When is it time to hire a coach? Answer: NOW!

So I did a thing a few weeks ago. I hired a coach. WHHHAAATTT??? I know.  I don’t even know who I am anymore. What prompted this very Adult-Runner decision was running yet another marathon –  and missing my mark. I ran Sugarloaf Marathon in Maine several weeks ago and while I didn’t have a horrible race, I did fall short of my goal. As per recent years, I trained using my beloved Hanson’s Marathon Method which kicks your ass, then hands it to you in a fatigued, sweaty heap.  You’re exhausted, but you are ready. Hanson’s is tough. As I know from experience, it’s quasi-unorthodox method works for me. At least it had until it didn’t. My training block went well this time around with Hanson’s.  I believe I only missed 2 runs due to minor injury,  but after reflecting on Sugarloaf, I felt like my training was missing something.  I ran the miles. I hit the paces. I checked off the boxes as I had in the past. I even had some really excellent tempo runs. But, it seemed like something was off. Did I have Hanson’s Fatigue? Was my body getting too used to this type of training?  Did I need something different to mix it up? My running needed SOMETHING more. *cue hiring Coach*

There are a million reasons why you fall short of reaching your goal. Physical, psychological, mother nature, the course, your stomach, your ankle, the stars not aligning properly, not wearing you’re lucky ponytail holder…..the list goes on, real or perceived. No matter how many marathons you’ve run, there is ALWAYS room for improvement. For me, after many cycles with Hanson’s, religiously following their sadistic program,  I felt like it was time for a change. Don’t get me wrong, Hanson’s got me all the way to Boston. It works, but now I feel like I’ve plateaued. It’s not you Hanson’s, it’s me.

its not you its me

Here’s the short list of why I hired a coach. Again, in the interest of full disclosure. I’m not some super-certified running guru. I’m just a girl with a blog who loves lobster rolls, IPAs and running. (A lot.) I’m also a girl who has goals. It’s been almost 2 weeks with my new coach and here’s why I’m loving my decision already.

  • Accountability. I never really had a tough time being held accountable. I documented my running exploits often on this little blog.  I put it out there. But something about having a Running Table for Two makes the accountability even more real. It’s keeping me honest and completely on-task. My Garmin uploads directly to the training app we use the moment I hit save. I can count on feedback within the hour. It’s magical.
  • Interaction. This is key. Having someone to really talk to about your runs, how you’re feeling and where you’re at is something I am finding invaluable. For instance, I had a horrible cold last week. Previously I would have just plowed on through. It’s on the schedule, therefore I must run in spite of this hacking cough! Let’s be honest, we runners are terrible patients. With my coach, he adjusted my workout based on my need. As a result, I had a much better speed workout because I was rested. Who knew? (I’m laughing. We all know. We just don’t do it. Until someone we respect tells us to. Directly.)
  • Fit. If you are going to choose a coach, make sure it’s the right coach for you. I spoke with several of of my coach’s clients – super fast, fast and downright normal runners – and got feedback from each one. Pluses, minuses, likes, dislikes, whether or not they improved- anything I could think of.  Usually coaches have options available.  Whether they put together an individual plan for you or have one on one coaching with feedback – there are usually multiple plans to choose from ranging in  the amount of interaction and cost to fit your budget.
  • Variability. I am digging the variability in the workouts! I mean, it’s running. You run. How fun can it be? OH BUT WAIT, POODLE! It really can be fun!  Mixing up speeds, times, distances, surges, intervals- it’s not just the same old same old. In order to get fast, you need to run fast. And I ‘m learning that there are MANY ways to do so. It’s like a breath of fresh air.
  • Permission. Here’s a surprising one. Like I mentioned before, I was sick all week. I had a full running week as well as a 50 mile bike ride on Saturday and a long run on Sunday. My coach messaged me and wished me luck for Saturday’s ride then added – let’s see how you feel for Sunday. I’d rather have you get some extra rest. I don’t want this cough to linger. So instead of running long, I ran easy and short, just enough to shake out the legs. It may sound silly, but if I’m going to follow a plan, I FOLLOW THE PLAN. I spent 13 years in Catholic school. Discipline and guilt run strong up in here. I wasn’t slacking. I was sick and resting. I’m sure we can do a full on psychoanalysis of this another time,  but being given permission to sit on the couch and catch up on Real Housewives instead of slogging through a run just to get the miles in, meant an awful lot to me. It was a stress lifted. Permission granted and accepted.
  • Motivation. I have been more inspired to run in the past several weeks than I have in a very long time. I attribute that to the decision to hire a coach. It’s new. It’s fresh. And I am excited! Running was starting to feel like a chore for me. It was sapping the fun out of it. Even though you have big goals and are serious about what you’re doing, doesn’t mean that you have to be miserable doing it. Just keep that in mind. 🙂

Have you thought about hiring a coach? Do you have one? Are you one?! What would you look for in hiring a coach? Do you love lobster rolls as much as I do? 

