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When I last updated about 2 months ago (sorry!), I was pretty frustrated– I wasn’t able to run because of my knee/IT issues, and I wasn’t seeing much progress. I was throwing myself a bit of a pity party, probably from the lack of endorphins and withdrawal from the bridle path.

And maybe I should re-name this blog “Lindsay Never Runs” because 2 months later, I’m back in the same place. Let’s rewind…

In early March, I started seeing Dr. Levine, a pseudo celeb in NYC running-land, for ART and Graston that really helped my leg. After a few weeks of seeing him 2x/week, I was seeing awesome progress. I also stopped cross-training because I thought spinning might not be resting my IT enough, and I wanted to get back to running ASAP. I finally eased into running…with no pain! I gradually worked my way up from a mile a few times a week (so. out. of. shape.) It felt SO good to reunite with my friends on the bridle path, and kickstart my day with some fresh air and sweat.

In mid-April, I had worked my way up to a long run of 6 miles (!) pain-free. While I was huffing and puffing slowly through Central Park, at least I was out there and nothing hurt. Times were good, friends!

In mid-April, I also got a bike and started bike commuting to and from work.

It’s teal and it’s perfect.

If you’re a fellow resident of the Upper East Side, you can empathize with how terrible the 4/5/6 train is each morning. My commute to work down on Spring St is easily the most rage-inducing part of my day, as the subways can be so ridiculously slow and crowded. Including a 10 min walk to the subway, my commute can take anywhere from 30-50 minutes depending on the day. It shouldn’t. However, it takes ~30 minutes to bike door to door and is so much nicer (except the part of 2nd ave where the bike & car lane are one. eeee).

The night of my bike’s one week birthday, I was riding home from hanging with my sister who was in town from LA for work. It was around 10 p.m., but still plenty of cars/people outside. I was biking up 1st Avenue in the bike lane, and as I approached 79th street, the light turned from green to yellow. I went through the yellow since I had full momentum on the bike.

Well, the cab heading east on 79th street had a different idea as he went through his red light, likely in anticipation of the light turning green soon. In the process, he hit me and knocked me off my bike. Thankfully, I was wearing my helmet, didn’t lose consciousness, or visibly break any limbs or worse. I even tried to get up and insist I was fine, I was only 9 blocks from home after all, but felt shooting pains in my lower back and side when I tried to lift myself up.

And so, kind strangers helped get me to the sidewalk and called me an ambulance. They helped me call my friend Noelle who lives close by, who met me as I was in the ambulance and came to the hospital with me and called my sister.  Even though I knew I was okay physically for the most part, I couldn’t stop bawling. It was so scary, I don’t think I’ve ever been in an ambulance before?

I went to the ER (thanks, kind staff at NY Presbyterian Cornell!), bike and all, and got checked out. Thankfully, they thought it was just extreme muscle soreness and nothing was broken– I left close to 3am, prescription for pain meds in hand. It hurt to walk and bend, so I didn’t leave my apartment for 5 days. I half-worked from home on Thursday and Friday just to combat my boredom and feel productive.

Day 4. Still on the couch. BOO.

I can’t express how thankful I am for the support of friends and family who kept me company when I couldn’t get out of bed or move far from my couch and delivered delicious things like flowers, Pinkberry and cupcakes to my door. Who walked with me from the 24/7 pharmacy to my apartment at 3:30 am so I wouldn’t have to leave the next day to fill my prescription. Who put up with me when all I wanted was extra sauce on my chicken parm hero and Luigi’s forgot it. Who brought me bagels and coffee while we were glued to the couch watching Boston coverage. Who came with bottles of wine and food to have a girls night in and plot my return to Boston ’14 (more on that another day). Who delivered my laptop from the office and a 6-pack and pint of ice cream. (Guys, I’m literally not moving from my bed, I don’t need any more food. But I’ll eat every last bite, thanks.)

And everyone who sent amazing emails, texts and tweets wishing me well and offering to help in any way. That meant the world to me! There is no better feeling than to know you have a large support network in such a big city that often times still doesn’t feel like home. And the biggest shoutout to my mom, who spent all of Wednesday cleaning my apartment, doing my laundry, and making me food. She is the best and I’m thankful to have family so close.

I returned to work (slowly) on Monday, still a bit out of it thanks to the Percocet. I went to my primary care doctor to get a referral for x-rays, as the sides of my ribs were a bit tender and I hadn’t felt that immediate after the accident. We also did a saline injection on the primary spot of pain in my lower/mid back which seemed to help alleviate some discomfort. Which was good, because on Thursday night I had vacation plans to head to Iceland!

