Marathon Goggles

Runners High, it’s a beautiful thing. But, what if it leads you to make decisions that might, under normal, non-runners high situations be considered, straight up crazy?

This past Saturday I dragged myself out of bed and hopped in Foxy’s car and made the trek out to Newton. As I drove, the GPS took me on the craziest route, but I finally arrived in the Hilliest place in all the land, NEWTON. As I drove the infamous Newton hills my heart beat with the excitement of the run on the horizon. Is this normal? Hmm, not so much. I parked, stretched quickly and then I was off on my way. In order to get in 12 of the hilliest miles possible, I had to do a quick down and back to Newton-Wellesley Hospital (right around roughly mile 16-17 of the marathon.) I was happy to just space out and take in the beautiful day. I did a quick 3 miles and then I was back near Foxy’s car. I anticipated passing my starting point would result in huge mental battle, but it was quite the contrary, it motivated and catapulted me towards an awesome additional 9 miles. As I ran on the carriage road I kept on imaging what it might be like if the Boston Marathon was happening at that exact second. What if Kara Goucher were here RIGHT NOW? I thought about everyone I knew who ran, and how much determination and will they proved on those trying Newton Hills.

Then, I thought about last year’s Heartbreak Hill Half Marathon. I was ill prepared for this race and absolutely hated my life, but somehow in this beautiful day on the last day of April, I felt as if each hill empowered me. Instead of feeling defeated, I felt strong. When I might have felt exhaustion I felt POWER. When I realized that I was conquering the hills with ease I actually thought to myself, wow, maybe I really am a runner after all!

In addition to being a runner, maybe I could actually RUN HILLS, and not die. Wow, what a thought. I’m going to hold onto this huge victory, and never let go.

For the rest of the run it was more of the same, daydreaming of great races and what my future might hold. What if I decided to sign up for a marathon in the fall…just for fun? Hmmm, what about Disney in January? Running with characters sounds like fun to me…and it was more and more of the same.

As my heart and mind were racing at the prospect of signing up for multiple half and full marathons, I thought to myself, hmm maybe I should ease up a bit? Then I realized I was experiencing the running equivalent of BEER GOOGLES. Yes folks, I had Marathon Goggles.

What are Marathon Goggles? It’s when you have such a great run that your endorphins are a flown’, perhaps more than the average, recommended dose for a functioning human being. This excess in endorphins, which is similar to over imbibing mistakes we all may have made in college, leads to making decisions which appear to make perfect sense in our clouded minds. Sure, Marathon goggles are a little safer than thinking a creepy guy is cute and giving him a kiss, but signing up for marathons in the heat of the moment can definitely lead to some post endorphin remorse.

Original Beer Goggles, circa 2006

So there I was, about 8 miles into my long run, racing down the streets of Brighton and Newton with a huge pair of Marathon Goggles strapped to my face. If there was an inkling or thought to complete a run on the horizon, you bet it raced through my head.

Somewhere around Cleveland Circle I came to the realization: I’m having a fantastic run, but to be honest, they’re not all this great.ย  So why push it? Just enjoy the run!

My major goal for running the San Francisco Marathon is to enjoy the entire race and get back to LOVING marathons. My other goal? Staying injury free. So, as I talked myself out of signing up for other races, I also told myself to savor and enjoy this moment. Great runs only come around every once and awhile, I wasn’t going to let this one get away from me.

12.0 Miles 1:52:27 9:22 Average Pace.

Have you ever had an unbelievable run or race that lead you to signing up for challenging races? Did it pay off with another good run or race?

Boston Marathon Recap

I honestly don’t even know where to begin when it comes to the Boston Marathon weekend Recap. The weekend was so busy, so inspiring and SO MUCH FUN. Marathon Monday started early, lots of running around and coordinating things before making the trek out to Newton to spectate and meet Noel. Eeeeek!!! I apologize for how long this post is, I swear I will stop being THIS excited eventually, but the Doctor says that this obsession will probably stick around for awhile.

