Vermont City Marathon 2016: Feelin’ the Burn.

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I would like to preface this piece by stating straight on up front that the 2016 Vermont City Marathon and Relay was the hottest race I have ever run. EVER.

How hot?

It was soooooooo hot….

That they cancelled it. 

Yup. Cancelled it. Black flagged. As it was in progress. Done. Finished. Over. Stop, drop and melt.  Or, find a lovely Vermonter to hose you down and pad you with Popsicles whilst you wait for a school bus to drive your desiccated ass back to the finish. The news was trending on Twitter on Sunday. Vermont was trending on Twitter. How the hell often does that happen? That’s how hot it was. It was no joke.

It was the first time in Vermont City Marathon history that the race was halted. I ran the marathon as part of the 2-Person Relay and for those quoted with saying “it wasn’t THAT hot,” to you I say LIAR, LIAR, RUNNING SHORTS ON FIRE!!!  Because they goddamn were. You know it. I know it. We all know it. It was hotter than Hell. So unless you swiftly tucked your horns under your visor or jammed your forked tail into your running shorts, YOU, Overheated Devil Runner, are full of hot baked beans.

Brutal. All I kept thinking about as I watched the course warning move from moderate to HIGH, was that I felt like I was running a half marathon in a Bikram yoga class. Only add direct sun. There was no shade. No breeze. Nothing but heat. And it was radiating up from the lava field  we were running upon. There is a section called the Beltline which was easily the hottest spot in the North East that day. I can’t even explain how I felt. Cooked? Braised? Slow roasted?  All of the above!?!?  That was by mile 4. Within an hour, the warning had moved up to HIGH HEALTH RISK. I saw a runner down around mile 4. And from there until mile 13.1, I saw at least 5 more. It was horrible. The sounds of ambulances were becoming frighteningly common.  No bueno.

burlington free press image

Source: Burlington Free Press.

It was roughly 90 degrees by noon, which is not the only reason why the race was halted. There is something called the Wet Bulb Globe Temperature which I didn’t even know was a thing until I read about it on the Vermont City Marathon website. They did an outstanding job of keeping runners abreast of the heat situation via messaging and posting. Having run the full marathon a few years ago, albeit with a black eye, I can’t tell you enough how much I love this race. I’d run it every year. They do a great job. Besides, I love Burlington. And it’s vibe…and craft beer….and tacos…..and did I say beer?

A photo posted by Colby (@runcolbyrun) on May 28, 2016 at 3:17pm PDT

 

So. Back to the WBGT. The Wet Bulb Globe Temperature is a composite temperature determined by measuring ambient air temp, humidity, wind and solar radiation on humans.  It’s used by athletes and even the military, to determine a person’s exposure level to high temperature. On Sunday, the WBGT exceeded 82 at 3 consecutive readings along the course. Because of this, officials were forced to halt the marathon due to the extreme heat. Tough choice? You bet. But I believe it was a smart, responsible one made by the Race Director and folks at Run Vermont. Would I have thrown myself into Lake Champlain if I was this close to finishing and it stopped? You bet.

I would have had such conflicted emotions. That’s a lot of training and sacrifice lost. Such time and effort. But let’s be honest, even in the most perfect training conditions, anything can happen on race day. With regard to the weather, it’s a total crap shoot.  I’m not sure who was going to bust out a personal best in extreme temperatures in light of the complete lack of extreme temperatures in the week’s leading up to the race. At least in this part of the country. Other than an 80 degree shake out run the day before, I hadn’t run seriously in the heat since last summer. Expectations definitely needed to be tempered. Or, completely thrown out the window. Among the runners I chatted with, they certainly had altered their goals. I know I had. It was so unfortunate for them. I would have been devastated if I were running the full. No doubt. But at the end of the day, it was the right thing to do. They called off the race at roughly the 4 hour mark. My heart breaks for all those who didn’t finish. Darlin’ Rae especially. I feel you, Girl. 😦

