HMBTS Training, Week 8

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The weeks keep ticking by, and my training plan is finally starting to gently careen off the rails. If I look on the bright side, this is the best I’ve done/longest I’ve gone in terms of trying to stick to a training plan. It’s not great, but it’s better. So that’s something? Let’s see how the week went.

Monday

Rest | Rest

As they tend to be, this was a welcome rest day. My right leg had killed me all day Sunday after my 7-miler, AND I went and gave myself a huge bruise on the top of my left foot when I accidentally knocked the Bairn’s milk cup out of the fridge. So now both my feet are wonky. Huzzah!

Tuesday

4.5 mile run | 4.5 mile stroller run

On the bright side, we had a successful stroller run! If you follow my Instagram, you might have seen that I got ahold of some bug netting for the jogging stroller, after our last attempted Bikeway run was thwarted by nasty fly swarms. Best $4.50 I might have ever spent on amazon!

With the Bairn happily not getting attacked by bugs, I was able to run all the way to the bridge over the “fast highway,” where the Bairn loved seeing all the cars and trucks.

I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why the run back from the bridge was SO much harder than the way out. I mean, it’s the Bikeway, it’s pretty flat. But running to the bridge felt surprisingly easy, and it was disheartening that I was trying so much harder and going so much slower on the way back. It wasn’t until I got home and checked Garmin Connect that I figured out why:

Yep. There was a hill. Barely perceptible while on it, but clearly there! Seeing that felt pretty validating.

Wednesday

Cross-training | Rest

I don’t know why, but my motivation to continue my PT exercise/stretching routine is totally gone. I just don’t feel like it. To be honest, I’m surprised I kept doing it for as long as I did. I seriously need to get better about cross-training.

Thursday

Rest | Arm workout

This wasn’t planned, but I ended up lifting a bunch of heavy things at work on Thursday, and holding some of them for quite a while, to the point of my arms shaking a bit. So I’m totally counting this as an arm day.

Friday

4.5 mile run | Rest

I got a haircut, so didn’t have time to sneak in a run between daycare drop-off and work. And then it was a long, crazy day at work and I just didn’t feel like running afterward. So I talked myself into resting my janky leg and toes.

Saturday

50 minute cross-training | Rest/work

I worked a full day Saturday, which felt like a workout. It wasn’t really, but could kind of be considered cross-training if you squint and tilt your head a bit.

Sunday

8 mile run | 8 mile run

Aha! One of two successful and on-purpose workouts this week. I tried out my shiny new hydration pack (a Nathan VaporAiress) even though the temps were cooler this week. Eventually I’ll write a review once I test it out a bit more, but I like it so far. It was nice to have water right there without having to hold it in my hands, the pack was comfortable and didn’t bounce at all, and it held some fuel and my phone. The mouthpiece was a bit awkward, and the sloshing noise made me feel like I had to pee for the first few miles. It also made my back so sweaty that I thought the pack had leaked. But tbh, I was less sweaty than I was on the really hot long run days when I didn’t have a pack, so I didn’t really care.

Okay, the run itself. I set out too late to run with the Shammies – so I thought. I ran by HQ just in case anyone was still hanging out after, and everyone was there chatting. Huzzah! Shammie P was looking to add 3 more miles on to what he had already run, so I changed my intended route to run with him. He took me down some new-to-me trails in the lagoon, and it was nice to run with someone! Apart from the Bairn, I’ve been running solo a lot this training plan, and it was nice to chat and have someone to distract me from my usual internal whinging.

After going about 5k with him, I waved the white flag and set off on my own. We were going about 10:30 without stopping, which is faster than I usually go for long runs, and I didn’t want to overdo it.

I definitely stop more when I’m alone, to walk up hills (hills bother my leg quite a bit right now) and/or stop for fuel and water. Today I tried out a Gu gel to see how that went. I’ve run with gel once, during my last half, and it was a huge jolt of energy. I wanted to see if I could get more out of having gel once or twice than out of stopping for chews every few miles. The energy definitely seemed to last longer. I may switch my fuel to gels… they’re easier too.

One thing I noticed with the hydration pack is that I seem to pay more attention to my posture and cadence. I felt like I was running “right” today, like the way my Gait Retraining Guru of Yore was trying to get me to run. You can even see from my Garmin stats… my cadence was in the green way more this run than in past long runs:

I was pretty pleased with my pace today too. Starting fast with P definitely helped my overall time, and I think the Gu gave me better energy to run more without stopping (or maybe I just had to stop less to consume gel than I would to eat a few chews?). My time wasn’t much off from last week, and it was 1 mile longer. I’ll take that as a win.

