2015 Boston Marathon Recap

Here it is! Here is the post that the past 4 months of blogging have been leading up to! Not to mention it took me over a month to actually write it. Better late than never!

April 20th, 2015 was, without a doubt, one of the best days of my life. Not going to lie, the marathon hurt like hell, but the pride and outpouring of emotions that came with pushing through to the finish were unlike anything I have every experienced.

So here it is!

boston 2015

Pre Race

My alarm went off bright and early on Marathon Day (~5AM) so that I would have enough time to check, double check, and triple check that I had all of my gear before needing to leave. I also knew that Olive would be home alone for a very long time that day so I wanted to take her out for a good walk around the neighborhood. Good morning sunshine!

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As soon as I turned off my alarm, I checked the forecast on my phone hoping that somehow the weather gods had been playing an April Fools joke over the past few days and that it was magically going to be sunny and 50. Nope…no such luck. We were not going to get out of the cold soaking rain this time around…

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It was time to rally. Around 5:45am I had breakfast #1.Since I wasn’t going to be running until 11AM, it was very tricky to figure out how to fuel properly in the morning. I was very used to eating ~2 hours before my other long runs, but I would not have the luxury of my kitchen to cook oatmeal like usual. Because I would be awake for so long before running, I ended up deciding to eat two full breakfasts- one at 5:45 AM then again at 9AM. I cooked my regular oatmeal for the first breakfast, and I packed overnight oats with me for the bus ride to Hopkinton. Heck, I was about to run a marathon. Carb me up!

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After breakfast #1, I packed my 2 race gear bags. I needed one bag to leave with the gear check on Boston Common because I didn’t want to bring my phone with me to the race. My second bag contained the items that I would need for the bus ride and waiting area at the Athlete’s Village.

bag

This second bag included a few cheap ponchos, my arm sleeves (since I didn’t want to wear them until the race started), my GPS watch, and my second breakfast. Couldn’t help myself…

second breakfast

Once I was all packed and Olive had her walk, I called an Uber to take me into the city. The plan was to pick up my coworker Shelley on the way so that we could get to the Common and find our TNT group together. I told Shelley I would get her at 7:45 so I called the Uber around 7:15 anticipating the usual Monday rush hour traffic. Apparently there is no rush hour on Marathon Monday since it is also a holiday- Patriot’s Day. Instead of the anticipated half hour trip, I was at her door about in about 9 minutes. Whoops.

On the way to Shelley’s, my uber became surrounded by dozens of big yellow school buses. One of these babies was going to be our ride to Hopkinton!

busses

Because I was obnoxiously early, I hung out in the lobby of her apartment building for a bit before letting her know I was there. Around 7:45 Shelley came down and we hopped in another uber to get to the common. It did not take us long to find the rest of our TNT gang near our prearranged meetup area at the Boylston Street T stop. Before walking over to the bus area, we took a quick group photo in our sexy throwaway clothes. I’m in the middle of the back row. Go team!

common team

We walked over to the bus area as a group, checked any bags that we needed to, and managed to all get on one bus together. Like I mentioned before, I checked my cell phone in my gear bag so my personal cellphone photos end here.

Oh yes, and I have to do a quick shout out to the BAA real quick- the commons area was so well organized! It took no time at all to check bags and get on a bus, and there was never any confusion or overwhelming crowds. Thanks BAA!

The bus ride out to Hopkinton was overall uneventful, but it was also LONG. We had been warned about the ridiculously long trip so I was mentally prepared, but man- they weren’t kidding! The bus took a somewhat long route out to Hopkinton to avoid road closures. It ended up taking about 45 minutes to get out there on the highway! If I didn’t expect the ride to be long, I would have started panicking a little bit at this point. During the ride, Shelley and I ate our breakfasts and just chatted and joked until we arrived in Hopkinton.

Athlete’s Village

The Athlete’s Village is the pre-start area for runners to congregate before their wave is called. It is located in the fields behind Hopkinton High School. The photo below is from boston.com in 2011, but gives you the idea of how it is set up..

hopkintonaerial

The buses got us to Athlete’s Village around 9:15/9:30. We had roughly an hour and a half to hang out, use the bathroom as many times as possible, and stay warm/dry before “go-time”. Per advice from our coaches, we immediately headed to a port-a-potty line since that whole process can take up quite a chunk of time. It ended up taking about a half hour to get through the line once. While we waited, the waves and corals before ours were called to head to the starting area. The Boston Marathon has several different start times depending on your qualifying time. As a charity runner, I started with the latest group at 11AM.

After doing our business, we met up with the rest of our team, including our coaches, and did our best not to freak out together. Who were we kidding- we were about to run the Boston Marathon! Luckily, the weather managed to stay dry while we waited, though we all kept our ponchos on just in case. We even had (silly) optimistic thoughts that maybe the rain would hold off all day!

At ~10:20 our wave was called to head to the starting line. As we left the Athlete’s Village, we had to show our bibs to prove that we were with the right group. The second that we showed our bibs, rain started pouring from the sky. A full blown soaking rain. It was a cruel cruel joke on Mother Natures part. Yep, this was going to be a wet one.

I walked to the start with some of my closer TNT running buddies, with hopes that we would be able to run the race together. The anticipation was growing like crazy as we walked the mile-ish long road to the start. Along the way, we started to shed some of the warmer clothing layers and ponchos. We also noticed the heavy security forces (aka snipers) lining the rooftops of the houses around us. That was my first and only visible reminder of all of the security that went into making the race safe this year. It’s crazy to think about how much planning went into the behind the scenes security. As we got closer to the start, we were all giddy with excitement. I followed my teammates as far as I could, but unfortunately I was assigned to a different coral than them since I got my bib through my work and not Team in Training. Even though I tried to push through, the bib checkers were super strict, and there was no way I was getting into that coral. I yelled a quick goodbye to my friends and headed back to my correct coral just minutes before the gun went off for our wave to start. I managed to find a few of my coworkers in the same coral, so it was comforting to have some familiar faces with me for such an exciting and anxious time. The rain was coming down hard, but there was no stopping us now. 11:00AM hit, and we were off!!

Miles 1-3 “The Honeymoon Phase”

The first three miles were very slow. Pace-wise that is. There were so many runners everywhere! This is another moment that I wish I had a camera because it was such a crazy sight. There were THOUSANDS of runners wearing bright neon colors in every direction. My plan was to  purposefully go slow during these miles because I had been advised that the steep downhill and adrenaline can trick you into overexerting too early. Even if I wanted to run a faster pace for these miles, I don’t think I could have with the crowds. I was also very mentally distracted during these miles because I had to go to the bathroom BAD. Even though I went at Athlete’s Village, once was not enough to flush out all of the water that I drank over the previous 12 hours. At every opportunity I looked for a place to stop and pee. I was not alone in this. For the first 2 miles, there were dudes standing on the side of the road relieving themselves EVERYWHERE. It was equally gross and hilarious. I was actually pretty jealous since I had to go so bad. At around mile 2, I spotted a port-a-potty, but the line was outrageous. I stood in the line for about a minute and when I realized that this line would probably add a good 15 minutes onto my time, I decided to keep going. By mile 3,Right when I thought I couldn’t hold it any longer, I saw another set of port-a-potties. There was still a line here, but it was much shorter. That whole pit stop probably took me 3-4 minutes, which felt like a lifetime when there were thousands of runners passing by. The stop was worth it though. I felt a million times better!

When I got to the 5k mark, I had to accept the fact that this would not be a fast-for-me race. I think I passed the 5k mark at around 35 minutes, which actually isn’t too bad considering my pee stop, but still. No world records would be happening today. Shucks.

Other than my need to use the restroom and slower than desirable pace, miles 1-3 were quite enjoyable. I was feeling strong, the road was downhill, the rain was actually refreshing, and the course was scenic. The crowds through Hopkinton were also awesome. I high-fived about 100 kids who lined the sides of the road. We were rockstars! And holy crap- I WAS RUNNING THE BOSTON MARATHON!

Miles 3.5 – 12 “Hell. Just Hell.”

The strech from miles 3.5 – 12 was by far the hardest part of the whole course for me. The “honeymoon phase” of miles 1-3 came to an end shortly after passing the 5k mark. Around mile 3.5, I began to notice a deep dull ache at the top of my IT band/piriformis area. This same issue actually bothered me at the end of the 20 miler training run 3 weeks prior, but I didn’t pay too much attention to it since it was a pain that I had never felt before. I did get a deep tissue massage after the 20 miler, and the injury didn’t bother me in any other runs after that.

