Sunday, May 7, 2017

Bleep Blop Bloop: A Race Report

So.... I won a race! Sure, it was a teeny tiny race with only a handful of runners but that doesn't change the fact that I was the first female marathon finisher! As my daughter Juliana said when I tried to downplay it afterward: "You showed up and did the thing!"

Official finish time: 3:42:12

Not only did I show up and do the thing, I shaved another 25 seconds off that dang BQ time that is still hanging over my head.

Ugh, that BQ time. I really really wish I could have run a sub-3:40 and guaranteed my entry for 2018 but my body was definitely not recovered from the marathon a ran four weeks ago. I'm not even really sure how I managed this one at all, other than pure strength of will. The "plan" was to just show up and see what happened. If I felt like crap I was totally going to take it easy and just use it as a "training run" for the 15-hour ultra I'm running in June. BUT, if I felt good I was going to ride that Boston qualifying pace for as long as possible.

The Starting Line: Where hopes and dreams live.

I felt.... eh? Not bad enough to shift out of race mode but also not *good* enough to feel optimistic about my chances. I was hanging on to an 8:20 pace but I knew I was WORKING for it. My heart rate definitely felt higher than it was at the Circular Logic Marathon earlier this month. BUT, I didn't bonk like a chump this time! Sure I faded the last third of the race but I didn't completely fall apart. It was actually right before mile 22 when something clicked. I was already off of a sub-3:40 pace so I was having an internal conversation with myself trying to give myself permission to jog the final four miles in. I wasn't going to get into the 3:30s so why push it? Then when I looped by the start/finish at mile 22 my friend Bill (who was the race announcer) came up to me and pointed out the woman just in front of me and said


Initially I rolled my eyes and groaned. I think I said something like, "Uhhhhh don't tell me that!" (Or at least I thought it.) I looked at her up ahead and thought there is no way I can speed up and catch her the way I'm feeling right now.

But... I kept at it. I didn't speed up, but I didn't slow down either. I told myself, "I have four miles. Maybe I can slowly chip away at it and then kick it up at the end?"

I should have given myself more credit! It only took one more mile and I realized that while I was holding a steady pace, she was clearly slowing down. I passed her just before mile 23 and promptly FREAKED OUT. I knew I wasn't going to get my PR today but I suddenly had a new, incredible goal. I WAS GOING TO WIN THIS RACE.

I spent the final three miles hanging on to my pace by the teeniest of threads, all the while wondering when the woman I passed was going to find a second wind and come charging back. I literally had nothing left in the tank so if she had made a move I was fully prepared to let her go. I just focused on the ground in front of me, swinging my arms and mentally willing my body to keep moving forward. Part of me felt silly for wanting my 3:4X marathon self to win so bad when it's not a race pace anywhere near worth bragging about- but when else was this ever going to happen to me? And at a race that was practically in my own back yard in Bay View! COME ON.

Yay! Turn the Garmin off. Try not to barf.

I won!

A Boston qualifying time -2:48 in the women's 40-44 age group. My biggest qualifying margin yet (although not a PR since my earlier, faster BQs were run when I was still in the 35-39 age group.)

I may or may not have signed up for a Last Chance to BQ race in September. Goddammit.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017


2:23. That's what I have to work with.

I ran a 3:42:37 at Circular Logic two weeks ago- that's 2 minutes and 23 seconds faster than my Boston Qualifying standard for 2018. (Since I'll be 40 in 2018, the qualifying time for my new age group is now 3:45 instead of 3:40.)

Dang! I really don't know if that is going to be enough!

I don't know why I couldn't force out a couple more minutes and get under 3:40 again. I really just started to crumble at mile 19 and my legs felt like Jell-O. No matter what I did I couldn't hold that 8:15 pace anymore and I lost about a minute per mile from then until the the finish. It felt terrible.
So on a perfect weather day on a flat course and great training I couldn't run the time I ran last year (3:38) when there were 30mph winds. Have I mentioned marathons are infuriating?

My mind is spinning right now because even though a BQ -2:23 would have gotten me in this year, there are no guarantees it will get me in for 2018. Seriously with my luck I feel like the cut off next year will be 2:24.The only thing that will guarantee me entry is if I get 5 minutes under my time (which was my goal at Circular Logic. Oops.)

At this point it's not even about Boston itself anymore. It's about finishing something I started.

Monday, March 27, 2017


Here's the thing: I'm super bad at race week. Sure I follow all the usual rules. I run less, I stretch more, I stay hydrated, blah blah. But it's like I'm literally incapable of thinking about anything else other than race day which is now....5 days away. I'm almost embarrassed to say how much time I spend obsessing over my pace plan, reading race recaps and weather forecasts on the internet, and scouring over all of my training logs from the past 15 weeks.

