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It’s taken me a bit to reflect on this race and summarize the experience, but I don’t think I’ll ever be able to find the right words. Simply put, Boston marathon weekend was the experience of a lifetime. You just had to be there, and I’m so thankful that I was.

After my ongoing saga of injuries, I knew the race wasn’t going to be a PR attempt or even close to it. In fact, I kind of preferred it that way. It allowed me to soak in the entire weekend as I wanted, without the inevitable pit of nerves in my stomach and serious anxiety that hits before most major races. I felt happy, free, go-with-the-flow.

The Boston Marathon has held a special place in my heart since I first ran it in 2012, despite the ‘speed can kill’ heatwave. That was the first marathon I ran without a specific time goal– the first time I just allowed myself to relax and enjoy the experience. It was amazing. After this year, that space in my heart has grown even larger.

2012 -> 2014 Clearly, one of us got slower...

2012 -> 2014 Clearly, one of us got slower…

I didn’t truly have a specific time goal going in, but knew that if I was able to handle 20 miles at 8:00 pace the week before, I could probably run that pace for a full 26.2. 3:30– an arbitrary goal– sounded reasonable. I didn’t have a specific plan except to start conservatively and monitor my foot to be sure the tendinitis didn’t creep back in.

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I made the rookie mistake of wearing this new pair of sneakers for the race. I know, I know ….what was I thinking?!? But I really, really loved the limited edition New Balance Boston 890v4, and knew the 890v3 had worked for me in the past. Unfortunately, they took about 2 weeks to ship, meaning I only received them the Wednesday before the race, without much time to break in. Well, turns out I hate the 890v4s and they tore up my feet with massive blisters the size of a silver dollar on my arches, and I’ve now lost a toenail (which has never happened to me before…surprisingly.) Needless to say, I’ve returned them and my feet are just now starting to forgive me.

So, onto the race!

The entire morning was so well-executed considering the heightened security and new baggage/gear-check rules. The volunteers were incredibly friendly, and loading onto the buses went seamlessly. We hung out in the starting village for a while, pretty much living on the loooong portapotty lines. Before we knew it, it was time to head to the start. I knew it was going to be a warm day, as I stripped all my throwaway layers on the walk to the corrals. Unfortunately we underestimated how long it’d take to get to the start, and pee one last time, and I found myself jogging into my corral as they counted down 10 seconds to start. Whoops!

Honestly, I thought the start of the race may have been more somber or emotional. Instead, everyone was full of energy and enthusiasm! We were running the Boston Marathon. We were doing this!

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It’s tough for me to give a mile-by-mile recap of the race since I wasn’t really executing any specific race strategy, so I’ll let the splits above tell the story.

My pace was a bit faster than I’d like at the start, due to the rolling downhills and energy of the crowds. The beginning miles are one of my favorite parts of the course. Everyone is still packed up and you can see the crowds of people ahead of you as the hills roll up and down. The crowds are high-fiving and screaming, making you feel like a rockstar. You’re still feeling good enough to appreciate their energy. I couldn’t help myself from laughing at this point as I took it all in.

When I felt settled around miles 7 or 8, I consciously tried to reign my pace back from consistent 7:30s (or faster), into more comfortable 7:40s. I wanted to relax, feel good, and keep a steady pace. Once I hit the halfway mark in 1:40:33, I realized I felt good. So good. While my quads were starting to go a bit, my foot felt good and I was very comfortable aerobically. I knew I was well ahead of my “goal”, and started to get a bit competitive with myself…as I always do. My half time indicated I was on pace for a 3:21. Time was irrelevant for me, but I sure love outdoing my arbitrary goals. With that, I decided to pay a bit more attention to my effort and pace, dropping it a bit if I could. And so, I worked to get things down a bit.

YAY FOR RUNNING

YAY FOR RUNNING!

It was all sunshine and rainbows until I hit the wave of hills. Maybe I was delusional due to the heat in 2012, but I did NOT remember the hills being as bad as they felt this go around. They just kept coming and coming. Each time I crested the top of one, I swore it was the end of Heartbreak Hill. Sure fooled me. I tried to keep my effort steady up the hills, but my quads were really fading at this point and I just couldn’t make up the time going down the hills as I usually can. With an 8:14 mile split on Heartbreak Hill, I thought the worst was over. I just had to cruise on home and soak in the crowds!