It didn’t take long for this nagging pain to consume my thoughts. How was I going to run  ~23 more miles on this? It wasn’t excruciating at this point, but mentally I was just scared of how the pain would increase over time. Around mile 4 was the first time I had doubts that I would be finishing the marathon that day. In just a half mile the feeling had progressed from a slight ache to a pretty strong, almost throbbing, ache. If this type of pain happened in any other run, I would have stopped right then and there. But, I continued on…with a whole lot of self doubt.

I tried to keep my mind on anything but my pain for the next few miles. Luckily the crowds through Ashland and Framingham were out in full force with cowbells, posters, and balloons. It was also pouring rain for a lot of this time so that was another factor I could keep my mind on. I had my first Gu at mile 4.5 and soldiered on.

Passing the 10k was the first major milestone of the race for me. I knew at that point, my family and friends would be receiving text alerts about my status. It was strangely comforting to know that a dozen or so phones were going off around the world at that very moment (a few of my friends were following me abroad) . Even though I wasn’t running with anyone physically, I suddenly felt like I had a  team pushing me along. This distance was also a big achievement mentally. There were only 20 miles left! I’ve run 20 miles before. No sweat right? Every step forward was a step closer to Boston.

Miles 6-10 were a bit of a blur. The pain got worse, but the farther I went the more motivation I had to keep going. I had my second Gu at mile 9, and I remember seeing some purple TNT singlets up ahead.. Mile 10 was another mental milestone for me. Even though my right IT band issue was just as bad (if not worse) than it had been earlier, it was a huge mental feat to know that I had managed to continue on to 10 miles when i thought I would quit at 4. Around mile 10 is also where I entered my Saturday long run training territory. From January – April, our TNT team trained through Natick, Wellesley, and Newton. I knew this stretch of the course like the back of my hand.

At mile 11, I started to hear a distant high pitched roar. Even though geographically I knew that there was still about a mile to go, I knew that this sound could only be one thing- the Wellesley scream tunnel.

Miles 12-17 “Halfway Home”

The Wellesley stretch of the course was totally unreal. You always hear the stories about how the scream tunnel can be heard from a mile away, and it’s wild to now know that the stories are true! Even though my IT band still ached during every step I took, it was hard not to smile for this entire stretch of the race. Hundreds of Wellesley girls lined the course holding every “Kiss Me I’m ________” sign that you can imagine. “Kiss Me I’m Single” “Kiss Me I’m Bored” “Kiss Me I’m Gay” “Kiss Me I’m Wet” (gross but funny with the weather). The high pitched roar was deafening. I was running near some firemen, and they took full adventure of kissing some of these ladies. I ran down the line of girls high fiving them, and then towards then end of the tunnel I just said “F it” and kissed a random girl. Why not?!

Another major mental milestone happened shortly after the scream tunnel… the half marathon mark! If I needed to quit at this point- at least I had run a half marathon! But I didn’t quit, I kept on going.

mile 10 ish

A mile or so beyond the half marathon was the Team in Training cheer station at the Wellesley Community Center. This was where we met every week for our long runs, and it was great to see some familiar faces cheering at the volunteer tent.  I took another Gu at mile 13.5 and a few pretzels at the community center since I knew what was coming next- the Newton Hills.

Miles 17-22- “A Team Effort”

At mile 17 I was hurting bad. Every step I took sent a searing pain up my right IT band/piriformis. I had to stop to stretch every few minutes or so, and that would only help for a few minutes. I was not happy. Shortly after turning the corner at the firehouse onto Comm Ave, I saw my friend Liz standing at the side of the road. It was great to finally see a friend on the sidelines. I gave her a hug and said something along the lines of “this hurts like a bitch” and kept going. She has run the marathon before so she gave me some words of encouragement as I went into the hills.

Around the top of the first of three hills in Newton, I ran into my TNT teammate Becky. She was also in pain so we stuck together for a mile or so through the first hills. It was a funny coincidence to run into her at this moment because we also ran this section of the course together during the 20 miler.  Somewhere between miles 17 and 18 we saw the November Project cheer area. I yelled out a “fuck yeah!” to them, and their cheers in response pushed me on for another short stretch. Gu #4 was taken at 17.5. Somewhere around that point Becky and I separated.

becky and casey

Around mile 19, towards the top of the second Newton Hill, I saw Keith, another Team in Training buddy of mine, stretching on the side of the road with our coach Andrew. I was so happy to see Keith this far along in the course because he had been dealing with an injury for a few weeks before the race. Knowing that he could push through his pain this long was further inspiration for me to dig deep and keep going. After a quick pep-talk from Andrew, we were off. For the next few miles, Keith and I were a team. If he needed to walk, I walked. If I needed to walk, he walked. Since we were both in the same situation where we needed to think beyond the physical pain to keep going, we kept each other distracted with conversation. We chatted down the second hill and through Newton to Heartbreak Hill.

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Heartbreak Hill seemed like it would never come, but once it did, it seemed like it would never end. On it’s own, Heartbreak was not that bad of a hill. It wasn’t all that steep and the crowds were great. The hard part was that it was long and it was at an excruciating part of the race. At one point, we even had to ask a police officer if we were still on it. Keith and I were hurting bad, but we wouldn’t let each other quit. We knew that after heartbreak it was all down hill to the finish line. Yes, it was another 6 miles, but mentally it would be huge to get past it.

At the top of Heartbreak I was excited to see another good friend of mine, Dave, with a bunch of his friends. Dave goes to BC, and it was an awesome surprise to see him there. Shortly after seeing Dave and his friends, we crested Heartbreak and began the downhill journey into Boston. The BC crowds were in full force for this section of the course. It was hilarious to see how drunk the kids were. They had probably been day drinking for 5+ hours at that point. Just another hour or so and I would have a beer in hand too!

Keith and I pushed on into Brookline and Brighton. I was now in my “home turf”, surrounded by streets, stores, and bars that I knew well. Though we still had a while to go, I was starting to become giddy with excitement. I couldn’t believe that I had made it so far after wanting to quit at mile 4. This was going to happen!

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Miles 22-25- “Runners High”

Around mile 22ish was when Keith and I finally split up. I cannot thank him enough for helping to push me through some of the toughest miles of the course. Our run-walk method and nonstop conversation got us through the worst of it. Around this point, the “walk” part of our “run-walk” method actually began to hurt more than running. Every step hurt whether I was running (aka jogging/shuffling at this point) or walking, so I just needed to keep going at the fastest pace I could. I felt bad splitting off from him, but I knew that at this point we would both make it to the finish. We had come too far!

Shortly after I went ahead of Keith, I looked over to the right and saw something I wasn’t expecting- my face! At first I thought I was going crazy, but then I realized three of my best friends- Olga, Angela, and Stacey- were wearing tshirts with my face on them! I was SO excited to see these girls. I ran over and gave each of them a big hug. I had the goofiest smile on my face, which is pretty accurately captured in this photo. Man I look CRAZY!

crazy

After saying goodbye, I was off. There was no stopping now. Only 3 miles to go until home.

Around mile 23, I saw 3 of my coworkers cheering in the rain- Alex, Jon, and Eryn. I waved to them and yelled something along the lines of “this is the worst f***ing thing ever”. All three of them burst out laughing. I can only imagine how ridiculous I looked, tired out of my mind and yelling obscenities as I ran by. I could hear their continued laughter as I continued on. There was no way I was stopping now.

At this point, I was the definition of a runner’s high. I actually don’t remember my IT band/glute hurting anymore during miles 23-25. All I remember is smiling ear to ear and waving my arms around like a mad woman. Everything around me was a familiar landmark at this point. I was almost there. I saw more friends through Coolidge Corner and as I approached Fenway. The crowds were starting to build now, and I could finally see the Prudential building through the thick rain clouds.

fist pump

Mile 25-26.2 “Right on Hereford, Left on Boylston”

The mile 25 marker came up right before Kenmore Square. The crowds here were crazy and there were familiar faces everywhere! My friend Michelle was cheering,to the left, my friends Megan and Katie were to the right. Immediately after waving to them, I looked down and saw the best thing I had seen all day- the “One Mile to Go” line across the road. This photo captures how I felt at this point pretty accurately. Epic. Thanks for capturing this Megan!

one mile to go

The final mile of the marathon was a blur of excitement. Because I held back so much through the Newton Hills due to my injury, I had enough energy in the tank to really bring it home. My whole body hurt, but I was too excited to finish to hold back. I passed almost every runner around me with a huge goofy grin on my face.

citgo sign

Immediately before the dip under Mass Ave, I saw a crowd of people holding a huge cut out sign of my running buddy Keith’s head! I yelled out to them assuring them that he was only a few minutes behind me.Their cheers and thanks put an even bigger smile on my face. Then I saw Olga, Angela, Stacey, and a bunch more of my friends standing right in that area too. This spot is where I usually watch the marathon with my friends every year so it was great to see them there from the other side of the fence!

