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Running, lately.

August 16th, 2013 | Posted by Lindsay Runs in Blog Posts - (3 Comments)

The last few weeks of training have been pretty motivating, as my workouts have been getting progressively faster. There have been plenty of days where I contemplate “oversleeping” and skipping morning runs, and team workouts still give me knots in my stomach from nerves. But I’ve been showing up and continually putting in the work, and I think it’s (finally!) starting to pay off. As I’ve mentioned, getting back into shape is incredibly frustrating, humbling, and rewarding.

Here’s a quick summary of the last few weeks (because I’m sure you’ve been waiting in suspense….)

w/o 7/22: Total 51 miles

  • M: 8.25 + lift
  • T: a.m. workout @ Great Lawn; 8×600 w/ 200 jog– from 6:23 pace to 6:00 pace
  • W: Off
  • R: late to p.m. workout ~1.75 @ 6:35 pace; 2x Harlem Hill/transverse, 6:43, 6:30; pickups at end
  • F: 5.25 + lift
  • S: 2 mile ‘fun race’ to Parker House in NJ (4th place) 11:28. Definitely a short course, but ended in an open bar so no complaints here.
  • S: 15 miles trails w/ Kristen in NJ; picked up last miles 7:49, 7:19, 6:50

Kristen & I pre-race. We’re ready to drink all of the beer.

w/o 7/29: Total 51 miles

  • M: 8.5 + lift
  • T: a.m. Lower Loop, 1 mile @ 6:38, 8×400 w/ 200 jog– ranged from 7:05 pace to 6:12 pace. Legs heavyyyy.
  • W: Off
  • R: p.m. 4.06 tempo in 26:54 (6:37 avg) 6:47, 6:30, 6:41, 6:29. Ran solo for most.
  • F: 7.25
  • S: 17.75 long run while watching Club Champs– longest run so far!
  • S: Off

w/o 8/5: Total 46.75 miles

  • M: 8.5 mi + bike commute
  • T: a.m. Great Lawn: 6x~800 w/ 400 jog; ranged from 6:30 pace to 5:54 pace. Took a while to wake up…
  • W: 4 miles, extremely tired and so slow
  • R: a.m. tempo 5.12 in 35:47 (6:59 avg.)– hard to get moving/breathing in the morning // p.m. free SoulCycle class for work
  • F: Off
  • S: Off (sick)
  • S: 13.25 “long” run

 w/o 8/12: Planned ~55 total

  • M: 9.5
  • T: p.m. track workout: 5×1000: 3:49, 3:53, 3:51, 3:50, 3:47 (approx 5:59-5:46 pace)- felt good + lift
  • W: 7.5
  • R: p.m. tempo: 6.1 in 40:17 (6:37 avg) 6:46, 6:41, 6:19, 6:47, 6:36, 6:37- felt good & consistent
  • F: Off
  • S: Planned long run?
  • S: Planned off or short run?

Here’s the thing about my workouts and mental state lately. I have had zero confidence. Particularly on Thursday nights when I meet with the whole team for practice, I always feel unsure of who to try to run with since I’m not in shape enough to hang with my regular group. I’m just not as familiar with who else runs what paces and I hate being that annoying person going around asking what pace everyone is planning to run. So sometimes, I find myself in limbo– lacking confidence to go with a faster group because I don’t want to get dropped, but a bit quicker than the other. One day, I doubted myself and ran with the 2nd group and found myself running practically the entire 4 mile tempo alone. My pace was good, and sometimes I enjoy a solo effort, but I regretted not challenging myself and going with the faster group because I was too scared.

Well, that’s dumb. So this week, I opted to go with the quicker group on both Tuesday AND Thursday nights. And I didn’t get entirely dropped, I just hung along the back. Surprise! It wasn’t so bad after all.

Workout 8/15/13

In fact, this tempo is pretty much on par with my regular pace for these workouts, which I was quite surprised by. Maybe it was the slightly cooler weather, or maybe I’m just getting stronger mentally, but it’s been a good reminder to stop doubting myself or playing it safe. While I’m still not expecting to run close to my PR in Chicago, maybe I won’t be as far off as I thought I’d be when I started this training cycle.

