Monday, December 31, 2012

Holiday Running

Despite all of the craziness of the holidays somehow the last two weeks ended up being my highest mileage weeks for the month.  I took advantage of having some time off from work and having Joe home a little more than normal and got some great runs in.

My friend Jenny convinced me to join her last Sunday for a run organized by some of the members of ARE, a local running club.  The run was a 10 mile run up to Thatcher Park.  Thatcher Park is basically a huge cliff just outside of Albany with gorgeous views of the surrounding area. There are picnic areas and lots of hiking trails in the park.  I've spent a lot of time up there over the years but I never considered running up it.  When Jenny told me about it I thought it sounded both awesome and crazy at the same time. 

Here's the elevation profile of the run:

There were two groups running.  One was starting earlier from SUNY Albany and running 15 miles to the top.  We started with the second group that started at a parking lot a little closer to run 10 miles.   The first 6 miles were great.  They were mostly rolling hills and nothing too difficult.  It was when we got to mile 6 that the real climbing started.  Jenny powered up the hills but I struggled a bit and had to take a few walking breaks.  My legs felt strong but I kept having trouble catching my breath which I think was due to the chest cold that I am just getting over.  The views along the way up were amazing.  Even though it was tough it seemed to fly by because there was so much to look at. 

When we finally got to the top most of the 15 milers were already there.  They are so fast! They had all sorts of food and drinks for us and we took a bunch of photos before loading into the cars to go back down. 
View from the top

I was exhausted the rest of the day but I felt so accomplished! Jenny and I have both agreed that we will do this again next year and maybe even do the full 15 miles.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

I'm Back

There's been a lot of fun stuff going on around here since the marathon.  Running has taken a backburner for the most part but I've still been getting some good runs in.  I PR'd in both the Stockadeathon 15K  (1:17:28), and in the Troy Turkey Trot 10K (49:21).  Other than that we've been enjoying life around here and I have been trying to run to maintain my fitness as we end the year.  I'm still unclear about what's on my 2013 racing schedule but I have a few ideas.  In the meantime, here's what we have been up to...

Joe and I went to Hawaii

We cut down and decorated our Christmas tree

We celebrated this little munchkin's 3rd birthday
And Mia and I had a girls weekend/shopping trip in NYC with my mom
We've been having so much fun lately.  The holiday season has been great so far because Mia is so into it this year.  She really gets Santa.  I'm looking forward to just enjoying the next few weeks!

Friday, October 19, 2012


This summer I met Lois through our Strong Running Mama group and through her I also met her friend Jenny.  Both of these women I have come to consider friends.  Jenny and I have spent a lot of time training together for the Hudson Mohawk Marathon since we had similar goals.

I first met Lois at the Make it a Great Day Half Marathon in May.  There was a pretty big group of Strong Running Mamas running it and I really only met Lois briefly at the start.  A few weeks later I was looking for a group to do an early weekday run with and Lois responded by saying that she and a few friends had a run planned and I was welcome to join them. 

As we were getting ready for that first run together Lois pulled out an inhaler and took a few puffs.  I just assumed she had asthma and asked her about it.  She then told me that not only did she have asthma she was also a lung cancer survivor celebrating 6 years of life.

Her story has been an inspiration to me all summer as I trained to try to make my goal.  She is one of the most positive, determined people I know.  She truly lives life to the fullest.  She's an amazing runner.  She was not only a runner before being diagnosed with cancer but she ran her next marathon nine months post surgery and she hasn't stopped.  She ran her 10th marathon on 10/10/10 and has run many more since then. 

Lois, Jenny and Lois' daughter will be running the NYC Marathon on November 4th to represent the Lungevity Foundation.  I encourage you to check out their page and consider donating.

I'm so excited for them.  They are going to have an amazing race in NYC.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


My speedy friend Jenny has been raving to me about her Newtons all summer.  I've been considering trying them out but didn't want to try out new shoes during marathon training.  Last night our local running store, Fleet Feet, was holding a Newton clinic so it was the perfect opportunity for me to try them.

As soon as I got there I saw Darlene, a fellow SRM.  It was great to see her since I really haven't had a chance to catch up with her since she injured her ankle last year.  I think the last time I saw her was in the spring at the Freihofer's Race.

The Newton rep gave us all shoes to wear and gave us some background on the shoes and how they could help us improve our form.  The shoes felt strange at first but not in bad way. They were very lightweight and because of the way they are designed it felt like you were standing differently in them.

According to the Newton website they are:

"designed with a minimal “drop” – or height difference – between the height of the heel and the ball of the foot. A more level-to-the-ground platform positions you to support a natural running motion."

Also instead of a foam base they use a:

"biomechanical sensor plate, which allows you to sense the ground so you can stride more efficiently and lightly – some might even say intelligently, the way nature intended."

The rep took us outside and went through some drills with us on proper running form.  I found this part extremely interesting.  He talked to us about shortening our strides and showed us the difference between an optimal running form and an incorrect running form.  I've never taken a form clinic before so this was all very helpful.  We did some drills like high knee drills and butt kicks and a very funny skip step drill that made us all look ridiculous but was helpful in demonstrating the points he was making.

Once we put all of it together and ran I could really see how the shoes could help improve form so I decided to get a pair.  I am due for new shoes and since I'm not really in training mode right now it's the perfect time to try something different.  I can always go back to my trusty Asics. 

They fitted me for the Lady Isaac's.  They are considered a transitional shoe as opposed to other models like the Gravity.  They are the recommended model for making the first switch to Newtons.  I took them out for a short run today to see how they felt and so far so good.  Both the rep and Jenny advised me to break them in slowly so we'll see how they feel after the next few weeks and I'll give you an update on how I like them.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Back to Normal

I'm finally starting to feel back to normal after being so tired last week.  I'm back to running and feeling great.

Friday evening was a gorgeous but cold.  Since it did nothing but rain here last week Mia was itching to go to the playground.  I decided that was the perfect reason to try a few miles.  I ended up running 4 slow miles with her in the stroller and I felt great.  Once the run was over I felt like myself again.  I guess I just needed to force myself back out there.

Sunday my friend Elisa needed to run 22 miles.  While most of our running group are just coming off their marathons, Elisa is running NYC next month so this was her long run.  A bunch of us decided to try to help her through it by running some of it with her.  The plan was to help her through the middle 10 miles.  Of course we woke up to very cold rainy weather.  Poor Elisa! It was the kind of day when you just want to stay in bed.  We couldn't bail though, Elisa needed to get her run in! Elisa has helped so many members of our groups get through their first half and full marathons that it just didn't seem right to let her run out there in this weather by herself.  So off to meet Elisa I went and I'm so glad I did.  While it was cold and rainy once we started running it felt great to be out there.  My legs felt loose and I didn't have any pain.  Plus it was great getting to run with Elisa, Lara and Melissa D. I felt like I could easily do more than 10 and offered to help Elisa finish the rest but she told me she needed a few solo miles.