The little dip under the bridge HURT! Though it was short, the downhill portion was steep and my legs felt like jell-o. I now have a much greater appreciation for all of the runners that I have seen “hit the wall” at that spot over the years. It doesn’t matter how close you are to the finish, if you’re legs don’t want to go anymore, they just won’t!

Shortly after the bridge and right before the right on Hereford I saw my friends Tim and Albert. Albert yelled something along the lines of “GET IT! YOU ARE SO CLOSE! PUSH IT” and that was just what I needed to pick up the pace into the best part of the whole course.

albert pic

As soon as I took the right on Hereford and could see the left onto Boylston, the tears started. The crowds here were going absolutely insane, and I could not believe that I had actually made this far.

turn on hereford

Turning left onto Boylston took my breath away. I have never been so emotionally overwhelmed in my life. There was the finish line! I was only 0.2 miles away from completing something that I had once thought to be impossible. All of the crowds around me were a blur, but somehow I looked over into the crowd and saw my parents! Of the hundreds and hundreds of people cheering on this stretch of the course, I still cannot believe I saw them before they saw me! I ran over to hug them, and the waterworks really started. I was crying and laughing, they were crying and laughing, basically we looked completely insane. They said how proud they were of me and I kept those thoughts in my head as I pushed on to the finish.

finish

I did it. 5:08:44.

Finish Line

Though this time was about 45 minutes slower than what I had secretly hoped to do, I am still so proud that I pushed through the pain that started so early in the race. I’ll do another post soon about what’s next and what my future goals are, so I’ll just leave it at that for now.

The walk down Boyslton after the finish line was one of the most painful experiences I can remember. As soon as I stopped running, the cold temperatures and driving rain caught up with me. I could not stop shaking and all of my fingers and toes were numb…not to mention my right IT band/piriformis pain. I tried to take a good picture with my medal and the finish line behind me, but I really had no control over my ability to properly pose for the camera. Derp.

finish after

Shortly after this picture, they handed me a reflective space blanket which really helped. I’ve received these at several races in the past, but the Boston Marathon ones were by far the fanciest I have ever seen. They were logo’d and even had hoods! As I continued down the road, I was handed a pre-peeled banana, which was so awesome considering my fingers were totally numb at this point. I was so cold that I was actually starting to get worried about hypothermia. I made the game time decision to go directly to the Park Plaza (where Team in Training had a suite reserved for us for hot showers) instead of continuing on to the common to get my checked bag (containing my wallet and phone). Even though wallets and phones are pretty important, I knew I would be in trouble if I stayed out in the rain.

The inside of the Park Plaza was PACKED with people. It took me a little while of aimlessly roaming to figure out where the Team in Training suite was. Once I found the suite though, it was worth it. They had our bags ready and waiting for us, and a bunch of my teammates were already there. It sounded like a lot of people had struggled through the weather and finished slower than expected, but we were all super pumped to be done.  I put my name on the waiting list for the showers, but after waiting for about 10 minutes, I decided to just change into some dry clothes and go find my family. I was so stiff that it took me a good 10 minutes to change my clothes, but oh man, dry sweatpants felt so so good.

When I took the elevator down to the lobby, I was greeted by about a dozen of my friends and my parents! I was only really expecting to see my parents at this point, so I felt totally overwhelmed by all of the love. Someone handed me a Boston Lager, which was easily one of the most delicious beers of my life. (Though I was definitely feeling the effects of the alcohol even after a few sips!) Here’s me with Stacey and Marisa!

plaza lobby

My parents, Olga, and Bill all got me flower as well. Check out this botanical garden!

flowers

My friend Adrian who also ran the marathon was there too. He’s super fast and his start time was an hour before mine, so he had already been home, showered, and changed by the time he met up with everyone for my finish. He also struggled through the cold rain, so i was glad to hear that I was not alone. Running is a weird thing. Even though it is a very individual sport, everyone is going through the same struggles at the same time to a certain degree. Adrian was also disappointed in his time, but he still did phenomenally well. So proud of my little buddy. He was also a life saver. When I mentioned that my phone and wallet were still checked at the common, he ran out the door to go get them for me. Such an awesome friend 🙂

After we all had a beer or two, we decided to get out of the city and meet up at one of my favorite burger spots in Cambridge called Christophers. I fantasized about a hot juicy burger for the last 10 or so miles of the race, so that was the first spot that popped into my mind.

My parents had parked pretty far away from where we were at the Park Plaza, so my mom headed outside to get us a taxi. When the rest of us joined her, we were slightly confused to see that she had pulled over a big van. When we got on, we soon realized that this wasn’t just any old van… this van was a party bus! As soon as the driver started driving, the strobe lights and disco ball turned on, and he blasted “Party in the USA”, “Timber”, and other awesome party songs. We all danced the whole way to my parents car, having the time of our lives. I still laugh when I think back to it. I took a whole lot of snapchats during the crazy ride, but unfortunately forgot to save them. Hopefully one of my friends still has pics!

Once we got to the car, it took us about an hour to get to Christopher’s with the traffic. Woof! Everyone made it there though, and it felt good to finally get some warm food. Even though I originally wanted a burger, the seafood ravioli just sounded so good. We also started with nachos and finished with ice cream. Well deserved comfort food!

So that’s it! I ran my first marathon!

The question almost everyone asks now is, “Would you do it again?”. Though it hurt like hell and my body definitely needs some time to heal, fuck yeah I would do it again. I learned so much about myself throughout the process, and I know that if I train for another one I will just learn that much more.

When? Where? That I don’t know. Only time will tell!

Pre Marathon Weekend

If you know me (or even if you don’t but you’ve read a few posts from this little blog), you probably know that I love the Boston Marathon. For me, Marathon Monday is better than Christmas. The whole city of Boston just pulsates with excitement, pride, and supportive energy for all of the runners preparing to tackle 26.2 miles. I am always giddy with excitement for days leading up to the race, and I always look forward to the expo, the street banners, the parties, and the flood of people from all over the world that travel in to watch people achieve their goals.

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This year was especially exciting since I was on the “other side” of the hype. Instead of just being an enthusiastic spectator, I was actually running! I was also incredibly lucky because I was able to participate in all sorts of cool private BAA events through my sweet work connections. Hokay. Let’s break it down day by day.

Thursday

Thursday is when the excitement really started. As I mentioned in my other post about tapering, my calf was bothering me a few days  leading up to the race. I left work a few hours early to visit my physical therapist one last time with hopes that he would fix me up. To work out the tightness, My doctor performed Graston “muscle scraping” on my calf , and OMG it worked wonders. What is Graston you ask? It is basically a really intense version of a massage/foam roll…done with a knife-like object…sounds pleasant right? The muscle tissue is broken down by “scraping” over the knots with this butter-knife looking tool. Painful? Uhhh yes, but it wasn’t too bad. My doctor was going very easy on me so that he would work out the knots without aggravating my muscles too much. Usually graston will leave the patient feeling bruised and sore for days, but with only 4 days until the marathon, he tried his hardest to avoid that.

After physical therapy, I headed into the city for the launch party for the Brooks Lobster Shoe at City Sports! It has become a growing trend for shoe companies to create city-themed shoes for big races. New Balance has done this for several years in Boston, and this is the first year that I noticed other companies jumping on the trend. As soon as I saw the Brooks Lobster shoe, I knew that I needed them. What a ridiculous yet fun shoe to remember my first marathon!

brooks

The City Sports event was a really fun way to kick off the weekend. The party started off with a 3 mile “fun run” around Boston. We started at the City Sports on Boylston Street and followed a group leader for a scenic tour along the Common, down the Charles River, and back up Comm Ave. My friends Albert and Stacey also came to this event, and it was fun to do my last run before the marathon with friends.

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Though the run was overall very pretty and fun, it left me feeling pretty nervous for race day. I pushed the pace harder than I intended (Albert and Stacey are speedy…or at least speedier than my marathon training pace), and my calf was feeling pretty strained by the end. My PT recommended that I do a short and easy run a few hours after Graston to get the blood flowing, but I think I worked it a little too hard. If a three mile run left me in pain, how was I supposed to do 26.2 just 3 days later??

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I tried to keep my mind off my calf by enjoying the post run party instead. The event was catered with free lobster rolls, chilled shrimp, garden salad, cole slaw, and other fixings from Kelleys (a local spot in Boston known for their roast beef).