Oh, PS, have I mentioned I’m “racing” the VIA Marathon on 9/8? I keep conveniently forgetting about it. I’m just running it as a long run to get a BQ time (since my last marathon was April ’12). Yep, just a casual 26.2 mile run. As long as I clear 3:25 (7:49 pace), I’ll feel confident about being able to get in for Boston ’14. Since this post is long enough, hopefully more on that to come…

This weekend, I’m headed up to Garrison, NY for Alex’s wedding weekend. Alex and I met through Central Park Track Club, when we discovered we ran the 2010 NYC Marathon within seconds of each other (literally) and became perfect training buds and friends. You might remember we even did Boston 2 Big Sur together! I’m so excited to head up with a few other girls from the team and celebrate her and Steve’s big day and dance the night away.

Slowly but surely, I’ve been building my mileage up and starting to get back into the groove. In fact, this past week was the first time I (barely) cracked 40 miles– including 2 workouts and a ‘long’ run. My sore legs and tired body are slowly recalling the routine I’ve been out of for a while. Welcome back to training.

Let’s be honest, I don’t anticipate finding the time to blog about every week of training leading up to Chicago, but I’ll do my best to try! But I’ll definitely be updating my training log online, so get your fill over there if I become MIA again.

Here’s a quick snapshot of this past week, with some details on the workouts:

w/o 7/8: 

  • Monday: 5 miles easy on Randall’s Island
  • Tuesday: Workout in a.m. around bridle– 3 x 600/400/300 with 200 recovery between
  • Wednesday: Off
  • Thursday: Morning workout at Exceed Fitness; Night workout– repeats of 2 miles, 2 miles, 1 mile
  • Friday: 7 miles easy in morning
  • Saturday: 12 miles easy
  • Sunday: Off
Total: 41.25 miles

This training cycle, I’m trying to get in two main workouts a week when I can: shorter intervals on Tuesdays, and longer tempos on Thursdays. This is the schedule Central Park Track Club sets out, and in the past I’ve only been good about incorporating Thursday workouts into my schedule– even for NYC ’11 and Boston ’12.

Last summer, my friends and I started a new routine of doing the Tuesday workout most mornings when we meet. Doing it in the morning in the park is much more convenient than heading to the track after work and allows another free weeknight to work or have a life. The shorter intervals are usually a bit easier to digest at 6:40 in the morning than a longer tempo, and we focus more on effort and getting our legs moving than time and splits as the terrain often varies and can’t be compared to a track.

That said, Tuesday’s workout was 3 x 600, 400, and 300 meter repeats with 200 meter jog between intervals and 400 meter between sets. We did the workout on the bridle path around the reservoir, generally estimating on our watches how long each interval was. Approximately, my splits were:

  • 2:31, 1:41, 1:15
  • 2:38, 1:37, 1:18
  • 2:25, 1:35, 1:07

Those times mean nothing to me, especially since they were on the annoying little ‘hills’ (that are nice on a normal run, but brutal during a speed workout) and uneven dirt. But at least my last set was ‘fastest’. Counts for something, right?

And then we celebrated Alex’s birthday by grilling in my patio!

I’m usually not one for double workouts, but I am trying to get a bit better about incorporating lifting into my routine, even if it’s for 5 minutes at the end of a run. So, when my coworker invited me to a complimentary workout class at Exceed Physical Culture on Thursday morning as part of something Chobani is sponsoring, I was intrigued. I was planning to run Thursday night’s workout and didn’t want to be tired for that, but I also didn’t want to turn down a free class that’d be awesome strength training.

Getting my butt kicked.

O.M.G. The squats, TRX exercises, burpees, kettlebell moves, and more left my legs toast. Seriously. I consider my legs pretty strong from running but I was walking like a penguin by Friday morning– turns out, there are a lot of other leg muscles I suppose I don’t use on a regular basis.