Next week’s plan calls for a 10k race, but I might do what I did last time it called for a race and just run long again. I have a few 5ks coming up that are going to make my long runs interesting, so I’d like to get one more “real” long run in before race day, which is coming up quickly!

HMBTS Training, Week 4

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This week ended up being a bit wibbly, as shifting a long run from Sunday to Monday is apparently enough to send me skidding sideways, training-plan-wise. Let’s see how I picked up the pieces:

Monday

Rest | 4.5 mile run

As I mentioned last week, Sunday was hot as soccer balls and I was a giant grumpus, so when I saw that Monday was supposed to be cooler, I bumped my long run up a day.

Drew had been sick all weekend and wasn’t 100% by Monday, so he took a sick day. Thankfully he was well enough to be on Bairn Duty, so I was able to do this long run a) without the stroller or b) not on the treadmill at the gym. I picked a route that took me by two bubblers and a bathroom, and figured I’d be golden.

While the 80*F temp did indeed feel cooler than the 90+/over 100 with heat index of the weekend, it was still incredibly humid and sticky and gross. My weather app said it was only 56% humidity but I swear it was worse than that.

Look at those storm clouds just wanting to rain down on me! Sadly they did not.

I was supposed to do 5, but could only manage 4.5 before calling it quits. I made it down to the pond and part way around the lagoon (not even 2 miles total) before I wanted to crawl home and wave the white flag. I took a lot of walk breaks, and my running speed was sloooooow. But something is better than nothing, eh?

Tuesday

3.5 mile run | rest

My hip/leg hurt pretty bad after my long run, plus the training plan calls for a rest day after a long run, so I rested. It was nice.

Wednesday

Cross-training | 3.5 mile run

Drew was on bedtime duty so I snuck out for a sunset run to make up for Tuesday’s rest day. I was feeling good, so I figured for grins I’d try to see how far I could run before I had to stop.

Guys, I made it all 3.5 miles! I don’t think I’ve gone that far without a walk break in literal years. I didn’t even stop at intersections or anything – I just adjusted my route so I wouldn’t need to. It made me feel like a boss, and I felt so good afterward. Yay for a good run after a not-so-great one!

Thursday

Rest | rest

Back to my usual schedule, which meant no time for anything but resting. Which I excel at.

Friday

3.5 mile run | PT exercises and stretching

I opted to drink a leisurely coffee and read before work rather than try to squeeze a run in. Then bedtime was waaayyyy off after the Bairn needed an emergency bath post-daycare (seriously, did he work up a sweat and then roll in the dirt? … probably), and after dinner took super long for some reason. By the time all was said and done, it was dark out and I didn’t want to go to the gym. So I did my usual Wednesday evening PT routine and called it a night.

Saturday

40 min cross-training | rest

I got my hair cut and apparently that was enough to exhaust me for the rest of the day. So other than pushing the Bairn around the yard in his Little Tikes car, I had another rest day.

We also examined the wheels on his new present from Dappa (Grandpa)

Sunday

5 mile run | 5 mile run

Huzzah! A long run that was pretty decent! I met up with the Shammies at HQ, more for motivation than anything, and ran the first mile with J, who is recovering from knee surgery. We had a nice chat then split off on our own routes – she on the road to home, and me (I?) on the bunny trail.

I hadn’t hit the bunny trail in maybe 4 years. I remembered it being about a 5-mile route from HQ, and a nice change of scenery from just loops around the pond, which is what the other Shammies were doing.

The bunny trail and a hard-to-see stream on the right

I made it just shy of 3.5 miles without having to take a walk break (though I did take a quick bubbler break at the pond), and was feeling pretty good. My pace picked up in the middle mile (when I was on the bunny trail, by myself, in the woods and feeling like I wanted to be out on a street again), but otherwise was holding steady around 11:20.

The last half-mile was the worst. It was back on the road, after several long hills, and in full sun. It wasn’t quite 9am but already the temp was climbing, and I was done. I had an image of a frozen coffee from Dunkies in my mind, and it was the carrot I needed dangling ahead of me to finish up. And it tasted amazing.

