The Boston Marathon, 2014 edition

That day, April 21, 2014, was one if the best days of my life. I wasn’t even there. I haven’t even come close to qualifying, yet.

For weeks prior to the race, I lamented the fact that for the first time since becoming a runner, I would not be able to watch the live stream. I knew the race would be amazing not only because of the stacked elite field but also because of all the emotion because of last year.

That morning I started to get excited as I saw tweets from friends gearing up to run the race, so excited that I felt like I was flying on my own run. I was so distracted that I allots didn’t get out the door in time to get to work.

While at work I had to practice extreme metal discipline just to stay focused in between brief twitter breaks to check for race updates. By the time the closing miles of the men’s marathon came my heart was in my throat; my hand wouldn’t stop shaking.

Then it happened. Meb crossed the line first! I got so excited that a coworker noticed and asked if I was alright. I could barely get Meb’s name out. That’s when it hit me, the realization of just how much this race means to me. There’s no way for a non-runner (unless they’re a Bostonian) to truly understand the emotion and significance of the Boston Marathon.

I was on cloud nine the rest of the day. I couldn’t stop smiling. I’m surprised that the song “Happy” wasn’t stuck on repeat in my head.

There’s so much that could be said about the race itself, the day, the significance, or the legacy. Much of it has already been said by more talented writers than me so I won’t delve off onto that rabbit trail.

Instead, I’ll focus on the wheels that started turning in my head. Granted, they’ve been turning for a while but yesterday shifted them into warp speed.

I want to get to Boston more than just about everything else I have ever wanted in my life. I have to go full force towards that goal.

So, Monday I contacted a friend who just happens to be a running coach. I bit the bullet and an diving in full force.

I don’t know how long it will take to get that BQ but all other bucket list priorities will have to wait.

I’ve got my next two marathons lined up but since this post is already quite long enough, I’ll save that discussion for another post.

Thanks you Boston! I’ll be there soon!

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Y2Y Half Marathon Week 7 Training Recap

It’s hard to believe that less than a week remains. I’m so not ready. :)
Until I think I’m ready I’ll just dream of Boston and wish I could be there today.

Monday 7 miles
I was a little bummed about my pace even though I went into this run forcing myself to make it a recovery run. Saturday’s long run took a lot more out of me than I expected. I probably didn’t hydrate well Sunday or get really good sleep last night. The mid-sixties temps before the sun came up didn’t really help either. That being said, I finished the run well and am proud of myself for sticking to a recovery run even though I wanted (and always want) more.

Tuesday 7 miles with half mile intervals
I had to talk myself into this one both before I got to the gym and after I started the run. I’m so glad I did. I felt great. I upped the interval speed to 7.6 and didn’t back down. It felt hard but not necessarily hard enough. I’ll try to go faster after the half aka the next time I get to do speed work.

Wednesday stationary bike + NTC
I wasn’t mentally engaged with this one. I got it done and was so glad to be able to stop.

Thursday 7 miles
I didn’t feel like running out in the dark and unseasonable cold so headed inside. Oh well. It was a good run, nothing extraordinary.

Friday stationary bike
This ride felt great. I felt strong the entire time and rode the fastest I’ve been able to manage in a long time.

Saturday 9 miles
The rain pushed me inside today. While it wasn’t heavy rain, if I don’t have to run in it, I don’t. The run itself actually felt pretty amazing. I really got into the Doctor Who episode I was watching and before I knew it, I was almost done. I kept increasing the speed at the end and probably could have gone faster through the whole thing. Hopefully that same good feeling will return next week when I tackle the course!

Sunday rest
Though I didn’t necessarily feel like resting, I was a good little runner.

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Y2Y Half Marathon Week 6 Training Recap

I almost made it back to 40 miles this week and loved every step. Next week I start a mini taper since race week is less than 2 weeks away!

Monday 8 miles
Originally I had planned on intervals. I’d be inside anyway thanks to the downpour. Once at the gym, I thought better of the plan. It’s such a habit for me to do speedwork on Monday but since it’s always my first run after a long run (with a rest day in between) I think I’d be better served to save speedwork for later in the week. The run ended up working out just fine.

Tuesday stationary bike warm up + NTC
This was a decent NTC workout. I actually made it through with minimal modifications.

Wednesday 8 miles
This was an okay run. I think I slept wrong because my back felt a little off/tight. Thankfully it’s nothing serious. I also headed into this run with some soreness from Tuesday’s NTC workout. With those two factors in mind, I’m very pleased with my time.

