was calming in itself. I only shed tears twice that day. Once when I was done writing names on my race day singlet and another time when my sister was leaving to go to my parents house. It was a moment of holy crap! Tomorrow I run Boston for so many people!

Waking up before my 4:45 am alarm I felt ready. Absolutely ready for what the day held. Overall, my training had been pretty amazing and my body just wanted to run this historical race. I got up and got myself ready, feeling a tad nervous. I woke up my husband and asked him to come downstairs with me. I just needed him around me. My friend Heather was picking me up and we were going to meet up with Lauren and board a bus to get to Hopkinton and Athlete's Village. It was really cool to be able to ride in with my awesome friends! Being together helped ease any jitters that may pop up during our wait time.

We arrived outside of Athlete's Village around 7 am. We hung out on the bus until maybe 8:30/9am. We got off and on the bus to move our legs and go to the bathroom. I noticed on my second trip to the bathroom how warm the sun already felt. I tried to ignore it as I did fear the warmth that was projected to come that day. My body doesn't do well running in heat and we hadn't had any long runs in the high 60's. Lauren went off to meet her charity team and Heather and I hung out on the bus a little longer before deciding to make our way to our own charity teams.

Porta Johns.
Clothes on the ground.
Porta Johns.

It was a jam packed area filled with runners ready to get started. Many people were sprawled on the ground, lying down, sitting down, leaning back on something, trying to rest the legs as long as possible.

The hour and a half that I had sitting with my TEAM went by so quickly! I chatted with my teammates, took pictures, texted my family one last time, used the bathroom, was able to eat what I needed, which was a relief. In past races my body won't let me swallow the food I need to take in before the race. Having such a large span of time pass between when I woke up to when I actually started running was a concern of mine. Thankfully, my body was hungry and I was able to get food down!  Before I knew it we were gathering the last of what we needed on us, as it was time to walk over to the corrals. I felt so empty handed compared to how I felt when I left my house. My clothes were now on the ground, my bag of food was just about empty, and the items I didn't eat or need were left behind. I just had a banana and the rest of my Nuun in my hands as I went over to meet Heather. I'm still incredibly grateful that it worked out that her team was meeting inside the gym of the school I was sitting directly behind. We had talked about running together and had hoped it wouldn't be too tricky to find each other in a large sea of people. The Running Gods were with us for this one, Thank you!

The last picture I sent to my husband and then posted on FB before I ran!
Our last GO TEAM! I fought to hold back tears
We were called over to the first area around 10:35. Once in there we waited only a few minutes before being told to continue on the half mile walk to the start line. I was already hot and could feel the sun piercing my skin. I kept an eye out for Lauren's team. I needed to see her before we ran. I couldn't get over the sea of runners before me. It appeared to literally go on forever. I saw a bunch of runners coming into the area we were walking through from a side street and someone with a Tedy's Team singlet caught my eye. I kept looking up and over to see if I could find Lauren. I'm so glad I'm tall!  As we got closer to the group of runners that had just entered the section we were in I spotted Lauren taking a selfie with her teammates! The perfect way to spot her! I shouted her name and was so happy to see her!

aaaah, this is really happening!
There was one last stop for the bathroom before we got into our divided corrals. We made a stop for them and took a few more pictures. I had an emotional embrace with Lauren before we parted ways for a little bit, only to find each other once again a little later on. Incredibly, Lauren, Heather, Alana and myself were all in wave 4, corral 4. We were able to stand with each other as they counted down the minutes to when we'd start. This was absolutely amazing! Packed like sardines in a box we were looking all around, still in shock that this was happening! All of a sudden the crowd started moving forward and my hands shot up in the air and a lump formed in my throat as we made our way toward the start line! I was so excited to get going! I had been up for over 6 hours at this point.

You can see me in purple and Heather to my left and Lauren on my right.
Heather and I were in total awe of the spectator support. The sound was deafening as we passed by the crowds that lined the streets. They must have been 8 to 10 people deep.  I remember Heather shouting over the noise "Is it going to be like this the whole way?" I shouted back something like "Pretty much!" A few hundred yards later I told Heather I felt like I was in the Olympics. I couldn't get over the noise and could only imagine what an Olympic athlete has to deal with inside a track stadium! I cried tears of joy. So thankful to be able to run in the first place, but feeling honored to be out there on that road, with so many amazing runners, surrounded by the best strangers I'd ever seen.