Reykjavik

Not gonna lie, the pain put a damper on the trip for me as the pain is pretty constant with every step, but I had a blast! Until one morning I was stretching out my back muscles and felt a ‘pop’ in the side of my rib cage followed by immediate shooting pain. I immediately thought I popped a rib out of place and panicked. There were tears and lots of ice packs, followed by slow movements the rest of the trip. I decided to wait it out until I returned home since I was scared to go to the ER in a foreign country and didn’t want to miss out on vacation.

Gullfoss Waterfall

 

Blue Lagoon + beers? Heaven.

We flew back to NYC on Monday night, and once I got back to my apartment, weirdly came down with a high fever and terrible aches/chills. Because I’m a symptom Google-r, I was immediately convinced my dislocated rib had led to an infection in my lung like pneumonia and I was dying. I tried to sleep it off but woke up at 3:30am and felt terrible. So, at 4 am I checked myself back into the hospital so they could take a look at my ribs and do an x-ray immediately. And because I’m a baby when I’m sick, I called my mom and she drove into the city to meet me as soon as I was done with x-rays. (I swear I’m an adult).

Thankfully, nothing is broken or fractured, though I’m still not sure what that ‘pop’ was in my ribs. Seems like I just severely tore/aggravated/inflammed the muscles around and in between my ribs after being weakened from the accident. It still really hurts, especially when moving from side to side when sleeping, and I can’t really cough or breathe deeply without feeling aggravation.

I’m no doctor, but this is where it hurts on my left side. Darn intercostals.

So, it’s been nearly 3 weeks since my accident, and thus, 3 weeks in which I haven’t done any type of exercise. Given that it still hurts to walk and breathe, I don’t think I’ll be returning to running anytime soon…

It’s also been 1 year since I last ran a race (Boston 2 Big Sur), which is probably the longest period since I started running 13 years ago. Depressing, to say the least. Due to crazy busyness/stress, I pulled out of Chicago ’12 in mid-August because I couldn’t handle high volume training at the time. I had to skip a few winter tune-up races and the NYC Half because of the stupid IT/knee issues, and I definitely won’t be able to run (even for fun!) the Brooklyn Half.

So many race fees down the drain, so many doctor’s co-pays, so many depressing thoughts and feelings of helplessness. It’s been a not-so-great year on the running front (and my bank account), to say the least.

At least I have a bit of time on my side, for now. While I’d like to be spending May building a semi-solid running base to kick off training for Chicago ’13 instead of on my couch, realistically I have until June to really start laying the foundation with 4 months out. I won’t attempt to run or exercise until the pain is fully gone. It’s also still too soon to tell if anything else is out of whack or misaligned from the accident that could pop up once I start running.

But I have my health, and I know that the accident could have been so much worse if the driver was going faster, he hit me at a different angle, I fell differently, etc. It also happened the day after the Boston Marathon, which really put everything in perspective. I will run again, it’s just a matter of when and how fast. ‘Till then, you can find me walking slowly, consuming mass amounts of froyo and margaritas, and watching terrible TV re-runs.

And yes, the bike came away entirely unscathed :)

‘Tis the Season

December 16th, 2012 | Posted by Lindsay Runs in Blog Posts - (5 Comments)

Although Christmas is just 8 days away (what!?!) I’m only just now feeling in the spirit. It hasn’t been terribly cold or snowed, I haven’t thought much about Christmas shopping, work has been crazy busy to even think about a break, and I don’t have any big holiday travel plans to look forward to besides home in NJ.

My new couch and little Manhattan christmas tree brings joy, too.

But yesterday, I donned my holiday best and joined thousands of others to roam the city in festive garb for Santacon. It’s my fourth year doing Santacon (whoa, time flies) and my fourth year being a reindeer. Ho ho ho! And all the sudden, Christmas started to feel a little closer.

Despite barhopping yesterday for 12 straight hours (seriously how did I last that long?), I woke up this morning feeling not-too-terrible and decided a hangover-clearing run would make me feel a little less gross. It was misting/raining and I didn’t have any mileage/time in mind, just wanted to sweat it out.

A few minutes in, my mind wandered and I started feeling pretty crappy about myself and my running. I still feel off and I’m tired all the time. While it’s starting to get easier to get in my mileage especially when I meet up with friends to run, I just want to feel like my old fit competitive self. I know it’s still early and I don’t need to start killing myself, but I do need to start sucking it up and getting in some basic workouts and pushing myself on runs a bit more.

So I headed into the park and to my favorite trusty solo workout, Central Park’s lower loops. (No really, I’ve professed my love here, remember this awesome workout last winter, and here’s one of the 1st times I ever did this workout, early blog/pre-Garmin days.)