So I headed to Thursday night’s workout a bit sore and tired, but got through the workout not-so-gracefully. The workout on tap was 2 miles through the 72 transverse and up Cat Hill to the 102nd st transverse, another 2 miles through the 102nd st transverse and back south down (up?) the rolling west side hills to the 72nd st statue, and then 1 hard mile up Cat Hill to Engineer’s Gate. Holy hills, my quads were not happy.

  • 2 miles: 6:58, 6:45
  • 2 miles: 7:01, 6:48
  • 1 mile: 6:55

I definitely had to work hard to keep those paces and had a solid group around me to try to keep up with which was awesome. And, it was my first Thursday night workout back which was exciting! But honestly, I’m still having a hard time (mentally, and physically of course) not being able to run at my ‘normal’ workout paces with my ‘normal’ group. I’m respecting my level and doing what I can right now, but it’s a bit discouraging to compare these times to previous workouts.

I’m incredibly competitive with myself, and know the issue of comparison is going to be an ongoing struggle for quite some time. I’ll just keep having to remind myself to enjoy the journey, and hopefully I’ll get back to my ‘normal’ self at some point in the future– run by run.

In less than 20 hours (fingers crossed), I’ll be making a right on Hereford and left on Boylston. I’ll see the finish line in the distance and hopefully cross it in one piece.
For the last year+, I’ve had my sights set on breaking 3:00. It’s only been over the last 2 months that I’ve really started to believe — truly, confidently, believe —  I could do it tomorrow at Boston. I’ve spent the final miles of recent runs visualizing those last few miles, knowing I’m running 2:5X:XX, and actually felt the butterflies, excitement, and adrenaline. I worked hard for this. I earned this. I proved to myself, most importantly, that I could do it.
But no matter how hard and how long you train, some things are simply out of your control. Like tomorrow’ weather forecast.

 

90 DEGREES. 

 

In April, 70 would be HOT. 90 is just cruel. I didn’t really start worrying about the forecast until Friday morning, as I woke up to an email from the BAA warning about heat stroke. Yesterday, we received the official announcement that they were adding a deferment option, extending the course time, and signed off with a warning that “speed can kill.” Yes, really.

 

Reality check.

 

I’m not sure how to adjust my race strategy, but I’ll need to. My plan was to start out a tad slower than goal pace, around 6:55-7:00, feeling relaxed & comfortable on the downhills. I’d cruise until we hit the uphills, working a consistent pace, and then use the energy I banked by starting out conservatively to kick it the last 5-6 miles and bring it home under 3:00. The one thing I’ve heard, over and over, is to start conservatively or you’ll pay for it later.

 

I hate the thought of entirely discounting my goal before I even toe the starting line, but I can’t pretend I’m invincible either. The heat is going to affect me and everyone out there tomorrow. Yeah, I’m hydrating, packing in electrolytes, and will be sure to focus on taking water & gatorade at every stop I can, but it’s a fact that heat imposes real physical limitations on performance. BAA’s email today said: “You should adopt the attitude that THIS IS NOT A RACE. It is an experience.”

 

Just like thousands of others here in Boston, I am incredibly frustrated and disappointed. I’m in the best marathoning shape I’ve ever been in and success could be totally out of my reach tomorrow. I’ve had people tell me to just throw all goals out the window, run easy, and just finish. But I don’t train for months on end to simply finish, and it’s really, really hard for me to accept anything less than the finish I’ve been dreaming of.

 

But you know what? It’s BOSTON. My first! And more than likely, not my last. Every training cycle and race has it’s purpose. If I don’t break 3:00 tomorrow, I will be disappointed, but it’s just more experience under my belt that’ll lead me to a 2:5X:XX when the time is right. Maybe it’ll be Chicago in October, and maybe it won’t. But I’ll keep believing I can and working towards it.