The first 4 miles are a pretty steady downhill. You are told over and over again by your coaches and other runners to GO SLOW! That is exactly what I did. We were going a little bit slower than what I thought I might go, but it was good! I was already so hot and thankful for the cooling towel I had stashed in my sports bra for a few miles later.


Basically the entire run, except for one section that I can recall, was filled with people cheering on loved ones and strangers. Posters flew up over other people's heads. People wore clown hats and ties or had a weird balloon tied to them, markers to help their runner spot them in the massive crowd. Music pounded through the speakers and filled the air in the gaps left by the cheering crowd. The energy was palpable. I could feel it in my bones.

I think it was mile 4 or 5 that we decided to wet our towels and put them around the back of our neck and tuck them into our sports bras. Oh. My. God. Amazing. I am pretty sure I told Heather if I could make out with my towel, I would... Yeah, the things you say on a run when something so simple feels so amazing! Ha! Looking back I wish I had done this at the first water stop. There were so many people around us and it was kind of hard to really get into a groove and find your true pace. I was not about to weave in and out of people. That's probably the worst way to expend your energy and yet, we saw people doing just that.

At the 10k mark we met up with my sister, Becky and Maranda. It was amazing to see them and I felt a little too excited and relieved that they were there and we had a reason to stop for a minute. I gave my sister a tearful hug and we quickly snapped a photo. I think this was the first moment when I knew this run I was on was not going to go the way I had envisioned or planned. With no time to dwell on that, we grabbed some oranges and were on our way.

My sister flew in from Texas to be there! <33

My nose felt so stuffy and blocked. It really felt like I had rock in there and I kept thinking about blowing my nose. We ran and enjoyed the first of the "best oranges ever". Someone shouted Heather's name and managed to snap a photo of us as we continued on the course. We barely spoke to each other. I had thought it would be like any other run or long run we have together where we chat about the kids, life, our next run... but it wasn't, and it didn't feel weird that we weren't talking. There was just so much happening all around us and we were both taking it all in. We'd point out things we saw, crazy outfits, signs, and crowds that caught our attention, but that was the extent of our talking.

love this picture!
We ran through a section I was familiar with as my team had spent time on miles 8 and beyond of the course. It was all new for Heather. I knew we would see my parents just after mile 11. They were at a house with a pirate ship in the yard. I was thankful for that landmark as it would be so easy to spot! We ran through the center of Natick, a really pretty downtown area with brick buildings. Shortly after we saw my parents! I gave an emotional ugly cry hug to my mom and grandma. We took some pictures and then I asked for a tissue to blow my nose. I shouldn't have done that... the heat gives me bloody noses sometimes and I totally forgot about that.

Blood gushed out and everyone did what they could to help me stop it. Heather held ice on my neck, my mom took my bloody tissues in a bag, my grandma got tissues and my dad recorded this on his phone! haha Thanks Dad! I'm not really sure how long we were there dealing with my bloody nose. It felt like 5 minutes. Who knows. All I know is that the bleeding slowed down enough for me to shove a big tissue up my nostril so I could keep running. I didn't even care about what I would look like. I took a cold bottle of water, and another tissue to hold on to, just in case and we were off.
My amazing family!

Someone from work was there to cheer on her son and she sent me this picture. It's crazy to me that she was there at that moment!

From here until the end I would struggle greatly with my run. My calves started to tighten and I would have to stop and walk and try to stretch them out. It felt like it would take me days to get to the finish, but with the names on my back, the crowd support, and Heather by my side, I knew I would finish one way or another. 

Not finishing this race that meant SO much was NOT an option.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Last Long Run with the TEAM!

In the days leading up to my second, and last, 20 mile run I was excited, giddy almost. I couldn't want to get to the start line of the Boston Marathon and take in the surroundings and feel the ground beneath my feet. I needed to experience the downhill everyone was talking about. I was excited to be with so many of my Team in Training teammates. I love when we are together and talking about why we run for LLS. It's totally emotional but it grounds you and gives you that energy to push through the tough parts of the run.

After our team picture we got on the bus and took what felt like the longest route ever to get there.

Thankfully, when we got there a few potties lined the side of the ro.ad. We took one last chance to rid of anything in the bladder and waited a few minutes for our team to huddle up. Off we went. It was obvious after just a few feet how much of a downhill we were on. I was told to take the first few miles slower than what felt slow and I made sure to do that. My first 5 miles were the slowest. It was neat to run through where Becky and I cheered on Lauren last year.  I enjoyed the company of a few ladies for awhile and eventually it was just my teammate Lauren and I. We chatted, we ran in silence, we felt emotion of the day heavy in our hearts. You can't run any distance wearing a singlet with someone's name on it and not feel any kind of emotion.