Consistency is my strong suit. While the pace was nothing special for me and actually I thought I was going to die or my legs were going to fall off, I’m proud that I completed it all without stopping short. It felt good to push, even though I wasn’t really able to drop the pace at the end.

Still, doubt creeped into my mind at the end. “How are you going to run 13.1 miles under 6:25 pace in just 3 months?” Honestly, I don’t know. That felt hard, guys. But I need to start somewhere; this is where I am today, but it doesn’t have to be where I am in a few months.

What else have I been up to? This past Thursday was our company holiday party. Even though it was just at our office, it ended up being a blast! The highlight was by far the food and drinks (oh, maybe too many drinks…), talent show, and watching this amazing Rock Center with Brian Williams segment live, alongside Hamdi himself.

Click to watch!

If you know me personally, you know I can talk about yogurt for days and days and think my job is the coolest. BUT I really encourage you all to just watch this video. And then you’ll get it. The company went from startup to a $1 billion business in only five years. It’s a crazy story, but really not so crazy when you get to know Hamdi. He’s an incredibly humble yet visionary Founder and CEO, and sharing the moment to watch the clip alongside my colleagues was truly special.

And last weekend, I kept busy through friends’ holiday parties on the Upper West Side and Brooklyn, a friend’s bridal shower in NJ, and volunteering at the Girls on the Run 5k on Randall’s Island.

Ely, in the middle, is getting married 2 months from today!

This was my first time volunteering as a running buddy, and it was amazing. My girls finished strong and happy, with a bit of a ‘sprint as fast as you can and then get too tired and walk’ pacing strategy, often linking arms to run 3 across. They were both too cute (and knew the Gangnam Style dance, whaaaa?), and one said “I never thought I’d actually be doing this. I just thought it’d be a dream! But this is real!” She repeatedly called us ‘Thunder and Lightning’. Girls on the Run is an incredible organization and I really wish I could commit time to coach. I hope I’m free to volunteer for the Spring 5K, too!

And now, I’m going to go curl up on my comfy couch, bask in my Christmas lights, and try to fall asleep at a ridiculously early hour to get ahead of a busy week. Sunday funday.

How are you getting in the holiday spirit?

I know it’s a bit belated, but (obviously) I’m back from spending Thanksgiving in Santa Barbara, CA and still can’t get over how amazingly relaxing and fun it was. I turned off my work email the second I boarded the plane on Wednesday (at 6:30 a.m. OMG early) and didn’t turn it back on until Sunday night right before I took the redeye home. I didn’t set an alarm the entire vacation, and slept the best I’ve slept in… a long time. Feeling rested, tuning out and truly being ‘present’ really allowed me to destress and turn off my brain for a bit. It was lovely.

For the third year, we stayed at the Hotel Oceana which is located right on the beach. I began each morning with an easy run along the beach path, usually around 30 minutes, and ate a leisurely breakfast outside in the sun. I just wanted to kickstart my day with a little sweat, but mostly just to take advantage of these gorgeous views.

We’d then go over to my aunt and uncle’s house, spending some quality time hanging out with the whole family, and (regrettably) teaching my Grandma how to use Facebook and Instagram on her iPad. Yup, needed a few glasses of wine during and after that lesson…

The whole family

Now that my sister and cousins are over 21,we enjoyed a fun night out in Santa Barbara on Friday…followed by a tipsy walk home along the beach.

Yes, I am short. I also think I was the only one not in heels.

We had an incredible Thanksgiving, followed by 2 days of leftovers. Which basically meant a full Thanksgiving 3 days in a row…and it was amazing. I think I could eat turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie and drink wine 365 days a year and be perfectly happy.

But now I’m back to reality in chilly NYC, trying to get back into the routine of getting myself out the door to run most days. Since it’s been a while since I’ve followed any sort of ‘plan’, I’m kind of struggling with running 5-6 days a week again and getting my mileage up. Lately, I’ve been doing around 4-5 days a week but at least 1 or 2 of those days is something easy like 2 miles before I pretend to lift at the gym. Somehow I can’t even seem to get to 30 miles per week, a relatively low number that always has been pretty easy to exceed.

Quite honestly, it’s just so much nicer to sleep in or be lazy or let early mornings/late nights at work get in the way. I need to remind myself that generally, I feel better after starting my morning with a few miles. It’s true, I rarely regret getting up and out the door. I’m more awake and feel better throughout the day. But my runs have been really slow and drag on, and I sometimes wonder how I’ll get back to the point where hitting 50+ mpw with workouts and long runs ain’t no thang.

Most of my runs have been pretty unremarkable, hovering around a comfortable 8:00 min. pace (which I’d like to work on bringing down), but there have been a few good days here and there!

