Back to Training!

winter on crutches in Vermont

Yup, today was officially the first day of a whole new marathon training cycle! one week after the Boston Marathon, and just four weeks before the Vermont City Marathon! Lucky for me, that means it’s not too far till taper time too ;-) Did someone say carbo-load?

I didn’t originally plan to run two back-to-back marathons, and honestly it makes me sound like way more of a rockstar than I really am! I’ve been planning on running Vermont since deferring after ACL surgery last spring, and I snuck Boston in there just because I couldn’t possibly say no to a bib number. In a way, I think some of my lack of emotion about Boston is because Vermont has solidly been my “comeback race”. It means so much to me to have come full circle and achieve my goal! Last year at this time, after several months in the pool, I was only learning how to run on solid ground again. I was gifted Vermont City Marathon gear for Christmas 2013, and have worn my “In Training” shirt since registering in November 2013. Needless to say, there has definitely been some mental and a whole lotta physical build up!

knee surgery on the couch

Me on the couch, rockin’ optimistic t-shirts.

But of course… I did run a marathon a week ago. Goal achieved? Well oddly enough, I’m tearing up just writing THIS post. So I now firmly believe that Vermont is the destination for me. Bring the tissues! (or if you truly know me, just stand clear of the snot rockets).

winter on crutches in Vermont

I’m actually on crutches in this photo, rockin’ the Vermont City Marathon 2014 winter jacket!

I’m pretty excited for Vermont over Memorial Day weekend! I think a 3,000-person race is MUCH more my style than a 30,000-person race, and my family and close friends will all be among the incredible fans who are rumored to boost this race to the nines! I’d be remiss if I didn’t also mention my hopes for [keyword] sunshine and cool breezes as we celebrate at the post-race festival! It couldn’t rain again, could it??

Tell me your thoughts about bigger-vs-smaller races! Do you thrive among thousands of other runners and the huge expo-style festivities? Or are you happier to park your own car at the start/finish and experience a small-town feel? I’ve now run 26.2 with 800 people and 30,000 people, and I have a hunch Vermont’s 3,000 will be juuuuuust right.

Boston Marathon 2015

That was that – my first Boston Marathon!!!

It was a long day, a wet day, a loud day, an exciting day, and a day I will certainly never forget!!

bus to the boston marathon

On the bus with all the Cape Codders, namely Nicole from In Motion Training!

I’ll jump right to some honesty here though: I didn’t experience much of that “OMG this is BOSTON” feeling. As we pulled into Hopkinton and later found our corrals, I couldn’t believe I was there. I was with some great new friends and enjoyed the excitement! But for most of those 26.2 miles and even crossing the finish line, I didn’t experience any strong emotions. Was that because I knew the streets so well? Was it because it was pouring rain? Were the crowds as crazy as usual (Wellesley was oddly quiet)? Or was I just plain hurting?

I’m going to take the blame on this because I feel like I meditated through the entire race. I was in a solid zone, sticking to the middle of the road rather than the crowded sidelines. I felt like I was looking inward more than out. It’s not that I didn’t “take in the moment” along the way, but I was certainly zoning (see side stitch below).

boston marathon running

While it did rain and it was windy in the final 6 miles, the weather didn’t bother me one bit! I would take that kind of cool temperature for a marathon any day! (though it would have been fun to celebrate outside more on Boylston Street!) I’m so grateful to my husband and many friends for standing out there on the sidelines! Today/Tuesday is mid-70s and so humid in Boston – no thank you!

A year ago I was just stepping back outside for my first runs post ACL surgery, so I’m ecstatic to report that my knee is the one part of my legs not dying after all those downhills, yeeesh! “They” weren’t kidding about the quad burn!

running the boston marathon

All in all, this wasn’t my strongest race and I wish I felt a little more proud of how I ran. I started dealing with an intense side stitch around Mile 5 that lasted at least until Mile 15, and it prevented me from breathing deep, full breaths. Perhaps this is what put me in a zone, because I had to focus so much on calming my energy. BUT, just like my first and only other marathon in 2013, I’m happy to say that I never stopped running!