…But I was wrong. Those damn aforementioned shoes were starting to kill my feet. The bottom of my soles felt like they were on FIRE. The final three miles, they felt like they had gone numb. Like blocks. Pain with every step. I actually wanted to cry they hurt so badly, but I’m also a wimp. I felt fine aerobically still, but just couldn’t will my legs to go any faster because my shoes were not cooperating.

And then I reminded myself that I really didn’t care about my time. I did, but I didn’t. It’d be around 20 minutes off my PR, so there was no point in pushing things. In retrospect, I’m kinda mad at myself because the last few miles of the course were the ones I wanted to enjoy the most. Instead, I found myself cursing my shoes and wishing away the last 2 miles. 1000 meters to go felt like an eternity. And that damn incline after the underpass…

This is the face of someone who wants this race to end.

This is my ‘my feet are on fire’ face

And then we turned right on Hereford, Left on Boylston, and all was right in the world. I could see the finish.

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I took some time to remind myself about all the effort I put in to make it to this point over the past year. I reminded myself that today was a celebration of strength, unity, resilience, and more. I won’t ever be able to identify with the experience of the Boston bombing victims and their families, and I wasn’t even there in 2013. I cannot begin to empathize with those who were. There aren’t words or actions that will ever fix or change what happened last year. Finishing the race is just a small act. And there I was, medal draped around my neck at last.

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But first, lemme take a selfie.

But first, lemme take a selfie.

Thankfully, I found my friend Meredith right at the finish and we hobbled back to Boston Common together. First, I untied those damn shoes to relieve some pressure on my feet. The walk seemed looooong but finally I reunited with friends. All in all, the race was hot– particularly after training through the polar vortex. The hills all seemed harder than we last recalled. We were all just happy to be done.

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And so, we celebrated!

CPTC post-race

CPTC post-race

2012 -> 2014

2012 -> 2014

Here is the mile-by-mile playback, too. I always race marathons with autolap turned off, so I manually split by watch at every mile marker. It drives me NUTS to hear the beep before I hit the mile mark, and I only missed one marker around 4/5.

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Overall, I’m really, really happy with how it went. 3:23:41 is 20 minutes and 4 seconds off of my PR, and my second slowest marathon ever (but not far behind my slowest of 3:24 at Big Sur.) I was just happy to be out there.

In the month of March, I only ran 7 times– averaging 12 and 25 miles the weeks that I ran.  April wasn’t much better, with only 11 runs before the race and a long run of 20 miles only 9 days before the race. Reverse taper? I also did no speedwork or tempos of any type. But my foot felt amazing and I’m pretty sure the tendinitis is finally at bay. Considering that lack of training coming off the injury, I’m really happy knowing that 3:23 is a pretty ‘baseline’ marathon time. That leaves me motivated and encouraged to get in consistent training this summer to take a crack at sub-3:00 again this fall in Chicago.

Beyond times, the weekend was just perfect. I can’t even describe the crowds and energy of the race. There was never a dull moment. The signs were amazing, and I’m pretty sure I high-fived at least a hundred kids on the sidelines. The screaming girls at Wellesley were even better than I remembered and I high-fived nearly each and every one of them with a smile plastered on my face. The crowds at BC after Heartbreak Hill still made you feel like a rockstar. I remember seeing a sign saying “MEB WON! YES, REALLY!” and getting an extra boost. I still stand firm that the crowds at Boston are like no other, even better than NYC. Families cheering in their front yards is authentic, homey, all-American.

The only time I teared up a bit was after the finish, as we exited the chute to walk towards Boston Common. A man was shaking the hands of everyone that exited, saying firmly, ‘Thank YOU for running today.’ It was so genuine and emotional. Boston needed this race to go on, and being a part of it was something I will always remember.