The day before I left for Thanksgiving, I worked from my house in NJ and went for a nice mid-afternoon run to break up the day. I ran one of my favorite routes through a few parks and started pushing the pace without realizing it. 8 miles later, I hit an average of 7:21 pace with the last 3 miles at 7:09, 7:08 and 6:55. It was hard, but in that awesomely-uncomfortable way that I haven’t felt in a while.

And on Thursday of this week, I decided to attempt a solo workout just to get my legs moving a bit. It was nothing special, I just did 2x 1 loop of the Central Park reservoir (~1.58 miles) with .5 jog between. I hovered around 6:45 and 6:40 pace, which is a bit depressing since I used to be able to maintain that for 8 mile tempos (lolz) and I wanted to die after just 1 loop, but any easily-digestible workout is good right now.

And today I did my longest run in quite a while! I started out with Veronica and Meredith, then hopped back on the bridle after they peeled off, running into Nicole and Sarah for a few more miles. The run ended up flying by, ending up at my apartment 11.25 miles later. Running with people will always beat running solo.

My goals for this upcoming week include:

  • Unpack my suitcase from last week (I know, I know…)
  • Get my couch delivered (Friday!) and find a coffee table
  • Buy a real Christmas tree and lights, and decorate my apartment
  • Run at least 30 miles and rest up before a busy weekend that includes not one but TWO! friends’ Christmas parties, Ely’s bridal shower, and volunteering as a running buddy at Girls on the Run 5K!

The Game Plan

November 21st, 2012 | Posted by Lindsay Runs in Blog Posts - (5 Comments)

As I write this, I’m somewhere 30,000 feet above Newark and Phoenix, en route to sunny Santa Barbara, California for Thanksgiving. (edit: And now posting on my layover in Phoenix!) I booked my flights with a combination of frequent flier miles (all that work travel pays off, somehow!) and credit card rewards points, since Thanksgiving travel is outrageously pricey. It was an equal number of miles to book economy or business class for my outbound flight, so of course I chose business class and was pleasantly surprised upon check-in to have been upgraded to first class. What? Me?! It made the 6:30 am flight time (and 4:30 am wakeup call) slightly more bearable. Now I’m just waiting on my complimentary breakfast and booze…

Anyways, thanks so much for the kind welcome back to blogging. It always amazes me that anyone actually reads this, and actually cares about my ramblings of running mile after mile (or, more recently, not running). It’s awesome and I truly appreciate the support!

While I’m still in the stage where I’m running however long I want to, when I want to, I’ve been looking towards the future and mapping out a racing calendar to get motivated. In fact, I haven’t raced since Boston or Big Sur in April. Before my big goal race in March, most of these races below will serve as training workouts to get me back in the racing game, mentally more than physically.

January 5th: Joe Kleinerman 10K

  • Because I hate racing 10Ks and can’t think of a better way to torture myself after the holidays and New Years. Self-inflicted hazing?

January 19th: Sayville Running Company 10 Mile Run to the Brewery

  • My friend Veronica actually won it last year (badass!) and mentioned it’d be fun to do. My friend Terence lives in Sayville, so a few of us are going to go out to his house and make a weekend of it. A race that ends at a brewery with free beer…sign me up! (Says the girl who is supposed to be avoiding gluten, whoops.)

January 27th: Manhattan Half-Marathon

  • ‘Cause what’s more fun than paying to run 2 loops of hilly Central Park in the winter? I kinda bandited part of this race 2 years ago when it was 14 degrees as part of a long training run, willingly, because I was so crazy sick of running alone. Will probably be my first really ‘long’ tempo effort.

Something Awesome in February

  • I want to run the Cherry Tree 10 Miler again in Brooklyn, but I’m pretty sure it’ll fall on President’s Day weekend when my friend Ely is getting married back at Villanova (!!!!!), which is 10x more fun than any race. Open to suggestions for something else fun during this month!

March 17th: NYC Half-Marathon

  • Quite simply, I love this race. Haters can hate on NYRR and the ridiculously steep price tag (my bank account sure does), but I have such happy memories associated with this race and can’t wait to do it again, especially with a new (hopefully faster) course since I last did it in 2011. I didn’t run it last year because I got back from a work trip reallllllly late the night before, and was in the midst of Boston training. This will be my big Spring 2013 goal race. It just feels right. My story…
    • It was my very first post-collegiate race (and first half-marathon!) back in 2010. After 8 straight years of training and competing regularly in high school and college, I was still in that weird “kinda burnt out on racing and don’t know if I want to do this anymore” phase. I hadn’t raced in almost a year, and had never raced anything over a 6K in my life, so I didn’t do any workouts and went in with minimal pressure on myself. While I ran 1:29 and accomplished my goal of auto-qualifying for the NYC Marathon, more importantly, I found I really did love racing and competing again. Running was something I wanted to challenge myself with again.
    • In 2011, I had one marathon under my belt and had gotten more serious about training. I knew I could take down my 2010 time easily, but I totally underestimated myself and ran a 1:24:23, which still stands as my PR. I negative split that race and still remember how awesome it was to drop a sub-6 mile down 7th Ave and into Times Square, smiling and pushing my way down the West Side Highway. I can only hope I’ll be able to recreate that experience in March, this time a little faster.

