Thanks, Boston

Sometimes it takes a complete stranger to put things in perspective for you. Last night, I worked a private party for a solider returning from Kuwait. The party was about 30 or so older people congratulating an Army commander on his return from an overseas deployment that had lasted about a year. There were a lot of really kind words and big smiles. For all military families go through, it was really nice to see such a happy celebration. I had never met them and I couldn’t stop smiling for them.

Near the end of the meal a man in his 60’s walked over to me.

Man: “Excuse me sweetie, I heard you ran the Boston Marathon this year?”

Me: “Well, the first 22 miles of it, yes.”

Man: (extends hand) “I just wanted to congratulate you. I feel like with everything that happened you runners had your accomplishment, what you went through that day and the months of training overlooked. Congratulations young lady, I will be there cheering you on next year!”

I was dumbfounded. First, I had no idea how he found out I had run the Boston Marathon. I hadn’t said anything more personal than “Could I offer you another drink” to him at any point during the meal.

Secondly, the idea that this man wanted to go out of his way to congratulate me rather than offer his condolences. For the past two months every time someone has asked me about the race it has started or ended with “I’m so sorry you didn’t get to finish” or ‘Really makes you think how unimportant things like the actual race really are in the grand scheme of things”. For the first time since April 15 I felt proud of what I had done that day rather than guilty for being one of the 27,000 reasons people were drawn into a trap.

I’ve learned a lot about myself from this years race. A few days after the race Jim and I went to dinner and I confessed that I hated my job. Jim simply said “So quit”. That was it. No plan, no what-if’s. Just quit. His idea is that if it wasn’t making me happy, pack my desk and find something that would.

And that’s what I did. That Friday was my last day in marketing, and by the next Tuesday I was re-enrolled in my graduate program as a full time student. I’ve never been one to pull the trigger on life that quickly but if Boston taught me anything, it’s that life is short and precious. Don’t take it for granted and don’t think you can do anything tomorrow.

I’m not trying to pretend that I had all positive, life-affirming moments after Boston. It wasn’t until last week that I started to sleep through the night, and even that has only been a couple nights. I still can’t bring myself to display my medal, race bib or anything else from that day. I certainly couldn’t run the One Run Boston last month and cross the finish line. Not yet. Not without 26.19 miles behind it.

One day this will find its place in my house. For now, the sock drawer will do.

One day this will find its place in my house. For now, the sock drawer will do.

I’m trying to take a silver lining and let my experiences have an overall positive effect on my life. I can’t control what happened, and I can’t go back in time and warn everyone. But I can live my life to the fullest and take pride in the 22 miles that I accomplished.

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What Not Running the Boston Marathon Taught Me

It’s been a really rough few days. I pictured Marathon Monday going a lot of ways, but not starting was never a consideration. Then again, open deferment had never been a consideration for the BAA either. I guess it’s been a weekend of circumstance for everyone.

Not running on Monday was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make. For 5 months, my life was training for Boston. Everything I did was planned around training runs. I barely went out, I spent an abnormal amount of time with my foam roller, and when people asked what my weekend plans were the response was always how long my long run was that week. Giving up the culmination of all of that hard work crushed me. I cried. A lot. I was angry. Really angry. Dad took me out to lunch, tried to reaffirm that it was going to be OK with sesame chicken and egg rolls, and my fortune even tried tobrighten my day.

Nothing worked. So I did what any girl in my situation would do- I asked my boyfriend to sit on the couch with me while I got drunk and cried. And he did. A couple times. And for that, I love him. High-five love. He also took me to Saquish Monday night so I could be as far away from the city as possible.

That view in April doesn’t stink.

Perfect morning view. Well, as perfect as it was going to feel.

But when I woke up Tuesday morning, my raging hangover reminded me of a thing or two…

The people in my life who matter love me not because I run marathons, most of the time, in spite of the fact that I run marathons. Dealing with a marathon runner is not an easy feat. They talk a lot about themselves, their training and their splits. Things that, unless you are a runner, you don’t care about. But my amazing friends and family have listened for the past 5 months, and I know how lucky I am to have those people.

I love training, and I love running. I also love being alive. When the BAA emails you “Speed Can Kill” and reminds you this is not a race, but an experience, you start to realize the danger of what you’re getting into. I can’t run another race if I drop dead of a heat stroke or asthma attack during this one. Let’s try to mitigate the possibility of that.