#BostonStrong

April 15th, 2014 | Posted by Lindsay Runs in Blog Posts - (2 Comments)

After the Boston bombing took place a year ago today, I vowed to do whatever it takes to be a part of the event in 2014. While I wasn’t there in 2013, the 2012 race holds such a place in my marathon-loving heart. Despite the heat, I discovered a new way to love the marathon. It wasn’t about PRs or executing the perfect race strategy– it was about enjoying the experience and soaking it all in. The city of Boston was alive that day and I’ll never forget it.

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Qualifying for the 2014 race meant running a marathon on a stress fracture, since it had been a while since I last raced and I needed a BQ time. With an abbreviated time period to train for this race once I got out of the boot, I knew I likely wouldn’t be in PR shape and just focused on getting in what training I could. Then, I got tendinitis and couldn’t run for a few weeks, and have been rehabbing my foot pretty intensely to make it to the starting line healthy. In my personal running bubble, it’s been a frustrating process getting here, but next Monday will put everything in perspective.

Mom & I in 2012

Mom & me in 2012

Races can be selfish when you’re gunning for a PR, even when running with a team. But this year, my Boston race isn’t about me. I’m running to join in a community that means so much to me. I want to give back to that community and celebrate our strength and resilience the best way we know how: running. To prove we are strong and can’t be stopped. I’m thankful to be healthy enough to be able to run the entire race, something I wasn’t sure would be possible just a month ago. I’m so excited to get up to Boston and be a part of the atmosphere I’ve been looking forward to for nearly a year.

I don’t think I’m fully prepared for what the weekend and race day will bring, but know it will be deeply emotional. Being here in NYC, it’s easy to feel a little disconnected from those in Boston who have been training with such a deep sense of rallying purpose. The last few days, and today in particular, I’ve read through stories of the survivors and those deceased, watched tributes and recaps and it’s starting to feel a bit more real. I cannot begin to imagine what Marathon Monday will be like, but it’s going to be one to remember. My heart and soul is ready to soak it all in.

I’m heading up Friday morning and will stay through Tuesday morning. Thankfully my last long run went really, really well. Following a reverse taper plan of sorts, I had a great 15 mile run on 4/5 and a final 20 mile run this past Saturday. I had friends to keep me company the entire 20 miles and it was a beautiful spring day. My pace averaged at 8:00, which felt really relaxed and comfortable. It was a confidence booster that I’m not completely out of shape after barely running for the last month.

My legs are surprisingly feeling pretty good this week, but I’ve been focusing on resting, icing, stretching and keeping up with my PT exercises. I haven’t felt any pain in my foot at all since I’ve returned to running, and I’m not concerned with not being as ‘fresh’ as usual considering I’m not racing. Whether I run 3:15 (lolz..) or 4:15, I will be happy with my race if I enjoy the day fully and my foot doesn’t hurt.

Good luck to everyone else running, I can’t wait to be a part of this day with you!

Progress & A Plan

April 1st, 2014 | Posted by Lindsay Runs in Blog Posts - (4 Comments)

I wanted to wait at least a week or two to post until I was sure, but, I’M BACK TO RUNNING! I’m still not 100% confident to say the tendinitis is healed completely, because I’m afraid it’ll come back at any time if I’m not careful. So I’ve been easing in gently, paying attention to any signs of tenderness and soreness, continuing to see doctors regularly for treatment, icing, stretching, foam rolling, and the works.

On March 18th, my foot had been absent of pain for a few days. I had a doctor’s appointment scheduled for the next day, and wanted to test it out on a short run so I could at least report back on progress, pain-free or not.

I headed to the East River Path for a super windy, sloooooow 3 mile run. Unsurprisingly, I lost a ton of fitness after 3 weeks of no running and minimal cross-training. Surprisingly, my foot felt great. I couldn’t wait to get to the doctor and share the good news!

So, I’ve been alternating days of easy running with cross-training for about 2 weeks now and my foot is still feeling good. My doctor advised I stick to regular mileage and nix any speed work, tempos, or specific hill work as they may re-aggravate the tendinitis faster.