When we got to mile 15 my legs were feeling so heavy and tired and I knew that I'd be seeing my Aunt Joyce and cousin Robyn soon. They were helping out with a water station. As soon as I saw them and I waved I fought back tears. I was so happy to see them and knowing that I was running for Uncle Paul- their husband/dad- is so emotional. I ran to them, hugged them and chatted for a quick second. I didn't want to cool down too much. I had 5 miles to go and after dropping my hydration belt and getting hugs from family I was feeling 10 pounds lighter!

Lauren and I ended up stopping at a light where other TNT runners were so it was fun to run with them for a little while. At one point I did wish I had my hydration belt and stopped at a water station for some water. It felt so good going down! We turned right and passed the fire house and headed up the first of 4 hills. Man, they are killer! I'm glad I've been able to run them the few times I have.

Before I knew it we were at mile 19 and ready to knock this thing out! Up another hill and then it flattened out and we were able to finish strong! It was so exciting to see the bus that would bring us back and then behind the bus was the TNT flag and volunteers waiting for us! Wahoo! Another 20 miles done and my legs were done! My calves were tight and my everything was tired! What a great run! I downed some Gatorade and water, ate some pretzels and Swedish fish and boarded the bus where it felt so good to sit down with my legs out.  I was able to spend time on my phone sending texts and looking through message, and post to my social media so that when I got back to the community center I could put my attention on the people there.

Aunt Joyce, Robyn and the kids came back from getting lunch and we were able to visit for a bit. I was so insanely happy that they were there. It just filled my heart and gave me this peaceful feeling.

We are officially in Taper Town and I can't believe it. This training cycle flew by! It's time to rest, recover and plan for the BIG day!!!

Friday, March 11, 2016

Stu's 30k Road Race

In February I ended up having to take a about a week and a half off from running to help alleviate some tight calves. My calves were tight leading up to a few snowy days where I ran 15 miles on ice, snow and slush, which sealed the deal that my calves, indeed, had enough. Instead of running I spent time on the bike at the gym and I actually started to enjoy it.  The funny thing is, the only time I spend time more than one work out a week at the gym is when I can't run.  I was finally able to run and took it slowly and carefully. My first long run back was just that... long. I was in my head a lot and too focused on how my calf felt. I was very aware that I did not want this turning out badly. It took me about a week to "trust myself" again. I had to just let go and let it happen.  Finally, things were running smoothly again and I had couple of great weeks of solid training.

I'm really proud of how last week of training went for me. I nailed every workout and felt really strong. I had a lot going on in life- my car had just been totaled because a deer ran right into me on my way to barre class. Dealing with car stuff is never fun and it all happened SO fast. So, yeah, I was feeling really good that I got my workouts done despite this chaos.

On Sunday, March 6 I ran Stu's 30k down in Clinton, Mass. This is a Boston prep race that my friend Kirsten @ PeanutRuns recommended to me. I liked that it started at 11 to mimic Boston Marathon start and that I had about an hour drive down. It would give me a chance to practice fueling and wait time.  I got there around 9:30 and had plenty of time to check in, go to the bathroom, and chill in the gym with Kristen and other runners. I was able to roll out out my calves, eat again and before I knew it, it was time to get warmed up. I had planned to run 1.5 miles prior to this race so that I could end my day with 20 miles. I had wanted two 20 mile runs in my last marathon training cycle but that wasn't able to happen. I wanted to be sure to make it work this time around and my awesome running coach was on board with that.

I went out for a slow 15 minute run with another women had run this race and Boston numerous times. We chatted about training for marathons with kids, why we love marathons, and about this coming Boston. We were both amazed at the beautiful weather. I had heard that last year's weather was awful! I was feeling pretty warm and wanted to ditch my gloves and ear warmers but when we got back to the starting area people were out all over and I saw Kristen. I had wanted to start with her and feared I would completely lose her in the crowd if I ran in to put my stuff down. Thank goodness for sports bras to tuck things in to!

We started off quickly and I knew by mile 3 their pace was going to be too fast for me to maintain for even half of the race if I wanted to end the run feeling strong. By mile 4 I started to pull back and by mile 5 we were separated and soon I couldn't see them anymore. I was totally ok with that and knew beforehand that it was bound to happen. I knew I had to really pace myself because this course was not something to mess with. I had been told that Boston is "easy" compared to this! I had made the mistake of checking out the course elevation, to you know, be prepared... sometimes going into these things is better when you have no idea. This may have been one of those times... haha!