Today I overslept so I squeezed in 4 miles at lunch and managed and 8:58 pace.  Again I felt like I wanted to do more but unfortunately I needed to get back to work.

I'm still trying to figure out what my next goal is, trying to get myself into BQ shape, an ultra, another goal...I'm just not sure yet.  I'm kind of in that place right now where I want to do everything and having a hard time deciding what to focus on.  It feels weird to not be on a training plan right.  In the meantime I guess I will just enjoy my runs and try to cross-train a bit.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Tired and Lacking Motivation

The first couple of days after the marathon I was pretty sore, probably more sore than I’ve ever been after a marathon. By Wednesday most of that was gone. The one thing that has remained is exhaustion. I keep telling myself each morning that I will get up and do an easy run but I can’t drag myself out of bed any earlier than necessary. I should instead run at lunch but I haven’t felt like that either. I have no energy and no motivation. I’m not even motivated to doing something else.

I’m giving myself until Sunday and then it’s back to it. I think some SRM’s are planning to run in the morning which should give me motivation to get back out there. It’s always more like catching up with friends than working out when we run together. Then next week I think I am going to plan a few runs and focus more on cross-training while I contemplate what my next goals are. Maybe my body and mind need a bit of a running break.

Anyone else feel like this after a big race?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Hudson Mohawk Marathon Recap: I DID IT!!!!!

Yup! I finally did it...3:58:40!!! I finally broke 4 hours!

Anyway to back up a bit, I haven't written in forever.  I got caught up in enjoying the end of summer and training and life in general and just have had a hard time sitting down to write lately.  To catch up quickly, the end of training went very well.  I even PR'd by 10 minutes at a half marathon 3 weeks ago (1:49:19) so I felt confident and ready going into this race.  I knew I had a sub 4 hour marathon in me I just needed to go out there and get it.

On Sunday morning, Joe and Mia dropped me off at the start.  It was great.  The race started at 8:30 so we stayed home as long as possible that morning and he dropped me a little after 8.  I walked right to the start and found some of my friends.  I didn't have time for my usual pre-race jitters and million trips to the porta potties.  I wish every race could start so close to home like this.

I found my friends Jenny and Lois and we started to line up.  I've trained a lot with Jenny this cycle and we run a very similar pace and her goal was also sub 4 so we started off together.  Once again, I made my usual mistake.  We started off flying.  We were with the 3:35 pace group for several miles and were ahead of the 3:45 pace group until mile 10! I was feeling great, but in the back of my head I was nervous.  I had done this before in NJ and fell apart in the end.  Jenny was behind but every so often she would catch up to me and we would run together for a bit before going our own way.  At one point I got stuck in the middle of the 3:45 pace group and saw my friend Sheila.  Her goal was 3:45 and she was running strong.  We high-fived and wished each other luck and she flew by.  I found myself stuck in the 3:45 pack and not able to get out and I was getting tired.  Somewhere before the halfway point I got out of them and settled back into a more comfortable pace. 

While I was tiring, I still felt really strong.  Mentally I had broken the course up into chunks and I think that helped me a lot. I just kept focusing on completing each section.  The other thing that helped keep me going was my amazing husband.  He is the best spectator and supporter.  After dropping me off at the start he had planned to drive to a spot somewhere between the 6 and 8 mile mark so he and Mia could see me.  I knew that traffic and parking would be difficult so I wasn't sure exactly where I would see them but I knew the general area to watch for them.  Well we passed one of the parking areas off the path and I saw his truck driving, it looked like they were trying to park. I was so bummed.  I thought they had missed me because I was faster than they expected.  I was surprised about 2 miles later when I saw them waving at me from the road.  They could not park where I saw them so they drove to another spot.  They had just made it to see me at that point.  I didn't expect to see them again until close to the finish.  Joe told me his plan was to drive to the finish area and bike back with Mia in her seat and watch for me so they could give me a boost in the last few miles.  Well they surprised me! I saw them 4 more times on the course! I cannot explain how much it meant to me and helped me to have them out there cheering for like that.

The hardest section of the race for me was the home stretch, the 4.5 miles on the bike path that goes from Watervliet to the finish line in Albany.   This should have been easy for me because I have run this section a million times and I know how close to the end it is.  When I hit the bike path I was on track for a 3:55 marathon but I was starting to struggle.  I just wanted to be done.  While I didn't have any major aches or pains my body was tired and my mind was playing tricks on me.  I was having a hard time shutting up the voice in my head telling me to slow down or just take a rest. Thankfully, I saw my friend Tami running down the path towards me.  She wasn't running this race but she came out to support all the Strong Running Mama's that were running the half and the full.  I waved her down and told her to talk to me, tell me anything to keep my mind off of this.  She started filling me in on how the half-marathoners did and kept telling me to stick with it.  I am sure I was not pleasant company for her but she was awesome and just kept talking.  About 3 miles from the finish we saw Joe and Mia on the bike.  Joe asked me if I needed anything and told me to hang in there.  Mia was sound asleep on the back of the bike, at that point I wished I could trade places with her!  He cruised along a little behind and let Tami and I keep running together.  It was nice just knowing he was nearby. 

As we got closer and closer to the finish, Tami kept reminding me that I was going to accomplish my goal.  It seemed like the those last few miles were longer than the first 22!  But eventually we got to the boat launch and the finish line was right around the bend.  Tami told me to go for it and when we could see the clock she told me to look at it (it still had a 3 on it). Somehow I picked up the pace and ran towards it.  I heard someone cheering for me and saw my Aunt Pammy and Aunt Jeanne cheering me in and I did it! I finished! They had a computer screen in the finisher area that told you your official time and when I saw 3:58:40 I was so happy.  As I came out of the finisher area, I saw Tami again and she helped me make my way to food area.  This part is a blur but I think I probably hugged Tami a million times,  I was so grateful for her support those last few miles.  My family found me and we somehow found Jenny and her family. 

While I am so proud of this race, it was bittersweet.  Jenny missed her goal by 50 seconds.  She had worked so hard and for some reason it wasn't her day.  On one hand I was so happy for myself but I felt bad about her missing her goal.  I am so proud of her, she is an amazing runner and will get that BQ!

Afterwards my aunts took Mia to the playground near the finish line while Joe and I watched more runners finish.  I was wiped out but on a crazy runner's high that still has not gone away.  I am pretty sore today and taking a few days of rest but I am already thinking about what's next...Tami half jokingly/half seriously reminded me as we were running that we are going to do an ultra next year (50K), and I can honestly say I am seriously considering it.  I am also thinking about what it would take training-wise to get into BQ shape.  My current BQ time is 3:35, in 2014 when I turn 35 it will go up to 3:40.  Do I have those kind of times in me? I'm not sure but it's fun to think about.