 

So I’ll hit the streets in Hopkinton with my game face on and play it by ear. I’ll still start out conservatively and see where the race goes. For all of those who would like to track me, by bib # is 3752! I hope to wear my orange Central Park Track Club singlet, but I might strip down to a sports bra if it’s already warm in the morning.

 

 

And if anything, I’ve had a fabulous weekend so far in Boston– driving up and checking out the expo with teammates, dinner and exploring with my Mom, and just taking in the energy in this city pre-Marathon Monday. Hopefully it’s sunny and warm (but not THIS warm!) next year– I’d love to come watch!

 

Of course, I bought the requisite Boston jacket (& pint glass– because I’ll need a cold brew after this one):

 

Well, I don’t know if tomorrow will be ‘wicked fast’, but I’ll do my best to make it wicked fun.

 

THANK YOU for all of your support over the last few months especially, and for continuing to follow me along on this journey. I know you’ll all be rooting for me out there, and I’m happy to have made it this far healthy, happy, and fit. Boston, here we go! Good luck to everyone racing, let’s do this!

Ever feel there’s not enough hours in the day or days in the week? Yeah, me too. It’s been a busy week around here, but with a little flexibility and a little compromise on sleep, I hit 67.5 miles last week, a new high for this training cycle. This last week I’ll aim to hit 70 and then it’s taper time!

But it’s been an exciting week so far, so here’s the highlights. Spoiler: it includes delicious birthday food and a cool announcement.

I ran 20 miles in the middle of the day last Wednesday. Some at marathon pace!

Have I mentioned how thankful I am that my job promotes a bit of flexibility? Very thankful. To offset the 2.5 hours of ‘me’ time I took to do this long run in the early afternoon, I simply started my work day a bit earlier and ended it a bit later. Since I was traveling Thursday-Saturday for work, I knew I wouldn’t find the time to squeeze in 20 miles over the weekend. Gotta make it work.

I’ve missed bridge running, so decided to head down the WSH, over the Brooklyn and back over the Manhattan bridges, and back up the WSH to my apartment. Despite eating a substantial breakfast, my stomach felt empty about 3 miles in so I stopped to buy a water and a Kind bar. I never eat ‘real’ food while running, but knew I needed something other than a Gu to stop the hunger. Luckily it sat well.

Long run, 3/14

20 miles of splits are pretty boring, I know. But, I was feeling good after coming back over the Manhattan Bridge and decided today would be a good day to attempt marathon pace at the end of a long run. I was bored around mile 13 so decided to pick it up then to make the time go faster. After 4 miles, I started feeling extremely light headed and dehydrated but spotted a vending machine and chugged a water while jogging easy again. It was the 1st 70 degree day in a while and I was hot. I figured I’d just jog easy to cool down home, but felt 10x better after the water so attempted another marathon pace mile. And it was quick!

I went to Atlanta!

As I mentioned, I went to Atlanta for work Thursday through Saturday. The Chobani CHOmobile was at the Georgia Marathon expo, and part of my job is to go to these events to interact with consumers, media and capture content to share online. I didn’t get to see much of the city, but did wake up extra early both mornings to get in my run before the expo started. Including a nice little run to Piedmont Park!

I spectated the NYC Half-Marathon!

The NYC Half-Marathon is one of my FAVORITE races. I don’t care how ridiculously overpriced the entry fee is. It holds a special place in my heart as it was my first post-collegiate race in 2010 and where I set my PR in 2011 on my 24th birthday. I really, really wanted to race it again this year, but I knew I wouldn’t be getting back from Atlanta until late Saturday night and after being on my feet all day, likely wouldn’t be a successful race. So I dragged my overtired self out of bed early to spectate while getting in some miles with other CPTC peeps along the course. It was a blast, though part of me was a bit bummed since I think I would have had a good shot at a PR. Oh well. I got to see two of my other friends from college who ran the race, too. And then I drank pretty much all day on Sunday.

I turned 25!

