DC Days + The Ugly Side

Just landed in LA after my NY/DC trip. With the CCSA Conference in Long Beach the week before I left, it feels like forever since I’ve been home. It was really hard to say bye to the family, but I am happy to be with Brent again.  While I was in DC I ran the monuments, caught up with my KIPP DC friend Kerri who I ran Toronto Marathon with back in 2011, and saw my high-school friend Nicole on her first baby’s due date! I also got to experience the everyday life of the Backous’. Two kids is no joke! Alicia and Jarrod are so hardworking and selfless.

Running wise I didn’t feel great until this morning’s run. It’s my final peak training week, so I just sucked it up. I came across a “Tips for Boston Runners” in the millions of running emails that get sent to me in a given day. It helped put things in perspective.

Women’s Running: What do you see as the biggest mistakes runners make when training for a marathon that causes issues on race day?

Greg McMillan: They don’t run hard when fatigued, tired and mentally sapped. While we can’t exactly replicate the marathon in training, we can use workouts and fueling strategies to create situations where we have to endure suffering. This is critical in marathon preparation. If you are always fresh in training and never forced to run when tired, depleted or mentally drained, then you aren’t prepared for what will inevitably happen on race day. From Women’s Running MagazineSo maybe it’s a good thing I experienced this on Thursday…

Yup, that’s me mid-run sitting on a curb taking a breather. I wish I could say it was an interval workout, but no. It was an easy run. My legs were just tired.

Runners usually only post their moment of glory. Non-runners think it comes so easily, but they don’t see the ugly side of marathon training. They think “we’re such naturals” or “we have endless amounts of energy.” Women’s Running pushes runners to share the selfies showing struggle, dedication, and hard work. They say, When you feel like crap in your training, you’re 100 percent, totally, completely not alone in that, because I feel like crap sometimes too. Read more here.

So here are a few of my unglamorous running moments.

When it started raining on the bus to Hopkinton. 

Another 4:50 alarm clock day.

A little delusional on marathon morning after 3 hours of sleep for 2 nights in a row.

A solo 18 miler I started at 5am before hoping on a plane while training for NY. Snapchatting Alaina for encouragement.

The “prestigious” athlete’s village at Boston. Cold. Scared. Wet. Crowded. Just glamorous.

The opposite from above. HOT 18 miler. Angry, but done!

This is the best I could find on my camera roll. There are many moments I fail to capture. It’s not all rainbows and unicorns. But it’s worth it for that moment when you cross the finish line and you realize you ran a 7:30 pace for more than three hours. Nobody can ever take that away from you.

NYC Adventures

Just passed Philadelphia and am on my way to DC for the second half of the week. It’s been a great study hall. Getting lots of work done. Nothing like budget planning on a train. It was nice to spend time in New York and not feel rushed. My NY trips are usually jam packed with going to Columbia, running a marathon, or seeing family before heading back on the Sunday night flight. This time I got to spend Saturday-Wednesday in the city, and was able to sleep in, do some school work, go running, and reconnect with friends in the city. Carmen’s baby shower was why I came to NY. I can’t wait to meet my niece in May!

img_3939Monday I stayed at Carmen’s on Hastings-on-Hudson until about 3. I got a bunch of low urgency high impact work done for school and went on an easy run on the aqueduct. After crossing a bunch of things off the to-do list I wandered into the city to see Meredith and Nicole, two friends from my Columbia program. I took the Metro-North to Harlem and walked to Meredith’s school garden at Columbia Secondary School and got to hold chickens and take them for a walk! Nothin like walking a chicken in New York City. It was cool walking around Harlem seeing students with their charter school uniforms. I saw KIPP, Success Academy, and Harlem Children’s Zone students all making their commute home. img_4003-1

Tuesday I slept in again (and by sleep in I mean 6:45), did some lounging on the couch with The Today Show while responding to some work emails, then headed out for a hilly eight miler. Luckily Hastings-on-Hudson has no shortage of hills. I ran super easy because pushing the pace after Sunday’s half early in the week is probably the worst thing I could do in preparation for Boston. Not planning on running fast till Thursday.

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Getting ready for those Newton Hills. 

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Nice change of scenery. 

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Tuesday’s hilly run, powered by nutella oatmeal!

I then went to Brooklyn to met up with my good childhood friend Celia. We ran cross country together, and she now just completed the ultimate endurance event. Having a baby! Celia, baby Oscar and I went out for lunch and enjoyed yummy smoked salmon sandwiches at Shelsky’s of Brooklyn on Court Street.

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Smoked salmon, scallion cream cheese, whole wheat bagel.

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The view from her 44th Floor apartment in Brooklyn. I spot the Statue of Liberty!

