Dear Fall Marathon: It’s Not You. It’s Me.

Based on some of the responses I got from my Rut post last week, it seems I’m not the only runner-in-training who’s in a bit of a funk right now.

Which got me thinking about the downsides of training for a fall marathon.

Sure, spring marathons have their own winter training challenges: ice, snow, polar vortexes, to name a few.

But training in the summer brings its own special sort of hell.

1. Heat. I know there are people who dream of running Badwater. I’m not one of them. I can barely stand to sit by a pool in the heat, let alone do something to raise my VO2 max threshold.

2. Humidity. Even worse than the heat. Truly. Lately, I may as well have been running on a treadmill in a steam room. While smoking.

3. Schedule. It’s been many moons since I last sat in a classroom, but there is still a part of me that sees “Summer” and wants to take a vacation from everything “Schedule.” Even if your training schedule is as half-assed as mine, it is still a schedule. Screw schedules. I want to be a Grasshopper in the summer, not an Ant.

4. Exhaustion. Summer training kills my sleep. If I want to get a solid run in on a weekday, I’m out the door as the raccoons are heading off to bed. I like to get up early, but there is a difference between getting up early and having coffee in bed vs. getting up early and doing intervals. No rest for the weary during summer marathon training.

5. Social Life. Because I have to be careful of what I eat and drink so I don’t puke on my hot, humid run at dawn, marathon training sure does put a damper in those Summer Nights. No midnight margaritas on the deck the night before a tempo run. If you have my stomach, there is also no: beer, wine, Mexican food, pizza, dairy, salad, anything spicy, or anything that ever touched a vegetable or fruit. I can stomach pancakes or scrambled eggs the night before a long or intense run. With water. Not exactly standard fare at summer soirees.

6. Chafing. When it is cool, I have an idea of where you will chafe, and can glide up properly before you head out. All bets are off when it is hot and humid. I can glide the hell out of every area that touches a waistband, bra strap, pocket – you name it – only to find (when I hop in the shower – Youch!)  that there was a random seam on my singlet that got soaked with sweat and chafed my shoulder blade. I developed a chafing rash on my sockline a few weeks ago. WTF? Short of gliding my entire damn body and slip-sliding all 19 miles, summer long runs are hard lessons in the odd places one can chafe.

7. Sandals. I’m not vain, but I also don’t like scaring people. Which is why I hate baring my marathon training feet to the world. Honest truth: every time I go to my local nail salon, they send a guy over. Apparently, my feet are a man’s job. (???) Nothing worse than putting on a cute pair of sandals and realizing that beneath the dainty straps, all you can see are callouses, healing blisters and missing toenails. At least in winter, no one knows what lurks beneath my Uggs.

8. Dehydration. I am either dehydrated, or recovering from being dehydrated, or worried about being dehydrated. All. The. Damn. Time. I am sick of carrying a water bottle everywhere I go. I am tired of Gatorade. I don’t want to add chia seeds to everything. I don’t want to check the color of my pee. I am still a little confused by salt pills. I want a beer. I want more beer.

9. Outdoor time. In the winter, running gives me a good reason to head outdoors. What other excuse do I have for getting some fresh air and Vitamin D when it is 8 degrees? In the summer I have lots of reasons to be outdoors, many of which involve shade, a cool drink and a book. I don’t need the lure of a 3 hour run through the rainforest to motivate me to leave my house.

10. Performance Depression. No matter how hard I run, how much water I drink, how well I fuel, if I look at my pace on my Garmin, I know I will not be impressed. I know, I know – training is more about effort than pace. Even Hanson says so. BUT, there’s something a little thankless about running your heart out only to find that you actually are moving at a snail’s pace.Almost backwards at times. Say what you will about cold temps, but they at least make you zippy.

Two of my bucket list marathons – New York and Chicago – are in the Fall, so I’m probably not done with the fall marathon yet. And the truth is, the fall is a GREAT time to race.

I just wish the summer was a good time to train.

How do you feel about training in the summer? The winter? Ever? Which races are on your bucket list?

The Friday Five: Summer Should Get a Speeding Ticket.

NO WAY

What the hell was that? Summer just blew a red light, cut me off and banged a hard left to Toodle-ooville. Boy was that quick. Gotta hate those drive-by summers. Summer was a blur. It’s always quick when work ramps up, and you find you spend your days wistfully looking outside the window of your lab, experiment running, timer angrily flashing, while you dream of an iced coffee, a trashy magazine and a sunny, breezy beach. Ahh, summer. Thankfully, Cynthia, Mar and Courtney are keeping summer ALIVE! with their Friday Five this week- Five Things I Did on My Summer Vacation.

I used to love heading back to school and inevitably getting the “What I did on my Summer Vacation” assignment from some happy, little nun who always seemed to have the most perfect skin on the planet. Must be the Holy Water. Thanks, Ladies! I’m reliving my Catholic School Youth!

The Pan Mass Challenge!