Considering this was my longest distance so far on this plan, I’m quite pleased with the run as a whole. I felt good until around 4.4 miles, with long stretches of being able to run without wanting to take a walk break. 11:20 is a decent pace, as historically my long runs tend to be over 12:00/mile. I just need to keep it up and soon 5 miles will feel like cakemeat, right??

Will I be able to recalibrate my training plan next week? Will the heat that’s still lurking knock me off the rails? Time will tell…

Samantha’s Harvest 5K, 9 June 2019

Hi there! How in the heck is it June already?! I am way behind with race recaps… I’ve run 5 already this year (I’m back, baby!) and have written up exactly 0. Until now. Please excuse the lack of chronological order and maybe someday I’ll get my blogging act back together again.

Let’s press on, shall we?

Samantha’s Harvest 5k

What: 5K

Where: Reading, Massachusetts (course map)

Who: Me and the Bairn and a bunch of Shammies

Benefited: Samantha’s Harvest

Time: 32:50 Stroller PR!

Splits*:
-Mile 1: 10:38
-Mile 2: 10:33
-Mile 3: 11:03
-Mile 3.1: 1:08

*I forgot to stop my Garmin until I’d been across for a while, so my Garmin splits don’t add up to my official time

Background

I ran this race last year as my first stroller run ever with the Bairn (you can read the recap here). It was a decent race, supporting a good cause, and it was fun to hang with the Shammies, but I wasn’t planning on running it again this year. It just felt like a once-and-done experience. But, a Shammie who’s a new mom said she might be there with her new wee Shammie, plus the club pays our race fees, and it would be something to do while Drew played soccer that morning… so I thought what the heck and signed up. (Spoiler alert: I didn’t get to meet the newest Shammie, but it was still a good time!)

Pre-race

Much like last year, Drew had a soccer game at the same time as the race, so the Bairn and I hopped in the car and drove to Reading. Sam’s Harvest is a relatively small race, so there’s plenty of parking on-site and bib pickup is fast and easy.

In lieu of warming up like I should have, I made the rounds with the Shammies for the obligatory cooing over/getting high fives from the Bairn and “OMG he’s twice the size he was since I last saw him!” comments. I also wrestled the Bairn in and out of his stroller a few times because toddlers gonna toddler.

The Race

The field felt a lot smaller this year… potentially because the race started an hour earlier than in years past and that fact wasn’t heavily advertised. There were a bunch of runners with strollers last year, but I was one of only two this time around.

The Bairn and I started near the back and were on our own, as all the Shammies running this year were speedy and off winning their age groups.

I don’t remember there being so many hills last year – oof! Otherwise the course was wonderfully shady and on pleasant residential back roads. There were two water stops and both had ice-cold water, which was glorious! Every other race I’ve done so far this year had water that was vaguely cool at best, so the icy hydration felt even more amazing on this hot morning.

Another nice thing about the course being on all residential streets is that several families were out on their front lawns cheering on the runners. The best moment of my race was when I ran by a mom sitting on a blanket with her baby, who looked maybe 10 or 11 months old, and the mom excitedly pointed at the Bairn and said to her wee one “there’s a kid like you! Oh wow, they’re running with a stroller!” Then she looked at me and said “That is so awesome! I’m so proud of you!!” This happened between miles 2 and 3 when I was struggling a bit, and her words totally lifted me for the rest of the race. I feel like you hear so much about moms judging each other these days, and I tend to feel self-conscious a lot about what other moms might be thinking, so to hear such sincere praise from another mom meant so much!

The second best part of my race was as I neared the finish. Like last year I was the last Shammie on the course, and as I came down the hill toward the track where the finish line is, a bunch of Shammies were walking toward me as they headed off for a cool-down run. They all started cheering when they saw me and I reached out for a high-five and ended up high-fiving almost all of them. It felt like running a half-gauntlet of awesomeness!

As we turned onto the track and came down the final straightaway, the rest of the Shammies were clustered by the finish line, cheering. I saw one of them with his phone out for pictures and jokingly flexed, and then made a silly excited face, which got caught on camera:

I was also excited because both my Garmin and the ever-nearer finish line clock both said 32:–, which would not only be a solid 6 minutes faster than last year’s time, but also a PR for me in terms of stroller races. I was pumped!

