Boston Run to Remember Race Recap

Between ending the lacrosse season and a 3 day field trip to Cape Cod with my students, I am FINALLY here and ready to recap the Boston Run to Remember Half Marathon.

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This was my 3rd time running this race and is the only half marathon that I have run 3 consecutive times.

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2013
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2014

It was also my 3rd time staying in the Hilton at Logan Airport with my mom.  Prices are cheap, transportation to the start line is quick and easy, view is spectacular and post-race brunch is delicious..which is a necessity.  It was also the 3rd time that my mom and I set an early departure time but ended up leaving hour(s) past the intended time 😉

Time of departure aside, my mom and I met up Saturday afternoon and were off to Boston.  We had a few pit stops that had to be made along the way…

Marathon Sports was a necessary stop because I have been struggling to find the perfect shoe.  The Asics Gel-Pursue have been my go-to for the past year and although I have tried to explore different Asics, I always end up coming back to the pursue.  Well sure enough they had the Asics Pursue at Marathon Sports and sure enough the shoe expert said that it was a good fit given my foot structure.  But I also had my eyes on the beautiful Brooks Launch running shoes.  I have been contemplating trying out Brooks because I have heard great things about the brand.  The second I slipped them on, it all made sense.. they felt amazing.  So amazing that I felt the need to walk out of the store with them on and wore them for the rest of the day 🙂

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I also felt the need to talk a picture of how awesome they were while standing in line for my over-priced/standard Boston price Americano.

A Whole Foods stop for some pre-race fruits and a Sushi lunch was also mandatory

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..and of course another over-priced drink.

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But this was a drink I didn’t mind spending $4 on because it was delicious!  You can’t even imagine the excitement I had when I went to my local Whole Foods this past weekend and saw a sign “2 for $5” for them.  Definitely walked out with 4 different flavors.  

And after multiple stops throughout Boston, we finally made it to the Expo!

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The Boston Run to Remember expo is always pretty decent.  Nothing too crazy but you have a solid amount of samples..free samples are what make an expo awesome, right?!  It’s hard to judge the expo when your last Expo was the Disney Princess Half Marathon.  Lets just say the expectations are set pretty high after you experience that.  After the expo we headed back to the hotel to relax..and catch up on Grey’s Anatomy with a Boston Skyline view.

We had reservations at the same restaurant that we ate at last year, Salvatore’s.  It still holds as some of the best pizza that I have ever had. So delicious that I even still have a picture of my pizza from last year….

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In the midst of inhaling the pizza, my mom was chatting with the bartender about last year’s race which somehow turned into a convo about my time and place last year which then led to the bartender saying “If you get top 3, you can come back tomorrow evening and I will buy you your meal”.  First of all, you should never offer to buy a female dinner after racing….we/I can EAT. So I guess you can say, my lack of placing top 3 was because I am overly generous and did not want the bartender to go bankrupt 😉

The race was at 7 so we had a 5am wake up.  I wasn’t too nervous because I had no idea what to expect.  I have been getting in my long-runs but my mid-week runs have been limited.  I have been focusing on strength and Crossfit rather than improving my race times.  I want to be ready and prepared to jump into half marathons for fun but fast times are currently not my main focus.  Last year, I ran a PR (which was beat this past fall) of 1:27 and with most PR races, there was a whole lot of pain and struggle.  It is hard to enjoy the beautiful Boston scenery when your fighting to hang on.  This time around, I decided to take it all in and not focus on time.

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3 minutes slower than last year which is still a bit hard to accept but it was truly an enjoyable race and I can’t say that about many races that I’ve raced hard in.

The expo samples may have been limited but they certainly made up for it after the race!

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If I had any class/dignity left in me after the race, it was definitely out the window when I grabbed an empty cardboard box and just started loading up on every possible (free) sample I could find.  Thankfully, I found a bag to transfer everything which made me feel a bit more classy.

Another reason why I decided to take the slower, more enjoyable racing option was because the next day was Memorial Day which means HERO WOD at Crossfit.  I was already signed up for the 10am session and I definitely did not want to skip on this fun!