IMG_0185
PMC Number 11!
I can’t possibly begin any list about my summer without including the Pan Mass Challenge straight away. Tina and I rode a glorious 192 miles in two days across the Great State of Massachusetts all in the name of kicking cancer’s ass! We’ve had multiple posts about the PMC. In fact, other than running, we chat about it a lot. Want to join us? Read why you should HERE. Want to read exactly what it means to me? Read that compelling piece of journalism HERE. Journalism. Who am I fooling? It’s amazing. And magical. And the best damn weekend of the year. Here’s to next year’s PMC. Number 12 for me. Number 4 for T-Bone.  A whole damn dozen. I’m giddy already.

Tina, Colby and Carly. And that's a wrap!
Tina, Colby and Carly. And that’s a wrap!
Marathon Training!

Sweet Meb Almighty. Running. Running. And more goddamn running. I embarked on a new training plan- Hansons Marathon Method and set a goal- a BQ. You know, a measly BQ. Since deciding That’s What I Wanted, and blabbing about it all over the Blogospere, I have committed to this training. It’s kicking my weary ass, but I’m doing it. Thank you for dealing with my posts. It’s keeping me honest and accountable. And believe it or not, super motivated. I’m on a ‘renegade path to my fastest marathon.’ What does that even mean? I don’t even know who I am anymore. Mother? Send help. And cookies. Because I’m perpetually starving. ermahgerd hernserns mahtherd
Wellfleet!

Wellfleet.
Wellfleet.
Ahhh. A little R&R with my best half in my favorite summer spot on Cape Cod- Wellfleet. It’s such a sleepy, artsy, beautiful, seaside town. We love it. Beautiful runs, gorgeous beaches and so many hidden little spots. Despite the hustle and bustle of Cape Cod in the summer, it is still possible to find a quiet spot to unplug and reboot. I look forward to our stay in Wellfleet every year. This year it was the absolute highlight of our summer. And far too short.

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Firebird Selfie. I love the Cape Cod Baseball League.
Books!

Remember that time I posted a Reading Challenge way the hell back in January and sort of left it there, sans updates, to wither away into the bowels of Our Blog? Yeah. I do. Only I didn’t let it rot. I’m actually reading! No where near as much as Tina–Girlfriend is a Little Miss Library– but I am nonetheless. I have to read so much scientific rubbish for work, that I skimp on reading for pleasure. Scientific literature is not rubbish, it’s just not exactly a goddamn page turner. I’ve read a nice handful of books, but I have to say my favorite of the summer was The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. What a wonderful tale. It was one of those books I had wanted to read and never quite got around to it. It’s a story of self discovery, of listening to your heart and of finding what moves you. I so enjoyed it.

The Beginning of Summer. When the grass was green and my kicks were pink.
The Beginning of Summer. When the grass was green and my kicks were pink.
And the BEST THING that happened during my summer vacation?
Come on.
Take a guess…

DRUNK OTIS!

Drunk Otis.
Drunk Otis.
Sweet Otis Brown. Or, Oats MaGoats. Or simply, Drunk Otis as he is most commonly referred. He’s one crazy bastard. The brown ones always are. But smart. And sweet. He’s one hell of a trail runner. I saw him, and just knew we had to have him, our sock eating, little orphan. Little. Now that’s not a word we ever use to describe him. He does nothing little. He is large and he lives LARGE. He’s a welcome addition to our Little Zoo. :-)

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Fetch!
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That face.
IMG_2712

What was the highlight of your summer? Read any good books lately? Have you ever adopted a dog? If not, you should! They’ve got lots of love to give!

Rut.

ChooseRut

I’m in a rut. A running rut. Or maybe just a racing rut. Or some other rut. I don’t know. Could be global.

Do I still like running? Yes. Unless it is 8000 degrees and 500% humidity.

Do I still like racing? I think so. But I’m not sure. Maybe yes, but not right now.

Do I still like training? I think the answer, at least for now, is no.

Do I still like blogging? Definitely yes, but given my recent rut-like existence, I just haven’t had much to say. Which is why I have been The Worst Co-Blogger Ever. Haven’t posted because I don’t want to harsh the blogosphere mellow. If Colby didn’t love me so much, she would have fired me months ago.

I do think a large part of my running rut has to do with my lack of a goal.

For the first time, I’m racing without a goal. None. Nil. Nada. And let me tell ya, it’s incredibly un-motivating.

For the Marine Corps Marathon, my goal was to finish, which I did.

I didn’t have a specific goal for the Philly marathon, but I wanted to do it as a “pre-training” of sorts for The Big One. Boston 2015. I didn’t want Boston to be my second marathon for some reason (?).  Despite my bizarre, allergy-ridden experience at Philly, I’m glad I did it because the snowy weather last winter was brutal, and if I was starting from scratch in my winter training for Boston I would have had a panic attack. Or ten.

Then came Boston. And, except for the weather, it was everything I hoped it would be. Everything. My goal for Boston was to experience running Boston. No Other Goal Needed.