The people who judge my decision to defer are going to judge and there is nothing I can do to stop them. I read a lot of angry comment that said “Anyone who defers doesn’t deserve a Boston bib!” and things of similar tones. I deferred. I am proud that I listened to the warnings of my coaches and doctor and didn’t end up in the ER. Am I still terribly disappointed that my 5 months of training ended without a race? Absolutely. But I made the decision that was best for my health, and I’m okay with that.

The sheer animosity towards charity runners is sad. Not everyone can claim a Boston Qualifier. Yes, some people use the charity program as a way to buy their way into Boston. However, there are exponentially more people who could care less about running Boston, but are genuinely out there to support a cause they are incredibly passionate about. There was a woman on my team who reminded me of this every week. With two children under 6 at home, she still made time to make it to training runs every Saturday. She was admittedly looking at a 6-hour finish at Boston, but she didn’t care. She was there to honor who son, who was born at 1lb and spent months fighting for his life in the Children’s Hospital NICU. If he could get through that, she could get through a marathon. There was not a day that went by at practice that I viewed this woman as anything less than an inspiration for all of us who were running.

I thought of her even more when I started reading the comments about how it was so unfair that charity runners were being allowed to defer to next year and were taking spots away from “real runners”. This woman is more passionate and embodies the spirit of a “real runner” more than anyone I’ve ever met. So for anyone who says that charity runners should be kicked out of Boston, I ask you to take a look at the stories of many people running for charity and then see if you’re still so cold hearted about it.

Listening to your body is the most important thing you can do. My body has been freaking out of my for the past 4 weeks. My IT band that had not bothered me all season seized up and threw a wrench in my training. I started being clumsy and walking into things, and most notably down a flight of stairs. Accidents happen, but it was becoming a little too often to overlook. I was exhausted all the time. I tried to power through workouts despite all of these feelings.  After my cortisone shot, I was told to not work out for 3 days. Then Saturday happened and I found out I would not be running Boston. Today marks 8 days since my last workout. While part of me is dying to get out the door, most of me has felt more refreshed and clear headed in the past 3 days than I have in a while. My body and mind needed a break, and Saturday forced me to take one.

For those of you who are curious, I still went to spectate. For all the support the team has provided to me during the past 5 months, I wanted to make sure I made it to Wellesley to show my support for them. I even wore my planned marathon outfit. And yes, I cried a little when I got dressed that morning.

I was so excited to see this I teared up.

Going to Wellesley to see the families come out to cheer was the best thing I could have done with my day. It reminded me why I wanted to run this marathon to begin with, and how happy my 5 months of effort made so many families.

I loved my outfit. Green compression socks are awesome. Kayla is great too.

What happened happened. I can’t change it. I can’t go back and decide it’s a good idea to run. But I can look forward to Boston 2013 and know that 18 months of training for one race is going to make it an even more fulfilling experience. So for now, I’ll look forward to the Providence half on May 6 and getting back to a training schedule.

To everyone who had kind things to say over the past few days, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. And for those of you who had not so nice things to say, sorry you feel that way.

See you in 2013 Boston! Did you run Monday? Was it everything you dreamed it would be? Did you defer? Let’s hear your Boston stories!

Weekend (and early week) Recap: 18 Miles, Heartbreak Hill and I Got Drunk Off of One Glass of Champagne

Happy Thursday everyone! I will admit, I started writing this post on Monday morning. It had started out like this…

“This week is already promising to be better than last. The sun is shining, it won’t be dark when I get home from work and the massage I got yesterday has helped improve my state of mind and my ability to stand up without a hint of soreness. All good things.”

Well, this week has been good, but man oh man has it been busy. Crazy busy. But, we’ll get to that.

Saturday morning was 18 miles out-and-back on the Boston Marathon course.  I started out solo as usual, but at the mile 2 water stop I met two great girls from my team who were running just about the same pace I was. I decided company is always nice, so we ran together and started chatting. Turns out, one of the girls (Katie) knows some of my best friends who live in North Caroline. Knows as in was the Maid of Honor in one of their brother’s weddings. Small world, huh? It was great to meet an unexpected mutual friend and have something to talk about for the three and a half hours of hills. Lots and lots of hills.