And me? My race was a hot mess. Literally and figuratively. I am happy to say I finished with my all-time slowest half marathon time, chafing in places that will go unnamed and 2 serious heart palpitations that made me stop in my tracks and walk. What. The. F*ck. And I was salted, trained, hydrated and Skratch Lab’d up.  See why I think it was smart to stop it?  That’s scary stuff. Fortunately, I was absolutely fine. I was just overheating and overexerting myself like 1000s of runner’s that day. I am also happy to report that my running partner and I finished in under 4 hours. Right before the Black Flag unfurled. We were lucky. I’m proud of our run. I’m even more proud of the gracious Vermonters who stood out in that heat and cheered, hosed, iced, Popsicled and orange sliced their way into this hot runner’s heart. Thank you! It was a tough choice, but a safe one. One hot run does not a bad race make.  Run Vermont. I know I’ll be back. 🙂

A photo posted by Colby (@runcolbyrun) on May 29, 2016 at 1:24pm PDT

 

Have you ever run a race that was stopped due to weather? How would you have reacted? Hot weather runner or cold weather runner? GO!

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Baystate Marathon. The Recap. Part II.

Thank God Colby updated the world on our epic day at the Baystate Marathon in a timely manner. Had you waited for me, you might think we were still running it 2 1/2 weeks later.

It was a GREAT DAY. This is actually somewhat of an understatement. We were together this past weekend and talked about how it was such a wonderful day – from (oh, so early) start to finish.

First, the Baystate Marathon itself is terrific. I had never run a small marathon before. The race organizers and Expo volunteers could not have been nicer or more helpful. It definitely set the tone for the whole event. (PS – Baystate has continued to impress even after the event finished – we got an e-mail a few days after the race stating that because the race organizers were unhappy with the finish on our medals chipping, they are mailing every finisher a new medal sometime next month. Talk about customer service).

We got up bright and early on Sunday morning and were out the door by 5:30 AM. Had our first massive laugh of the day when we pulled into a Dunkin Donuts in a sketchy neighborhood on our way to the race. Colby and I first raised an eyebrow when we saw that there were “No Loitering” signs at each table that limited even paying customers to 20 minutes. Then, when she asked to use the bathroom, she needed to be buzzed in. Needless to say, once she was released from the custody of the bathroom, we decided to take our orders to go.

We parked – on the street – about 2 blocks from the start. I can’t even do that for local 5K’s. Or my local J Crew, for that matter. Awesome. Plenty of time to mill around and use one of the 8 zillion clean porta potties sprinkled around the area. Bag check took approximately 4 seconds, and there was a warm place to wait inside for the start.

Oh, did I mention it was cold? It was cold. Perfect running weather. Not perfect hanging around waiting to run weather. We were grateful for the warm place to wait.

We headed to the start around 20 minutes before start time but decided not to enter the almost empty corral because there would not be enough body heat there to keep us warm. I kid you not. Had Colby and I taken our places in the corral at that point, we probably could have toed the start line. Instead, we stood next to a building to break the wind and thought warm thoughts. I in particular had a really hard time staying warm, and Bestie that she is, Colby blew hot air into my back as I shivered waiting for the start. Friends don’t let friends freeze to death.

After a beautifully sung national anthem and a chaos free start, we were off. You may recall that I was nervous about this race because I didn’t have time to train properly. Another understatement. Most of my weeks had mileage in the 30-35 mile range. I had only one week where I topped 40. And some lower than 30. Yikes. By the time I got to “taper,” I didn’t know what to do because if I cut my mileage as per the normal guidelines, I would be below zero.

Well, next time I sign up for a marathon, I’m going to train by sitting on my couch and eating donuts, because I felt great in this race from start to finish.

The larger lesson, of course, is that you just never know how you will feel on race day. You can train perfectly and come down with a bug or an ache. The weather may be horrible, or you might get stuck in a bottleneck at the start that rattles you. You might even have a severe allergic reaction to something the night before the race that throws you off your game (Naaah. That never happens.)

I apparently trained “enough,” I guess, given that I had a solid base of training behind me from the two other marathons I ran in the past year, and the race conditions were perfect. Cold, only a little windy, and not too crowded. And the course, as advertised, is flat and fast.

The course was well marked, well supplied with water stations and had some really pretty sections along the Merrimack River. Spectators were strong in a few areas and spotty in most others, but that didn’t bother me at all. Nor did the fact that part of the course was a loop that you run twice. It was a huge loop and only partially overlapped. I definitely did not feel like I was running in circles.

There was not one part of this race where my stomach bothered me or I felt like I was going to hit a wall. I enjoyed myself every moment of this 26.2 mile run. What a gift.

I happily trucked along for the whole damn race.

