Tuesday, December 15, 2015

A DNS And An Award (Jingle Bell 5k Recap)

I'm back!  Sorry I haven't posted for a couple of weeks. I have been crazy busy with Christmas preparations, family obligations, and school. I'm sure you can all relate. As hectic as it got, I am still keeping the streak alive (Now watch me whip, now watch me...)! I'm not going down that easy! So here are the last two weeks in a nutshell:

Sunday (11/29/15) - 3.5 miles - Earlier that week, the Emerging Runner (ER) asked if we could all get together for a group run. The Petite Pacer said she was racing in Rob's Run, a 5k trail race at Stillwell, ER's famous running haunt. This was the perfect opportunity for me to finally check out this course, as well as see my crew, which is not only 2 Live, but also included Kin, aka ER 2.0.  That morning I still had not recovered from my chest cold #2. I decided to just run casually with the guys while TPP raced. I met Kin and ER in the parking lot of Syosset High School which is directly across the street from Stillwell. We planned to do some easy laps on the track. Soon after, TPP stopped by with her sister and fellow blogger, Neon Is My Color (NIMC)! This was a treat since I have been reading her blog for a few years. Seeing a blogger whom you follow in real life for the first time is truly like a celebrity sighting (I'm sure this is exactly how ER felt the first time he met me). I wondered if I should ask for her autograph. Instead, we took a group selfie.  When in doubt, selfie! The sisters headed to the start of the race to pick up numbers and get settled while the guys and I continued running around in ovals. ER went his own way, literally. He decided to be that guy running around the track in the opposite direction from everyone else. After a few laps together, Kin left me to run with ER (Out of pity, I'm sure). Before we knew it, it was time to meet TPP and NIMC at the starting line. There was a large crowd, approximately 700 runners.  We cheered the ladies as they took off. I said hello to the president of my running club who was standing next to me taking photographs. Another celebrity sighting! Kin, ER, and I left for Starbucks where we didn't have to wait long for the girls to meet us. We drank our coffees, ate ER's pumpkin bread, and enjoyed each other's company until it was time to part ways. It's always a good day when it starts with these guys.

Left to right: Kin, ER, Pink Lady, NIMC,

Monday (11/30/15) - 7.06 miles, 1:00:46, 8:36 pace

Tuesday (12/1/15) - 6.07, 50:31, 8:19 pace - I ran to the gym where I wanted to do some speed work on the treadmill. I thought it would be fun to try Yasso 800s for the first time with quarter mile recoveries in between. In Yasso 800s, you run 800 meters in your marathon time converted to minutes. I ran them in 3 minutes 34 seconds.

Wednesday (12/2/15) - 1.84 miles, 16:55, 9:12 pace - It's super streakyyy.

Thursday (12/3/15) - 8.02miles, 1:10:33, 8:48 pace

Friday (12/4/15) - 6 miles

Saturday (12/5/15) 4.1 miles, 31:39 - Since I missed out on Rob's Run, I decided to sign up for the Jingle Bell 5k at Hofstra University. I ran this race a couple of years ago sick as a dog (Wow, my sickness seems to be a recurrent theme here). This year I was only sick as a cat. Judging from the times in years past, I thought I had a good chance of winning the women's race. I parked on campus and picked up my number and fun, festive green long sleeve cotton shirt. I was wearing leggings and a lined turtle neck running top which turned out to be too warm. Almost all of the participants were dressed as Santa or elves. There was even a giant gingerbread man who looked more like Gumby in disguise. I ran a quick warm up mile. As I was waiting for the start, I saw the president of my running club again! Finally, we all lined up and took off. For most of the race I saw that there was a cross country college girl up front and then what looked to be a fourth or fifth grader behind her. I was third. The course took us in a circle around the perimeter of the campus. On a couple of occasions, I had to pull off to the side to cough my lungs up. They stayed down. As I started to slow down, Miss Elementary Schooler sped up (Annoying). I crossed the finish line in 22:27. This was a minute slower than my PR, but I was happy. The results were posted almost immediately. I saw that I actually finished second overall, instead of third.  The 11-year old (Little Miss Sprinty Pants) took first.  I'm not sure what happened to the cross country chick. I was psyched to be in the top three overall, plus I won my age group (40-49) as a bonus. I couldn't stick around for the award ceremony so one of the volunteers took my information to mail it to me. She called me later in the week apologizing that they actually gave the gold medal to the third place winner because it was hard to distinguish from the bronze. She was so sorry and sweet and said she was going to mail me a gift card instead. Unnecessary, but thanks!

Packet pickup

Who is that man?

It's easy being green when you
win an award...or gift card.

Total Weekly Mileage - 36.6

Sunday (12/6/15) - 1 mile - We had a lot on our plate this day. Church, then Hicks Nursery to see the Christmas display, then my mother's house for a quick stop-and-chat (Oh, curb your enthusiasm, will ya!), dinner out, and finally watching Miracle On 34th Street  (The original! Don't even get me started on damn remakes - yeah I'm talking to you despicable Seuss recremations!) with the kids. When oh when will I run? Damn you, Runner's World! It turned out I ran immediately after dinner (meaning immediately after food and a glass of vino). It wasn't so bad. The air was crisp and I was verrry relaxed.

Monday (12/7/15) - 8 miles, 1:08:48, 8:36 pace

Tuesday (12/8/15) - 8 miles, 1:06:38, 8:20 pace

Wednesday (12/9/15) - 3.05 miles, 26:02, 8:32 pace

Thursday (12/10/15) - 7.01 miles, 1:00:32, 8:38 pace - Happy 14th birthday, Sanibel!!!

Friday (12/11/15) - 6 miles, 51:52, 8:39 pace

Saturday (12/12/15) - 4.89 miles, 41:49, 8:33 pace - Run cut short due to technical difficulties (aka, bathroom emergency. Oh you know the drill by now), 2.33 miles 19:12, 8:16 pace - I did the second part of the run after my study group. I ran a loop around Museum Row near Nassau Coliseum.

Total Weekly Mileage - 40.3 Whoo hoo! Building the base, baby.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Get Your Streak On

Sunday (11/22/15) - Off

Monday (11/23/15) - 8.02 miles, 1:10:09, 8:45 pace

Tuesday (11/24/15) - 7 miles, 1:01;45, 8:49 pace

Wednesday (11/25/15) - Off - Last day off until January 2, 2016!