While I haven’t signed up for the majority of these races (with exception of the NYC Half, booyah guaranteed entry), they’re on my radar and I plan to sign up as soon as registration opens, barring any work/personal plans that arise. Just mapping things out has already created some direction and re-sparked motivation that’s been lacking for quite some time. I’m not sure what’s on the horizon past mid-March, but I’ve got some ideas brewing depending on how the next few months go including (re)attempting Chicago in October if I’m feeling up to it.

While looking ahead to these races and how I’ll get fit again and train to PR, I’m trying very hard not to get frustrated with the health problems I’ve been having. I know my body and myself and can tell something has been off for a while. I had a good visit to an endocrinologist at NYU last week, and while it means multiple blood tests to look into a few things, I’m hopeful we’ll get a little closer to figuring it out once the results are back. I want to get back to competing at my best, but my body isn’t at its best right now. And honestly, it feels a bit out of my control to get it back to its best until I figure out what’s medically wrong. Until then, trying not to Google-diagnose myself with a billion different things…

No, but really.

Happy Thanksgiving, all! I’ll be enjoying a few well-deserved days off work with the family, eating turkey and drinking wine to my heart’s content. And you should, too!

What’s on your racing calendar? Any other fun NYC-area races you’d suggest I look into?

I love running, but sometimes, I love not running even more. It’s hard to believe it’s been just about a month since the Boston “Speed Can Kill” Marathon, and about 2 weeks since I trudged through the Big Sur Marathon to complete the Boston 2 Big Sur Challenge. In effect, besides those two days of running 26.2 miles, I’ve run exactly 6 times, only 15-30 minutes each, in the last month. Yay!

Less running, more drinking with friends!

I am a strong believer in periodization of training cycles. Part of this has to do with competing through high school and college. The seasons were clearly defined: Cross Country, Indoor Track, and Outdoor Track. We always took about two weeks of rest in between, give or take depending on practices. Breaks were natural, built-in, and welcome after a hard season or race.

After my LAST college race. I took a whole 3 months of NO exercise after that, and it was glorious.

It’s a little more difficult in the ‘real’ world of running, where there are fun races just about every weekend to sign up for, and no coach setting your competition schedule or telling you when to work out and when to rest. Unfortunately, I think too many runners get caught up in racing and training year-round without a break in between cycles and no real concept of periodization, and ultimately end up burnt out or injured. I get it, there are so many awesome races and marathons to sign up for…it’s easy to want to do them all and do them all right now.

But that’s also the awesome thing about the ‘real’ world. YOU control your training! YOU control your rest! YOU control your goal races. I know everyone is different, so I’m not saying you’re doing it wrong if you don’t split your training into cycles. Everyone’s bodies handle training differently, and everyone has different motivations for running and racing.

However, I really don’t think most people benefit from racing week after week, almost entirely year round, never allowing themselves to peak for a smaller handful of goal races. Instead, it’s just a steady stream of mediocre races at less-than-your-full-potential. I don’t think it’s physiologically or psychologically possible to be in your prime racing shape year-round. Of course, the type of races you do will influence this: training cycles differ in duration if you’re running 5Ks versus running marathons. I do firmly believe that periodization allows me to perform at a high level, while keeping enjoyable and injury-free. I love to race, but I love to race fast more. That means being patient and having 1 or 2 kickass races a year, over dozens of mediocre races.

I’m not a coach, so I’m not going to tell you how to structure your training. Again, it depends on the timing and length of what you’re racing. Google “training periodization” for a better guide than I’d give you. But from my personal experience over the past 3 years of post-collegiate racing, I select a goal race and build my schedule leading up to that. For a marathon, I start to focus on building my base about 4+ months out from the race. As the weeks pass, I steadily increase my mileage. I might schedule in a few races during training, but I use these races as workouts or fitness indicators, not goal races. About ~3 weeks from the marathon, I begin to taper. After the goal race, I take as much time off as I feel I need to recover: physically and mentally. Entirely ‘off’ is key: no physical exercise of any type (besides walking, that’s kinda inevitable..) Sometimes I need a little less than two weeks, sometimes it’s a month.