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There was also a DJ  on site that gave away a free pair of lobster shoes every 10 minutes or so! People began trickling away as soon as the food was out, so the longer we waited the better our chances were to win some free kicks. Unfortunately, I didn’t win any free shoes, so after the event I headed down to Marathon Sports to pick up a pair with my Team in Training discount. Pretty snazzy eh?? Also check out my fancy nails- painted to match this year’s marathon jacket colors!

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Walking down to City Sports also let me have the chance to check out the starting line for the first time. So cool how the Lenox Hotel was lit up with the 2013 Boston Strong colors!

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Friday

Before work on Friday, I headed to Boston Sports Club for one final workout before the marathon. I hit up the elliptical for 45 minutes to work out some nervous energy and stretch out my calf.

I then had a relatively short day at work before heading over to the Marathon Expo. Every year the brewery has a booth at the expo, and I signed up to put in a few volunteer hours on Friday so that I could get in on the festivities early. It was a ton of fun to see all of the runners walking around with their numbers, and I got the chance to explore some of the booths before the mad weekend rush.

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Immediately after the expo, I met up with my friend Adrian and we headed over to the Harvard Club on Comm Ave for the annual TEAM Charity party. This was a private event for several of the charity groups fundraising and running in the marathon (MR8, Gronk-nation, and many more). I actually won tickets to this event through a raffle at work. The event described it as a night of food, drinks, music, and celebrities, and it did not disappoint!

As soon as we arrived we were blown away by how beautiful the Harvard Club was. It really was exactly how you would imagine the Harvard Club to look- dark wood details, high ceilings, fancy chandeliers, colonial era artwork, the whole sha-bang. We starting mingling with a few other runners and got a round of beers before dinner.

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Within 10 minutes of getting our drinks, we spotted Sean Astin (from Rudy, the Lord of the Rings, the Goonies, etc) and found out that he was running the marathon for team MR8. Not long after, we also spotted Meb Keflezighi (winner of the 2014 Boston Maraton), and Rob Gronkowski (New England Patriots).

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Oh and I forgot to mention that it was a country-music themed event. Note all the plaid and cowboy hats. An odd theme for a Boston Marathon charity event, but very fun nontheless!

Saturday

Saturday was a big day of celebrations. I was originally going to wake up early and watch some of my friends run in the BAA 5k on Saturday morning, but I decided to sleep in as much as I could (which only ended up being until about 8am). Since I knew it would be a packed day, I also took Olive to the dog park and packed my post marathon gear bag.

Quick note about the gear bag: one of the totally awesome things about Team in Training is that they let you check a bag with them a few days before the marathon so that you don’t have to worry about it race morning. Then after you finish the marathon, they have a hotel room booked near the finish line with your bag so that you can shower and change without having to worry about the race gearcheck. Such a cool and thoughtful perk or their runners!

Midmorning, I headed back downtown to get my bib at the expo! I didn’t get it the night before because I didn’t want to risk losing it at the charity party. I met back up with Adrian again so that we could get our bibs together.

I was pretty darn  excited to get my bib if you couldn’t tell in the picture below…

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Me and Adrian with our bibs! I’m not sure why I’m standing in such an awkward slouchy way…

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Woo!

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After getting my bib, I headed over to the Fairmont Copley Plaza for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society celebration lunch. During this lunch, we were able to celebrate all of the hard work that we put in over the past 5 months through training and fundraising.  Besides indulging in some delicious carbs, there was also a special Mission Moment from our Team’s top fundraiser (he raised $34,000!!) and several motivational speeches from our coaches. The best part was the slideshow of pictures that were taken over the course of the training cycle, along with the pictures of runners with the people that they were fundraising for.

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There were lots of laughs and tears, and I will always remember this wonderful group of people. I will do a whole separate post on my experience with Team in Training as well.

After the lunch, it was time for the next celebration! The brewery was hosting a special “Marathon Runners Friends and Family Tour” since there were 15+ runners participating from the company. My “friends and family” entourage ended up being one of the biggest by far! My parents, brother, his girlfriend, and about 10 of my friends all showed up!

Here’s the whole crew!

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I am so incredibly grateful for the huge support net that I had while preparing for this race. As Tina from Carrots N Cake wrote, it truly takes a village (for me) to run a marathon, and I couldn’t be luckier to have this group of people behind me.

After the tour, I headed home to unwind before heading over to my friend Marisa’s for a lowkey girls night. This was much needed after a week of go-go-go preparing for the big day.

Sunday

I originally intended for Sunday to be a very relaxing day, but it ended up being jam packed with race prep activities.

The day started with another exclusive event that I scored tickets to through work- the annual pre-marathon Champions Breakfast. The breakfast was actually held in the exact same room of the Fairmont Copley as the LLS luncheon the day before. During this breakfast, Boston Marathon legends are recognized and a select group of them do a Q&A up on stage with Tom Grilk, the executive director of the BAA.

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After the Q&A, all of the Boston Marathon Champions that were in the room came up for a group picturesSome of them were even sitting at my table! Talk about being surrounded by greatness!

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After the breakfast, Olga (my bff and +1 to the breakfast) and I walked over to the marathon finish line to take some pictures. The finish line area was MUCH more crowded than it had been 2 days prior!

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At this point it was all starting to feel very real. Just 24 hours later, I would be back at this same spot!

After the starting line visit, Olga and I headed back into the expo for another quick lap. The weather forecast was looking worse and worse for Monday, so I wanted to check out if any of the booths had some comfortable looking running raingear. Though almost every supplier had something, I decided against buying anything at the expo both because of sticker shock (~$100 for a rain jacket) and because I didn’t want to wear something brand new for the race that I may end up disgarding along the way.

The rest of the day I spent stressing out about what to wear. The weather was calling for 40s and “soaking rain”. I also knew that whatever I ended up wearing for layers would need to be very comfortable since I would have little opportunity to shed layers throughout the race. I wanted to wear my purple LLS singlet as the outermost layer and removing a jacket underneath the singlet would just be difficult. Would a jacket be too hot? Would a longsleeved shirt chafe? Would just the singlet be too cold?

After asking about a billion people their opinions, I decided that arm sleeves plus the singlet would be perfect. The sleeves would keep me warm, while I could easily peel them off if they were too warm or uncomfortable. If I ended up throwing them away during the run, I would only be wasting ~$20 instead of the $90-$120 that a jacket could potentially cost. After driving around to and calling about 10 stores (city sports porter square, city sports harvard square, ems harvard square, modells at fresh pond, olympia sports at fresh pond, and sports authority in Medford), I almost gave up. It seemed like there weren’t any arm sleeves left in the whole city! Before giving up, I gave one last ditch effort and called Marathon Sports in Harvard. THEY HAD THE SLEEVES! They only had about 3 pairs left and in limited colors/sizes, so I rushed over. Less than 10 minutes later, I was at the store with arm sleeves in hard. They were pretty funky looking (black and pink stripes) and were a litttttle too small, but they only had sizes small and large left. The large were way too big, so the small would have to do. Dang sized medium!

After the arm sleeves adventure, I was getting tired and knew that I still had a lot to do that night before the hitting the hay. I stopped by Michaels to get iron-on letters for my singlet and then Capones, a specialty Italian food shop, for ravioli.

As soon as I got home I got to work on my singlet. Yay for arts and crafts! I added my name to the front and Boston Strong to the back:

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Then Olive helped me lay out all my gear for the next morning. My number one super fan 🙂

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After that, I made my prerace meal of Capones garlic ravioli plus meat sauce, drank about 2 Nalgenes full of water, and then popped in one of my all time favorite running movies, the Spirit of the Marathon.

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If you haven’t seen this movie and you’re a runner..definitely check it out! I have watched it the night before almost all of my long races, and it never fails to get me pumped up. It is a documentary that follows several runners of varying levels (from 1st timer to kenyan champion) throughout their training cycle for the Chicago Marathon. A sequel was also released last year about the Rome Marathon, and rumor has it that there is a third installment about the Boston Marathon in the works!

About halfway through the movie and right as I was starting to get drowsy, my friend Angela texted me asking if I was home/awake. She was going to be at my house in 10 minutes with a surprise. She greeted me at my door with a HUGE gift basket full of post marathon treats! Everything from homemade cookies and candy to fluffy socks and relaxation candles. She even included some fancy “grilled cheese” dog treats for Olive. Look at how amazing she is!!!

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Since it was going to be pouring rain the next day, she also showed me my poster ahead of time in case it got ruined before I could see it.

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Seriously, I have some of the greatest friends in the whole wide world. There is no way I could have prepped for this race without them.