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Five Reasons 5Ks are Proof that Hell on Earth Exists

 

hell

I am in hell. 

I ran a 5K this weekend. I ran it as a training run sandwiched between 2 easy mile bookends for a total of 7.1 miles for the day. My new Coach thought it would be a “fun” thing for me to do as we kick off marathon training.  At the time, I was totally on board. I even suggested it. “Sure, Coach! FUN!” Let me preface this by saying that I really believed this would be a fantastic idea- it was for an incredible local cause. And being a shop-local-community-type gal, I signed right on up. I also thought I was fairly fit, having run a marathon and hiked a million miles on vacation the past two weeks.  In that brief moment, I forgot the fact that I hated 5Ks. I hate them more than any distance. Gimme a marathon any day over this hell fest. At least with a marathon, there’s time to settle in. With a 5K, it is ON.  I’m nervous. I have to pee incessantly.  And my stomach feels like it’s been taken over by a swarm of bumble bees. I’m a wreck for a 5K. An ill prepared- SHIT I NEED TO RUN FAST!- wreck. It’s crazy. Because for many of us, this is the race that starts it all! This is our first date with running. We swiped right. From here our love affair with running blossoms! From here it becomes a 10k, a half-marathon, a marathon….and maybe even an ultra. The sky is the limit! I ran a 5K! I love it! I love running! Oh, how quickly we forget. Maybe we black it out. Box it up and banish it to that far away place in our minds.  Because as I damn nearly forgot, 5Ks STINK. Here’s why….

Five Reasons 5Ks are Proof that Hell on Earth Exists

5. You need to run really, really fast. Sure, you can saunter along and chit chat with your squad but if you’re planning on racing one, in the words of the almighty Ru Paul – “You better werk!”  And by that I mean, you shouldn’t even be able to talk. There is no ‘Easy Pace’ in the 5K. You should be able to grunt. And maybe make a few simple hand gestures involving a middle finger. If you can carry on a conversation during a 5K, Gurl, you ain’t running hard enough. And who wants that? We’re social creatures for Pete’s sake. Let’s chit chat and be merry!

4. There is no time – I REPEAT – no time to screw around. That gun goes off and it’s time to make the donuts, eat them, then forget you even had them – GO! No dicking around people. There is little room for error with a 5K. Whatever the pace you’re huffing and puffing for, you better dial it in right off the line. If you don’t you’ll inevitably go out too fast, blow up and blow donut chunks at the finish. Graphic? Yes. But totally true.

3. Your heart may very well explode. Or minimally, bounce out of your chest, stop, restart, then hop back in it’s comfy cavity, exhausted. Feeling like you’re dying is never, ever a good thing. I’m all for ’embracing the suck’ and ‘getting uncomfortable’ and all that cliched happy horseshit- but for the love of coronary arteries, it’s all a bit much. I’m sure the 5K is the ideal HIIT workout (high intensity interval training).  HIIT workouts usually feature a short period of intense work with an easier recovery period only THERE IS NO RECOVERY PERIOD IN A 5K. Unless you count laying face down on the finish line in a heap of broken dreams. That’s why your heart wants to burst.  It hates you and your 5K.

2. Wait. That’s it? I’m done?!? After you’ve died a thousand deaths, sucked wind and hurled – it’s over. 5Ks are quick. So if you’re trying to avoid mowing the lawn, re-staining your deck or spending time with your in -laws on a gorgeous summer weekend THIS AIN’T THE RACE FOR YOU. You will be home and ready to throw yourself into your annoying house hold chores zippity quick. You can’t bail on a gorgeous summer mid-day baby shower and forgo ohhh-ing and ahhhh-ing over diaper genies and onsies if  you’re running a 5K because you will have time to go home, shower and fluff up in no time. Who wants to run a race that doesn’t involve a “Get Out Of Annoying Obligations Because You’re Racing -Free” card?  Gimme a nice long marathon as an excuse to get out of doing pesky things on a weekend any damn day.