Thursday (11/26/15 gobble gobble) - 6.1 miles, 55:36, 9:07 pace - I decided to attempt the Runner's World Holiday Streak again this year. Run at least one mile every day from Thanksgiving until January 1. I streaked two years ago and although it tested my creativity and commitment at times, I enjoyed the challenge. I've already created a Facebook Group with eager participants. It's definitely more fun and motivating when you have others to commiserate with and keep you honest.

I kicked off this year's streak with Freighbor and GM (both participants, as well) in the local park. We set out to do five, but there really isn't a five mile loop so we wound up running six. My damn cough/congestion was back so I was very aware of my huffing and puffing, particularly when attempting to engage in conversation (which I'm not used to anyway when running).  Both Freighbor and GM's GPS' had different readings. I chose to record a time and pace that split the difference. It was nice to have the company while lessening the inevitable guilt about what I was going to stuff into my face in just a few short hours. I forgot to take a group selfie...so here is an artist's rendition of what a post-run selfie might have looked like...

Left to right: GM, Me apparently wearing
a child's bicycle helmet, and Freighbor.
(No, Freighbor and GM are not twins.)

Challah if you want more stuffing!

My "famous" walnut topped 
cranberry casserole
right before it went Hansel and Gretel.
Probably 5,000 calories alone,
but oh so good!

Friday (11/27/15) 6.13 miles - Early evening run with some strides.

Saturday (11/28/15) - 6.04, 53:27, 8:51 pace - Another evening run. I saved myself from a serious face plant due to an uneven sidewalk hidden by wet leaves.

Total Weekly Mileage - 33.3 miles

Monday, November 23, 2015


Sunday (11/15/15) - Off - Biomechanics class in the morning and afternoon lab at the gym.

Monday (11/16/15) - 7 miles, 1:07:09, 9:36 pace - Run with the 4-year old in the jogger stroller (I think because I can't really account for the pace otherwise).

Splits Time Cumulative Time Moving Time Distance Elev Gain Elev Loss Avg Pace Avg Moving Pace Best Pace Calories
1 8:57.0 8:57.0 8:55 1.00 -- -- 8:57 8:55 3:45 90
2 8:59.0 17:56 8:56 1.00 -- 7 8:59 8:56 3:35 88
3 9:48.9 27:45 9:38 1.00 -- 3 9:49 9:38 8:38 89
4 9:57.3 37:42 9:56 1.00 13 -- 9:57 9:56 9:04 89
5 10:08 47:50 10:00 1.00 -- -- 10:08 10:00 8:04 89
6 9:56.5 57:47 9:54 1.00 6 -- 9:56 9:54 9:09 88
7 9:22.3 1:07:09 9:22 1.00 -- -- 9:22 9:22 8:27 89
8 0:00.9 1:07:10 -- 0.00 -- -- 8:10 -- -- 0

Tuesday (11/17/15) - 7.01 miles, 59:51, 8:32 pace

Wednesday (11/18/15) - Off

Thursday (11/19/15) - 6.01, 48:57, 8:09 pace - Tempo run on the streets.

Splits Time Cumulative Time Moving Time Distance Elev Gain Elev Loss Avg Pace Avg Moving Pace Best Pace Calories
1 8:21.8 8:21.8 8:16 1.00 -- -- 8:22 8:16 4:04 89
2 8:06.7 16:28 8:04 1.00 -- 7 8:07 8:04 7:39 88
3 8:14.5 24:43 8:12 1.00 -- 2 8:14 8:12 7:38 88
4 8:11.5 32:54 8:06 1.00 16 -- 8:12 8:06 7:32 88
5 8:08.1 41:02 8:04 1.00 10 -- 8:08 8:04 7:50 89
6 7:49.2 48:52 7:46 1.00 -- 7 7:49 7:46 6:26 89
7 0:05.5 48:57 -- 0.01 -- -- 7:04 -- -- 1

Friday (11/20/15) - 8.01 miles, 1:08:38, 8:34 pace

Saturday (11/21/15) - 7.02 miles, 1:03:47, 9:05 pace - Started at 4:30pm and ran mostly in the dark. Dressed in all black except for my reflective belt. I stuck to the sidewalks. Mostly.

Total Weekly Mileage - 35.1

And now for something completely exciting. To me. And my doctor.

The second consecutive year my blood levels were in perfect working order. I always had a history of high cholesterol, despite being a lifetime runner.  In the past five years I changed my diet, eliminating pork, beef (except for a grass fed indulgence every six months or so), ice cream, and Chips Ahoy! I eat a lot of fish (mostly salmon), chicken, organic chocolate chip cookies, and dark chocolate. I finally have seen the benefits in my past two blood work results. My arteries and I are thrilled!

Friday, November 13, 2015

Rockville Centre 5k Recap

Our town puts on an annual 10k and 5k race the Saturday after the New York City Marathon. It's a large event for our little town that welcomes about 500 runners. I love the fact that I live in a running town. On any given day, at any given time, you will see at least a handful of runners, either separately or in small groups, pounding the pavement throughout the neighborhood. This year Pete and my eldest wanted to run the 10k. I was going to watch with the little ones and cheer from a corner two blocks from our house. The Wednesday before the race, my 9-year old son asked if I would run the 5k with him. Yes! How could I say no? My fantastic neighbors said they would watch the little girls, despite their baby boy breaking his leg the day before. Yay (for the race, not the broken leg)!

I picked up our bibs on Friday at the Rec Center.  The woman there informed me that Cabo, the trendy Mexican restaurant in town, was going to host a free pasta (Yes, I said Mexican) dinner. Nobody has to say "free" twice to me. That evening we gathered the miniatures and headed to dinner. They had an entire room set aside for us the runners. We happened to be the only ones there. They served two trays of rigatoni, one in red sauce with parmagiano and another in garlic and oil with spinach and cheese. They were both unexpectedly delicioso considering their specialty is fish taco and paella! There was also rice and beans, salad with Italian dressing, and a bucket of Gatorades. We told the staff that our son had dairy allergies and they graciously made my son a separate plate of pasta without cheese.  They even sent us home with a huge to-go box for my oldest daughter. Eventually, a man and a woman came in separately for dinner. I was surprised that there weren't more runners eating since this race is very popular in town. Am I the only one who appreciates a free meal?