Though I struggled with the weather during Boston, I BQ’d again. So I’ll be back in 2016. And for Boston, I think that just running Boston will always be enough of a goal for me. Now that I know what it is like to run that course, experience those crowds, and turn right on Hereford, left on Boylston, I’m pretty sure I’ll never need another motivator to run Boston.

But before Boston 2016 comes Baystate 2015. And I’m not sure what the hell I’m doing with it.

Fact: The only “goal” I can think of right now is a PR.

Fact: I have neither the time nor the energy to train for a marathon PR at this time. I’m split a lot of different ways and the piece of the pie available for racing right now is not big enough to train for a PR. I’m also dealing with some as-yet undiagnosed GI issues which will not help in that regard.

Fact: I find it hard to feel excited about training for a race when I have no goal. And that is what I have been dealing with this summer. I don’t mind the running  (except for the heat and humidity, which is always the case), but when I think about it in terms of “training,” and what I “should” do, the spark just isn’t there.

I can easily run a 5K with no goal. A half marathon is a little harder, but still doable, since I run enough that I don’t really have to train for a half anyway. Still, I ran the Fairfield Half in June: I was crabby going to it, meh during it, and didn’t even get an adrenaline rush after it. It was yet another race where I did fine but nothing new or exciting. I don’t even think I recapped it here, because I had nothing to say.

And now I’m training (and man oh man, I use that term loosely) for a race that is twice as long as the Fairfield Half. Oy. That’s an awfully long way to run without a spring in your step.

The Farmer’s Almanac predicts a cold & snowy winter this year, so working toward Baystate will give me a base for my Boston training. At least that is what I tell myself when I’m procrastinating before a 6 AM run.

And I still like running. I really do. But the time commitment and mental commitment for “training” is so different. Having to put in the time (and even there, I’ve been slacking)  without the mental investment is just not fun. Or inspiring. Or motivating.

Methinks I’m taking a racing break after this one, so I can just run without any sort of plan – even a half-assed one – and not worry about it. I can still do the running, but not have to think about the running, talk about the running, plan the running, track the running…

At least until January, when Boston training will start. Hopefully, I will have climbed out of the rut by then.

Have you ever been in a running rut? Or a racing rut? What the hell did you do to get out of it?

Running, Imploding and Realizing I Have Eight Weeks To Go!

Ten. Ten weeks of Hansons Marathon Training down. Eighteen weeks total. Eight to go. I’ve crested. Now it’s time to descend. 

And I have not died. 

brad pitt excited

YESSSSSSSSS!

In the effort of full disclosure, I did think I was dying of heat exhaustion on Thursday, when Humidity Killed My Tempo Run, but I managed to survive somewhat unscathed. Dehydrated, dizzy, and nauseous, but alive.  Lesson learned. Relive the hot mess, HERE. Stay tuned for next week’s recap. Which actually may kill me. If it doesn’t, I plan on treating myself to a day at a spa, a magnum of champs and a goddamn superhero cape. I have no idea how I’m going to pull it off. Stay tuned, Poodles! But for now, let’s talk about Colby’s Week 10! 

Monday: Easy 6 Miles. This was the day after My Sunday Long Run. It sucked. My legs bitched and moaned the entire time. Like a Good Runner, I ignored them.  

 

Tuesday: Intervals.  3 x 1600m, 600m recovery. 3 mile warm up/cool down. If I thought Monday was awful, Tuesday was abysmal. It is here, Dear Reader, that a heat wave rolled it’s humid ass right on in. And stayed the whole week. It was like that annoying drunk friend who’s keys you’ve taken away. Now they’re just stuck on your couch, blathering away, when you just want to take your bra off and hit the goddamn hay. In other words, things shot straight to Hell. I ran those intervals. And promptly got nauseous. 

Wednesday: Well I’ll be damned. REST DAY. I wept. I did weep. Tears of Joy because one of my blog posts was featured on Ilovetorun.org!!! Read the original, HERE. They’re the eBib people! I was totally honored. Check out I <3 to Run on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. Best Rest Day EVER! YAHOO!  

 

Thursday: GAH. Tempo Run turned into 7 Mile Easy Run because humidity.   

Friday: Tempo Run Take Two! 8 miles at goal marathon pace. 2 mile warm up. 2 mile cool down. 12 Miles Total. Stick a fork in me. DONE. Holy Fatigue. 

Saturday: 10 Mile Easy Run. This was my punishment for flip flopping those runs. Legs felt like the last 6 of a marathon. THE WHOLE RUN. Then we hopped on our old cruisers, Carlos and Trixie, and explored a beatiful little park we had no idea existed a mere stone’s throw from where we live. I love an adventure. Oh. And 10 more miles on my whip.  

What a find!
  
Carlos and Trixie.
  
Right under our noses. Who knew?!
  
Rusty Gold.
 Sunday: 10 Mile Easy Run. Groundhog Day. Only my legs weren’t quite as pooped. I have no idea how that is possible, but I’ll take it! Then we took Leon James, Evil Beagle and Drunk Otis for a hike that ended with a swim. Because you know, I didn’t exercise enough this week. :-) 
Hey, Lady. We goin’ swimmin’ or what? The Beagle is gettin’ restless.
  