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Not your typical ‘day-after-half marathon-workout’ but I am so glad I have some energy left from the race because this was crazy, challenging, and so rewarding!

imageI can’t say enough great things about working out with these people.  They are so strong, so motivating and they always keep me humbled.  Each person has a different strength and a different weakness.  Crossfit is such a mix of different abilities which is why I love it so much.  There is always something (multiple) things to improve on which keeps me wanting to come back and push harder everyday.

It sometimes worries me that I am not getting in as many runs and I have been lacking the motivation to push myself in races.  I am naturally a competitive person and will always want those race PRs and those super speedy times, however, I am still mentally recovering from some really tough races and I just want to get back to the joy of racing before I return to that level of pain and struggle.  I also need to keep reminding myself that although I am taking my racing lightly, I have been pushing myself harder and faster everyday in Crossfit.  There are so many goals I am trying to reach in that arena and I have been really fighting hard to reach some solid benchmarks.  Balancing running and Crossfit has been manageable but there is a lot of give and take.  In the fall, my focus was on racing.  I was only able to make Crossfit 3 days a week because I needed to get in high mileage.  I was improving in Crossfit but certainly not as much as I am now.  I guess you could say, I Crossfitted with caution which limited my achievement in that aspect, however, I ended up racing some fast half marathon times.  This past spring is opposite, I skip more weekday runs because I want to give my crossfit workouts everything I have without tired legs.  Despite my lack of racing PRs, I’ve set some solid PRs on the rower, on many lifts, and FINALLY just set the highest Max Double Unders.

So, with all this PR talk, I will end with this.  At the end of the day, no one really knows what your PRs are/is, many probably don’t care, and SOME DON’T EVEN KNOW WHAT PR STANDS FOR! (Personal Record by the way) Just got out there, do what makes you happy, do what keeps you coming back for more, and do it for YOU!

A Finish is a Finish – New Bedford Half Marathon Recap

A finish is a finish..yup, sometimes that is all you can say about a race.

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There are races where I have a goal of getting a PR or a top place finish and others where I just do it for the experience or for training purposes.  Usually I have my top priority half marathons in the Spring and Fall.  After my racing season this past October, I started jumping in half marathons for the experience of just enjoying the races rather than racing hard.  It was more of a way to train my brain and legs to race without going all out and learn how to just embrace the joy of racing.  I have been stuck in this laid back state of mind for a bit too long, especially after a winter of little running. It has finally come and kicked me in the butt.  I also think the Disney Princess Challenge got to my head and made me a bit too cocky.  I was so impressed with my half marathon time given I had raced the 10k hard, had sore calves and little running throughout the winter.  I started thinking I was capable of just jumping in half marathons even when not prepared.  So with that mindset, I said, “Yeah sure, I’ll do the Crossfit Open Workout 15.3 two days before a race…I’ll be recovered by Sunday if I just do shakeout run on Saturday”…Nope. Not the case.  I may have been able to run Disney with sore legs, but that is not something that should be a regular doing.  After some mid-race tears, cramping and one of the most mentally and physically challenging races to date..I have learned my lesson.

Now, I certainly don’t regret my decision to take part in the Open Workout because I loved the workout and finally logged a great score in the Open challenge.  I may have even won some cash if my score is still the top after everyone at my box has done the workout!  But, it definitely affected my race and more importantly, it set me up for potentially injuring myself.

Now that the race is over, I have some clarity to reflect on what exactly happened during the race.  I pretty much lost control of my emotions and broke down mentally and physically.  The feeling of your body just shutting down and working against you is scary.  Every half marathon is a fight and a struggle at some points, but this was different.  This was a feeling of hopelessness. A feeling that my body would not fight with me and was ready to give up while my mind was trying so hard to put up a fight.

Mile 8 was where I experienced my first calf cramp and from then on, there were LOTS of stops to stretch and attempts to get my head back in the race.  Stopping actually did the exact opposite.  Looking back now, every time I stopped I worked myself up more.  It is as if stopping gave me time to process just how bad my emotions were taking over ( I swear I am not this crazy!)

