Great race today. It went way better than I expected. Micah and I ran together and he pushed me through the last couple of miles to cross the line in 1:36:46, just 40 seconds off our PR.
More details on Tuesday. Hope you have a great weekend!
I’ve heard it said that you never get over the fear of the marathon. No matter how many times you’ve done it, 26.2 miles is a long way and no matter how well-prepared you are, there is plenty of time and space for unpredictability. And also, it hurts. Most marathon runners I know have had bad races, and as race day approaches, you always wonder if this race might turn out to be another one. (All this has nothing to do with random acts of violence.) This is especially easy to dwell on in the weeks of tapering when you are running less and the memories of your good, strong runs are farther away in your mind. Combine that with arriving at your race destination and seeing nothing but extremely fast looking people and you have a recipe for “What On Earth Am I Doing Here” Syndrome (which I just made up). Honestly, seeing all these human whippets walking around was a little intimidating.
I was pretty indecisive and vague about my goals leading up to the race. There was a part of me that simply wanted to avoid disaster. Just please let me finish the race, I prayed. There was another part that thought maybe I had it in me to PR. I went back and forth on my training: It had gone much better than expected, but then my expectations had been really low. I had killed it in February, but March had nearly decimated me. I should be happy just to be there, but I wouldn’t be happy knowing I hadn’t given it my best.
The morning of the race I woke up plenty early to give myself enough time to eat, drink, dress, nurse my baby, take pictures, etc. and everything had gone smoothly – until I got to the buses and realized I’d left my bagel at the hotel. And suddenly I was worried that I would be hungry and cranky halfway through the race. But once I was on the bus, I settled down my seat and, after a while, started chatting with my seatmate and her two friends who were sitting behind us. This was her 4th Boston marathon, and she knew her stuff. Like how they have bagels at the athlete’s village before the start. (Phew! My little rookie self breathed a sigh of relief.) And how even though it is pretty much downhill after Heartbreak Hill at mile 21, it’s still going to hurt and you shouldn’t plan on things being easy. Have fun. Enjoy the experience, the crowds, the course, she counseled.
And after we parted ways, that is exactly what I decided to do. I didn’t wear the pace bands that would tell me how many minutes I should be running each mile if I wanted to make a certain time. I didn’t listen to music, and I tried not to pay too much attention to my Nike+ app telling me my pace. I decided I wanted to run a pretty consistent pace and to have a good time. I didn’t want to be too worried about the clock; I would listen to my body and run by feel instead. I hoped that by the end, no matter what my time, I would feel like I had run a smart race, that I had enjoyed it, and that I had given it my all. I wanted to be sore in the best way the next day. And that is what I did.
I started off a little slow, hoping to avoid burnout near the end. But by mile 3 I was feeling my knee (IT band syndrome) and started to be a little concerned that it would give me trouble. Thankfully, I’d read some things and talked to some people about staying positive, so rather than focusing on how my knee hurt and how it was going to ruin everything, I reminded myself that it would only hurt if I stopped. I told it that I was proud of it. I noticed that my stomach was feeling great with my fueling/hydration plan (a Gu every 6 or so miles, a swallow or two of water every 2-3 miles) and thought about how I’d be fine as long as my stomach didn’t rebel.
In the other marathons I’ve run, most of the spectators have been near the end, but each little town on the way to Boston was out en force to cheer on the runners. I was really touched at how many people were handing out orange wedges, or had set up their own water stations. And, with my name written across my chest, I found out that I had a lot of friends in Massachusetts (much to the annoyance of many of my fellow-runners, I fear). It was such a boost to hear people call my name and tell me that I was looking great, that I was strong, that I could do this. As I neared the scream tunnel of Wellesley College, where all the girls are begging for kisses, I was both near tears and laughter at their enthusiasm. I can’t imagine what kind of endurance they must have to keep that up until the end of the race.