Blocked out my address, don't stalk me please

Blocked out my address, don’t stalk me please

Since we’re now less than 3 weeks out from Boston, I have a loose plan to get me to the starting and finish lines healthy and with a bit more endurance. One of my doctors, Marisa, asked me what I’d like to complete as a long run pre-Boston in my “dream world”. Prior to this injury, I had only gotten up to a long run of 17 with a weekly mileage of 53, and it sounds scary but I really wanted to be able to get in a 20 miler for a mental and physical confidence boost. However, I would rather stay healthy and out of shape than re-injured after running too much.

My goals for Boston are to enjoy the day, have fun, and to complete the race without pain and without re-injuring myself. I don’t care about my time, and am actually excited to be able to take in the day’s atmosphere more than I would if I were gunning for a PR, similar to my race in 2012.

She put together a plan that focuses on long runs, since that’ll be key for getting in some endurance prior to the marathon to ensure that 26.2 miles isn’t a complete shock to my body. It’s a bit more aggressive than I’d probably choose myself, but I trust her and think it’s reasonable in the limited time I have before the race.

Basically, I can run easy every other day (3-6ish miles) with a long run on Saturdays– starting at 10 miles this past Saturday, 15 miles this upcoming Saturday, and 20 miles on the following. I should stick to cross-training or rest on the days I don’t run.

I’ve been continuing to go to BodyPump at NYSC once or twice a week and love the difference I’ve noticed in my overall strength and ability to increase weights. Last week, I took advantage of Soul Cycle’s free community rides on Tuesday and Thursday for my cross-training. Since I can’t afford to pay $35 for a class now (or ever, really…) these have been a nice treat while I have the flexibility in my schedule to head over to the West Village studio at noon. Even the shoe rental is free! I totally missed signups for this week, so maybe I’ll try again next week. I find I can’t motivate myself to get in a good workout while biking on my own, so a class is really helpful for me.

In non-running related news, I turned 27 on the first day of spring and had a great birthday week celebration with friends and family.

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Judging by the color of my tongue, I certainly enjoyed our wine

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A dance-filled birthday fiesta

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And a tasty lunch at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park NY with my mom

26 was my year of injuries, so I’m hoping 27 is my year of getting back to consistent training. And, if I’m lucky, perhaps it’ll bring a shiny new PR on October 12th.

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3rd year registering, hopefully my 1st time to start the race!

 

Sidenote: I see the above but still haven’t received any official confirmation email. Did anyone else think submitting a time qualifier separately from the application via email was extremely convoluted?

Hopefully I’ll be back with continued good news on the running front following this weekend’s 15. Need all the positive vibes I can get!

 

 

Up, up, up! and down…

February 27th, 2014 | Posted by Lindsay Runs in Blog Posts - (5 Comments)

Last week wrapped up a solid week of training aided by a milder weekend, resulting in my first 50+ mile week (!!) this cycle. After Thursday’s workout and Saturday’s long run, I welcomed back the familiar heaviness in my legs that come from putting in tough miles. While I’m still a ways away from where I’d ideally like to be, I started to feel like I was getting my legs under me and feeling strong. High fives for last week!

And then it seemed to all go wrong this week as I now need to take a week (or more) off with posterior tibial tendinitis. Maybe I’m being dramatic, but I feel like every time I get a glimpse of progress and healthiness, something happens and I’m taking two steps back. But before we get to the potential bad news, let’s take a look at the good.

:)

Week of 2/17:

  • M: Easy 8.5, legs a bit tired after yesterday’s Cherry Tree 10 Miler but went to BodyPump afterwards to get in some strength training
  • T: “Hills” + warmup/cooldown = 8.25 total
    • Morning hill workout with the gang, we thought the snow would still be light but there was quite a layer at 6:30am! We stuck to repeats of Cat Hill, and I only did 4 instead of 6 because my calves were still really, really tight and I wanted to give them more time to recover and not overwork trying to slip up hill.
  • W: Off- foam rolled the heck out of my calves which really helped me feel fresh for Thursday night’s workout
  • R: 8(.09) Mile tempo (continuous 4 miles at marathon pace and 4 miles at half-marathon pace) + warmup/cooldown
    • This is one of my favorite CPTC workouts, since it’s pretty mentally grueling but such a confidence booster if completed correctly. I honestly have no idea what I’d consider my marathon and half-marathon pace right now, so I just tried to stick with the group and ensure I had enough reserves to negative split the 2nd loop.