I happily trucked along for the whole race. I look a little like I may have been speedwalking here – I swear, I wasn’t.

Somewhere around mile 20, I realized that I would likely PR this race. And once I hit mile 24, I let myself really think about it. By the time I saw the finish line, I was already celebrating in my head. And PR, I did!!! 3:42:11, beating my prior PR by over 5 minutes.

That look you get when you finish with a PR! You seriously would have thought we won the damn thing.

That look you get when you finish with a PR! You seriously would have thought we won the damn thing.

After being wrapped in mylar and medaled, I walked back to the finish because I knew Colby would be coming in any minute and I wanted to be there for The Moment. Because I knew in my bones that she would also PR. And BQ. And it would be A Moment.

A Colby approached the finish, the announcer called out, “And coming toward the finish, with a well-deserved smile on her face…” and I knew it had to be her. As you already know, she BQ’d. I thought, “Announcer Dude – you don’t even know. You don’t even know.”

It took me a few minutes to get to her because she was hugging her new Bestie – some random chick she met at the finish line (WTF?) – but when I finally peeled her away from her new buddy, we both started bawling. Loud enough that a race volunteer came over to check on us. And when she heard why we were crying, she started bawling too. We were messes, all of us. Colby, me, her new Bestie and our favorite race volunteer. A freaking spectacle.

Not sure what else can be said – this was the first marathon we ever ran together, we each had the race of our lives, and we got to spend the rest of the day basking in the glow – together.

Well earned.

Well earned.

It doesn’t get any better. It just doesn’t.

Baystate Marathon. The Recap. 

For Runners-By Runners!

 
If “Run a PR” is high on your running bucket list, do your list a favor and run the Baystate Marathon in Lowell, Massachusetts. In fact, if “Run a BQ” is on there, then register for that bitch RIGHT NOW! I ran Baystate on Sunday and achieved BOTH of those magical running goals. Squeee!  I am still giddy. And probably will be for quite some time. Oh, you’ll still have to do the work. It’s not like you’ll line up and suddenly sprout silver wings on your feet. Although, I bet you might come pretty damn close to doing so. 

This course is fast. And about as flat as they come. Baystate is small by marathon standards (<1500) but it has an enormous heart. It is billed as a marathon “For Runners- By Runners” and it truly is. The quaint expo, the friendly volunteers, stellar porta-potty placement and a wonderful post-race results area, with your results popping up as you walked by, all helped make this race incredibly runner friendly and simple to navigate. The marathon course is two loops- which I didn’t think I would be thrilled about.  However, I didn’t mind it one bit.  

‘Murica.

 The trees and foliage were absolutely beautiful. It’s a New England Fall Marathon along a river. Doesn’t get prettier than that. Is it the most scenic course? No. But let’s be honest, I wasn’t there to Leaf Peep. I had 18 weeks of Hansons Marathon Method Training under my belt. To say I had my game face on would be an understatement. I had my game face, heart, head and legs on. 

The Start. 

The start of the Baystate Marathon will go down in my running history as the most un-stressful, low-key beginning to any race I have ever run. Which is strange considering I was putting all of my eggs in the BQ basket.

Caffeine and Carbs.

 In light of the EPIC stress of days prior, I thought I would be a wreck. I wasn’t. I woke up. We drove. We stopped at Dunkin Donuts for coffee and bagels. We parked then hung out in a nice and toasty Tsongas Center with our other new runner friends. We laughed. We shivered. We lined up, hugged and I momentarily got completely choked up. In that one second I realized: This. Was. It.  All that work. All that effort. I gave my training everything I had. I exhaled those 18 weeks. And inhaled desire. I wanted this. Badly. I was prepared. 

This is My Day. 

And just like that. I was off. 

The First Half

I started running and immediately noticed the 3:45 pace group right up ahead. Huh. This might work. I fell into step with a group of roughly 12 runners. I vowed to not obsess about my Garmin. My Awesome Pacer was handling that. I just relaxed and ran as if on autopilot. It was brilliant. My breathe was even, my legs were light. I had trained my legs to run just shy of this pace. They knew what to do. And they were doing it. Effortlessly. I was stunned. I was mindful of the pace, vowing that if I began to fade, I would keep this group in my sight. I had figured that I would stay with them to the half, assess, then take it from there. The first loop was complete. 