And the Number 1 reason why 5Ks are proof that hell on earth exists…..

1. 5Ks HURT. In my humble opinion, those wretched things may last less than 30 minutes (god willing) BUT it will be the worst 30 minutes of your life. Your heart, your lungs, your legs, your ego…..EVERYTHING HURTS AND YOU’RE DYING. Improving your time on the damn thing? That hurts even more. And is it even worth it? I’m not quite sure.

Although….

Maybe if I focused on shorter distances and did more speed work and maybe prepared to race 5Ks or even ran more than one a year or maybe spent more time on the track or didn’t have a few beers the night before…maybe then it wouldn’t be so bad?…

Don’t kid yourself. We runners are masochists. Pain is temporary. Just like our memory.

XO,

Colby

 

I’m all about that base, ’bout that base…

START TRAINING!

Yes, Poodles. It’s time. Time for your old, tired, haggard pal Colby to get her shit together, hunker down and GET SERIOUS about running. It’s base building season. And dare I say I’ve cannonballed right on in. A good base is like a nice solid granite foundation, which will support the demands of marathon training with Hanson’s Marathon Method. Ahhh. My beloved Hanson’s.

I love to despise this plan. However, it really works for me. Of course I cry, sweat, and curse the heavens because of it, but who am I fooling? I love the discipline. I mean, I am a recovering Catholic School kid who had 13 consecutive years of nuns, this broad breathes discipline. I love the training. I love seeing the progress. I love the work. Sadists. Runners are sadists. And I am a card carrying one.

In my quest to get my body and head set for marathon training with Hanson’s, I’ve begun slowly ramping up my running. Mostly easy-effort runs with some intervals and miles at marathon pace thrown in for good measure. I’ve never stopped running, but I’ve definitely been throwing in more trails and stair mill workouts to mix things up a bit. I haven’t been running mega miles, but I am increasing my mileage weekly. I have an ankle with some hardware in it. Girlfriend likes to build slowly. Or she goes on strike. And limping isn’t cute.

Regular HIIT workouts have also been contributing to my base. HIIT workouts involve intense bursts of high-intensity exercise intervals followed by periods of low-intensity active rest- or even total rest. And they’re efficient. Like, 20 minutes or less. They also kick your ass upside down in your own living room. I found this chick on YouTube. Zuzka. 15 minutes of sheer hell. As they say in the biz, she is FIERCE. She had me at- I made it without vomitting. Yes. That’s the title of one of her HIIT workouts. Yes. Of course I immediately tried it. And, yes. I made it without puking. Although I may have dry heaved a little.

Go ahead. Try it. Report back. She’s no joke.

So now for the head set part of base building. Last you found me, I was in the throes of a Sunday night existential crisis resulting in me registering for the Vermont City Marathon and joining a Bikram Yoga studio. I know, what happened to a bottle of wine and an online shopping skin and hair products binge? I am pleased to report that I have been attending class 3-4 times per week like a good sweaty little yogi. WHO AM I?!? I’ll tell you who I am. An unbalanced, tight, hot mess.

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Me. Dripping mascara and all. 

For the love of namaste, I suck at this. Which is precisely why I must go. They don’t call yoga a practice for nothing. I am seeing progress. Although it’s not getting easier. I think that’s the hook. To keep at it. Bikram builds strength, flexibility, balance and, at 105 degrees, mental and physical stamina. Some days I’m stronger. Some days I’m more balanced. Some days I’m more flexible. All days I’m focused. Grounded, even. So I guess that’s a very good place to start- right at the base. Bottoms up, Friends! ☺️

Have you ever tried Bikram Yoga? Do you base train prior to kicking off marathon training? Did that HIIT workout make you puke? Want to run the Vermont City Marathon with me in Burlington, Vermont Memorial Day Weekend? Register with my link- HERE!

5 Years a Blogger

So this happened.


TODAY IS MARATHON AND A SPRINT DAY! Imma hashtag the snot out of that! #marathonandsprintday Yippeee! Lobster rolls and IPAs for everyone! FIVE YEARS.  I can’t believe it. Tina and I started this blog 5 damn years ago on this very day.  What a fun day! I’ll never forget it. She called me on the phone.  The actual phone. As in, my land line. We weren’t wildly texting every 7 minutes like we are now.  Or using emojis. That’s how long ago it was. The internet existed. That much I know.  Anywho, she telephoned me with a crazy little idea….

