Friday, December 27, 2013

Review: Flywheel - My Latest Obsession

So, if you follow me on social media, instagram or twitter...then you know one thing. I have replaced running all the miles with taking all the Flywheel classes.

It all began oh so innocently.

I was visiting my sister for the Halloween Half Marathon in Miami. She had recently started working at Flywheel and casually mentions that the day after we should take a class. 

New activity? Sold. I hadn't been spinning much and I was in "taper" the week before the NYC Marathon so obviously the day after running 15 miles (1/2 marathon + additional) I should totally take a spin class and run some miles! Plus she was so stoked about not only the job but the classes that I couldn't NOT go, right?

The next morning we ran the mile or so over to the studio to warm up/shake out from the half marathon. 

We arrived and immediately I just felt the energy. The previous class had just let out and I was greeted by smiling sweaty people. My favorite kind of people! 

She showed me how to sign in - SO easy - you sign in with your username at the laptop, confirm your bike assignment is correct and then grab your shoes from the correlating numbered cubby to your bike.  Easy peasy. 

I'm not new to spinning but we quickly put our stuff in a locker (no locks needed - the type where you create a new code each time you use them) and set up the bike and we were in business. Each studio is set up stadium style so there pretty much isn't a bad seat in the house.

Note: this class would be my first time clipping in with spin shoes (which are provided for you as part of the class fee) - holy difference. I am sorry I will never ever spin again without the shoes. 

Start spinning the legs to warm up as the lights are dimmed and the music starts. 

Now this is my favorite part, unique to Flywheel and probably the large part of why I am obsessed at this point. 

You create a username with your account to participate in the Torque Board during class if you so choose. If you do, your total power number will appear on the screen under your name and bike. 

If you know me, you know that at times I am ultra competitive. I'm sorry not everything in life is a race? What? That is just absurd. It's about winning (okay not always buuuuut a lot). 

We get going and after a couple songs I see that my sister and I are neck to neck and at the top of the board! Us, the two who ran 15 miles the day before and prior to class. I kind of look at her and go to the dark side. Inner competitor comes out and is just like GO TIME. Head down and ride. All of it amazing. Plus the added benefit of one track where you do some upper body strength while spinning with weighted bars.

Happy to say I beat her that day (sorry Karlyle!) and finished #4 I think for my first ride. 

Next steps were running a few more miles then upon returning to her apartment stalking the Flywheel New York website and choosing classes for the upcoming week. 

That was about 2 months ago and I have probably started averaging 4 classes per week. Side note: my wallet hates me.

I have only been going to the Flatiron studio and have already found my "favorites". 

Top of my list has to be Jesse Alexander

Because of him and his popularity - I have a permanent alarm on my phone that alerts me at 4/4:30/4:55pm every Sunday for the 5:00 booking time to open because quite literally within a minute his classes fill up. 

It is insane. And warranted. I actually feel a little ridiculous for how pumped I get just THINKING about his class. Now, I am not the most hip hop person which a lot of his playlists are but his song selection is always amazing in the way it is choreographed to his ride. But, it is more just his energy. It oozes out of him. He is jumping off the bike. At times so amped with energy that he is actually jumping encouraging us. He will also move through the class, interact personally with you during the ride. 

My first one with him was the day before Thanksgiving. I guess a lot of people were no shows because for the only time I have ever experienced since there were empty bikes. I had one next to me and the next thing I knew he came over whispered some words of inspiration and then hopped up on the bike next to me and started riding with me. Want me to work harder? Okay. Done. Rode my way to #1 on the board in that class. And then proceeded to take a double with him on Thanksgiving Day. He was also the start of me realizing I could hit 300+ in total power in a 45 min class. He brings out the best. He encourages you to have an goal, and intention for each ride. Don't just show up - have a purpose. 

Okay enough of the Jesse love. But seriously, go book his class and tell me you don't love every sweaty second of it.

I've stuck with a few instructors for the most part. Ryan is just pure awesome his playlists are up my alley 100%. Want to get pumped before work? Hit up Kate or Grant and get your ass kicked before stepping foot in the office. And cannot forget Ruth the genius behind it all. I plan to test out more, but for now schedule and location wise, Flatiron is most convenient and I can only make 6/7am or usually 7:30pm or later week days (thanks work don't you know I have sweating to get done?). Weekends are dedicated one day to running long one to Flywheel typically.

