How to Run a Happy Marathon: Part 2

Last year I wrote a post entitled How to Run a Happy Marathon. I’ve run my fair share of unhappy marathons. Nobody should have to experience this.Screen Shot 2015-04-26 at 7.38.40 AM

Monday I ran the happiest of marathons. I never felt pain, I didn’t hit the wall, I smiled the whole time, and I never wanted to stop running. You might argue this means I didn’t push myself hard enough, but I’m NOT a professional. I don’t get paid for this, this is a hobby and I do this for fun. Why push myself to the absolute limit? Now that I am officially not scared of the marathon, I’d like to offer a few more tips. This one’s for you, Ellen. One week till race day! Brent, Marta, Anna and I can’t wait to cheer you on!

1. You can’t power through a marathon. You’ll crash and burn. Change your attitude and be a little more playful about the experience. Although I don’t have the scientific evidence to prove this, when I run feeling nervous, tense and stressed about my splits I use too much energy to fuel my nerves…energy that I should be using to run. Last week I lined up in Hopkinton and took the attitude of “time to celebrate!” I was singing along to my music, saying hello to the crowd, smiling for the camera. It calmed my body, and made my running feel effortless. Here I am at the top of Heartbreak Hill. Maybe a little too happy for mile 21? FullSizeRender_4

2. Try not to notice the mile markers. This was especially easy when I ran Toronto and the markers were in kilometers. When you start the race, tell yourself you’ll be running for the rest of your life. When you get to 24 you’ll be like, “Woah, I’m almost done!? I actually don’t have to run for the rest of my life.” Sounds stupid, but it works. The moment we start counting down miles we mess up our mental game.

3. On race week, less is more. This is your excuse to be lazy. Take the escalator. Park in the spot closest the store. Take as many rest days as you need. No running or exercise will help at this point. I took three rest days the week before Boston, ran one semi-fast three miler and did a few other easy three mile runs. Rest those legs. They’ve been training hard and need to be ready for the race.

4. Graze on the days leading up to the race. I’ve carbo-loaded by eating Thanksgiving sized meals which usually resulted in me feeling completely stuffed and unable to move. This time around I ate normal sized meals, and carried around a bag of pretzels or crackers with me from the Thursday onwards and just grazed. Even race morning, because the race started at 10:25, after breakfast I just munched on pretzels to help me stay fueled without being stuffed.

5. Know you won’t have a perfect race. I’ve spent plenty of time stressing about race day conditions that were beyond my control. The week before Boston I was surprisingly calm. I was fighting a cold, race day called for 15-20 MPH headwinds the entire race, it was raining, and I slept no more than 3 hours the night before. I’d trained for four months, and I could have felt sorry for myself and though, “I trained so hard, and now I’m not going to have the perfect race. My time isn’t going to be great. It’s not fair.” But honestly, who EVER wakes up thinking, “Wow. Today would be an amazing day for a marathon. 26.2 let’s do this!”  Know that there will be no perfect race day. Embrace the fact that everyone lining up is in it together, experiencing the same conditions. One of the reasons I get annoyed when people ask for my marathon PR and compare it to someone else’s is that marathons can’t be compared from course-to-course or from year-to-year. My 2014 LA Marathon 3:28 was in heat, Boston was cold and windy, in 2013 I ran a 3:33 in San Diego in fairly ideal conditions but that hill at 21 was brutal. The closest I ever came to a perfect race day was in Toronto in 2011, but even then I slept no more than 2 hours the night before the race. In November I ran a downhill half marathon and PRed like crazy. That was a fake PR. Not sure I’ll be running any more downhill courses. Just not as satisfying. The beauty of having meh race day conditions is knowing you can achieve great things regardless, and have even MORE room for growth. One day I’ll run a 50 degree flat race with no winds, and I’ll rock it!

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Brent, Alaina, Mama and I

OK, enough about running. Here’s what happened this week in my non-running world:

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Son of a Gun on 3rd Street is amazing. Thank you Marta for the gift card and the food recommendations. Get the chicken sandwich, shrimp toast and lobster roll for sure!

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Ashley told me about this, and I had to go buy a few jars. No more mixing my flax and chia seeds into my oatmeal in the morning! Woo time saver!

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We’re at 99 completed enrollment packets! 11 to go!

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Yesterday Brent, Gabe and I hiked up to the Griffith Observatory, saw a show at the planetarium, and hiked back down. We got rained on just a few minutes after this photo was taken. Check out the clouds just barely covering the Hollywood sign.

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Oh Playa Provisions. It’s been too long. Almond Milk Latte.

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Boston Marathon Race Review

Running the Boston Marathon was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. I was on a runner’s high the whole time. I loved every minute of the race. I was soaking wet, my shoes were heavy, my hands were frozen making it really hard to grab water cups and unzip my spybelt for fuel, but I had a huge grin on my face as I made my way from Hopkinton to Boston. Carmen ran up next to me at the top Heartbreak Hill to ask me how the Newton hills were treating me. She probably didn’t expect me to be so giddy at this point in the race. Turning right on Hereford and left on Boylston was a moment I will never forget. As I ran to the finish line I thought about my first Cross Country meet in 6th grade, I thought about the hours I’d put into training, I though about the victims in the 2012 bombing, I thought about Uncle Eddy, a 2:44 marathoner who first introduced me to the idea of Boston, and I felt such gratitude for the support from my incredible friends and family.