Thursday 8 miles with half mile intervals
I wasn’t so sure about speedwork Thursday. I told myself to at least get to 6 and then I could run the remaining two miles at a steady pace. By the time I got to 6 miles, I forgot all about that and finished the full 8. I had hoped to run the intervals at 7.6 but I’m happy that I made it the full 8 at 7.5. I am thinking about shortening the distance for interval training and upping the speed since 7.5 is the pace I hope to maintain in the half marathon and I should be running these intervals at 5k or 10k pace.

Friday stationary bike
This was a decent ride that went by really quickly thanks to this month’s Runner’s World Issue. (I should learn to not read the Boston articles out in public. :D) I didn’t have to sprint at the end to get the above distance so maybe I am getting faster overall?

Saturday 14 miles
This was an incredibly tough run. I know what made it tough though and I’m already looking forward to the next time.

Sunday rest
Well enjoyed.

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14 Miles – “Spring” Has Returned

The run beat me today.

Seriously, I haven’t had a run this hard in a really long time. The reason? Two words: hills and heat

Backing up a bit…

Last Sunday I heard from someone also running Y2Y that the course is hilly. Immediately I realized that running on the fairly flat Swamp Rabbit Trail was doing me no favors. It’s a little late in the game to throw in a bunch of hill work but I could get at least one long run done that included significant hill work. So I changed my long run route from the Swamp Rabbit to my old route closer to home. The real test would be seeing if I could also maintain a sub 9 pace aka my new goal for all my long runs.

I’m counting that goal as still alive but with an asterisk. (I’ll get to that in a few paragraphs.)

Since I would be running a route that did not include any water fountains I decided to stash a Gatorade at the approximate halfway point. I figured that I would drink half of it then and then finish it off on the walk back to the car. Spoiler alert: that didn’t happen.

When I started running the weather was beautiful. I wish it had stayed like that. Instead, the sun came out in full force and turned up the temps. Those temps started to go up just like the terrain. There are some serious hills on my old route, hills that just never let up.

I kept hammering at those hills but started feeling fatigue really early on. I actually thought about just throwing in the towel on the second half and just making it back to my car. That’s how lousy I felt.

I’m stubborn though so I told myself to just make it to my gatorade. I’d stop and drink the entire bottle. Hopefully that would refresh me enough to get through the rest. I’m not sure that was quite enough but I do know that I would not have been able to finish had it not been for that rehydration.

I kept telling myself to put in the work. I want to get faster. I want to get a BQ. To do that I need to put in the work. (I won’t tell you how long it took my brain to figure out that phrase while I was running. My thoughts were more than a bit muddled at that point.)

I knew that my second half was easier but it still wasn’t as easy as my legs wanted by that point. I felt like I was plodding but somehow I managed to keep my body moving at about a sub 9 pace. (Full disclosure: apart from the water bottle stop I did stop 3 other times to try to catch my breath and calm down my heart rate. I did stop my Garmin at this time. I’ll get to the pace calculations at the end.)

I was so happy when I reached the turn around point in the second half. All I had to do was plod back to my car and I could be done with this run. It was at this point that my newest favorite running song came on “Something I Need” by One Republic. (Get this song. It’s the absolutely perfect running song.) This was the only point in the run that I felt like I was enjoying myself.

Too bad that had to end and the wind had to join the party. Seriously, the wind decided to blow against me the rest of the way back (almost) even though the route include three different nearly 90 degree turns.

Because I’m really bad at calculating new route distances I had to add on a tiny out and back before making the final turn. I was so done by that point.

Once I crossed the last street I put my head down and focused on putting one foot in front of the other. I finished with a time of 2:03:28 on my Garmin.

That’s my moving time. Even when I felt like I was plodding I maintained a sub 9 pace except for one mile of 9:08. I’m pretty impressed by that.

Elapsed time was 2:11:10 which according to coolrunnings.com’s pace caluclator translates to a 9:22 average pace. That’s not that bad either.

I’m actually pretty pleased with this rude awakening run. (I’m also dreaming of longer runs too especially thanks to iRunFar’s twitter coverage of the Lake Sonoma 50 miler that I’m following while writing this post.)

Since this post is already longer than I planned, I’ll talk in a separate post about how it might change my goals for Y2Y and how I’m going to, hopefully, mix up my training.

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Y2Y Half Marathon Week 5 Training Recap

I noticed Saturday when I went to write my long run recap that I titled last week’s training recap a “training plan.” Whoops. I’m not sure where my brain is sometimes.

I loved the past week of training. It felt so good to get back to (relatively) high mileage after the mid-plan cut back week aka week 4. Only three weeks remain. That’s crazy. It feels like I just started this plan.

Monday 8 miles with half mile intervals
For this run I alternated between 7.5 and 7.6 for each interval. I felt strong the entire time, especially because the intervals didn’t feel as hard as I thought they should. That just means that I’ll have to go faster next time!