For more immediate plans, Joe and I have a trip to Hawaii scheduled in 3 weeks.  I'm looking forward to enjoying some time away and relaxing.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

20 Miles Done!

This morning Tami and I set out to do our first 20 miler of this training cycle.  I was excited because we were doing the Dyken Pond Loop twice.  It's a difficult loop but it's very pretty.  We also had a really great 20 miler there last cycle so I was hoping we would feel the same after this one, even though Tami was coming off a week of being sick and I was nervous about having knee pain. 

Dyken Pond loop is tough because you go uphill for 5 miles but then you get a nice mostly downhill section for the last 5 miles.  I like doing our 20 milers here because mentally you are only focusing on the 5 mile section you are in- either the hard uphill or the easier downhill. 

Our first 5 miles were tough but we got through them at around a 10 min mile pace. Then we hit the easier section and we were cruising.  I fell into a really great comfortable pace- around 9:15.  I felt great.  When we hit 10 miles at our cars we quickly refilled our water and set out for the 2nd loop.

The 2nd loop is always tough, you have to face the hilly section again.  I'm not going to lie I was tired and cursing the hills a little in my head.  I just tried to focus on the fact that I only had to get through this section and we would be back at the downhill again. 

Somewhere between mile 14 and 15 a big pitbull mix ran into the road at us.  We both stopped and walked for a few seconds to see if he would just leave us alone.  Instead he kept following us.  He seemed friendly but we were nervous.  We couldn't really tell where he came from so we yelled loudly that someone should come get thier dog.  No one came.  We decided to start running again and he started running alongside us.  It seemed like he didn't live in any of the houses we were near, it was a pretty rural area so he may have came out of the woods.  Anyone that we ran into we asked if they knew him but no one did. For whatever reason he really liked me and decided to run as close to me as possible.  This made things difficult.  He kept trying to circle around me and was cutting me off and I almost fell several times.  He also would run into the road and when cars came by he was running towards the cars instead of away from them.  So every time cars passed we would try to get him to come on the side of the road.  There were a few close calls.  Of course every driver looked at us like we were irresponsible for letting our dog run freely like that.  

My calves really started aching from my funny strides.  I never got into a steady pace or groove because I was constantly sidestepping the dog and stopping and slowing down.  I felt so frustrated.  About a half mile from the end of our run I stopped to walk because I felt like I was about to cry.  It seems so silly now, but my calves hurt and I just wanted the run to be over with but I couldn't push it to get it done because every time I tried the dog would cut me off and I would almost fall.  I walked for a bit and the dog started running with Tami.  I felt bad but I needed him away from me for a few minutes.  I finished the run a few minutes later and was totally done! I felt wiped out.  My overall pace ended up being 10:08...a lot slower than I would have liked but I was just glad it was done. 

When we were done our new buddy looked at us like "what's next".  We checked his collar but he had no ID.  The dog even followed my car for a couple of minutes but stopped before I turned onto a busier street- thank goodness! I can't stop worrying about him now.  I hope he found his way home.  He seemed like a good dog despite scaring us at first.

Friday, August 10, 2012

New Legs

After my knee pain and my doctor appointment last weekend I did a lot of resting, stretching and icing. Monday and Tuesday I had no pain at all. Monday night I was supposed to get a massage but there was a scheduling mix up and they had to move me to Wednesday night. By Wednesday I was itching to run again.

So Wednesday at lunch I decided to give 3 miles a shot since I knew I had my massage appointment that evening anyway. The run was great. I had no knee pain and my pace was 8:57 which was faster than what I was aiming for. My legs felt good so I just went with what felt comfortable. I iced my knee after just to be on the safe side but I didn’t have any pain after the run.

Wednesday night after work I had the most amazing massage ever! It was actually pretty painful during the massage but when it was over my legs felt looser than they have in ages. It felt like I had new legs. I wish I could get one every week or even every month (I need to win the lottery!), but I do try to incorporate massage into my marathon training when I can and this was much needed.

I ran again on Thursday. This time 4 miles at a 9:01 pace. I think it was almost 90 degrees at lunch when I ran, at least that’s how hot it felt. Despite the heat, I felt great because I was running and I had no pain. My knee has remained pain-free!

Last night I got out of work early so I decided to take a Cross-Fit class. I love these classes but missed the last week because of the knee pain. I’m still trying to figure out how to work these classes into my running schedule but I really enjoy them and I see how they will make me stronger and a better runner. It’s just hard to figure out how to balance everything and fit it all in. We did a lot of squats and again my knee was pain-free.

Today my legs feel tired in general but not too tight. I’m going to rest today and try to do 6 miles tomorrow morning and Sunday Tami and I are doing 20 miles!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Knee Injury

Last week my legs felt pretty tired and tight.  I attributed it to Sunday's hilly 18 miler and my increasing mileage.  Trying to be smart and listen to my body, I stretched and rested and took it easier than my plan called for.  I only ran twice.

I ran a really tough 9 miler on Wednesday.  It was a flat route but I just felt tired and my legs were so heavy.  I decided to rest again Thursday.  Friday morning I ran a 10K route with Jenny and fet great.  I was happy and figured that I was smart for resting.

A few hours later I was walking down the hall at work and my knee locked up.  I couldn't straighten it.  When I did it hurt so bad.  The pain was on the inside of my knee and my knee was slightly swollen.  I went back to my desk and took some ibuprofen and iced it.  The ice felt good but when I was walking again later the pain came right back.   I have had knee pain in the past from time to time but never like this.  Usually I associate it with my super tight hamstrings and stretching helps.  Massage also seems to help too. This seemed different.

I started freaking out, sure that my running days were over so I called the doctor.  We have a really great orthopedic practice in our area so I called them thinking I wouldn't be able to get an appointment for weeks but they offered me an appointment for Saturday morning! I spent the rest of the day icing but the pain was pretty much constant.

The doctor did an xray and moved my knee all around.  The x-ray didn't show any injuries.  The doctor thinks it's just overuse and tight muscles.  He gave me a brace and told me to rest and ice for a few days.  He also gave me a script for PT.  He said they can do some exercises and stretches with me that should help.  I'm supposed to go back in a month for a follow up.  If it gets worse or doesn't improve I'm supposed to call him right away and they will do an MRI.

After icing a lot yesterday and wearing the brace it does feel better.  I notice the pain a lot on the stairs but for the most part it's getting better.  I plan to take the next few days off from any exercise and spend a lot of time icing.  Joe also gave me a gift certificate for a massage that I'm going to try to use tomorrow if I can. 

Please think good thoughts for me.  My training has been going so well up until this point.

Monday, July 30, 2012

What’s 2 More Miles?!