Workout 2/20/14

    • This loop starts at 72nd street on the west side, goes across the cutoff, up Cat Hill, across the 102nd street transverse and back down the west side to the statue at 72nd street (aka counter-clockwise) We’ve done this loop clockwise as well (before Boston & before Lehigh below) and I think it’s a little more forgiving that direction.
    • My time of 57:10 means an average pace of 7:04. I’ve done this in 54:42 (6:44 avg) before NYC ’11, 53:11 (6:32 avg) before Boston ’12,  and 55:16 (6:46 avg) before Lehigh ’13 so this was by far my slowest time doing this workout by nearly two minutes, but I’m still really happy because the effort felt hard but controlled and strong! I haven’t felt like I could really push in a workout for a while, so I’ll take it.
  • F:  Easy 6 miles + 15 min. core/arms
  • S: 17 miles, longest run to date!
    • The warm(er) 40 degree temperatures meant running in capri tights, a t-shirt and a new pair of arm warmers. After being confined to the outer loops (miss ya, bridle path!) and doing a ton of hill work lately, we decided it’d be a nice change of scenery to do the full Manhattan loop, down the west side, around the tip of the island and back up the east side. The sun felt good and most miles were around or under 8:00 pace.
    • I have never worn arm warmers before in my life and used to think they looked pretty ridiculous, but I figured it was finally time to stock up on a pair in case I wanted to wear them for the NYC Half or other in-between temperature races. I got this Brooks pair on RunningWarehouse because I loved that it had a gel pocket, thumb hole, and you can pull up the tops to cover your fingers like gloves! How versatile. Bonus– they stayed up all run and there was zero chafing! Score.
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  • S: Off

Total mileage: 53 

So, now the bad news. It all started with a pretty bad sinus infection earlier this week that I’m still battling. When I woke up on Tuesday morning to meet the group for our morning workout, I had a raging headache and tons of pressure so I decided to go back to sleep. It started to subside in the early afternoon, so I dragged myself out the door to at least get in a few easy miles since fresh air often helps when I’m congested.

About 3 miles in, I felt pretty good so decided to modify the workout to something slightly more digestible when sick and running alone– mile repeats. They ended up not being so bad, except for a weird pain that struck the inside of my left ankle during the last downhill mile and my cooldown home.

I got home and immediately iced, but noticed the pain wasn’t going away and it kinda hurt to put any pressure on it or walk. Red flag! I promptly tried to google diagnose myself as it didn’t seem to be the plantar since it wasn’t in my bottom/heel, and it wasn’t the achilles.

I decided to opt for a rest day on Wednesday (yesterday) when I still felt the pain while walking or even just sitting down. Thankfully, I was able to squeeze into good ol’ Dr. Levine’s office to take a look at it and do some ART before I had to head out for a flight.

As it turns out, it seems to be the posterior tibial tendon.

Source: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=a00166

After an ART treatment and icing nonstop, it’s starting to feel a tad better but I definitely need to take a few days off of running completely to help the inflammation and pain go away. And just when I started to feel good… my body rebels (again.) Dr. Levine didn’t specify why it could have happened, perhaps just a step the wrong way that strained it or just overuse, etc. Thankfully I didn’t try to run through it except for those few miles home, so I’m hoping it’s not really severe?

Unfortunately/fortunately for me, I’m currently in LA visiting my sister for a little long weekend getaway and I was really looking forward to getting in some sun-soaked miles by running and hiking out here. My pale legs have been waiting to be free in shorts for so long! I’ll just have to find another way to kill my days while she’s at work, like shopping or hanging with the rest of the funemployeds at coffee shops. Pity me, I know.