Which brings me to something I always marvel over at his point. Just how cool is the human body?Back in January I rode the struggle bus to finish a half marahon in 1:51 after coming off of a holiday vacation. But two weeks ago I knocked out a 1:46 half feeling like it was an *easy* training run as part of a 20 mile day. NEAT. It's just so satisfying to look back at all my Strava runs and see the progression happen, even though I didn't feel like it was happening at the time.

What's that? CONSISTENCY. 

So now I just have a couple of easy runs to round out my training and I'm positively giddy. I know that even if I just run EXACTLY what I did last year at this race I will be guaranteed a spot for Boston 2018 simply because I'm aging up to the 40-44 age group. But....

I know I can do better than *just* matching last year. I feel like I've been building to a big breakthrough race for a couple of years now and now is the time for me to finally put the pieces together. No more 30 second mini-PRs or BQ squeakers that leave me on the sidelines. If I know anything right now it's that I deserve a good race. That's Deserve with a Capital D.

Current mood

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Chicago Get Lucky 2017 + TAPER

Every time taper rolls around I usually feel like, "Wait noooo,  I'm not ready! Can I get a couple more weeks of training in first?" 

This time, however, I am HERE FOR IT.  Sure, I still have time left to get in a few good workouts to top off my fitness but I think for the first time in quite a while I've arrived at this point in training with more confidence than questioning. In past cycles I've always felt generally positive about my training three weeks out, while at the same time wishing I had done "X" better or run "Y workout" stronger.

I have not had a perfect training cycle. Still, I've been working towards this particular goal of mine long enough to know that reaching this point in training with all my pieces in working order is an absolute gift. I know I've done the work. I also know I've made some adjustments that will hopefully help bridge whatever gap that seems to always pop up between me and a true "breakthrough" race.

Last weekend I ran my third 20 miler of this cycle. I rolled it into the Chicago Get Lucky Half Marathon and planned to run 10 of those miles in my goal marathon pace range. This was the first time in quite a while that I didn't go into a half marathon intending to race "all out" and for some reason just knowing I wasn't pushing it to my maximum made me feel like running 20 miles was no big deal. I mean, I do know in my brain that 20 milers are never easy but something about being in a race environment while not really racing took a load off me mentally.

The plan was for 4 miles easy just before the race, run the half marathon, then knock out an easy cooldown 3. I was also instructed by my coach to go out the first 3 miles at a pace that was about 30 seconds slower than my marathon pace, gradually speed up every couple of miles, then finish all out as fast as I wanted. This is kind of advice I always give myself but somehow am never able to execute.

Until this race!

I don't think I've ever felt so good at a half marathon. Sure I wasn't racing full out but I also wasn't slumming it either. I was pushing it by the end, just that slow start made all the difference in the world. From mile 3 to the end I consistently passing people- and I'm not really sure if I was even passed at all. What a huge confidence boost that was! I never really think about racing other runners at events but it definitely helped me mentally to run so strong. Even a brisk headwind throughout all of the second half of the race couldn't take me down. *pew pew*

After finishing the race I took a couple of minutes to refill my water bottle, stuffed my medal in my pocket, and headed out for my last 3 miles. Bing bang boom. 

Now all I have to do is execute with the same precision on April 1st! Obviously easier said than done (my race history a case in point) but after last weekend I feel like I've acquired a new skill to help get me there.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017


So.... remember that time I put my heart and soul into training for Chicago Marathon for four months and then never wrote a race recap afterward?

In short: That big PR didn't happen. In yet another shocking twist, I had an amazing training cycle and then on race day things never fell into place and I finished short of my goal. Again!

Unlike other races that didn't go as planned though, I didn't feel like my spirit was crushed. It was a beautiful, perfect, marathon day. It just wasn't *my* day. For whatever reason.

Nope. Not today.

But I'm not here to to talk about that. I'm here to talk about now.


The first few weeks of getting back to training in December were Capital-R-Rough. I started week 1 getting sick, went on vacation during week 3, had a terrible half marathon in week 4- after which I promptly got sick again, only to have it linger for a couple more weeks. Not exactly a recipe for success. Through all of this I was still managing to get all of my runs in, hitting the prescribed paces... but never feeling good about any of it. All of it was hard. All of it felt like WORK. (Yes, I always expect marathon training to be hard work, but it's difficult to feel like you are improving when you go though a long stretch without seeing signs of actual progress!) During every run my heart rate always felt too high and I was tired all the time- even on slow recovery runs. I was sticking to my plan day in and day out but everything about training was feeling like one big shrug emoji.