Colby. It’s T. How’s about we start a blog? You’re bored. I need a creative outlet. We both run. We love it. We both ride. And. We both think we’re goddamn HI. LARIOUS. I love to write. You love to swear…. COME ON!!!  Whaddya think?

-Tina

And voila! Our fun, little, irreverent, snarky, sassy adventure blog was born. Thank god I started blogging again and reset my wordpress password. I would have totally missed this shit.

When you run Boston with your best friend 💛💙

The posts. Oh, the posts. Some silly, some serious, all in our own voices. I never look at blog stats. I’m sure that statement rescinds my Blogger Card, but I really don’t. Until tonight. I sifted through our “top” posts- a lot of which aren’t even my most favorite. *See my face plant and Tina’s allergic reaction below.* Those are two of my faves because they were 100% real. Real Colby and Real Tina. Uncensored. That’s not to say the others are #fakeblogs. They’re not. Those two were a couple of the MOST hysterical and memorable moments from the past few years. Christ. I had plastic surgery. ON MY FACE. Tina blew up like a puffer fish, put on her sunnies, took a handful of Benedryl and ran a marathon 4 hours later. Who does that? Of course Tina’s First Boston and selfishly my first Boston posts pretty much make me cry with joy every time I reread them. Those are biggies. Here are our top 10 most popular posts from the past 5 Years according to the numbahs.

  1. The Importance of Meeting Ernest
  2. Top 5 Reasons Why You Need to Do the Fenway Spartan Sprint
  3. Jellybeans: The Next Superfood?
  4. And then I exhaled.
  5. Is Anyone Ever The Biggest Winner?
  6. Top 10 Moments Riding in the Pan Mass Challenge
  7. Trader Joe is a crack dealer.
  8. An Open Letter to the Lady in the Way Too Huge Cotton Tee
  9. The Secret of the Pan Mass Challenge
  10. Brighten Up! 6 High Visibility Items for Running in Low Light

So, in summary, reviewing our past 5 years T-Bone and I have…

  • Run dozens of half marathons together. Seriously. So many combined.
  • PR’d in every damn distance- 5k, 20k, Half Marathon and Marathon
  • Run Marine Corps, Vermont City, New York, Philadelphia, Big Sur, Baystate, BOSTON (!!!) and more!
  • Met Bloggers in Real Life- and consider them friends! ❤️
  • Ridden several thousand miles all in the name of kicking cancer’s ass
  • Run a snowshoe 10k in sub-zero temps up a mountain in Vermont
  • Run an Ultra Marathon (Colby)
  • Run Spartan Races and Warrior Dashes galore!
  • Wound up in the ER (Colby) with stitches after face planting during a 20 miler
  • Discovered Hanson’s Marathon Method and both wept with pure joy and absolute exhaustion at the discovery
  • Would up with a massive allergic reaction (Tina) from ingesting no-frills-low-budget nuts the night before a marathon
  • Ran, rode, traveled, trained, reached goals, cried, complained, crashed and burned and qualified- together. I love you, T-Bone!!! ❤️
  • Had a hell of a lot of fun meeting a fantastic community of other Crazies (You) who are passionate about running, friendship and living life loud. Muahhhh! ❤️

Here’s to 5 more years! We may blog. We may take time outs. We may rant. And we may rave. But odds are, we’ll do it together. Thank you for follow along. ☺️ CHEERS, POODLES!!!

Xoxo,

Colby

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?

New Beginnings

This is how I feel in spring. Just put a massive box of Kleenex in her hands.

This is how I feel in spring. Just put a massive box of Kleenex in her hands.

I love spring. Even a cold-ish, allergy filled, rainy spring like this one. Days are longer, sun is higher in the sky and every day something new pops up out of the ground. Had a CRAP week last week, but every morning I woke to daylight, birds chirping and things blooming all around. Even on tough day, it’s really hard not to feel hopeful when life is literally popping up all around you (and kicking the sh*t out of your sinuses while it does, BTW).

Like New Year’s, Spring (at least in the Northeast) is such a sign of new beginnings. It’s like a “new year” without anyone suggesting that you take stock of what you did during the last year and make resolutions for the coming one. Thank God. Even more reason to love it. A new beginning where your main focus is getting out and enjoying the world instead of reflecting on it. Yes, please!