So how was I doing emotionally pre-race?

Honestly, I was incredibly unstable the days leading up to the race. I was either out of my mind with excitement or out of my mind with nerves. A few posts ago, I talked a little bit about “taper madness”, but that didn’t even skim the surface of how “mad” i felt the several days leading up to the race. I didn’t sleep well most of the week, I was emotionally unpredictable , and I had trouble taking care of myself in basic ways. My mind was consumed with the marathon so other “adult obligations” (like work, grocery shopping, bill paying, etc) were very hard to balance. My resting heart rate was out of control (upwards of 90 bpm) and that would leave me completely exhausted at the end of each day. 90% of the emotional energy I had was pure excitement, but the other 10% was anxiety and self-doubt. When I was out with my family and friends at the events, I hid away the anxiety and tried to only show the excitement. Saturday night (2 days before the marathon), the 10% anxiety finally caught up with me, and I had a mini break down when i got home after the day’s festivities. All of that nervous energy I was tucking away came pouring out as I walked Olive around the neighborhood. I cried, I felt nauseous, and I just wanted it all to be over. Though that panic attack felt horrible at the time, I’m glad it happened when it did. I was able to get the emotions that I was suppressing out of my system and went into Marathon Monday feeling excited and ready.

Worst Blogger Ever

Oh hey! Wow, so I have definitely failed at this whole blogging thing over the past few weeks, ESPECIALLY considering that the reason I started this little blog was to document my journey to completing my first marathon. Plain and simple- the past few weeks have been crazy. Between the marathon, work, and prepping for a vacation, I was physically and mentally all over the place. I experienced some of my highest highs and lowest lows emotionally.

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But I did it. And I’m back, latte in hand, and ready to blog the s*** out of what happened over the past few weeks.

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I’m going to split everything up into a few posts for my attention span’s sake. My goal is to be all caught up by the end of the week! Here’s the gameplan;

  • Pre-Marathon Weekend
  • Boston Marathon Recap
  • Post Race Celebrations
  • Recovery Update
  • Vacation in Austin!
  • What’s Next?

Okay let’s do this.

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Taper Madness

Guys. 6 days. 6 freakin days. I don’t know how my body is going to physically handle the level of excitement/anxiety that I am currently feeling for another 6 whole days.

So let’s back up. The taper is continuing to go well, however it is totally messing with me mind. Everything about this is true:

I’m going to break this graphic down for how each of these symptoms are affecting me.

Severe Germophobia: okay i wouldn’t call it “severe”, but I have definitely been thinking twice about how long I wash my hands and I get uneasy when someone near me could potentially be sick. For example, a girl sitting near me at work today ate a cough drop during a meeting. I made a note to steer clear of that girl just in case she was secretly sick and hiding it…

Phantom Aches & Pains: yes. so so much.This one is totally freaking me out. I have had quite the laundry list of injuries over the years, and I think every single one has popped up in the past 4-5 days. One second I think my foot tendonitis is back. Another, my plantar fasciitis is back. Another my piriformis hurts. Another my knee hurts.

One thing that really does bother me right now is my calf. Actually right now as I type this, it is not bothering me, go figure…But yes, since my 8 mile taper run last Saturday, my right calf muscle has felt very strained. There is a tight knot in the outer upper section, near the trigger point marked here is:

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I’ve been using a heating pad on it and foam rolling like crazy (though not too much to overstress it). I also made an appointment with my physical therapist for 2 days from now to check it out if it is still tight. CUT IT OUT CALF.

Inability to Focus: oh yes. very much yes. I’m surprised I’ve even been able to sit down and write this post for more than 4 minutes. Working this week has been hard. It doesn’t help that it is an incredibly busy week at work for me, so it’s especially bad. Writing lists has become a necessity as I quickly learned that my mind will explode if I keep everything in it this week.

Insomnia/Fitful Sleep: eh, this actually hasn’t been so bad. I have been going to bed slightly later than usual. My usual bedtime is ~10 ( I know, old lady..), but the past week I have been unable to stay off social media until 11ish. I’m still getting a good 7 hours, though I’m not sure just how quality those hours are. I have been waking up with a sore jaw from grinding my teeth (something I do in my sleep with I’m subconsciously stressed), and I have weird dreams (more on that under race-related nightmares)

Excessive handwashing/sanitizing: meh, I guess see the first point. Excessive? nah.But I have been washing my hands for noticeably longer than usual.

Heightened Sensitivity to Nearby Sneezing/Coughing: see the first point again.

High Level of Excitability: OH YES. The littlest things get me uncontrollably excited this week. When I was driving down Mass Ave on my way home from work yesterday, I almost cried tears of joy when I say this sign:

2015-04-13 17.35.40Yes, that sign is very festive and inspirational. But there are also about 10 million of them around the city. For some reason yesterday though, this one just “got me”.  I didn’t actually cry, but I did do a happy dance in my car.

Heavy/Dead Legs: yeah, and just exhausted in general. I think the high level of excitability and anxiousness is wearing me out. I also don’t feel super fit right now. I haven’t been restricting my diet of the past few weeks, so I just feel flabby. I haven’t been going hogwild, but I also have not been saying no to any cookies that come my way. I felt pretty good on our 8 mile run on Saturday, but my legs were also happy when the 8 miles were done. What’s another 18.2?

Frequent Bouts of Self Doubt: so the possibility of not finishing hasn’t really crossed my mind, or at least I won’t let it. I think I am just worried about what will happen between 0 and 26.2. I am very nervous about injuries and fueling and basically anything that could affect my ability to enjoy the experience. I have never been more excited for a day in my life, so I am most nervous about anything that could compromise it.  Yes, I completely expect the marathon to hurt, but I still want to be able to appreciate the whole experience and celebrate afterwards. Deep breaths.

Increase Anxiety: For all of the reasons mentioned in the point above, I am very anxious right now. Like I said, I also have a crazy week going on a work, and I just mentally cannot process it all. I feel like I am constantly on the edge of snapping, but the excitement for the big day is keeping me going.

Extreme Restlessness: I’m going to put that under the same category as Inability to Focus?

Obsession with Race Day Details: So actually, I think I need to get more obsessed with this. This weekend is going to be jam packed with events, so I need to make sure I have a good packing list for race day and plan of action.

Race Related Nightmares: Nothing scary or nightmare-ish, but I will have dreams about my coaches sending me an email with information that is completely false. For example, the other night I had a dream that they sent an email saying the race date had changed. In another one, the email said that the buses to Hopkinton were leaving at a different time than they really are.CUT IT OUT SUBCONSCIOUS!

Woof. Okay, well talking about my “Taper Madness” has somewhat helped. It’s going to be a whirlwind the next few days, but I’ll try to check in with blog posts about all of the excitement to come!

Taper, Travel, and Other Random Tidbits

Now that the 20 miler is behind me, I have arrived in the beautiful land known as “Tapertown”. Tapering means that the few weeks before the marathon, the training intensity decreases bigtime. There are still workouts 6 days a week, but the overall weekly mileage decreases and the track and hill workouts are less intense.

This past week was a convenient week for me to begin my taper since I was traveling for work. I was in rural Pennsylvania, just outside of Allentown, putting in some time at one of our production breweries. The hotel where I stayed had a great little gym that was never crowded, so I was able to check off all of the workouts on my plan. It was also fun to explore the area during my 50 minute pace run on Thursday. Running in new places while traveling has never been something that I do enough of. I always get nervous that I’ll get lost/end up in a bad area/etc, but that is something I want to get over this year. I travel a significant amount for work, and I’m missing out on so much by just sticking to treadmills!

Here’s an overview of my training this week. I put in bold what the training plan called for, then the following paragraph describes what I actually did…

Monday- “Rest”: 30 min bike. I was still a little stiff from the 20 miler and then traveling all day Monday, so I still hit the gym for some light cardio on Monday evening. I did a half hour on the bike to get my legs moving, followed by some core work.

Tuesday- “30 minutes easy”. 3.1 miles on treadmill + corework. I did this run on the treadmill before work. I wasn’t sure how the day was going to go at work so I wanted to make sure I got my miles in and out of the way early.

Here’s a picture of the sunrise as I walked back to my room from the gym. Did I mention I stayed at a gorgeous farm bed & breakfast? More on that in a bit…

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Wednesday- “30 minutes XT”: 30 min on the elliptical + corework. I watched Tropic Thunder on my iPad, and I forgot how completely hilarious it was. ps- laughing while working out is no easy task.

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For core work I did the 10 minute abs from Blogilates. Holy heck, this was hard! I need to make this video a regular thing because I was sore for days afterwards!

