Tufts Health Plan 10k for Women Race Recap (new PR!)

Hello from the land where it’s finally feeling like fall! I went for a run this morning and it was in the 40s, which I LOVED. For this post, however, I’m going to rewind a bit back to Monday when the weather was decidedly less nice for running. I had been carefully watching the weather all weekend since I knew we were going to be getting some aftereffects of Hurricane Nate. Luckily, race day came and it wasn’t pouring rain, but it was nearly 100% humidity and in the 70s–unfortunately similar to the weather for my last 10k.

I was pretty nervous heading into race day, both because I was shooting for a PR and because I was spearheading my first meeting for the Oiselle Volee. I got to the race nice and early and despite not having received my bib in the mail, I got a new one assigned super easily. Even with the cloudy skies, there was lots of energy around the expo and among the runners! I met up with a nice crew of the Oiselle ladies and got to see some old friends and meet new ones as we chatted and took a warmup jog around Boston Common. We breezed through the portopotty lines and my teammate Sarah and I lined up at the 7 minute mile corral.

This race usually draws a pretty impressive crowd of elites, but even so we were right up at the front of the pack to start the race off. I wasn’t really feeling the heat for the first couple of miles and ticked off some hard but sustainable paces at 6:52, 6:52, and 6:58 for the first three miles. While the front of the field got spread out pretty quickly, the course loops back on itself so I got to exchange lots of cheers with friends as we ran along Memorial Drive in Cambridge. I love this race because women are so supportive of one another! Everyone was encouraging and positive even as we were passing each other. Once we crossed back over the Mass Ave Bridge, the heat and humidity had caught up with me and I was starting to drag. I got a big boost from my teammates cowbelling and then another push as I ran past J, who had come down to cheer me on.

I decided that I was going to push as much as I could, ignoring my watch, and aim for a strong finish. I let the pace slip a bit but was able to pick it back up to a 6:43 pace down the very long finishing chute. My final time was 43:39, which is an 18 second PR over the Beach to Beacon 10k! This brought me in 42nd overall (out of 2,699 finishers) and 9th in my age group. It definitely was a little bit behind the time I trained for–my recent 5k results predict closer to a 42:XX 10k–but with the tough conditions, I’m super proud of my time.

After grabbing a bag of snacks and some water, I hung out with the girls and cheered on the rest of the finishers–including my mom! She ran this race in its inaugural year 41 years ago, and this year I got to jump in and cross the finish line with her. It was such a special moment for us to have together. I wrapped up the day with some much-needed lunch nearby with the crew.

Overall, I had an amazing time and am super proud of my mom and my teammates and friends for their strong finishes! Despite the race shirts being a bit underwhelming this year (cotton instead of dry-fit) I would absolutely run this race again and am super grateful to have had my entry comped by the race organizers. I’m looking forward to my next race, which will be my attempt to surpass my half marathon PR from this time last year. Happy fall running!

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Race Recap: Oktoberfest 5k (new PR!)

Oh man. Remember that time I had a blog? I’ve been in total lala land the past few weeks as I moved, got married, turned 30, and oh yeah… officially got accepted into the 2018 Boston Marathon!! I also ran my first mile race and set a crazy (to me) flashy new PR of 6:06. Recap of that to come soon. But first, let’s go back to yesterday’s 5K!

Back in July I ran my first trail race and and inadvertently won an Instagram contest the organizers were running, which got me a free entry to one of their other races this fall. I followed my running bestie Alexa’s advice and signed up for their Oktoberfest 5k race. The timing wasn’t ideal, as this Saturday was Yom Kippur (a Jewish holiday that involves a 25 hour fast), but I figured I would run it for fun. Like the Cambridge Half Marathon, the bib pickup and post-race party for this race are in the parking garage of the Cambridgeside Galleria, which is a local shopping mall. The logistics were super smooth, and within 15 minutes or so I was running a couple of gentle miles to warm up. I felt fairly good and the weather was perfect–in the mid 50s and sunny. Alexa and I decided we would start together and see how we felt, and after surveying the crowd we had a good feeling we could stick near the front.