Brothers.
 

  • Total Number of Miles Run: 52
  • Gallons of Sweat Lost: 4
  • Number of Sticks Eaten Whilst Fetching: 5

How do you fare in humid temps? Have you discovered a “Secret Spot” of your very own, right in your own backyard? How did we miss it?!? 

Humidity Killed My Tempo Run. 

Goodbye, Tempo Run.

You’ve heard it 10,000 times.

It’s not the heat! It’s the humidity!

And for 9,999 of those times, I would snort, roll my eyes and cock my head like a know-it-all 13 year old who can’t stop taking selfies.

Jyeah.

Until today, Poodles.

Humidity killed my Tempo Run. And it would have killed me if I hadn’t pulled the plug and switched to tomorrow’s work out which was an “easy” 7 miles. And even that was a Celebrity Death Match. Nothing was easy today. Not even breathing. I should have known when I checked this morning’s weather and saw “93% Humidity” at 6am that it was going to be a Sufferfest. Shouldn’t have it been raining at that point? Shouldn’t I have crawled back into bed and not flirt with heat exhaustion? The answer was YES.

5:30am. Shuffle out of bed and immediately trip over Drunk Otis. He follows me into bathroom, sits and stares at me. I try to put in my contact lenses, blind. I drop one. It is stuck to his nose. He is wagging his tail. I grab it, rinse and pop it in. Surely I will have pink eye.

5:40am. Drink large, steaming hot cup of delicious coffee. FAIL, COLBY.  I will pay for this cup of caffeinated goodness shortly, as it proceeds to braise me from the inside out during my first mile.

5:55am. I start my Garmin and head out. 2 mile “warm up”. 8 mile tempo. 2 mile “cool down.” Shit. It’s humid.

5:57am. Why didn’t I have a goddamn iced coffee? I’m cooking.  And I’m 2 minutes into my run. I’m running at a glacial pace. What the hell? Start to think this Tempo Run might not happen. Adjust my expectations

6:05am. Am I even sweating? I may spontaneously combust. My quads give me the finger for good measure. This Tempo Run is NOT happening. FAIL, COLBY.

6:30am. I slog along. My heart thinks this is a Tempo Run. It’s confused. She’s pounding. My breathing is uneven. I’m getting a side stitch. I keep going. FAIL, COLBY.

7:00am. Home. I’m nauseous. I have a headache. My skin is tingling. I am wiped out. At least I didn’t stop, I foolishly fist pump. FAIL, COLBY.

Dumb. Totally dumb. Running in super humid temps if you are not acclimated to it, is just plain STUPID. We have had a beautiful summer here in New England. While it’s been hot, we’ve been dodging the humidity bullet. That is until this week. Hello, Mid-August! Humidity matters to a runner because it stops the release of heat from our bodies, which causes our core body temp to go up. Since the air temperature isn’t cooling us, we try to cool ourselves by sweating.  Only the sweat can’t evaporate from our skin because it’s SO DAMN HUMID. Damn you, Humidity.

And on and on it goes.
{Cue Evil Humid Heat Exhaustion Cycle.}

 Humid Lessons Learned Today: 

  • Throw time based goals out the damn window.
  • Adjust expectations.
  • Hydrate x 10.
  • Run by feel instead pace.
  • Lay off piping hot beverages prior to a hot, 93% humid run, Genius.
  • It doesn’t matter how fit, strong or fast you are, humidity can cause heat stroke and/or heat exhaustion. You are not immune.
  • Take it inside. Or minimally to a shady road or breezy shoreline if you have one.

And for those of you Fools like me, who continue to run while on the brink of heat exhaustion?

STOP. Just STOP RUNNING if you feel awful. Nauseous. Tingly. Dizzy. Just quit it. This isn’t rocket science. It’s one damn run. I am not a doctor. I am a stubborn fool who had a very rough run this morning and should have known better. Heat exhaustion. It’s real y’all.

The Age Old Question: Heat, Humidity or Frigid Temps. Which do you prefer? Have you ever had heat stroke or heat exhaustion? How about pink eye?

Running and Realizing That I’m Half Way There!

Guess who just realized that she is half way through Hansons Marathon Training?!? THIS GIRL!

Badass

Feeling kinda badass, Poodles. Just sayin’…

I must admit now that I am reflecting on the past 9 weeks, I never, EVER thought I’d be able to swing this training schedule along with my work schedule. It’s grueling. And without a traditional “long run” which makes it a tad mentally grueling. Wouldn’t you know it, here I am, with the exception of last week, sticking to my training schedule? Like goddamn velcro. The body achieves what the mind believes, I guess. Or at least that’s what I have been trying to convince myself these past 9 weeks after I set my ambitious “I’m going to BQ, Dammit.” goal. It may be working!  I would also be an exhausted liar if I didn’t tell you that I’m also feeling tuckered which is also part of the plan. Cumulative fatigue. Or, tired-ass legs. I’ve got ’em. So I also guess I’m doing something right.