After seeing Kate on Saturday, I called her Sunday night and asked if she would have any interest in spectating and potentially running in with Noel. She immediately answered yes and that she was secretly hoping I would ask. I <3 running friends!

We met in the Back Bay and then hopped onto the T around 9:30. Since the Red Sox game starts at 11am and there are so many folks in town for the marathon the MBTA is a disaster. We shrugged our shoulders and just went with it.

We ended up getting on the C Green line train which was on the marathon route, which made for some fun wheel chair racing spectating. I am so in awe of the wheelchair athletes, especially those who participate in Boston with all of those hills! From there we began our trek from Cleveland Circle back to Mile 19ish.

Walking through Boston College was SUCH a trip. There were drunk kids everywhere and their excitement for the race was papable. Once we maneuvered the crowds we found a great spot near the 21 Mile marker and decided to hunker down for a bit and watch the elites come through. Since we were out there so early we scoped out an unbelievable spot. Even though I had told Noel I was aiming for 18.5, we ultimately decided trying to find her at 21 was better than risking a tough spectating situation on the Newton Hills.

While waiting anxiously for runners we chatted excitedly about races, training and life. I love the vibe the entire weekend, but nothing compares to Marathon Monday for a boost of inspiration to achieve your athletic goals.

So much fun

When the lead women came through we were FREAKING out. I think I still have a blister on my hand from banging my tiny cowbell so hard. Spectating is hard work, clearly.

KARA!!!!!

Making it look easy

Ryan Hall, looking like a horse with that stride.

Shortly after the men the masses came! This is where the real fun began, trying to pick out all of the people I knew who were running! I missed several people but I did see Emily, Corey & Molly and Skinny Runner. Oh and this man who ran in a Tutu w/ a wand.

"Tutu fast for you!"

Foxy was stuck at work, but he was manning the “command center” by continually texting updates of Noel’s splits throughout the race (I never rely on text alerts, these have absolutely never work for me!) Noel’s big goals were to negative split, feel good and not die. Her first 5k she was pacing 9:15 miles, which is a far departure from the 8 minute miles she was pacing in 2010. With each split she got faster and faster, and knowing her style, she was only going to be hammering down like crazy as she approached the end. Foxy sent out a text with an update from her 30k splitKate and I anxiously waited. After a few false alarms, I saw her neon pink get up about a 100 yards away and I went crazy cheering & hopped in with her.

Her first words? “FINALLY!!!!!!!” Kate and I hopped in and asked how she was doing. She said she felt great and she was really enjoying herself. Her second question was “Wait, was that Heartbreak? Is it over?” I just said “YES!!!” Too much, love it. I then proceeded to force feed her gatorade and Kate and I gave her updates on who won and how Kara Goucher looked. She did say that focusing on meeting the two of us in Newton helped miles 10-20 speed by, thank god we met her! She also said she was making sure to really soak of every moment and that she thoroughly enjoyed all of the signs in Wellesley, which last year she didn’t even remember.

This is how you run a marathon & enjoy it!

I realized about a half mile in that I never started my gamin, so I quickly started it and noticed we were pacing 7:30 miles. I warned Noel several times and she would pull back for a 30 seconds and then speed back up. The excitement was so intense at this point that it was so hard to hold back!

Somewhere around mile 23 we ran into Janna, who was also running for the American Cancer Society’s DetermiNation Program.

I LOVE this picture. I was so happy I was able to jump in with Noel & experience some of the madness of Boston ๐Ÿ™‚ I joked that we were the pit crew, but this probably helped her kick it up and notch seeing as how she was able to blow by water stops when she was feeling so great.

As we tore through Brookline the crowds kept on getting bigger and bigger. Noel’s outfit was in fact neon, but I felt like everyone around her was screaming “NOEL, NOEL, NOEL!!!” At one point I said to her “wow, EVERYONE loves you” ๐Ÿ™‚

Near St Mary’s street, which is just before Kenmore Sq and mile 25, Noel was really in the zone and pacing well ahead of us. Kate & I had a quick pow wow and decided to send her on her way and finish hard. Kate and I ran the rest of the course on the side walk weaving in and out of drunk college kids and Sox fans. Fun times.