Sunday I had plans to run with my friends Tami and Felice for my long run.  We wanted to incorporate the Dyken Pond loop into our run because that was our route for our awesome 20 miler when we trained for New Jersey and it’s a really beautiful route.  Felice only needed 10 miles, Tami needed 18 and I needed 16.  Well Tami is the type of person that can talk you into anything running-wise. She is so positive and motivating you always want to go along with her plans.  They usually turn out to be crazy hard and hilly but so worth it in the end.  So that’s how I ended up planning to do 18 instead of 16.  I was going to meet at her house, run 4 with her to the Dyken loop to meet Felice, do the 10 mile loop, then run back to Tami’s house for 18.

Sunday we woke up to a lot of rain.  On the way to Tami’s house I realized I forgot my garmin- ran plus no garmin wasn’t a good start.  I then heard from Felice that she wasn’t going to be able to make it.  When I got to Tami’s she told me about a triathlon that was going on at Grafton State Park and how we could change our route to run up the bike route and cheer the bikers on. We figured we would save the Dyken loop for when Felice could run with us. We briefly discussed how this would mean we would be running up a huge hill and we really had no idea how far we would have to run up the hill to see them but again Tami makes everything sound fun so we went for it. 

We parked at the local school and took off up the hill. We must have run over 3 miles before we saw our first biker.  We were so excited and cheered loudly.  This guy was super fast because it was a while before saw anymore bikers and then we saw more and more.  After finishing mile 5, which was really tough, we looked up to see that the hill got even steeper and longer and decided that would be a good place to turn around.  We figured we would run back down then finish up our run on more level ground. The run down felt great.  We were flying after that tough uphill.  We kept seeing more bikers and cheering for them.  It was cool to see how fast some of the women were.  I was in awe of all the bikers because it had to be a terrifying ride down that hill in the pouring rain.

Once we got back down we made a quick pit stop to refill our water and headed out the same road we ran for the Make it a Great Day Half Marathon back in May.  We figured we could do a “flat” 4 out and back.  Compared to what we had just run up I guess you could call this road flat but it really wasn’t.  It was a lot of rolling hills.  I had a rough time on this road back in May so it was nice to run it again and although I felt tired because we already had 10 miles under us at that point, I felt so much stronger than I did in May.  Before we knew it we were back at the car and had 18 miles done at a 9:37 pace!

I am amazed at how far I have come since I began training for New Jersey earlier this year.  During that training cycle I was nervous leading up to distances like 18 and 20 and now I feel so much more confident.  I know I can handle them.  I’m stronger and faster than I was in the beginning of the year and even since May. 

Last night Tami sent me some info on our run since I forgot my garmin.  Here is the total ascent for each of those 5 crazy uphill miles:

Mile 1: 200 feet

Mile 2: 231 feet

Mile 3: 241 feet

Mile 4: 443 feet

Mile 5: 388 feet

This is the kind of run I would never choose to do on my own but every time Tami talks me into something like this I am so glad I did it! Although she is now trying to convince me to do an ultra in 2013 and I swear I AM NOT doing it...

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


Recently there was a Living Social Deal for one month of unlimited CrossFit at a local CrossFit gym, Crossfit Beyond. I’ve wanted to try Crossfit for a while but I’ve been hesitant to try it because joining most of our local crossfit gym’s are pricey and I was afraid that I wouldn’t use it or wouldn’t like it. This deal was the perfect opportunity to try it because it was half the normal price.
Monday night I took my first class. Luckily there were 6 other new people who also had joined as part of the deal so they split us off from the regular class and did more of an introductory class. We focused mostly on doing squats properly, since we were told squats are one of the major movements in Crossfit. We did a bunch of squat basics and then we got to do our own WOD. We partnered up and had to do as many rounds as possible of 5 squats and 5 crunches in 5 minutes. It didn’t sound that hard but after all the squats we had already done this was killer.

After our WOD was over we joined the rest of the class to do a Tabata with them. We did 8 rounds of planks. We had to hold them for 20 seconds and then we would get a 10 second rest. Two days later and I can still feel this in my abs.

I felt like even though we didn’t do a regular class workout I got an great workout. I am going back tonight and while I am excited to try the regular class I am also a little nervous. We were able to watch the regular class on Monday during our workout and it was intense! Hopefully I will survive!

Monday, July 23, 2012

A Good Run is a Bad Run?

Saturday morning I met up at the bike path with Felice, Jenny, and Lois for a long run.  We were joined by Jenny and Lois' friend Sue and my friend Caroline who brought along her friend Janet.  We were going to do 14 miles and had picked the bike path because it's flat.  I know that I personally needed flat run this week as most of my running has been on hills lately and Jenny and I had done 9 miles the day before below marathon pace.  Running-wise it had been a tough but good week for me, I had tackled my first track workout and had run 22 miles by the time Saturday rolled around.  I was tired.

Anyway we hit the path and started running.  The first 8 miles felt good.  We were running about a 9:30 pace and that's when the fatigue started to hit me, my quads felt tired and my legs in general felt tired.  I was able to hang on though and kept up with Felice and Sue.  At mile 10 I made a huge mistake I let myself walk.  It was all downhill from there. Once I started walking I couldn't get going again.  The last 4 miles were a lot of walking and a little running. While I don't normally have a problem stopping to walk if I need it, this particular day I know if I had just kept going I would have finished the run feeling better than I did.  I think I need to work on my mental toughness.  Overall my pace was 10:03 which really isn't bad considering all of the walking I did.  I would normally be happy with that pace if I didn't feel like I had given up at mile 10.  I know I could have pushed myself and that's what bothered me in the end. 

Even though I didn't feel great physically on my run, I did feel great when I finished.  I felt proud and happy to be out there with such amazing women.  Sue, who I just met that day, is 64 years old and a breast cancer survivor.  She didn't start running until she was in her 50's after battling breast cancer and she is super fast. I think she said she has run a 3:20 or 3:30 marathon and she qualifies for Boston every year! Anyway, it was hard to be down after running with someone like her. 

Plus, I feel like I learned a few lessons from that run. This week I will not be doing such a fast run the day before my long run and I'm going to work on pacing myself better on this week’s long run.  It's all part of the training!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

My First Track Workout

I have been running 1 or 2 mornings a week with Jenny and Lois who I met through the Strong Running Mama’s group.  Both of them are training for the NYC Marathon and Jenny is also training for the Hudson Mohawk Marathon, which is what I am also training for.  I’ve been enjoying getting to know them both and also enjoying the new routes they have introduced me to. 
Anyway, last week when we were running they started telling me about a track workout they do with Team Utopia every Tuesday night.  They said the workouts change each week and that the team is a really great group and that I should join.  I was really interested but my potential problem was that Joe works on Tuesday nights so I would have to see if my parents could pick Mia up from school and watch her for me.  Luckily, we normally go there for dinner on Tuesday nights so I didn’t think it would be an issue and my parents were happy to do it.