  • Miles 1-3: SO slow with the crowds! Just no way around it, literally.
  • Miles 3-12: These miles were ticking by so fast! How could I be almost half-way done with THE Boston Marathon?
  • Miles 13-17: Okay, maybe this isn’t going by THAT fast after all…
  • Miles 18-21: Excitement of seeing Gary with our friends at the base of Heartbreak Hill!
  • Miles 22-26.2: Toying with sprinting and dragging my feet at the same time. I simultaneously felt great AND knew too much about the distance still to come. I ultimately decided to chill out and enjoy this part – the loudest crowds and excitement in the air!

Official time: 4:27:15

I really do wish it was nice enough to hang around at the finish! It was raining too hard to even take my phone out for a selfie ;-) But of course we found a pub soon after!

boston marathon medal

I was wide awake at 5am this morning, and psyched to see that my favorite yoga studio was welcoming all runners to a free class today with their Boston Marathon medal! Also, since I’m here to type this now, it means I’m not still stuck on the floor in Savasana!

boston marathon yogaA HUGE congratulations to all of my peers who rocked the streets of Boston yesterday! We are all part of a greater whole in this “town”, and I’m so very happy I could be part of another chapter within it! More and more, this is hitting me today, after the race…

Thank you!

and thank you for the photos, Bekah and Kyle!

My Bib for Boston

wearing for the boston marathon

The time is here! I’m ready to hit the streets of Boston on Monday!

As much as it increases the nerves to know you’re all out there watching, here’s how to track me – My bib is 28581!:

  • Mobile AppDownload HERE (or by searching “Boston Marathon” in the app store)
  • Text – Simply text any athlete’s bib number to 234567 using your U.S. mobile phone. You will then receive an SMS text response with instructions on how to submit a runner’s bib number. You will receive up to six texts per bib number. Message & data rates may apply. Text STOP to cancel.

Both will give you alerts/times at the following points on the course: 10K, Half-Marathon (13.1 miles), 30K, 35K, 40K, Finish. Please note, my start time is 11:15am, so don’t expect to see me too soon after Shalane! I’m aiming to finish around 3:15 to 3:30pm.

And for those of you on the course cheering, here’s what I’ll be wearing!!

wearing for the boston marathon

If you can’t make it into town on Monday (namely, because you’re home watching my dogs – thanks Mom & Dad!) the race will be broadcast live on television nationally on the Universal Sports network and locally onWBZ-TV. The full Boston Marathon will also be streaming live online at http://watchlive.baa.org/.

Reminders: Patriots Day is also a holiday in Boston, which means FREE parking all day on Monday!

Also check out earlier posts on My Goals for Boston and the Logistics of Getting There!

Logistics of a Day in Boston

falmouth track club

I thought I’d share a little more about how my Marathon Monday is setting up. The logistics that you might not otherwise care about, but are pretty cool considering this wonderful running community on Cape Cod!

On the Cape we have two main running clubs, the Cape Cod Athletic Club and the Falmouth Track Club. They’re both wonderful, I belong to both. We even have events like bowling nights and softball games where we challenge each other in other fun ways! The way I see it from the outside, CCAC tends to cover the mid-Cape out to the lower-Cape, and FTC is a more obvious group of Falmouth and Mashpee-area runners on the upper-Cape. I live directly in the middle, but I now work for FTC’s own Cape Cod Marathon, Half & Relay (and more officially for the Falmouth Road Race next door).

falmouth track club

When it comes to the Boston Marathon, there’s a bus every Cape Cod runner is welcome to jump on on race morning (if you reserved a spot in time) and catch a ride all the way to the start line in Hopkinton! The bus is organized by Hanlon’s Shoes on Main Street in Hyannis, and the cost is $30. You can even sit, warm and comfortable on the bus – using the bathroom on the bus! – until your start time.

Not just that though! CCAC and FTC have reserved a large, joint suite on the finish line at The Lenox Hotel where members can get a hot shower, change of clothes, rehydrate, and meet up with loved ones! Ahhhhmazing!

I’m so excited to see friends along the course, all the way from running pals before Mile 10, to Oiselle’s “cowbell corner” at Mile 13, to my husband and close friends on Heartbreak Hill, to photographer buds between Miles 22 and 24, and hopefully the husband again at the finish line! But a huge thanks to EVERYONE who is out there making noise, because I know I’m going to appreciate you all!