We started out mile 1 pretty fast, clocking a 6:32, but both were feeling comfortable and were able to chat and laugh a little bit. Mile 2 the sun was feeling much warmer than it had at the start and we let the pace slip, clocking a 6:51. The crowd was fairly thin and I hadn’t seen many women ahead of us, so I picked it back up and aimed to pick off a few people leading into the finish. I could definitely tell that I had slightly under-hydrated and probably overeaten a little bit, so I was pretty much pushing at my max without much left for a final kick. We turned the corner towards the finishing chute, which was fairly long, and I watched a couple of ladies fly by as I gutted it out over the finish line. My final time by the numbers looked like:

  • Official finishing time of 20:34
  • 116th overall (out of 2,346)
  • 12th female finisher (out of 1,200)
  • What would have been 3rd in my AG (no AG awards for this race, of course)

Since this is my first race of my 30s, I was a little bummed the results aren’t officially broken out by age, but I’m super proud of my finish. This was a strong PR over my last 5k, when I ran 20:59. After the race Alexa and I grabbed a couple of drinks and toasted to her wedding (1 week to go!!) with her hubby-to-be. We scooted out to get on with our days before the party really got rolling, but I bet things got pretty wild since every runner gets up to 5 free drinks! Overall, this was a really fun morning and it definitely leaves me with a little bit of curiosity about how close I would be to breaking that 20 minute barrier if I really put my mind to it. Next week, it’s onwards and upwards to the Tufts Health Plan 10k for Women, and hopefully a strong 10k PR. Bostonians, registration is still open and you don’t want to miss this race–it’s truly one of my all-time favorites!

Tufts Health 10k [discount code!] + an exciting announcement

I have a couple of big ones coming your way today, my friends. First, I am so excited about this year’s Tufts Health Plan 10k for Women! Like pretty much everyone else who has run this race before, it is one of my all-time favorite events in Boston. Why?

  • It starts and ends at the Boston Common, and features a flat, fast course.
  • It’s just so darn pretty, going up through Back Bay and then out along the Charles River for some skyline views before looping back.
  • It’s geared towards women, so it has the loveliest, most supportive atmosphere I’ve ever experienced.
  • Great snacks and swag! And of course the shirts actually fit because they’re made for women 🙂
  • It’s in early October (Columbus day), which means perfect race day weather and pretty foliage to boot.

I haven’t been around for the past couple of years’ events because I’ve been running fall marathons, so I jumped at the chance to sign up for this year’s event as soon as registration opened. And I pretty much leapt at the chance to help promote the event! If you use this link to register before 9/15, you’ll get 10% off your registration. Share it with your friends!

The other exciting piece of news (drumroll please) is that I’m going to be one of the new Oiselle Volée leaders for the MA/RI team!! This team has quickly stolen my heart and been such a fun way to meet and connect with a badass group of lady runners. In case you’re wondering, Oiselle is a kickass women’s running brand (click here to save $20 on your first order from them–you won’t regret it). The Volée is… well, I’m going to steal some language here because I can’t explain it any better than this:  “a global community made up of women with diverse running backgrounds and competitive goals.  We work hard to raise the bar in terms of how women support other women, fostering strength and leadership – not just through healthy competition, but in daily actions big and small. Our mission is to continue to build our sisterhood: one that is strong, supportive, passionate, and all in on a woman-up world.”

You can learn more about the team and when it next opens up for new members here. While I’m not jumping fully into things as much as I’d like to until after my wedding (14 days!), I’m so excited and honored to be taking things up a notch and assuming a leadership role in the running community. It has given me so much, and I’m honored to be able to give something back.

That’s all for now! Things will be pretty quiet over here until after the wedding. After which there will be pictures and lots of happy, calm, married bliss 🙂

Disclaimers: My 10k race registration and Volée membership have been graciously comped–but of course, all opinions are my own.