ermahgerd hernserns mahtherdI’m not going to lie and be all: Piece of cake! It’s not a piece of cake. It’s more like a ramekin of perfectly made Chocolate Soufflé. Or Baklava. Or even a Baked Alaska. That’s some complicated deserts right there. Cake? What cake? This is some complex, hard, exhaustive running. At least to me it is. Keep in mind, I wasn’t the Runner who was tethered to her Garmin. I barely knew how to use the thing. I’m also not one who chats interval workouts and tempo runs in fluent Runnerspeak. I’m just not. And yet, I certainly do consider myself a runner, just not one who is tied to pace. I used to run by feel- perceived exertion. Now I’m running 8 mile tempo runs at a determined pace, with a 2 mile warm up and 2 mile cool down for a grand total of 12 miles. MID-WEEK. I also have never, ever, in my life ran anything of significance before a day at work. I was never a “I ran 12 miles at 5:30am!” kinda gal either. EVER.  

 Where is Colby, and what have you done to her, Hansons?!

I hardly believe it myself. But in the words of Ben Affleck’s Nanny, THIS GIRL IS ON FIRE! Here’s how Week 9 of Hansons Marathon Training went: 

Monday: I ran 6 miles. I was supposed to run 8 easy miles but I read the schedule wrong and shorted myself 2 stinking miles. I WAS BENT. Never fear, I’ll make it up. Grrrrrrr. 

Tuesday: Intervals. 6 x 800m, 400m recovery.  With warm up and cool down, 9 miles total. The good thing: I got zippier with each one. The bad thing: I ripped a blister open on my heel, and did some “free bleeding” of my own. Ouch. Times 10. 

Wednesday: {Cue trumpets} REST. DAY. And in a nod from the Universe, this happened. #itsasign 

Somewhere over the double rainbow…lies a BQ.
 

Thursday: Tempo run 8 miles, with warm up and cool down, 12 miles total. I was NERVOUS about this run. Like, wake up in the middle of the night, nervous. Tell me that’s not ridiculous? But here’s the thing. According to Hansons Marathon Method, tempo work is beneficial for the following: 

  • Helps you internalize marathon goal pace
  • Teaches you to control and maintain pace
  • Allows you to experiment with nutrition, hydration and gear
  • Improves running economy at goal pace
  • Improves endurance

That’s why I was sleepless. There’s a lot riding on those damn tempo runs. The good part was that I’m getting better at dialing in my pace. I nailed it! The bad part was that I had a busy day at work and nearly took a snooze under my lab bench come 2pm. Trade offs. 

Friday: Easy 7 miles. Easy is a bullshit term. They’re far from easy at this point. Even Drunk Otis was tired.  

Face in Bowl, Too Tired to Stand: A Study in Drunk Otis.

Saturday: Easy 8 miles. On the goddamn surface of the sun. I shouldn’t really complain. This summer, although hot, hasn’t been all that oppressive until this past weekend. I overheated. And felt as though my entrails were liquefying. Graphic, but true. I cannonballed into an ice bath. That’s after I felt like an extra on The Walking Dead and gasped and garbled “Iiiiiiiccccccceeeeebbbbbaaaathhhhharrrghghgr” as I staggered in the door. My Other Half was horrified. Once my core body temp went from Lava to Normal, we headed out for Date Night! Because nothing says heat stroke like bottles of rosé and a plate of stinky cheese. It was heavenly.   

Yum.
 

Sunday: Long Run. 15 miles total. All aboard the Struggle Bus, My Friends!  It left from Platform Hot as Balls at 6:50am. It was brutal. My quads were ANGRY. But we all got through it, together and in one piece, with a beautiful bouquet of flowers to boot! What a week. :-) 

Dahlias and Zinnias, Oh My!
 
Miles Run: 57

Pounds of Cheese Eaten: 1.5

Number of bowls of water Drunk Otis consumes daily: 4

What is the highest number of miles you have ever run in one training week? Do you do regular tempo runs? Favorite cheese: GO! 

Running, Relaxing and Wellfleeting.

Hunger Games
VACATION! Ahhhh! There is nothing like one. Especially when it comes on the heels of My Favorite Weekend of the Year and is spent in one of my favorite places. I look forward to this goddamn week all year.

Uncle Tim’s Bridge, Wellfleet.
 And it NEVER disappoints. Oysters, Dark and Stormy’s, lobster rolls, burritos on the beach, sun, laughter and plenty of cold beers. It’s a relaxing, eating, drinking, chill fest. And why wouldn’t it be? I just rode 192 miles in the Pan Mass Challenge, raised THOUSANDS of dollars for cancer research (Thank You Suze, Helly, Lillian and Kimberly! MUUUUUAAAH!) and am spending time with My Other Half and dearest friends. It’s perfection on the half shell. That is unless you are training for a marathon using Hansons Marathon Method. Then it becomes a bit tough. Unless you *cough* modify your week. And balance the amount of running with relaxing and a side of shenanigans.  Which is just what I did. I’m only human, Poodles. Here’s how last week’s training went. If I had my red pen out. I’d give me a B. Minus. 