Post-race

After I crossed the finish and the nice timing person ripped off the bottom of my bib and a nice volunteer handed me an icy, full-size bottle of water (seriously, this race does hydration RIGHT), all I wanted to do was lay down in the shade for a few hours. I was hot and red and probably dehydrated, and had pushed myself harder in this race than I planned to, so I was a bit wobbly. I pushed the Bairn over to some shade, ignoring his protests about wanting to come out and walk around, and plopped down gracelessly to chug water.

After the initial I-might-faint feeling, I felt awesome! I was still feeling pumped from both the nice mom and the Shammies high fives, and was totally chuffed about my time. It blows my mind a little that I’m finishing races faster pushing a toddler in a stroller than I was in most of my pre-Bairn races. I think it’s a combination of mom-strength (hefting an ever-growing child is my answer to weight-lifting and core work, I guess!) and ~cheesy alert~ believing in myself. The more I run faster, the more I know I can do it, and the more I push myself to keep it up. If I can be arsed, I may ramble on about these thoughts in another post. Someday. Maybe.

Anyway, back to post-race. The Bairn and I joined the rest of the Shammies, who were gathering by the leftover donuts in the shade by the registration area. We snacked on some donuts and stretched, and the Bairn joined in clapping for the award winners. We took a club photo:

And then everyone sort of trickled to their cars and left. Not a lot of fanfare or post-race partying, which was fine as I wouldn’t have been able to join in much anyway! The Bairn and I drove home, stopped for some iced coffee, and then repeated last year’s recovery: relaxing in the shade of our yard with a water table:

While I assumed Sam’s Harvest was a one-time race, it’s turning out to be a fun start-of-summer tradition. I wonder how many more years I’ll be pushing the Bairn? Maybe he’ll even run with me in a few!

Lesson 3: Compromise

Hello there, reader! You’ve stumbled on the third installment of what has turned from two rambling, somewhat related posts into some semblance of a series. As I make my slow return to the world of running after having a baby, I’m learning (sometimes the hard way) tips that are making this return easier, bit by bit. So far, I’ve learned:

  1. …that I need to lower my expectations
  2. …that it’s helpful to be prepared

My lesson for this week is: be willing to compromise!

If you’ve visited this blog before, there’s a good chance you’ve read about Tuesday night track workouts with my run club. A Tuesday night speedwork session was my first Shammies experience 3 1/2 years ago, and I’ve loved (and hated) them ever since. Drew knows that I’ve been itching to return, and so for weeks months now, he’s been offering to take over the Bairn’s bedtime so I can get back out there. And yet, each week my excuses pour out: it’s too hot, it’s too humid, I’m too tired, the Bairn is melting down and I feel guilty running away, it’s raining, I’m out of shape and track sessions attract all the fast people, etc.

Last Tuesday, I decided I was going to bite the bullet and go to track. Even if I didn’t do the workout, I could still run-walk around Lane 6 and see my run club peeps. I told Drew I was going for it, he expressed his full support, and I spent the day mentally preparing for Shammie time.

[Note: Here is where I ask for your understanding, dear reader. When I was thinking about this post a few days ago, my point was clear. Now that I’m actually writing, my still-rampant pregnancy brain (apparently it’s here for a while – boo!) has struck and I can’t remember a pretty important detail. Please bear with me as I carry on regardless…]

As track time approached, something [see note above] happened. I can’t remember what now. Either Drew came home from work and had had a bad day, or the Bairn was melting down, or… yeah, it’s gone from my brain. In any case, something occurred that would have made my going to track difficult, for me but mostly for Drew.

Thankfully, this lesson wasn’t learned the hard way. Perhaps because of many of those excuses I listed before (it was hot, track is full of fast people and I’m slow and out of shape and self-conscious, etc.), I wasn’t upset at giving up my Shammie time to help deal with the Bairn.

And, once he was cozy in his crib, I threw on my kit and set out for a run around the neighborhood. It was cooler by this point, I didn’t have to feel self-conscious in front of all the Shammies who regularly place at races, and I knew I wasn’t leaving Drew in the lurch. I set myself some modest goals – run to X then walk to Y, three times with different Xs and Ys – and managed to meet them (huzzah!). Post-run analyzing of my run even showed that my average running pace was 11:- and change, which is an improvement from the 12:-s I’d been running, so that was encouraging too.

I guess this lesson is pretty connected to lowering my expectations… had I been dead set on running a speed workout, I would have been disappointed to miss out. But, honestly, I don’t have many expectations when it comes to running these days, so just getting to run around the block for 20 minutes was pretty exciting. Plus I got to reward myself with freeze pops, a cold can of cider, and an episode of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. Thumbs-up all around!