Yep, Tuesday was my birthday! And the first day of Spring! So, pretty much the happiest day of the year. On Monday night I started the celebrations early with a trip to the new 16 Handles near my apartment with Terence. Having froyo within a 4 block radius is going to be dangerous this summer, I already know.

I kicked off the actual birthday with a sweaty 10 mile run and a doctor’s appointment…fun? After work, I enjoyed fancy cocktails outside at Public with my coworker Emily, followed by a late dinner at Gentleman Farmer with my cute guy friend :)

Gentleman Farmer is such a quaint restaurant! It only seats 20 people in the cozy space, and we ordered really unique dishes like bison tartar with quail egg, prosciutto and fig stuffed quail with risotto, ostrich steak, and creme brule- complete with a birthday candle! Highly, highly recommended for a special occasion dinner. Everything, including the wine, was extremely delicious. We cleaned our plates!

The birthday celebrations continued over a work lunch complete with wine & dessert yesterday at Il Buco Alimentari and Vineria, and I arrived home to cupcakes from my old college roommate Emily. I’m not a huge birthday person, but I do appreciate getting to feel a bit special for a day (or two…or a week). Thanks, everyone :) I wonder why my jeans are a bit tight today.

I also realized I’ll never again race in the 20-24 age group. 25-29 is hard! Goodbye, age group awards.

I was chosen as one of Boston.com/Polar Gear’s wear-tester for the Boston Marathon!

Guys, I never win anything. When my cute guy friend told me about the call for entries on Boston.com to apply to wear-test Polar gear (RCX5 watch/system) in the month leading up to the Boston Marathon and on race day, get to guest blog about it, and then keep the gear, I immediately applied. But I really didn’t think I’d have a chance. I don’t have a super compelling backstory, personal ties to the Boston Marathon, or anything. I just like to run and blog about it. But, both he and I were selected and the introductory post went up today. I should get the watch any day now and will be posting at Boston.com every Monday! I’m honored and really, really excited to see what the watch & system can do compared to my dinky Garmin 110.

So, that’s what I’ve been up to the past week or so. All good stuff. What’s the highlight of your week so far?

Here We Go, Boston

January 8th, 2012 | Posted by Lindsay Runs in Blog Posts - (16 Comments)

Alas, the first week in January has come and gone, marking week 1 of actually recording and paying attention to my training for Boston. While I’m still fine tuning my mileage buildup, I’ve mapped out a general plan for the next few weeks and while more of a base would be helpful, I’m not as behind as I thought.

While I’ll get my plan ready to share over the next week or two, here’s week 1. I’m also making a change and structuring my weeks Monday-Sunday, instead of Sunday-Saturday like a calendar, to allow for more flexibility on weekends for long runs while traveling.

Week 1: 1/2-1/8

  • Mon 1/2: 2.5 miles easy, rushed for time
  • Tues 1/3: 5.5 easy out & back along Hudson River. Windy!
  • Weds 1/4: Met Alex in morning for a COLD 7 miles
  • Thurs 1/5: 6 mile “workout”
  • Fri 1/6: OFF
  • Sat 1/7: 4 miles around reservoir & to Ali’s, 2 miles home. Shorts & tshirt run!
  • Sun 1/8: 7.5 miles easy, slow

Total: 34.5 miles

On Thursday, I attempted some form of a workout just to start somewhere. I had dinner plans so couldn’t make it to the CPTC workout, and attempted a few on/off miles just to remind my legs how to run fast.

"Workout" 1/5

All continuous, 1 mile easy, 1 mile ‘hard’, 1 mile easy, 2 miles ‘hard’. 1 mile cool down. Not a bad solo effort, and I actually felt pretty good despite running against the wind off the Hudson River. Gotta start somewhere.

A good week of mileage, and an even better weekend! Friday night went from having no real plans to going to four different bars and staying out until 3 a.m. Though I felt a bit like death on Saturday, it was 60 degrees and too nice to not run. I did a leisurely 4 miles around the bridle path and ended my run, sweaty and all, at Ali’s apartment since Lauren and Emily were in town and I wanted to meet/drink mimosas with them. A few hours of chatting, brownies, mimosas and wine later, I ran back to my apartment (a whole 2 miles!) and was definitely not sober. Whoops? Any run that involves drinking and hanging out with those lovely ladies is a win!