It actually tasted a lot better
than it looks.

The next morning I dropped the girls off and then the four of us made our way into town. My daughter was very nervous as this would be only the second time she has run farther than four miles, the first being four days prior. My son was excited. He was looking forward to getting a medal. I had to break it to him that he was in a "real" race where not everyone gets a medal, only if you place. He was okay with it, but still hoped he would make the top three of his age group. Continuing with my role as Debbie Downer, I told him that he would be competing against middle school kids so it is unlikely that he would place. (Welcome to life, kid. Get used to it. Mean Mommy!)

This year they had corrals so he and I lined up in the 9 minute mile group. He wanted to start at the front, but I told him that isn't the best strategy. Not only are you slowing the faster runners down, but it can be discouraging when they are passing you and leaving you in the dust. Been there, done that. We said hello to some people we knew, many of whom thought I was going to smoke this race. I have always won my age group in this race in the past, but this wasn't going to be a PR attempt. I was thrilled to pace my son to his first 5k finish.

Suddenly, we were off.  We did the usual starting line shuffle. The kid wanted to zig zag past the crowd, but I advised him against it, explaining he would just be wasting energy. Now that I think about it, though, since a 5k is short relative to a marathon, maybe it's not that detrimental. He listened and we continued running comfortably. At one point, he wanted to experiment running with his feet kicking out to the sides instead of forward. Okay. We saw some neighbors along the course and waved hello. We hit the One Mile Marker at 9:40. This was unacceptable for the kid, he wanted to speed up. We accelerated slightly, but I reminded him that we didn't want to tire ourselves out too quickly. Our second mile was faster and before we knew it, we were at the turn around where the 10k runners kept forging ahead as we headed back to the finish. He kept looking out for kids his age and when he saw them, he sprinted past in hopes of getting a medal. We rounded the last corner with only a few hundred yards to the finish line. I told him we should run as fast as we could. He took off. I could see spectators pointing and cheering for him from the sidelines. We ran side by side and crossed the finish mat at 27:12. I thought we were 30 seconds faster because we didn't immediately hit the mat at the start. I was wrong. He got a little sick because of the all out sprint, but he was so happy and proud of himself, as was I. The timing company had two monitors outside their van where you typed in your name and it read your stats. This was new and cool.

We headed back to the finish line to wait for Pete and Sanibel. We saw the 10k winners cross which is always fun. The kid saw his friends and couldn't wait to talk about his accomplishment.  This was the first time the kid ran over three miles without taking breaks. He kept going with energy to spare at the end. Children have so much heart when they compete. It was a blast to be able to watch him take it all in and experience his first "grown-up" race. Eventually, the other two arrived. We headed back home and I couldn't have been more pleased with the end result, even if I had PR'd (okay, well maybe a teeny, tiny bit more).

I could have sworn he was wearing

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Happy Birthday to Me & All the Other Saints

Monday (10/26/15) - 7.6 miles, 1:05:25, 8:37 pace

Tuesday (10/27/15) - Off

Wednesday (10/28/15) - 6.6 miles, 54:52, 8:19 pace - I ran to the gym in thick humidity. I set out to run 4 x .75mi at 5-10k pace with .25 recovery in between. It was a suffer fest. The chest cold that had been lingering since the week before made my breathing almost impossible. I cut the run a half mile short. My first attempt at speed work since the marathon was a stupid, annoying fail.

Thursday (10/29/15) - 3.94 miles, 34:19, 8:43 pace

I couldn't remember the rule of thumb for running while sick.Was it above the neck, don't run? Or below the neck, don't run? I finally decided to look it up.  Below the neck, don't run (Oops). Okay, you don't have to tell me twice. My cough was getting worse to the point where I could barely finish a sentence. The post nasal drip made falling asleep at night wishful thinking. I could definitely use a few rest days.

Friday (10/30/15) - Kids' Halloween parade!

I secretly enjoy feel badly about 
scaring the tootsie rolls out of
the little kids at school. 

Saturday (10/31/15) - Trick-or-treat!

Oops, my Mommy mask started peeling off.
(It ain't easy being green.)

Sunday (My birthday! All Saints Day, obviously.) - Pete took my eldest to New Jersey for the day which took soccer off the table. I was excited to drag bring the three little ones to Queens to watch the New York City Marathon! I knew a few people running so I decided to make a couple of signs. I hurried (hurried is a relative term when children are involved) my kids out the door hoping to catch the elite men at the half marathon mark. Once we got to Queens, many of the roads were closed so we just parked where we could. We walked over to Vernon Boulevard and got a nice spot right in front of a cafe. First, I noticed we missed the elites (dang it!). Then, I noticed we were on the opposite side of the road that I told everyone we would be on (double fuck a potato!). Hopefully, they would still be able to spot my bright orange Boston Marathon jacket (they didn't). Despite our little setbacks, I we mostly had a good time. There was DJ a couple of feet from us and enough crowd support to be fun, but not too crowded to be irritating. Many runners winked or smiled at our signs, and a couple even stopped to take pictures of them. We danced, we shouted, we high-5'd until we cried, we complained, and we fought ( "We" meaning "they"). It became clear that I needed to get the kids out of there pronto before they started running on the course just to spite me. I knew I was going to miss Kin and his wife by just one mile which was a bummer gigante.


Did I mention I got a Garmin Forerunner 10 for my birthday? Yup. Finally!! And can I tell you how my life has changed? No more math while running. No more stopping to get the damn phone out of the arm sleeve or FlipBelt mid-run. No more guesswork. I love it. It's simple to use, small, and lightweight. The only annoying part is having to hook it up to the laptop to download the runs (Is that lazy? Probably.).

I heart her.

Tuesday (11/3/15) - 6.41 miles, 59:19, 9:15 pace - Sanibel is running our local 10k on Saturday.  She has never run more than 4 miles. We were going to be up in Manhasset for my doctor's appointment, so we ran there. It was a lot hillier than she's used to. Other than her shoelaces being untied for God knows how many miles (Seriously?) and her crossing the street without looking (I mean, SERIOUSLY?!?! And with headphones?! Ugh.), the run went well.

Wednesday (11/4/15) - 6.26 miles, 52:24, 8:22 pace

Thursday (11/5/15) - 7.55 miles, 1:05:10, 8:38 pace

Sunday, October 25, 2015

What's New, Pussycat?