Next post will include my bib number and outfit to look for! (including the shirt above)

Setting Goals for Boston

training for the boston marathon

Still doesn’t seem real! I am running the Boston Marathon this coming Monday!

training for the boston marathon

I hesitated on telling you at first, or how to tell you… because I have SO much respect for those who strive beyond their dreams and qualify for this race, or who commit to raising crazy amounts for a meaningful and deserving charity! I don’t feel “worthy”, but at the same time, it’s an opportunity that’s simply impossible to say no to! I still plan to try and qualify on my very own merit someday very soon – maybe this fall? Though I swear I’ll never train through winter again…

Anyway, I don’t think I’m alone when I look back on this winter and lower my expectations for how I’ll do in this race. I don’t know why, exactly, because I’ve gotten almost all the running in (except for vacation) – but more of it was treadmill and slow, slick shuffling than I’d have hoped. I recently wrote about getting my paces back after a few months of heart-rate training in November-January too, and that’s continued to feel really great over the last month!

What I’m most trying to avoid with Marathon #2, though, is a repeat of my GOLF game… See, once upon a time I got some clubs and joined my dad at the driving range and for a Father’s Day round of golf. I absolutely loved it, and I was pretty damn good at it too! As the next couple of years went on, however, I put too much thought into it and got worse and worse (granted, I wasn’t actually taking lessons or even golfing frequently). My mind took over, and took the fun out of it all.

I have so far run ONE marathon and it was a freakin’ BLAST! I chatted with runners, high-fived the kids, thanked all the volunteers, and never stopped running. Final time: 4:08. And in all seriousness, I could give a flying -um- seagull what my time is in Boston. I just don’t care. Part of me doesn’t want to run slower than the time of my first marathon, and part of me wants to aim for sub-4 hours. Part of me knows my city is going to push me harder than any other race I could do, and I think I might be okay with puking. Most of me is just excited to see 26.2 miles stretch out across so many of my friends, colleagues, run-buddies, paths I’ve walked with my dogs, roads I’ve driven to pick up my college roommate, pubs I’ve waited in line for, and Boylston Street where I commuted to work. What’s the hurry, right?

So I choose no goals for this one. I want to have another blast and celebrate Boston!

Will I see you at Boston this year? I can’t even believe I’ll be part of it, and that they even chose PURPLE – my favorite running color! Stay tuned for a couple more posts before Marathon Monday!

 

Hoka is my One One

I’ve been wearing Mizuno sneakers for road and trail for the last couple of years, but I’m happy to report I’ve made the switch this training season. I’ve moved my entire sneaker arsenal over to Hoka One One!

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If you pay attention to the trail and ultra running world, you’ll hear the word Hoka QUITE a lot, but it’s still relatively new to us here on Cape Cod flatland. Thankfully, our amazing Tuesday night run club at Marathon Sports Mashpee always has the best sponsors, and we got to run in some Hoka gear and meet our rep Justin about six months back! The Hoka shoes are a little different, so it meant the word to me to be able to run a few miles in them before making my first purchase.

And purchase I did! I snagged a pair of the amazing Cliftons over the fall and have definitely been noticing how gentle they are after knee surgery. I took it slow on building miles in them because of the vertical drop difference from my usuals. Hokas are minimalist in drop, and maximalist in cushion, so don’t get all hyped up about which team to choose – choose them both! When 2015 hit, I was officially ready to jump in for all of my training! My knee is definitely happy and my long runs are feeling amazing!

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and I wore shorts today!!

Road: I’m grabbing another pair of Cliftons this week, which are the best for running fast and light! They’re also a great first-Hoka for those transitioning from other shoes. I have been loving the Bondi 4 that recently came out too – the perfect pair for logging long training miles for the two marathons I’m running this spring!

Trail: With Justin’s help, I found the Challenger ATR sold at REI (and I had a $45 dividend still to use, saweet!) – which will soon be sold anywhere. I broke these in not-so-gently via jungle and beach runs on Little Corn Island, Nicaragua, and can’t wait to use them in this coming weekend’s Cape Cod Trail Race Half-Marathon! They’re so dirty. I love them. (stay tuned for a full summer and fall on trails)

Hoka One One is repping at both Marathon Sports stores this May, so stay tuned to my Facebook page and theirs for more info! (Cinco de Mayo 5/5 in Mashpee, and a pub run in Yarmouth 5/21)

The un-disclaimer: I’ve hugged my Hoka rep hard, and may have received some free swag through my love of the brand, but I’m not compensated at all to say pretty words I don’t mean.