Micah and Abby had planned to take the kids on the train and find a place near mile 18 to watch for me, and I spent a lot of the race counting down the miles until I saw them. When I got to mile 18, I scanned both sides of the road hoping to see them. I was nearly to mile 20 and had thought I’d missed them entirely when I saw them off to the right and veered off the road to give them all hugs and kisses before running on. It was perfect timing. I was so happy to have caught them, and so happy to be that much closer to the end, that I didn’t even notice Heartbreak Hill until I was nearly over it. In fact, I saw a man with a sign proclaiming that Heartbreak Hill ended right there and was so surprised that I asked a guy running next to me if it could possibly be true. It was. My 3-day carb-load must have paid off because I didn’t feel like I hit any wall anywhere. And from then on, I tried to push myself and not hold back. My knee had quieted down a bit by then, but my calves and quads were burning,and my feet were . . . tired. “Ride the crowd,” I told myself. “Let them carry you.” And I did and they did. So many people yelling my name, so many people telling me I could do it. I believed them, and I counted down the final miles: 22 . . . 23 . . . 24 . . . 25 . . . One mile to go! Right on Hereford Street, left on Boylston, and there was the finish line. So close!
I wanted to take a picture of the line, or a video of me approaching it, but just as I passed the 26 mile mark and I pulled out my phone, the battery died and there was nothing I could do about it. I crossed the line, slowed down, got some water, some Gatorade, a banana, a heat blanket. My feet hurt, but I didn’t have any blisters. My body ached, but I didn’t feel sick. The clock had said 3:26:59 when I crossed the line, but I knew I hadn’t crossed the start line for at least a minute after the starting gun fired. It was definitely not a PR, but it was a solid race – everything I could have hoped for. I’d pushed myself, I’d stayed positive, I’d run a more consistent pace than I had before, and – most importantly – I’d had fun. I’d enjoyed myself, soaked in the atmosphere, avoided heartbreak on the hills, and let the crowd carry me home.
Just letting you all know that the race is well and that our family is okay. We were hobbling back to our hotel room when he explosions happened. More about the race later, but now our thought and prayers are with those who were in harms way and dealing with the aftermath of he explosions.
Have I mentioned that I’m running a marathon on Monday? In Boston? The Boston Marathon? I can hardly believe it.
The weather in looks like it’s going to be perfect on the 15th: a few clouds, with a high of 57. Lovely day for a run. My fingers are crossed that it stays that way. I’m trying to convince myself that shorts and a tank top are going to be appropriate apparel after wearing 2 long sleeved shirts, a tank top, and capris nearly every run for the past 3 months.
I’m excited that I get to run the same race as Kara and Shalane. Honestly, what a treat to be able to run on the same course as the greats at the same time as the greats. Of course, they get nearly an hour head start and will be running an hour faster than me, so I won’t be seeing them much, but still. I’ll literally be following their footsteps.
Now, here are the details for those who are interested in following me: The race starts at 9:30 on Monday morning, and the elite women start. (Okay, actually, the race starts at 9:17 with the push-rim wheelchair division and then the hand cyclists at 9:22, but the runners start at 9:30.) The elite men and the first wave of amateur runners start at 10:00, and my wave, Wave 2, starts at 10:20. I’m hoping to match my performance at Hartford and finish in the low 3:20s, though I reserve the right to have an awful day and to drag my body over the line at whatever pace my arms will pull me. (And if that happens, please forgive me for being just a little bit cranky for a day or two.)
You can sign up to receive texts or e-mails as I make my way from Hopkinton to Boston. AT&T will send you texts or e-mails when I hit the 10K, half, 30K and finish. To sign up, text RUNNER to 345678. My bib number, which I think you’ll need to follow me, is 10165. I’ll remind you about that again tomorrow, just in case you forget.
Chocolate milk and cookies: the perfect recovery drink with a tasty treat to dunk in it.
Headband: good to hold back hair, good to hold back sweat. It could be a fashion accessory, it could be a functional accessory. It could be both.
Water bottle: useful around the house, useful on runs, useful on hikes or picnics or whatever. Comes in all shapes and sizes and can be personalized!
Foam roller/self massager: So great for loosening up and helping prevent injuries. Every runner should have one.
Foot cream/lotion: Because runner’s feet can get pretty beat up. It’s nice to treat them with respect every now and then.
Runner’s World subscription: Hands down the best running magazine. Caters to all kinds of runners, has great tips, is interesting and motivating.