Lots of hills. Lots and lots of hills. Yes, a few downhills to enjoy but it didn't even seem like relief because you were instantly faced with another hill. Thankfully, around mile 6.5 another woman had come beside me and we ran together for about 6 miles. I had to stop around 12.5 miles to stretch my IT band and hip. They were NOT happy with the pace I was trying to keep on these hills. Cat was the woman's name. She was telling me about her current goal of running a marathon in every state of the US. She is currently training for number 35! I thought it was amazing that she took on this goal and I know she'll finish! She was amazed at how I was a teacher and a 3 yr and a dog and was training for a marathon. She says she gives mad props to women who have kids and train for marathons. She has a boyfriend, but that's it. Not even a dog she tells me that's because she'd feel bad leaving it behind for training or races. I told her she had the right idea! It was so nice to have her company for those middle miles and to be able to see her up ahead for some time until I had to stop and stretch one last time around mile 15.5 of the course.

The 2 worst hills came at the end. I had been warned about the last 1.5 miles and how much of a bitch they are. Yes, a major BITCH! I think I said Mother F*(kr a Guinness Book of World Record amount of times. I felt damn proud to make up the very last hill and be able to push my pace. I was ready to cross the finish line and be done! My legs were toast! As soon as I crossed and got my medal I walked in a daze. I had to keep moving but all I really wanted to do was guzzle water and lie down!

I didn't realize how warm it was going to be when I packed my post race clothes so I was able to wear my Stu's 30k race shirt right after and enjoy some soup, donuts, oranges and seltzer in the cafe with other finishers. By this time it was about 2:45 and I knew I needed to get myself on the road. It had been a long day and I had a kiddo to go home and play with before I passed out for the night!

I loved the race and the confidence it gave me in my running. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone who wasn't training for Boston or to anyone who really truly hates hills because this was one of the toughest courses I've ever run on. It was well run, organized and on the smaller side and definitely one to look into if you're up for a challenge!

Now, to get rid of this case of strep I seem to have contracted this week! Off to rest up and hydrate so I can have a solid week of training next week!

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Ending January on a High Note

I just finished week 9 of marathon training and I'm happy to have ended this month on a high note... a half marathon PR!

It looks like this hard work and indoor track Tuesdays are paying off! It's so amazing to see the work you put in come together! This half marathon distance was a training run that my coach wanted me to treat like a race. A fitness test of sorts. Well, I'm pretty darn pleased with how it turned out as I ran on the Boston Marathon course, getting used to the hills and then the headwind that gets you on the way back.

I think I can say I finally feel healthy. ::knock on wood:: and this is just in the past 2 days that I feel somewhat like a normal person.  This month has been awful health wise. I've had an awful cold, sore throat, snotty nose, drippy nose, coughing like crazy, pink eye, and when the cold didn't go away I went in to the Dr. for a sinus infection. I was put on antibiotics and that finally did the trick. Through it all, I continued my training and used cross training days as extra rest days or dialed back some mileage. I'm proud to have kept at it even though I didn't feel well and was exhausted and while some think I should have taken a week off- I knew I needed to keep at it. Since it was all head cold related I just pushed through. Had it developed into anything else I would have taken time off.

This is why my weekly training blogposts stopped.. well, all blogging for that matter. Once the night time rolled around and my 3 yr old was in bed, lunches made, work out clothes set out, I did not have the mental energy to sit down and write. That's ok. I'm keeping an actual journal and loving it- The Believe journal, which was a gift, a fabulous gift!

January long runs:
10 (should have been 12)
13.1-race effort

My weekly schedule continued on with:
Monday- evening barre
Tuesday-evening indoor track for speed work
Wednesday- cross train but I used it as an extra day off to rest
Thursday-morning  4-6 mile treadmill run 
Friday-  morning light yoga/rest day
Saturday- morning long run
Sunday 30 minute recovery run at some point in the day

As for my fundraising- it's been amazing! I hit my first goal of $5,000 and now I'm working on my personal goal of $8,000+. I had a paint night which raised $234. 

A barre event which raised $325 dollars and a school penny drive that raised just over $2,800!!! 

It's been an incredible month to raise money for a cure! Feel free to visit my page and make your donation today! http://pages.teamintraining.org/ma/boston16/nmoreau

This month I've ran 112 miles for LLS and I cannot wait to see what February brings!

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