A Body Made for Running

I’m so excited to introduce you to Beth today, a Cape Cod Runner in Dennis, MA! Beth and I have known each other since the beginning of Twitter, pretty much. Back when there were about 60 people on Cape Cod using it, and we all quickly knew each other in a fun and quirky way. And yes, for the true power of social media, we also soon met in person and have been friends ever since! Back then, I was more of a casual runner, hitting up maybe a few road races in a good year, and Beth not so much. But what follows is a tremendously inspirational story as Beth found running and running found her – 110 pounds ago!

bank street beach

SO many people think they can’t run BECAUSE they’re overweight, or they think their “body isn’t made for running”. But here Beth shows you that the best place to start is where you are – even with just 20 seconds at a time!

When and why did you start running?
I started running shortly after I got serious about weight loss, which was in June 2012. I was hesitant to start running when I was so overweight (I’ve lost 110 pounds, and am at my goal weight 2 1/2 years later), but I had looked around a lot to see what worked for other people, and the people who got the results I was looking for had all started running, in addition to changing their eating habits. So I joined Weight Watchers in June and started running in July.

I’d also always secretly wanted to be a runner. Some of my most vivid fantasies as a kid involved a future in which I was some fabulous independent adult, living in Boston or New York and running daily. For some reason it was always tied to my image of what a healthy, fit, interesting person did.

So I started very conservatively, with a run-walk program I found on RunKeeper. I think I was doing about 20 seconds jogging with 2 minutes walking for that whole first week. But I slowly built up my fitness. I didn’t start running continuously for something like six months — it was a VERY big deal when I ran my first 20 minutes without a walking break. I felt like a CHAMPION.

And I’ve taken it slow the whole way. That first year I really was just learning how to run. Then I spent a whole year doing 5Ks, getting comfortable with that distance. Then a whole summer just doing 10Ks and 7-milers. And this year I started targeting my first half marathons. It’s been the right cadence for me, especially as somebody who only started running in my 40s, and who started running at about 260 pounds. So much of running is mental, and I’ve tried hard to be mentally and physically prepared for every distance I’ve tackled.

How is your current training going? 
I had been training for the Hyannis Half Marathon as my first half, but it got cancelled in the end. I actually wasn’t all that bummed out — I’d finished the training and felt totally ready. But they made the right call in canceling the race — this winter has been ridiculous enough to train in as a solo runner. I can’t imagine making the logistics of a big race work with the snowbanks and freezing temperatures we’ve been dealing with.

So I still want to make this The Year of The Half Marathon, but right now I’m just focusing on getting through these last few weeks of winter, honestly. Once I stopped training for Hyannis last month, I kind of lost my mojo. I’ve been managing to get in about three quick runs a week, which is really all I’m aiming for right now. Just trying to keep a steady base going, so I don’t lose too much of the fitness I worked so hard to achieve through the winter months. Once spring finally hits, I’ll be training to run a better time in the Provincetown 10K in May — which was my first 10K ever when I ran it last year, and a great race in general. Really small field, gorgeous course, super friendly and happy crowds.

Then I’ll probably target the Harwich Cranberry Harvest Half in October. I’ll tell ya, the idea of running on a crisp, clear day in the fall is sounding really appealing right now.

harwichport-provincetown-5k

Provincetown 10K, above left, and Harwich 5K, above right! Love seeing that Cape Cod Runner shirt, Beth!