 

Race recap: Beach 2 Beach 10k

Hey there blog friends! I’m emerging from the depths of wedding planning mania to recap the second race of my “one race a month” summer/fall series (first installment here)–the Beach 2 Beach 10k! I managed to get a bib to this iconic and uber popular Maine race from a Oiselle friend–normally you have to register RIGHT when the window opens, or you can get a bib through the lottery. Either way, this race has been on my bucket list and I knew we were going to be in town anyway for wedding stuff, so it worked out perfectly.

I drove up to Portland on Friday morning, arriving just in time to meet up with my mom for my wedding hair and makeup trial (with the fantastic Stacia, if anyone is looking). It was really fun to see everything come together and to get totally glam for a day, especially because I don’t wear much makeup IRL. We then did some other wedding errands and picked up J before driving down to Cape Elizabeth (just south of Portland) to get my race bib. Beach 2 Beacon is pretty massive, with over 8,000 people registered, so the expo was a little hectic but a lot of fun. There were plenty of freebies and cool local Maine companies represented. My favorite find was fARTlek jewelry, which makes designs based on race courses. I’m definitely considering treating myself to a Boston necklace this spring!!

From there, we took a couple of quick photos at the Portland Headlight, where the race finish line is. Jeremy and I then dropped my mom off at the bus station and went out for our 5 year anniversary dinner at Street and Co. We had an amazing meal to celebrate a big week: I finished my last MBA course and J passed his last architecture licencing exam! Definitely worth a decadent seafood meal. I’d highly recommend checking out Street and Co. if you’re in the area. Bonus that they were super accommodating on the gluten free front 🙂

We got up bright and early on Saturday morning after a just ok night’s sleep at an Airbnb in South Portland. The race logistics are kind of insane (it’s a point-to-point course with no parking allowed at the finish) so we decided to drive to one of the satellite parking lots. From there, I hit the porto potties and took an easy shuttle to the start, while J took off for a 5 mile jog to meet me at the finish. The shuttles dropped us off on a rural road surrounded by farmland, and I was able to get in a bit of a warmup jog up and down the fields. The start was self-seeded so I slotted myself into the 7 minute mile corral. My A-goal was to run sub 7s, netting out to about a 42-43 minute 10k. I wanted to be fairly cautious because it was an unfamiliar course and especially because it was close to 100% humidity–not anyone’s favorite race conditions. My B-goal was any time under 44 minutes. I was glad I had that all in mind because the course was much hillier than I expected–rolling hills the whole time with a major climb near the finish.

I ticked off the first mile a bit fast (oops) on a slight downhill. The next couple of miles felt fairly steady at 6:54 and 7:08. I grabbed a couple of quick sips of water and pushed through a 7:00 and a 7:04. Then, the hill hit. Mile 5 was a steep climb into Fort Williams Park, and a much slower 7:24. I gritted my teeth and picked up the pace to a 6:20 for the final .2 sprint to the finish. My final time was 43:57, just about a 7 minute average pace and 23rd in my division.

Overall, this was a fun and challenging race that definitely got me out of my comfort zone! I hadn’t run a 10k since 2014, when I ran the Tufts 10k in 49:46. This was also the last race I’ll run before my 30th birthday, and I’d say it was a perfect wrap to a crazy running decade. I would love to try this course again on a sunny day to catch all the ocean views 🙂 I also think this would be an incredible race to spectate–so many elites run! I’m a little bummed I missed watching Shalene, but oh well.

The rest of the weekend we spent running around at camp and doing wedding stuff like maniacs! The big day is 33 days away and we’re feeling good–there’s definitely still a lot to do, but it’s all good and exciting stuff. Stay tuned for a couple of really, REALLY exciting running-related announcements in the next few days–I have big news to share!

Leah

Sasquatch Sprint Trail Race Recap (and weekly recap)

Hello and happy Monday! I’m coming in with the first recap in my “one race a month” summer/fall series. This past Saturday, J and I ran our first official trail race. This race was a fun hodgepodge of other firsts: my shortest race ever (at 2.35 miles), my first time running twice in one day, my first evening race, and my first (very minor) race injury. More on that in a moment!