This is My Day. 

I started smiling. 

The Second Half. 

Around mile 14, a New Pacer took over. My Awesome Pacer peeled off, but not before yelling such encouraging words. You are all so strong. I am so proud of all of you!  It was just what I needed to hear. There I was, more than half way through, and I was still hanging with The Cool Kids. ME. I was. I couldn’t believe it. And I felt fantastic. I hadn’t felt fantastic EVER during this training. That was the point of it. Cumulative fatigue. Train your legs to run tired. They were chronically fatigued all throughout training. But not today. Today they were snappy. I decide around mile 17 that I would ease off of the gas a bit. I was concerned about falling apart. This feeling has got to be too good to be true. What if I blow up, lose my shit, and throw it all away because I got greedy? Peer pressure kills PRs.  I didn’t work this hard to toss it away! Screw The Cool Kids! Whoa, Colby. Ease up. I kept them in my sight and ran my own race. I fell into a comfortable rhythm for the next 6 miles. It was cold. And I missed the warmth of The Cool Kids. I carried on, steady, waiting for the other Hoka to drop. It didn’t. 

This is My Day. 

My jaw is set. 

The Last Three Miles. 

I run across the Rourke Bridge. I have lost sight of The Cool Kids. This does not upset me. I am running my own race. Dammit. I glance at my Garmin:  I have three miles left. Only 3. How is that possible? For the first time all day, my legs feel fatigued. I quickly envision worst case scenarios as a mild panic creeps in. If slow by one minute per mile, will I still squeak through? What f I fall? What if I cramp? What if I crash and burn?!?! WHAT IF?!?! 

Stop. Just. Stop. 

What if I just keep running and finish what I started?

This is My Fucking Day. 

I grit my teeth. 

I run those last three miles as hard as I can. This is everything. Everything I have! I make several turns. I hear the finish. My heart overflows. I start smiling. And sobbing. And laughing all at once. I round the bend. I have never felt so strong, so ALIVE in my life. I cross the line. 3:51:23! Three minutes faster than a 6 year old PR. And 25 minutes faster than my average past 3 marathons. I can’t believe it. I sob and yell and fist pump like a Crazy Pants! Tina is there and we hug. Tears. I break down. So does the volunteer who hangs the medal on my neck. 

Christ. You would have thought I won. 

Because I did. 🙂

I did it!

This is My Day.

The Hills are Alive…

With the sound of grown women crying.

Note to Self: when you sign up for a race that has “Hills” prominently displayed in the title, and markets itself as the 2nd toughest race in Connecticut, it’s not going to be a cakewalk.

Not that we thought that it was going to be easy. If you recall, we didn’t think anything at all because we forgot we were running the damn thing. But truth be told, had we given it thought, we wouldn’t have worried too much. We have suffered through the sufferfest that was the old Fairfield Half course, with hills you could ski down – but had to run up. (Even the new Fairfield course is hilly and it’s always 80 freaking degrees.) A little more than a month ago, I ran a hill named “Heartbreak Hill” and lived to tell. Colby runs trail races that end at the moon. So if we had prepared for the race, we would have thought, Hills. OK. So it won’t be a PR course, but we’ll be OK.

And those hills that knew we were ignoring them and not paying our proper respects? You know what they did? They kicked our disrespectful asses.

SAT AM: We start texting around 5:30 AM. Salt tablets? Address for race? Do we have the right date? Copious amounts of water? We’re ready. Kind of. I still don’t know where I am going, but fortunately, my GPS does. Call Colby from the car for pre-race giggles and nervous musings on the 66 degree, 97% humidity weather we are having (at 6 AM), and our call gets dropped twice. Even though we are less than 25 miles apart on the same damn road. Look for a post on cell phone rants coming soon.

We both arrive without incident. Colby is able to park within feet of the start line. God Bless the Small Race.

The joy before the misery.

The joy before the misery.

We are laughing because her number is 12. I’m 48. No, this is not because we are part of the elite team. It is because they assign numbers alphabetically. Still, it is cool to see her with “12” on her bib and I’m kinda wishing I married someone with an A last name so I could be in single digits.

We look around and can’t help but notice that some people look like they are heading to a Rocky Horror Picture Show or maybe the prom? We know this race was not marketed as a costume race and yet feel underdressed in our running shorts and singlets. For the Love of God. Please do not tell me that I am now expected to gussy up for a half. I can barely remember my Garmin and my Glide. Is there a memo I have missed? Stay tuned for a post on this topic.