Running book: Born to Run, of course. But there’s also The Complete Book of Running, Once a Runner, Running for My Life, Pre, Running and Being, among many others.
Socks: always a good idea. A good pair of running socks is worth their weight in gold.
Gift certificate to Lululemon or another athletic store: because it’s always fun to go pick out some snazzy new shorts to wear.
Pint of ice cream and a movie: To relax and unwind with after a job well done.
Entry into their next race: Keep them motivated, give them something to follow up with. Extra credit: sign yourself up while you’re at it.
Visor/sunglasses: Help them look super cool and serious and protect their eyes from harm.
Yurbuds/runners headphones: so they can comfortably, effortlessly rock out on the run.
Injury kit: ice pack, band aids, moleskin, athletic tape, anti-friction cream, needle to pierce blisters, you know, that kind of thing.
Picture of them at the race, framed: it could be one of those notoriously awful race photos where just about everyone looks awful, or it could be a nice one of them standing triumphant at the finish.
Running log: to keep track of all of their training so they can kill it at their next race.
UPDATE: The marathon has been cancelled. So we will not be cheering runners along 4th Ave. or Lafayette this year, as we have before. Best wishes to all who are helping with recovery efforts, and condolences to those who have been training for this race for so long!
Despite everything (namely Hurricane Sandy), the New York City Marathon will still be happening on Sunday. Some people are happy about it, some are not. I don’t think there is ever a perfect way to handle these situations. Running the race looks, to some people, insensitive to those around the city who are suffering. Not running the race looks, to some people, like a missed opportunity to improve morale and celebrate all that is great about the city.
In response to the situation, New York Road Runners has shifted the focus of the marathon into a race to recover. In addition to contributing $26.20 for each of the runners in the race, NYRR is encouraging friends and families (and anyone!) to donate $26.20 to recovery efforts as well. Go here to donate to various recovery organizations.
We’ll be doing what we can this weekend to help clean up the areas that were damaged and the people who were most effected by the storm. And on Sunday we’ll be cheering for those who have spent the past several months training for the race and for those who are working hard to help those whose lives have been turned upside-down by the storm.
If you’re able to cheer people on for this – or any – race, here are some tips to help you have a great experience.
If you’re in need of a laugh, here’s something fun about the glory of race photos. I’m sure I could write my own essay about such things. And maybe I will, someday.
It’s been a little over 4 years since Micah and I (and Manchild, of course) stood at the finish line of the Boston Marathon and wondered if we’d ever get to cross it as runners. At the time, our marathon PR was 4:01. I scoffed when Micah told me he thought I could cut more than 20 minutes off my PR to make the 3:40 qualifying time for my age group. I remembered the pain of mile 18 in our first marathon, and how I wanted to trip him for being so cheerful as we ran together. I would be happy to one day run a sub-4:00. If I ever ran Boston, it would be because I aged in, because everyone else my age stopped running.
But he had planted a seed, and it grew at an alarming rate. Just 4 months later, we ran a 3:55 marathon. A year and a half after that we blasted through the New York Ragnar Relay, and a few months later I had a 1:36 half under my belt. And with that, running Boston was not something I wanted to do eventually, when I got older, it was something I wanted to do NOW. The sooner the better.
So I ran and ran and ran and ran. I ran another marathon in 3:38 (which would have been awesome if I hadn’t walked a good portion of the last 5 miles and then thrown up – and if Boston hadn’t changed my qualifying time to 3:35). And then I ran a 3:22, which actually was awesome because I felt great the whole time and loved pretty much every minute.
A few weeks after that . . . I got pregnant. Believe it or not, that was part of the plan. Because babies are more important than marathons. BUT! This way I could have my baby and my marathon, too. My October 2011 marathon time would still be valid for the April 2013 Boston marathon 18 months later. By then my baby would be 9 months old. Plenty of time to get back in shape, plenty of time for her to start eating real food and not needing me all the time.
Last Saturday was the day I could finally signup. I hesitated for a few minutes, wondering what it would be like to start training in January, wondering how I’d manage to fit my runs in when I can’t take all 3 kids in the stroller. But the devil is in the details. I’ll cross those bridges when I come to them. I took the plunge, sent in my application, and waited to hear if it had filled up before I got there.