In my last post I said I had four more days before I would return to running.  Well, it was actually a whole day. The fall weather has just been so ideal, I couldn't wait.  I tried, really I did.

Thursday (10/15/15) 3.91 miles - My first day back I ran with my neighbor, GM, who is tapering for the New York City Marathon (She is one of three on our block, including myself, who had a marathon on tap for this year. Freighbor is the other, who just rocked the Marine Corps Marathon this morning! Go Freighbor, go Freighbor!). I wore my brand new Hoka One One Huakas which felt great once I figured out how to do the laces ("roller blade laces" which are great because they'll never untie and trip you). GM definitely had more pep in her step. I had to breathlessly remind her it was my first day back, dammit.  I mean, I can run faster. I just choose not to... (pant, gasp, pant)

Friday (10/16/15) 3.86 miles - Regular 4 mile (?) loop solo.

Saturday (10/17/15)  4.6 miles, 40:26, 8:42 pace - I ran 20 minutes east from Owl's Head Park to the Verrazano Bridge along the Belt Parkway, and then back again. It was a crisp, beautiful sunny morning. No wind.

Photo bombed!

Sunday (10/18/15) - Off

Monday (10/19/15) - 6.03 miles, 53:46, 8:54 pace

Tuesday (10/20/15) - 5.92 miles, 52:42, 8:54 pace

Wednesday (10/21/15) - 5 miles - I met a friend, JT, from high school who I have not seen since high school. She is a personal trainer out east and the mother of three very tall boys. She and I were on the cross country team together freshman year. By sophomore year, my co-dependent relationship with Phillip Morris got more serious and I wound up pursuing him, rather than continue with the team. JT stayed on cross country, getting faster each year. Decades later, we reconnected via Facebook and finally found time to get together doing something we haven't done together since we were 14! It was a blast!

Thursday (10/22/15) - 5.93 miles - 51:50, 8:44 pace

Friday (10/23/15) - Off

Saturday (10/24/15) - 6.82 miles, 57:25, 8:25 pace - I ran from Hofstra University east on the bike path along Hempstead Turnpike. It was 50 degrees and overcast. Perfect running conditions.  I felt light on my feet and ran a little faster than I planned. I turned north on Merrick Avenue and ran outside the west gate of Eisenhower Park to Old Country Road. I turned around and headed back. I only passed one other runner on the path whom I spontaneously high-5'd as we passed. He was very amused and chuckled. It's fun sometimes to acknowledge how lucky we are to be healthy, active, outdoors, and awesome with fellow runners.

Sunday (10/25/15) - 5.04 miles - Originally, I was going to run 7 miles with my son on his bike. My two little girls caught wind of this and were "not going to be ignored" (Quick! What movie? Hint: Rabbit Stew). The more the slower merrier.  My 6-year old rode her bike, too, and the "baby" (she's 4) went in the jogger stroller. The baby fell asleep while the other two did great. No complaints or requests to do a shopping/eating detour.

If you saw this motley crew barreling down the sidewalk 
toward you, would you run away screaming?
I would too.

What else have I been up to, you ask? Why was I at Hofstra University? Well, after many people telling me for years that I should be a Personal Trainer, I finally decided to take a look into it. The day I Googled, there just happened to be a free information introductory session at Hofstra that evening for a continuing education personal training certification course. I went. I was hooked. The thing that got me was this particular course is more scientific and principle based than others. I signed up the next day. I already finished my Anatomy prerequisite and CPR certification this past week. The actual Personal Training classes start next week. When JT and I got together, she gave me a ton of helpful information on working at a gym, as well as seeing clients privately. Once the course is complete, I will take the certification exam and then be on my merry way doing something that I love and completely makes sense for me, for a change.

I know!! I'm excited, too!!! 

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The Perils of Not Running

The Hansons don't want you running for a full two weeks after your marathon. At first I thought this would be fine.  I can relax, recover, and take care of the little things that might have been neglected the past four months. Well, those little things are all in school now. So instead, I've been going a little stir crazy.  First, I'm still eating as though I'm in Peak Week of my training cycle.  Not good since I'm not burning these calories off. Second, I may not be physically running, but I've got the mental running down pat.  I am either on the RWOL message boards (Happily reading about everyone else's races. Yay Fall!) or on Running In the USA looking for my next race, and then checking Marathon Guide for reviews. I think about it all the time (Okay fine, this is no different than before). NOTE: PETE, STOP READING HERE. And yes, I'm also "window" shopping. I can't help it if I found a pair of Hoka One One Huakas on sale for $49 in my size (runningwarehouse.com). I mean, was I supposed to ignore that? Not running for two weeks just seems a bit - dangerous.

If the Joker was a runner,
these would be his shoes.

PETE, YOU MAY RESUME HERE. That is why I went for a quickie with my friends, Emerging Runner (ER) and The Petite Pacer (TPP). Sunday morning I joined them mid-run at Bethpage State Park for an easy 3 miler just to stretch out my legs and make sure they still worked. It was also an excuse to see them again since I can't remember the last time we got together. TPP had just competed in her first duathlon in which she placed second in her age group. She has been focusing on cycling lately and it's been paying off. ER was there mostly for fashion and driving tips (ex., Shorts or leggings, not both. And, turtles don't make good Formula One drivers). Despite everyone running super slow, time flew by super quickly. Apparently, fun was had by all.

Today is Wednesday. Three more days and then I'm back.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

St. George Marathon Review

I arrived in Las Vegas Thursday morning. This was my first trip to Sin City. I am not a gambler, nor a fan of bright neon lights and big crowds, but this airport was only two hours from St. George, rather than six from Salt Lake City (St. George has its own airport, but the flight involved a lot of time consuming transfers). I decided to stay one night just for the experience and also I have been dying to see  The Beatles Love Cirque du Soleilshow ever since it premiered. I rented a 4-door Toyota Yaris from Firefly. It was tiny, but since it was just me and my little suitcase, I didn't need a lot of room.