At $32 a class (includes shoes and all the bottled water you need to replenish the pool of sweat that will be under your bike) it isn't cheap - but for me I am always willing to sacrifice the money for a killer workout. You can buy packages and they will get a little cheaper per class, but I would LOVE a membership option (apparently that used to exist but does not anymore, siiiiiigh).

Thankfully my Christmas consisted almost entirely of Flywheel gear + packages. Thank you everyone for catching on to my obsession. And please feel free to note my birthday coming up in the next month. Okay? Thanks.

I know that there is quite the following for Soul Cycle who is just as cult like in their obsession but I have to say...I can't see leaving Flywheel. I couldn't leave behind the competition or the classes that I come to look so forward to. And let's not forget the goal to "power up" each month. Get 2500 power points and get the shirt that month. I like goals and competition what can I say?

This has been the perfect diversion in my much needed "down" time from serious marathon training. It came at the perfect point in time. I was obviously burned out from logging 40-60 mile weeks and strict training schedules. My fall didn't go as planned and I didn't get my sub 4 hour marathon that I was focused on for oh you know just 6 months or so. I was disenchanted and was starting to think of training as a burden rather than fun and this has really helped invigorate a passion. As I am in "off" season now I plan to probably stick to a 3 classes/week schedule to accommodate at least 3 runs per week schedule to maintain fitness (1 easy/1 speed or hill/1 long) plus strength training.

Next up on the list is to get my butt to Flybarre to work on my strength and toning which is severely lacking these days. I have been getting better about hitting the weight room but think that Flybarre will help me focus on that strength to help running.

All I can say is get your ass to Flywheel...but let me know so I have more excuses to go! And I hope you drink to kool aid and fall in love just as much as I have.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Year of Running: 2013

yearofrunning 225x300 How was your year of running?

I thought that it would be fun to play along this year with Miss Zippy's Year of Running !

This has been quite the year for me. I think I will probably at some point write a longer post of reflection but here's a little insight.

  • Best race experience?  I am going to go with the Dirty German 50K - my first ultra and don't even ask me how but this was the most FUN race. My first trail run as well. Because you should definitely make your first foray onto the trails a 31 mile run. Naturally. I have never ended a race feeling so strong and as if I didn't want to end. Just an all around awesome experience.
  •  Best run? I actually had so many confidence boosting speed workouts leading up to the marathons but I am going to go with my 10 x 800 (I learned I LOVE 800 and mile repeats, weird, I know) I paced all between 3:45 and 3:53 - 3 weeks prior to my goal marathon I should have been on track for breaking that 4:00 mark.
  • Best new piece of gear? My Mizuno Wave Sayonara's - love them for tempo and speed work. Even some mid/long distance runs of 10-13 they were great and made me feel speedy - I love these bad boys!
  • Best piece of advice you received? Rest, rest and more rest. I used to never take rest days - this training cycle the easy, cross training and one day of rest (or yoga/strength but no cardio) were built in and non negotiable. And I learned to love and look forward to them. I upped the quality of my workouts and the mileage and therefore it was imperative to have the balance. I also learned that junk miles are of no benefit whatsoever. My running coach built a schedule that worked really well for me. I learned so much from her the past several months.
  • Most inspirational runner? Honestly I follow so many amazing bloggers. To watch Jen conquer her first marathon in inspiring fashion, Theodora's sub 4 NYCM as well as my sister running her first a couple weeks ago...I love. I find the most inspiring people to be those who are just like me. Working full time and trying to train on top of that. I find it a lot easier to relate knowing that they are trying to balance work, personal and training in the same fashion. 
  • If you could sum up your year in a couple of words, what would they be? Evolving. This was the year of marathons and big goals for me. I ran my first marathon. Then another and then an Ultra. Then I decided I wanted to get better and set the sub 4 mark - as well as adding 2 additional marathons this fall. Everything fell apart. I was primed and should have killed Hartford. Then the DNF. I was cramped from the start. The rest of fall kind of fell apart from there. I ran NYCM with a 100 degree fever. A 4:29 not bad considering but disappointing to be sick that day. I had about 12 minutes or so of stoppage time with bathrooms and medical tent breaks I should have PR'd at least. I had grand plans of an awesome Palm Beaches Marathon but once NYCM was over I was done. Mentally and physically burnt out. I set out on a 14 mile run a week later and could barely maintain 11 minute miles. Recovery from being sick + the marathon killed me. And I dropped to the half. Which was awful in itself. So not a couple words but a book. Same thing. I'm learning. I am learning I don't want to run races to run races. I want to run well. That is the goal for the future. 
And there we have it! 2013 the year of training awesome and not performing in races. Le sigh.