Spring is a crazy busy time for us. Confirmations, graduations, sports schedules that require math exam type planning (If A needs to be at X field at 5 and B needs to be at Y field by 5:15, how likely is it that an SUV travelling at (somewhere in the vicinity of) the speed limit will make both drop offs, assuming no red lights?), end of schoolyear concerts, field days and assemblies. It’s a good thing that we have a winter of hibernation to gear up for the constant movement that is spring. What do people who live in warm weather climates do? Seriously – you warm weather people – WHAT THE HELL DO YOU DO? Do you just run ragged all year long??? I’m tired just thinking about it. I love Spring, but I can only take one per year. And only bookended by a cozy winter and a lazy summer, thank you.

In the vein of new beginnings, I tried a new class the other night, called the MELT method. It is NOT an exercise class. It is a “self-care” class that teaches you techniques to help relieve –and prevent- pain by manipulating fascia much like you would get in a massage session. You use squishy balls (for hands and feet) and a soft foam roller (for the rest of your body). I loved it. I have had a lot of back and shoulder pain lately and cannot seem to get rid of it even with rest days, stretching, etc. and an easy running schedule.

When I began the 1-hour class, I couldn’t lay on my back in the “assessment position” without discomfort in my lower back. By the time I left, I was completely free of aches and twinges. Amazing. I really felt like I do after a massage, possibly even better. Plus, the instructor was knowledgeable and funny- my favorite combo. The goal of the class is to teach you the method so you can use it at home. They say that 10 minutes a day is all you need to stay pain-free once you get the hang of it. I’ll take that!

Discovering MELT was perfect timing, as I want to re-align myself before starting to train for my next marathon. Oh the irony – after all my bitching and moaning about training for a fall marathon last summer, I finally got into the NYC marathon on my 4th? 5th? try. I threw my name in the lottery when it opened in December (perhaps still delusional and glowing from Colby’s and my Best Day Ever at the Baystate Marathon and conveniently forgetting that I hate summer training) and promptly forgot about it until I got the confirmation in my in-box that I was IN. After the shock wore off and the dread of intervals in August subsided,  I realized that I am really excited to get a chance to run NYC. And my husband is almost as excited about getting to experience another summer with me bitching about the heat and humidity and falling asleep at dinner, though he is hiding it nicely.

After NYC, I probably have a month or so before I will start training for Boston 2017, so it really, REALLY is time to rest, assess and get my body comfortable before absolutely beating the crap out it during back to back marathon training. Thank you, MELT Method. I think you will do just that.

If you want to learn more about MELT, here is the main website. https://www.meltmethod.com/

If are in the Fairfield County, CT area, my MELT instructor, Amanda Cizek, is fabulous and is also a trained masseuse. Her website is http://www.consistentfitness.com/ and a there is link to her very cool  “Be Awesome” blog right on the homepage. She wrote a great post last week about perceptions (misperceptions?) of what self-care means to us Type A fitness types. Check it out. Food for thought for all of us. I love her “Campaign of Awesome.” Shouldn’t we all strive to Be Awesome in our Bodies?

Have you ever tried MELT? Do you have a go-to activity like yoga, pilates or massage for balancing your running? Have you ever, like me, felt so tight and out of whack that you thought you might actually snap in half? Anyone running the NYC Marathon this year?

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.

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…

Running, Riding, Racing. And a Cookie.

anchormanhoorayAnother week in the books! Before I launch into Colby’s Week In Review, I’d like to take a quick second to say Happy Father’s Day to all of the Daddio’s out there! Dads are special folks. Especially My Other Half. Who is a kind man, a hard worker and a wonderful, loving father.  Muaaahhhh! Love fest complete.

On to Colby’s 3rd Week of Marathon Training! Note: I’m trying to be all peppy and shit about this, so as to keep my proverbial ‘marathon-ball’ rolling. These posts are purely self-serving. They are keeping my ass on track. They are holding me accountable. And they are keeping my honest. Please humor me and read them. Cheer or heckle, if you’d like. I’ve just gotta put them out there.  I’ve got a goal, dammit. And if I don’t achieve it, at least I can’t say I DIDN’T FREAKING TRY. It’s that damn Hanson Method. It’s got me all really running. Who am I?