I’ve wanted to do track workouts for a while.  I know they will help make me a faster runner and help me get closer to that sub 4 hour marathon goal, but I am always afraid to do them on my own.  I don’t know why, it’s probably ridiculous, but I’ve always felt like I needed someone there to tell me what to do so joining a team sounded like the perfect opportunity.

So I signed up late last week and started to get excited for Tuesday...until I saw the forecast.  They were predicting 96 degrees for the high! Great- my first track workout and I was going to die.  I checked with Jenny and she said we were still on so I sucked it up and went and I am so glad I did.

After a 1.5 mile warmup the coach told us we would be split up into 3 person teams and would be doing 200 m relays for an hour.  I think he said something about how this was the only workout he thought wouldn’t kill us in this heat.  Excellent...

Jenny and I were put on a team with Chuck who was super nice.  I got to go first and unsure of how to pace myself I tried to go as fast as I could.  Unfortunately I didn’t have my garmin set up properly for a track workout so my data isn’t very good.  But it appears I did most of my 200 m relays at a 6:30 pace. We ended up running 3 miles of relays so 4.5 miles for the night with the warmup.  Some people did a cool down run but the workout went a little later than I expected so I skipped that to go get Mia and get her ready for bed.  Overall my pace for the evening was 7:30.  Again, I need to figure out my garmin so next week I can have better data.

Having the teams of 3 really helped with the heat.  We each enough time in between our laps to drink some water.  By the end of the night we were all dripping with sweat and I felt beat but it was a good feeling. I can’t wait until next week.

I had made plans to meet Jenny and Lois the next morning for a 5 miler but I think I didn’t drink enough water after the workout.  I ended up not being able to sleep and had a horrible headache that lasted through part of the next day.  I just tried to rest and drink a lot of water and eventually felt back to normal although my legs are still tired. 

This morning I felt much better and was able to run 7 miles at a 9:26 pace.  The heat and humidity has also started to break so hopefully next weeks track workout won’t have the same effect on me.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Running Buddies

About 2 years ago the Happy Runner started a running group for moms who wanted to train for their first 5K.  This was not long after I had Mia and I was struggling with getting back into running.  A good friend of mine was friends with the Happy Runner and suggested I contact her and join the group.  Since then the group has gone from training for a 5K to running half marathons and a bunch completed their first marathon in New Jersey back in May.   It's become this amazing network of local women who support each other through our training.  Many of us train together and race together and along the way I have made a lot of friends that I probably wouldn't have met if it wasn't for this group. 

Today was one of those days when I reminded of just how amazing this group is.  Early each week members of the facebook group start posting about the long runs they are planning for the weekend and asking who wants to join in.  Usually we end up with a couple of small groups gathering at various times throughout the weekend for long runs of various distances.  This morning 11 moms showed up for our long run.  It was awesome.  We ended up splitting up into different groups based on paces and distances we wanted but it was so cool to see so many of us together at the start.  I was so proud to be a part of this group. 

This group has made me a better runner.  Just knowing that other women who are juggling kids, family, jobs, illnesses, and a million other stresses are also getting out there everyday and running makes me get out there too even when I don't feel like it, even when it's hard. 

So I just want to thank the Happy Runner for starting this group and bringing us all together and thank you Strong Running Mama's for always inspiring me to strive to train harder and keeping me going!

By the way, just so this post isn't completely's run was freakin' hard! 12.5 miles of hot humid hills at a 9:35 pace but we did it!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Boilermaker 15K

On Sunday Joe, my uncle John and I met the Hudson Mohawk Road Runners Club buses at 5 am to head to Utica for the Boilermaker.  This was our second time running it.  Last year we missed it because we waited too long to sign up so this year we were sure to sign up early.  Utica is about an hour and a half from Albany so taking the bus was a great idea.  We got to relax and sleep a bit for the ride rather than worry about driving.  The other great thing about taking the bus is that HMRRC already had all of our packets so once we got to the start we didn’t have to worry about packet pick up.

Once we arrived at the start we headed towards the bathrooms and looked for some of my Strong Running Mama friends that were running too.  We easily found them and a lot of other friends from Albany that were there too.  We all posed for some group pictures, wished each other luck and headed towards are corals.
Strong Running Mamas Pre Race

With so many runners (I think I heard that 13,000) had registered, they have to do a coral start.  I guess the corals were by estimated finish time although I don’t remember entering that when we registered but it was quite a while ago.  The coral that Joe, John and I were in didn’t cross the start line until over 6 minutes into the race.  The announcers were saying that at that time the lead women were already past the 1 mile mark- Amazing!

Once we past the start I tried to find my pace which was difficult the first few miles because of the crowds.  Finally I found my groove and before I knew it I was at the dreaded golf course hill.  The last time I ran this race I was about 6 months post-partum and it was a ver hard race for me, although I did have a lot of fun.  I remember hating this hill so much.  This time, no problem, I charged that thing and loved every second of it.  It felt so good to be able to do that.  The best part of that hill was the downhill that followed.  I was cruising for the next few miles and had some sub 8 minute miles!

While the race had started out overcast and with temperatures in the 60's, the sun came out halfway through the race and the humidity was really high.  Around mile 7 the humidity hit me.  I was still running fast but I felt like I was running in slow motion.  I was drenched.  I just tried to keep holding onto my pace because I knew if I ran strong the rest of the way I could PR.  Those last 2 miles felt longer to me than the first 7 but eventually I crossed the finish line.  My garmin said 1:18:47, my previous PR for a 15K was 1:19:25 at the 2011 Stockadeathon, so I was pretty sure I had it but wanted to wait to confirm with the official results before getting too excited.  Regardless I was proud of my time and had a lot of fun on the course.  There were so many great bands and DJ’s and the crowds are amazing.  Utica knows how to put on a race!

After crossing the finish line I grabbed some water and a popsicle and looked for my friends and Joe.  I found Sheila and Felice and eventually the rest of the crew.  The ladies were driving back to Albany so Joe, John and I headed back to the bus to change and enjoy the post-race party.  We had so much fun listening to the band and enjoying the free beer.  We kept running into more people we knew too.  Around noon the party ended so we headed back the bus and back to Albany.  It was nice to get to spend the day with Joe running and having fun for a while after.  He had been away the week before so it was a nice together for us.  Plus on the bus ride home we found the official results online and I had in fact PR’d - 1:18:42!!!
Joe and I enjoying post race beers

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Firecracker 4 Miler

Yesterday morning I ran one of my favorite races, the Firecracker 4 Miler in Saratoga Springs.  Joe is away for work this week so I got to run this race pushing my #1 training partner Mia.  Let’s just say that it was a very hot day and the course is a great course but has 2 hills towards the very end.  Knowing all this I just wanted to run the race and have fun.  My good friend Ryan was running it and so were some of my Strong Running Mama friends.
Mia in her 4th of July running attire

To prepare for the heat I armed Mia with two squirt guns for the race.  She loved it and was practicing by squirting Ryan and I before the race.  At the start we ran into some crazy runners from the Albany Running Exchange dressed up as various animals and snowman.  They run the race like this every year, I don’t know how they do it.  Mia loved seeing them though.
Albany Running Exchange Runners at the finish line

There were over 3,000 runners this year for the race so the start was crowded and hard to maneuver with the stroller but once we got going I felt pretty good but very, very hot.  Our first mile was 8:41 which I thought was great but I wasn’t sure if I would be able to maintain with the heat and the stroller.