Here's to many more years of running though and running happy. 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Palm Beaches Half Marathon

This past weekend I went down to West Palm Beach with the intent to run the marathon.

Yay for 80 degrees and gorgeous!

After NYCM I just knew that I was kind of done with the marathon for now and officially dropped down to the half at the expo the day before. Sadly I had to keep my 26.2 bib so ran feeling like a fraud (although when the volunteers at the half / full split anxiously told me I was going the wrong way - I did my most excited leap of the day and informed them I had dropped down!).

Anyway so basically this race was crap. Quite literally.

I had been running pretty well the couple weeks prior and thought that I could at least just run a sub 2. No way I thought I would PR (1:53) but a solid race seemed realistic.

Morning of just was not feeling right my stomach was gurgling yet I couldn't actually GO to the bathroom.

Get to the start and they have the race under caution to begin (it was almost 80 at 6 something am it was going to be a hot one!). It was gorgeous along the water though waiting!

The race starts about 20 minutes late and immediately I know I am not making it far without the bathroom. I dodged away right before crossing the start to run to a portopotty.

Thus would continue for the remainder of the race.

At first I was just focusing on making it a mile without walking or stopping for the bathroom. 

By the end I was praying for 1/4 mile increments. 

So discouraging. It was hot as hell, I was drenched with sweat and incapable of just RUNNING and getting it over with. 

I lost count around 7 or 8 bathroom stops. And I threw up at mile 10 when I kept saying I needed water and got handed gatorade which I chugged and promptly threw up. (running can be so sexy, right?).

My poor sister I found out, was running the full (HER FIRST!!!!) and encountering the same exact issues. Which she has NEVER before. I felt so god awful for her. 

Turns out we think the culprit was our Publix subs we got the night before for dinner. We each ate half of ours (same subs)...she ate the other half the next day when she was feeling better and soon felt shitty again.  Major sad pants because one of my favorite things about Florida is Publix and their subs! I thankfully never ate my second half.

So the recap is: it was super hot, beautiful course, a nice but not too overpowering breeze from the water but I can't actually say I "ran" this sucker. 

Thinking Florida is cursed with races for me. Every one is a disaster! Yet I keep coming back for more. One day I will have a good one.

The BEST surprise though - MY PARENTS SHOWED UP!!! They live about 90 minutes north of West Palm and came to surprise me. Best race redemption ever, I was so happy!!!! They have never come to ANY of our races so I was thrilled. We got to spend the afternoon together so that made everything a-okay in my book.

So yeah. Basically - could have been a good one but just not my day. It was actually comical by the end just how incapable of running I was. 

I did however really enjoy the course and scenery! And there were some decent crowds. I would run this one again for sure. I love going to Miami but the vibe here was chill, and a lot smaller field makes it more manageable. 

This cute older man running by me high fived it and yelled at me that I should listen to directions, haha!
My sis about to finish!!!!
Further feeling like a fraud: they gave the full medal as much as I pleaded for the half one.

My face says a lot...smiling but really really not smiling on the inside.
And the cruelest thing ever...coming back home to this weather. Ugh NYC NOT amused!!!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

I'm Still Training. Kind Of.


Just realized that I have been kind of MIA for a couple of weeks.


Still no full NYCM recap. No training updates. None of what I have been up to since.

So here is a little glimpse into the past couple weeks of my life.

I ran NYCM while feeling like shit. Complete and total shit.

I proceeded to take only two days off from training (since you know, I ran the marathon as a training run and all).

BIG SHOCK. I wound up sick for basically the next two weeks that followed. I am just starting to feel some semblance of normal... although I still feel just flat out EXHAUSTED at times for no reason.