Tuesday stationary bike warm up + NTC workout
I chose an intermediate workout this time and definitely felt it. While I’m not the biggest fan of strength training, I’m committed to it. I’ve seen such a difference in my overall fitness through this training plan and also a lack of aches and niggles for which I’m very thankful.

Wednesday 7 miles
This run felt pretty good. I did have a little bit of fatigue in my legs, probably due to Tuesday’s NTC workout. My average pace was a bit disappointing though. I thought I was running faster than that. Overall it was a decent run.

Thursday 8 miles
I was going to be disappointed with this run. The warmer temps and some fatigue in my legs convinced me that I was running 10-15 seconds slower per mile than Wednesday. However, it turns out that I was running almost the exact same pace! This was a hard run. I definitely need to factor in acclimation time.

Friday stationary bike
I felt pretty good. I tried to push a bit but it turns out that I got the same distance last week. Overall it was a fairly average ride.

Saturday 13 miles
I loved this run so much!

Sunday rest
I switched up my schedule a bit (aka change the service I went to at church) and it made a huge difference. It was much more conducive to rest to get things done in the morning in one big chunk rather than start and stop.

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13 Miles – a Dress Rehearsal for Tune Up Race

(I almost titled this post “13 Miles – a Dress Rehearsal for a Dress Rehearsal but couldn’t.)

It’s April. That means that the half is this month, in three weeks to be exact. I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t nervous. It’s runs like today’s that give me a needed confidence boost going into the race.

I took my time getting ready and out the door this morning. It’s Saturday and it has yet to get unbearably hot.

I don’t know if it was that relaxed mindset or the great sleep I got last night but I started this run feeling awesome.

My goals for this run? Start and finish strong with average pace and splits all under 9. Mission accomplished. Sorry for the short post.

Just kidding.

The temps were amazing, perfect for running. I felt awesome through the first few miles. It also made me start to wonder why I seem to have no trouble whipping out a sub 9 pace on my long runs when that same pace feels so hard to achieve during the week. My preliminary hypothesis? Sleep. I need more of it.

Around mile 3.5 I had to stop. Up ahead were two loose dogs with nary an owner in sight. I don’t do dogs. Seriously. Some people may love and even run with them but that will never be me. I was not about to keep running past them and have these stray dogs bound after me. Talk about a potential heart attack. Thankfully there were some other runners coming the other way which scared the dogs off or something.

Speaking of runners, there were so many out on the trail today! That makes me really happy. I may run on my own most of the time but it’s a lot of fun to have other people on the trail to run with and let’s be honest, to pass.

I still felt great when I made it to my turn around point at Linky Stone Park. After a quick stop at the water fountain I was on my way back to my car. There’s something about that turn around that always seems to get to me. The run always seems a bit harder at that point.

Maybe that’s why my runs tend to get a little faster, if there’s anything left in the tank. Today there was.

The last 6 miles may have felt harder than the first 7 but I performed much better through them. I definitely got a negative split for the second half of that run. I’m even more pleased with those splits when I realize that not only did I negative split the second half of the run, but I also battled a headwind and an overall rise in incline to the end of my run.

I finished in 1:49:09 which I believe is my fastest 13 miles in training. (The only other times that I’ve run 13 miles faster than that were my three spring half marathons last year.) I also managed to shave 3 minutes off my time from my 13 mile training run two weeks ago.

I’m still a bit nervous about the half though. I know it’s just a tune up race but I still want to run well. I think I have a slight PR in me. That would take a 7:47 average pace which just might be doable.

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Running in ____ weather

So, I’ve had this post written for over a week now and keep forgetting to post it when I’m home and can type it up on the computer. Whoops. While it’s not quite as timely as I would have hoped, I still want to post it.

I’d love to say that the recent bipolar weather is unique to Greenville but I think it’s just this particular season. Actually, there’s nothing I love about this season but that’s beside the point.

My point has to do with my running weather preferences which I first started thinking about thanks to the weather’s pendulum swings.

Up until this winter I would not hesitate to declare that winter was my absolute favorite running season. Then came this winter and a little doubt about that determination. I started dreading heading out into the dark, cold outdoors to start a run.

I find it funny that I finally figured out why just around the official start of spring. It’s all about timing.

My first two “running winters” happened to occur while I was in school. Only on rare occasions did I venture out to start my run before the sun came up.

It’s amazing how much of a difference a little light-or lack thereof-will make. I’ve run far too many runs on the treadmill this season since any possible excuse sent me, cheerfully, inside.

Of course, I have this eureka moment weeks before South Carolina heat and humidity takes hold and doesn’t let go until well into fall and sometimes winter.

Runners are hard to please, aren’t we?

So…my goal for this likely super-hot summer is to avoid complaining about the weather. (I wouldn’t mind sill being able to run fast either.)

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