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What lesson will I learn next? Will there be more, or will my posts devolve once again into even less structured rambling? Stay tuned!

The Art of Being Prepared

Wow, was my last post really a month and a half ago?! I swear I just wrote it. But then again, I can’t wrap my mind around the fact that it’s August already. What the heck.

Anyway.

Hi! Me again, here to blab at you about life and attempted fitness post-Bairn. I’m still working on keeping my expectations low (and doing a decent job, I think!), and my lesson for myself this week is to try to be a little better prepared. For what, you may ask? Running specifically, since this is my running blog and all, but really, for lots of things.

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Let’s travel back a few Sundays, to when I was determined (albeit with lowered expectations) to meet up with the Sunday Morning Shammies for some kind of run. They go out around 7, so I set an emergency alarm for 6 (ha!! As if the Bairn would let me sleep that long), planned out my morning so I could get out the door at 6:45, and crossed my fingers.

Sunday morning came, and though I made a solid effort, my morning fell apart. Drew overslept, and it turns out 45 minutes isn’t enough time for me to change and feed the Bairn, and then change and feed myself before heading out the door. At least not when I’m half asleep. So I skipped the run. (Could I have gone out on my own? Sure. But I was all upset and stubborn… these post-baby hormones sure do stick around longer than I expected).

How could I have made that morning smoother for myself? By being prepared! Have my running kit out and easily accessible, so I wouldn’t have to risk waking my exhausted husband while stumbling around in our dark room. Have an easy-to-grab pre-run bite to eat ready to be grabbed. And so on.

Well, I tried to learn from my failure the following week. I had my kit ready to go. I had something to eat. I had that laughable emergency alarm set. And somehow, even with Drew up this time to help me, it was still a rush to get to the door in time, let alone out of it. I was on the verge of missing the Shammies – and thus my motivation – and when I went to put on my shoes, the laces ended up being very stubbornly double-knotted. I couldn’t undo them while in a rush. So I threw on an older pair of shoes that I’ve been mainly using for walking:


Turns out these shoes are pretty dead. They feel fine for walking, but after running a bit in them: ouch. My back hurt for a week… though to be fair my back is in rough shape anyway from hefting the Bairn around.

BUT. I made it out there! I saw my Shammies, got the social motivation I needed, and let them set off on their 7-mile run. I walked to the pond, figuring I’d do a lap and walk back to HQ, but after a turn through the lagoon, it was so lovely I decided to do it again.

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View of the pond from the lagoon

The lagoon has a lovely dirt trail, lots of shade, and had far fewer people than the paved, route around the pond. So I walked the causeway back to the start of the lagoon and ran a second loop. Well, run-walked, but still. It wasn’t my prettiest run, but it was a run nonetheless!

So, a little preparation and I managed to fit a run in. Had I thought ahead even more, I would have untied those silly shoes, but, well, hindsight is 20-20. And now I know my Adidas sneakers are toast.

For those keeping score at home, the post-baby fitness lessons I’ve learned so far are:

  1. Lower my expectations
  2. A little preparation goes a long way

What lesson will I learn next time? Stay tuned!

Beach to Beacon 10K, 6 August 2016

What: 10K

Where: Cape Elizabeth, Maine (course map)

Who: Me and a bunch of Shammies, with moral support from Drew

Time: 1:22:40

Splits: (according to Simon)
-Mile 1: 11:13
-Mile 2: 15:49*
-Mile 3: 15:24*
-Mile 4: 12:06
-Mile 5: 11:36
-Mile 6: 13:13
-Mile 6.2: 3:22

*These two mile splits include porta-potty stops:

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Two giant canyons in the first half represent long, long porta-potty stops. The other dips are walks up hills.

Check out my race review on BibRave!

Running in the footsteps of giants:

Two quick points about this race, to set the stage:

  1. It’s Joan Benoit Samuelson‘s race, and the course apparently follows her training route. That’s pretty stinkin’ cool.
  2. History was made this year, as native Mainer Ben True became the first American to win the race in its 19-year history. (Note: his winning time, 28:17, is faster than my best 5K time. Mind = blown.)

The background:

Beach to Beacon has been on my radar ever since I joined the Shammies. A contingent of the club heads north every year to run, and I’ve heard so many stories about what a great race it is, how fun it is, how you get to run with elites and sometimes even see Joanie, etc.