A quick shower and 94369346 outfit changes later, Noelle and I were ready to head downtown for the annual Central Park Track Club post-holiday party and awards ceremony.

Alex, Noelle, Me and Molly

The dinner and open bar was great, and I had a blast dancing all night. Afterwards we headed to a random bar a few blocks away and ended up staying until close? Guess that 5 Hour Energy worked.

While staying up until 6 a.m. last night (or, this morning?) doesn’t feel so great right about now, this weekend left a big smile on my face. Full of friends, dancing, talking, running, little sleep, drinking, and randomness, just the way I want. While we’re only one week in, working towards balance and happiness in 2012 is going pretty well :) Now if only things will stay this way as the mileage picks up. Bring it on, Boston.

I really didn’t want to write this post, and I know I’m a few days late to the recap game. I put it off partially because it wasn’t the sub-3:00 marathon I had hoped for, but mostly because writing this would mean it was over. I can’t go back and change the way I felt on Sunday. I’ve taken a few days to digest the race, which included a healthy mix of basking in pride and sulking in disappointment.

I’ll be honest, yes, I am disappointed. A time like mine should not reflect disappointment, but it does for me. I trained for, wished for, and pushed really hard to complete my second marathon in under 3:00. I know my time is still great, and it’s a 55 second PR from last year’s NYC. Who can’t be happy with a PR?! And NYC is a tough course! At the end of the race, the feeling of sheer depletion meant I gave it everything physically and that’s what mattered. I am proud of myself for finishing, setting myself up for success with a really great first half, and staying mentally strong and fighting despite the way I felt.

Finished!!

2011 NYC Marathon: 3:03:37 official finishing time. 83rd female, 1425th place overall, 7th in age group (20-24). My 2nd marathon. Now let’s get to the fun stuff :)

Sub-Elite Start

I woke up at 5 a.m., feeling pretty well-rested and excited! I made some coffee and a hugeeee oatmeal with bananas to heat and take on the bus with me. Around 5:45, I left my apartment and headed to 54th street and 6th avenue to board the sub-elite bus. Around 6:30 a.m. we headed east down the FDR, our caravan of buses escorted by police. Seeing the highway completely shut down to traffic for our buses was the first of many unreal experiences. We arrived in Staten Island pretty quickly and were escorted away from the starting villages into a private heated tent, next to the elite athletes.

Sub-elite tent

While we were separated from the elites, we still shared portapotties and a little warmup area. Luckily, I had my CPTC teammates to keep me company! I didn’t even need half the layers I packed since we weren’t out in the cold, but I sure was thankful I had brought them anyway. I drank Gatorade and ate another banana and Gu Chomps while we waited. Around 8:45, we checked our bags in a private truck and were escorted to the top of the Verrazano bridge.

The next 45 minutes until the start were the most incredible moments of my life. We were able to start right on the line, and were free to do striders and roam the starting area. I strode out about 100 meters over the bridge and took it all in… just me and the closed bridge, nobody else in sight.I turned around and the crowds were so far away. It was surreal to be standing by myself with the bridge wide open. It was at that point I realized I was going to go for it. I’ve worked so hard the past four months to be standing in this exact spot…and suddenly I was here, standing on top of the Verrazano, taking in these gorgeous views from a truly special spot. I started to get choked up, I was so thankful.

New York, New York!

Miles 1, 2, 3: 6:45, 6:19, 6:32

The gun went off, and suddenly we were running! I tried to stay steady up the Verrazano, and found myself trailing back a bit from my CPTC teammates. I had anticipated hitting the first mile in over 7:00, so 6:45 was a bit of a shock but I felt fine. I tried not to pay attention to the second mile marker since that’s down the Verrazano’s steep decline. I thought mile 3 was a tad more steady as we wound the streets and found our way to Brooklyn, but I see it was quick!