It’s still way too early to see how this bump in the road pans out, but I am 100% dedicated to taking the rest now to heal it so that I don’t compromise the big picture of running Boston. Since I know I’m not going to PR in April, I’m not too stressed about losing fitness since I just want to get to the starting line healthy and resembling something near “in shape.” If this injury extends into a month or two months, then we’ll have a bigger issue. Let’s not hit the panic button quite yet…

Speaking of injuries, I thought this satirical look at injuries by pro runner Lauren Fleshman was pretty funny and timely: “How to Injure Yourself like a Pro” I do feel like I’ve done a pretty decent job at building up my mileage gradually (but could be doing it wrong considering how injury-prone I’ve been!), and  I am definitely guilty of pairing feeling fit with feeling invincible and putting my idiot hat on. Here’s to a few days of forced rest and hoping I can ease back into things next week…

‘Til then, I’m off to soak up the CA sun before the rain hits this weekend! Bummer, but it sure beats the frigid temps back in NYC. Now here’s to hoping the impending snowstorm delays my flight back on Sunday night and I’m “stuck” here a little longer…

Hoarding beers

I’m back with some good news– I’m running! Without pain!

As I mentioned back in November, my stress fracture was lingering around slightly longer than expected and I ended up taking off a little over three months total. Three months without any exercise means starting my Boston 2014 training cycle from scratch. While not ideal, I’m very excited to finally get back on the roads and kick off 2014 on a good note.

CentralPark

This was in the fall when I couldn’t run, but you get the point.

 

2013 was likely my lowest mileage year-to-date, and I never stayed healthy or uninjured for longer than 3-ish months at a time. By the time I got in a groove, I got injured again and had to take time off. It’s difficult to continually start from scratch every few months, especially since the first month or so of getting back in shape is the most challenging. However, I am optimistic that 2014 will be a year of consistent, healthy training! Even if that consistency doesn’t pay off in the form of PRs this year, I’m confident that it will eventually.

We’re only 90 days away from Boston 2014, and I’ve got all my fingers and toes crossed that I can make it to the starting line healthy! I think it’s too early to determine an accurate goal time, 3:05-3:10 sounds safe. While I’m still chasing sub-3:00 or even just a PR in 2014, I want to be realistic and gentle with myself considering the circumstances. We’ll see how the coming weeks go…!

I recently started using Running Ahead to map out a training plan and log my data, after my friend Veronica recommended it. It takes a bit to set up, but is super easy to use once you set up your calendar! Here is my dashboard (below) that summarizes my training data/upcoming planned workouts, my (tentative) training plan to help map out my daily mileage and weekly build up, and my calendar that shows my actual runs-to-date coupled with planned runs.

Training Dashboard on Running Ahead

Training Dashboard on Running Ahead

 

I like that you can also view others training logs to compare runs, workouts, plans, etc. and it tracks miles on each pair of shoes to know when to retire them. I’m definitely guilty of over-wearing sneakers way beyond their mileage! You might also notice I added a little widget to the sidebar here on the blog that automatically uploads my latest runs.

I’m a few weeks into actual training and hit 35 miles last week! The injury-prone, nervous voice in my head thinks I’m still running too much, too soon. I’m only running 5 days a week right now, which has helped, but will go up to 6 soon. I’m also spending a bit more time stretching, foam rolling, and doing strength work. Knock on wood (or, knock on healed bone?) it keeps me healthier.

This past weekend, a group of friends and I trekked out to Long Island for the Sayville Running Company 10 Mile Run to the Brewery. This is the second year we’ve done it and it’s a blast. It’s pretty flat and ends at Blue Point Brewery for unlimited beer! I didn’t fully run the race last year as I was in the midst of my weird knee/IT issue and pathetically ran/walked a few miles out and back. I had very low expectations this year as I hadn’t even run 10 miles consecutively or done any tempo work to date.

10 Mile Run to Brewery 1/18/14

10 Mile Run to Brewery 1/18/14

I ran mostly with my friend Kristen and we had planned to run the first half easy and pick it up from there. Once the gun went off, we found our ‘easy’ pace a lot quicker than anticipated! However, I just rolled with it and got into a groove and started picking it up around mile 5. I was definitely working hard to hold 7:00 and under pace, but felt really strong and steady. I could feel my competitive drive coming back as I focused on picking each girl ahead of me off one by one.