If you’re not longing for a break after a really hard few months of training or an awesome PR in a race, you’re probably not training and racing hard enough. If you’re back rocking workouts and long runs a week or two after a goal race, I don’t understand you. I’ll be chilling on the couch, not lacing up my running shoes until I’m fully longing to run.

I wouldn’t still be head over heels in love with running after 11 years of competing, chasing PR after PR, if I didn’t rest. It’s one of the most important pieces of the puzzle, and an often neglected one. If I trained hard, all year round, I’d never be able to peak accordingly to run a 3:03 (and soon, sub-3:00) marathon.

Another great part about not running? You get to focus on other areas of your life that got a little less love during your hard training. Like friends, family, and work! Lucky for me, my busy work season just started to kick in after Big Sur. Between personal and work trips, I am traveling every. single. weekend. in May and June. Bring it on, and see ya never, friends!

Sun Valley, Idaho for the Idaho Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics Association Conference

Boulder, Colorado as a sponsor of the Blend Retreat. Gorgeous view from our hike!

After Boulder, I was lucky enough to hang out in Denver for about 2 hours with my college roomie Emily before jetting back home!

And then I went to Dallas for the Team USA Olympic Media Summit

...Where I got to meet Bernard Lagat and was a HUGE runnerd.

And get to hear the First Lady Michelle Obama speak!

Yeah, it’s been busy, and I’ve come to appreciate my bed at home more than ever, but I wouldn’t have it any other way right now. I’m in a very exciting place in my career, and though traveling to events primarily on the weekends isn’t the most awesome way to maintain a normal social life, I absolutely love my job. I’m working more than ever, traveling more than ever, and sometimes I can barely keep my head on straight, but it’s so rewarding to feel so challenged and get the opportunity to do some very cool things.

I’m traveling to San Francisco the next two weekend, but for FUN! This weekend is my sister’s college graduation (wahhhh how do they grow up so quickly?!), so I’m looking forward to a weekend of celebrating with the family. Then I’ll return to CA for Memorial Day Weekend with three friends for a little Napa Valley getaway. At least there’s a bit of fun squeezed into my schedule. And maybe some running, too….maybe.

What’s your viewpoint on periodization in your training? Do you like taking breaks after races, or are you more of a year-round racer? Favorite place you’ve been lately?

Never, ever, did I think the day on which I ran my slowest marathon would be one of the happiest.

But Monday was exactly that: a new personal worst time and a new favorite marathon experience. I can honestly say I have never been as happy during or after a marathon as I was on Monday. In fact, I don’t think I’ve been this purely happy at a race since college. I think I’m still glowing from it (but more likely, it’s the sunburn).

Ignore my awful form & lack of abs. Pay attention to my smiling, happy face!

It’s no secret: I like to run fast. I am internally competitive and incredibly driven by time goals. Sometimes I think a bit too much of my happiness depends on my running goals, but that’s a story for a different day. You all know Boston was my big race to break 3:00…believe I mentioned it in just about every post for the past two months. I thought I’d be heartbroken if I didn’t; what could possibly be wrong with me if I couldn’t pull it off in a race? For the 2nd time?

On Sunday before the race, I readjusted my expectations. Well shit, I likely wasn’t going to run under 3:00 or close to it. I didn’t want to be an idiot in this heat, run too fast, and suffer for it. Quite simply, I had to respect the weather and accept the fact I couldn’t control anything but my mindset. I could choose to soak in the experience and remain positive, or dwell in the disappointment and frustration. I chose the former.

We have to run the whole way back?

I met Alex and her friend Neal to board the buses to Hopkinton around 6:20 in the morning. My hotel was a quick 2 minute walk to Boston Common so I didn’t have to travel far. The bus ride was long, and I realized we’d soon be retracing our route by foot. The entire pre-race experience was so much more mellow than my experiences the last 2 years at NYC– the village was calm and non-herd-like, bag check was in close proximity to the waiting area, porta potties weren’t crazy, and we were just fine getting into our starting corral with 10 minutes ’til race time. The relaxed atmosphere certainly soothed any nerves pre-race.

Once we left our shady resting area in the starting village and hit the sun, I started getting hot and nervous. Before bag check, I made the last minute decision to race in a sports bra vs. my CPTC singlet. I’m aware that this sounds really vain, but I didn’t feel comfortable racing in sports bra. Despite being in my best marathon shape running-wise, I’ve gained about 8 pounds since I started this training cycle..and it’s not all muscle. I don’t worry about my weight too much as I always tend to gain during marathon training, and I’d rather be faster & stronger but a few lbs heavier, but this is the highest weight I’ve ever been at in my life. I’m not sure what’s going on (or it could simply be more drinking..ha), but probably warrants a separate post. Anyways, a soggy, heavy singlet felt like it’d be a burden so sports bra it was. And now, I hate every one of my race pictures but will post them on the Internet anyways.