As we ran we both shared stories about why we were running and how we were at least attempting to balance training with having a life. It was encouraging to hear that I’m not the only person who stays in on Friday nights, is too tired to go out on Saturday nights a lot of the time and gets teased by their friends for constantly saying “Sorry guys, can’t make it, training run”.

We couldn’t have asked for better weather for the long run this weekend. I realize that everyone training for Boston (or any race) this winter has been incredibly spoiled weather-wise. There was only one run in the snow, and one in a wind/rain storm. Compared to last winter where the snow mounds on the side of the Carriage Road were 7 feet tall, we have no right to complain. Saturday was low 50’s with a slight breeze. This amazing training weather does have me slightly convinced that race day is either going to be 90 degrees without a cloud in the sky or 50 and flooding rains. I’m from Massachusetts, we’re skeptical when we get too much good weather.

A few water and stretch stops, more than a couple stops waiting for traffic signals to change and a walk up the last hill on the way back (I hit a very frustrated wall), I think my actual time was somewhere around 3:32. I never pause my Nike+ while on long runs. I try not to pay attention to it, and if it messes up a couple splits when I stop for water or stretch a quad, well it is what it is. Overall, I was perfectly happy with my time. Jeff says long runs reflect about :90/mile slower than we will do on race day, and a 10:30/mi race day is fine with me. Would I like to be closer to 9:50? Absolutely. But for my first Boston Marathon, I’m not complaining.

While I love training on the course, the whole out-and-back thing is getting intense. Those nice downhills on the way out become torturous uphills on the way back. Thankfully, when we got back on Saturday, Coach Jeff let us know that this was the last out and back involving HeartBreak Hill we’ll be doing. He also said that this run was harder than the actual marathon will be based on the number and incline of the hills. Sweet?

Post run I decided to conduct a little experiment of my own. Now, being a good marathoner, I know the importance of the post race celebration. Food, friends and (most importantly)- booze. I’m a good trainer- I don’t drink unless for very special occasions, I eat right and I try to get my 8 hours of shut eye. But once I cross that finish line, I’m all over it. Realizing that 4 months of no drinking may decrease my tolerance all by itself; then add in the 26.2 miles I’ll be running before that, and I realized I may need to do a “sobriety check” on myself. So after my 18 miles, I went home, took a long hot bath to relax my muscles, and then popped a bottle of prosecco and poured myself a glass. It was pretty.

I figured one glass while I cleaned up, made myself lunch and relaxed on the couch would be nice. And it was very nice. It was also quite powerful. Turns out, Brittany + One Glass of Prosecco = Drunk. This could present a problem on race day when the post race celebration gets crazy. From now on there will be a glass of wine post-run. You know… training. It’s ok, Coach Jeff signed off on this plan.

The rest of Saturday consisted of very little food, and a lot of stretching. I went out for a little bit to get some shopping done, and maybe eat a cannoli. Ok, I went out for the cannoli and shopping just sort of happened. I need to work on eating immediately after long runs. Right now, I usually just eat something that night, go to sleep, and wake up on Sunday morning so ravenous that I eat more than any normal person should in a 24 hour period. Not the best practice.

This ravenous eating lasted through mid day yesterday (Wednesday). Monday night was beautiful, so I went for a 4 miler… outside… after work. It was incredible. 61, sun setting and the most hopeful “Spring has Sprung” run I’ve ever had. I was in love. I was even more in love with the crabcake, whole wheat pasta and green beans that I made myself for dinner.

I love when I have time to actually make myself a real dinner. I’ve been doing it every night this week and it makes me feel like a healthier person. Except when I end with fudge cake topped with chocolate chip ice cream. That does not make me feel healthy.

Aside from the running and attempted healthy eating, this week has been filled with crazy busy work days, yoga, attempts at spinning and not so patiently waiting for Peyton Manning to pick a team. I did find an interesting article today on Boston.com today, that actually suggested I should be “snacking” every 20-40 minutes while training. Really? 20-40 Minutes? Does no one else find this excessive?

Tonight I’m going for another 4 miles outside, even though it’s not nearly as nice as it was Monday. They can’t all be winners, but I guess I should run through it anyways.

How has your week been? Any fellow Boston-ers out there getting nerves yet. Maybe?

New Gear, New Recipes and Quality Time. Weekend = Win.

This could have been the most productive 48 hours of my life. No exaggeration.