Rewinding back to Saturday morning, I started the day with 8 easy miles with some of the Oiselle girls. Knowing the race was so short, I wanted to get a long-ish run done in the morning. It was fantastic to do it with friends, especially since the day was incredibly humid and the run was a bit of a slog to get through. After a shower and a power wedding planning session, J and I headed over to JP to stroll around Porchfest. From there we zipped down to the train and rolled out to the end of the orange line, where we boarded a quick shuttle bus to the Stone Zoo/race start. Bib pickup and bag check were quick and easy and porto potty lines were short, so we were off for a warm-up jog within 15 minutes. The humidity was pretty hot and heavy at the point (literally) so we weren’t particularly surprised to line up at the start line just as the skies opened up and the rain began to pour down. The first tiny bit of doubt crossed my mind at this point, as I glanced down at my relatively well-worn sneakers…

With no time goal in mind, we started off at a pretty solid clip along the road before we turned into the woods. J was in his element and was speeding along the wet, rocky terrain up a couple of steeper scrambles, and I was able to hold on behind him until about a mile and half in when my foot slid off of a wet rock and wrenched to the side with a thunk. I let loose a couple of expletives but it didn’t hurt too much, so I picked it back up at a slightly more conservative pace, keeping a close eye on my footing for the rest of the race. We finished down a smaller hill onto a grass field, and I kicked it in at a 6:35 pace for the last .2 miles. My final time was 18:14, which brought me in 140th out of 899 finishers. My splits ended up surprisingly even at 8:26 and 8:25 for the two full miles.

After the race I snagged an ice pack from the med tent and we made a beeline with friends over to the beer tent. There was unlimited Bantam cider on offer, which I was super pleased about. Despite the rain, the after party was a ton of fun! After a couple of drinks we called it quits and headed home for some much-needed late-night enchiladas and warm showers.

Overall, this was a fun first trail race experience and a great party! My ankle was pretty swollen for about 24 hours but is already on its way back to normal. My main takeaway is definitely that if I’m going to do more trail running, it’s worth investing in some shoes with proper tread. I’ve been lusting after these but would love any suggestions if you have lightweight trail shoes you recommend!! I think I’m ready for more trail stuff, especially longer/drier races where I have a better chance to keep my feet properly under my body 🙂

Weekly recap: (26.8 miles total)

  • Monday: 5 hilly Maine miles
  • Tuesday: 90 minute vinyasa yoga
  • Wednesday: Speedwork! 8×2 minutes at 5k pace with 2 minute recoveries for 6.3 total miles
  • Thursday: 4 easy miles
  • Friday: 75 minute heated power yoga
  • Saturday: 8 morning miles + warmup + race for 11.4 total miles
  • Sunday: Off

Linking up with The Weekly Wrap (hosted by Hoho Runs and Miss Sippipiddlin), with Eat Pray Run DC for her training linkup, and with the Jess’s (Jess Runs ATL and The Right Fits).

My summer/fall race plans!

Oh hey long lost friends! It’s been a hot minute since I’ve been able to drum up the motivation to write, but I think July is my month to get back on my game in lots of ways–running, training, and blogging. I’ve been easing back into a steady running schedule over the past few weeks, trying to run 3-4 times per week with one longer run and one speed session. This kind of schedule works really well for me when I’m not marathon training, especially because it allows lots of space for yoga and hiking. I’m feeling the itch to kick it up a notch, though, so without further ado… here are my summer/fall race plans!

