Sunday, June 22, 2014


This morning I ran my first BAA race, the 10K. It was an absolutely beautiful sunny summer morning in Boston. I went to the race and ran it alone. I signed up a couple months ago because I wanted to do another 10K and running in Boston is something I love very much. It was a race a really wanted to do, even if it meant going solo.

BAA had mailed out bibs, and even though I informed them of my recent address change, I didn't receive mine before the race. So I left my house an hour an a half before the start so I could hopefully find a place to park and pick up a new bib. I was kind of bummed I didn't get to have my name on my bib, but I guess there could've been a lot worse things to happen. It took less than 20 minutes to get to the city (have I mentioned how much I love living here?!). I was planning to pay and park in a parking garage, but instead I scored a free spot on the street. I walked over to the common to get my bib and scope out the scene. There weren't many people there yet, so I took advantage, grabbed my tshirt and used the porta potty while there was no line. I still had about an hour to kill, so I figured I would walk back to my car and drop off most of my stuff. I wanted to keep moving my legs so they didn't get stiff.

Feeling like a tourist taking all the pictures. I just love Boston. 

walking down Commonwealth Ave,
my favorite street, and part of the course 

After dropping most of my stuff off, I went back to the common to check the rest of my gear, use the porta potty again, and get ready to line up at the start. Side note: finally a race with enough porta potties for the amount of people! 8,000 runners and I don't think I waited in line more than a minute. Well done, BAA. Shortly after I returned, there was an announcement that we should start lining up in the corral based on our projected paces. They had a pulsed start, where each different pace group started a couple of minutes apart. The 8:00 and under started at 8:03, and then the 8-9 min group at 8:07, and so on. There were actually people with ropes separating the different paces. I thought this was great, although of course not everyone complied. I had to dodge a few walkers within the first mile. 

my nameless bib

another view down Comm Ave
the course went down one side and back on the other

Leading up to this race I was pretty anxious for a couple of reasons. I didn't have the best of weeks last week. I was sick last weekend, missed a long run, and felt off while running for the first half of the week. Because of that I had no idea what to expect from this race, but I knew I would give it my all regardless. The second reason was that my favorite west coaster convinced me to run the race without my watch. While I enjoy some long runs without my garmin, I haven't raced without one in years. It scared the hell out of me. But I made a promise, and we agreed that this was the time to do it since I really didn't know what state my body would be in. I knew there would be clocks at every mile, but I didn't know at what time I crossed the starting line. I ran based on how my body felt, not constrained by the numbers on my watch. It was scary, but an eye opening experience.

We started on Charles St in between the common and the public garden, headed down Commonwealth Ave, passed Boston University, then up a couple (bigger than I was expecting) hills, did a U turn, and ran back on the other side of the road, finishing where we started. I loved it. I'm pretty sure this is the first race I have ran with elite runners leading the field. Stephen Sambu (27:25...holy crap!) of Kenya and Mamitu Daska (31:04...holy crap!) of Ethiopia both won for the second year in a row and ran the fastest times in the world this year. It was so fun seeing them on the other side of the road flying by me. Seeing their pain faces and realizing everyone hurts while running a race gave me the strength to keep pushing forward. 

The last mile was definitely a struggle. It was hot. I walked through a couple water stops to drink some water and dump some on my head. I reminded myself not to fight the pain but to embrace it. The last mile felt like forever. I kept pushing with everything I had at that point. When I crossed the finish line I saw 50:49 on the clock. I knew that wasn't my official time, but I had no idea how much under that I would be. I went in to this race originally hoping to finish under 49 minutes, but with the events of the week prior, I would have been happy with anything close to my PR at the time. I thought it would be close, but really I had no idea.

not the elusive unicorn medal,
but my first unicorn medal nonetheless 

After the race I wandered around for a bit looking for the results. I was told they would be posted online. I decided to go back to my car and attempt to change my clothes. Thanks to Ragnar Cape Cod, I am now a pro at stealthily changing in the car. I managed to do just that in the middle of Boston (sorry mom). I walked back to the common, watched the awards, and then wandered around the city for a while. I should mention I was also obsessively checking my phone to see if the results had been posted. They hadn't. 

this just never gets old (for me at least)

I finally made my way back home, and over 3 hrs after I finished running, the results were finally posted. Official result: 49:08 and a new PR! Naturally, my first instinct was to be annoyed I was so close to breaking 49 minutes and didn't. The walks through the water stops popped in to my head. If only I hadn't done this or that, or maybe I could have pushed a little more... But I had to stop myself. In all honestly, I wasn't expecting to PR today with the way I was feeling last weekend and throughout most of the week. I went out there and I ran as hard as I could, without a watch, and put my heart in to it. There were many places where I started to doubt myself and I felt like I wanted to walk or slow down more, and I didn't. I pushed myself. I honestly feel like I gave it all I had in that race... So really, what more could I have asked of myself today? I'd say the BAA 10K was a success and I'm proud of the way that I ran. 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

it's not always rainbows and buterflies

Sunday I am running the BAA 10k and I'm really excited about it, despite a few recent training hiccups. I've grown to really love the 10k distance and I've been looking forward to running another one. The course starts and finishes at Boston Common and runs down and back on one of my favorite streets, Commonwealth Ave. 

starts on the right at the green, goes down one side of Comm Ave
to Boston University, then back on the other side of Comm Ave

Leading up to this race I've had two pretty big goals in mind. One is to PR, which would be anything under 49:32. The second bigger goal, is to finish under 49:00. The course is pretty flat, and with my recent 5 mile time, I think it would be possible if all the stars were to align and I feel like a rockstar that day. Unfortunately, the past few days of training, and life in general, have not exactly gone as well as they could have. With an upcoming race, it's got me nervous and concerned about how I'll be feeling that day. 