I kept telling myself, “I think my Mom is at mile 11, I just need to get to her.  I just need a familiar face.  A calming voice.  I just need her.” Don’t ask me what I expected her to do about the situation, I still don’t even know.  Sometimes just the presence is just what you need. By mile 11.5, there was no sight of her so I figured she was at the finish line.  At that point, I just stopped..cried..walked…pretty much lost the mental battle.  People running by were pushing me to keep on going but I ignored them until one guy said, “the best thing you can do is run it off!”…Logically, it didn’t make sense. It still doesn’t make sense. How can the cause of your pain also be the solution? Any marathoners out there to help me understand this?? But after a few deep breaths, I gave it a try.  And I somehow managed to push through to the finish.  You know when you hold in a breakdown and then it finally comes out? Well it happened at the finish. Right there.  No control.  I am all about sportsmanship and appreciating just being able to cross the line so that being said, I knew how I should have been acting.  I should have gone back to cheer on my teammates.  I should have said thank you to all the volunteers providing water and medals.  I should have been thankful rather than having a pity party. The mental game got the best of me and I am not proud of my performance nor my actions, but the best I can say is, lesson learned.

imageOuch. It is what it is…

But despite a rough day, my team,  Western Mass Distance Project, did awesome and finished 6th while the masters finished 13th! They all put up such a fight and some solid PRs!  Congrats to all of them and a special thanks for the encouragement.

Glen..you said you read my blog. Maybe you lied 😉 But if you do then, thank you. Thank you for getting us to New Bedford, for all the support and for witnessing crazy runner/female emotions.  I will get a top 3 place soon so I can live up to the expectations!

Enough running talk, lets talk race recovery.  Nothing like recovering from a mental fight with some trivia and burgers!

imageYup.  Winning just wasn’t in the cards that day. My second poor performance 😉 Thankfully, I had the perfect partner who managed to get us some points..and a delicious burger to fill to void of losing.

Despite everything that went wrong on Sunday, being able to finish, spending the evening with such a special person and just being lucky enough to have the opportunity to race is a victory in itself.

Disney Glass Slipper Challenge – Princess Half Marathon Recap

Initially, I planned on writing one giant Glass Slipper Challenge race weekend recap but as I was writing about the Enchanted 10k, I realized that each race is different and amazing in their own way.  It just didn’t feel right to transition immediately into the Half Marathon after I ended a, what I thought was, a well written 10k recap.

So here we are with the second race of the Glass Slipper Challenge

The Disney Princess Half Marathon

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After the 10k, my legs felt shot.  I was proud of my 3rd place finish so I tried to remind myself that my game plan was to race the 10k hard and see what I had left in me for the half marathon.  Despite how annoyed I was with my legs not being very reliable, I was still on point with my game plan. But, let’s be honest.  I knew that was a terrible game plan from the start because I have a difficult time admitting when I should back down and rest.  Aside from some sun bathing and a short visit to Epcot, I spent a good portion of Saturday icing, rolling and living in my ProCompression socks…even if they DID NOT go with my outfit.  Saturday was a whirlwind of emotions, there were moments when my legs felt great and I had a surge of confidence and then there were moments when they did not feel so great and the nerves started kicking in.

One thing that really calmed me down was a couple of women my Mom and I met while waiting for our seat at our pre-race pizza place.  One lady was in a boot because she had tibia tendonitis but was still planning on running the half marathon.  I jumped with joy, not because she was injured, but because I finally met someone who was experiencing similar issues.  I asked her if she was worried about being able to finish.  She was so confident with her answer, “No, I know I will finish it just won’t be fast”…so casual and confident even though she was walking in a boot less than 10 hours away from a half marathon!! And here I am, a little sore but no tibia pain..and im freaking out!  Sometimes you just need to chat with other people to help you put everything in perspective.

With another 2:45 wake-up call around the corner, it was an early night for us.