It hadn’t. This morning I opened my e-mail to find my acceptance. And there you have it. Less than 5 years after the seed was planted, the dream is coming true.
Boston, I’ll see you in April!
It’s true. They do. Midwives have helped two of my people out, and I’m ever so grateful that they did.
I don’t really know if it is possible to repay someone for helping you deliver a child (obviously, they get paid, but there is still an emotional debt), but I do try to support midwives and midwifery when I can, which is on the first Saturday in October at the annual Miles for Midwives 5K in Prospect Park.
This year the Miles for Midwives 5K will be my first race post-pregnancy, and it will be Manchild’s first 5K. I think the two of us may stick together as we circle the park.
Now that summer is coming to a close and it isn’t sweltering out all the time (just most of the time), it seems like it might be a good time to set some new goals, find some fall races, and look forward to enjoying the beautiful autumn while cruising through fallen leaves on training runs. I think Miles for Midwives might be a great race for just about anyone to run. So go sign up here.
Let me know if you do so we can exchange high-fives at the finish line.
(Squish with our friends’ new baby girl, born on the 4th of July.)
It was an innocent thing, really, just me awkwardly scooting off the bed last Saturday night. But something about the movement made an image jump into my head and practically stopped me in my tracks. I imagined giving birth on that bed. And this whole endeavor was suddenly a bad idea. A very, very bad idea.
I spent the next hour or so trying to re-assure myself. I’ve done this before. Twice. I’ll be fine. I can do it. My body is strong. It knows what to do. I pulled out some mantras: I am strong. I am capable. I am tough. I am strong. I am capable. I am tough. Over and over and over again.
I told Micah about my sudden anxiety. He seemed surprised, but I think I’m allowed to have a little freak-out about pushing a baby out of my body.
Thunder rolled and lightening flashed as we fell asleep that night, and I worried that the storm would bring the baby. Just at the moment when I was least mentally prepared . . . . But it didn’t. I woke up with the balloon still under my shirt and that sense of dread still percolating throughout my body. And so I started with the mantras again. I am strong. I am capable. I am tough. But still. What a bad idea this was.
So I tried to forget about it and focus on getting to church on time. Waiting for trains is not conducive to forgetting about anxiety. Especially since waiting for trains makes me slightly claustrophobic, which promotes anxious thinking. Thankfully, we made it without any drama or trauma.
But then, at church, everyone asks me how I’m feeling. Mostly just in passing, and I can get away with, “Pretty good.” Or, “Great.” Or, “Just fine, thank you.” But sometimes we’re actually having a conversation. Standing, talking to each other, and suddenly I’m telling them how I’m anxious about giving birth, about how I don’t really want to do this any more.
It’s probably the third person I’m telling. We’re walking down the stairs together. She asks how my other births have been. “Easy. Normal. No problems.” I say. “I know I can do it.” I say. And then I hear myself say this: “It’s just the anticipation. The waiting for it to finally start.” And with that, the anxiety dissipates. As suddenly as it came, it’s gone.
It’s just the anticipation. Just like before a race. Of course. If I think about the race – the whole race – all at once I’m going to be anxious about it. Whether it’s 26.2 miles at a 7:40 pace or 3.1 at a 6:40 pace, it’s going to be uncomfortable, overwhelming, ridiculous to attempt. But thankfully I get to take it one step at a time, one mile at a time. Same as childbirth. Just take it one contraction at a time. Relax when I can. Know that I’m as ready as I’m going to be. And I’ll get through it just fine.
So, the race. Like last year, my family was heavily involved in the Utah Valley race series. My dad ran the half (his first) as did two of my sisters and a brother-in-law, and a brother and sister ran the full marathon as well. Manchild and Squish ran the kids 1K, and Micah and I ran the 10K.
The racers, minus Manchild who was asleep.
The 10K finished first, so I’ll start with that. It was perfect weather. Cool and clear, and not windy on our part of the course (though I hear it was rough farther up the mountain). The course was pretty flat, and though we started out slow to let my body warm up, by halfway through mile 2 I was feeling pretty good and knew that my ligaments were going to be fine. And, double bonus, I wasn’t even going to have to stop at a porta-potty. Even better was the fact that we basically ran negative splits the whole race – each mile was faster than the one before.