My hotel, New York New York, was on the Strip about ten minutes from the airport. There's a Statue of Liberty outside as well as a theme parked sized roller coaster. I checked in and picked up my show ticket. The lobby is half casino and half replica of downtown New York City. There were cobble stone paths lined with New York restaurants like Gonzalez y Gonzalez and Shake Shack. I asked for a room on one of the lower floors of this behemoth and as luck would have it, it was the same floor as the fitness center. I decided to use the treadmill instead of figuring out a remote location that I would have to drive to and then once there, avoid rattle snakes and mountain lions (it is no secret I have a so called "irrational" fear of being attacked by wild animals while running).The treadmill had a working television attached so I watched two episodes of Sex & the City which made my easy 6 fly by. This was a big treat because most treadmills with monitors that I have used, the TV never works.

I thought I would have enough time to take a nap before the Beatles show, but my television in my room was not working and it took forever for the engineer to come up and...plug it in for me (I can see you snickering). I went downstairs and had dinner at one of the hotel restaurants, Il Fornaio. I was already carbo loading so I ordered the capellini pomodoro with a nice Chianti (Insert creepy slurping noises). It was delicious! I drove to the Mirage and parked in their free garage (Most of the big hotels have free parking garages which is great! Even New York New York, where you would think if they were going for authenticity, they would have meters or restrictions everywhere).

Ready for my date with 100 acrobats
on a flying trapeze!

My seat was literally in the last row of the second tier, but the theater was so small, it actually was a pretty good seat. How was the show? I really can't put into words what an amazing spectacle it was. The beauty, creativity, colors, set design, costumes, athleticism, talent were all awe inspiring. This was my second Cirque du Soleil show (I took the kids to see Ovo on Randall's Island in 2010), so I was expecting something great, but this really exceeded my expectations. And the music! If you are a Beatles fan like me, you will not be disappointed. The soundtrack is all original vocals, but remastered and updated just enough to be in sync with the young cast and breathtaking choreography. I highly recommend this performance. It's worth the trip to Vegas.

The next morning I was up early, despite not having a bunch of children in bed with me. I ordered pancakes to the room which were only $8.95, but if you want coffee, they make you order a whole pot which was also $8.95.  Annoying. I could only consume half the stack and then went about checking out. Google Maps said St. George was only 1:52 away which would have me arrive by 11am. Perfect.

Virgin River Gorge on I-15 North

I checked into the Best Western Abbey Inn in St. George. There was a sign in sheet for marathon wake up calls.  I signed in for 3:45am (yikes!). They also gave each runner a goody bag with snacks and water. I dropped off my bags in my room and headed to the Expo at the Dixie Center a few minutes away. The Expo was large and bustling. I picked up my bib easy enough and then sat in on a couple of lectures/Q&As, First Timers and Elites.  I particularly enjoyed the latter. There were five elite runners, two women and three men, all local.  They each told their stories about how they started running, how their running evolved, their PRs, and their hopes for this race. One of the women is a 49-year old mother of seven (Yup! We're in Utah!). She explained how she started out as an average runner (Her early times matched up to mine) until she decided to hire an elite running coach who brought her times down to the 2:50s. I found this fascinating... I wanted to ask all of them questions, but I had to boogie.

The last thing I needed was more running
crap. Oh wait, is that a black visor?

It was getting late and I wanted to run an easy 3 on the end of the course. I wound up doing just 2 because one of the roads was busy with traffic. I'm glad I did this, though, because the next day I knew what to expect that last mile. The temperature was 89 degrees, but it was 4pm. I kept my fingers crossed that we'll get lucky with cooler numbers the next morning. I went back to the hotel, showered, and then headed back to the Dixie Center for the Pacers lecture and the pasta dinner. The 3:45 pacer talked about the pacing strategy for all of the pacers. They will take into account the severe downhills, as well as the uphills, particularly the Veyo volcano. This was reassuring. I had my Maclin race specific 3:30 pace band, but I wanted to start off with the 3:35 group for the first 9 miles. The food (spaghetti with either a vegetable red sauce or Bolognese) was decent, not as good as Il Fornaio, but definitely better than the Mohawk Hudson River Marathon "pasta" dinner (I feel a little badly that I always refer to this meal as the worst pre-race dinner, but then I think about how it really was the worst and the guilt subsides quickly). I also wolfed down a roll. I was officially a giant ball of carbohydrates.

That is a shiny roll on top of the plate,
not a pickle.

I woke up at 3:45am the next morning thanks to my iPhone alarm, the room alarm clock, and the three wake up calls from the front desk.  There will be no sleeping in. I got dressed and tried to eat the plain bagel I brought with me from New York (I'm pretty sure they don't know how to make bagels anywhere else). I could only choke down half of it. I grabbed my throw away fleece and Gatorade, and put three gels down my sport bra, one in my Flip Belt, and one in the zippered compartment in the back of my shorts. I also taped my pace band around my wrist which was unnecessary since I completely ignored it throughout the entire race. I went to the lobby and went outside to wait for the hotel shuttle that would bring us to the park where the buses were. It was warm, but I suspected it would be a lot colder at the start, 5,000 feet above sea level. The shuttle dropped us off at the park where there were hundreds of runners waiting to board the school buses. The line moved quickly. The bus ride to the start was about 30 minutes. We took the route that we would be running on in the opposite direction. I was thrilled to see many porta-potties every couple of miles. Speaking of which, I popped two Imodiums exactly an hour before the start. Fingers (more like legs) crossed. 

It was still dark out and I was right about it being much colder at the start. I think it was around 45 degrees. I got on line for the porta-potties (where I unfortunately dropped one of my Gus on the floor - gag), did my business, then made my way over to one of the many bonfires.  These were great and kept the runners nice and toasty until we started lining up. I found the 3:35 pacer, a young, attractive guy who was quickly swarmed by mostly young women. This tall brunette complained that there was no 3:30 pacer so that's why she was going to go with this group. And also because our leader was a cutie, I'm sure. Suddenly, the starting area was beginning to look like a stampede in the making. I got separated from the pacer. Great. 