 

  • VERTS Sasquatch Sprint Trail Race July 8th: This will be my first official trail race and I’m stoked! It’s really just for fun and to have something to get me back into racing mode. J and I are doing this one together, too, which is awesome.
  • Beach to Beacon 10k August 4th: Total bucket list alert right here!! One of my Oiselle friends lucked into a bib for this notoriously hard-to-get-into race and I happened to be able to snap it up from her. It’s an iconic New England race founded by Joan Benoit Samuelson and I’m thrilled to have the chance to run it. Plus, it’ll be my first 10k since 2014 so it’ll be an adventure seeing what I can do at that distance.
  • My wedding Sunday 9/10! Saturday 9/9 we’re holding an easy wedding 5k so I’m counting it on here. Pretty big deal, I’d say 🙂
  • Fall Classic 5k September 18th: I had to throw a 5k into my plans, so this will be a little post-wedding treat (ha). I have raced this course twice, so this will be an effort to PR. I’m hoping that actually training for shorter/speedier stuff will give me a boost in my time. I would love to break 20 minutes in the 5k at some point, so we’ll see how this one goes.
  • Tufts Women’s 10k October 9th: My aforementioned last 10k in 2014 was this race, and it’s still one of my faves! The course is fast and I adore racing against other women.
  • NH Seacoast Half Marathon November 12th: This will be my goal race of the cycle–I’ve got my eyes on the prize for a big half marathon PR. This race checks all my boxes–small, scenic, and not too far away. Plus, this will be J’s first half!

So! There it is–one race a month from now until November. I think it’ll be a nice mix of different distances and big goal races mixed in with “just for fun” races. Given how all over the place this schedule is, I chose to have Coach Laura write me a custom training plan instead of writing one myself. I’m still a little overwhelmed with school (one more course left!!) and wedding planning, so having someone I trust write me a plan made the most sense for me right now. I also have trouble planning out speedwork for myself, so I’m hopeful that having a couple of harder workouts built in every week will help me get ready to push my paces for some big PRs in the shorter distances.

Happy almost fourth, everyone! We’ll be up in Maine through Monday and then back in Boston for the fireworks on Tuesday. Here’s hoping for great weather!!

My bachelorette in NYC, aka the best weekend ever

Something that I’m not very good at is accepting help from people without feeling guilty and/or obligated to immediately reciprocate. Being in a healthy and happy relationship for close to five years (crazy!) has helped a ton, but I’m still uber-sensitive about being indebted to friends. So wedding planning has been pushing me in a good way to do two important things–first, to take a deep breath and not be anal about every single detail, and second, to let my wonderful friends and family do nice things for me without feeling guilty.

I have eschewed a lot of the standard wedding stuff simply become it doesn’t resonate with me–I’m requesting no gifts at my shower, I’m skipping the expensive bridesmaid dresses, and I’m wearing something that’s non-traditional and very “me.” But I wanted to have a bachelorette party so that I could spend some quality time with my girlfriends before the wedding weekend–and I had a few requirements:

  • I wanted to go to NYC and go trapeze-ing outside, a long-time dream based only partially on that Sex and the City episode
  • I didn’t want people to have to do things they aren’t into or spend money they don’t want to spend
  • No invasive games, underwear gifting, or penis stuff (just, no.)

Well, my friends blew the thing out of the water and I had the most fantastic time. Other than snuggles and catch-up time with my favorite humans, the highlights included…

Delicious meals! We ate like queens all weekend–my favorite spots we visited were BKW by Brooklyn Winery (get their dry rosé and die happy) and Two Hands Cafe for brunch.

Two thumbs up for Two Hands!

Running! I harangued a few of my friends into going for a jog with me along the river and the High Line. The weather was perfection and I just couldn’t stop smiling the whole time.

 

Theater! I’m a total musical nerd, so we snagged tickets to see Josh Groban in Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812. It was a really interesting and offbeat show–definitely not your typical cutesy musical–but the singing and staging were fantastic.

Trapeze! We channeled our inner Carrie Bradshaws and 8 of us intrepid adventurers did a flying trapeze class at TSNY. It wasn’t my first time, but it was my first outdoor class and SO much fun to do it with friends. I’m glad we don’t have a place to trapeze in Boston any more because all of my money would be gone. Such a rush!

NOT graceful.