It all started Thursday morning. Let me preface by saying my GI tract is not exactly top notch. I frequently struggle with discomfort, and have had my share of doctor appointments, without much relief. Thursday morning I went to the track to do a pretty tough workout: 15 min warm up, 4 sets of 1000 @ 10k pace, 30 sec rest, 400 @ 5k pace, with 3 min rest between sets, 10 min cool down. 
I love track days.

I really enjoyed this workout and was feeling confident about how I felt. However, during, and after, my stomach was frequently tying itself in knots. It lasted throughout the day, but I didn't think too much of it because this isn't too far from normal for me unfortunately. I thought it was maybe caused by the (too) large of bowl of popcorn I had eaten the night before. 

When I woke up Friday it was worse. I was having sharp pains right in my stomach that didn't want to let up. I went to work and then was staying with a friend in NH for the weekend. I kept hoping they would go away, again thinking it was something I had eaten and it just needed to work its way out. Thankfully, Friday was a rest day, so I could try to heal. Saturday morning I woke up hoping to be able to go for a run. I was up off and on throughout the night with pain and discomfort. Saturday morning it felt a little better, so I ate a small breakfast and attempted to get some miles in. It was more of a slow jog with many walk breaks than a run. I stopped early and called it a day. I felt off and didn't want to risk anything by forcing myself to run.

The pains lasted throughout the day Saturday, although I thought they were very slowly improving. However, when I woke up Sunday morning they were back with a vengeance. I'll spare the details, but let's just say the bathroom and I were good friends that morning. I also made good friends with the couch and a heating pad. For a short amount of time I considered going to urgent care because I had no idea what was going on. Thankfully, it started to let up, and I was able to head back home. Obviously, my planned long run was not in the cards that day. By early evening, I was feeling better, but not 100% and I knew it wasn't worth the risk of making things worse by trying to run, so I spent the night on my butt instead. 

Monday is normally a rest day for me as well, and while I was feeling much better, I was still having mild pains from time to time throughout the day. So, I took the rest day in hopes that the rest of the week would be better. Tuesday I went out for an easy 55 minutes. My legs and my body felt tired. Probably the effects of the weekend and maybe being a little dehydrated from the after effects of the stomach pains. It wasn't exactly the run I was looking for. 

Tuesday I had a workout on the schedule of 15 min warm up, 2 mile tempo, 2 min rest, 800 @ 10k pace, 3 min rest, 2 min tempo, 15 min cool down. I have done this workout a couple times and really enjoy it. It's tough, but doable. This time it didn't feel very doable. It was hard. While I got through it, and hit all my paces, I didn't feel strong at all. I was struggling by the end. This could have been partially caused by the intense humidity and heat that decided to show up this week, or maybe I'm still feeling some of the effects from the weekend. I really don't know. What I do know is I'm left feeling pretty nervous about the race on Sunday. 

These last few days leading up to the 10k I have an easy run, a rest day, and another easy run to do. I'm hoping that will give my body time to rest and recover. I'm not willing to change my goals for Sunday just yet. I'm hoping this is just a little speed bump that I can get over and move on from. It's tough to come off such a high from a great workout, to a low of stomach problems and a couple rough training runs. But, I guess it can't always be rainbows and butterflies. 

rough run, pretty path.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

zero week

First the first time in years, I took a week off of running following the Vermont City Marathon.  The race didn't go anywhere near as well as hoped, and I felt like I needed the week to rest and recover physically, and maybe ever more so mentally.  I ran zero miles between Monday and the following Monday.  I was surprised to find that I didn't even have much of an urge to run until the end of the week.  This was probably largely due to being so busy.

successful recovery includes ciders

Tuesday I started a new job as a charge nurse for the same company I was working for, but in a new location.  Saturday was moving day.  NH to Boston to NH and then back to Boston.  Sunday we spent the day unpacking and trying to get settled.  Getting over a bad marathon, starting a new job, and moving makes for a pretty stressful week, especially when you don't have running to help relieve some of it.  But, with the exception of the race, the other stressors were more exciting than anything else.

new views

By the end of the week I was feeling more than ready to hit the roads again.  I emailed my coach, Stephanie, telling her I was very excited to start training again and working towards my next goals.  So far this week I've had 3 solid runs, which have included a lot of exploring my new town.

Tuesday: 9 x 2 min on, 2 min off at 10k pace with warm up and cool down
Wednesday: 40 min easy
Thursday: 4 x 1 mile @ marathon pace with 1 min rest + warm up and cool down

I must say, I am loving it here.

I'm really happy I took that week off to get my mind and my body in the right place to run again.  I've been reminded this week of why I love running so much.  It's the challenges and the achievements that make it all worth while.  I'm ready to see what this next chapter brings.