Bib pickup starts at 7, race starts at 8. There are a few hundred people signed up for the race and there are 3 – count ’em – 3, porta potties. You do the math. The line takes up most of the 5K course. The race is delayed almost 20 minutes while we wait for the porta potty line to clear. We feel the temperature go up minute by minute and panic, quietly. The last visitor is cheered as he exits the stall.

And we’re off.

The first 2 miles are on a flat rail trail through the woods. Not too bad. To exit the rail trail to the rest of the course, though, we have to run up a wooden walkway that is narrow, steep and full of switchbacks and elderly people out for their morning constitutionals. The person in front of me almost took a gentleman out. This is weird.

Just after mile 2, our friend Patty and her daughter Grace were waiting to cheer us on. Grace even made a sign! Such a great surprise and made my morning.

I think it was around mile 3-ish where several miles of hills really started. Holy Crap. HOLY CRAP! For the next several miles, there was a total of 610 feet of vertical climb. That’s not hilly. That’s mountain-y. It’s also painful and at this point, I start thinking that I not only don’t like racing, I’m pretty sure I don’t even like running. I generally have at least one of these moments in any race where the mercury is above 70. Which it most certainly is at this point.

And it wasn’t just the big hills. The course is rolling almost the entire way after you get off the rail trail. Quads! Hammies! Calves! They all hate me at this point, as well as, I am assuming, Colby.

See, Colby was all ready to run a fun half in Branford that ended at a brewery on Sunday, but since I couldn’t make that one, she switched to this one. As all BRF’s do. 

But that doesn’t mean that she won’t beat me to a pulp at the end. And it would be well-deserved. This course is hard.

I spend miles 7-9 running a little faster, thinking of how Colby is going to kill me when she sees me at the finish. Should I just keep running after the finish line until I get to my car and high tail it home? I think she has a busy weekend – probably doesn’t have time to drive to my house and kill me. Will buy me at least another week.

The sun comes out and I think of the delayed start, and all that beautiful overcast sky that was wasted waiting for people to clear the porta-potties. I go from hot and uncomfortable to a hot mess. In seconds.

It’s an out and back course, so the rollers that were there from miles 3-7 on the way out are sadly still there on the way back. Fortunately, many of the bigger hills were uphills on the way out, so we get some – not enough – never enough – but some – nice downhills on the way back. Except at mile 10, where there is an endless uphill that makes me want to puke. Or cry. Or both.

When I see our personal booster club (Patty and Grace), I know that just that weird wooden walkway and the rail trail are all that separate me from a massive bottle of water and a lick of shade.

Once on the rail trail, I’m kind of alone. I can see two guys about ¼ mile ahead of me and there is someone around ¼ mile behind me, but no one right near me. I realize that I have never run a race this small before. Felt weird, but kind of cool. More weird than cool, though. City Girl likes crowds. I also like someone to chase for the last mile to keep me going. Here, it’s just me and a bunch of trees that all look alike.

The finish is nice – plenty of people hanging around to cheer, and the medal is cool. Lots of water.

My face and legs are covered in salt. So are Colby’s. We are officially disgusting, sweaty messes. We don’t love our times, but it turns out that it was more because of the tough course than us having tough races, because we both finish well in our divisions. I actually came in 2nd for our division and got a sweet pint glass with the name of the race and my place engraved on the back it. Hamden Glass We spent the next hour bitching about the race and agreeing that we are DEFINITELY doing it next year.

Did you ever doubt?

Sweaty, Miserable, Smiling Fools.

Sweaty, Miserable, Smiling Fools.

Trail 2 Trail Series: Kettletown State Park Race Recap and a Zombie Pinky

T2T SeriesI’m just FINALLY recovering from my weekend which consisted of a “Wine and WOD” Ladies Only Crossfit Night (Stay Tuned!), a 10K Trail Race (EPIC!) and a kick ass training ride that turned into a time trial after I played cat and mouse with a disgruntled dude on a bike (Winner!). The weekend was fantastic. And left me totally glycogen depleted. Oh. And with a broken pinky finger but I’ll get to that in a few. Nothing an ice pack, a massage and copious amounts of beer couldn’t cure. That’s for sure.