And we were off. Soon after we crossed the starting mat, the crowd thinned out. I would run by feel until I hopefully found the group again. And boy did I feel great! We were going downhill, but it didn't seem like it at all. I was averaging 8:00 miles. Right at that first mile, I lost another Gu. This one slipped out from my sports bra. I stopped to pick it up, but thought I would get run over so I kept going. I caught up with the pace group and made sure to stay close to the leader. I noticed that we were still running 8:00 miles which is a 3:30 pace, not 3:35. He should have been 12 seconds slower. Hmmm... We passed an aid station and I made a point to stop at every one as per one of the elites from the lecture. Pacer guy did not stop. He kept moving, and fast. Shit! I hustled to catch up to him again. The miles were ticking by super quickly which was a nice surprise. I worried that since it was a point to point race, it might feel longer than say, an out and back. As we approached the Mile 7 aid station, I ate my first Gu, "lemonade" flavor. I put lemonade in quotes because it tasted more like warm, thick, slimy, overripe shitty lemons (sorry Gu, but it's just my opinion). I probably should have taste tested one before I stocked up on them for this race. Yuck! I grabbed a water at the station and lost the group again. I'll catch up. I could still see his sign in the distance. But in front of him, I could also see the volcano. I still felt good. I asked the guy next to me if we were actually going to climb to the tippy top, but he pointed to a road that went 3/4 up on the side. Oh, that's not so bad, I foolishly thought. We began our ascent. About halfway up my arms were aching. Really? This never happened to me while running! Like they were exhausted. So weird and annoying because I'll probably need them for the rest of the race. My breathing was labored, too. I expected this since we were at a high altitude compared to south shore Long Island which is pancake flat. This incline never seemed to end. In fact it was about 4 miles until it flattened out. I'll just walk a little bit...

Proof of life?

I started running again and at some point passed Tall Brunette from the 3:35 pace group. She was walking alone. The group was still nowhere in sight. Oh well. I hit the half marathon marker at 1:49:01 and swallowed my second Ew, I mean Gu. The course began to get steep again at Mile 15, except this time downhill. We ran into Snow Canyon which was absolutely beautiful. 

Snow Canyon
(photo from runningahead.com)

We hit another hill at Mile 19 which was smaller than Veyo, but I still walked part of it and "ate" my last gel. I couldn't bear to eat any more after that. I felt like I had sugar flowing through my veins. At Mile 20, I waited for the "Wall". It never came. I was tired and my legs were totally shot, but I could still force myself to keep going. Don't get me wrong, by Mile 22 I wanted to stop, but I didn't have to. (Hanson's actually worked!) At some point I even stepped off to the side to do some lunges. My quads were that sore. We were headed back into the city of St. George and the crowds were getting bigger. Someone gave me a purple ice pop! Yay! Somewhere around Mile 24, a kid was giving out ice cold miniature bottles of purple Gatorade. Yes, thank you! I took a cold, wet towel from someone else. I finally made the last turn onto 300 West and saw the finish line up ahead. Hallelujah! I tried to speed up, but when I did I started to gag. Lovely. They even memorialized the gag in my official marathon photos! Awesome! My official time is 3:34:44. A PR and my third BQ! I didn't hit my A goal of sub-3:30, but I wasn't too disappointed. I'm getting closer. Plus, with all the walking and lunging I did, I think my time rocks. I wound up having a negative split by 3:18. I finished in the top 18% overall out of 5,464 runners, top 12% out of the women, and top 11% in my age group. 


Thank you nice hotel lady for taking 
this picture AND picking me up from
the finish line in the shuttle van
that I fell out of on my first attempt 
of stepping in. Marathon legs.

Here are my splits:
     Mile 1  - 8:16
     Mile 2  - 8:04
     Mile 3  - 7:42
     Mile 4  - 8:06
     Mile 5  - 8:02
     Mile 6  - 7:51
     Mile 7  - 7:59
     Mile 8  - 8:23
     Mile 9  - 9:06
     Mile 10 - 8:16
     Mile 11 - 9:01
     Mile 12 - 8:27
     Mile 13 - 8:01
     Mile 14 - 8:14
     Mile 15 - 7:41
     Mile 16 - 7:41
     Mile 17 - 7:48
     Mile 18 - 7:47
     Mile 19 - 8:42
     Mile 20 - 7:55
     Mile 21 - 7:40
     Mile 22 - 8:05
     Mile 23 - 8:09
     Mile 24 - 7:42
     Mile 25 - 8:27
     Mile 26 - 8:04
     Mile 26.52 - 9:30

I forgot to turn my app off immediately at the finish line. Map My Run says I ran 26.52 in 3:36:21 at an 8:10 pace.

Next marathon? I'm taking requests....

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

T Minus 4 Days

Every day I'm tapering, tapering. The St. George Marathon is this Saturday! I am in full Hanson "Tapering" Mode.  I will only be running 49 miles this week, including the 26.2 on Saturday. This means I have a lot of time on my hands to be restless and perform questionable acts that someone in her right state of mind might find offensive or disturbing. Eating as though I'm still peaking would be an example. Phish Food, Ben and Jerry?  Did you have my demise in mind when you concocted this devil's delight? So sinful no amount of Hail Marys could save me. At least I didn't finish the entire container in one day. Oh wait, does 24 hours count as a day still?

"a chocolate ice cream with gooey marshmallow 
and caramel swirls, and a school of fudge fish"

I also have a lot of time to peruse the internet. I have celebrated National Daughter's Day, National Coffee Day, National One Hit Wonder Day, and National Eat A Quart of Ice Cream Day with friends real and virtual (Are you questioning the validity of that last holiday? Who are you to judge?). I also have read every topic on the Runner's World Marathon message board (RWOL), putting my two cents in when necessary (or unnecessary). I also bought a pair of Pro Compression socks on sale that I won't be wearing on race day because I have never trained in them, however they were too cute to pass up. $30 well spent.

...maybe I will wear them race day after all...

When you have a lot of time, you can also check weather forecasts for cities all over the world online. What does it say about St. George, Utah, you ask? Well, at the beginning of last week the forecast was 86 degrees. Yikes!  Marathons have been known to be cancelled in those temperatures (see Chicago). A couple of days later my iPhone had a different forecast, 95. Was this a joke?!  A RWOL member from Colorado said they were actually expecting a cold front in the area which would bring the temp down to the mid-70s by noon. Still hot after running 26 miles, but sooo much better than the other forecasts.  I'll go with him. (However, as of today, weather.com says 89)

Today is my day off, then 6 easy miles tomorrow. I fly out to Vegas on Thursday where I'll run another 6 (and catch the Cirque du Soleil show Love). Friday I drive two hours to St. George where I plan to run the last 3 miles of the race course. I'm hoping to also drive the course if I have time. Then Saturday is Marathon #5...a little bit of Monica in my life, a little bit of Erica by my side....did I mention I was tapering?