The more I heard, the more I wanted to run. The only problem is that it’s a notorious race in terms of getting in; this year, general registration sold out in less than 4 minutes! Most Shammies end up getting in by entering the team lottery, but it’s not always a given that they’ll get to run.

Well, luckily for me, general registration opens at 7am, exactly when I’m usually standing at my bus stop killing time on my phone. On that fateful day in March, I was stood on the sidewalk with my phone poised, and I somehow squeaked in within that 3:43 window. It was the second time the magical race gods were smiling upon me, and I was pretty smiley myself!

The expo:

Drew and I left work early on Friday to attempt to beat weekend traffic, but still wound up sitting on the highway for 4+ hours (it usually takes about 2). We still managed to arrive in Cape Elizabeth in time to hit the expo, which I was pumped about. With the exception of the Boston Marathon expo I sneaked into during a volunteer stint, I’d never experienced a race expo before.

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Inside the expo at Cape Elizabeth High School

Granted, it wasn’t very big, but I was still nerdily excited to be at my first expo! Bib pickup was well organized and quick (other Shammies said it took forever earlier in the day), and my bib came with a nice Nike Dri-Fit t-shirt and a car magnet. More goodies came in the expo, too: gift cards to LL Bean, Olympia Sports, and Dunkin Donuts, as well as free reusable grocery bags and snacks provided by Clif Bar and a local pasta place. Not too shabby! There were vendors and run clubs there too, but by that point Drew and I were hungry and wanted to eat an actual meal.

After a tasty, tasty dish of homemade gnocchi at Enio’s (go there if you’re ever in South Portland!), we returned to our Airbnb and settled in for an early night’s sleep.

Pre-race:

We were up with the sun, literally, on race morning:

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Sunrise over SoPo

I’ve never run a race big enough to need shuttle buses and such, so I’m not used to crazy-early wake-ups. 5:20 felt way too early! I stumbled around, donned my kit, shoved some mini stroopwafel (thank you, Kennebunk Service Plaza for surprising me with those treats!) and water down my throat, and then Drew was driving me to a shuttle point.

Another first for me – a point-to-point course. I’ve always run loops or out-and-backs, or point-to-points where the start and finish are so close that they’re not even considered point-to-points. So this made logistics interesting in terms of getting to the start, finding Drew at the finish, and the like.

Anyway, I squeezed onto the 6:20 shuttle (a good, old-fashioned yellow school bus) and we trundled down lovely wooded back roads for 5-10 minutes before arriving at the start area. And what a start area it was! I’ve never seen so many porta-potties – with every 4 alternating which way they were facing so all the lines weren’t on one side – plus there were so many volunteers! Some were staffing water and snack tables, which also had Gatorade and coffee, and some were loading up gear bag buses. I felt like I was in the big-time!

I was supposed to meet up with the rest of the Shammies at 6:45, so I had some time to kill. I ate the Clif Bar I’d gotten at the expo, wandered back to the tables to get some Gatorade, and pretty much just people-watched until I saw a bunch of green singlets coming my way.

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I love these ladies!

I also shoved a Honey Stinger waffle in my face (which is why I look so goofy in the above photo – I was chewing), not because I wanted to eat it, but because I didn’t want to carry it and no one else seemed to want it. Oh well, one can never have too many pre-race waffles… right?

We chatted and killed time until we heard the national anthem, then we walked over to take our various places at the starting line. Shammies E and K hung out with me near the back of the pack; it was going to be a hot day (“sneaky heat,” as one article called it later, due to high humidity and dew point) and we wanted to enjoy the day and each other’s company without needing a trip to the medical tent.

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View from the back(ish) of the pack… you can just make out the balloon arch where the starting line was

The race:

The wheelchair athletes had started around 7:30 (I think), and the elite women took off at 8 on the dot. Elite men and the rest of us (who were a respectable distance behind the elite corral) got our start at 8:12. It took us about 8 minutes to cross the start from when the race actually started.

The first mile was nice and chill. E, K, and I were going fast enough that my conversation was broken up with lots of breathing pauses, but not so fast that it was uncomfortable. All of a sudden, we saw balloons up ahead signalling the first mile – huh? E and I were both having some race nerves and decided to pull over at the porta-potty, and K ran off with a fellow runner who she had started chatting with about his t-shirt. We stood in line for about 5 minutes, realized we didn’t really have to go after all, and carried on.