Thursday- “40 minutes pace”: A coworker of mine recommended a route for me to run around the b&b where I was staying. Oh my gosh, it was so beautiful! and HILLY! The full 40 minutes (actually ended up being closer to 50) toured through gorgeous Pennsylvania farmland with rolling hills and some trails mixed in. And it was WARM! This was my first outdoor run of the season in a tanktop! Hallelujah!

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Friday: “60 minutes XT”- 20 min bike + 40 min elliptical. I’m glad I got this workout overwith early in the morning because the rest of my day was spent dealing with crappy airline issues. 2 flight cancellations and a delay later…I finally got home!

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Saturday- 90 minute power yoga- so I actually had a 12 mile run on my schedule, but my body was not feeling a run. My knees were bothering me after my long day of travel on Friday, and I needed some yoga in my life to work out the tightness. I hadn’t been to hot yoga in months, and it felt so so good! I’m looking forward to doing more miscellaneous workouts like these after the marathon.

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Sunday “Recovery”- So I was planning to do my 12 mile run today since I missed it yesterday, but I woke up feeling like crap today. I slept horribly, and I am so sore from yoga! I decided I needed to take it easy so I took Olive for a walk around Fresh Pond in Cambridge. She has become quite out of shape this winter, so the 2.5 mile jaunt did us both some good.

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What about that 12 mile run you say? Yeah yeah yeah… I’ll  get to it. I’ve actually packed my running gear for work tomorrow, and the plan is to run home.

Hmmm what else…

OH. How could I have forgotten to talk about Wegmans? Like I said, I traveled for work this week and had to eat out a lot. I discovered that there was a Wegmans about 10 minutes away from where I was staying and had heard great things. We have two Wegmans in the Boston area (Chestnull Hill and Burlington), but neither is particularly convenient for me.

Oh my gosh. I am obsessed. I think I ate there 5 times in the week that I was there. The salad and hot food bars are just so amazing! Here is a peak into the 1000000 lbs of Wegmans hot bar/salad bar food that I ate this week..

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Okay so maybe this salad doesn’t look that impressive…but it was delicious.

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I’m pretty sure I ate this same meal 3 other times…plaintains, pork sala verde, roasted cauliflower, kale/lime/cilantro salad, jalapeno corn muffin

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These fruit and nut cookies were delicious and I’m sure not as healthy for me as I convinved myself they were. I made sure to bring one back to my hotel room every night as a treat while I watched high quality TV (cough real housewives of Beverly hills and property brothers…)

What else…

OH! The bed and breakfast where I stayed was amazing. It is called the Glasbern, and we get a discounted rate when we travel there for work. The b&b is on a farm where most of the food served in the restaurant comes directly from the property. Also, the buildings & decor are all restored amish farm houses, and it is adorable down to every last detail. Take this fireplace as an example:

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2015-03-30 19.41.28And the best part? BREAKFAST! Breakfast is included every morning, and it is incredible. There is a full menu with farm-fresh eggs, meats, breads, and vegetables. I traded off between the vegetable goat cheese frittata and the steel cut oatmeal with eggs throughout the week:

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Last bit of exciting news? I got a haircut! A much much much needed haircut. I haven’t had a trim since September, and the length and split ends were getting out of control. I’m training for a marathon damn it, ain’t nobody got time for haircuts. Here’s my before and after. Ta-da!

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Holy cow. 15 days.

20 Miles: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

BOOM! 20 miles run and done.

Last Saturday was the big day. The 20 mile run is the longest run in my marathon training plan, and it only happens once. Gotta admit, I was pretty nervous for this one. Yes, I accomplished 18.5 two weeks prior, but mentally 20 miles just felt like an impossible feat.

This is coming from the girl who 10 years ago could not run a lap around a track, 5 years ago could barely finish a 5k, and 3 years ago only dreamed of finishing a half marathon.

Prep for the 20 miler started on Friday. I made sure to drinks LOTS of water and eat clean with a focus on carbs. We had a LOT of tastings scheduled at work (reminder: I work in the beer bizz), so I was a little nervous about drinking the day before, but it was fine. I probably had 2 pints worth of beer over the course of the day. After work, I headed out to Sports Authority to pick up enough GUs to hold me over for the run. My Friday night was very exciting… pasta + movie + 9pm bedtime. Parrrrrrtay.

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My alarm went off bright and early on Saturday morning.We needed to be in Wellesley by 7am, so the day started earlier than even a typical work day.My alarm delivers tough love.

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As soon as I stepped out of bed, I started to get worried. My quads were SORE. The day before I did my 60 min run, which I technically should have done 2 days before. I headed downstairs and started to foam roll a bit to work out the stiff muscles. I waited as long as possible before eating breakfast. Around 6:00, I ate my usual pre run meal..oatmeal, almond milk, banana, and peanut butter.

2015-03-28 05.47.53My anxiety about the run turned into excitement when we got to the team meeting place in Wellesley. So many runners showed up to the event! The Team in Training volunteers did a great job making the run feel like a party. Balloons, streamers, food, and music..so much fun!

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Team in Training cake pops!

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We also received our official marathon singlets! Check out all that purple (sorry this pic is so small, can’t figure out how to get a better version..)

TNT Group

After about an hour of advice/pump up speeches from the coaches, we loaded up the busses and were off to Hopkinton. I decided not to bring my phone on this run, so unfortunately I don’t have any pictures of the run itself. I didn’t bring my phone because 1) I didn’t want to be dependent on it for race day and 2) the weather would have likely destroyed it.

OH yes, the WEATHER! How could I forget. After a winter of treacherous snow levels and freezing temps, OF COURSE it snowed the day of the 20 miler. The temps weren’t all that bad, but the wind and snow made for some brutal conditions. That’s what makes it fun right?! right..

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So! Here’s a recap of the run in segments.

20 mile run

Miles 1-5: We started out in Hopkinton just as the snow was really starting to come down. There were a few other charity groups heading out on the run at the same time, but the majority of the runners started before we did. There were lots of porta potties and traffic cops at the start ready to handle the hundreds of runners starting in Hopkinton that day. So cool! After using the restroom one more time, we were off!

The first 5 miles had lots of downhills. I was expecting this, but it was still surprising to experience it. I wanted to go fast so bad! I totally understand how the start of this course can totally mess with your head. If the first 5 miles are fast, the whole marathon will be fast, right?? I took my first GU, a salted caramel, at mile 4.5.

Miles 5-9: The elevation evened out during these miles, and the scenery was overall uneventful. I was still trying to figure out what pace was appropriate during these miles and spent time running with different groups of people who were running at slightly different paces. For most of these miles, I ran with our coach, Andrew, and chatted about past races and other running stories. Oh yes! I also had a celebrity sighting! Well…a local running celebrity. At mile 7, I saw Dave Mcgillivray, the Boston Marathon Race Director, running along the course. So cool to see the guy who runs it all out with the rest of us!

Around mile 8, I started running with two of my TNT running friends, Courtney and Keith. None of us had music so we sang top 40 music outloud to pass the time. We made some excellent Jeremihs, Flo Ridas, Ushers, and Taylors Swifts. I took my second GU at mile 9.

Miles 9-15: Familiar territory! Mile 9 started the section of the course that we have been running for months . It was so comforting to reach an area that we knew so well and had landmarks we could count on. Around mile 10, I started running with a new group of girls. We spent the majority of the next 5 miles together, chatting and daydreaming about what kind of food we would eat later in the day. Around mile 10 is also when I started to feel the zipper of my running jacket chafing against my collar bone. The pain wasn’t too bad, but I knew that some irritation was going to happen. I took my third GU at mile 13.5.

Miles 15-18: Mile 15 marked the Wellesley Community Center where we started our day. We had successfully run back to our cars! Around this point is when I started to feel tired. It was weird, I wasn’t muscularly tired, but more sleepy tired. My eyes just wanted to close and go to sleep in the middle of the run. I pushed on and this feeling eventually went away. During this segment is when I made a big mistake, i stopped taking in nutrition. Up to that point in the run, I was really good about eating a GU every 4.5 miles. When mile 17.5 rolled around though, I just did not want another gel and mentally I believed that I could just push through to mile 20 without any more fuel. What’s another 2.5 miles anyway? Well, when those 2.5 miles are the Newton Hills, they are a lot.