When the pace felt really difficult or I wanted to just slow down, I kept steering myself back to positive thoughts. While it sounds cheesy, I reminded myself that I was so grateful to be out there running at all. I wasn’t able to do this race last year and just spent the entire last quarter of 2013 on the sidelines. I was now on the roads able to hold 7:00 pace off minimal running and workouts. While small, what an accomplishment! The thought of running a marathon at that pace in a few months is a bit daunting, but this is a pretty exciting starting point.

Hoarding beers

Hoarding beers

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Winners get growlers & pint glasses

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With a little more time on my hands these days, I hope to be able to post here a little more frequently. I have a feeling I’ll sound like a broken record over the next few months, but I’m excited and motivated to start fresh and get back in shape. Let’s see what April 21st brings!

Also known as the race where I got a little more than just a medal at the finishing line.

But before we get there, here’s a spoiler: I ran a comfortable BQ with a 3:19:43, my first race in nearly 1.5 years. Hooray!

Last week, I wrote about my recent confidence-boosting workouts and plans for the race. While training had been going awesome, and I’ve experienced no back pain since the bike accident, I started feeling a slight twinge in my left shin on Friday morning following a tough workout on Thursday night. I wasn’t sure what to make of it: a normal soreness from training, or something more? Following my 14-miler on Saturday, I decided it was still just there and took off from running on Sunday and Monday. I decided to get my legs moving with a morning workout on Tuesday, and felt pretty crappy. But worse, my shin pain was pretty bad when I finished.

I’ve had two consecutive stress fractures before in high school, first in my right tibia and then in my left. I’m now pretty aware of what they feel like, and had no doubt in my mind that the pain was the start of a stress fracture. Enter race-week panic mode!

I weighed the pros and cons of both options:

  • Scrap the Lehigh Valley Marathon: Safer, more sane route for my health but total fail on the marathon front. If I took the next 5 weeks to cross-train, maybe the mild stress fracture would subside and I could still race Chicago? Unlikely and only time would tell. Even more depressing, I wouldn’t have a qualifying time to be able to run Boston ’14. Then, I’d be scrapping Lehigh, probably Chicago, and definitely Boston.
  • Run the Lehigh Valley Marathon: Run on a possible stress fracture and turn it into a definite stress fracture over the course of 26.2 miles. Drop out if my leg is about to snap in half. Get the BQ time and be able to race Boston ’14! See how things go, but most likely not be able to run Chicago.

Obviously, I went with the later and probably need to get my head checked out. I know everyone might not have made the same decision, but I was okay with potentially scrapping Chicago ’13. While I have been gaining confidence in my fitness, there is a slim chance I’d get minutes within my PR at Chicago, let alone under it. Running Boston ’14 will not only be awesome for all the #BostonStrong reasons we all love, but personally it’ll allow me more time to get back into PR shape and go for that sub-3:00 that still alludes me.

My pre-race prep was anything but normal. I had a stressful and off-schedule week leading up to the race due to work, staying way late and even working at the office overnight (I don’t know how night shift workers do this.) Pretty sure my diet of nothing but pizza, sour gummy candies and way too much coffee didn’t help, but I wasn’t too concerned because I love my job and at least the craziness took my mind off of the race and shin pain.

After a relaxing haircut and a nice long sleep on Friday night, I drove out Saturday afternoon with my friends Noelle and Veronica who were kind enough to accompany me on this crazy journey. We headed straight to the expo to get my bib (#999!), checked into our hotel, and had enough Italian food to feed a family of at least six.

I woke up race morning around 5 a.m., which was definitely not early enough to digest my pre-race oatmeal, banana and coffee for a 7 a.m. start, but I had no desire to set my alarm for the 4 a.m. hour. They drove me to the start, but traffic at the exit meant I was hopping out of the car at 6:45 a.m. and running on the highway offramp to make it to the start. Ooops!

Half asleep on the highway

I ran into Meg (hi, Meg! You had an awesome race!) and my teammate Audrey at the start, and easily hopped into the crowds a few minutes before race time. One perk of a small race= no strict corrals that make you feel like you’re going to war.