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Looking relatively fresh and happy when the first photographer appeared

Mile 2 flew by as quickly as the first and, again, I made the decision to pull over at the aid stop’s porta-potty. E was being a trooper and running my race with me, so she grabbed us some waters and waited. It was another long wait, and my nerves were still playing tricks on me, so we set off once again.

Honestly, the rest of the race is a blur. Thanks to those epic porta-potty stops, I ran my personal worst time-wise… though it’s heartening to know that if I shaved those ~10 minutes off, I would have ran about my usual time in spite of the heat. So that’s cool! But despite the slow time, it was seriously the fastest race ever. The mile markers were flying at us, and E and I kept saying how quickly the race was going. It must have been the great company! We chatted up a storm the entire way.

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There were at least 4 photographers at Mile 5, where there’s a gorgeous ocean view behind the runners, but unfortunately we’re in focus, not the view!

The awesome crowds and scenery helped, too! I’ve never run a race with so many spectators, and they went all out to cheer for us. Though my name has been on bibs before, this was the first race where people actually cheered for me by name (such a cool feeling!), and people were ringing cowbells, holding witty signs, blasting motivational music (I remember E and I singing along to the Rolling Stones as we crested a hill), and even passing out bacon (Beach to Bacon, get it?). I truly felt like a rock star… a very red, tired one with a sheen of sweat, but a rock star nonetheless.

The course ends with a few steep hills, one of which is in Fort Williams Park. That part of the race was a little disheartening… you run into the park and up the “final hill,” and I sort of expected the race to end there. But no. We wound through a section of the park, curve after curve, with the end nowhere in sight. It was such a relief to finally see the balloon arch in the distance, and I zeroed in on it. Little did I know Drew was practically right next to me, shouting my name! E spotted him and posed for a silly picture as I stared off at the finish:

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At last we victoriously crossed the finish line. The Shammies had warned me that it would be a while before I could get my hands on some water (seriously, one of my biggest race pet peeves), so as soon as I crossed the line I had my eyes peeled for the far-off land of water tables. I was so focused that I jumped a little when E said “Thanks, Joanie!” and when I looked in front of me, there she was! Less than an arm’s length away – Joan Benoit Samuelson! I managed to say “Thanks, Joanie!” and she looked at me and smiled as I lurched past, wondering if it would be improper to take a picture with her. (I decided not to, even though I kind of regret it now!)

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Here we come -the finish at last!

Post-race:

E and I kept walking down the finishing chute, up a steep grassy knoll, and at last reached the far-off water tables. Drew found us, and together we all walked through the park to find the chocolate milk – our designated Shammies meeting point. We found the chocolate milk stand (unlimited free, ice cold, local chocolate milk!) and the rest of the Shammies, and I collapsed into a heap on the grass. There was a massive food tent with crackers, cheese, yogurt, blueberries, granola bars, trail mix, etc. etc. etc. as well as vendor tables, but I was so tired I couldn’t bring myself to traipse around anymore. And anyway, Drew was carrying a paper sack full of goodies from Scratch bakery, so we tucked into a raspberry coffeecake.

Despite my lethargy, Fort Williams Park was a really cool place to end a race, with a huge expanse of grass to splay out on, bits of old forts to climb on, a little beach with some Atlantic Ocean to cool off in, and Portland Head Light, the beacon we ran to:

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Photo credit: Drew

We sat around, chatting and eating snacks and comparing our race experiences (which ranged from our fastest getting 7th in his age group – in a race with 6,600 runners – to E and I hitting personal worsts) for just under and hour, and then set off for some much-needed showers. The Shammies did what Shammies do and hit downtown Portland for some well earned beers, while I attacked one of Scratch’s famous Super Duper Cinnamon Rolls:

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Freshly showered with a cinnamon bun the size of my head

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Now that’s what I call recovery!

Overall thoughts:

I absolutely adored this race. Despite my personal worst, despite my pet peeve water situation, despite lack of bling, this is a race I want to run every year for the foreseeable future! The course, the scenery, the crowds, Joanie!, and all the little details made it a fantastic race to run. It’s clear that it was a race created by a runner, and it’s also run by the same race director who runs the Boston Marathon. These people know what they’re doing, and know how to put on a good race! The registration fee is a little steep at $50, but for what you get, I think it’s worth it. I mean, the gift cards from the expo make up half that cost, plus there are plenty of 5Ks around Boston that cost $35-$40 and all you get is a pint glass. B2B is the race for me!

