A week in New England…………

What a week! I’m slowly getting back to normal after an action-packed vacation during which I visited three (!) new states.

We started our trip in Boston, getting in late on Saturday night and heading straight to bed. Our main goal on Sunday was heading to the expo so that my husband could pick up his bib. Holy hell – that place was insane! I was exhausted just walking around for 1.5 hours taking it all in. We then headed down Boylston to check out the finish line before heading to Boston Common and figuring out where the bus pickup spot was located.

Finish line on Sunday.

Finish line on Sunday.

There was a small memorial near the finish line for the victims of the bombing in 2013. Although I’ve seen footage on  television, it was still a little shocking to realize how close it was to the finish line. So terrifying.

The rest of Sunday was spent relaxing with some friends from SLC who had recently moved to Boston. J got his stuff together and I vaguely remember him leaving a little after 5.30 AM. Of course I went straight back to sleep although I hope I wished him good luck in the race. I managed to get my own 6 mile run in before we headed over to spectate at mile 24. After spending the previous day being surrounded by a ton of runners (most wearing this years purple and orange jacket) I was psyched to get out and get some miles on Marathon Monday.

We walked over to Brookline and knew the elite females should be coming in 20ish minutes. One of my friends has run Boston for the last couple of years (managing to BQ at Boston) and commented about how the crowds were way down.  By this time it was chilly but with pretty light rain. The crowd that was watching still managed to make a ton of noise once the wheelchair racers came through. Then we saw the lead cars come through.

The lead women at mile 24.

The lead women at mile 24.

The three leading African runners were blocked by the timing car so for a second we thought that Desi was in the lead.

The three leading African runners were blocked by the timing car so for a second we thought that Desi was in the lead.

Then the men!

Then the men!

Leading man!

Leading man!

Meb. Perfect form.

Meb. Perfect form.

These guys look so good running! The first three women were bunched together and Desi was a little way back but looking super strong (she ran a 9 sec positive split!), with Shalane a couple of minutes back in no-mans land. The men were spaced out a little more. And then Meb came through and got the biggest cheer – and even managed to fist pump as he ran past. What a guy.

Then the rain came down. We were using text updates to keep track of J and could tell he would coming through in a little over an hour. By this time every runner looked pretty miserable. I was pretty miserable – soaking wet and cold – just watching them. It was still pretty amazing to think that all of those runners were gunning for well under 3 hours! J came by in great spirits and we all got high-fives! Next came the hard part. Getting from mile 24 to the finish! The T was crazy busy and I think it took us an hour to get to the family meeting zone. Luckily J had his space blanket and a nearby building was letting runners hang out in the (heated) lobby.

By the time we got downtown it was like the zombie apocalypse. Runners in grey capes shivering from the cold. Originally, I thought that seeing the marathon in person would get me so excited to one day come back and run the race. But in these conditions I was so glad that I was not running. And while I can appreciate the excitement that comes from making it to the starting line, for now I would be happy to run the qualifying time and never make it to Hopkington. I guess maybe the big city marathons just aren’t my thing?

J was surprisingly mobile post marathon (he finished in 3.27) and we made it back to our friends’ apartment pretty easily. Then the search was on for good food and good beer within walking distance (the rain was still crazy at this point), and a night of non-stop chatter before our vacation could begin in earnest.

Mon: 6 miles at 8.48 min/mile pace in Boston

Tues: Rest

Wed: Rest

Thurs: 6.2 miles at 8.44 min/mile pace in Cape Cod

Fri: 2.95 miles at 10.05 min/mile pace in Portsmouth, NH

Sat: 13.1 miles at 8.36 min/mile pace in Portland, ME

Sun: Rest

Boston bound

Just a quick post before I head to the airport and head to Boston for vacation. I hope I’ll see some of you guys out on the course! I am beyond excited to (1) spectate at arguably the world’s most favorite marathon and (2) spending one week traveling around New England. This Irish chick sure misses seeing the Atlantic. Follow me on Instagram to see what beer I’m drinking everyday.

And bonus: today I got a chance to run my first (and probably only) 20 miler of this marathon training schedule. And it went swimmingly (or should that be runningly?). I wasn’t sure I’d be able to pull off the full 20 and was ready to bail went it hurt -> my tight calves are giving me random achy-breaky heart feet. But if all felt pretty good (well as good as running 20 miles can feel). Average pace 9.13 min/miles with the last 5 miles at goal pace (9.03/8.48/9.05/8.52/8.44). You know your long run went well when your first mile (9.39) is your slowest and the last mile is your fastest. Beginning to think that this marathon may not be a complete disaster!

Mon: 4.2 trail miles at 10.06 pace + 559 ft elevation gain. My legs felt so sore from Saturday’s 18 miler. But it was in the 70s and I couldn’t resist.

Tues: Strength workout

Wed: 7 miles in the snow. Yes – we got our biggest snow storm of the whole season. I manage three “tempo” miles (8.29/8.15/8.16). A little disappointed with my times but my legs felt tired, it was freaking snowing and I just wasn’t feeling it. Giving myself a pass on this one.

Thurs: Yoga and bike commute.

