Summer of Speed

This sounds crazy, but maternity leave was the perfect time for me to train for Boston. No, I wasn’t getting great sleep, but I wasn’t working so my day consisted of running and spending the rest of the day cuddling with Jane on the couch. When I went back to work I knew there was no way I’d be able to balance marathon training, being the Mama I wanted to be, and being a Principal. I’ve been focusing my attention on something that doesn’t come as naturally to me. Short distances.

Instead of 1K repeats on the track and 8 mile tempo runs I’ve been busting out 200s and 400s, chasing these speedy ladies. It’s really put me out of my comfort zone, but I’m loving the challenge. I do think in the long run this will help my marathoning. Screen Shot 2019-08-10 at 8.44.04 AM.png

 

My first race post Boston was the Leslie Cohen 5K. The best thing about this race is that I won and got $100. The course was long though, and it would have been a PR at like a 18:10 but I ran more than a 5K. It was a fun morning and the race was in my neighborhood, so it was a nice speed workout. 5kleslie.jpgLeslie.jpg

In May I raced the Armed Forces 5K in Torrance with Tania and Cambria. I came away with the win again, in 18:05. It made me think sub-18 was possible!

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Torrance Local News. I’m a celebrity!

The Brentwood Run in June was going to be my next shot at a PR. I wanted sub-18 but wasn’t feeling great during the warm-up and wasn’t too optimistic. That negative energy caused a positive split. But the beauty of a 5K, just get out there any try again in a few weeks.

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We then switched gears and got into 1 mile training. I have CRAZY respect for short distance runners. I was legit nervous for that race. 5+ minutes of PAIN. I wasn’t sure I was tough enough. Those track workouts, though short, were ROUGH. 3×300 sounds easy to a marathoner, but when your training buddies are running them at a 4 minute mile pace it’s humbling. That’s me chilling in the back.

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The mile race started at noon, which was different for me. I spent all morning thinking about the race. To be honest, I don’t remember much about it besides about 3/4 of the way in I thought to myself “What if I just stop?” which means I probably pushed myself pretty hard. I ran a 5:21 which was meh. I’d be curious to run a mile on a track rather than on the road with a hairpin turn.

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Pre-race candid

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What the heck am I doing here?

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100 Meters to go

Last weekend a bunch of Janes ran the Pride of the Valley 5K. I was hoping my 1 mile training would help me out and I was FAR more relaxed for this race. The gun went off and I just felt good. I ran a beautiful negative split (which I rarely do in a 5K) and it served me well. 17:58 official time with a 5:47 overall pace. It felt good to break 18!

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Breaking 18

So what’s training looking like these days? 3-5 mile easy runs, track Tuesday (12 x 200 or 4 x 400 and 4 x 200), maybe some hills or a 20 minute tempo on Thursday, and easy longer (Emphasis on longer. Not long.) runs on the weekend. I feel like I’m getting my running (and competing) fix without taking a bunch of time away from Brent and Jane. It’s less the training and more the marathon maintenance of massages, yoga, stretching, foam rolling, meal prepping for 3000+ calorie days that I’m enjoying taking a break from. Will I run another marathon, absolutely yes. I’m not done with 2:54 😝 

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Boston Marathon Race Recap 2019

Boston Marathon, you have a special place in my heart. For so many years you were the ultimate dream. I failed on multiple occasions in my quest to run this iconic course. Monday I finished the course for the fifth time. What keeps me coming back? Yes, the tradition and the history, but also because the Boston Marathon = GRIT. PRs aren’t given, they are earned. Don’t be fooled by the net downhill course. The Boston Marathon course is designed to put the odds against you.

The gun goes off and you run 100+ meters downhill in the first mile. Sounds nice huh? That downhill pounding on the quads and pushing of the toes against your shoes comes back to haunt you in the teens. You go up and down the first few miles before evening out until the 15ish. Mile 16 is a major downhill, again trashing your quads as you easily run your fastest mile right before tackling Newton Hills. For 16 miles you’ve been running scared, knowing Newton is approaching. You see the “Welcome to Newton” sign and you get a little nauseous.

Everyone talks about Heartbreak Hill, but what really makes it a heartbreak is that you’ve run 3 hills prior and you’re convinced it’s over and then boom, heartbreak. It’s just a punch in the face. So you conquer the hills. You’re rewarded with another downhill. Sounds nice, but at this point your quads are trashed from the early downhill miles and your hamstrings feel like they’re about to pull from climbing so you’re pumping your arms like crazy and using the crowds of Boston to send you home.