I was set to get up and run with the team on Saturday morning. I went through the normal Friday night routine. Eat a giant bowl of pasta, pack gummy bears and gels, lay out weather appropriate clothes and pick through my sock drawer until I find the newest, comfiest looking pair of socks in the drawer. Comfy socks are key to my survival of long runs. Just knowing they’re cushy makes the mental game a little easier for me. With the pre long run ritual completed, I went to bed ready to hit the pavement of Wellesley for a lovely 18 miles Saturday morning.

Then Saturday morning happened. First, it was pouring outside. Not a little drizzle (which is actually one of my favorite conditions to run in). Pouring. Freezing cold, pouring rain. I also felt so groggy when I even attempted to get out of bed that I did something I try SO hard not to do. I turned off the alarm, and went back to bed. I was sick last week (sore throat M-W, then I had a lovely allergic reaction to a new Probiotic yogurt on Thursday morning. Sneaky food allergies), so my mother begged and pleaded that I waiting until the rain let up. Mom is cute. She acts disgusted by the whole running thing, but she gets really protective when she thinks I’m pushing too hard, and really excited when race days come up. She’s slowly embracing it. Normally I laugh off her suggestions, but this time she seemed to be one to something. Lately I’ve been so exhausted that getting out of bed for work in the morning has been daunting. Maybe, just maybe, all this training has finally caught up with me. Ok mom, you win. I will stay in bed until 9. And it will be glorious.

Once I finally made my way out of bed, I had the “I can’t believe I slept until 9, I need to go be productive while I wait for the rain to stop” guilt. This brought me to Whole Foods, where I stocked up on some healthy goodies for the week. It also brought me to the not so coincidentally placed Lululemon next door. Sure, I’ll go in and just browse. What’s the harm. $125 dollars later, I was on the way home. Oops. I needed another yoga tank and a new pair of compression tights. At least that’s what I told myself.

It opens down the side so I don't get too sweaty. How did I not need this?

Once the rain finally let up around 1, I hit the track at my old high school for a few miles. I don’t know why, but the track seemed more appealing than the road a the time. I thought that no cars potentially splashing me, no jumping over massive puddles, not getting my feet covered in mud; the track was full of perks. These perks were appealing for the first 6 miles. Then it turned from consistent to daunting. The moment I clocked lap number 24 I stopped dead in my tracks. I could feel the repetitive loop taking it’s toll on my left side, and that was enough of that.

I went home, stretched out and foam rolled a little bit, then decided that the pavement was really my only option. There’s a 3.4 mile loop I do from home which I love. It takes me downhill for the first mile or so, then a few good small hills, followed by the big hill on the last mile. It’s the closest simulation to Boston I could come up with from my house, and while the hill is nothing like heartbreak, it’s the best I could do. It also brings me through the Mount Vernon Cemetary, which sounds creepy, but is actually beautiful.

I love this route. It loves me. We're happy together.

I left my house and immediately felt phenomenal. The post rain warm weather was the stuff running dreams are made of. Just cool enough where the humidity isn’t bothersome, but more like a damp cold towel on you at all times. I was in love. I tried to negative split the route, but that just didn’t happen. I’m trying, I really am. One day I will negative split a run longer than 3 miles, and it will be glorious. But for now, I’m happy with my 9:15 first mile, and only dropping off to a high of 10:02. No medals being won here, but I also didn’t want to die at any point. Win.

The rest of Saturday was rather pathetic but kind of amazing. I bought the second of the Hunger Games books (this is for the sole purpose of having something to talk about with the women I work with), ate some delicious left over chicken and potato dish, and then gave into the Dairy Queen craving I’ve been having for the past two weeks.

Sunday I had planned to meet my friend Ida at Lululemon for a complimentary yoga class (who says no to free yoga?) and then breakfast at Whole Foods. When I was there Saturday I noticed that they now have an omelette chef on weekend mornings. Yoga, plus egg white omelette prepared by someone other than myself? Sold. The class was good, though it was slightly crowded and didn’t have the heat blasting which I normally appreciate. But it was free, so I can’t really complain.

After some quality girl time (and Pinkberry- because who doesn’t need frozen yogurt when you had ice cream the night before?); I went home and turned into crazy productive Brittany. I could have a very domestic related blog. Clean Brit, Clean? Brittany in Laundry Land? I’ll have to work on that one.