Monday: 5.5 miles at the prescribed pace in the pouring rain. It was supposed to be 6 miles. But it started thundering and I screamed and ran straight home. I hate running in thunder and lightning. Snow? Sleet? Hail? Pouring rain? All fine. But Thunder and it’s nasty sister, Lightning? Game. Over.

Tuesday: 7 miles. INTERVALS. They’re not getting easier, but I am- dare I say- starting to enjoy them?? 12 x 400, 400 recovery. For what seemed like an eternity. But I did them. YES. And I have the sweaty mean mug to prove it. 

Game face.

Wednesday: Rest. Sweet Baby Jesus. Rest. And rest I did. I firmly planted my tired ass on the couch and binged on documentaries on Netflix. One of which was The Queen of Versailles. Totally engaging. I started watching it thinking it was merely going to be an extension of the Real Housewives Franchise,  but it quickly took a turn going from ‘Reality Series’ to ‘Shit Just Got Real.’ I couldn’t look away. Watch it if you haven’t. Sadly, one of the daughters in the documentary was recently found deceased which is what prompted me to watch it in the first place. The whole story is totally tragic yet, totally worth your time. 

Thursday: 6 pleasant miles. At the prescribed pace. I could have run all night. It was actually cool out. The storms broke that awful humidity, and my legs were feeling moderately “fresh.” Go figure.

Friday: 6 trail miles with My Other Half AND DRUNK OTIS!  This was our first foray together into the woods, as a little trail running family. And? Drunk Otis ain’t so drunk on the trails. He’s Sober Otis, Cover Dog for Field and Stream magazine. I couldn’t believe it. He’s a natural. He’s also quite big on the No Man Left Behind concept. He waited patiently for his sweaty human, showing her which way to go with the biggest, slobberiest smile. Such a good dog. He was made for this.  And when we busted around the corner, startling a deer? He stood like a statue and POINTED. He didn’t chase. He didn’t go off of the trail. He didn’t leave our sides. He freaking POINTED. We couldn’t believe it. Of course he swam in every puddle, stream and thimble full of water he could find, but that was AOK with us. So proud of our New Boy. Great kick off to the weekend. 

Drunk Otis, Cover Dog.

Saturday: I was supposed to run 6, but instead rode 47 miles with my girl, Carly! Such a great day. One that ended at a delicious new cookie shop in town, Red Rooster Gourmet Cookies. Fresh and Delicious.   

Cookie Monsters.

 I may or may not have yelled: COME ON! GET OUT OF THE SADDLE, CARLY. WE’RE GETTING COOOOOOOKIES!!!!!!! During our last climb. On the top of my lungs. Like a Crazy Person. Christ, we could almost smell the cookies from there. Talk about incentive. Those cookies tasted like heaven. If heaven was made out of buttery goodness. After the cookie stop, we headed back, picked up The Boys, who had been out shreddin’ the gnar, and refueled properly. That is, with beer and lobstah rolls. Such a perfect day with friends. 

Stony Creek Brewery. Cheers!

Sunday: I was supposed to run 8 miles, but instead raced 5. In the rain. On very tired legs. I woke up. Listened to the thunder, then promptly fell back asleep. I’m so not racing in this weather. (See Monday.)  Woke up again. Texted Tina. She agreed. Bullshit. Listened to rain drops. Drank coffee. Reassessed my legs. Meh. They’re moving. Gun goes off in 35 minutes. COME ON! YOU’RE DROPPING ME OFF.   

Super Janji!

I throw on brand new Janji singlet, grab a banana and a bottle of Skratch Labs and jump in Other Half’s car. Make it to the start area with 4 minutes to spare. Hear announcer. Run wildly. Score an open porta-potty. 3 minutes. Dash to the start. Wind up next to my friend whom I was supposed to meet an hour ago. What are the odds? We hug. I’m off. It sounds frenzied, but honestly, it was the calmest start EVER. I should always be running late. I didn’t even THINK about running. Or having to pee. Or not drinking enough. I JUST RAN. And considering that I felt like a broken down barnacle barge? I had a decent race. YAHOO! 

Miles Run: Just shy of 30.

Miles Ridden: 47.

Cookies Consumed: 1.5

Have you ever dashed to a starting line, and made it in the nick of time?Do you draw the line at thunder and lightning? If you were granted one day of Netfix Binge, what would you watch? 

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.