If you ever have a chance to try flying trapeze, it is incredible. It was a perfect cap to a incredible weekend–we even had nice weather smack in the middle of a disgustingly cold and rainy week. On top of everything else, my mom drove down and came with my cousin and her daughter (my junior bridesmaid) to brunch before everyone headed out. I felt so overwhelmed and loved all weekend long, and it made me even more excited for the wedding.

Back to more running-related posts soon, I promise! Linking up with Amanda today 🙂

 

What recovery looks like and final race thoughts

There were also cookies. Lots of cookies.

Well hello there, running friends! I am back at it after a full week off of running and was literally giddy to be running again. Here’s a quick peek at what my last 10 days have looked like:

  • Sunday: 26.2!
  • Monday: Rest
  • Tuesday: Rest
  • Wednesday: Rest
  • Thursday: Rest. And a massage!
  • Friday: Slow yoga with deep relaxation
  • Saturday: Long walk in the park with J
  • Sunday: Rest
  • Monday: 30 minute easy run
  • Tuesday: 40 minute easy run
  • Wednesday: 60 minute vinyasa yoga
  • Thursday: 30 minute run
We went for a WALK, not a run. It was weird.

I’m sure you’re sensing a theme here–lots and lots of rest! This is probably the longest I’ve gone without working out in a couple of years and I know I needed it. Even though I felt fairly good after the race, my knees are still not back to 100%, likely due to the accumulated stress from all the downhill pounding. I’m a little bit mad at myself for not taking the active parts of recovery more seriously, but when my first jog back didn’t feel great I jumped back into icing and foam rolling twice a day, which has helped a ton. J and I went out for 40 minutes on Tuesday and once we got warmed up, I felt great and couldn’t stop smiling because I was so dang happy to be back at it.

I’M BACK.

I haven’t fully formulated my comeback strategy, but we’re toying around with the idea of running the Shipyard Old Port Half in July in Portland, ME. I had a great race there last year and I think it would be such a fun course for J’s first half. Now that he has been fully indoctrinated, we’re looking at potentially doing a race in New Zealand when we go there for our honeymoon next February/March–how cool would that be?? Any tips, anyone?

Anywho, after Chicago I graded myself on how I did in terms of my race goals and I thought it would be fun to revisit my “what I would do differently” post and do the same for this race. Here are the goals I set for myself:

  • Run a small race: A! Sugarloaf had 1600 total runners. Can’t get much smaller than that.
  • Focus on race strategy and nutrition: A! I didn’t want to share it beforehand for purely superstitious reasons, but I did have a very specific race plan that I worked on with Coach Laura. And I wrote it out in color because I am a nerd.
  • Consider investing in coaching: A! ICYMI, more on my coaching thoughts here.
  • Raise the mileage, not just the number of running days: A! My mileage this training cycle peaked at 56 miles/week, whereas my Chicago training peeked around 44 miles/week. Adding those additional miles (all EASY and slow) I think really helped me to learn to run on tired legs.

    More rose and champagne, please!

So what else? Well, life is pretty darn exciting these days. This weekend I’m heading to NYC for my bachelorette party with all of my favorite people. Next weekend I’m going to a Oiselle women’s running camp in New Hampshire. I’m less than two months away from finishing up my MBA and in 101 days I get to marry my best friend in my favorite place in the world. So–running is going to be around, with lots of other stuff, and I just can’t wait.

 

Why I hired a running coach (and you should too)

I’m probably not your typical candidate for needing a coach. I brought my half marathon time from 2:13 in 2012 down to 1:36 in 2016 all by myself. I cut 29 minutes off between my first and second marathons sans assistance. I really enjoy reading about training strategies, researching training plans, and listening to running podcasts. I’m fairly type-A and I thrive off of being busy–accountability is not a problem for me. That all said, after coming frustratingly close to a BQ in Chicago, I knew a few things had to change. I could pinpoint specific components of training that could have gone better, but I had an inkling that an outside perspective would be the thing that pushed it over the edge for me.