The gun went off and I tried my best to settle into an easy pace. My goal was to run around 8:00 pace, then settle into 7:50s for the bulk of the race, and then drop it to 7:40s or under the last few miles. Considering most of my training and long runs hover between 7:55-8:15 pace, I figured this was doable and would feel comfortable for 26.2 miles.

But of course, race day comes around and the adrenaline flows! My times early on were faster than I wanted, and I tried to reign it in but decided to go where the day took me. I even had to stop and tie my shoes, twice. My leg was feeling mediocre and after a few miles of pavement through neighborhoods and parks, I welcomed a soft trail.

I’d guesstimate about 75% of the race was on a light packed dirt trail along the canal, which was absolutely beautiful and scenic. If I lived closer, I’d love to do long runs there! I settled in, made a new friend named Greg who was also aiming around/under 3:25, and waited until mile 11 where my friends were waiting to hop in with me. The trails were great, but got very narrow at times where we had to run single file and that drove me a bit nutty.

Noelle ran with us for a few miles before hopping out around the half-way mark to get the car and drive to the finish, while Veronica did the rest of the race with me as the end of her long run (which was mighty speedy, it turns out!) I was capable of running the entire thing solo, but having a friend to keep me company was SO helpful! I felt incredibly strong and the miles just kept ticking off.

Look at how much fun we’re having?! I hate myself on camera.Running is flattering on nobody.

Things got a bit tougher mentally around mile 21, especially once my shin decided it had nearly had enough. Each step felt like a slightly painful jab, but I decided it wasn’t debilitating. Plus, I’m pretty stubborn and I wanted to finish the race since I had come so far.

With two miles to go, I realized if I kept around a 7:30 pace, I could break 3:20. I never entered this race gunning for time except a BQ with a cushion, but my competitive side kicked in and I decided to focus a little more on the last mile to get it.

Because I hate when my watch auto-laps/beeps ahead of mile markers in races, I typically manually lap split at the mile markers during races. I was too scatterbrained to remember to do this before the race, and then I missed some markers throughout, so the splits below don’t make sense in spots.

It’s also the first time I have ever negative split a marathon? I’m guesstimating around 7:42 pace for the first half, 7:31 for the second. I felt really, really good, and am really happy that I was able to hit a 3:19 relatively comfortably on just over 3 months of semi-consistent training. While my body might be a bit broken right now, I’m pretty impressed that I was able to bounce back after a rough winter and spring and get that BQ time with tons of wiggle room. You go, body. Sorry I fractured you.

Veronica, me, Noelle

After the race, I was so happy to finish but needed ice immediately. I met up with friends, grabbed a beer, and immediately hobbled over to the grass to sit and ice. Once we walked back to the car to head back to the hotel and hit the road, I noticed that I could barely put any weight on my right leg. The pain was so excruciating I couldn’t help but keep laughing because it was so ridiculous and stupid that I just ran a marathon on it.

Coincidentally, I had a regular doctor’s appointment scheduled for Monday morning at 9 a.m. so I was able to get my leg checked out and get an air cast boot to help alleviate the pressure when walking. I have a referral for a bone scan that I intend to get this week pending some doctor/insurance stuff, but I am 95% sure it’s a stress fracture so I’m looking forward to seeing the recommended healing time and how long I’ll have to be off of it.

In my experience, it’s about 6-8 weeks, which is just in time for base building…

So, there’s the good and the bad. I have a few things in mind that might have contributed to the injury but for my sanity, I don’t want to get hung up on them too much: I switched to a new model of lighter shoes for all my training runs about a month ago, and even though I was pretty cautious about building my mileage slowly, I increased the intensity of my workouts and long runs kinda quickly, etc. The reality is that sometimes these things happen, and I’m just adding it to the list of weirdo injuries that have plagued 2013 thus far.

And of course I get the bone scan results next week, all of the above is pure speculation based off my prior experience and how I feel. Until then, I’ll be taking a hiatus from the bridle and sporting these kicks, just in time for New York Fashion Week.