I’m spending the spring training for shorter distances, even foregoing the chance to run the Boston Marathon again to do so. I’ve been training hard for this short distance stuff. I raced a 5K on January 1st, but hydrating with champagne and fueling with chocolate-orange challah the night before proved a sub-optimal strategy. The Run for Refugees 5K would be the first real test of the new training approach. Read more >>
Mile 24 of the Twin Cities Marathon, October 2019: man, my feet hurt. My mind is exhausted, I am not energetic or fresh, and I NEED to POOP! I hear my friend’s voice from the side of the course and I cry, “I need to use the bathroom!” She yells in reply, “THERE ARE BATHROOMS AT THE FINISH LINE!”
When I pass Dale Street, I know it’s mostly downhill from here. There’s no pushing the pace, and there’s no slowing down. All I have to do is just keep moving. This is Saint Paul, my home turf. I have seen college teammates, current teammates, people from my coaching group, people from my lunchtime running crew, even my physical therapist along the course. When I turn just past Ramsey Street, I know it should be cake from here, but it sure doesn’t feel like it. Once I pass the cathedral, I know that this is going to happen. I am going to finish the marathon. The finishing chute is a tunnel-vision, all-I-have-left experience.
And then it’s over. I hear my name on the loudspeaker and slow to a walk, bent over and breathing heavy. I can’t hear anything anymore, and all I feel is awe. Read more >>
Sassafras and I both ran races in Philadelphia in November 2019. Since we only saw each other in passing at the expo, we decided to interview each other about our respective races. If you missed it, here is my race report as told to Sassy.
When did you decide to run the full at Philly?
I decided on Philly over a year beforehand. I was getting marathon FOMO (would that be MFOMO?) while watching the 2018 NYC Marathon on TV, combined with Facebook memories of my 2012 Indy Monumental Marathon. I looked up reviews for good November races, since that had served me well before. I kept this idea under wraps for a bit, and registered in February 2019 after getting a solid 10 miler under my belt.
What were your goals for the training cycle and for the race itself?
My goal for the training cycle was straight forward: regain my marathon fitness. I hadn’t successfully completed a marathon since 2016. Despite the challenges I faced – my dog dying, spraining my ankle, balancing everything – and having to scrap my planned mid-cycle half marathon, I would put this one in the “yes” column. Read more >>
Angelica and I both ran races in Philadelphia in November 2019. Since we only saw each other in passing at the expo, we decided to interview each other about our respective races. First up, let’s hear about Angelica’s race!
When did you decide to do the half at Philly?
Philly had been on my radar since summer with the caveat that I wouldn’t sign up until after Chicago because I wanted to see how that race went.
What was your goal(s) going into the race?
Partly I was on a scouting mission to see if I wanted to run the full marathon in Philadelphia in 2020 (verdict: no). I also wanted to run a half marathon somewhere around 1:45 without a pacer. I had run 1:45:45 in June 2018 with a pacer and I ran 1:44:48 in Sept 2019, but randomly ran into a friend on the course mid-race. I wanted to see if I could hit 1:45 on my own. Also, I love the city of Philadelphia, so I wanted to have some fun with friends.
Two months before the Columbus Marathon, I messaged my fellow Saltines to solicit encouragement to sign up. (What is wrong with me??) I live here, it’s my favorite race, and I have serious FOMO if I don’t participate. I hadn’t been running a lot of mileage, but I was running consistently. I convinced myself that I could run/walk Columbus for fun. I literally meant I would walk huge chunks and run only 14-16 miles total.
Ultimately, I made the wiser choice and decided to skip 26.2 this year. I signed up for a trail 10K instead. Trails are a challenge, and 10K is much more in my ballpark mileage right now. Read more >>
The plan to run the 2019 Chicago marathon was hatched back in November 2018. High Power Running Mentor #1 (HPRM#1) lives in Chicago and committed to pacing me. My training officially commenced right after the Boilermaker race on July 14th.
Coach Mick and I talked about what we wanted out of this training cycle and I told him about my desire to “Level Up,” in other words, make significant rather than incremental progress toward a faster marathon finishing time. He was on board, of course, and mileage and workout intensity both increased. As the weeks ticked along, everything went astonishingly well. Overall, training for Chicago was my happiest training cycle yet. Read more >>
I’m going to start this race report with two lists. First, a list of lessons I learned. We’re all here for the takeaways, right?
