RACE GIVEAWAY: Jump into a Spartan Race and Reap the Rewards!

It’s been a month since my running of the Boston Marathon and I’m officially stating that I have Post-Marathon Withdrawal Syndrome.  It’s real, Poodles. And I’ve got it. Bad. I even blogged about it some months back. Read about the condition HERE. It’s only a matter of time before it pops up as a legitimate affliction on WebMD.  You’ll find it under the “Hysterical Conditions for Insane Runners” tab. Watch. It’s coming. And you can say you heard it here first.

Since running Boston, I’ve been doing the whole Reset and Recharge thing to get back to loving running again. I know it sounds crazy, but I hate when running becomes a chore. After a marathon, that’s exactly what it becomes to me. I always find that after a marathon I need to reset my ‘Love of Running’ button.  So, during the post-26.2 recovery period I always mix things up with my training.  I dig shaking things up a bit. Spin, cycling, goat yoga (OH YES I DID! And it was glorious! Recap to follow!), boot camp, trail running and a whole lot of: “Hmmmmmm…..what can I conquer next?”  Which brings me back around to one of my old favorites: The Spartan Race. As you can see below, I loves me a Spartan Race!

spartan 492 2

If you are a follower of our Lil’ Blog, you know that Tina and I have engaged in several Spartan Sprints and have had a kick ass time.  Relive our experience HERE and see why you need to do a Spartan Race. In fact, our friends at Reebok Spartan Race reached out to us to tell us about an exciting new partnership with Marriott Rewards and provided us with a race to giveaway! WE’RE GIVING ONE LUCKY READER A FREE SPARTAN RACE ENTRY! I may love giveaways more than Spartan Races.  Combining the two is like riding a unicorn whilst eating a taco. Perfection.  The Free Race is good for entry into any Spartan Race in the US. And in case you have to travel, this just in:  Marriott Rewards is now the official Hotel Partner for Spartan Race! I know, I know.  You’re all like: So what?  Here’s what- If you join the Marriott Rewards loyalty program, you’ll get:

  • 20% off Spartan Races
  • FREE VIP bag check
  • $5 off of Spartan gear at the races

Cool, right?  And once enrolled, you’ll reap all the bennies of a Rewards Member. (That’s “benefits” for all the non-cool kids out there, myself included.) So if you’re a lover of all things Spartan and sweet hotels, join Marriott Rewards! There’s much more to gain by joining. Read more about the Offer Terms & Conditions HERE!

MARRIOTT_REWARDS_PNG (1)

In the meantime, enter our Spartan Race Giveaway by clicking the link below! The giveaway ends on May 31st at 11:59pm.  Good luck!!! AROOOO!!!

CLICK HERE to enter the Reebok Spartan Race giveaway

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.

Taper Thoughts

Well, it is officially Taper Time in Marathon and Sprint Land, and here are a few thoughts that have been buzzing around my head:

1. This is the weirdest freaking taper for both of us. For Colby, there is no taper. She doesn’t have time to get the taper crazies because she is too busy running “Hanson style.” All day, every day. On a treadmill, for Pete’s sake. For me, it doesn’t feel any different from earlier weeks. Other than a handful of long runs, the past 16 weeks weren’t sufficiently different from a taper for me to feel like I earned this. I think we both feel a bit robbed. (and I’m feeling a bit scared.)

2. Overnight, the forecast for Baystate (yes, I’m checking) went from cool temps and rain to a high of 59 and sunny. Thank God the rain went bye-bye. It better stay that way. After my hypothermic experiences at the 2014 PMC and 2015 Boston Marathon, I have started to feel like a bit of a jinx. Let me repeat, Mother Nature: Cold = Good! Rain = Bad! Sun= Meh! Clouds please! But more importantly, can we please keep the weather for this race to something that won’t leave me with blue lips? Philly weather was perfect (40’s and cloudy), but I’d like to skip the serious allergic reaction part, as well. So I’m ordering up cloudy, 40’s, hold the nuts. Am I asking too much? Let me know.

3. I may not be prepared for the race itself, but I’ve got plenty of plans for afterward. We are going to have a full-on Masshole celebration! Wahlburgers! Laughing in a Boston accent! Lil & Mike! Watching the Patriots Game! I’ll bring some Patriots gear for you to wear, too, Colby. Yes, we need to suit up even if only watching on TV.