Miles 18-20: These last two miles were rough. These two miles were also the Newton Hills. On the first hill after turning onto Commonwealth, my right glute started to spasm. I was able to keep running along with it for a while, but eventually the spasming caused pain in my right IT band and knee, and I was scared that the whole leg was going to just give out. Mentally my mind wanted to keep going so I started giving myself pep talks to not give up. Yep, I was talking out loud to myself…not crazy at all. For mile 19, I walk/jogged my way to the finish. I’m a little disappointed in myself because I think if I had just taken another GU at mile 17.5 (or even a little sooner 16.5/17), I would have been in much better shape. That’s the good thing about practicing on the course though! I now have a much better strategy for race day.

Post Run: We finished right at the base of Heartbreak Hill, leaving that bad boy for race day. 20 miles DONE! The snow was coming down pretty hard and the temperatures had dropped, so I was freeeezing at the finish. We had to wait about 20 minutes for our bus to come and I was shivering uncontrollably. The volunteers were awesome though and had space blankets and offered their cars for us to sit in. Between the cold and my sore leg though, I was pretty grumpy while waiting for the bus.. Looking back though, that grumpiness was definitely more hangry than angry. When the busses got us back to the Community Center and I was able to eat a bannana and warm Bertuccis roll, I was immediately 10000000x happier. I even said to someone “is this the best tasting roll in the world or does everything just taste this good after 20 miles?” ha!

When I got home, I immediately prepped my ice bath before doing anything else. I knew that if I ate or sat down or started a TV show first,the ice bath would never happen. After running 20 miles in the windy, freezing snow, the last thing I wanted to do was get into a bathtub full of ice. I also discovered just how bad my collar bone chafing was when I took off my shirt. EEEEEK

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Ice bath time! Hollllllly hell it was cold. I yelled quite a few naughty words over the next 10 minutes.

2015-03-28 15.42.01I managed to sit in the bath for 10 minutes, then immediately got out and changed into warm sweats and took a nice long nap. Olive just wanted to party for the first little while but eventually cuddled up for a several hour snooze.

2015-03-28 15.57.10I woke up a few hours later,  showered (finally) , then took Olive to the dog park. Moving my legs around felt good and Olive needed the exercise. Once she was sufficiently exercised, I headed to the Whole Foods hot bar to load up on dinner. I had never had the mac n cheese before, and OMG it is a game-changer. I took my food home, opened up a growler of 26.2 and watched a movie.

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I was in bed again by 10pm. Wild and Crazy weekend!

So there you have it! My 20 mile run.

The Good: I freakin did it! And I learned a lot about what to do and expect on race day.  I also made some good running buddies and managed to do the whole run without headphones!

The Bad: The last 2 miles were rough, but this only highlighted the importance of proper fueling for the whole race!

The Ugly: My collar bone chafing is out of control. I even used body glide, but it must have completely rubbed off by mile 10. I need a new top if it’s going to cold & wet on race day! Here’s how it still looks 4 days later. Woof!

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Let’s finish this post with a cute picture of Olive, because why not.

2015-03-29 21.07.26Good Night! 19 DAYS!

Let’s Doooo Thissssss

Tomorrow is the 20 miler!

Man. I really, really, really can’t believe that it snuck up so fast! I mean, i guess it does seem like I’ve been training forever, but I never really believed that my body would ever be ready and capable to do this!

20 miler

To help get pumped up, here is a list of inspirational quotes I’ve seen around the internets

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Wish me luck!

A Perfect Week of Training

Hmmm… I feel like just by titling my post that I may have jinxed this upcoming week…but whatever…last week was great!

My parents offered to watch Olive for the week, and though I missed her very much, it was so nice having the flexibility in my schedule to stay late at work, go straight to the gym afterwards, and go to bed ridiculously early without having to worry about puppy mom responsibilities. One of the hardest parts of this past winter has been dealing with dog guilt. Between the dangerous sidewalks, the short days, the cold temperatures, and my busy schedule between work and training, Olive definitely has not been getting her usual level of exercise. No, she’s not being neglected in any way, because she is absolutely the priority over any other obligations, but balancing it is hard. How do REAL moms with REAL babies train for marathons and have fulltime jobs? geesh!

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Anyways, without the pup responsibilities, I had a much easier time managing my workouts with my work and social life.

Workout Recap

Wednesday 3/11- 60 min cross. I went to a spin class at Mike’s fitness. It was a good workout overall, but I probably won’t be returning to that class. I just wasn’t feeling the instructor. Her music was random and weird and her teaching style was very passive and quiet. meh..what can i say? I like loud beats while getting yelled at to work harder when I work out sometimes. Nothin wrong with that…

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Thursday 3/12- 60 minute easy pace run. I was actually able to do this run outside after work! This was one of my first outdoor midweek runs in a very long time. Even after driving home and talking to Bill on the phone for a while, there was still daylight left! The sun started to set after about 15 minutes and was completely down by the time I got home. A little over 6 miles. boom.

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Friday 3/13- 20 min XC.  Doing only 20 minutes of cross training seemed kind of silly to me at first, but I was glad I did it. Burning off that extra steam after a long week of work felt great. Trust the coaches, trust the process. After work I headed to Boston Sports Club for 10 minutes on the elliptical + 10 minutes of power walking on the treadmill. For some reason I could not stand being on the elliptical that night. Even though I’ve done plenty of long elliptical workouts this training session, I was just so completely bored that I had to switch environments after 10 min. Followed up this cardio with a little core work: 1 minute plank, 45 second side plank on each side, then one more 1 minute plank.

Saturday 3/14-18 mile long run. I DID IT. I ran 18 miles yesterday. 18.3 in the freezing rain to be exact. Believe it or not, this was one of my best feeling long runs ever. I feel kind of crazy saying this, but it actually felt better than most 13 or even 10 mile runs that I’ve done so far in this training cycle. I think the key to my happiness during this run was my fueling. I was very careful to eat a GU every 45 minutes on the dot, whether I wanted one or not. I usually have the bad habit of waiting until it’s too late to take in fuel, but this time I stayed ahead of it. I also brought a variety of Gu flavors with me on the run: vanilla bean, espresso, chocolate peanut butter, and (my all-time favorite) salted caramel. I ended up consuming three gels over the course of the run, at miles 4.5, 9, and 13.5, and my legs felt good the entire time!

But let’s back up to pre-run…

On my way to Wellesley, I swung by Union Square Donuts in Somerville to pick up some post run motivation/recovery fuel. If you’ve never been to Union Square Donuts, you are missing out on a whole world of happiness. These donuts are no joke. They usually sell out pretty quickly on weekends, but as one of the first people to walk through their doors when they opened, I had my pick of the litter. This decision was way to hard to make for 7 am on a Saturday.

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I ended up getting the maple bacon and the chocolate pretzel, which I shared with my training buddy post run. No regrets whatsoever.

When we got to Wellesley, we were greeted by our coaches for the weekly pre-run training advice and mission moment. Being the weekend before St Pattys and all, Coach Sarad came dressed for the occasion:

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Because it was raining, he didn’t actually wear this out on the run, but props to him for breaking that bad boy out so early on a Saturday.After the mission moment , we were off! By the way, I plan to do a whole post in the near future about how amazing Team in Training and mission moments are. This pre-run tradition is a HUGE inspiration every week and has completely opened my eyes to how impressive a charity can be. Stay tuned…

Okay back to the run…

I was initially planning to bring my phone on the run so that I could listen to podcasts/music and take pictures, but I changed my mind after seeing how rainy it was outside. I don’t plan on wearing headphones during the actual marathon, so I figured it’s now or never to start preparing my mental toughness. Plus I didn’t want to break my phone.

We did an out and back course in 2 directions. First we went 5 miles towards Natick then turned around back to Wellesley. Then we did 4 miles into Newton (through the Newton Hills) and back to Wellesley again.

18.3 hilly, rainy miles with no music. Hell. Yes. Donut. Earned.

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And the biggest news of the week..

MY FOOT HASN’T HURT AT ALL. It’s actually quite amazing. As I mentioned in my last post, my foot was quite sore last Monday after my 15 mile run. As soon as I got home on Monday night, took off my boots, and stretched my foot, it magically felt completely better? I have had zero tendinitis pain since Monday, and I am thanking the marathon gods every minute. I’m still keeping up with my daily PT stretches and strengthening exercises to make sure it doesn’t flare up again before race day. Fingers crossed!

And now to the future…

This week’s goal: add core work back into my daily schedule and limit sugar intake. There was a whole lot of indulging going on last week. Yes, I burned a lot of calories (and heck, if someone can’t have a donut after an 18 mile run, then when can they), but early in this training I made a goal to not regularly set junk food as a prize for exercise, and I want to focus on that again.

34 days.