What’s your favorite Cape Cod running route?
I’m a huge, huge, huge fan of the Cape Cod Rail Trail. I actually think that’s why I’m struggling so much to run more right now — I really miss my bike path! It’s basically just not an option during the snowy winter months, because it doesn’t get plowed or maintained and there are just fallen trees (I mean BIG ONES) all over the place until the seashore can get out there and clear it in the spring. But for ten glorious months out of the year, it is the GREATEST. Every day I can run past cranberry bogs and rivers, under the shelter of trees and in the company of birds, and it’s so quiet and peaceful and really just divine. I love not having to worry about cars or intersections every few hundred feet, and while it’s mainly flat the overpasses where it crosses the highway give me a chance to run hills whenever that’s what I need to do. I also love that the mileage along the trail is clearly marked, so I can pick it up anywhere along the line from Dennis to Wellfleet and I’ll be able to do an out-and-back of the distance I’m aiming for. That said, my usual route is a section of the Rail Trail from Dennis (near my house) to Harwich and into Brewster, and I think it’s one of the most spectacular stretches of the whole trail. It’s just so beautiful — we’re so lucky to have it.

cape cod rail trail running
A much less snowy Rail Trail!

Do you have a local race that you never miss?
The Harwichport 5K has really become a touchstone race for me. It’s close to my house, and I have friends who live along the route and have businesses on Main Street who come out and cheer me on. I work in Cambridge, and I’ve managed to get a few friends down to the Cape each year to run Harwichport with me, which is so fun. It’s kind of become my hometown race, where I get to show off my neighborhood and the local scene to my friends from the city. We make a weekend of it, go out to Bonatt’s for breakfast, walk down to Bank Street Beach, get ice cream at Sundae School, the whole deal.

I really like races that are close to home and along routes that hold strong memories for me. I’m originally from West Dennis, so when I ran the MM5K there a couple of years ago I was literally running down the streets I used to roam around on my bike as a kid. I actually felt like those houses were high-fiving me as I ran by; all of those great old Victorian houses where I used to babysit the kids or sell Girl Scout cookies to the parents or make up ghost stories about when they sat all empty and lonesome all winter long.

What is a favorite running moment that you’re especially proud of?
Crossing the finish line of the Falmouth Road Race last August. That was my first really big, professional race, one with actual elites heading up the field and runners traveling to it from all over as a bucket list sort of race. It’s amazing that we have a prestigious race like that right here on the Cape, and the course is so unbelievably beautiful, too. But the real reason it was such a proud moment was because it was such a hard race for me. I’d trained for the hills, but I was totally unprepared for how hilly and challenging that course really was. And of course it’s hot, and the crowds, if you’re not used to them, can actually take up a lot of your energy. I guess I’m still learning how to get energy from the crowds rather than give it to them. So while I didn’t perform quite as well as I had hoped, I still ended up with a time that I was fairly happy with. And as soon as I crossed the finish line I knew I’d done a really hard thing, and I’d done it well. I was elated.

And now, of course, I have a time to beat for next year.

falmouth road race finish
Done! The Falmouth Road Race

Join Beth around the web and get ready for some serious smiles and inspiration!

Beth Dunn
Beth Dunn on Twitter

Just Run Faster

boston yoga mala

After a few months of heart-rate training earlier this winter, it seems like I’ve been just waiting and waiting for my speed to come back to me. I’ve incorporated casual speed work once or twice a week even – intervals, progressions, hills – often just to escape the treadmill doldrums this winter. But I’ve been lazing about at a close to 10 minute pace, when my average in the past was closer to 9:15.

This morning I was completing the week’s entries in my running journal and reflecting on how the week went. My first run of last week was on Monday, alongside a very speedy friend and head coach at In Motion Training here in Mashpee, MA. As I hoofed it to keep up with Nicole for 5 miles at an 8:30 pace, she was talking about the women she coaches and the extreme joy – both theirs and hers – of seeing them reach exciting new goals. I don’t even know what it was exactly, but she said something related to “just push harder and find what you’re capable of.” We still had a few miles left and I just let that click in with me. I pushed harder.

barnstable harbor

The next day I had 8 on the schedule, and it was a beautiful sunshiney end to a dreary day! Knowing this was a bit longer distance, I held at about a 9:15 pace for the first five, and then chilled out with my Tuesday night run club friends for the final three.

Wednesday was a rest day (which means yoga!), and Thursday I rocked it out for a 5-mile progression run around Barnstable Village! I didn’t really plan on it, but almost exactly went from 9:30 – 9:15 – 9 – 8:45 – 8:30 in my pacing. It felt amazing to just be charging forward – and more sunshine! I was really truly seeing myself take charge of the situation and JUST. RUN. FASTER. That’s what all these months of training are for, right? To learn what motivates you, to challenge yourself further, to grow as a runner for the next big challenge! This isn’t just any old race, this is the Boston Marathon!!

