I need a little Christmas. Right this effen minute. 

I’m in the midst of a cheesy Hallmark  Christmas Movie Marathon. Wine in hand. Drunk Otis on lap. Half decorated Christmas tree blinking like it’s got an eyelash stuck in it’s eye. I can’t bring myself to find the goddamn flashy bulb and replace it with the steady calming Christmas glow I adore. For now, I’ll endure. I’m in super sonic lazy mode. And quite frankly, I’m not emotionally prepared for tomorrow to be Monday. I am however super ready to kick off the holidays. I’m usually not ALL IN for Christmas this soon. Christ. There’s still pumpkin pie in the house. But this year, I need a lil’ JOY up in here. 

I trained for 18 weeks with Hanson’s Marathon Method. I rode 193 miles across Massachusetts in my 12th Pan-Mass Challenge in the midst of it. I changed jobs. Dealt with an incredible amount of bullshit in the process and after feeling exhausted, drained and psychologically ill prepared- despite having trained hard- ran the Marine Corps Marathon a few weeks ago.  

Happiness is a shake out run.

It didn’t go as planned. It started out fantastic and was for at least 22 miles. Legs running like a metronome, keeping pace until they weren’t. That has less to do with my training and more to do with how damn hot it was. Running a marathon in the high-70s at the end of October ain’t my thing. My body wasn’t having it. I stopped sweating, got chills, got cold and nauseous and promptly got super nervous. There was a moment on that God forsaken hot highway near the Pentagon that I honestly thought I was going to DNF. Then I saw a paralyzed man running in an exoskeleton and promptly got it together. I’m not kidding. I was jolted back to life. I cried. And cheered for him. I’ve never seen anything like it. Talk about will. The Will. Will to the highest power. I was stunned. 

Dawn.

I finished in a time that I would have been happy about a year ago, but it wasn’t what I trained for. You can put your heart and soul into your training. You can light candles to the Gods of Perfect Weather and make offerings to the Gods of Perfect GI Health. You can run miles with a side of tempo runs and a shot of intervals until you are BEYOND ready. But on that day? You get what you get, and you don’t get upset. *pours third glass of wine*  

DONE!!!

So as I sit here, half in the bag about to have a goddamn seizure from these flashing lights, I’m realizing that in spite of a somewhat disappointing bunch of months, imperfection can be perfection- as long as you have the right perspective. Not having the race you trained for happens. Imperfect conditions rarely yield perfect results. It’s what you take from it. There will always be lessons to learn.  That’s where the growth happens- as an athlete, as a runner, hell- even as a woman.  Yes. The heat made a very decent race totally turn to shit, but I will forever be grateful for the thrill of the run. There is nothing like it. Nothing. Every run is a great run. That much I am sure of. The tough ones just show you a little more of what you’re made of. #steel 

Badass.

What’s next on your list? Next up for me: Boston Marathon! Training this time begins with an InsideTracker retest for me. Check out their #BlackFriday Deal for a huge discount on their “Ultimate” test. Here’s the LINK to their website. Use code: THANKSNICOLEB to save some dough and optimize your health. Now thru Cyber Monday, 10/28! 

Tips for Having Your Best Race Ever

nycmarathonlogo

I ran the NYC Marathon last week with 51,000+ of my nearest and dearest running friends and methinks I had the most fun I have EVER had in a marathon. Thought I’d share my secrets. If you’re looking to PR, these tips are not – I repeat, NOT – for you.  If you are Mr. Hanson, Higdon, Pfitzinger? Please look away.

Can’t exactly market the below as keys to “success,” but if you are looking to have The Best Time Ever During a Race, give them a try.

1. Choose a race that is a 26.2 mile party. NYC, Chicago, Marine Corps, Boston all have awesome crowds and crazy-good energy. I imagine the marathon through wine country in France would qualify. I’m sure there are many, many more. Avoid anything that is only for “serious runners” or has a boring course.

2. Put your name in the lottery sign-up, then promptly forget that you signed up. Make bold statements that you are NEVER running a fall marathon again even though you just threw your name into the lottery for one. Your name never comes up anyway.

3. Genuinely be surprised when you find out in March that you got a bib. Temper your excitement with the realization that you will now need to train through another hot summer and insanely busy September. Tuck that way back in the recesses of your mind and carry on with a fun spring. It all seems pretty far away, anyway.

4. Don’t train too hard. Not because you don’t want to (well, there is a part of you that doesn’t want to), but because you simply do not have the time. When did life get so busy?