So first up. I totally do not recommend doing that to yourself. If you wake up with a fever and shit, put yourself back to bed instead of running 26.2 miles.

But if you DO go run it. Maybe take the following day off. Me? I was in the office at 8am and had an 11 hour day the day after.

And when you do start running. Don't make the first run back a 10 miler.

Queen of Good Decisions.

I fought all urges for rest days and ran myself quite literally into the ground. 6 days after NYCM as I am running a long run with my friend...11 minute miles seemed like torture and with each passing minute felt worse and worse. I somehow made it to just under 14 miles when I wanted to die. I had nothing left in me. Major light bulb went off in my head that umm I need to not run. And maybe take a day off. You know get myself better.

So last week I took some time off. I didn't run for a full week! (lifetime for me) and to be totally honest, I did not miss it. I have drank the kool aide and am 150% in love with Flywheel and have been taking entirely too many classes and spending way too much of my money there.

That $32 a pop sure does hurt the bank account but oh how I love it.

So back to that whole training thing. Flywheel classes can totally replace actually running as training for the marathon. Right? Maybe? Just lie to me and say yes.

More confession time. I am supposed to run Palm Beaches Marathon in about 2 1/2 weeks. It is to be my sisters first marathon and I am heading back to Florida to join in the action.

I'm not entirely convinced any more that I am going to do it. I just don't know if I have another 26.2 miles in me right now. I am beat. Physically and mentally. I have checked out with running. I don't WANT to train right now and am attempting to get away with minimal in order to still be in shape enough for a marathon (although pretty sure that with only 5 weeks between them and still being highly active, no matter what I am fine).

I have nothing to prove. And I am about 99.9% sure that I am NOT going to run my sub 4 hour marathon in Palm Beach. I have proven time and again I run like shit in warm weather and am just not there at the moment physically. To beat my body up for another meh marathon, I am currently just sitting back and weighing the options of dropping down to the half.

Obviously taking into consideration if I will be disappointed etc. The good news is that I have until the day before to swap out my bib so I have some time. Until then I am going to follow through with the coaches training as if I am running it but I would be lying if I said I was actually all in and on board anymore.

Okay. I think I have babbled on enough.

I think for the first time in a while, I am not all do or die about running. And that is a reason to pause about this whole marathon coming up but as well as kind of be happy. Some times I let it consume me way too much and it is nice to not feel pressured about it right now.

I have so much going on right now and running isn't the number 1 priority. And you know, I am totally okay with that.

I am going to run on my own terms. And if I don't feel like it, I won't.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

NYCM - Nothing Compares

I will do a full recap later since I have a lot to say about the race but...

NYCM 2013

AKA the marathon I did not taper for and ran with a 100 degree fever - FTW!

Leading up to the marathon, it was training business as usual as this was going to be a "training run" (running Palm Beaches in December).

The week of the marathon training went a little something like this:

Monday: 75 mins XT + Lift

Tuesday: 5 miles

Wednesday: 7 miles 5 @ tempo (aka the day I started feeling sick)

Thursday: 5 miles easy

Friday: REST glorious rest

Saturday: Dash to the Finish 5K 

Sunday: NYCM!!! 

Total miles: 46.3

I was exhausted on Friday after work. I had planned to go home early but that never really pans out. 

Saturday morning was quite the struggle to get out of bed. Thankfully I had picked up Jen's bib and HAD to go run the race. But really had no desire to do so (but super thrilled to see Jen!).  

In true 5K fashion I thought I was going out slow but wound up going out with a bit of a bang and then spent the rest of the time reeling myself in for an easy 27:57 finish. (side note kind of want to race a short race some time soon...)

I actually wound up running into Jen at the finish as well and after chatting for a little bit went on our ways. And then it hit me like a ton of bricks. I felt AWFUL. Dizzy and like I was going to throw up. I couldn't get home fast enough. 

I proceeded to get home shower, eat something and put myself to bed for the remainder of the day praying that I would feel better in 24 hours. 

Spoiler alert, I woke up Sunday morning with a 100 degree fever and feeling like hell. Thankfully the excitement of the day helped get me up and at it. 