The moment I walked into my room I saw laundry. And not a little laundry either. I couldn’t shut the lid to the hamper sort of laundry. This usually only happens when Jim is home and he somehow sneaks a full laundry basket into my car when I leave his place “in case I happen to be doing laundry that day”. Right, in case. Because if I don’t it’s no big deal that your motocross gear is going to stink up my room or car for an extra few, putrid hours. Alas, this was all my laundry, with no one to blame but myself and my tendency to change at least twice a day. I hate when messes are my own fault.

So I started out with the laundry in the hamper, which then lead to all the sheets and blankets being washed, and then a Febreeze attack on pretty much everything I own. In between loads of laundry being switched I chopped veggies for the week (it’s so much easier to eat healthy when everything is pre-cut, pre-washed, pre-grilled and pre-thought about), cleaned my car and even made myself a giant container of this Southwestern Quinoa Salad that I love. Super healthy, and I omit the red wine vinegar and olive oil just because I don’t see the need for them. Amazing. If you’re looking for something good to do with quinoa, I suggest giving this a shot.

The Boston Marathon is now exactly 6 weeks away, and I have to admit, I feel under prepared. I don’t quite know why I feel this way considering I jumped into Chicago with no sort of regimented training and a 14 mile longest run. Maybe it’s because I know so many people will be there, maybe it’s because I’m worried about some random factor that I haven’t taken into consideration, or maybe it’s just because it’s BOSTON. People spend their lives trying to run Boston, and I’m actually going to do it. I think that might be what frightens me. That and I went to high school with the son of the director of the Bostom EMS system. He used to come to school after the marathon with his dad’s horror stories. I’m trying to block those out.

Also on my mind- Marine Corp Marathon registration opens on Wednesday. Amica Marathon in Newport is already open. I need to pick one. HELP ME!!

Tonight I’m going to be loving my Hot Yoga with Chris, it’s honestly the highlight of my training week. Then it’s back to the pavement for 5 spring like miles tomorrow. Six weeks to go, no slacking! Happy Monday everyone!

How was your weekend? What awesome training runs did you do, or any great classes you think I should check out? What Fall marathon should I sign up for?? Help!

A Change of Scenery

Keep in mind, I’m writing from my bed right now. Last night I didn’t feel great, and it’s carried over into this morning. I woke up at 5:15 ready for a quick 4 miles, and the second I sat up I realized that the queasy feeling hasn’t gone away just yet. Back to bed, and working from home sounded like the ideal option. I leave for Florida on Friday morning. I’m not taking any chances here.

This weekend the team long run was in Cambridge. And Watertown. We also visited Boston, Brighton and Allston too. But Cambridge was my favorite. I’m a sucker for good scenery, and this run had plenty of it.

Oh Boston, you may have your flaws but you sure are pretty.

We met at the Publick Theater in Brighton at 8, and I quickly ate what I consider to be the breakfast of champions.

Picture of health right here

It was good to catch up with the team and see how excited everyone was about a run that did not include hills. People were a lot happier knowing that there wasn’t going to be a ridiculous incline for the last mile of this one. After the warmup, it was a little chilly so I kept my North Face on. BIG MISTAKE. I always seem to forget a couple key points when dressing for long runs:

–       We start at 8:30. It gets significantly warmer between 8:30 and 11am

–       It may be 30 outside right now, but I will feel like it’s 45 in about 10 minutes.

–       Sweatshirts are heavy, and any extra weight is not appreciated around mile 9.

I will eventually learn to remember these things. This just wasn’t the week it happened. But what did happen this week? I ran without music, for the first time in my life. Maybe it was the pretty view, maybe it was my desire for some peace and quiet, but for the first time ever I took the headphones off and ran with the thoughts in my head. It was amazing. I may do this more often.

I think one of my favorite things about running in silence is it didn’t give me any perspective about how far or fast I was going. I normally have my pace pretty set and in my head I can say “this many songs is this many minutes, I should be at this distance by now”. Without music, you have no concept about how far or fast you’re going. It’s one of the few situation in life where the saying “Ignorance is Bliss” applies.

The scenery didn’t hurt either. Running along the Charles past Harvard is one of my favorite runs in the world. It makes me forget about my usual less than loving relationship with Boston. It’s flat, gorgeous and there are so many other runners out there on a Saturday morning you feel like part of a greater community. It’s hard not to find smiling runners with this view.