By the time we got to the Back Bay, Rob texted me and said that Noel had finished in 3:38:00!!! I was soooo happy for her I just wanted to get to give her a huge hug! For someone who had such a bad training cycle, that is an IMPRESSIVE race. I was so proud of my friend and seriously could not stop talking running craziness. Sorry Kate!

I met her at the Park Plaza hotel with the DetermiNation team event. It was great to see her and the rest of the runners to check in and see how their faired. Overall, everyone had awesome races.

Molly Berries! This girl dominated Boston and got a PR of 3:29, awesome job girl!

From there we walked over to Noel’s hotel to shower up and get ready for the celebration dinner at Toro. We were walking along when I saw the CUTEST yellow lab puppy that I’ve ever seen! The owner was actually on the phone and I basically asked her to hang up so we could stalk her puppy.

OH.MY.GOODNESS!!!!!!!!!!!

When I finally pried myself away from the cutest little puppy ever (I say this about almost every dog I see, but this one it a contender for “cutest dog ever” in my book) We then showered up and went to dinner at Toro to celebrate!

Noel & Her mom

Overall, 2011 Boston Marathon weekend was action packed and oodles of fun. Meeting bloggers I stalk everyday of my life and learning that they are in fact the bomb.com in the flesh?! AWESOME! Spending quality time with one of my best friends and running a couple miles of the marathon with her? Ummm, amazing. I’m so sad the marathon is over, but I’m so proud of everyone who raced, whether you had the race of your life or not, you conquered Boston!

Oh Heeeey, Heartbreak!

This past Saturday I set out to log my first long run of San Francisco Marathon training. I wasn’t nervous going into this run, but I have to admit, there is a bit of fear and apprehension as I begin this training cycle. ย I’ve had a frustrating past two years when it comes to the 26.2 distance: one heartbreaking Marine Corps marathon where my four months of hard work fell apart in the first few miles, and then an injury a few weeks into training forced me to withdraw from the Chicago marathon.

Earlier this week I made plans to meet Katy on Saturday morning, to run an 8 mile loop starting and ending at the base of Heartbreak Hill. The last time I ran Heartbreak was during the 2010 Heartbreak Hill Half, when I was cursing hills and my lack of hill preparation prior to the race. When I finished the race I told Foxy that I would NEVER run the race again. Well, cue registering for the SF Marathon. It seems to be in my best interest to prepare for a marathon in one of the hilliest cities in the US on one of the hilliest half marathons in the area was probably a good idea. Hill training and avoiding injury are my two goals for SF training, so there is no better place to start than training on Heartbreak!

I met Katy close to 10am, we were supposed to meet at 9:30 but I couldn’t find my favorite running hat and felt a little frazzled (What can you absolutely NOT run without? Mine is a hat!) I found her car, parked and then shortly thereafter, we were on our way.

We started at roughly the 18.5 mile mark of the Boston Marathon course. Comm Ave was absolutely PACKED with people running, so it was a wonderful atmosphere with a lot of fast runners. Katy and I planned to take it at a reasonable pace and just went on our way.

Heartbreak in all of its glory. I definitely struggled through a long story I was telling Katy, but we focused and hammered out the hill. All in all, it wasn’t that bad. When we reached the top, I pointed out the turn that is the half way point in the HBH Half, which is significantly steeper and harder than Heartbreak itself! Luckily we saved that one for another day and ran past Boston College, Katy’s alma mater.

This is continuing down Comm Ave, with the Reservoir on the right. In just a two weeks this area will be lined with people for the Boston Marathon!

When we made our way down Comm Ave to Cleveland Circle, where we popped into a Dunkin’ Donuts to use the restroom and buy waters. Pictured below is 1950 Beacon Street, Katy’s crazy off campus apartment that she lived in Junior year of college. I have a laugh every time I pass this apartment with how many crazy parties we threw there when we were 21. Oh college..