I’m currently without the USB to plug in my watch to get all of my splits, so we’ll just have to go off the official race splits & pace at each of them for now. I’m also too lazy to calculate each individual 5K split so the paces are cumulative.

“Welcome to Hopkinton, It All Starts Here!”

  • 5K- 21:36 (6:57 pace)
  • 10K- 43:23 (6:59 pace overall)

The gun went off and as soon as we crossed the starting line, I started smiling. This was so cool. Seeing the packed crowd of runners ahead trail down the narrow street was so surreal. The streets/bridges are so much wider in New York City, I hadn’t ever witnessed anything like it. I was running the BOSTON MARATHON! Everything about it was so novel.

Alex and I decided to keep the early splits steady– with a few under 7. We clicked off mile after mile and I felt comfortable aerobically. It took a bit to shake dullness from my legs, and I noticed sweat starting to pour down very early on. We ran through Ashland and Framingham, simply taking in the sights and grabbing fluids at just about every stop. When people are already walking at mile 4, you know it’s going to be a long day.

We're running a marathon in 86 degree weather! This is so much fun!!!

“Entering Natick”

  • 15K- 1:05:30 (7:01 pace overall)

At mile 10, Alex told me she wasn’t feeling great and needed to back off a bit. I didn’t want to leave her since I wanted my running buddy, but she urged me to go ahead. So into the sun and heat I went solo: comfortable, confident, and happy. I knew I could continue to click off that pace easily, since we never really ‘red-lined’ the pace early. I wasn’t in the hole, I was cruising. My pace at 15K was pretty on par with the 5K and 10K marks.

Around mile 11, my stomach really started to bother me. I kinda had to pee when I started and the feeling hadn’t dissipated like it usually does. And the sugary Gatorade was not sitting well. I’m not used to taking in so much Gatorade and sugars while running, but I knew I needed the extra electrolytes to keep hydrated. I started to notice there weren’t very many portapotties along the course and hoped the feeling would pass.

“Kiss me I’m  ________”

  • 20K- 1:27:39 (7:03 pace overall)
  • Half-Marathon- 1:32:59 (7:05 pace overall) – bathroom stop @ mile 13

As we approached the shady streets of Wellesley, someone said, “Can you hear it?” I tuned in and took in the deafening sounds from ahead. It was incredible. As we approached, I drew right and stuck out my hand, high-fiving the entire throng of girls with a ridiculous grin on my face. I actually think I was laughing at this point– were the signs really funny, was I having a blast, or was I already delirious? All three, probably.

After the deafening screams, I still couldn’t shake the uncomfortable feeling and had to stop to go to the bathroom right before mile 13. I have never stopped during a race before- it’s always been my biggest fear. I was a bit bummed that I lost around 45 seconds, but better to have a happier stomach on a non-PR day than one where time mattered.

Quads, meet hills.

  • 25K- 1:53:33 (7:07 pace overall)
  • 30K- 2:13:37 (7:10 pace overall)

As we wound through the downhills, my quads started to feel a bit off. I knew it was only going to be a matter of time until the steady pace started feeling a bit harder to maintain. I tried to stay controlled on the downhill to keep my quads intact, but my pace was slowing to around 7:15. I wanted so badly to cruise down the hills, but I knew it was smarter to hold back. There were hills ahead!

My mom was supposed to be stationed at mile 16, but we completely missed each other! I looked for her on the sidelines, but it was so packed and we had pretty poor planning. Once I hit the gel stations at 17, I knew I definitely missed her. My pace slowed as we climbed the Newton Hills, but I just focused on making it up and staying as relaxed as possible.

Hills are not my strength and never have been. Maybe it was the slower pace, but I didn’t think they were too bad. Yeah, they come at a sucky time in the race right after some steep downhills that kinda rip up your quads, but they’re relatively spaced out to allow enough recovery between. I was expecting more back-to-back hellacious climbs.

And all of the sudden, we were on Heartbreak Hill. People were stopping. Spectators shuffling alongside runners, offering water and ice. I just focused on powering up and passing people. Suddenly, I reached the top and broke into the BC crowds and instantly felt a wave of relief! The worst was over.

Almost home, rockstar.
  • 35K- 2:36:28 (7:11 pace overall)
  • 40K- 2:59:22 (7:13 pace overall)

The crowds at BC were my absolute favorite. Heartbreak Hill was over and I powered down a sweet, steep downhill. The college kids made you feel like a rockstar. I high-fived and smiled this entire mile and recall clocking a 6:55 down it. I had a second wind!