This race is just a blast.  Even with the heat you can’t help but have fun.  The course runs down Broadway and turns into residential neighborhoods.  Residents have bands set up on their lawns.  It’s so much fun.  Mia and I cheered loudly for each group.  Residents also set up misting stations throughout the course.  We ran through every one and it really helped. 

Approaching mile 3 there is an uphill that normally sucks but really sucks when you are pushing a stroller.  After that you get a slight reprieve until the last half mile which is uphill again.  This is just cruel.  I was really struggling at that point but just tried to keep going since I could see the flag that marked the finish line. 

I ended up finishing in 34:37, an 8:40 pace.  I am pretty proud of that time.  It was a hot day and pushing Mia was hard!
Mia and I at the finish

After the race, Mia really wanted to see the ARE animals finish so we waited for them to come in and gave them some high 5's.  Then we went and enjoyed some free Chobani yogurt that the race provided.  We followed that up with some italian ice and met up with some of Strong Running Mamas.  Sheila won the Public Safety Division.  She rocks!
Strong Running Mamas

After that we watched the parade and headed to my aunt’s house for a bbq, water balloon fights, and kiddie pool swimming.  My munchkin passed out too early to catch the fireworks but it was still a great 4th of July.

Next up the Boilermaker on Sunday! Fingers crossed for cooler temps!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Marathon Bucket List

My friend and NJ Marathon training partner, The HappyRunner, has a new feature called Marathon Mondays where she profiles other marathoners.  It’s a great idea and it’s fun to read about other people’s marathon experiences.  This Monday she did a profile of me and one of the questions she asked was about what races were on my bucket list.   I gave her a few of my top ones but since answering her I’ve been thinking more about other races I should add to my list.

Here’s my marathon bucket list so far.  Any other great ones that I should add?

Look at the amazing views in this race.  It sounds like is very challenging but also worth it for the views.

I just began training for this race in 2009 when I found out I was pregnant with Mia.  I decided not to run it since I didn’t know how my body would handle pregnancy and running. Plus spending the money to travel across the country for a race I couldn’t put my all into didn’t seem wise with a new baby on the way.

It’s only a half but I am including it on my marathon list because I want to run it so badly.  Princesses are big in my house.  I need to run this race. It looks like so much fun.

You run the half one day and the full the next and it’s at the happiest place on earth, sounds like the perfect place to take on a challenge like this.

Another one that just sounds cool.  You run from Ojai, CA to the beach and it’s downhill!
Finishers get a Tiffany necklace...need I say more?!

I don’t know when but I WILL QUALIFY FOR BOSTON someday and run this. 

Monday, June 25, 2012

Strength Training

One of my new year's resolutions was to try to get into a strength training routine and also do regular core work.  I have done core work randomly since then but I haven't developed a routine.  And before today I can't remember when the last time I picked  up a weight was.  I've been seeing a lot of improvement in my running this year and I've gotten into much better shape overall but I feel like I have no strength and certainly no abdominal strength.

Since I've been really good lately about running in the morning I realized I should still take advantage of my lunch hour to workout at least a few days a week and I should use that time to develop a weight routine.  Today was day one.  I went to the gym at lunch and did a basic chest and triceps routine.  I finished out my workout with some core work.  I'm not going to lie it all felt really hard but I was proud of myself for doing it.  My goal is to do some strength training at lunch 3 days a week.  Hopefully building more strength overall will help my running even more!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Adirondack Distance Run

This morning I had the perfect race.  The kind of race where everything went right and running felt so easy.  I am on a major runner's high right now!

This morning was the Adirondack Distance Run.  It's a 10 mile race from Lake George to Bolton Landing.  It's a very hilly run, its basically uphill to Bolton Landing but there are some nice downhills in the race too.  The course is beautiful.  There are some great views of the lake and you pass by some really nice lake homes as you get close to Bolton Landing.

I had no expectations going into the race.  I've run a lot this week and my legs felt tired this morning.  I was planning to use this as just a really fun training run.  My husband was running to and he hasn't been running much lately and wasn't going to run fast so I figured I would start with him and see how I felt.  It was the perfect morning for this race.  Usually this race falls on a hot and humid day.  It was hot and sunny but the humidity wasn't bad and the course has enough shade that the weather was actually pretty comfortable.

I started off slow with Joe.  The first mile or so of the race is a slight uphill so I wanted to take it easy since my legs were already tired.  Once I started running my legs felt great and I gradually found myself picking up speed.  Before I knew it Joe and I weren't running together any longer and I was on my own.  I tried not to look at my watch much and just go with how I felt.  The few times I did look at in the first four miles I was running paces in the low 8's.  I felt great though.  Every hill I encountered I charged up and cruised the downhills.  I kept passing people on the uphills and felt like I was getting faster with each mile.

I never had a point in the race where I felt like I couldn't keep the pace I was at.  My legs felt strong the whole way.  I also didn't think about things like if I maintain this pace I will finish in x time.  I just enjoyed the run.   I wish I could bottle up the feeling I had during today's race  for all my long races. 

When I crossed the finish line the clock said 1:24:59! That's an 8:30 pace! I never expected that going into this race. 

I waited at the finish line to cheer Joe in and then we both walked down to the beach and went in the lake.  It was the perfect ending to the race!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Valley Cats 5K

This morning I ran in the Valley Cats 5K with Mia.  This is the first time I've ever run this race but I will definitely be back.  It was so much fun.

The race starts at a baseball stadium where our local team the Valley Cats play.  It was a pretty hot morning but not nearly as bad as the last few days have been.  I also was pushing Mia in the stroller and am racing a 10 miler tomorrow so my plan was to take it easy and just have fun.  The route was pretty hilly- in fact it starts on a pretty long uphill- but there were some nice downhills throughout that balanced things out. 