4. Anyone have any tune suggestions? This is a double loop in a not-so-scenic area with varying crowd support. I’m thinking a few new songs might not be a bad idea.

5. Has anyone run a good marathon on crappy training? Please feel free to share your success story. Oh, and by “good” I don’t mean “win.” More like finish with dignity intact and not in a medical tent.

6. Even a lame taper motivates me to clean. What is it about the taper that brings out my inner OCD? And good god, my house is a mess. I am overwhelmed.

7. I still need to figure out what kind of fuel I think I can stomach (literally) during the race. Ugh. I need to get on it. Honey Stinger chews are the front runner but they are so bulky to carry. Any suggestions?

8. This will be my third marathon in an 11-month period and I am just plain tuckered. I know there are plenty of people who run multiple marathons every year but I don’t think I was intended to be one of them. I think I could actually run 3 marathons each year, no problem, as long as I didn’t have to train. It’s the lead up that kills me. Either I train hard and am exhausted, or train poorly and am mentally exhausted from beating myself up about not training well. Either way, it’s exhausting.

9. I know I’m officially sick of training for races, because it has been a sheer joy to go out for a run this past week and not worry about how fast or long it was when I am finished.

10. Colby is going to kick ass at this race and I am so glad I will be there to see it!!

Who else is tapering? What’s buzzing around in your mind? And GOOD LUCK to everyone racing Chicago and anywhere else this weekend!  

Running on Clouds – Part II

Cloudracers

Cloudracers

A few months ago, I started running in On Cloudsurfers. You can read about my love for them here.

I recently picked up a pair of  On Cloudracers– the racing version of my beloved Cloudsurfers.

I’m still feeling the love for my Cloudsurfers, but as part of working through my $@&#^%*! Rut, I wanted to try something new.

Because, you know, my running burnout has nothing to do with the fact that I am training for my 3rd marathon in 11 months while trying to pat my head and rub my stomach at the same time to keep home and work running and everything to do with my lack of new sneakers.

Ummm…yeah.

Anyhoo, regardless of my questionable reasons for buying them, I’m glad I did.

Took them for a 5 mile jaunt this morning and me likey. They are light – holy moly, light. Yet springy. I felt zippy. And they are almost entirely mesh on the top. It got a little warm by the end of my run but my feet still got a nice cross breeze and were able to breath. Even the tongue is some funky, light, aerated material.

I thought the Cloudsurfers were meshy and airy, but they ain’t got nothin’ on the Cloudracers.

See the pink , white and gray through the mesh? Those are my socks! These babies are LIGHT.

See the pink , white and gray through the mesh? Those are my socks! These babies are AIRY.

I have never worn racing flats. To someone who wears racing flats, these are probably kind of heavy because they have the cloud pods on the bottom. But they are the lightest shoes I have ever run in and I love them. I felt like I had nothing on my feet, yet the pods definitely provided cushioning.

Light.

Zippy.

Springy.

I haven’t felt that way on a run in a while. I’ll take ‘em.

What is your go-to running shoe? Do you use a different pair for training and for racing? Do you shop to get out of a rut????

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?

The Art of Racing in the Rain…

A rainy mile at the 2015 Boston Marathon

A rainy mile at the 2015 Boston Marathon

…is a really good book, but that isn’t what this post is about.

Nope. Today I’m talking about what to do when you train for a race – maybe even a really big race, say, maybe even The Boston Marathon, and wake up on race day to find that Mother Nature has decided to rain on your parade.

Kurt Cobain said it best – Nature is a whore.

I have run in the rain plenty of times, but it is totally different when you are racing in the rain –especially a distance race, like a half or a marathon. Or a 110 mile bike ride like Day 1 of the Pan Mass Challenge (that would be PMC 2014).

You can’t just change plans. Wait for it to stop. Immediately schedule a rest day.

Nope, you have to put on your big girl (waterproof) underwear and suck it up. For 2, 3, 4, 5, maybe more hours. Ugh. Fortunately, before the torrent that was the Boston Marathon 2015, I googled every tip I could on racing in the rain, tried most out during that wet and windy race, and now I’m gonna share them with you.