But somewhere over the last couple of weeks something started changing and the result is that I'm finally beginning to feel like myself again. Even better than myself, if that makes sense?  Out of nowhere I've had a series of particularly "hard" workouts and long runs that have been nothing short of Fan-Tastic. Last Saturday I finished a 20 miler feeling super strong and the last 5 miles the fastest-- while just a month ago I was riding the struggle bus to the finish of a half marathon. This past week I've even been running extra hills to run on my routes instead of avoiding them because I want the added challenge. That is NOT normal for me.

Suddenly I'm like, "Ohhhhhh all those days I thought I was doing crappy were really helping me get stronger and I'm NOW JUST REALIZING IT." 

Now is a good place to be. I hope it lasts. Like maybe through race day this time?

Goal: Sub-3:35 at Circular Logic Marathon, April 1st. (BQ +10 minutes for 2018)

Thursday, September 29, 2016

  • 5 attempts at a Boston qualifier before achieving the time goal in May, 2015
  • 3 total BQ marathon times so far- 5/2015, 10/2015, 4/2016
  • This week: Rejected yet again for Boston Marathon 2017

You could say I'm a little bit fired up for Chicago. 

Monday, September 12, 2016


In my 8+ years of running I've fallen maaaaybe two total times - and both of them were on ice. They were the kind of falls where your feet shoot out from under you and you land on your tookus. It's disorienting but overall not that bad, all things considered. Even with all my trail running and 50-milers I've never taken a full out digger. Until yesterday.

I don't do graphic injury photos so this is it.

I was really looking forward to Sunday's run. The temperature has dropped and it's finally starting to feel like fall! I had 16 miles to run where I planned to average in the 8:30-8:45 range for the first 12 miles then ramp up for three miles just below an 8 minute pace before a cooldown mile. I love fast finish runs because it's a huge goal of mine to negative split a marathon and finish feeling strong and fast instead of fading at the end.

I was in the groove, finally! I took the first two miles really easy but then got up to my goal pace and started clicking off the miles, each one slightly faster than the last. Everything was coming into place, feeling effortless as I cruised in to mile 8. Metallica's "Enter Sandman" was on my ipod (I know, I know) when it happened. My toe caught the edge of a part of the sidewalk that was jutting out and I.... flew? At least that's what it felt like. I launched forward, Superman-style, and landed sprawled out on the pavement. I literally made the sound "Oooof" as I landed and immediately rolled over onto my back and started contemplating the meaning of life. It was strangely a perfect metaphor how training has gone for me this summer: One minute I'm high as a kite and the next, SPLAT.

I don't think anyone saw it happen.  That or maybe nobody cared that it happened? A few cars passed me on the street but I just sat up and started surveying the damage.

Anything seem to be broken? No. Did I twist my ankle? No. Basically I tore up my right knee, elbow, and a bit of my left palm.  My knee was bleeding pretty bad at first but it didn't hurt too bad. I really just wanted to get everything cleaned up and I didn't really feel like slogging home with blood dripping down my leg so I did something I've never done before: I called Jason to come pick me up.

While I was sitting there on the side of the road waiting for my ride I started to get mad. Seriously? The first really good long run I've had in I don't know how long and this happens? I was pissed. Jason rolled up in the car not 5 minutes after I made my distress call and I hobbled to the door thinking to myself "Don't bleed on the seat." 

Of all the things to think in this moment.

Anyway, by the time we got home I was doubly sure I wasn't actually seriously injured and I had already made the decision to patch myself up as quickly and get back to the run. (Side note: I absolutely wouldn't have done this if I was in any serious pain at all.) So I cleaned up my scrapes, applied some Neosporin and bandages and headed upstairs to my treadmill to get to work on 8 more miles. I chose the treadmill *just in case* something went wrong after my restart. I didn't want to get far from home and realize this was a bad decision.

But it wasn't! It was actually an awesome decision. I must have been jacked up on adrenaline from the fall, or being mad about the fall, or some combination of the both because I laid down 8 more miles at and average 8:10 pace and finished the last three with an 8:00, 7:54 and a 7:48. I felt like I could have have even knocked out a couple more! Way to turn things around.

I'm not sure why I felt like writing such a detailed entry of this weird run. I guess maybe other than it being a good illustration of how my Chicago Marathon training has been this summer, I also feel like I turned the corner a bit today. Like I'm leaving all the bullshit behind and going to shut up and get this done.