From there we veered off the Marathon route and ran around the Chestnut Hill Reservoir, which was extremely windy. Luckily we had each other and kept chatting away.ย This is when we took the turn onto College Road, which cuts through Boston College’s campus. Pictured here is Katy’s dorm from Sophomore year.

We picked up the pace and ran quickly back down Heartbreak and the other hills of Newton. I had to point this porta-potty out, I’ve read about this before, but it was the first time I saw the Saucony Porto in person. Such a creative Out of Home Advertising execution which ACTUALLY adds value to the consumer’s life. Not many other media placements can say that ๐Ÿ™‚

When we finally reached our cars I couldn’t believe we were done. I felt so great that I wanted to keep on going for several more miles. However, in the interest in achieving my goals and avoiding injury, it was definitely best to stop. Some nice people walking by saw me struggling to take an extended arm photo of the two of us and they volunteered to take this photo ๐Ÿ™‚

Afterwards Katy and I decided to head to Blue on Highland to grab some lunch because our friend Zach was working. As you can see from the photo, Blue isn’t exactly a safe haven of sweaty restaurant goers, so we were very happy that it wasn’t particularly busy.

I’m definitely not a food blogger, but I was so hungry and the food was SO delicious I had to share. We split the Chicken Sandwich and we each ate a few of the Parmesan and basil fries w/ a truffle dipping sauce. HOLY MOLY amazing.

Then, we split the spinach-prosciutto pizza with roasted red pepper, sun-dried tomatoes, & pine nuts. DELICIOUS.

All in all, it was a fantastic run. We had so much fun chatting that I barely realized that the hills were challenging. This run with Katy was so much fun and it definitely has made me look forward to adhering to my training schedule and staying healthy throughout this training cycle. First week down, 17 more to go!

Heartbreak – Boston College Route 8.56 Miles/9:42 Pace/1:22:57

How to you refuel from long runs? Do you have any long run rituals?

Heartbreak Hill Half Marathon: Race Report

The name of his race does not lie, the hills of Newton to induce absolute heart break. What’s missing? The plural, because it certainly caused multiple Heartbreaks for me, as well as most of the 500 person field of runners over the challenging 13.1 mile course of the Heartbreak Hill Half.

The day didn’t start out with heartbreak though. I woke up at 6am and despite not getting the best night of sleep in my life, I popped right out of bed. I went straight to the kitchen and put on the coffee, mostly for my boyfriend who was playing chauffeur and cheerleader and is not exactly a morning person. After getting everything in order, we were off and on our way to Newton. The drive from my apartment was relatively quick, but we were cutting it a little close, so of course I was stressed about timing. Luckily we found a parking spot immediately, and I jetted off to find the closest bathroom. In order to make it there in time I ran over to minimize time anxiety and get a little warm up run in. I was in and out within a few minutes and I was running back to the start line. On my way there I ran into my boyfriend, who was waiting patiently for me and told me he saw my coworker, Melisa, who was running her first half marathon. I was bummed that I missed her, but all I could focus on was running 13.1 miles, EEK! I gave him a kiss and ran on my way to the start line. After a few moments of waiting around the gun went off and I was over the start line within seconds.

Here we go!

I knew the course was going to be challenging, so I decided to go out conservatively and try to keep an even pace throughout the race. When I saw the elevation chart I threw out the notion of getting closer to my PR (1:50), and just tried to settle into a pace. I was holding back, but I felt like everyone around me was absolutely flying by me. I told myself they were newbies, or didn’t know the extent of the elevation on this course. Immediately the course started punishing my legs, and since this was and out and back course, I realized that a hill at the first mile was the killer hill at mile 12 that everyone said to save a little gas in the tank. CRAP. I continued on, focusing more of my thoughts on an efficient stride and body position. The course was rolling for the next few miles before it leveled out (somewhat) for about a mile to a mile and a half. The rest of the course, however, was more rolling hills and mountains to climb. UGH.