I knew that it was going to be a tough one but it is really hard to not get pulled in to the magnitude of what was about to happen. I was running the New York City Marathon. Just awesome. 

The good news, I did it! 4:29:36. 

Not my best, not my worst, but surely my favorite.

Damn proud considering oh I was sick and had not tapered. And my last LONG LONG run over 16 was 9/22. 

There was a lot of joy, a lot of struggle and a lot of emotion.

I am going to leave you with splits just for fun and fully recap later.

AND FYI - had NO clue what I was running until the half, I decided to just say f it to monitoring the Garmin and RUN. But intended to start slow...

Mile 1: 10:40 <-- LOOK AT HOW SLOW I DID IT!!! YES.
Mile 2: 8:50 (oops)
Mile 3: 9:27
Mile 4: 9:15
Mile 5: 9:10
Mile 6: 9:09
Mile 7: 9:05
Mile 8: 9:21
Mile 9: 9:21
Mile 10: 9:19 
Mile 11: 12:22 (bathroom)
Mile 12: 9:31
Mile 13: 9:48
Mile 14: 9:57
Mile 15: 10:32 
Mile 16: 12:33 (another bathroom)
Mile 17: 9:40
Mile 18: 10:35
Mile 19: 15:43 (med tent)
Mile 20: 11:08
Mile 21: 10:42
Mile 22: 10:14
Mile 23: 9:47
Mile 24: 10:27
Mile 25: 9:54
Mile 26: 9:53
Mile 27: 9:22

The splits tell the story. I felt like crap and the excitement wore off and hit me like a ton of bricks eventually. But I fought to get back on track at the end as hard as it was. 

More to come. But congrats to everyone who ran on Sunday! 

And leaving you with a photo that I promise shows me a LOT happier than I felt at mile 23. Hamming it for the camera!


Saturday, November 2, 2013


Well I officially just booked a car to get me to the TFK bus so 12 hours from now it will all be happening. 

A couple thoughts:

I feel like straight up crap. I want stay in bed forever right now. 

I am excited and scared at the same time. I haven't run more than 16 in a couple months. 

But running has started to feel normal again minus that whole cold thing I have going on right now. Lungs burn running at the moment. 

I have a goal but for the first time I just don't feel like talking about it. Enjoyment is first goals are second this time around. 

And with that I am just going to leave you with a million pictures. 

To everyone out there running tomorrow GOOD LUCK!!!! 

We run this city!!

And feel free to stalk me: bib 34780

And let me know where to find you spectating on the course!!

Everywhere. You cannot escape this marathon. 
Expo! And too much money spent. 

Dash to the Finish 5K - shakeout 
Only about 10,000 people showed up
Running 42nd Street? Priceless. 
I spy mile 25! And realize that mile might simultaneously suck and be awesome. 
FINISH!!! See you again soon!
And next time you will read 26.2 or knowing me and tangents...26.5

Monday, October 28, 2013

Training Lately

Well I haven't bored with one of these in a couple weeks! 

But as I am flying back from a long weekend in Miami at the moment it seemed like a perfect opportunity to catch up! 

The past couple weeks have been hard. Running just isn't clicking for me at the moment. Every run so far has been done with a bit of feet dragging.

I am just TIRED. 

All. The. Time. 

I think my body is a bit over it all at this point in time. I was so ready to be done training and then, DNF at Hartford. The wind was taken out of my sails and I just can seem to get it back. 

My mental state isn't exactly helping my physical performance either. Running just seems HARD. What's that all about? I am ready for one of those runs where it all clicks again and things fall together. 

Hopefully during NYCM. Okay body and mind let's get on board with that as a plan. Thanks. 

Along those lines. NYCM is going to be a training run. I have a time in mind that my coach thinks we should hit pace wise which on one hand should be totally doable (and a sweet PR) - but on the other I want to embrace every moment of New York. I already am emotional reading recaps and advice pieces that I want to be in the moment. 