The Start Pre-Monsoon. Photo: https://www.facebook.com/Trail2TrailSeries

The Start Pre-Monsoon. Photo: https://www.facebook.com/Trail2TrailSeries

I (happily) discovered the Trail 2 Trail Series, a competitive racing and endurance trail running series, a few weeks ago. Ever since I fell in love with trail running, I have been on the lookout for local races. The transition from road to trial for this broad has not been, shall we say…Graceful?  Yeah. No. Girlfriend needs practice. And confidence. Enter Kettletown. These races are fortunately right in my backyard. Well, not exactly. The T2T Series is in Connecticut. Which is practically my backyard as nothing is really more than an hour or so away. Their slogan is “We Won’t Do Easy.” And?  They’re not lying. Easy, it wasn’t. Fast, winding trails, very decent climbs, lots of rocks, single track and simply BEAUTIFUL. I suspect it would have been ABSOLUTELY beautiful if Saturday’s race wasn’t in the midst of a monsoon, but there you go. Trail Running is the Original Obstacle Mud Run. Hands down. Thank god I love mud because Saturday’s T2T Series Race in Kettletown State Park, was a greasy, challenging mud fest.  And I loved every slippery second of it. How could you not? Look how pretty it is.

Photo: www.facebook.com/Trail2TrailSeries

I would have snapped my own photos, but I feared my iPhone’s life in that rain. Photo Courtesy of T2T’s Facebook Page. http://www.facebook.com/Trail2TrailSeries

I decided after eyeballing the forecast, that I would run the 10K. They had other options available: 5K/10K/20K/50K all of which consisted of partial or multiple full loops of the 10k route. I was happy with my choice. Kettletown-SP-10kEspecially seeing as how I bit it crossing the one river on a patch of ice rock. After a string of profanities and a potentially broken pinky, I brushed myself off and continued on my merry way. Let’s be honest. It’s not trail racing unless you fall and have some sort of flesh wound. (Trail, 1. Colby, 0.) There were several pretty steep climbs coupled with leaf and rock strewn descents which the rain and humidity had made pretty slick. After my earlier fall, my Pinky and I turned into total Chicken Shits and were a bit more cautious. It is the 1 Year Anniversary of that long run where I fell and wrecked my face, so you can imagine, I was in full yellow-flashing-light mode. Feel free to relieve the horror here.

Along the route there was also really scenic, pretty views of Lake Zoar. The place where as a kid I learned to water ski. Ah. Nostalgia. The best part? I didn’t get lost. The course marking was excellent. Red flags on your left and you were golden. The only time they were on your right was if you were taking a sharp right turn, then then they went back to left. Very simple to follow. The race was sponsored by Energybits and Hammer Nutrtirion, two of my old favorites. I love Hammer Nutrition’s Enduralytes. They have saved my dehydrated ass on many occasions. There was plenty of grub afterwards and a swag bag with a few odds and ends. I think if you pre-reg’d far enough in advance, you could have gotten a race t-shirt. But as a Last Minute Nelly, I was shirtless. (Not topless, shirtless. Silly Fools.)

Such a great course.

Such a great course.

The thing I love most at trail races- even trail races in far less than optimal conditions like this one- is the general vibe. Trail runners are chill. Competitive, but friendly and relaxed. It’s been my experience that there is zero to very little pre-race hysteria more commonly found at road races. You know what I mean, right? The high knees. The sprints. The obsession over Garmins. The occasional attitude. I’ve never experienced that at trail races. And this race was no exception. Everyone here from the race directors to the runners themselves was just plain nice. Gotta love that. In fact, I registered for their next race as I was tending to my wounds from the first. I’m hooked. (And next time I’m getting a t-shirt!) This race very much seemed like it was for trail runners, by trail runners. It was well done and well run. Well, it would have been run well by me if it was drier and I was gutsier, but that didn’t even matter. I loved it. Busted zombie paw and all. See you next time guys!

Have you ever run a trail race? Do you have a local trail racing community? What’s the worst fall you’ve ever taken while running? I think we know mine! 🙂

Zombie Pinky conveniently obscured by awesome Janji singlet.

Zombie Pinky conveniently obscured by awesome Janji singlet.

The Boston Marathon: A Recap in Pictures.