Monday, 8/3: Coming down from the PMC high and slowly sliding into the PMC depression, I did the only thing a PMC rider suffering withdrawals should do: I planted my tired ass on the beach and recapped the weekend, chatting, laughing and soaking in every sunbeam of good karma. 0 Miles. Unless dragging all beach chairs, coolers, blankets, towels, beer and burritos in one fell swoop from the car to the dunes counts. No? Then I’ll take the zero. I earned it.  

Cheers!
 
Tuesday, 8/4: Easy Run, 6 Miles. I managed to dig out my new kicks, courtesy of ShoeKicker (Read my review HERE. It’s a site you MUST favorite.), wrangle up my peeps, and head off on a hot, silly, group run. I’m not gonna lie, I would have rather been water boarded than run that first mile. Torture. My quads were bent. They were all like: Where the bike at?!? This. Sucks. They slowly remembered how to run and all was right in the world. 

Proof. Six miles. #irun4wyatt
 Wednesday, 8/5: 7 miles. Keep in mind, this was supposed to be my Rest Day. Also keep in mind, that Tuesday was supposed to be intervals and Thursday? Yeah. A tempo run. Instead, I just ran. As fast as I wanted to for as long as I wanted. I pretty much did that all week. I explored new streets and trails. I ditched my Garmin. And I didn’t beat myself up for it. It was fantastic. Sorry, Hansons. I also sat outside under a starry sky watching an old Peter Sellers movie with pizza, wine and friends. What a Wednesday!  

A Shot in the Dark.
 Thursday, 8/6: 7 miles. If I had to guess, I’d call these zippy. Probably because I ran them with My Other Half. And he’s a freaking greyhound. We wound up discovering a beach which was completely new to us. I love Wellfleet. The light is just so beautiful here. Soft.  Stunning. 

    
 
We spent our last day on the beach, pulling for our friend…

 Then we were rewarded with a beautiful sunset for our efforts. 

 Friday, 8/7: 0 miles. Yup. I bagged. And drank coffee. Then headed home to spring Drunk Otis and his gang from the clink. 

Saturday, 8/8: 10 miles. Back in the saddle! Legs felt FANTASTIC. Maybe bagging Friday was the right choice after all? Im going with YES! 

Sunday, 8/9: 10 miles. Boom! Pow! I’m back with a vengeance! Recharged and ready to BRING THIS BITCH HOME! I’m nearly half way there. And I’m surviving! Just like Drunk Otis did during his first trip to “The Spa.” Turns out he likes vacations too. 

Go figure. :-) 

 Total Miles Run: 40.
Number of Wellfleet Oysters Eaten: Dozens. 
Number of Weeks Until We Return: 51. 

Do you run while you’re on vacation?  If you’re in the throes of serious training, do you stick your plan? Oysters: Yes or No?

David Blaine Ain’t Got Nothing on the Magic of the PMC

Pan Mass Challenge. For Colby and me, it is The Best Weekend of the Year. And while I didn’t poll every person I met about where the weekend ranked for them, I definitely didn’t meet anyone who would choose to be anywhere else.

But when you write out what the PMC weekend entails, it’s pretty incredible that it is The Best Weekend of the Year for anyone. It involves little sleep, lots of exertion, soreness and discomfort. Sweat, dehydration, communal bathrooms and not much relief from the elements. And that’s where the PMC magic comes in. None of the discomforts can hold a candle to the greatness that is the PMC.

Here’s a glimpse of what The Best Weekend of the Year looks like:

Friday: Revisit 6th Grade math and solve the problem of how to get yourself and your bike (plus 3 friends and their bikes) to the starting line in Sturbridge, MA without leaving a car there. This is a pass/fail test and you have to pass. {Thankfully, Colby’s Other Half Saint Tim, drove us the 2+ hours from her house, dropped us off and turned around to get back to work. Thanks Tim!}

NOTE: If you are PMC Bestie Ivy, and live in NYC, this means you will get on a subway at 6 AM with your bike and weekend bag, take it to a jam-packed Grand Central Station, where you will navigate the crowds to get on a 7 AM commuter train (still with bike and bag) to my Connecticut town, where you will once again unload your bike and bag, load them again into my car, and take Leg 3 to Colby’s house, where you will once again unload your bike and bag and load them into another car, only to unload again in Sturbridge. Ivy, you are a champ. I’m exhausted just typing this out. It is probably a 7-hour trip just for Ms. Ivy to get to Sturbridge.

Once in Sturbridge, it is a breeze. You just hang out and soak up the good PMC juju. Rack your bikes, register, check into hotel, see PMC friends, cry a little, laugh a lot. They have opening ceremonies, plenty of food and a Harpoon tent. It’s all very upbeat and chill. Which is important, since the next day is Day 1 and you need to rest while you can.