So what's been going on with me for the past two weeks since Hartford? Here is a brief recap:

Monday: 8 miles - 1 easy / 1 MGP or under

Tuesday: XT and strength

Wednesday: 10 mile negative split 5 easy 5 speedy

Thursday: 6.5 miles easy 

Friday: rest (day off from work sick)

Saturday: rest again

Sunday: 12 miles morning / 3ish night

Total: 40ish

Monday: XT + strength

Tuesday: 11 miles - 6 x 1 mile repeats + 2.5 warm up and cool down

Wednesday: 6 miles easy

Thursday: 8 miles with 10 x 30 hard

Friday: rest

Saturday: Miami Halloween Half + 2.5 miles

Sunday: Flywheel class + 4.5 miles + biking 

Total: 45 

Mileage is still up and will be taking it a little easy this week leading up to NYCM. 

To be brutally honest, yes I am SO EXCITED for this marathon but on the other I just don't want to think about it. All the countdowns and such I am not taking part of. Considering how my running has been lately I am almost in hey lets just try to survive this marathon kind of mode. 

So there we have it. I am sure I will soon enough get fully back on board. Pretty sure I will be caught up in marathon excitement. 

But until then I am just taking each run as they come. 

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Regroup. Refocus.

So it's pretty safe to say that my confidence is lying in a ditch somewhere in Hartford right now. 

Mentally I am repeating to myself that this was a fluke. 

I was prepared for this marathon. 

Scouring over months of training logs proving that yes I ran the miles and did the work and sub 4 should have been in my grips. Hard, but doable. 

But some times it is so hard to get out of your head. To get out of your own way. Some times our mind can play tricks on us. 

Look a marathon is supposed to hurt. It will hurt. If someone tries to tell you differently, they are lying. Trust me. 

That day for a while I kept trying to differentiate. I spent 33 or so painful minutes trying to figure it out. Heck I was so focused on that from the start; I never even started my music! 

Was this the typical running "suck" was it just that kind of day? Did I totally luck out and was now going to struggle through the entire run? 

Or was something else wrong? 

In the end I choose the latter. I have an absurdly high tolerance for pain. One that usually gets me in trouble because I will brush everything off to "oh running just hurts some times". When I got to the point where I was grimacing and getting pains that would take my breath away I knew it really was the latter. 

I am more or less fine now. I have been more sore and stiff this week than I have in a while but that could also be in part to the strength workout I put myself through (note to self I guess I was half assing strength for a while).

I did a long run the next day. And have hopped right back on the training bandwagon. 

With a little less gusto and a little more reluctance. Okay not quite reluctance more like flat out not wanting to do shit right now. But, I am all in. In theory.

If only my brain would catch up. None of my runs have felt comfortable and have been full of doubt. 

However, I am lucky in a way. 

I am running NYCM in 3 weeks and Palm Beaches in 8. 

I am going to use NYCM as a training run (although we do have a time goal but it's my typical long run pace more or less). 

And then, if all goes according to plan I will be in Florida RACING Palm Beaches. 

It is pancake flat and a smaller race so it has a lot of potential. Just pray the heat won't be too much of a factor. 

So moral of the story is that I have 8 weeks to get out of my head and get that focus back that I had going into Hartford. I was SO confident I was running sub 4 it was ridiculous. I think NYCM will give me the confidence that yes I can do it. And the additional training will have me confident again on pacing. 

There is a bit of me that is begrudgingly still accepting that I am not going to coast through fall anymore. But that's okay. Victory will be that much sweeter having failed first, right?

I'm going to run with that :-)

Monday, October 14, 2013

Hartford Marathon: First DNF

First off I need to start this by saying just how awesome my friends and the running community are; I have never felt more supported in one of the hardest decisions I have had to make.

Now to get down to business. (and grab a drink and snack this is epically long - sorry).

ING Hartford Marathon.

Big. Fat. DNF.

Hi. That was NOT in the plan. Remember that sub 4 or bust plan? What happened to that, that sounded like a lot more fun.

Being in that moment still makes me emotional. There have been a lot of tears. Not in thinking I made the wrong choice rather frustration, anger and disappointment. My body failed me. I trained 17 weeks for this specific moment with a specific goal and within minutes knew it was not happening.

Let's bring it back to the beginning.

The past couple weeks, I have been SO careful. Set myself up for success.

I have done ALL the stretching.

Slept ALL the hours.

Drank ALL the water.

Eaten ALL the things that will not upset my stomach. (seriously, if I see turkey sandwiches and grilled chicken salads again in the near future I might punch someone).