- Don’t trust people who tell you races are flat.
- Always wear sunscreen.
- Don’t part your hair down the middle for marathons.
- Don’t skip the warmup ever ever ever.
- Go ahead and pee in the bushes.
I always say it’s a bad idea to sign up for a race on the tail of another race, especially a bad one. But last fall, after a whole season of never feeling good (running or otherwise, which might’ve been iron, life stress or both or neither) I scrapped my fall marathon and running a half instead, and not particularly well. My husband was signed up for the full and ended up DNF’ing, so it was a rough day all-around. On my way home I was texting about my poor performance with one of my best friends. She replied that she was planning on Grandma’s, and over the next few days I did a little research. I knew a bunch of girls had run hella fast there last year, the weather should be okay, and it was net-downhill. Plus my friend was going and Mr. Chic doesn’t usually run a spring full. What the hell! I figured. Time to get myself sorted out, to get in some good training, take a fun girls’ trip, run a new race and see a new city. I signed up within a month.
Not only was the entry cheap-ish, but you get a jacket if you sign up early. A JACKET!
Which brings us to the second list, a list of things I did not know, that you may want to know before signing up:
- The race entry is cheap, but nothing else is.
- Hotels are expensive and sell out fast.
- Flights are pretty limited into Duluth.
- It’s a net-downhill course in the same way Boston is. The hilly way.
If you don’t know about the Gate River Run 15k, it’s a wonderful event in Jacksonville, Florida that is also the USATF 15k National Championship. In March I was given the opportunity to race Gate as part of the elite women’s field. Having never raced as an “elite”—and believe me, I am using that term very loosely—I was both excited and a little apprehensive about the whole experience.
When race week rolled around, I was SO. EXCITED. I really felt like a kid not-so-patiently awaiting the arrival of Christmas morning. I knew I was in good shape and I was very interested to get an actual gauge of my current fitness level.
Hey Saltines! Remember how in my first post, I talked about how I am getting ready to run my first marathon in October? Well, when I wrote that, I hadn’t even raced a half marathon! As you can tell from the title of this post, I am about to share with you good stuff, rough stuff, and stuff nobody ever wants to know about my first half.
One Friday afternoon last October, a friend from work who paces at a lot of local races recruited me to help pace a half last minute. Don’t yell at me! It was last minute and they needed people, and the pace I signed up for was an easy pace for me. I was also paired with an experienced pacer so it was low pressure. And so I ran my first half marathon, not as a racer but as a pacer. I hadn’t really trained for it, so my legs basically died. I could barely walk afterwards. The next day I was going out of town for a job interview and I could tell by all the people staring at me that I was waddling like a penguin in the airport.
This time, I trained for, paid for, and raced a half for the first time, choosing the Lake Minnetonka Half Marathon. I experienced carb loading and taper crazies for the first time. What a roller coaster!
This race took place in March of 2019.
On St. Patrick’s Day, I ran the Hampton Court Half Marathon. High Power Running Mentor #1 talked me into this race several months ago. I was trying to plan my racing schedule a bit more sensibly this time around, with races building to my goal race, Boston. HPRM#1 kept saying that doing a prep race 4-6 weeks out from the marathon was important and it’s true that lots of runners I admire seem to do this. The Hampton Court Palace Half Marathon looked amazing. Hampton Court is a Tudor palace from the days of Henry the 8th. The race has a Henry theme – he appears on the medal and the t-shirt, and you run through the palace grounds. Spectacular!
The Hampton Court Half was also not at all next to the university where I was staying for work. A friend from the Running for Real Facebook group tipped me off that I would not be able to get from the university to Hampton Court on race morning on time for the start. She also came through with a suggestion of an inexpensive hotel in the vicinity of the palace. I could shift hotels on Saturday and sleep near the race. Brilliant. The Incredible Mervus was on board with my spending two extra days in London, simply because he’s amazing.
The real reason for the trip was a workshop on parties of the mainstream right in Europe so I spent a lot of time doing the typical academic thing: listening to people present their research, giving comments, presenting my own work. It was a very good workshop, if a little stressful. This is a new project for me and new colleagues so I didn’t know what to expect. I also ran 38 miles in London in the days leading up to the race. Read more >>
I ran this race two months ago (!), but it’s been a really busy spring. So, here’s a very old race report about the first indoor track race I ever did. Enjoy!