5. Get your long runs in, even if some weeks that is – gulp –your only run of the week (it pains me to admit this, even now). They are key because they remind you that long runs are generally your favorite runs, and what is a marathon but a really long run? You can do this. Slowly, perhaps, but you can do it.

6. Do not – I repeat – do NOT keep a log of your “training.” It will only make you sad. And nervous. Maybe even a little horrified.

7. Step away from the internet. You don’t have time for that anyway (see #4). Do not keep up to date on the newest training plans and how fellow runners are doing with them. It will only scare you. Wish them the best, cheer them from afar and retreat into your bubble. (Do keep up with your Bestie’s training, because that is different and you love her. She is your bubble.)

8. Make sure your Bestie comes in with you for the marathon weekend. This is key. Maybe Tip #1.

9. Make fun plans after the race. It will give you something to focus on other than the race itself. A party hosted by one of your favorite people with an awesome group of friends, old and new, is ideal. All that separates you from it is a long run!

10. Order up great weather. 50’s and mostly sunny works.

11. Mill around athlete’s village and take it all in. It’s the biggest race on planet and a veritable melting pot. It’s awesome. Take mental notes and pictures. you don’t want to forget any of it.

12. Look around the start at your fellow runners, look over the bridge, look at the amazing skyline ahead and immediately decide to take off your Garmin. Put her in your pocket – you don’t need her today. Today is not going to be about PRs, fast miles or negative splits, whether you wear the Garmin or not. So let her go and just focus on the experience.

13. Enjoy every second. Thank every volunteer you can. Slap kids’ hands, laugh at the signs. Tear up at the many “Team Achilles” runners you see. Take in the different neighborhoods you pass through on your 5-borough run. Reminisce and feel a little emotional as you run through your old stomping grounds on First Avenue. Wow, you were young.

14. Catch sight of your Bestie – your biggest cheerleader – a moment before she yells “T-BONE” as you pass her less than ½ a mile from the finish. Her smile and energy makes you feel like you are running on air.

15. Feel exhilarated when you cross the finish. You did it. Not the way you usually do it, but that’s ok.

It’s more than okYou stepped waaaaay out of your comfort zone on this one.

And you are beaming.

What was your Best Race Ever? Was it a PR Race? Or just a great experience? Maybe you have one of each?

Acceptance. 

Ready for this crazy talk? Sweet Sacred Unicorn! I am running the Boston Marathon. I trained with Hansons Marathon Method. I ran the Baystate Marathon. I qualified. I registered. I got accepted.

Me! Me. Me? How in the actual fuck did that happen? If you were to have told me 7 years ago that I would be running the Boston Marathon, the Holy Grail of running, I would have laughed straight in your pretty little face. Never. Never in my life did I think I would be fast enough. Runner enough. Athlete enough. To qualify for the most sought after marathon around. Just never. 

I didn’t believe I had it in me. It wasn’t even on my radar. It was a mythical beast, a literal and figurative unicorn that existed only in the pages of Runner’s World. BQ? I hadn’t seriously considered it. Then last year rolled around. I decided THIS WAS IT. I am giving it all I got. I discovered Hansons Marathon Method and decided to give it a go (here). I also decided to blog about my weekly running recaps (here’s number 1 .)  It was my first REAL BQ try. I blogged faithfully. Each week I posted “Colby’s Week In Running” all the while apologizing for the profanities, beer and sweaty tired miles. Humor me, Poodles. Just read this. It kept me honest. It kept me accountable. Then I ran the Race of My Life (here and here) with Tina. Best Day Ever. That is, until yesterday. 

I found running, or rather running found me, in what seems like a million lifetimes ago. It was during one of the lowest points in my life. I have to say, I didn’t feel worthy of anything. I’ve blogged about that time before (here)  and several other times over the course of This Little Blog’s tenure. Running became my constant companion. It was my control in my time of chaos. I ran to feel pain that pieced the numbness and ran to let it all go. Each mile taught me I was capable of moving forward in the truest sense. It was transformative. I started to believe in myself. Believe that I was capable. Believe I was strong. Believe I could…{insert anything here}. 

So when I saw that email telling me I had been accepted into The Boston Marathon, I had the feeling that this arc of my life, from low to high, was closed. And I accepted it with an open heart. I started in one place and landed in another, having run the whole way. Never forget where you start- where you really start. It will give you the greatest perspective on where you are now. What a journey! I discovered who I AM!  Strong. Worthy. Capable.  