All the things I know can be my downfall but wanted to leave nothing to chance come race day.

I went into work for a couple hours on Friday before heading up to Hartford. I was rested and relaxed. I got to town around 3pm and headed to the expo real quick before checking into my hotel.

I was in the hotel, stretching out and chilling and had a plain dinner of some grilled chicken and pasta before getting into bed before the sun had even set.

No nerves. I had been visualizing for days running a calm strong race. Envisioning seeing 3:5x at the finish line.

I had never felt so absolutely prepared for something in my life.

I slept like a baby Friday night. I do NOT sleep through the night. Minus waking one time and sleepwalking for the bathroom I was out like a light.

Race morning. Wake up with plenty of time to get moving enough so that I can walk out the door with my stomach feeling "settled" and confident that it will be okay.

Had my breakfast. Lubed up to avoid chafing and was out the door only 3 minutes later than I had wanted.

I got down to Bushnell Park right before 7, hit the bathroom line one last time before heading out to warm up a little bit and find the pace group.

My plan was to start out with the 4:00 pace leader and stick with him to ensure I didn't go out with a bang and paced evenly (which was his plan).

Warmed up and was lined up around 7:35 in the corral. Perhaps my downfall that I cooled down. But who knows.

Was super calm, still not nervous. EXCITED. Not nervous. I was ready to rock.

Trusted in my training.

I did get a little emotional during the National Anthem and Invocation (seriously, longest, but greatest invocation). But that is just me I can be a big mush some times.

The next thing we knew, it was the wheel chair start and then we were off!

Oy. The beginning was super congested. I was focused on keeping near the 4:00 pacer.

I briefly looked down and saw we were a good 40-50 seconds under pace but figured that would even out.

My legs felt completely dead. There was nothing refreshed about them. Was just hoping that they would warm up.

Then shortly after the start we were on an uphill (stupid overpasses) as we were going up I felt my calf start to tighten. I ignored it and concentrated on keeping in pace with the group.

We kept going and things kept going downhill. I briefly stopped for just a moment looked down and could see the muscle in my calf spasm. Kept going praying this would stop, that I would feel better and could enjoy some miles before shit was supposed to get hard (because you know this was more like 20 mile kind of pain not mile 2 kind of pain).

Spoiler alert, it didn't. Another uphill and more pain.

I grabbed some water briefly walking and started back up and we were right around mile 3 and I knew it was decision time. DNF started to float around my brain.

Pretty sure this was the point when I started crying while still running and calling all my smart running friends and trainers for advice. But I knew I didn't need it I knew I was done. I knew I was walking off.

Eventually I walked to the side of the course hyperventilating and sobbing.

MAJOR thank you to the course support, friendly runners and spectators that rushed to my aide as I blubbered that yes I was okay but I was cramped up and quitting. But how the hell did I get back to downtown Hartford? I then called my parents barely able to speak as my Dad basically talked me down about how stupid I would be to push through.

I then called my BFF running buddy Tara and she was kind enough to deal with my tears and crying and anger and be my sounding board as I talked it out.

I was also happy to encounter a lovely girl running her first marathon - she crouched down and was feeling faint and I helped her fuel and kept her company for a few miles before I couldn't stand to be on the course any more. It took my mind off of things and was nice to help someone on their first journey.

Meager splits: 8:38, 8:30, 9:00, 8:43

Turned off Garmin at 3.6 officially went off the course at Mile 6ish.

That walk through the finish area, still crying, in pain and pride tattered was not one of my most favorite running moments. It took me the better part of an hour of walking to navigate my way through the road closures and crowds back to my hotel where the only thing I wanted to do was stretch, take a hot shower and get the hell out of dodge.

I am not saying this to diminish the accomplishment of the marathon - but this day was the culmination of 17 weeks of focused training. I began the training with sub 4 hours at Hartford the end goal. I had no interest in collecting a medal and just finishing. I would have probably just thrown the medal in the river.

I could have continued on. Slowed down. Perhaps run my slowest marathon to date. I was not interested in that. As soon as I realized what was going on with my body I knew that if I wanted to not jeopardize the remainder of my fall racing that I should not just run the 26.2 just for the hell of it. I don't need to prove that I can finish it. I know I can finish a marathon when it sucks. Heck I know I can finish an Ultra. This was about being smart and knowing I want to set myself up for the best chance to race again.