The first mile was really tough.  Running uphill with a 2 year old in a stroller is hard!  My garmin was initially showing me paces starting with 10 but then I seemed to find my groove and mile was 8:42.  The next mile was a lot easier and I picked up the pace a bit until we approached another long hill.  Did I mention running uphill with a stroller is hard?! Even with the hill this mile was still pretty quick at an 8:30 pace.  The last mile was much easier, there was a great downhill section as we approached the stadium.  I felt like I was flying and was excited when I started to catch up with my friend Elisa.  I had Elisa in my sights the whole race but could never catch up to her.  She was running so strong.  (She ended up placing 3rd in her age group!) I never completely caught up with her but close enough to tell her how great she was doing and cheer for her.  Mile 3 was a 7:51 pace- that downhill really helped! The last section of the race was in the stadium around the field.  It was so fun to get to run in the stadium like that but really hard with the stroller.  I slowed down quite a bit because of the packed dirt path and finished up at an 8:21 pace.  My final time according to my garmin was 26:12:05 - 8:21 pace.  The official results had me at 26:28.
After the race with JoDee and Nina

Mia running fast
After I finished I watched the rest of my friends come in and chatted with everyone for a while before Mia's kids race started.  This was the best kids race ever.  The kids ran the same route around the baseball field that we finished on.  Mia loved it.  She laughed the whole time.  As a prize the kids all got Valley Cat clappers which she loved. 
Mia trying to pull ahead of the competition

It was such a fun race morning.  I can't wait to run it again next year.

Tomorrow Joe and I are heading up to Lake George for the Adirondack Distance Run.  This race is a 10 mile run from Lake George to Bolton Landing.  It's challenging with a lot of hills but it's a gorgeous route that finishes on the beach.  I can't wait.

Oh and I'm happy to report I got my morning runs in this week!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Morning Running

I think I have finally done it...I think I have become a morning runner!

During my last training cycle I had no problem getting out of the house early to meet my running friends on the weekend. We would usually meet around 7 or 7:30 so that wasn’t actually super early, especially in mom-terms. During the week though I had such trouble trying to get runs in early before work. In order to run in the morning I need to be done with my run and back home by 6:45 or 7 at the latest because that is when my husband leaves for work. So depending on how long I want to run I need to be out running by 5:45 or 6 at the very latest. I did it a few times and loved the days that I did it but it was so sporadic. Maybe it was the cold weather and the dark of winter but I just couldn’t get into it. I feel like this hindered my training a bit because then my weekday runs were limited to lunch hour runs where I can squeeze in 4 miles max. or after work runs on days it was warm enough to run pushing Mia. I never really got a lot of midweek mileage.

That all changed a few weeks ago. One of my running buddies Gail posted on our group facebook page about needing to get 9 miles in early one day. It coincided with a week I wasn’t going to be able to run much on the weekend so I responded that I was interested but I needed to be heading home by 6:45 at the latest. This meant if we were doing 9 we were meeting at 5...the meeting spot is about a 10-15 minute drive from my house, so I was looking at a 4:15 am wake up. YIKES! In a moment of insanity Gail and I agreed that we would do it. When I woke up and drove to meet her I was definitely questioning my sanity but once we started running I forgot about that. We had a great run, with beautiful scenery and great conversation. The miles flew by! We both ran pretty fast- our average pace was around 9:08 (goal marathon pace!!).

This run inspired me to get up and run at home a few more times that week. Then I realized that since we were going away the next week I should get my long run done before we left. I asked Gail if she was interested and again the following Tuesday we did it again. Another great morning run in the books.

After I returned from vacation we met up for another early 9 miles and later in the week I was looking for company for a 6-8 mile run so I posted on the group page asking if anyone was interested. Turns out another one of our running friends meets on Thursday mornings with a group that does 7 miles and they told me to join them. We met at a different spot so I got to experience a new running route and meet some new running friends. They told me they do the same run every Thursday and to come back again this week.

So this morning Gail and I were at it again- another speedy and early 9 miles in the books. Thursday I plan to go meet the other ladies for another 7 and tomorrow I will do 5 in the morning on my own. I’m enjoying getting out there early and getting my runs done. I’m beating the heat and I am so much more energized for the rest of the day. I’m hoping that this becomes a habit so when winter rolls around again it will be second nature.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Father's Day 5K

Every year our local running club puts on a 5K for Father’s Day at the park near our house.  Joe and I have run it a few years in a row now.  He runs pushing Mia in the stroller (it is Father’s Day after all) and I get to run it stroller free.  This year my mom and her sisters were going to walk the race and one of my aunts who has recently lost a lot of weight was attempting to run/walk the race.  Plus several of the families from husband’s taekwondo school were participating.
Before the race

I was pretty excited to run it this year since I feel like my speed has really improved and this is the first 5K of the year I was going to race. I had run one other 5K in May but it was the day after a tough half marathon and I ran it just for fun and recovery.  My goal was to run the whole race at a sub 8 pace. When we got to the park and saw that the course had changed slightly this year we were a little disappointed.  They changed it so you started off running across a field.  I knew this would be especially hard for Joe pushing the stroller.  Luckily, you didn’t have to run far until you were on the paved path.

This race is pretty popular so the path was crowded but I started up front enough that I didn’t have to weave around too many people and was able to settle into a comfortable pace.  My first mile clocked in at 7:41! It was fast but I felt good so I just tried to stay as close to that pace as I could.  I tried not to look at my watch a lot during the race, I just tried to glance at to get an idea of where I was pace-wise.  Each time I did I saw that I was under 8 but not as fast as my first mile. 

As I started to get close enough to the finish line where I could see the clock I saw that the time was still in the 23's but quickly approaching 24 minutes.  I tried to kick it up as much as possible but I was quite close enough or fast enough to beat 24 minutes.  I finished in 24:10 which was a 12 second PR.  I was really excited about that time! Next time I will beat 24 for sure!

Trying to run fast

After I finished I watched Joe and Mia finish and some of our friends.  I decided to start jogging the course in reverse to find my aunt that was trying to run/walk to see if I could help her finish.  I found her about a half a mile from the finish.  She was going great.  She took one last walk break and then ran the rest of the way in to the finish.  She ended up finishing in 47 minutes.  I am so proud of her.  She really gave it her all and I think she may be hooked now! My mom and my other aunts finished shortly after and we all went over to watch Mia run the kids race.  Joe was going to run with Mia while I took pictures but as they started running she started calling for me so I went out and joined them.  She tried to run so fast and laughed the whole way.  It was great! At the end she got a little medal that she was so proud of.  Of course she made us run about 25 more “races” with her after that.
Joe and Mia during the race

As the other kids races finished up they started announcing the awards.  I was surprised to learn I won 2nd in my age group! I got a really cute Father’s Day mug for my award.  A PR and an age group award all in one day!
Mia and her medal

We had a lot of fun at the race and continued the fun with strawberry picking and a father’s day cookout that afternoon.  I think Joe had a great Father’s Day!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Run Disney

Last week my whole family vacationed in Walt Disney World to celebrate my mom's 60th birthday.  She really wanted to take both of her granddaughters to Disney and so that's what we did for her birthday.  It was a great but exhausting trip.  I knew before we left that I wouldn't run much while I was there.  I was planning to rest a little from marathon May but I did hope to run a few days. 