I honestly didn’t do a ton of research into different coaches. Coach Laura had been on my radar for a long time because of her fantastic blog. I really liked that she and I are similar runners–a lot of coaches are super speedsters and probably can’t even remember a time when they were gunning for a 3:30 marathon. I also knew, as a blog reader, that she was thoughtful, methodical, and eager to learn new things–all important aspects of coaching.

I actually entered a giveaway for a free month of coaching from Laura and when I didn’t win, she reached out anyway and offered a free two week trial of her services. From then on, I was 100% in. After starting with an in-depth evaluation of my background and goals, Laura and I got on the phone to hash out a plan of how to get me to my BQ. In case you’re curious, here’s what came with my one-on-one coaching package:

  1. Detailed daily workouts with specific goal paces based on both time and effort delivered daily to your inbox and via the Final Surge app (see a sample to the right)
  2. Built-in plans for fueling, nutrition, recovery, and dynamic warm-ups
  3. Individualized feedback on every workout (sent on a weekly basis)
  4. Bi-weekly 30 minute phone calls
  5. Unlimited online communication via Slack
  6. Specific strength training routines utilizing whatever equipment you have available (I ended up buying a set of resistance bands but otherwise everything was at-home and equipment-free)
  7. Incredible flexibility in terms of switching long-run days, tailoring the plan due to travel or work commitments, or change-ups due to weather

I’m planning to put together a full post on the specific training tweaks that I think made the difference for me, but for now I’ll just say that I had the race of my life and blew my goals out of the water, thanks in no small part to Laura’s guidance and support.

Also! Just so it’s out in the open, coaching isn’t cheap. I saw this as a major investment in my running goals–for me, it was worth it to pay for coaching instead of a gym or yoga studio membership. Coach Laura is more affordable than many other coaches out there, luckily, but this isn’t a financial decision to be taken lightly. Think and do your background research before you sign on the dotted line. Full disclosure: if you end up signing up for Coach Laura’s services and tell her I referred you, you get my undying love + you earn me a discount on future services I get from her as well. It’s a win-win 😀

Please feel free to comment below or reach out directly if you have ANY questions about coaching! This was a big decision for me and I’m more than happy to do what I can to help.

Linking up with Amanda for Thinking out Loud Thursday!

Sugarloaf Marathon Race Recap (BQ!!!)

Hello hello and greetings from could 9, where I’m riding the incredible high of yesterday’s race! There’s a monster post ahead but TL;DR–I ran by far my strongest and smartest marathon and finished in 3:28:30, smashing my A goal, PR-ing by 7.5 minutes, and qualifying me for the 2018 Boston Marathon with a 6.5 minute cushion.

Let’s take it back to the beginning… when we hit the road Saturday morning for the drive up to Maine. Armed with lots of bottles of water, we scooted up to Portland and got yummy sandwiches at Sister’s Gourmet Deli (amazing homemade bread, both gluten free and gluten-full!) J and I drove my running buddy Denise and her friend Alisa, and my parents and brother caravaned along with us. We then drove another hour to pay a quick visit to our cabin, where J and I are getting married in September! It’s getting a long-overdue renovation and it was so fun to see it coming together. The last leg of the trip took us on backroads up to Sugarloaf, where we picked up our bibs at the “expo”–marathon for the girls, 15k for J. The bib pickup was smooth and easy, which makes sense given that the race is TEENY–just 1600 runners total. The rest of the night we took super easy. We had a little condo for me, J, my big bro Ari, and my parents–complete with a decent kitchenette that we used to cook up some chicken, roasted sweet potatoes, and a simple salad. Extra salt on everything for me, and some pasta for the gluten eaters. I kept this pre-race meal carb-y and simple, which I think was a big part of why my stomach behaved so well during the race.