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Reach the Beach Relay Review

Monday morning I received an email from our good friend Dana from Martha's Vineyard. He asked if I would be interested in being a last minute substitute for their Reach the Beach Relay team, that weekend.  Without hesitation, I cried, "Yes!" in my head.  Of course, I had to discuss it with Pete first.  Even though he was secretly hoping to be the substitute since he had run that relay with another team twice in the past (Sorry, Pete, they wanted a female...or just me), he was very gung-ho about my participation.  There were a couple of issues, of course.  First, I am winding down my marathon training. Racing two weeks out is not the smartest idea. Would they mind if I was to run 9:00 miles? No problem. And B (as in Van B), I'm going to be away from the kids for four days marathon weekend.  This would be at least three more days away.  No problem, Pete and the kids would drive up. Okay then, done deal!

Thursday afternoon I took the JetBlue shuttle from JFK to Logan where I met N, one of my 11 teammates.  He is a totally chill dude who used to live on the Vineyard before he and his family moved down south. I liked him immediately.  Soon Van B picked us up and I met J, L, and my friend, Dana. We made our way very slowly to New Hampshire. Boston traffic is no joke, but it gave me an opportunity to get to know the others as well as prepare me for my upcoming van odyssey. I snacked on an apple and a couple of Nature's Valley granola bars, but still began to feel foggy and loopy from my hypoglycemia. By the time we arrived at our rented ski lodge in Bretton Woods, I was almost slurring my words. Luckily, a feast awaited. Van 1 (Yes, Van 1 and Van B. There is no Van A or Van 2.) had arrived hours earlier and its occupants had already started cooking.  I downed some cheese and crackers before we all sat down for delicious pasta pomodoro with meatballs and/or pasta with oil and basil, grilled chicken, and a huge salad.

The view from the ski lodge.

The rest of the team were warm and welcoming, just as I had hoped. It would have sucked if they were assholes or thought I was one. Everyone had run Reach the Beach together for many years in the past, but it had been ten years since their last. I had one relay experience, Hood to Coast, so I was familiar with how it worked.

Here are the players:
     Van 1:
          G - The captain who recently had major surgery and wanted to get the old gang together now that he had recovered.
          D - The super nice ultra-marathoner
          ML - Adorable, tiny mother runner whose marathon times range from the 3:20s to 3:30. She is famous for her consistent pace.  She runs 5ks at the same pace as her marathons. I actually met and ran with her the last time we were up on the Vineyard.
          J - A former Division 1 cross country runner.  'Nuff said.
          K - Very sweet, uber fit ice hockey runner. Low 3:00 marathoner.
          P1 - Nice, very fast, and second newest member of the team (I think he ran 4 out of the 10 races with them).
          Chubby - Van 1 mascot, an illuminating gnome who sits on the van roof staring into the night, always watching out for those below him or scheming their demise.  It's hard to say which.

     Van B:
           N - Whom you've already met
           Dana - "
           L - Don't let the "Grandpa status" fool ya, he is in fantastic shape. A gentle giant.
           PB - Another "Grandpa" I wouldn't want to be competing against. He does Spartans with his 24-year old son...and his son has to keep up with him.
           B - The only other female in Van B and what a female she is! She is beautiful and vulgar and hilarious and sweet and freakishly fast, like elite fast.
           Me - Suddenly wondering what I'm doing with this talented team of titans.
          Woody - Van B mascot extraordinaire, the smarter of the two gnomes.

Woody & Van B

After dinner I went to the designated bedroom that I shared with J. G said he would be up at 5, but our start time wasn't until 11:30 so I figured I could do some crossword puzzles that had been ignored over some months due to child rearing. J went right to sleep, but not before my gassy stomach announced I was holding in a fart or two. Nice. I went to sleep a little before midnight.

G and apparently everyone else was up butt early. I tried to stay in bed as late as possible, but breakfast and its creators were summoning me downstairs. We ate, made sandwiches, packed the vans, and were off.

We got to the start early to do a little shopping and attend the mandatory team meeting.The rules were simple: don't relieve yourself publicly or you're disqualified; make your bibs visible or you're disqualified; make sure you are wearing headlamps and flashing lights front and back at nighttime or you're disqualified.

It was time to start. D was Runner #1. He had a beast of an ascent, basically up an almost vertical ski slope that he immediately had to descend. G was next and then J. Once J went, we all got in our respective vans and were headed to the beach which would be almost 200 miles and 28 hours later.

The Start.

I was Runner #8. My first leg wasn't until after 3 in the afternoon. It was 7.3 miles of a gradual downhill in the shade. I passed four people (They are called "kills" in relay speak. Our humane van called them "apples" that we would pick off - like an Olympic assassin would kill a turtle of a jogger.) and nobody passed me. I made the final turn for the last mile right into the afternoon sun. It was hot and uncomfortable, but I ran it out. My Map My Run went wonky at Mile 2, but I think I was averaging 8:00 miles.

N was Runner #12 and then we started all over again. We spent most of the time in the van talking about burping, farting, pooping, peeing, and our kids. If I had known how open everyone was, I wouldn't have held in my fart the night before so I could have been comfortable without my stomach grumbling all night. We took turns driving the van and I think I impressed them with my mad skills. My car at home is almost as big as these 15 passenger vans, after all.

I was dreading my next leg, Leg #20. As time passed, it became apparent that I wasn't going to go out until 3am. B was ahead of me, and she and I had "Wild Card" runs.  Hers was anywhere between 7-9 miles, depending on how she felt, and then mine would be either 4-6. Rather than hand off at a designated transition area, during a Wild Card run, you can hand off whenever you wanted. We both hadn't slept, but we were both antsy to get out there. She took off at 2am on a mostly steep uphill course. We drove past her and I was just in awe at how fast she was climbing that hill. We waited for her at Mile 7, but she wanted to keep going. We had to stop her at Mile 8, though because with all the van congestion, we wouldn't make it to the transition area at Mile 9 in time. I took off into the blackness a little after 3am. My leg was mostly downhill and I flew as fast as I could without really seeing the ground unless headlights were coming up from behind. I followed the lit runners ahead of me, sometimes getting dizzy from their bright flashers. I sped up past the people with the bright lights to avoid a possible migraine. The temperature was 49 degrees and there was also a cool mist in the air.  It felt amazing. My best run of the race.