1. Don’t Panic. This should be Rule #1 for everything that doesn’t involve locusts or a mushroom cloud. Seriously, don’t panic. It’s rain. It probably will not improve your performance, but neither will freaking out. So take a deep breath, reassess and move forward.

2. Train in the rain. If you do a fair bit of racing, you will eventually have to run in the rain. And if you take your run indoors on a treadmill every time it rains, you will be even more freaked out if you have ugly conditions on raceday. Training in all kinds of weather will train you to race in all kinds of weather. It’s worth a little discomfort during the training cycle to be prepared. I can’t tell you how many of us in Boston’s Athlete’s Village consoled each other pre-race with “Don’t worry – you certainly trained in worse!” (for those outside of the northeast, it was a cold, snowy, icy, endless winter. And yes, we did indeed train in worse.)

3. Dress appropriately. Cannot be stressed enough. Cotton is not your friend. I repeat: Do Not Wear Cotton. Or anything that absorbs. Wear something with wicking properties. If it is cool and you need layers, make sure they are light and close-fitting – loose layers will only weigh you down once they get wet. Wear a hat or a visor with a brim to keep the rain off your face. If it is cold, wear tech gloves. If you have friends or family rooting you on somewhere on the course and it is cold, give them an extra hat, jacket and pair of gloves to switch into when you see them. If you have room in your pockets, at least put an extra pair of gloves in a ziploc and switch to the dry ones halfway through. Had I been able to swap out for dry gloves, jacket, etc. during Boston, I would have been a lot more comfortable and am pretty sure that I would have been able to finish with a faster time. Numb extremeties and a shivering body will not enhance your performance. Trust me.

4. Stay dry as long as you can. You really do not want to start the race wet. Wear something waterproof with a hood over your clothes to the start and ditch them at the last possible second. You can get a disposable rain poncho at most drug stores – pick one up at the first sign that race day could be rainy. Or pick up a garbage bag and shower cap – will work just as well. Bring an extra pair of shoes and socks to change into for the start, or if you can’t manage that, wear plastic bags over your sneakers until the start. You may also want to wear a garbage bag with armholes for the first part of the race. I did not do that for Boston because I thought I would feel claustrophobic. If I could do it over, I would start with a garbage bag over my clothes and just rip it off once I got hot. The longer you can stay dry, the better. Trust me.

5. Grease up like a pig at a county fair. You already know to use Glide for races to avoid chafing – goes double for rainy races. In addition to putting Glide on so-called “problem areas,” cover your feet with glide or aquaphor before putting on socks. I did this for Boston and despite running with soaking wet feet for almost the entire marathon, I emerged without one blister. Seriously – it was a Christmas miracle in April. If it is cold, cover all exposed skin (legs, arms) with aquaphor. It will repel the water and help keep you warm.

6. Adjust your expectations. Especially if it is windy. Rain won’t always slow you down, but a headwind will. You can try to draft with a group to help with the effects of the wind. Didn’t really work for me in Boston, because the wind was coming from multiple directions, but if it is just a headwind, drafting could help. Rain might slow you down and make things slippery. Be careful. A wipe out is never fun. You may be in PR shape but not have PR weather. It’s OK. Run the best you can run safely and keep a reasonable goal in mind.

7. But don’t give up. Many people had PR’s at Boston this year. Depending on the timing of their start, lots of people missed the worst of the wind, and the cool temps counteracted the slippery rain conditions, leading them to super fast PR times. I didn’t PR, but I also lost close to 10 minutes when my hands were so numb that I couldn’t get my gloves off to reach my Gu Chompers and a lovely volunteer had to help me deglove, rip open my Chompers, watch me eat them and then re-glove me. (God Bless Him – I’m not sure that was covered in the volunteer handbook.) Had I not lost the 10 minutes, I would have PR’d by around 5 minutes. No reason to give up on a PR just because it is raining. Go out and try your hardest despite what the meteorologists say. Just don’t beat yourself up if the conditions lead to a less than stellar race. You can’t control everything.