After a just ok night of sleep, we were up and at ’em at 5 am for a quick gf bagel (with pb, banana, and salt) and coffee before grabbing the shuttle bus to the race start. We were running a couple of minutes late but we made it onto the last shuttle, which was great until the shuttle BROKE DOWN and had to turn back to the hotel. We still had an hour to spare before the race, but there wasn’t another shuttle in sight (cue freak out)–and then in a glorious moment I ran into a friend from track who offered us a ride to the start! Everyone else did make it on another shuttle, but big ups to Steve for the extra few minutes of cushion. The second amazing coincidence was that I walked directly into Denise and her friends Amy and Sarah who were already halfway up the porto potty line!! We did our business and then shed our layers (it was in the high 30s–BRRRR) before dropping our check bags and lining up at the start. One jarring shotgun shot later, and we were off! 

The first few miles were gorgeous and slightly downhill, but we stuck diligently to the plan and kept them at an easy 8:00-8:10 pace. It was absolutely beautiful along this stretch–still lakes, mountains, and sweeping forests. Once the feeling crept back into our fingers and toes, we hit the first series of rollers, keeping the pace around 7:55-8:00 through mile 8. We knew the hills would be over by the end of mile 10, so we ran based on effort and actively kept the pace under control, even on the rolling downhills.  Mile 9 was a doozy with 178 feet of elevation gain, but all of that training on the Newton hills paid off and we hit the top feeling steady and strong at an 8:26 pace for that mile (by far our slowest of the day, as it should have been!)

Alisa had been driving along the course and we had seen her a few times, but I knew my folks were going to be at mile 11 and it was so amazing to see them after the first steep stretch of downhill. We held it back but let the pace dip to a 7:42 during mile 12 (158 feet of elevation loss), and then settled in around 7:50 until mile 20. Thanks to Coach Laura, I had split the race (in my head) into a 20 mile long run and then a 10k progression run, so we kept joking about the fact that we were just warming up and that the race start was still ahead 🙂 The focus during this section was definitely on fueling every 45 minutes and drinking at every water stop (I ran with my handheld until mile 20, where I ditched it, but I drank whenever we passed a stop and refilled 3 times).

At mile 20 the pain had started to creep in, but my legs had some juice left in them so we amped the pace up to the 7:40s and started to pick people off. It had gotten hot at this point, and I was pouring water over my head at every water stop. I kept repeating my mantras in my head (STRONG. FAST. CONFIDENT.) and Denise and I checked in with each other every few minutes. My knees felt a little bit creaky and I was nauseous, but I managed to hold it together and maintain a sub 7:50 pace through a gradual but deadly uphill climb from miles 23-24. At this point I knew we were safely in BQ territory, but I didn’t let myself get too excited about a sub 3:30 until we rounded the corner into chute. A big perk of such a tiny race was that we finished by ourselves–talk about feeling like a rock star! We decided to grab hands and hold our arms up, and it felt like we flew across the finish at a 7:25 pace.

It was over, finally, and I gave everyone the sweatiest hugs and shed a few incredulous tears when I saw that we had not only BQ-ed (sub 3:35), but that we had broken 3:30 (my A goal) and that I had PR-ed by 7.5 minutes off of my Chicago Marathon time. And oh yeah, we ran a super solid negative split, crossing the first half at 1:45 on the nose and nailing the second half in 1:43:30. Ari finally hit his goal of breaking 3 hours (yup, he’s a beast) and J ran his longest race ever and finished the 15k at a killer 8 minute pace! After the race we showered, snacked, and hit the road towards some decadent burgers and well-deserved beers/ciders in Portland.

I have so much more to say about this race experience, but I have to give the biggest thanks to Jeremy for being incredibly supportive and tolerant, to Coach Laura for her belief in me and her deep well of wisdom and support, and to Denise for being a wonderful friend and for carrying me through the last few miles with grace and strength. I am finally a BOSTON QUALIFIER!!!!!

Linking up with The Weekly Wrap (hosted by Hoho Runs and Miss Sippipiddlin), with Eat Pray Run DC for her training linkup, and with the Jess’s (Jess Runs ATL and The Right Fits).