Saturday: Depending on where you are staying (i.e., how close to the start line), you will get up somewhere between 3:15-4:15. We stayed across the street this year (Thank You Meghan, aka Miss PMC!) so got to sleep in until 4:15 AM. Since hotel rooms are at a premium, you will either have slept 2 to a bed or possibly on the floor. Maybe even in a tent outside. While getting ready, you will take a moment to appreciate using a semi-private bathroom and shower (only shared among 4 people!), because it will be the last time you do so until you get to your Cape Cod rental on Sunday. You floss carefully. You enjoy the mirror. You wash your hands twice with soap and dry them with a hand towel. ‘Cause you can.

4:45 AM: you drop your bag off at a massive truck with the PMC Angels who will drive it to the Mass Maritime Academy campus (finish line of Day 1 and your host for the evening – you will be sleeping in a 12-man cabin on the USS Kennedy). Find your bike and line it up for the start. Head inside for breakfast, coffee and entertainment provided by local cheerleaders. Fuel up and soak in the good vibes. Notice that everyone is acting like it is 10:45 AM, not 4:45 AM. Not a yawn or crabby morning face to be seen. It’s the magic of the PMC.

5:15 AM: Line up and prepare for the start. Take pics. Talk to the people around you and get their stories. It’s one of my favorite parts – everyone you meet on the ride has a story of why they are there. Some people wear their stories on their backs, like us. Others on their helmets or their bikes. Others just share verbally. But every last person has a story of why they are there. And I never tire of hearing them.

Not everyone wears their stories on their backs, like us. But everyone has them.
Not everyone wears their stories on their backs, like us. But everyone has them.

5:30: And we’re off. Only 110 somewhat-hilly miles to Bourne. Along the way, we will get hot, we will get tired, we will get sore, and we probably will suffer at least one bike malfunction (this time Colby snapped a spoke. Last year, I got a flat tire and lost a brake cable). But we also will meet countless people – fellow riders, volunteers, spectators – who will affect us in ways we never thought a stranger could. We will see the best- the absolute best – that humanity has to offer. And we will feel very, very hopeful. Not just about finding a cure for cancer, but also for the future of humanity as a whole.

Late Afternoon: You made it to Bourne. You’ve showered on the ship. Maybe “rinsed off” is a better description, but whatever. You no longer smell. You get to enjoy a party with 5000+ of your best PMC friends. Food, drink, bands and a grassy quad on the shore of Buzzards Bay. You enjoy every second – even the teary ones. You’ve earned it. This is also when the PMC takes its annual “Living proof” picture of survivor volunteers and riders. The reason we ride.

The Reason(s) We Ride.
The Reason(s) We Ride.

Sunday: After sleeping on a ship in a triple bunk (I’ll let everyone decide for themselves whether top, middle or bottom is best: Discuss.) in a 12-person cabin with one bathroom for very-few restless hours, you’re up. Somewhere between 3:30-4:30, but you know the later it is, the less likely you are to get one of the kick-ass egg sandwiches at breakfast, so it’s up and at ‘em as soon as your eyes open. You navigate a teeny space with 11 other people while you kit up, brush your teeth and pack up your bag, which seems much heavier than it did on Friday. And yet, everyone is smiling and happy. ‘Cause it’s the PMC.

Breakfast, Porta Potty and as soon as it is light enough (5:30?), you’re off. The sooner you make it over the Bourne Bridge, the better. It is one of the most nerve-wracking parts of the PMC – up a bridge, single file, slooooowly, with plenty of traffic to your left. Yes, even at 5:30 AM. You have to manage going slowly and occasionally stopping, without tipping over and taking the whole peleton with you. And thanks to the PMC magic, you make it over the bridge without incident.

You’re inevitably sore when you hop on your bike. Your butt hurts so much that you can’t imagine that you will be able to ride 82 more miles. But you will. ‘Cause it’s the PMC.

Somewhere in the last 10 miles of the ride, a car comes up slowly on your left. You turn and see a woman with a bald head leaning out the passenger window as her driver drives slowly enough for her to thank each rider as she passes. And for the 1000th time this weekend, you burst into tears. Tears for the challenges that this woman faces, tears for the fact that she and so many others are still fighting, tears for those who are gone and tears of gratitude for your health and your ability to participate in this ride.

82 miles and 3 water stops after the start of Day 2, you arrive at the finish. Provincetown Inn and the Atlantic Ocean are there to greet you at the end of the line, along with other happy riders and so many amazing volunteers. And as you do every year, you burst into tears. For so many reasons. You’re tired, hot, depleted, sore and oh, so very grateful that you can do this. You hop off. Take a few pictures, rack your bike and start counting the days until PMC 2016.

It’s Magic.

ShoeKicker! Because every runner loves a good discount.

 Be honest, how tired are you of shelling out 100’s of bones on running shoes every few months, only to find that the proverbial, “They”, have changed your model? And, the “old” version is either the same damn price as the “new”, which you really don’t care for, or it’s only few stinking bucks off? That’s if you can even find the damn sneaker in the first place. Tell me. How tired are you?!?!  

I’m exhausted.
Broke.
And clearly, in the throes of an existential running shoe crisis. 

Wwwhhhyyy?!?!