Check out this video Mama took of me at mile 5.Screen Shot 2015-04-21 at 1.48.36 PM

To many, running Boston is a symbol of excellence in marathoning. With all the build up I wondered if it would live up to its high expectations. Boston was everything I expected and more. I felt so blessed to be there, and kept thinking about Shalane Flanagan, Desiree Linden, Lelisa Desisa, Meb Keflesighi, James Kelly (who I went to high school with), and all the other elites who were running the same course.

IMG_0167On race day I woke up with an awful sore throat, so Brent went out to CVS at 4AM to get me some cough drops. He earns MAJOR brownie points for that. Because of the wind, rain and my lingering cough I decided to run based on feel, rather that stick to a specific pace. I wanted to enjoy the course didn’t want to be a slave to my watch. I was eager to conquer Heartbreak Hill with a smile, and wanted to do my signature “bust out a fast 10K” at the end. It’s so much more fun that way. It took my friend Marianne’s advice and thanked a bunch of kids who were out on the course, high fived the entire line of Wellesley girls, and posed for the camera. At points in the race I got emotional, thinking about what a privilege it is to be on the course. I looked down at my watch everyone once in a while to make sure I wasn’t getting too excited and going out too fast. I noticed I was running a fairly consistent 7:45 and picked it up after the Newton Hills.IMG_0168

My playlist had some sort of divine intervention. At the bottom of Heartbreak Hill Fatboy Slim’s “Right Here, Right Now” powered me up. As soon as I entered Boston, “I’m Shipping Up to Boston” came on. When I turned right on Hereford, “Hall of Fame” was playing. OK, get ready for a zillion pictures. Pros and cons below. Although the idea of a con and Boston seems kinda weird.

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Easy three miler on the Charles River

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Here we are at MIT

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Alaina and I at the finish line

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Picking up my bib

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Craziness at the EXPO

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SoCal represent!

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Mama made me feel like a celebrity

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Boston Marathon pride EVERYWHERE

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Yup, those shoes were definitely purchased…

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Sporting the nerdie jackets

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The BEST cheerleader ever

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Race day! Having a little too much fun with my throw aways. Debating whether I should post the video that goes along with this picture. 

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It’s go time!

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Loading up the busses

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Gisele and I on the bus to Hopkinton

On the bus to Athlete's Village

Gil (who ran a sub 3!!!), Frank and John

Arriving at Athlete's Village

Arriving at Athletes’ Village

Trying to stay warm

Trying to stay warm

Beautiful day!

Beautiful day!

2 minutes to go!

Two minutes to go!

My nephew Miles encouraging the runners

My nephew Miles encouraging the runners

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Check out my new bling bling (and pretzel remains stuck to my face)

Check out my new bling bling (and pretzel remains stuck to my face)

Done!

Carmen and I

Carmen and I

High school buddy Lindsey and I celebrating her engagement!

High school buddy Lindsey and I celebrating her engagement!

Best Cannolis!

Best Cannolis!

Mike's Pastry

Mike’s Pastry

PROs:

  • Best marathon expo I’ve ever been to. A runner’s dream.
  • I loved the course. I enjoyed the rolling hills and I’m also a big fan of point-to-point courses.
  • Wellesley girls made me so happy! Click the link for a video.
  • Community support from all the little towns we ran through.
  • Plenty of water stands.
  • Seeing the CITGO sign for the first time.
  • Love the race shirts.
  • Beautiful, classic medal.
  • Boston treats you like a celebrity.

CONs:

  • Late start? I personally liked having time to digest my breakfast and get ready for the run.
  • Waiting around at Athletes’ Village.
  • Crowded. Hard to push the pace if you had a strict time goal. But who goes to Boston with a strict time goal?

It was an incredible weekend, but I am happy to be back and happy to go back to school tomorrow. I love running, but I love my work just as much. Equitas Academy #3 planning resumes tomorrow!

I’m Shipping Up To Boston!

Apparently writing is therapeutic. I’ve had the best week. I’m still fighting a cough and the weather isn’t looking great for Monday, but I am PUMPED and feeling good. Last week was just a funk. We all go through them. This weekend is a celebration of a goal that has already been accomplished. I’m excited to go hang out with a bunch of nerdie runners in Boston! This is the most calm I’ve been the weekend before 26.2. Hoping it stays that way.

Obligatory motivational photo. In the fall of 2012 I made the decision to train for Boston. It’s been quite a ride.

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Rain? Wind? Meh. It’s Boston.

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Here we are at the airport taking advantage of “free” goodies in the Admiral’s Lounge.

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Brent and I on the plane. Yup, Gisele and I are those dorks rockin’ the marathon jackets.

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This week has been great for a number of reasons…

I’ve been showered with love.

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Alaina gifted me with this AWESOME shirt on the way to the airport this morning. Charm photo coming soon!IMG_0066

I sat on tennis balls and baseballs at work all week. Maria, one of my co-workers called them my booty balls.

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Cecilia and I went on a cite visit for the new Equitas #2 building on 8th and Hoover, where we’ll co-locate for a year. We also hired an incredible Kindergarten teacher who fell in love with Equitas during her interview day and accepted same day.

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Alaina, Ashley, Julie and I had happy hour at Father’s Office. Oh how I love those fries.

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Not such a great week for this girl. Did you guys see this? Click on the photo for the article. I don’t want to be mean, but look at that guilty face.

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Screen Shot 2015-04-18 at 8.37.02 AMI’ll end with 3 ways you know you’re on a flight to Boston on Patriot’s Day weekend.

  1. People request an entire bottle of water.
  2. There’s a guy stretching in the aisle.
  3. The bathroom line is longer than usual, and is mostly runners sporting their Boston jackets.

Alright, time to work on my play list. Any suggestions? This one just made this list.

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Next update will be in Boston!