I have not a single ounce of regret after having slept on it. Minus the fact that I had to get out there and do a long run this morning. Le sigh. Back into training.

Obviously I have to reassess. My fall was based around Hartford as my go big or go home, the rest just have fun. (and yes I am coming to grips that my form of "fun" is quite sadistic)

Originally I figured I would go for it at NYCM. Now I am thinking more of running my heart out in NYCM but making my goal marathon at Palm Beaches December 8th. Pancake flat and not a big marathon so no crowding. Obviously after running Miami in January I know weather can be a factor; but that is what I am leaning towards at the moment. Clearly awaiting coaches official thoughts as I bombard her with texts :)

I am super excited for NYCM - to just be a part of it, and to be a part of it having raised money for Team for Kids, now that is about more than just ME.

The end of the day. This is just a hobby. Do I love training and challenging myself and striving towards goals? Absolutely. Do I sometimes get a little wrapped up and consumed? Totally guilty type A in that respect. But I can step back and know that this is supposed to be FUN for me as well. Shouldn't cause me more stress. Maybe I need to stop taking myself quite so seriously. Not to say that there was not every reason to be emotional or upset about the DNF but such is life.

I didn't fail. It just wasn't my day yesterday.

If you are still with me at this point, THANK YOU. Thank you for all the kind words and support. Every person that wished me well and then cheered me up brought on fresh tears of happiness and gratitude. It meant the world. (The next time I am crying at a race better be with a massive PR. Just saying.)

And seriously has anyone had a great marathon at Hartford??? Yesterday two buddies told me that they DNF'd last year and for most everyone else they have had a crappy time there. Note to self: more research before choosing goal race (this was chosen in the spring based on timing and location).

And to everyone that rocked the marathon world this weekend, CONGRATS! All inspirational. I will be back November 3rd.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Hartford Marathon: Sub 4 or Bust

Alright so I am going to keep this pretty short and sweet. 

This week has been less about nerves than it has in the past. In general, really, there are no nerves. Just a pure sense of wonder. 

Will I be able to do this? 

Have I trained hard enough? 

Did I do everything I could to this point to set myself up for success?

The answer is, honestly, yes. 

I am sometimes way too hard on myself and do not give myself enough credit for what I manage to accomplish.

This has been a pretty damn awesome year for me.

I started a job in March that continues to evolve into something I love coming to (even those weekend days – annoying but I still like working!) With this job I have met some pretty damn awesome people who have become very close to me. (In fact, I owe the majority of my NYCM fundraising to their amazing generosity!)

I ran 2 marathons and an ultra marathon earlier this year – when as of October of last year I was dead set against EVER running a full marathon in general. 

After racing most weekends in spring I gave myself a whopping 2 weeks off after finishing a full marathon, 10K, half marathon and ultra marathon all in May - before diving head first into training again with my new coach. (and, note my first week consisted of a trail half marathon in Miami…I sure am sadistic). 

At the same time I was working 12 hour days preparing for our news network to launch. 

That meant 4 am wake ups and sacrificing sleep at every turn. 

Looking back I have no idea how I made it through summer without completely shutting down. 

I have FELT speedier. I think my training times SHOW I am. But with the marathon there is just the constant sense of wonder.

So let’s lay it out GOALS

As if we all don’t know what I want.

A: Sub-4 – it can be 3:59:59 and I will consider it a success

B: 4:05

C: PR = Sub 4:26

And there we have it. 

I might go radio silent a bit as I just absorb this time leading up to the marathon. 

Originally my buddy was going to travel up with me, but doesn’t look like she can and that is alright. In a way I need the time to be by myself and focus. 

I plan to have fun in this marathon and enjoy it, but I also plan to race. This marathon, I mean business.

I have felt very introspective. Kind of odd for me. I am a little bit scared by my goal but I do have confidence in myself. Just trying to maintain an air of calm. I just keep visualizing running strong and running my race. 

And with that, let’s bring on the race. 

Less than 48 hours to go. And about that long until I have this beauty hanging around my neck.