I have never thought of myself as particularly vain, and I’m going to prove it now by recapping the Boston Marathon through some pretty ugly race pictures. I don’t really “run pretty” to begin with, and the rainy, windy weather didn’t help. Who cares? Anyone reading this blog has seen ugly race pictures before. I assume I won’t scare anyone off.

For those who don’t know, the weather for the 2015 Boston Marathon was less than optimal. Temps in the 40’s (fine by me), BUT bands of steady rain and a 10-20 mph headwind, with gusts up to 30 mph. In the days leading up to the race, I kept hoping the depressing forecast would improve.

Instead it got worse.

When I asked Colby for an update as I was heading out the door, her reply was, “Oh, Poodle. You don’t want to know. Just run.”

So I did. And it was cold, and wet, and windy. But it was Boston, and I loved every step. Well, almost every step.

Here’s a pictorial tour:

Athlete’s Village. Look how happy I am! I am at Athlete’s Freaking Village in Hopkinton! Who cares if I’m functioning on 4 hours of sleep and it started raining while we were on the bus? The rain stopped when we got there! That has to be a good sign-right? RIGHT? RIGHT???

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My Corral has just been called to line up at the start. Holy Crap. Sh*t’s getting real.

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Early miles. Oh, I guess the very definite forecast was right after all and the rain won’t hold off. I don’t even think this picture shows how torrential it really was. Pouring. Soaked to the bone. And then the rain got worse. My race pictures from the Natick and Wellesley sections of the race barely came out because it was so dark and the lenses of the cameras were covered in raindrops.

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Heartbreak Hill. I did it! At a solid pace! Feeling strong! I’m thrilled! And cold and wet! But mostly thrilled!

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Just past Heartbreak Hill. Still thrilled! But also confused: where is my freaking family? I’m wasting precious energy searching the crowd for my loved ones. (They were there – just a little farther up than I expected).

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Beacon Street. Probably Mile 24. But it could have been mile 23, 24 or 25, because the conditions were equally miserable for all. The wind is outrageous and I am looking for ruby slippers to take me home. I look like I am “digging deep” in the picture, and I probably am, but mostly I am trying to block the wind from my eyes. My fists are clenched because my hands have been numb since mile 10. Soaking wet tech gloves can only do so much. I am wondering whether I even like to run.

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I have already turned right on Hereford and have just turned left on Boylston! The home stretch! It is a very loooooong home stretch, but I’m here!  I can see the finish line! The crowds are amazing!!! Yahoo!! I suddenly remember that I love to run.

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The finish line. HELLO GORGEOUS!! So very happy to meet you!

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I have my medal! And, possibly, a slight case of hypothermia! But I don’t care. I just finished Boston! I JUST FINISHED BOSTON!

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Reality Check: Running GPS vs. Course Length

I just uploaded months of running from my Garmin, including data from the Philadelphia Half Marathon. Call it a year end data dump. There I was, leopard jammies on, massive coffee in hand, excited to check out my stats from the past few races. So I looked. Then I squinted… Britney is ConfusedWhat the hell?

How does that happen? How does a half marathon turn into 13.33 miles instead of 13.1? Not that huge of a discrepancy, but it’s still not the advertised-sticker for your car-stinking-13.1 miles. What’s the damn deal?!?! My marathon was 26.5. COME ON. You train all those miles, sweat gallons, lose toenails, wind up in the damn ER (Oops. That’s just me.) and your Garmin shits the bed?!?!

Don’t blame it on your Garmin.

Our friends at the Rock-n-Roll Marathon Series shared this info graphic with Tina and I and it is our duty as Responsible Running Bloggers to share this with the Blog-o-sphere. It’s a good one, in my humble opinion. Your GPS device may not read the official length of the course.

Why not?

Because GPS devices are not as precise as certified course measurement which is done by bike. (YEAY! Bikes!) It simply takes a bicycle, a “Jones Oerth” counter and a few hours of time to ride the course. That was a new word for me, Jones Oerth. I plan on using it in a sentence at least once this week. “Certified” means a course has been measured to exacting standards and is at least the stated distance. Thats the key – standardized. So take a look at this graphic. And, don’t ditch the Garmin. :-).

Read more here!

Running GPS vs Course Length Infographic

Has this happened to you? Have you thrown your Garmin in disgust? Did you know how certified courses are measured? Not me. Until now. 🙂