But that spurt was a bit short-lived, as I continued to coast until I finally hit the wall around mile 23. My quads had been fading bit by bit up until that point, but 23 was where my body really started to shut down and feel the heat. My run felt like more of a shuffle. 7:20 and 7:30 pace was harder to maintain. I tried to grab a gel from my pocket, but my hands & shorts were all wet and it slipped from my hands…and I was too tired to stop and pick it up. I kept pushing forward bit by bit. I saw my CPTC teammates around mile 25 which gave me a boost. I felt myself trying to push the pace, but struggling in frustration to do so. I actually made the conscious decision to stop trying to push faster and simply relax and get to the finish. Time was out the window, so why make it stressful? Relax. Breathe. Enjoy the sights.

Right on Hereford, Left on Boylston…

The turn onto Hereford felt like an eternity, but I started smiling the moment I hit Boylston Street and saw the finish line– there’s my silly grin in the first picture up top. I did it. Here I was. I could still break 3:10? What’s happening? Why do we have to move to the left side? Why can’t I run in a straight line? Should I throw my hands up when I finish? How many guys can I outkick? Why is this the longest .2 miles ever?!

Finish. 3:09:28, 7:14 pace overall. 58th female finisher, 994th overall finisher.

My slowest marathon by 5 minutes. Off my PR by 6, and off my goal time by 10+. I know it could have gone much worse. Even now, I don’t know how I still managed to run this pace in the conditions. Without the stupid bathroom stop, it would have been in the 3:08s. I am proud to say that I ran a smart race. I started conservatively and kept my head on straight, focusing and soaking in the experience: something I don’t always do when I’m gunning for a PR. I’m also proud that my hard training paid off in some capacity.

In 2011, the 58th female finisher ran 2:54; In 2010, 2:56. I realize this comparison is unsubstantiated, but I wanted to see how my performance, relatively, would have fared on an average day. I am confident that a 3:09 in Monday’s conditions is easily a 2:59 or under. While it is a bit frustrating to not have been able to cash in my training and hit that time on Monday, it’s simultaneously very comforting. It confirms that I’m right there, just like I knew I was. I am fit now, and I can be fit again for Chicago in October. My confidence is actually boosted, given what I was able to achieve on Monday and what could have been achieved, speculatively, on a cooler day.

See ya in two weeks, Big Sur Marathon! Love, Lindsay & Alex.

I suppose I only have my two experiences at NYC to compare to, but the crowds in Boston were incredible. Like no other.  I preferred the atmosphere of Boston over NYC. Maybe it was the heat of the day, but I loved the throngs of supporters- from little kids with ice pops to the fire department’s cooling tunnels. Everyone came together to make it a race I’ll never forget. I couldn’t have done it without the incredible spectator support, offering ice cubes to stick down my sports bra and cold sponges to soak over my head. Their water was colder than the sun-soaked cups at the aid stations. For a really well-written description of the race atmosphere on Monday, check out this article on Boston.com that sums it up beautifully.

Thank you to those who cheered on Monday & spotted me, including Susan (who wins best spectator as she saw me in 3!!! spots!), KellyLizzy, Lauren, Brenda, the CPTC gang, coworkers Kara and Emily, Erica, and I’m probably forgetting more. And reader Freddie who spotted me at the finish! I could not have done it without your support on the course. And everyone for tracking from afar, and texting, calling, Facebooking, Tweeting, Instagramming and any other method of communication. I felt very, very, very loved and supported before, during and especially after.

On Monday, I reminded my overly stubborn self that running is about so more than PRs; I run because I love it. That pure love and sheer enjoyment drew me into the sport and has kept me here for 11 years. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful. I hope I haven’t become too robotic and numbers-driven to forget that. I am so proud of my 3:09, and happy to say it’s not always about the numbers. Sometimes, it’s simply about enjoying the run. 

And of course, celebrating with drinks & friends after.

And now, decompressing for a week before jetting out to CA for the Big Sur Marathon as part of the Boston 2 Big Sur Challenge. Big Sur’s hilly course is not conducive to a PR, so I won’t be gunning for sub-3 there as a redemption/’B’ race as a few friends suggested. Even if it was a flat, fast course, I’d still just run it relaxed. My body needs a break and I don’t care how slowly we run it. I probably won’t even run more than once or twice before the 29th. If I can steal a memorable quote from the BAA, “this is not a race, it is an experience.”

Thank you again for continuing to follow me along on this journey! While for a different reason than originally planned, Boston 2012 will have an incredibly special place in my heart.