Somewhere around mile 3, already feeling fatigued

I was able to get through the first 5 miles of the course without many problems, but by the time I reached Heartbreak my legs were completely gassed. As I looked up the historic hill at which many marathons are won and lost, I whined to myself for a half second and then put my head down and trudged on. After a few minutes I stopped and walked, my legs were so tight and exhausted that I needed the break. Not surprisingly, this started a bad habit for the rest of the race. I started running after a quick walk and ran until the gigantic hill located at the halfway point of the race. I thought to myself, “Well, here it is, FINALLY”. I was exhausted just looking at it, but it actually gave me a sense of relief that it was no longer something to fear. I ran to the top of the hill and started walking again, ICK. I was walking along when an older man that I saw earlier in the race run up to me and say “come on yellow shirt, let’s go!”, he even went as far to grab my arm and pull me along. Some people absolutely hate this, but I couldn’t get enough. Maybe I have a secret sign on my forehead that reads “glutton for punishment. I chatted with him a little bit about my lack of hill training and then as soon as we started down the hill I lost him. Older guy in the grey shirt, THANK YOU for getting me through that horrific hill!

Then, I made my way back down heartbreak, hooray for downhills! I was coasting along when I saw my coworker Melisa in the distance. She was all smiles and I ran up and gave her a hug, she looked great! What an awesome attitude for such a killer first half marathon. Her great attitude definitely helped propel me through the next 15 minutes of the race! The rest of heartbreak was a nice break from the rolling hills, but the downhills were rough on my battered legs. When we crossed from Heartbreak to the winding neighborhoods my heart sank. This course was not only a test of your running ability, but a test of will.

The rest of the race was a blur. I felt waves of depression, exhaustion and sheer determination to finish this race and put it in the books. Around mile 10 I misread the mile marker and thought I was on mile 11, which I learned was not the case when I reached the mile 11 marker, UGH. The saving grace was seeing my boyfriend around mile 11, where I told him about my mishap, how hard the race was and thanked him for the bottle of water he had waiting for me. Attempting to harness this lift in my spirits, I gave him a kiss and went on my way. I felt as if the rest of the race went on forever, though I attempted to just keep my head down and run. When we finally turned the corner to Newton South High School I almost cried out of sheer joy “oh sweet Jesus, THANK YOU!” I turned up the intensity with whatever energy I had left and pushed on to the finish. The minute I crossed the finish line I let out a huge sigh of relief, IT’S OVER!! My time, which is over 15 minutes off my best, could not have meant less at that moment. After I got my medal, some water and met up with my boyfriend we went out to the road to see if we could find my coworker Melisa. Her goal was to finish under 2:45, so I knew she was a ways away from finishing, but I decided to get out there and cheer anyways. All of the runners had a look of pain and elation as they headed for the finish line, I was happy to see I wasn’t being over dramatic, the race was really THAT hard. Rob even told me that every finisher was complaining about the elevation, thank goodness I’m not THAT big of a wuss. After about 25 minutes we gave up, and went back to Rob’s car. Right before we got there we were chased down by Rob’s friend Lauren from college who also ran the race. We talked a bit about the course and snapped a picture before we went off on our way:

Victorious!

So, lesson learned from this half marathon? ALWAYS check the elevation chart of a race and train accordingly! Even though I changed up my training with including speed work, gentle pickups and tempo runs, that wasn’t enough. Hill raining can simply can not be neglected and I dropped the ball, big time.

Will I do this race again? Doubtful. Was it a good experience? Yes. The race directors and volunteers did a fantastic job keeping everyone on track and motivated. I would have loved more spectators, but I knew this course wasn’t going to offer much in that department, so I was ok with it. All in all, it was a difficult day and I’m happy I ran the race. It’s given me a chance to kickstart my training for the Chicago Marathon, an excuse to focus on my diet, experiment with different cross training elements and trim down. It was a challenge, but what fun is running if you never have a challenge?