And in the process, found a damn unicorn. 

Refreshed, Recharged and Reinvigorated. I’m back! 

I’ve been padding around for the past month in a giddy haze, wondering if running the fastest marathon of my life had all been a dream. Did I really qualify for Boston?  Or had it been a wonderful, fantastical dream?  Nope. I DID IT, POODLES!  Relive the splendor HERE.

And now I’m back! 

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Refreshed, recharged and reinvigorated.  I’m also loaded with delicious craft beer and have a belly full of lobster rolls. I warned you that would happen. I’ve been running. But not Crazy-Hansons-Method-style. Dare I say I miss my old training plan? I do. 

ermahgerd hernserns mahtherd

Good Old Hansons Method

For as much as I bitched about it, it worked. I shaved roughly 26 minutes off of my recent average marathon time. WE’RE TALKING ALMOST A MINUTE PER MILE FOR 26.2 FREAKING MILES. I still can’t believe it. I also bettered my 6 year old PR by over 3 minutes. I’m 43. I ran that shit in my 30s, during the darkest period of my life. The finish for me, was actually my new beginning. To PR NOW? I have no words. None. Other than to say: Age ain’t nothin’ but a number. And numbers are dirty liars. Training with the Hansons Marathon Method made me a stronger, faster, more confident runner. Expect a review of what I liked.  Do rest days count? And what I disliked. I’m looking at you Tempo Run.

I miss our weekly recaps. *Sigh*  Although, I must admit I am loving running “naked” which is less #freethenipple and more #ditchthegarmin. I’ve been running when I want, where I want, and for how long I want. It’s been glorious. And if I don’t feel like running? I don’t. It’s ok to NOT run. The Run Police won’t find you, take your “Official Runner” card and make you run Fartleks until you hurl.  Trust me. They won’t. It is ok to do yoga, spin, walk, hike, lift, plank and/or sit your ass on the couch and watch Bravo. Especially after a marathon. I’ve been doing it all. And then some. In the spirit of My Weekly Hansons Recap, here’s my One Month Post-Hansons Recap! Sit tight, Poodles. Colby is back!  

Random floating poodle at Foxwoods Casino. I died.

  • Immune system FAILURE! Right after the marathon my body pretty much said: Aren’t you cute? NOW SIT YOUR ASS DOWN. And to make sure that happened, it gave me a respiratory infection, a hideous cold sore I fondly named, Doug, and double eye infections. AGAIN. I was a hot mess. I took a few days off from running, did lots of yoga then promptly hit the trails when Doug skipped town.  

    Running wild!

     
  • Drunk Otis ditched his cone! Then promptly danced on the coffee table. No one was happier about getting rid of that cone than Leon James and Evil Beagle, his brother and sister. Yes. I have 3 dogs. Yes, I also own stock in Dyson. He used that thing like a bulldozer and flipped Evil Beagle over at least three times. She was not amused. I swear she gave him the sock that nearly killed him. He’s back to his Drunk Otis self. Hanging out at cyclocross races, acting like a drunken frat boy and retrieving dismembered deer legs instead of his stick. He’s a mess. But we love him.  

    Flipped ear, don’t care.

       

    Table dancing, coneless.

       

    Fetch!

     
  • Delicious IPAs! There are too many to note. But I will definitely keep running just so I can drink scrumptious craft beer. I also discovered a very cool pint “glass” at a cyclocross race of all places. It keeps beer (or non-alcoholic beverages, but, honestly, why even bother?) ice cold. For a long damn time. Hydro Flask. Check it out. Don’t tell them I sent you because they have no idea I exist. I just loved the product and want to share it with my Friends.   

    Drunk Otis couldnt handle the Hydro Flask.

     

    A lil’ punkin for the cook!

      

    A beautiful something is right. Delicious.

     
  • I had surgery.  Plastic surgery! Simmer down, Poodles. It was scar revision surgery to correct a nasty facial scar that I got while training for marathon number 7. Feel free to relive that horror HERE. No, I don’t suddenly have butt implants and a trout mouth.  I know, you’re totally disappointed. Everything is healing up nicely. I am thrilled with the results. Vain? You bet. But that goddamn scar had to go.  

    Scar? What scar? Just happiness up in here!