Sunday morning looked very similar to Saturday…coffee, banana sandwiches, nerves and LOTS OF STRETCHING. In my opinion it was more of a ‘last minute attempt/plead for my legs to come back to life and not be sore’.

imageFunny story about my banana sandwich that did not happen on Saturday and was pretty unexpected.  I am walking onto the bus holding my fine dining plate..

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..and the bus driver says, “Ma’am please don’t bring food on the bus.”..now I understand that the majority of people are not runners and probably could not even tell you how long a 10k or half marathon is so I am used to the interesting comments, however, I am NOT going to just casually toss my breakfast in the trash and then go try to run 13.1 miles.  Luckily, Disney does a great job hiring kind and enthusiastic employees so we were able to agree that as long as I take my empty plate off the bus, I could bring it on. Scarfing down a sandwich didn’t seem like a desirable or wise pre-race move.

The morning was pretty funny/interesting in terms of my nerves.  I woke up feeling confident and just told myself, even if I have to walk half of the race, I WILL finish.  I began accepting the idea of having a very slow race, which is a hard acceptance for me.  Meanwhile, my mom was pretty nervous.  I kept reassuring her that she would do great because she always does fine.  Her training was much better than mine in terms of how many miles she has been logging (yup. my 59-year-old mom runs more than me. I am both impressed and slightly embarrassed) Also, SHE WASN’T EVEN SORE! However, as we started walking into the race, that confidence was sucked right out of me.  My calves were tight and sore which pretty much sent me into a panic.  I never felt more unsure of myself. Meanwhile, my mom was beginning to relax and the roles were reversed.  My response to all her positive comments was probably something negative and maybe not always in the nicest tone, I’ll blame the nerves for that, however, I do feel pretty bad…

imageEven though I have done this race before, I forgot how long the walk is to the Elite Corral.  Let’s just say, once the National Anthem starts playing, it is no longer a walk, it’s a run! I finally made it to the Elite corral and realized, wow that little run over here didn’t even hurt.  Could it be that walking hurts more than running?! Well my friends, that was just the case.

And now with a little confidence and a couple of minutes to spare before the start of the race, I managed to snap a picture of just how amazing this experience is aside from all the other nonsense that trickles through my crazy mind before a race.

imageFrom the second I crossed the start line, I promised myself that I would just have fun. And that is exactly what I did.  I kept a strong pace but I made sure to take in every moment.  I just kept flying through the miles pain-free and comfortable.  It felt amazing.  I did not care about my pace, but I knew it was pretty darn decent. I did not care about my place, but I knew I was up front. I just ran MY race.  I surprised myself with each mile.  I truly was on cloud nine.  I DID NOT expect to feel and do as good as I was doing.  I remember at mile 6 saying to myself “you are doing amazing, keep it up, you have what it takes to finish this strong”  I even surprised myself with that comment.  I am always so hard on myself and my performances.  I aim to be great at everything I try and rarely give myself enough credit for the small victories.  At about mile 10 I started feeling my legs wanting to slow but my pride in what I had done thus far was enough to keep me moving. I passed some security men on bicycles and turned to them to let them know that I was ‘very jealous of their means of transportation’.  I quickly put my ear buds back in so I did not catch their whole response but I did hear, “We are actually jealous of you…”.  At the time I thought to myself, ‘they must be crazy. what in the world could they be jealous of? Being tired? Still have to run 3 more miles?’ Looking back on it now, I still don’t know why they were jealous but I do know  that they were right, they should have been jealous.  I was given the opportunity to run through Disney.  I was just about to complete something I doubted only an hour prior. I had the ability to run 19.3 miles in two days.  I had the ability to run.  Yes.  That is something to be jealous of.  And something I should never take for granted.

And with that ability, I trucked through the last 3 miles to finish an amazing weekend with some solid times and amazing memories.

image10k – 40:22 and Half Marathon – 1:32.39

Scratch that. WE finished the weekend with some solid times and amazing memories.

imageI can’t thank her enough for booking this trip, for running this challenge, and for just being such an amazing person.

It is safe to say, we left Disney limping and with some pretty hefty bling.

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