Marathon training hurts, but the view makes it better

Now, I’m not quite sure where or when this happened, but I took a wrong turn or two along this run because I did not encounter a water stop the entire time. Normally, if I know I’m not going to have a water stop I throw a few bucks in my iPod case so I can stop at a store and grab a bottle of water. Not thinking this was a concern, I was cash and card less. This became a serious issue around mile 10. I was dying for a drink, and I was still 4 miles out from the base. I ran the last 4 fast than 6-10, simply out of thirst. Probably not the wisest move ever, but yellow Gatorade has never tasted so good.

This was the first week that the sore set in. I’ve been lucky with training so far. I can certainly feel the impact, but I hadn’t really been SORE at any point. After I got home from the run Saturday, that changed pretty quickly. I changed, took a shower, and felt like absolute junk for the rest of the day. I did make my new favorite post run breakfast though.

Love in a cup.

This weeks training is going to be a little different. I leave for Florida Friday morning, and I asked Coach Jeff how I should handle my long run. He told me that any mileage done in a 24 hour period can be considered a long run, so if I broke the 15 miles I had to do into 2 or 3 runs, it would still count. This means that Thursday is going to kick my butt this week. Seven and a half before work, seven and a half after. Eeep.

Have you had to change up your training schedule like this? How did you feel after? I’m slightly afraid it’s going to kick my butt, or afraid I’ll love it and next weekends 17-miler is going to seem even more daunting. Advice?

Favorite Things Friday: Peyton Makes Me Happy

Running wise, it’s been a great week. Since my unexpectedly snowy and speedy long run last weekend, I decided to turn up the pace on my shorter training runs during the week. It’s paid off. I feel great, and I feel more confident than ever that Boston is going to be a great race for me.

Tomorrow is 14 miles along the Charles River with the Miles for Miracles team. If you happen to be out running along the river tomorrow I doubt you’ll miss us. Really, we all got our singlets in the mail last night.

Yeah, you certainly won't miss us.

It’s Friday, and if you’re new around here, it’s Favorite Things Friday. I take a few minutes to go all Oprah-esque and share with you my favorite things. On this weeks list…

 

Peyton Manning: Being from Massachusetts it’s not easy to defend my love of Peyton Manning. Especially this season. It’s OK Peyton, you’ll be back, and I still love you just as much.

 

What, that last play was for me? Thanks Peyton, love you too.

For all the great football Peyton has given us over the past 13 years, how can you not love him? On top of that, he’s given us some of the greatest football commercials ever to grace the airwaves. These are my favorites:

 

–       Football Cops (even though Eli is in it, I still love it)

    Priceless Pep Talks with Peyton Manning

–      Where he acts like a superfan

 

Nike+ Levels: I started using Nike+ at the beginning of marathon training to track my runs, and it’s been amazing. One of my favorite features is the different levels you can reach based on overall mileage. Last night, my 3 mile run was enough to bump me up to Green. Turns out, the whole interface changes when you hit a new level. It’s certainly a dorky thing to get excited about, but it kind of made my night.

It's very St. Patricks Day-esque

 

Training Blisters: Now how could this be one of my favorite things? The way I look at it, the more blisters I get during training, the fewer I will get during the marathon itself. Right? Right. I developed a few new ones this week, and I’m trying to just accept them. It’s been a painful attempt.

 

Yurbuds: Yurbuds are the greatest headphones ever created. This is not a joke. I bought them about a year ago, and I have never once had to adjust them while running. Through rain, snow, sleet and wind, these things do not budge. Ever. They’re a little on the pricey side, but they are worth every single penny.

 

Enjoy your weekend everyone! Xoxo

 

Am I missing something? What are your favorite things this week?

Running in a Blizzard Never Felt So Good

Ok, so it wasn’t so much a blizzard as it was a typical snow storm; but it was still terrible outside. Saturday morning I went through my normal routine. I had known it was coming all week and I wasn’t happy about it, but after last weeks poor performance a little snow wasn’t going to stop me from trying to reclaim my dignity. So when the alarm went off at 6am Saturday morning, I woke up, stretched out, jumped into moms Volvo (safety first!) and drove to Wellesley for the team long run.

I’ve been doing long runs by myself for the past few weeks due to schedule issues. When last week went to complete crap, I emailed the coaches and they both agreed that running with a group may help me get over the mental hurdle I’d been facing. I completely agreed, but was really nervous that I would be the slow kid in the pack.