8. Hydrate. Just because you are wet on the outside doesn’t mean you are hydrated on the inside. Make sure to drink enough water regardless of how hard it is raining.

9. Pack dry clothes for the finish. Get out of your wet clothes and into dry ones as fast as you can. Including socks and sneakers. Even in relatively mild weather, you will feel very uncomfortable if you are still wet after cooling down after the race. And in cold weather, it can be downright dangerous. Once you stop, you need to get dry and warm as soon as possible. Once you are warm and dry, you can fully appreciate what a badass you are for running the distance in the rain.

10. Thank the volunteers. They likely were out there in the elements before you got there and stayed long after you passed them. Amazing. Make sure you let them know how much they are appreciated.

Any good racing in the rain stories? My toughest rainy day adventures were Pan Mass Challenge 2014 and Boston Marathon 2015. Here’s to hoping for better weather for PMC 2015 and Boston 2016…

Tempo Shmempo

Or…how NOT to do a tempo run.

I was inspired by a kick-ass speedwork session that Colby had yesterday morning. So inspired that I decided on the train home last night that I would try doing a “tempo” run this morning. My first. Plan was a 1 mile warm-up, 4 mile tempo, 1 mile cooldown (yes, Colby, I googled how to do a tempo run while on the train-are you impressed?).

Alas, I am the yang to Colby’s yin, and my tempo run did not go off quite as well as her speedwork. Here are some tips on how NOT to do a tempo run and general musings on my less-than-stellar experience…

Day before –

1. Make sure you have a busy day with lots of meetings and little time to hydrate. Well, plenty of time to hydrate, but feel self conscious about taking too many bathroom breaks for fear that colleagues think you have some weird condition, so drink water sparingly. Attend business lunch where you’re allergic to pretty much everything. Make do by eating only different kinds of salads, ancient grains and fruits. Studiously avoid anything that might be easy on the stomach.

2. Make sure you don’t get home until around 8:45. Make the mistake of mentioning “Dunkin Donuts” in front of your kids so that you are forced to watch, memorize and rap along with Big Papi and Gronk in the Dunkie’s commercial for 45 minutes (Cup Solo!) when all you want to do is floss, brush and collapse. BUT: Gronk! Big Papi!

Morning of-

1. Wake up around 4:20 thanks to a woodpecker. Give him the finger (he doesn’t care) and realize that you will never go back to sleep. Watch part of an episode of Real Housewives of Somewhere and then follow it with a bit of Burt Wolf’s “Travels and Traditions” on PBS so you feel better about yourself and your TV viewing habits.

2. Decide at 5 that you will get up and do your run early, before getting kids ready for school. Get out of bed and make the mistake of checking work e-mail. Spend next 40 minutes revising something for a client in London (those Brits have 5 hours on us!! Not fair!) that came in over night.

3. Drink a Vitamin Water Energy like it is your job. And it is, because you have to leave for your run by 6 and it’s the only fuel you are getting. The window for eating solid food passed around an hour earlier and you do not want to puke on your first tempo run. Or any run, for that matter.

4. See note on counter that today is Field Day at school and Stooge #1 has to bring a nut-free, fully disposable snack and lunch (preferably in recyclable packaging). Dammit! Now run has to be followed immediately by trip to deli to pick up food that meets the guidelines. All this house has to offer is PB&J. So much for post-run stretching. Realize you now have extra incentive to hit your tempo pace because you have not yet left the house and already are short on time.

Run-

1. Start off with an easy 1-mile warm up. Feel like you’re already working hard. Not good. Probably just hungry, dehydrated, sleep-deprived or stressed. Possibly all of the above.

2. Kick off the 4 mile tempo run. Mile 1: OK but working hard. Feels a little too hard for mile 1. Nervous.

3. Mile 2: not feeling strong and realize you have chosen a route with some hills. You’re a fool. A tired, dehydrated fool. Nervous and miserable. Wonder if you have undiagnosed asthma and that is why you are sucking wind. Know deep down that this is not the case.