The day before I left I met one of my running buddies, Gail, for a nine mile run bright and early, 5 am since she has to be to work early and I have to be home early so my husband can leave for work.  We've done this run three times so far and I'm hoping we make it a weekly thing.  It's a great start way to start the day. 

Anyway, back to vacation, I felt good knowing I had gotten nine miles under my belt before vacation and didn't feel a lot of pressure to run while we were there.  I did go out for three miles early in the morning on our second day but that was it.  We walked a lot while we were there and I felt like I got a lot of exercise.  I was exhausted each night when we finally went to bed.
View on my vacation run

I am a big Disney fan and have always wanted to do one of the Run Disney races- especially the Disney Princess Half Marathon.  This trip made me want to do it even more.  While we were there my mom even said that she would like to do it.  She is a walker and can walk at a very fast pace.  Last year she did the Avon Breast Cancer 39 mile walk in NYC, so I know she can do the distance.  I'm pretty psyched.  It would be really special to do that with her.  We have to discuss it a little more but registration for 2013 opens up in July and I plan to sign us up!

My Princess

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Freihofer's Run for Women

This past Saturday was the Freihofer's Run for Women 5K.  We are very fortunate to have a race like the Freihofer's Run for Women in our area.   This race is an amazing combination of elite women and recreational runners.

From the Freihofer's Run for Women website:

The Freihofer's Run for Women 5km combines some of the top International and American women distance runners and over 4,000 women from the Capital Region and across the nation. From Olympians to recreational runner, it's a wonderful blend of competition, participation and camaraderie.

I have run this race a few times in the past.  It was through training for this race that I met the Strong Running Mamma's a few years ago.  This year, having just come off two marathons in May, I decided not to run it and go down and cheer on some of the Strong Running Mama's instead.  I brought Mia with me and planned to have her run one of the kids races.  Tami was also spectating.  One of her daughter's was running the 5K and her other daughter was running the kids mile. 

I haven't really spectated many races before and until Saturday I had no idea what I was missing! It was SO MUCH FUN! We staked out a spot with a good view of the start and finish and we cheered our hearts out.  We were definitely those crazy loud ladies at this race.  We cheered for the elite women, we cheered for our friends, we cheered for strangers.  We screamed our lungs out.  It was awesome!

Seeing the elite women come through was amazing.  They are so fast! It was also cool to see how they literally left everything on the course. You could tell they were pushing it as hard as they could. It was so inspiring.

It was also a great day for my friends. Felice, Bridget and Gail all PR'd.  Darlene was supposed to be walking her first race post injury but ended up running the whole thing.   I was so proud of all them!

Mia didn't end up running the kids race because it was pouring but she was proud to wear her race number around and she got her free cookies so it was a good day for her too!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Memorial Day Marathon Recap

When I was training for New Jersery my running buddy Tami was originally training for the Memorial Day Marathon.  Well somehow our other running buddy Karen and I got the idea that we would run that one with her too.  The course is known as a very tough course.  It's located in the Berkshires and everything we read about it said it was very challenging.  In the meantime Tami had surprised us by running NJ with us so now we were all doing two marathons in one month.  A first for all three of us!

We were all feeling pretty good since NJ and so we planned to just enjoy this race and run it more for the experience instead of a specific time goal.  We were going to treat it like an extra long training run.  In the days leading up to the race I was pretty excited for it.  I didn't feel any pressure and was looking forward to having a fun day with my friends.

The morning of the race I headed out at 5 am to meet Tami and Karen for the drive to the race.  The day before my husband had purchased new wheels and tires for my car and had them installed. Well on the way to meet Tami and Karen I suddenly heard an awful noise coming from my car and it felt like I couldn't control it.  I was on the highway at this time.  I pulled off at the next exit to discover I had two rear flats! I just started race was ruined and I didn't understand what had happened with my car.  I called Karen to tell her what happened but I'm surprised she understood me through my sobs.  She immediately said "We're coming to get you! Don't worry!".  I called my husband and he said to just go he would deal with the car. A few minutes later Karen and Tami pulled up and I felt better, I was still upset about the car but I was happy I could still go with them. 

They both cheered me up on the ride with funny stories and race talk.  We agreed again, we were taking this race slow and having fun.  No repeats of our crazy pace at New Jersey.  Once we got off the highway the drive to Lenox was so pretty.  We arrived got our packets and waited for our friends who were running the half to arrive.  Once everyone got there we all took a lot of pictures and headed for the start.

We started running a nice comfortable pace.  It was already pretty hot but in the first few miles there were some shaded areas and the hills were not so bad.  We ran into another runner from our area.  She is a maniac and part of the only mother daughter marathon maniac team and we chatted with her for a while.  The miles were going by really fast.  We were having a great time running despite the heat.  We stopped often at the water stops to refill our bottles but we were still running at a decent pace.  In fact we were looking at a 4:30 or better time.  Around mile 9 or so we started splitting up a bit, but we seemed to all catch back up to each other from time to time.  I was still feeling really good and continued to feel good for most of the race.  Around mile 18 the rolling hills ended and the hills started getting tougher.  I still felt good but felt myself slowing a bit but I still felt like I was running strong.

Then we hit mile 20! This is where the real hills started! I have never run up hills like this before.  For the next 6 miles it was all uphill and directly in the sun.  The temperature was in the mid 80's and super humid at this point.  It seemed like everyone on the course was doing a combination of run/walk at this point.  Ocassionally things would flatten out a bit and I would try to run as fast as I could for as long as I could.  I kept thinking the hills would end but they never did. 

As tough as this part was I felt strong.  It was just hard but I was well hydrated and I didn't have the cramping problems I had in NJ even though the conditions were a million times tougher.  This part of the run was also beautiful, the views of the Berkshires were amazing.  I tried to just enjoy my surroundings and hang in there.

As time went on I knew there was no way I was pulling off a 4:30 marathon and I was fine with that.  Finishing this race was enough.  Later we would find out that the winner finished in 3:05 which is much much slower than winning times at most marathons. 

Eventually I hit mile 26 and the finish line was around the corner.  I picked it up and as I approached the line I heard Joe and Mia cheering for me.  Mia ran out and grabbed my hand ran through the finish line with me.  I have never been prouder of finishing a race and having her with me made it so special.

After I finished I found out Tami had finished about 10 minutes before and Karen (our speed demon) about 25 minutes before.  Tami was having some breathing issues and being checked by the medic. She turned out to be fine she just needed some water and to sit for a bit.  Once she felt better we went to collect our medals- custom dog tags with our names engraved on them.  They were so cool!

We then went on to enjoy the food and drinks for a while and we toasted with some chocolate milk that Karen had brought for us.

This was the hardest race I have ever run and I am so proud of finishing it.  I'm even prouder to have done it with Tami and Karen.  They are such strong women and I'm glad they are my running buddies!

Now it's time to rest a little!