You see the Citgo sign and the Prudential Center and you choke up. You just ran from Hopkinton to Boston. With less than a mile to go you escape the crowds in an underpass, then make the infamous right on Hereford and left on Boylston. That final 800-meter stretch is surreal. For those few minutes you escape reality. You try to soak it all in. For those few minutes you’re not “Principal Lowry” or whatever your day job might be. If I had the writing talent of my Papa or Carmen maybe I’d be able to describe it!

This year I ran a 2:54. A 4 minute course PR and finished 98th woman. I was hoping for top 100 😜 I’m determined to master this course, but I’m not there yet. This year the strategy was a planned positive split. Run hard for the first half, ignore the watch from 17-21, and then give whatever I’ve got for the final 5. The plan served me well as I got the tiniest of PRs. A PR is a PR though and considering I’m a new Mama and ran fewer miles than in past training blocks I’m super excited! Plus it’s BOSTON! It’s no Revel course!

So how did I feel? I ran a little scared. Scared I’d hit the wall. Scared my hamstrings would lock up, scared I wouldn’t be smiling at the top of heartbreak, and the early miles just felt so aggressive. I had a pit stop around mile 16/17 because I didn’t get to use the porta potty before the race (the line was crazy long) and I was really thirsty from the humidity. I remember around mile 17 fantasizing about how easy my life would be if I just gave up marathoning and slept in and went to brunch on Saturday mornings instead of training. I forced myself to ignore those negative thoughts and did my positive self talk. I looked down at my JANES tattoo and thought about my daughter, I told myself I was tough, I thought about Brent and how much he believes in me, and I thought about Mama and Papa and all the cross country meets they took me too and how much I love them. I did a bit of math around mile 24 and knew I’d have to hustle for a PR. Alaina sent me a text that popped up on my watch and it said “Fire up those buns and GO GO GO!” and I just went for it. I busted out a fast final mile and finished in 2:54. I cannot believe I ran 26.2 miles at a 6:37 pace. I feel so grateful and lucky.

I’m getting closer to that ultimate goal of 2:48, 2 hours faster than my first marathon in 2008. But will I ever reach an ultimate goal and feel 100% satisfied?

For now I’m gonna take a bit of a break from high mileage running, but I’ll see you in 2020, Boston.

A few pics…

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Jane did such an amazing job on both flights! She’s the best baby!

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Obligatory bib pic.

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Ellen my running BFF!

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It decided to pour the morning of the race. Thank goodness it stopped by 10am!

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Min my Salt & Straw and wave 1 buddy!

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Walked to the start with Hungry Runner Girl and Tina Muir!

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Yup, that’s Blue randomly in my parent’s photo of Jane and Brent!

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Less than a mile.

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I can see the Citgo sign!

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Always fun to see Lucy in Boston!

Chicago Marathon Race Review 2018

2:55.09. But a number doesn’t tell a story, and Chicago was quite the story. I wouldn’t change the experience, but my 26.2 journey was far from perfect. IMG_0491.jpeg

Let me rewind to Saturday. Brent, Ellen, and I stayed in Ukrainian Village with Erica (former EQ3 teacher) and woke up to some crazy thunder/lightening. I was worried about the race getting cancelled on Sunday, so I was hoping we’d get the storm out of the way in time for the marathon. After our morning coffee, we hit up the expo. It was so well organized, had plenty of freebies, and didn’t get too crowded.

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3rd marathon major. 3 to go.

After splurging on a Myo Buddy Pro, we went to meet my parents at their hotel. They drove down from Michigan for the weekend. They went off to wander on Michigan Avenue, and Brent and Ellen went off to run/rock climb. I took full advantage of their hotel, ordering room service, taking a bath, and watching trash on TLC. We had a super early dinner at Mart Anthony’s, recommended by Alison (current EQ3 teacher). It was authentic and perfect pre-race food.  Because we ate so early, we decided to go get dessert after. I’m thinking this may have not been the best idea before the race, but I honestly think they were worth it. These donuts were deliciously greasy. I have a stomach of steel, and the race isn’t for another 11 hours. I’ll digest all this in time. IMG_0483.jpeg

I actually slept well Saturday night. The more marathons I do, the more relaxed I feel going into the race. I had my usual bagel PB&J, some coffee. Brent and Ellen drove me to the start. Considering I usually run Boston as my annual marathon, the American Development Tent felt heavenly. Right next to the start, your own porta potties, no gear check (you just leave your stuff at a table) AND we were warming up with the elites. It was such a cool experience. They announced that we’d be walking over to the start, and I had my fuel ready and felt surprisingly calm.