4. Mile 3: – realize that you did the freaking math wrong and if you do 4 miles at tempo, the run will end at your house and you will not have any cool down before you jump in the car and head to local deli. Even you know that this is a Very Very Bad Idea. Decide on the fly that this will be a 3 mile tempo run so you can have a 1 mile cool down. Feel secretly happy that you only have to do 3 miles at this pace, because you are sucking wind and still 2 seconds above what Google told you should be your tempo pace (5K pace + 30 seconds). Miserable and bad at math. A winning combo.

5. Realize Google suggested you wear a heart monitor and you forgot. Figure it is for the best, because it probably would be sounding an alarm for a defibrillator right about now. This is not pleasant. Or as Google put it, “comfortably hard.”

6. Finish Mile 3 of tempo run. Actually end up making your goal pace, but know that it is because you raced the last half mile and that does not seem to be the right thing to do for a tempo run (Note: Check Google on this). Your first tempo run and you cheated. Who cares, you’re done and can run like a normal person now.

7. Enjoy cool down portion of the run – the grass seems greener, the sky seems bluer. Smile. Enjoy returning to regular breathing. Pass a house that smells like pancakes. Wonder who the hell is making pancakes at 6:45 AM on a Wednesday. Wonder if they wonder who the hell is running like a lunatic at 6:45 AM on a Wednesday. Wonder if your kids would rather have a mom who was home making pancakes instead of out running. Remember that you watched the damn Dunkie’s commercial 8000 times last night and even promised to buy them the big Gronk sunglasses and realize you don’t care if they wish you were home making pancakes. They can have pancakes on the weekend. After you run.

8. Get to the bottom of your street and realize that you actually could have done 4 miles at tempo and still gotten in a ½ mile cool down. You misjudged the route. Oh, well. {Thank God you are bad at both math and route planning. THANK GOD. Mile 4 may have killed you.}

9. Feel proud of yourself for trying something new and at the same time, wonder whether it would be best to go back to Tina Marathon Training 1.0, which generally involves the following: Run. Kinda a lot. Do some long runs. Make sure to rest sometimes. Repeat.

10. Start your day.

I think I will try a tempo run again. They are miserable enough that they must be good for you. Just not anytime soon. I need to forget this one first.

Who else does tempo runs? Any tips for how to do them? I think I have covered how not to do them pretty well, if I do say so.

Walking on Sunshine? Try Running on Clouds!

A few months ago, my amazing local running store – The Authentic Athlete in Fairfield, CT (seriously, stop by if you are ever in the neighborhood- these guys know their stuff) – introduced me to the On Cloudsurfer and told me I’d love it.

They were (as usual) right.

DISCLAIMER: Like every other running apparel company in the world, On has no idea who I am.

MORE DISCLAIMER: Authentic Athlete knows I’m the spaz who comes in and buys running shoes a lot and tripped up their stairs a few months ago, but that’s the extent of our relationship.

I just like to pass it on when I find something I love.

The unique thing about On shoes is their “CloudTec” technology. The sole of the shoe is covered in 13 firm rubber “clouds” that are intended to help you land softly (by absorbing both vertical and horizontal impact) yet take off powerfully (like a barefoot runner).

My funky kicks.

My funky kicks.

I don’t understand all of the science behind those magic clouds on the bottoms of the shoes, but I know two very important things that make me love my Cloudsurfers:

1. When I wear them on long runs, my feet don’t hurt.
2. When I wear them on long runs, my legs don’t hurt.

You know how sometimes you finish a super-long run and once you stop, you basically have to shuffle into your house? Not with these babies. I finished several 20+ milers in them and was able to walk into my house fully upright and moving like a semi-normal person. And this was at the end of my training for the Boston Marathon, when you would think my legs would be a mess. My earlier long runs were in different shoes and I basically hobbled my way into the house after each long run. Being able to walk in my front door like a fully functioning human being was a nice switch and spared me the usual weird looks from my tweens.

I’m not saying my legs weren’t tired- the shoes are not magic- but I was not sore. I’ll take it.

Some people claim that the On shoes make them run faster. I don’t know about that. I think I’ll run faster when I have the time to devote to speedwork and strength training, and I’m not planning on a shoe to help in that area, but the comfort alone is enough for me.

In case you are wondering about some of the same things I did when I considered buying them:

1. Yes, the clouds are very strong and won’t wear down quickly. I read one review by a guy who had run 250 miles in them and the cloud symbol hadn’t even worn off yet. I haven’t noticed any deterioration in the 2 months I have had them.