A Couple Good Days

I ran 15 miles! By Myself! BOOM. And I felt pretty good the whole time! I’m starting to feel more excited than nervous about April 20th 🙂

I woke up Sunday morning very confused about what time it was. When my alarm went off at 6:30, I thought it felt wayyyy too early, so I snoozed until 7:30. I finally rolled out of bed at 7:30 and was kind of mad at myself for sleeping in. But silly me, I totally forgot that daylight savings had happened, so even though the clock said 7:30, my body was still saying 6:30. Makes sense…

Anyways, I ate my standard pre long run breakfast at 6:30 7:30 of oatmeal with almond milk, banana, and peanut butter. While I ate and digested, I watched a really cool documentary on Netflix called Desert Runners. I was pretty nervous about the run. This would be the longest I’d ever run, especially on my own. A good running film was just what i needed to calm my nerves and get pumped.

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The documentary follows several  non-professional runners as they attempt to run four desert ultramarathons in one year.  These people would run 250k (155 miles) over the course of several days in some of the harshest conditions in the world, THEN start preparing to do another one just a couple months later! Talk about badass. After watching these people push through unbelievable conditions, I was ready to head out and conquer a measly 15 miles along a comfortable New Hampshire road.

Ready, set, go. I wore an orange reflective vest since my route was along one of the busier roads in my town, and my white running jacket blends right in with the snowbanks. Safety first.

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Olive didn’t want me to go.Sorry pup, be back soon.

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For my run, I did an out and back route along the DW Highway in Merrimack. This is the main road in my hometown that I have driven down thousands of times in the past.

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It was fun to see my town from a different perspective though. I noticed businesses that I never knew existed (a Botox place? weird) and pretty little parks too. To keep my mind occupied, I listened to podcasts as I ran (with just one earbud in so I could also hear the traffic).I particularly like to listed to story based podcasts when i’m running (This American Life, the Moth, Ted Talks, etc).

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Around mile 4, I noticed a very familiar smell in the air…beer! Merrimack has an Anheuser Busch plant with Clydesdales and all. The sweet smell of brewing filled the air for the next 2-3 miles.

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Mile 7.5 was my turnaround point, and this also just so happened to be Merrimack’s town line. Around this point it started to snow really hard, which was completely unexpected!

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When I got back into my neighborhood, I ran into my mom who was taking Olive for a walk. Olive got so excited when she saw me that I decided to try and run with her for the last 0.2 miles. She became TOTALLY freaked out that I was trying to run away from her that she started to nip at my heels and herd me! Olive will never one of those dogs that you can take out for a run, but I love her anyway 🙂

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I hit 15 miles pretty much exactly in front of my parents house and immediately plopped down into the snow for a snowy “ice bath”. Olive was, again, completely freaked out by whatever it was I was doing.

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In that last picture, she is trying to dig my legs out of the snow to rescue me. This was probably the most painful part of the whole run- I still have scratch marks on my calves!

All in all a successful run, and my foot felt overall okay! I did start to hurt at the end and was very tight yesterday, but as soon as I was able to stretch it out, it felt a million times better.

Now today (Tuesday), my foot was feeling completely back to normal so I was able to get a treadmill hill workout in. I ended up signing up for a one month membership at Mikes Fitness (next to my work) since their new treadmills are so much better than the ones at my current gym. I watched a 45 min episode of Better Call Saul while I did the following hill workout:

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  • Minutes 1-10 warm up, flat
  • Minutes 10-12 1% grade
  • 12-14 2% grade
  • 14-16 3% grade
  • 16-18 4% grade
  • 18-20 5% grade
  • 20-21 0% grade
  • 21-22 -0.5% grade
  • 22-23 -1% grade
  • 23-24 -2% grade
  • 24-25 -3% grade

then repeated the hill work one more time for a grade total of ~4.5 miles. I didn’t do a cooldown on the treadmill but did some core work on the mat instead (planks, supermans, bridges, etc)

After the run, I picked up some groceries and this yogurt as a snack for my drive home. It was weird. Very gingery, which I liked, but had chunks of candied ginger in the yogurt which kind of grossed me out.

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All in all, a good couple of days for marathon training!

The End is Near

Well, that’s a creepy post title, huh? The end of what, you ask? The end of WINTER!  And I’m just kind of excited about it…

Anchorman

Bear-in-the-Big-Blue-House

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You really wouldn’t be able to tell from the amount of snow on the ground (this is my parent’s backyard)…..

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And the temperatures really aren’t anything to throw a beach party over (double digit temps call for iced coffees)….

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But I can feel it. How can I tell?

Well, for one…. daylight savings (aka one of my favorite days of the whole year) is TOMORROW! Having that extra hour of sunshine after work makes allll the difference for my state of mind.  During the winter, I get to experience maybe a half hour of sunlight during the day, and it totally bums me out. The longer days will also mean that I am more comfortable taking Olive for longer walks in the evening. Currently, she only gets crappy little walks around our block.

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Secondly, Look at that 10 day forecast!  Heat wave baby! Okay, maybe not “heat wave”, but the temperature trends are definitely looking a little more like Spring…

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Thirdly, Marathon fever is starting up in Boston. This week, I went to the tapping of the very first keg of 26.2 of the year at the Back Bay Social Club!

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Jim Koch, the founder of Sam Adams, Tom Grilk, the executive director of the BAA, and Chris Laudani, the mystery man who shoveled off the marathon finish line did the honors. Chris was presented a marathon jacket with the title of “Official Bartender of the Boston Marathon” and Jim Koch received a jacket with the title “Official Brewer of the Boston Marathon”.

2015-03-05 12.17.59It was a very fun media event that, for me, seemed to really kick off the whole marathon season in Boston. Yes, the runners have been training for months now, but this event really made this whole thing feel real. No matter how much snow is on the ground, this marathon is happening in 44 days whether we’re ready or not!

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SO, how has the training been going? I’ve been a bad blogger the past few weeks, but have been staying on top of my workouts.

Saturday 2/28- 13 mile run! I did this with run with Team in Training, and I can’t say enough how awesome it is to do long runs with a team. My foot was bothering me quite a bit during the first mile of the run, and I almost called it quits. I even turned around and started walking back to my car. When I was walking though, my foot felt better so I decided to start jogging to the first water stop at 3 miles. There was a group of girls from my team at the stop, so I started on the next leg with them. We chatted for the rest of the run, and I hardly thought about my foot at all!

Sunday 3/1- Uhh I am blanking, what the heck did I do on Sunday? I watched a million hours of House of Cards. OH, and I did a 45 minute yoga for runners youtube at home. I was surprised my foot felt pretty good during this. My foot hurts when my big toe bends upwards, so positions like downward dog have been uncomfortable for the past month or so. I also had some help from my lovely assistant..

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Monday 3/2- REST

Tuesday 3/3- REST AGAIN. I actually had a 12×400 track workout on the schedule, but I had a ROUGH day at work and was completely exhausted when I got home.  I was so tired that I passed out at 8:30 and slept through the whole night!

Wednesday 3/4- Track Workout. 12×400 with warm up and cool down. Though my foot is still hurting, this workout was a major milestone for my recovery. I haven’t done any “speed” work in about 2 months because anything over a slow jog was painful. My alarm went off at 4:45am, and I was at the gym on the treadmill by 5:30. I started with a 1 mile warm up and initially did 400m slow jogs in between each 400m sprint, but by the end I was running out of time and cut it down to 1 minute slow jogs between sprints. I took this picture in the locker room the morning of that run. Not really sure what I was trying to capture…my pale legs? my sweet knee bruise? My funky way I’m tying my laces on my hurt foot?

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Thursday 3/4- Body Pump! Strength training isn’t really on my schedule anymore, but I know my body needs it so I try to work it in on crosstraining days. I’m not good at strength training on my own, so a structed class like Body Pump is a great way to get in the squats and core work that’ll make me a better (less injury prone) runner.

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Friday 3/5- 60 min “easy” run. One of the highlights of this past week happened Friday night. I found the BEST TREADMILL IN THE WHOLE WORLD. I used to belong to the gym next to my work, but I haven’t been back since my membership expired in December. I dropped in last night after work for convenience sake, and was pleasantly surprised that they have replaced all of their treadmills with brand new fancy ones! It’s hard to explain how some treadmills feel better than others based on the tightness of the belt, but this one was one of the best ever. It also had a incline AND decline functions, so I could work rolling hills into my run. After my run, I also found out that there are preloaded courses from google maps, like “Heartbreak Hill”, which I definitely want to try out next time. I think it’ll be worth getting a one month membership here as an extra option for training until marathon day.

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Today- idk yet! I may go snowshoeing with the pup in a little bit to get some exercise.

15 on the schedule for tomorrow!

44 days!