Fri: 2.85 miles with my husband -> his last run before Boston. Bike commute.

Sat: 20 miles at 9.13 min/mile pace. Fast finish.

Sun: Boston!

See you in a week!

Calling all New Englanders!

First of all let me ask for your help. This arrived at our house last week:

This is not mine!!!!

This is not mine!!!!

It is not mine! I have not secretly qualified for Boston and not shared it with the world – you guys would definitely be the first to know. But my husband qualified last May (with a 3.03 – husband-brag!) and we decided to splurge and make the trek over to MA. As you can guess flights from SLC -> Boston are not cheap so we are making a vacation of it. One whole week out east. Are plans for Sunday and Monday are pretty much wrapped up in picking up his bib and getting to the finish line. But after that? And because of the crazy winter weather that I’ve been hearing about for the last couple of months it seems as if we haven’t picked the ideal time to visit……

Anyway we are thinking of driving down to Cape Cod and checking out some of the towns there (maybe all the way to Provincetown and some whale watching?) and then heading up north to Maine (for important craft beer research in Portland). So if you live near Boston could you share any travel tips? Portland is a definite but other than that we are pretty flexible. Most important: seafood, microbreweries and ocean views. And just how bad is the snow right now? Is it starting to melt at all? Do I need to find my down coat (it is 80F today in SLC so my winter clothes are out of rotation)?

I also wanted to talk a little about my injury. Today marks 5 weeks since my last physiotherapist appointment at which I was told I should start to be running symptom free any day now (4-6 weeks recovery). My recovery has probably been slowed a little by my decision to run the Canyonlands half marathon a couple of weeks ago (not PT-recommended) but I am pretty happy with that judgement call. The truth is that my running is symptom free right now. I can still feel tightness in my calf on most runs (which is better than (1) sharp pain or (2) dull ache) so I am still waiting for that hallelujah pain-free run. But what has improved drastically is my recovery.

At the start of my rehab I was doing 3-4 miles of run-walking. My calf was sore during the run, after the run and the next day. Running two days in a row was totally out of the question. Now, it is tight during the run, and this tightness usually lasts for 2-3 hours afterward, but I am feeling fine by the afternoon and completely recovered by the following day. So while I can’t claim to be 100% recovered right now I can definitely see the light at the end of the tunnel. I also am free of random calf pains during the day (going up stairs or pushing off on my bike) and I am feeling NORMAL again. Woohoo! It only took about 2 months.

My positives right now are:

1. I can run without needing walk breaks.

2. My endurance is still pretty good (I managed 15 miles this past weekend – more on that later in the week)

3. My mood is 100% improved. Runners’ high all of the time.

4. I am now ready to introduce another day of running (4 days per week).

Nuun and egg/avocado sandwiches - long runs are back!

Nuun and egg/avocado sandwiches – long runs are back!

The only negatives:

1. No speed work at all. All runs are at an easy pace. I’m not too worried – I believe that speed will return with mileage.

2. No trail running. Calves + Hills = pain! Hopefully in the next month I’ll be able to remedy this.

 

But right now I’ll take what I can get!

Day 79 – One year ago……….

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My Mom is the best. I casually mention how my chocolate selection is running low and next thing you know this arrives in the mail.

This also reminded me of this day one year ago. Like most of you I was shocked about the events at the finish line of the Boston marathon. I had been following an RSS feed of the race at work when the news came through of the explosions. What made it worse was I knew that my Mom might be there.

I’ve mentioned her a couple of times on the blog – about how she is my running inspiration. She has run for basically all of my life and I have many memories of being dragged along to races, to expos and “volunteering” at races that she was helping to organize. She has run a sub-3 hour marathon, represented Ireland as a masters runner and has a 38.00 flat 10 k PR.

She is also still involved in the running community in Ireland and often has the chance to travel to expos to promote the Dublin Marathon. This past weekend she was in Rotterdam. Last year she was in Boston.

I immediately called my Dad who was at home in Ireland and I was surprised at how my voice just crumbled when I heard him speak. He hadn’t been able to get through to her but one of her friends had let him know that she had left Boston earlier that morning to get a train down to NYC. People in her group who had been watching the finish had luckily left just about 10 minutes before the first bomb went off. Everyone I knew was OK.

But unfortunately 3 people died that day and almost 260 people were injured. I could easily picture myself as one of those kids watching my parent cross the line. Or imagine my Mom finish an iconic race. I still get choked up thinking about that day.

But the major take home message for me from that day wasn’t about evil or hate or terrorism but the strength of the human spirit. How people’s first reaction was to help those in need. To be selfless and supportive. The best human attributes were out in force that day. And in the days and weeks that followed.

I believe that for the most part people are good, kind and loving. This is especially true in any running community. Runner’s know how hard you need to work to get to the starting line of any marathon – and particularly Boston. It is a symbol of the pinnacle of an amateur runner’s racing career. If you BQ you have made it. To have some cowardly person attempt to destroy this emblem of human sacrifice, camaraderie and perseverance is just so wrong.

During this half marathon training cycle I have never felt burn-out. The events of one year ago have made me appreciate every run I GET to do. I like to think that every run is a little bit for Boston. And a little bit for my Mom.