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My dodgy gait and I love this race!

One final thought:

Drew and I opted to walk the 2 miles back to our Airbnb from the finish line, since traffic was ridonk. However, after all my failed pit stops during the race – and no thanks at all to the most disgusting porta-potties I’ve ever seen after the race – it was an uncomfortable walk back, to say the least. Enter The Cookie Jar, a lovely little bakery on our route. They let me use their gloriously clean real bathroom, and we returned the next morning for breakfast as a thank you. People rave about Holy Donut in Portland, but seriously – if you’re ever in South Portland and like donuts, you must stop at Cookie Jar! Maple glazed donut + Maine blueberry coffee = excellent way to cap off an excellent race weekend.

You Take the Good, You Take the Bad…

…and there you have the facts of (running) life. Am I right?

I know I owe a race recap from the Worcester Firefighters 6k (spoiler alert: I PRd by 5:30!!), but this post has been bouncing around my brain since last night’s suboptimal track workout, so it gets to go first.

  
Right. Track workouts. Speedwork. It’s terrible and it’s awesome and and I hate it and I love it all at the same time. Coach Steve is great at putting together tough workouts and people always give him a joking hard time because everyone hates them, but they’re also so good. Even before I was working on changing my gait, the speed workouts I was doing with the Shammies were definitely making me a little faster. 

Anyway. Last week’s workout was one of the “you take the good” kind. It was 12x 200s with 200 recoveries between, and I killed it. It was hot and humid but I was ready and hydrated and I killed those 200s (for me, at least!)! I felt awesome during (I’m running fast! I’m running pain-free! This is awesome!!) and I felt awesome and accomplished after. I couldn’t wait to do it again the following week. 

And then last night’s workout happened. It was rough. It started with a 10-minute tempo run at 10k pace, then went to ladders on the track at mile pace – 3x 200, 2x 300, 1x 400, 2x 300, 3x 200. 

I attempted the tempo and made it barely 5 minutes in before I got all kinds of side-stitches. Since I had already warmed up, I cut the tempo short and took a water break while I waited for everyone else to finish. 

Then the 200s. I was so excited for these, after nailing them last week. But, silly me, I wasn’t only doing 200s this time around, so I should have paced myself, right? Heh.

I took off on the 200s (mile pace? pshh) and, once again, killed them. Then I ran the first 300 and promptly died (metaphorically, of course). Seriously though, why do 300s feel so much longer than 200s??

I had a crazy cramp in my side and an attack of shin splints, which I haven’t had in almost 2 years. What the heck? I was miserable and barely made the last 100m. I limped off to my bottle of Nuun and sat out the next 300, then promptly realized there was no way I could do a 400 without something going wrong. 

Maybe I was just being paranoid, but I am so scared of injuring myself now before my horrifying half marathon on Sunday, and so I used that as an excuse and I stopped the workout. I stretched and sipped my Nuun while I watched everyone else zip around the track. And I felt anything but accomplished on my way home, a much different scenario than the previous week when I was practically throwing myself a mental victory parade. 

But that happens, right? How many bad runs have I had over the past few years that I’ve bounced back from? Quite a few. But even knowing that, I really let last night’s run get to me. I felt like a facsimile of a sham of a runner and that was a bit of a bummer. I’ve never had to quit a speed workout that fast before, and I’m still bummed out about it today. 

But, trying to think on the bright side, what better time to learn from a crappy run than now? What went wrong that made the run so crappy? Let’s see…

  1. I probably wasn’t hydrated enough (anyone surprised?). That could explain the side stitches. 
  2. I wore different shoes than I’ve been wearing for track. Maybe this is why my shins freaked out?
  3. I completely ignored any kind of pacing, let alone my goal pace. Steve has a chat that lists goal paces for each distance based on your most recent 5k result. My 200s were way faster than my goal pace, which is probably why I crapped out so quickly. 

So, yeah. I wrote this rambly post mostly to hammer into my brain what can happen when I don’t do anything I’m supposed to do, like drinking water and following Steve’s instructions, and, you know, using proper footwear. You think I’d know these things by now, but… alas. 

I’d say I’m hoping for a better workout next week, but that will be 2 days post-half so I probably won’t be doing any speedwork yet! But hopefully the week after or so will be better. 

When do you stick a fork in a workout that’s not going so well? 

How do you move on after a run or a workout totally bums you out?