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Walking to the American Development Tent

Starting right next to the elites was a surreal experience. They’re announcing Gwen Jorgensen, Mo Farah, Galen Rupp, all RIGHT next to me. I was tempted to jump up and wave at the camera. I felt a bit like a poser. Cristina Lowry shouldn’t be allowed this close to professional runners. Next thing I knew, everyone started running. I don’t remember a count down or a gun. We were off. It startled me!

Chicago satellites are off, so I ran based on feel for the first 5k. I probably averaged about a 6:35 pace. After 5K I locked in at a 6:35-6:40 pace and it just felt so good. I felt like I could run forever. I was pumped, excited to be running with a bunch of guys, felt confident, was repeating my mantras in my mind. I actually never hit a wall during this race. For that I am grateful. I took my first gel at mile 4, and the second at mile 9. At mile 13 right after I saw my parents, I noticed my stomach felt crampy, but I used my mind strategies and focused on how amazing my legs felt. I stayed on pace, running under 6:40 for every mile up until mile 20. I’d dry heave every few minutes, but forced myself to take my mind off my stomach and focus on how lucky I was to be in Chicago, and how hard I’d trained. GROSS DETAILS ALERT. At mile 20 I threw up a little in my mouth and spit it out. As I was spitting it out my watch dinged. 6:43. Damn, if I can run a 6:43 while throwing up, there is no stopping me. Plus, Ellen was out on the course popping out everywhere cheering and screaming like crazy. I know this is stupid, but I wanted to make her proud. She is such a great friend and had come all the way to Chicago to support me. I did wonder if she noticed I wasn’t my usual smiley self. The photo below is a forced smile!

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I hit 6:45 or faster from 21-25 (dry heaving every few minutes), then hit the final mile to go and started sprinting. My legs still felt amazing at this point, but I then threw up AGAIN and thought I can’t ruin this now. My last mile was 6:52 which annoyed me. I’m the queen of the negative split!

I turned left towards the finish line and started to tear up. I couldn’t believe I had managed to hit my 2:55 goal on a wonky stomach. I felt so grateful, so proud, and so relieved. Maybe a tad bit annoyed that 2:54 was 9 seconds away, but mostly proud 🙂

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Don’t throw up. Don’t throw up. Don’t throw up.

After I crossed the finish line, whatever sugar was left in my stomach came out. I apologized to the people around me who had to witness it while they were trying to celebrate their finishes. One guy gave me a pat on the back and said “Way to put it all out there.” I didn’t care. 2 fricken 55. I’m inching my way closer to cutting 2 hours off my marathon debut of 4:48. I made my way back to the American Development Tent, saw all the amazing text messages of support. I rushed to meet my parents, Brent, and Ellen.

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Training buddy Min. He ran a 3:07!

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Seeing Mama and Papa at the family reunion site. I love my parents so much 🙂

I’m not sure how to feel about the race. On the one hand, I hit my goal, but I didn’t have the race of my life. Maybe this is all part of the plan? Boston conditions were meh last year. Stomach issues in Chicago. I’ve run marathons in heat. Maybe this is all to teach me grit? One of these days all the stars will align. One day my marathon experience will be magical.

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Post Race at Revolution Brewery

Other random things to share…

  • Apparently it rained a lot during the race. I was in a trance. I don’t really remember.
  • I do remember it being quite windy the final 5K, but nothing like Boston.
  • I warmed up with Mo Farah. His warm up shuffle was probably faster than my race pace.
  • Ellen is the BEST CHEERLEADER EVER. Her support was so so helpful in 20s. I can’t wait to see what she accomplishes at CIM. Brent, don’t you want to spend your bday weekend in Sacramento cheering her on 😉 OK. Maybe she’s tied for best with Alaina.
  • Papa is my original coach. He’s the best coach. We’re already scheming for future goals.
  • Brent and I are trying to figure out how we can afford a Normatec.
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