Miles 4, 5, 6, 7, 8: 6:42, 6:42, 6:46, 6:41, 6:53

Around the 5K mark, I found myself back with my CPTC teammates Erin, Erin, and Maria. We strode across the road in a line of 4, trying to reign each other back and get closer to 6:50s. But it just wasn’t happening. I know you know that feeling. So, everytime I felt like speeding up, I tried to picture myself absorbing that energy I wanted to use and saving it for later. During this portion, I felt like I was working a bit more than I wanted to, but I definitely felt smooth. Erin pulled away around mile 6. At 7.5, I swung out to the left side of the road as my Dad was supposed to be standing near 7.8. I scanned and scanned the crowds but missed him! I was a bit thrown off, but quickly hopped back with my teammates as we approached mile 8 and joined in with the green & blue corrals! I took my first gel at mile 8 and felt good.

Miles 9, 10, 11, 12, 13: 6:45, 6:38, 6:49, 6:47, 6:48. Half-marathon mark 1:28:06.

A bit after mile 10 (why did I run a 6:38??) I realized I felt like I was working a bit harder than I should be. The crowds, the energy, the noise, and my thoughts propelled me to continue pushing. It’s a marathon, it was going to hurt no matter what. I pushed any doubt and panic aside. We passed the halfway mark in 1:28:06 and I felt a boost. I knew we had to hit the halfway point in 1:28 low or under to run under 3:00. Being a bit OCD, I checked the past year’s results and saw that anyone who ran sub-3:00 ran between 1:24 and 1:28 for the half. Nothing slower. Yes, this was fast, and YES this was aggressive, but I wanted to know I did everything I could to set myself up for success. I was on track, and just had to run under a 1:32 second half– heck, that sounded reasonable!

Miles 14, 15, 16, 17, 18: 6:56, 7:09, 7:09, 6:48, 6:53

I continued through Queens and started to feel like legs going a bit. My breathing was a bit heavier than I wanted, but I was chugging along where I wanted to be. I fell way behind my teammates going up the Queensboro bridge, but tried to keep steady. Hills are not my strength, and I didn’t mind the quietness of the bridge. I used it to collect my thoughts and my strength while taking my second gel and working to draft a bit as it was pretty windy. As we wound down the bridge, and I heard the wall of noise of 1st ave. Manhattan! I made it! I knew I had friends in the 70s and 80s, and scanned the crowds while trying to stay focused. I felt my quads really going and started to get nervous. Last year, I felt pretty good on this stretch of 1st Ave and my current state concerned me a bit. I used the crowd’s energy to propel myself forward, still happy with my splits around goal pace. My mom was on 97th street, and I was so happy to see her…though I had very little to say but wave.

Miles 19, 20, 21, 22, 23: 7:07, 7:26, 7:21, 7:26, 7:32

After mile 18, the crowds thinned and I took a 3rd gel in hopes they’d revive my legs. My quads. Oh, my quads. I rarely have issues or soreness in my quads during long runs or workouts, but they felt paralyzed as we hit the Willis Avenue Bridge. My breathing was okay, aerobically I felt I could continue to push, but my legs were not having it. I lost major time on these miles. I looked at my pace bracelet and saw the 2 minute cushion I had to break 3:00 start to shrink. It was frustrating knowing I was mentally and aerobically feeling ready to push but physically unable to increase the turnover in my legs. I was stuck in the same gear. Around mile 23, I actually didn’t know if my legs would hold up to carry me to the finish line. But I fought.

Over the Willis Avenue Bridge... (19.5)

Miles 24, 25, 26, .2: 8:00, 7:28, 7:20, 1:38

The 5th Avenue hill was the worst, as expected. I counted down the blocks one by one, feeling like I traveled 10 blocks but only having made it one. 90th street felt like it would never come. I saw my parents and barely mustered a wave. As a whole, I really tried to enjoy and savor the course but this stretch was one I just about closed my eyes and wished away. Once we entered the park, I was hit by “The Wall of Orange”– my CPTC teammates cheering their heads off. I got a boost and knew I would finish. Unlike last year where I think I blacked out for part of Central Park to the finish line, I was extremely aware during this time. Again, I wanted to just go but my legs wouldn’t let me. I remained positive and focused, knowing I’d have to continue to push if I was going to PR at all.