Friday was where I laid it all out on the table. Whoa. I joined Nicole and our colleague Matt for a 20-mile run of the Cape Cod Marathon course in Falmouth. I insisted on parking my car at our end point too, because I was sure I’d never keep up with them for 20 miles. As we got closer to Friday, I went through stages of panic and dropping out to then thinking “heck, I’ll hold it for 10 miles at least”. I knew they were aiming for a pace around 9:15, and as far as I was concerned, I’d only been doing that for a week – THIS week! And not for 20 whole miles! Maybe something was already paying off, though, because I stayed with them and felt comfortable… for 5 miles, then 10 miles, then 15! I started dropping back in the infamous Sippewissett Hills area around mile 17 or 18, but I could still see their butts in front of me. They turned around and finished at 20 miles with me. I couldn’t believe I had really just hung on for three hours with them!! My average pace was 9:21! Unheard of for a long training run, and trust me, I know my next 20-miler needs to be a very slow and easy one. But DAMN this felt good!

cape cod running

Also, what is with Cape Codders and their FIREBALL? We counted 42 bottles over 15 miles of this run – just on one side of the road!

I skipped a 17 mile long run while on vacation in February, and ended up skipping a long run last week when I switched my schedule around to join Nicole and Matt. I was starting to get pretty worried about my training, and both dreaded and was excited to get to the 20 mile mark. This weekend was pretty huge for me mentally! What followed was the Boston Yoga Mala event on Satuday – that’s 108 sun salutations over two and a half hours, non stop! – and a 5K run and marathon fundraiser for our friend Daunielle in Boston on Sunday. Feet up and R&R (with popcorn) on Sunday night!

boston yoga mala

Do you have a hurdle in your life or in your running that just needs a little push? I bumped into this great article last week: “Stalling Out – 5 Tips to Get Out of Your Own Way,” on sisterhoodofthetravelingmats.com.

Join the New England Yogathon

I will be joining Yoga Reaches Out and over 1,000 yogis for the 5th annual New England Yogathon, this April 26th at Gillette Stadium!

yoga-reaches-out

The event takes place just one week after the Boston Marathon, and I can think of nothing better as I rest and rejuvenate! It would be wonderful most of all if you wanted to join in this special day! But if you cannot, and still wish to support me, please click over to my Participant Page!

I am inspired to help our beneficiaries, Boston Children’s Hospital Pediatric Brain Cancer Research and Ben Speaks Louder Than Words. It is our goal to raise a total of $500,000 and make a HUGE difference in the lives of children in need.

I’m also excited to be part of the Festival Yogis: Maine & Cape Cod team, which includes the incredible women behind Cape Cod’s annual Love Yoga Fest! And you could join too!

To learn more about Yoga Reaches Out and this year’s beneficiaries please visit: yogareachesout.org.

The Great Thaw of 2015

cape cod thaw

This thaw is happening and it’s happening FAST!

Before the thawing ramped up, Old Man Winter was sure to give us one more foot of snow on top last week. Then the temperatures climbed to 35 and 40, and the melting was on! I think most of us had been wondering if MAY road races were going to be cancelled at this point, but thankfully it’s looking like everything will be at least brown and dandy!

cape cod thaw

I must admit that I’m going through my own, horribly-timed thaw of sorts. We spent a week on the gorgeous, raw, and peaceful island of Little Corn Island in the Nicaraguan Caribbean this February for our 10-year wedding anniversary. The island is one square mile in size, but we did manage to squeeze in a couple of great trail-and-beach runs! I suffered a bit of heat-stroke one day after just 6.5 miles, and the recovery from that left me knocked out. Combine that with the meditating sound of ocean waves and 30-second walk to a yoga studio, and I could feel myself melting away too.

Little Corn Island is the kind of place that makes you contemplate life and how you’re living it. What really matters? What will you look back on with a true smile and full heart?

yoga in nicaragua

So yeah, I’m zenned out and zoned out. I have two marathons to run in the next two months, and all I want to do is practice yoga, read about it, research retreats, continue to spark a meditation habit… all things unrelated to 20 mile training runs of cardiovascular endurance.

Okay, slightly related. I’m cross training, right?