Yes, that’s a really dumb concern. I know. 11 miles is 11 miles, and it’s still way further than a lot of people can, or are willing to run. When I got to practice Jeff and Sarah reminded me that everyone always worries about being the slow kid, and while they were sure I wouldn’t be, even if I was, who cares? It was a snow storm. Fast kids weren’t happening that day anyways.

Once everyone arrived we had a great seminar on gels, blocks, bars and all other supplements that you can reach for during a run and what works best for what. The best part of the seminar? Samples. Now, I’ve always been a Vanilla Bean Gu girl. It’s what I’m used to, it tastes like frosting and it seems to work. But when that didn’t work for me last week I thought giving something new was worth a try. I grabbed two strawberry chomp blocks and ran out the door with the rest of the team.

The first two miles were what they have been lately. I felt OK, but a long way from great. It probably wasn’t helping that on the up-hills I would put my foot down, take a step and slide back a half a step because of the uncleared sidewalks and whole blizzard thing happening. Didn’t stop this guy from driving around in a Lamborgini though.

 

Safety first?

Around 1.5 Coach Sarah ran over and asked how I was doing. I told her I felt OK, but still a little off. She told me not to worry about it, just run at whatever felt comfortable to hold a conversation and we’d run together for a while. I was nervous I was slowing her down, but I agreed.

It was the best possible decision I could have made. Coach Sarah was so great to run next to for 5 miles, so easy going and encouraging the whole way. She talked about her past marathon (she did Chicago this year and agrees that one hill is a cruel way to end a race), how she got into coaching and funny running stories in general. Casually talking for the first few miles was a great way to take my mind off of the hills and not worry about the pace. After a particularly brutal hill I could feel my breathing getting a little wheezier than I was comfortable with, so I told Sarah to go run ahead and I’d see her at the end of the run. Once I started walking I grabbed my Nike+ (which I had had on mute) out of my pocket and that’s when I saw it…

I was averaging a 9:20 mile for 5 miles! What? I was shocked. I was confused. I was ecstatic! I’ve always been conservatively comfortable at a 10:00 pace, and thought going above that would be pushing it a little too far for a double digit run. Apparently not. The thought that I was pulling that pace in those conditions was a little mind boggling to me, but I’ll take it. From there it got a lot harder, but the water stops were pleasant breaks.

Who needs ice??

I kept trudging along and the snow was picking up, so the next 5 miles were not as smooth as the first. Negative split certainly didn’t happen, but honestly, I’m not concerned. I ran 11 miles. In a snowstorm. In a really respectable time. And I only fell once (pretty sure I pulled some muscle in my calf, but I was just happy no one saw).

Don't be intimidated by the sexiness.

I got back to the hall where we drop our stuff, stretched it out and talked to a few of the faster runners who were already back from their 13. They were all saying this 13 really counts as 18 because of the conditions. A few were saying they’ve never felt that strained during a run. Knowing that I had one of my better runs while these rockstars had one of their not so great runs was comforting to me. It reminded me that no matter how fast or how far you can normally go, you’re going to have your off days.

 

After I defrosted on the drive home I was perfectly OK with the idea of staying snowbound for the rest of the afternoon. Peanut butter toast, a banana and a cup of tea later, I got in a solid nap then watched a lot of Netflix that I’m not particularly proud of. I also spent a lot of time on Pinterest. I’m obsessed. It’s ok.

Sunday morning I was expecting to wake up sore because of the snowy hills. Hills do a number on my quads anyways, when you add a sheet of ice on top of them I figured they would be screaming to spend the day in bed. Surprise again. I woke up feeling fresh and ready to hit the gym for some cross training. 45 minutes on the elliptical, a lot of stretching and some weight training made for a solid morning at the gym. I even made it out before the last of the New Years crowd came in!

Other than that, the weekend was filled with a lot of family time and laundry. Life during marathon training is super exciting, I promise. As much as I miss my wine nights, staying up past 11 on Fridays and not waking up to run at 5am every morning, I feel healthier than I have felt in a long time.  The loose jeans don’t suck either. But those are about to ruined by this deliciousness that I found on my desk when I got here.

Breakfast of champions.

Tiramisu Brownies? Ali, I love you. My jeans hate you, my future case of diabetes certainly doesn’t think you’re awesome, but I love you. And that’s what matters.

 

Happy Monday everyone! xoxo