Seriously, are we there yet?!

Cresting up the small hill to the finish line the last .2 miles, I tried to kick and push, and was suddenly hit with a wave of exhaustion. All the blood rushed from my head and body, I wanted to pass out or throw up. It was then I knew I was physically spent, a sign of a good race. I somehow raised my arms upon crossing.

Finish!

Victory!

Upon finishing, a volunteer quickly spotted my bib and escorted me to a special finisher’s area. On my way, I spotted my CPTC teammates I had run with and all finished around the same time. And, Alex who had started in local competitive found us too!

Alex, Me, Erin, Maria

The volunteer escorted us from the sub-elite to a special tent right after the finish line. I was so thankful I didn’t have to walk all the way to the end of the baggage trucks like I did last year. I barely made it to the tent, fighting the urge to pass out or at least sit down. The volunteer let us sit while she found my bag. For that, she was my hero! I sat and breathed and stared around for a while before changing into dry clothes and calling my parents.

That was it. I didn’t break 3:00, and the world wasn’t over (shocker!) I didn’t feel upset at that moment because of how physically spent I was. I wanted under 3:00 and my mind said yes, but my legs said NO. I felt proud of myself for finishing, and fighting, and still setting a new PR. So often, the mental piece of the puzzle is what goes awry and makes for a bad race. I can say despite some frustrating moments, my mind was really in the game. My legs just went a lot earlier than I anticipated which made for a really rough second half.

The Aftermath

After the race, I met up with my Mom and Dad and went to brunch at Fred’s on the UWS. Luckily, we didn’t have to wait and I had a pretty good grilled chicken sandwich. I hobbled back to my apartment and immediately got into bed and started crying to my mom. I’ve had a pretty rough few weeks, and part of me felt like I needed a sub-3:00 race to boost my self confidence and affirm I’ll be okay. After working so hard and sacrificing so much, I fell short. I failed. Running kicked me when I was down.

After drying my tears and saying bye to my mom, I brushed myself off and hopped in the shower. I knew sulking in my apartment wouldn’t help, so even though I was physically drained, I headed down to Opal for the CPTC afterparty celebrations. A few beers, a bottle of champagne, and shots later, I left with a happy heart and head. Sure, my time wasn’t the best, but I PR’ed. And the experience was worth every painful second.

Free bottle of champagne? Okay!

So now what? I’m trying hard to let this race just be and not analyze my splits, training, diet, lifestyle, etc. I feel like I did the right stuff, and it just wasn’t my day. Maybe NYC isn’t my course, and I’d fare better on a flatter one where I can keep a steady pace and not get crushed by awful hills and bridges. Part of me really doesn’t get why this year felt so much harder than last year, when I know I am a stronger runner right now. Maybe my pacing strategy was off, but I stand firm on the way I went out because it put me in the right position.

I’ve got Boston 2012 next, and I’m holding off on making any goals for that race quite yet. I’m a bit hesitant to say I want to break 3:00 there. However, I know I’m competitive with myself and probably won’t want to go into that race without the goal of setting a new PR. Let’s be honest.

For now, I will take the next week or two entirely off running and exercise of any type. For me, I need a solid rest period to break up training and racing cycles. Taking it easy until after Thanksgiving will ensure I am fresh and eager to train for Boston, and not get burnt out or injured. I’ll be sleeping in, enjoying my free time, and living a little more until then!

Finally, THANK YOU again for all the kind congratulatory messages. Even though it wasn’t my day, I felt extremely loved and supported before, during and especially after the race. As I said before the race, I’ll be back here working hard and writing about it until I get that sub-3:00!