I know some people are concerned about running far and fast this late in the pregnancy. I will say this: my body handles it well. I definitely didn’t push myself too much during this race. I was not trying to beat anyone or any time. I thought I could run a 53:00ish 10K, but I wasn’t going to get all bent out of shape if it took me longer than that. I just ran the best I could without making myself uncomfortable. When we crossed the finish line the clock said 54: something, which was fine. But our chip time had us at 50:08, which was way better than I expected. I came in as the 13th woman, Micah was the 22nd man. It wasn’t a huge field for a 10K, but we feel good about how things went.
(And for those who are concerned about the baby, she’s very active, growing well, and as of my last appointment had a strong heartbeat. Everything indicates that she’s handling things well, too.)
We finished our race just a little bit before my dad was hoping to finish the half-marathon. (The 10K started an hour after the half and full marathons.) He’d had some ankle troubles the past two weeks and was a little anxious about being able to run, but run he did and came in with an extremely respectable time of 2:08, despite the ankle acting up the last 3 miles. It was clear that he was in pain as he crossed the line, but he not only finished, he beat his two daughters and son-in-law by a long shot. My sister Jess came in at about 2:20 and Sarah and her husband Paul crossed at 2:36. Both of my sisters ran PRs (personal records) and were really happy with how they’d done.
After that we waited a while for my brother Isaac and sister Abby to finish the marathon. Isaac had a goal of running a sub-4:00, so we started looking for him about 15 minutes before that, just in case things had gone really well. We waited and cheered and cheered and waited and then Isaac came cruising past us like he was being chased by a pack of rabid dogs or something. He thought he was a little close to his goal time for comfort, but ended up beating it by a solid 2 minutes, coming in at 3:58 and beating last year’s time by more than half an hour.
We weren’t sure what to expect from Abby. Isaac had passed her at mile 5 and she said her stomach wasn’t feeling well and she wasn’t sure she’d be able to finish. We hadn’t seen her at the finish line yet, so we kept our eyes on the finish line chute and our fingers crossed that she wasn’t vomiting in some porta-potty somewhere. She wasn’t. She looked strong as she crossed the finish line, beating her previous marathon time by 18 minutes.
Things were going well for the family so far, but we still had the best race to come: the Kids 1K. Manchild and Squish were pretty excited about it, but Manchild was super tired from our busy week. Late flight + no naps + late bedtimes + early rising = one tired little 5-year-old. As we walked back and forth from the finish line chute to the finish line exit meeting people as they finished the races, he kept telling us that the more we walked the more tired he would be. So we were expecting a lot of walk-running for the race. And we were pretty sure Squish would lose interest and want to be carried along the course.
But they defied our expectations. Both of them were super serious about this race. Micah accompanied Manchild and I ran with Squish. Manchild weaved in and out of all the strollers and smaller kids and their adults, and was so focused on speed that he turned too soon and missed the finish line chute. We lost him for minute or so, and by the time we found him, he’d crossed the finish line 3-4 times, or, as he said, he “won the race three or four times.” Squish, bless his little heart, ran the whole thing. And he only fell down once. Sometimes he looked like he might be slowing down, but then he’d surge and get back on track. He totally had his game face on as we approached the finish line. He got a chocolate creamy as a reward, which would have been awesome had he not been so distracted by the chocolate milk that he let the creamy melt and drip all down his hands. In true Squish fashion, he spent a good portion of the day covered in sticky-sweet chocolate.
So there you have it. The Utah Valley Race series 2012! We were all pretty wiped out. Some of us have been limping, some of us have been sore, and some of us just totally crashed on great-grandpa’s couch during our post-race picnic.
Finally, I need to give a shout-out to Jolena and Bill for letting us stay at their place the night before the race while they were camping, and to Isaac’s fiancee, Amber for watching our kids for us while we ran, and taking pictures of us as we got started, and to my sister-in-law Summer for taking pictures as we crossed the finish line. Thanks for helping us so that race morning was as smooth and worry-free as possible!