I then met back up with Meredith at her community garden to meet her students. It was fun learning about growing kale, garlic, chives, and taking care of chickens from New York kids!

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Just taking a chicken for a walk.

Needing a little running inspiration? Check out this NYC Half race recap. What I love about distance running is that we get to run the same course as the elites! So crazy to think I was out there while Huddle and 2015 Boston Marathon winner Chepkirui were fighting for 1st at the finish line.

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Do I look cold? 

And this morning I got to experience the morning commute to Grand Central with Carmen and Jim. I walked with all my luggage to Penn Station to catch the train to DC. With what happened in Brussels yesterday there was a bunch of extra security. I spy a CNN reporter!

This is my peak running week before the taper for Boston. I feel lucky to have a bit more flexibility with my schedule, and to be running in different places to make it a bit more interesting because at this point in the training cycle my legs are TIRED!

NYC Half Race Review

You never regret signing up for a race after you cross the finish line. I really wasn’t feeling this race. Sunday’s high was projected at 32 degrees with wind and snow, my legs were tired from marathon training, I didn’t have pins for my bib, and I just kinda wanted to sleep in and not deal with the logistics of a big city race. I’m so glad I signed up for this race. There’s nothing like New York City being shut down for you, and running through Central Park, Times Square, and down to Wall Street. The 1:26:51 finish time was icing on the cake! The snow waited till after the race, and it was “only” 34 degrees at the start.img_3912.jpg
Marta and I joke that after a race we check our official time over and over again, with hopes that the time will magically down. It never does. I didn’t know what my official time was when I finished because my garmin pooped out on me the last 1.5 miles when we were in the Battery Park Underpass. I was told my official time was 1:26:57 which I was super excited about because I knew I ran more like 13.5, and my splits were way better than my previous PR. Later in the evening I checked my official time. 1:26:51. Seconds matter 🙂

While I was running it just felt so darn smooth. I don’t know how to explain it, but all those workouts Michelle’s wrote for me, I could just feel them helping me run with ease. I ran a 6:26 at mile six, and just though I’d see how long I could hold on to that kind of pace. I stuck around 6:30s for the rest of the race.

As soon as I finished the race I rushed back to Hastings-on-Hudson to shower, eat, and head back into the city to be with the fam. We hung out in Greenwich Village, recreated the food tour I took for my bachelorette party way back in 2009 by visiting the famous Joe’s Pizza, rice balls from Faicco’s Italian Store, and Milk & Cookies (that s’more cookie hit the spot). Brent and I walked the High Line, then head back to Pleasantville in Westchester County to see some of his Georgetown friends.

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The NYC half wasn’t the reason I came to NY. It was just a way of not having to do my long run by myself, and seeing where I’m at a month before Boston. We came to celebrate Carmen + Jim! I can’t wait to be an Aunt to a girl in May! Alicia went above and beyond planning a beautiful shower. She made Gerber candles, brought a bunch of delicious food from DC, made banners, made games, created the invite. Thank you Alicia. I can only take credit for the cupcakes and cupcake toppers and the Name the Storybook game. Colby was my little assistant with passing out pens when we played games. IMG_3940.JPG

And back to the race. A few things I learned yesterday. English muffin with Justin’s Vanilla Almond Butter, and strawberry jam with a cup of coffee is pre-race perfection. Trust yourself when the pace feels right. I was scared when I started running 6:30s, but I just went with it and managed to hold on. Make friends. I’m not sure if he appreciated it, but I met a guy around mile 5 from LA. I noticed his Village Runner t-shirt and struck up a conversation. On the subway back to Grand Central Station I nerded out with a bunch of finishers who were also using this as a tune-up run for Boston and missed my stop. It’s fun meeting people from all over the country at races. Get to know who is out there.

PROs:

  • Starting line waves and corrals were well organized, making for the least amount of congestion possible when you have 20,000 people running in Central Park.
  • Plenty of water on the course and bathroom lines were really short.
  • Awesome course. Fun to run in Central Park, through Times Square and towards Wall Street.
  • International race. People from all over the world!
  • You get to run a race with elites. Molly Huddle was in my wave!
  • NYRR’s got its logistics down. The finish line blankets even had tape to keep them from flying off you in the wind.
  • Nice, classic medal.
  • Finish line video.

CONs:

  • Expo was apparently meh. Marta picked up my bib.
  • Lottery or qualifying to get in. Tough to get a spot.
  • Not as much crowd support as I would have expected, but I’m guessing the cold had more to do with this.
  • Crowded most of the race. Hard to push the pace in the early miles. Did some weaving even at the end so I ran more like 13.4.
  • Hilly course, although personally I like a challenge. No more downhill courses for me.
  • Westside Highway is really windy.

Thanks for waiting a day, snow 🙂

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