     
  • Date Nights o’ Plenty! Ain’t love grand? Funny how that happens when you’re no longer exhausted and running your face off.  My Other Half and I saw Kevin Bacon in Hitchock’s Rear Window. It was awesome! Not quite the movie- which we LOVE- but an interesting take on the story. (We also saw Criss Angel perform at Foxwoods Casino and now I want to be a street performer.  Or at least get sawed in half in a sequined red dress. #truestory) Gotta say though. He looks good that Kevin Bacon. And just think: You’re now officially one degree of separation from Kevin Bacon.  So there’s that. 🙂  

    Starring Kevin Bacon.

     How long do you take off from running, post-marathon? Have you ever experienced immune system failure after a marathon? Or worse, had a “Doug” of your own? Have you ever met a celebrity? 

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.

Baystate Marathon Pre-Cap

T-3 to Baystate and Colby and I are each in a our own state of chaos. Not about the race – just really crazy stuff going on for both of us. We are planning on buying some white flags and waving them. Wildly.

Thought I’d write one last post before this blog turns into “It’s a Bender AND a Nap (and a massage and a happy hour and a pedicure and whatever other forms of relaxation we find…”

Because we are TUCKERED.

Just gotta have enough gas in the tank to get through 26.2 and it’s officially rest time.

I don’t have a theme for this post, just some more ramblings before I start making a packing list…

I feel guilty because I have been so crabby about this race. I actually do care about races’ feelings, apparently. Such a loser.

So today on my run, I thought about how lucky I am to be running Baystate. I am healthy enough to run a marathon. It’s something I take for granted far too much. At the same time that Colby and I are running Baystate, there is a Breast Cancer walk in my town and I know several survivors and current patients who will be walking to raise funds and awareness. I am pretty damn lucky to be running a marathon for the heck of it on Sunday and I cannot let myself forget this. So my training was lame. Waaah, waah. I have a weekend away with my Bestie and get to see her kick butt in a race and see my family and enjoy the endorphin high of a marathon AND watch the Patriots while in Patriot Nation. I have NO complaints. None.

I like the vibe of the race already. As many of you know, Colby and I are matched with buddies through I Run 4 Michael.   I usually send the race director an e-mail ahead of time asking if I can have an extra medal or shirt for my buddy. I have always had a nice response to my requests, but I have never before received a reply from the actual director 20 minutes after my request telling me that it would be no problem and to come see him personally at the Expo. This is the smallest marathon I have run and I’m really liking the friendly and personal feel of it.

My 3 week old pair of shoes – On Cloudracers – got a hole in them last week (?!) so Road Runner Sports, with its amazing customer service, replaced them – overnight – but this means that I will be running in shoes on Sunday that have only been worn for around 26 miles so far. Not exactly broken in, but what can I do. It’s par for the course for this one, I tell you. I’m like a broken down barnacle barge. FYI, if anyone is looking into these shoes, Road Runner Sports said that this has not happened to other customers, and probably was a freak thing and not a problem with the make or model.

I’m sure everyone has been dying to know which new songs I ended up adding to my playlist after my request for suggestions. Sorry to leave you all in pained suspense. I added “Living Loving Maid” and “Land of 1000 Dances” because I have watched my 14 year old son play these in gigs recently (“killing” them, if I do say so). I added “Riptide” and “Want to Want Me” because my 12 year old daughter lays on her bed and listens to them just like I would have done if they came out in 1981. And I added “Sugar” by Maroon 5 because it’s my 10 year old’s current favorite karaoke song and I therefore have heard it so much it is already playing in my head all the time anyway. I figure that even if none of them puts a spring in my step, they will at least put a smile on my face since they remind me of my 3 stooges. I also plan to steal add some of the songs from Jessica @ Fit Talker’s spotify list – thank you, thank you, thank you!  What a great list!

You all undoubtedly have also been on the edge of your seats waiting to hear how I will fuel for this bad boy.  Winner Winner Chicken Dinner goes to Honey Stinger Fruit Smoothie Energy Gel. Tried before a run the other day when I already had a rough stomach and it felt great. Phew.

It’s definitely time for taper to end because I have been cleaning like a fiend and throwing so many things out that I’m afraid I might toss one of my kids by accident.

Weather forecast looks good for Sunday. Cold – low of 26, high of 48, and partly cloudy. We are thrilled. Fingers crossed that it doesn’t change!

I think that is all I got. Well, I got plenty more, but I’ve got miles to go before I sleep (figuratively) and have to make my list!

Does everyone get monkey mind like this in the days leading up to race day?  I feel like my brain is an LP playing at 78 rpm…

…and if you are too young to get this reference, please do not tell me.

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????

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?