2. Yes, they feel weird to walk in. But they don’t feel weird to run in. If there was any adjustment period (I can’t really remember), it was probably only the first mile or two the first time I wore them. Seriously. And I think half of that was because I was expecting them to feel weird. By mile 3 of my first run in them, I was a convert.

3. No, stuff does not get stuck in between the clouds. I have run on post-winter roads full of gravel, sand and general gunk with no problems. Not sure if it is different for trail runners, but we road runners {beep! beep!} should be fine.

4. They probably are slightly more slippery than regular types of running shoes because of less points of contact with the road. When I ran through the torrent that was the Boston Marathon, I realized I was fine as long as I stayed off painted lines, trolley tracks and other slick surfaces. Running on the wet road was no problem – maybe I took turns a little more carefully, but that was probably the product of overthinking – but the addition of anything shiny and slick and I felt a little unstable. Despite that, I would wear them again in a rainy race without question.

5. They are almost completely mesh, which is a dream come true in warm weather and may require warmer socks in cold weather. I ran through snow and cold temps in them in regular wool running socks and felt fine. When I wore them in Boston with regular dri-fit type socks, I got a little chilly due to the fact that my feet were soaked by mile 3 and temps were in the low-40’s. That said, I emerged from that race with 10 intact toenails and not one blister. Hear that? Not one blister!! A Christmas miracle brought to me by my good friends at On.

They are not cheap and they are new enough that they aren’t in a lot of discount outlets yet (and I think the ones that are in discount outlets are the earlier versions of what I wear, so Buyer Beware – they may be different). Still, I would highly recommend giving them a whirl.

And if you do, let me know what you think!

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.

Reebok Spartan Race GIVEAWAY! AROO! AROO!

We’ve got a GIVEAWAY UP IN HERE!!
amypoehler excitedPretend I just yelled that in my best Oprah voice. Cuz I just did. #truestory

Let’s be honest. Who doesn’t love a FREE RACE? Better yet. A FREE SPARTAN RACE! I’ll tell you who does. THIS GIRL!

spartan 492 2

Colby. 2014 Fenway Spartan Sprint. Running like a Crazy Pants. Clearly, I’m not having ANY fun. Like, at all.

Yup. You read that right. I am happy to announce that we are giving away ONE Reebok Spartan Race Entry to ANY Spartan Race in the continental US!  IMG_0526A very kind and generous Spartan reached out to Tina and I and offered you, our Badass Readers, a chance to SPARTAN IT UP.  Damn. That’s a whole lotta savings up in there. For reals. Races ain’t cheap. And you know how Tina and I love us some Spartan Races. Relive the glory of our Fenway Spartan Sprint HERE. It was EPIC.

There are 3 Spartan Race options or “The Trifecta” in Spartan Speak:

  1. Spartan Sprint: 3+ miles with 15+ obstacles
  2. Spartan Super: 8+ miles with 20+ obstacles
  3. Spartan Beast: 12+ miles with 25+ obstacles

See? There’s something for everyone. And they’re all over the country! Spartan has options, People. Challenging, amazing, “Show ’em What You’re Made Of” options. In fact, I am SERIOUSLY considering doing the Spartan Tri State New Jersey Beast on April 18th!  Tina will be tapering and freaking out about running the Boston Marathon and wouldn’t DARE run a Spartan Beast 2 days before Boston. Girlfriend is nuts. But not certifiable. The Tri State New Jersey Beast sound like just that— A DAMN BEAST!  12 miles of crazy climbing, over 20 obstacles, 4500′ elevation, single track, and one big old ski mountain to run wild on!  AROO IS RIGHT! 728x90_TriState

Feel like you’re Spartan Enough? ENTER OUR RAFFLECOPTER GIVEAWAY to win! And if you don’t win?

Use coupon code: SPARTANBLOGGER to get 10% off of any race!

May the odds be ever in your favor! 🙂
Enter our Spartan Race Rafflecopter giveaway!

Linking up with SD Mom and Erica Finds on their weekly Wednesday Giveaway Special! Check out their pages. They are overflowing with fantastic giveaways!