That was, until I was told about my soon-to-be be favorite website. I first heard about ShoeKicker through Imran, the site’s founder and friend of my favorite running apparel company, Janji. Faced with the same running sneaker frustrations as most of us, he decided to create a site where runner’s can search for the best price on the Internet for their favorite sneaker. Old model. New model. Whichever. Think of it as a Kayak for running shoes. GENIUS. I told him I was bummed I hadn’t thought about it. Smarty pants.  

  
As simple as the site is, is as easy as it is to use. Enter your favorite shoe. Pick the model. Chose your size and gender and PRESTO! The best price for your kick! Easy peasy. I beta tested the site a few weeks ago and this is what my order looked like:   

Hello, Savings!
  Cool, right? The site also lets you:

  • Create a price alert. 
  • Share the link to your deal with your running peeps. 
  • Search for multiple models of your favorite brand. 

Click the ‘Get ’em’ button and you are directed to the website to purchase them directly. I also scored free shipping. Happiness. I will say, that I usually support my local running store. However, much to my dismay, they were out of my model.  A stressed out girl training with Hansons Marathon Method has got to do what she’s got to do! And in this case it was two pairs to rotate through. Because miles. Two pairs were STILL less than the price of one. Not bad at all. In fact, it’s fantastic.

Click HERE to give ShoeKicker a whirl. Nothing like a Sunday evening shopping spree to keep a runner happy! The site goes live on August 10th. Let me know whatcha think! 

What’s the most you’ve spent on running shoes? Do you purchase them online or locally? 

Running, Resting and Pan Mass Challenging

freakout

In the interest of being open and honest, this post is hideously LATE. Why? Because I’m just back from a fantastic, booze soaked week in Cape Cod following the Pan Mass Challenge. And it was glorious.  What a week! Did I run? Yes. Did I follow Hansons Marathon Method to a “T”?  Ummmm. Not quite. More on last week’s shenanigans on Monday. We’ve got lots of lost goddamn miles to cover. Here’s what happened in the week leading up to PMC number 11 for me!!! For those keeping track (Hi, Ma!), I’m talking about Week 7 of Hansons Training, the week of July 27th. Ready? GO! 

Monday: 6 miles. Easy. Thank god it was “Easy.” Monday kicked off PMC Week, otherwise known as My Favorite Week of The Year. I was in a panic. All this running and riding juggle fest had me tuckered. Do I stick to the plan? Or do I save my legs for the 192 mile ride from Sturbridge to Provincetown, MA? I was in a PMC Pickle.

Tuesday:  Intervals. Ugly, ugly intervals. 400-800-1200-1600-1200-800-400, with 400 recovery.  With warm up and cool down: over 7 miles total. They were supposed to be at Ass O’Clock in the morning but alas, I overslept. Instead, I did them after work.  Joy. The (second) original plan was to do them at the track. But then this happened. 

Hot-cha-cha
 And it wasn’t happening on the surface of the sun track. Off to the gym I went. And ran those damn things LIKE A BOSS. A sweaty, crabby boss. But a boss no less.

Wednesday: Rest Day. I needed it. I debated flip flopping easy runs and tempo runs and bike rides and then I just said: NO. And Rest Day it was.

enough

Thursday:  Here’s where things turn into a flip floppy mess. Do I do a Tempo Run or the Long Run I will be missing on Sunday? And if I do my long run, I need to do it before a long day at work. I won’t even elaborate on work, other than to say I stood in one goddamn place at my lab bench for HOURS. Oh. And I need to get my shit together and pack for my epic bike ride & week in the Cape. And make my ribbons to wear honoring those whom I am riding for. Holy Frazzled. My decision: 

BOOM. Long run. 14 miles. Nailed the pace. I’m proud of that one. 

Friday: Very quick spin on My Whip then off to the PMC!!! 0 miles 

Bikes at the ready!
 Saturday:  PMC Day 1. 110 miles on the bike. I have no words. The PMC is an experience like no other. If you want to be a part of something wonderful, please, ride. For one weekend a year, I am a part of something truly great. I am surrounded by kind, selfless, passionate individuals, united by a shared goal. It is never lost on me. The PMC still moves me. I am as moved as I was during my first ride, 11 years ago. It is something. It’s something and everything all at once. I’ll post a real recap in a bit. Sit tight, Poodles.   
Sunday: PMC Day 2. 82 miles on the bike. Riding through the dunes in Provincetown after 192 miles with your 2 best girls, cheering, laughing and welling up while kicking cancer’s ASS is the best way to end a week. The. Best. To all those who have lost their battle with cancer, and to all those who continue to live strong- This was for you!  
The Finish!
 
Total miles run: 27 miles. Sorry, Hansons. That’s all I had. 

Total miles on the bike: 192 miles. For that? I am so not sorry. 

Total number of bottles of Prosecco consumed during PMC Weekend:  1 bottle.  *hiccup*  

Prosecco down!
  How do you deal with changes to you training schedule: Rock in the corner or simply shrug it off?  What’s your favorite week/day of the year?