At some point last fall, some of my online friends got started thinking about the possibility of a meet-up. We fairly quickly settled on the notion of meeting at the Armory, a famous indoor track in New York City. After some back-and-forth, we finally settled on the idea of a 5k on January 24th. The logistics of us all making it to the track at 7pm on a the appropriate Thursday were epic enough to fill an entire blog post, but I’ll spare you. The weekend included copious eating and drinking and lots of non-Armory running, but I wanted to focus here on the race itself.
Many of us had never raced a 5K on a track before though my High Power Running Mentor has actually raced at the Armory and was sort of the driving force behind this venture. After my disappointing New Year’s Day 5K, I was looking for some redemption, but this training cycle has had a lot of ups and downs. Despite the EPAT treatment, my foot was still hurting every run, just sometimes more and sometimes less. The stomach flu in December was a huge setback. And the Armory was weekend #2 in a series of three weekends being out of town and all the disruption to life and training that travel brings with it. Plus, 5K on an indoor track is a whole lotta laps, 25 to be exact, but who’s counting? Stay tuned for the answer to that question! Read more >>
The Kentucky Derby Festival miniMarathon was my first half marathon and it’s my current PR course (from 2017). With Grandma’s Marathon on the schedule for June, the late-April race was a good fit for a tune-up and check-in.
I was training pretty well all spring, not setting any workout records but building back up after a crappy fall season. My mileage and paces were more “normal” (these things, of course, being relative) and I was feeling pretty good. Maybe not quite PR shape, but at least faster than the mediocre halves I ran in the fall.
A couple weeks before the race I headed to Chicago for work, just for an overnight; up Thursday afternoon, to return the next night. Friday I woke up early to squeeze in a run and didn’t feel great, but I had been out until 1, had a few drinks, didn’t sleep well because of noisy neighbors (my boss called security three times) … all that jazz. I thought the easy run would help, but a headache persisted all day. As our flight got delayed three times for a total of three hours—bumping our 5:15 p.m. arrival to 8:30—I grew more and more irritable and tired. I just wanted to go home.
The next day, I postponed my long run, still not feeling great. I was developing a little bit of a cough, but didn’t think much of it. The cough was worse on Sunday and I still didn’t get my long run in, but the next day was Marathon Monday and I had taken off work to watch the race and thought maybe I could do it then.
As it turned out, dear readers, I did not. By Monday afternoon I was diagnosed with Flu A. I laid on the couch for most of the day because I wanted to watch the race, alternating between sweating and shivering and groaning from joint pain. Monday was really bad, Tuesday wasn’t great, but I was able to run again Wednesday (probably shouldn’t have).
Crap, I thought, I do not have time for this.
I love running Derby! As a Saturday race about an hour away the logistics are easy, and it’s a flat, fun course with lots of spectators. It’s also close to my heart since it was the site of not only my first-ever half marathon, but also my first sub-2 half.
I had two goals: one I was fairly public about (sub-2:00) and one I had discussed only with my coach and a few other people (1:57). Though honestly, I hadn’t thought too long and hard about goals. This was partially a factor of my new relaxed approach to running, but mostly due to race day falling in the midst of a super busy time at work. Less down time = less time to overthink.
So going into the race, I was all chill … except about the weather. Specifically, the predicted high temperature. A key factor here is that I am not a solid hot weather runner; I basically wilt in the heat! In two of my marathon DNFs, heat played a role. If you follow training logs, you might remember I had a pretty terrible peak long run in the heat a few weeks back, so I was hoping that maybe that had somewhat acclimated me for the season, or at worst, if I’d slogged through that, I could manage finishing a race, right?
I am writing a race report for the Boston Marathon because I ran the Boston Marathon.
This is an obvious and yet astonishing sentence.
I first started dreaming of Boston in spring 2014 while training for the Providence Marathon with a friend, who said we should run it together some day. I didn’t really know what it was all about, but the seed was planted, and in September 2018 I qualified at the Erie Marathon.
So here’s how Boston 2019 played out:
I have run close to 200 road races over the last 15 years and this year’s Boston Marathon brought my very first DNF (did not finish). After spending a little bit of time reflecting on the race, I am honestly not even upset about it—and I’m really not just saying that. I’d like to think that I did a good job of placing realistic expectations on this race, but in typical all-or-nothing fashion, I knew it would either be a huge success or a huge flop. And although my training seemed to indicated that it had potential to be the former, ultimately it was the latter.
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