I drove again after my run, but I was exhausted. I could only drive a couple of more legs before it would become unsafe. Dana took over and I laid down for a nap. Sleeping in a van is restless and almost impossible. When I awoke, I told Dana I could take over driving again.  He laughed at me and said that he had only driven 3 miles. Really? Ugh. I was awake and that would be my shuteye for the 24+ hours.

We had breakfast at a firehouse at one of the transition areas. I had a big pancake, coffee, and juice. I did my business for the first time since the race began which was a relief because I had been eating lots o' carbs that were just sitting in my belly all night. N had hurt himself on his second leg so we all, meaning everyone except for B, decided B would do his last run for him. She obliged because she's a rock star and a team player wrapped into one. Finally, my third leg #32 came around at 1pm the next day. I was functioning on fumes by this point and was so happy to get my run done, but my brain was almost completely asleep despite everything else feigning awake. My last leg was 6.7 miles (GPS said 7.1) with one 300 foot hill in the middle. Almost immediately after taking off I realized I had forgotten to put my bib on.  Luckily, my van drove past and saw me flailing. They stopped and quickly got my bib and pins and I was good to go....until Mother Nature decided to rear her ugly head again. As I winded down the hill, I hopped in the thick brush to go potty. Hello, poison ivy! It was everywhere, but I had to go and fast so I said screw it. I popped out of the bushes and thankfully wasn't seen by the potty police. Apparently, I wasn't done because I made another stealth detour around Mile 6. When I finally made the transition to Dana, B looked at me laughing. "Why are there sticks in your hair?" she asked. Oh, yeah. That.

3 legs, check!

B took off for Leg #36 and both vans made it to the beach. We met her, as well as Pete, kids, and K's family at the finish line. We picked up our tiny trays of meat and beans and headed to the beer tent. We were all thrilled it was over, but also proud of our accomplishment. The teammates were so gracious and said I fit right in with their team. I had a blast thanks to these awesome runners who couldn't have been kinder, funnier, and more welcoming. Long live Woody!

Beer tent

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Inaugural Suffolk County Half Marathon Review

Soon after I bagged the Rockapulco Half Marathon due to "technical difficulties", I started searching for another.  I found the Inaugural Suffolk County Half online.  It was close enough geographically, however maybe too close in time to St. George. I went on the Runner's World marathon message boards to get advice from the gurus. The experienced marathoners said, "Go for it!"  So I went for it.  Later, I had to clarify that I was following the Hanson's Method, to which the gurus said, "Don't do it!" Uh oh. I decided I would use it as a long tempo run, unless I either felt like pushing it or slowing down.

Saturday was packet pickup.  I took my time making my way out there.  I checked the race site as my son and I moseyed into the car around 2:30ish pm.  The expo closed at 3pm!  And it was 45 minutes away! 3:00 - 2:30 = 30 minutes + 45 minutes = drive fast.  We raced to St. Joseph's College in Patchogue and arrived at the expo at 3:09.  Vendors were packing their cars and trucks.  I asked if they were still handing out packets, and luckily they were.  I took this as a good omen for the next day's race.  The Greater Long Island Running Club (GLIRC), the race organizers, have always been runner friendly so I didn't expect to be sent away, anyway.  I got my bib and noticed there must have been hundreds of others still in the boxes.  I figured it was going to be a small race field.

That night I ate Southwestern salmon from Trader Joe's (yum!) and Japanese rice with soy sauce. I figured the rice would bind me up and not cause any bathroom emergencies mid-run. I went to bed relatively early (10:30am) and set my alarm for 5:30am.  When I woke up, I felt surprisingly refreshed. Surprisingly because I hardly ever wake up feeling like that. I'm always the one hitting the snooze button while cursing the sun and whoever else invented morning. I put on bicycle shorts to prevent any chafing (which has been a common occurrence lately) and a bright orange singlet.  I made sure to pop a couple of generic Imodiums and headed out the door.  Once I got on the Southern State Parkway, I realized I had forgotten my earbuds.  I had enough time to go back home and grab them, as long as I didn't get caught up in any traffic. Well, traffic caught up with me about a mile from the Heckscher State Park entrance.  The cars were crawling while state troopers sped alongside in the emergency lanes. After seeing all the bibs that hadn't been picked up at the expo, I was shocked to see the volume of cars on the road. I thought for sure there was a major accident ahead.  Thankfully, there was not.  I was directed to park in Field #2, used the non-porta potty, and then jogged 3/10s of a mile to the starting line.

There were hundreds of people milling about as the official GLIRC emcee made the usual announcements in his usual friendly, upbeat manner. The half marathoners lined up on one side of the road, while the full marathoners were on the other. We listened to a beautiful rendition of the Star Spangled Banner, and then were off on time.  The skies were clear and the temperature was in the 70s.  I quickly felt the humidity, however.

The first couple of miles were in the park and along Sunrise Highway.  We then went through some local neighborhoods where there was plenty of crowd support, to my surprise.  I skipped the first couple of water stations, but hit almost every one afterwards because of the 83% humidity.  At 83% a little rain shower would have been nice. Hello!? I was running between 8:00 minute miles, with a couple of 7:45s thrown in for variety.  Around Mile 5 I saw a glorious misting tent which I ran through disappointingly, as it turned out to be more of a warm spitting tent. We ran through the Suffolk campus of my alma mater, St. John's University.  I cheered the lead runner as he blew past us on the out and back. He looked very casual and nonchalant, as though he were "jogging" an easy 3.  Before the turn around, a group of Dowling College students were high-5ing the runners reminding me of the Boston College kids on Patriot's Day. On the way back, I ran "with"a couple of women.  I would pass one of them, then stop for water. They would then pass me, but not for long.  I would get ahead again until the next water stop.  The course led us through a botanical garden before getting back on Sunrise Highway for the home stretch into Heckscher Park. At this point, I passed the two ladies for the last time. They didn't pass me again.

I crossed the finish line at 1:47:03, 5 minutes slower than my PR, but decent for a tempo run.  I grabbed two ice cold water bottles and ran back to the car.  My socks were soaked.  I did a few boring laps around the parking lot so I ended up with 16 miles to round out my last "long" run. I finished 4th out of 162 (top 2%) in my age group and 182nd out of 2033 (top 8%) overall.  By the looks of most of the finishing times, it was a slow day.