Sunday, November 20, 2016

On the Run: Fall 5Ks

When I get out of the habit of running and racing, I suppose I get out of the habit of blogging, too!  I post on my Facebook page but have been utterly delinquent on here.  Please accept my apology.

Here's my Cliff Notes version of the past 6 months: After running the River Bank Run 25K in mid-May, I had foot pain that just wouldn't subside.  During the race I thought I'd stepped on something in the road that had injured my foot.  (Later it dawned on me that I hadn't stepped on something; that was when my bone broke.)  On June 1st it worsened to the point that I was limping and called my orthopedic.  An x-ray and MRI showed a stress fracture in my right sesamoid bone.  No running.  I biked and cross trained for 3 months while wearing a carbon-fiber insert in my right shoe.

4 month post-injury x-ray

Monthly follow-up x-rays showed little to no healing.  It's a bad spot for a fracture due to lack of blood flow.  I was able to get my hands on a bone stimulator and used that daily, sometimes twice a day.  When I returned after 3 months there was some improvement as the bone had begun to knit itself back together.  My doctor said I could return to running by implementing a Couch to 5K program.  It was somewhat comical but I was grateful to start somewhere!  My friend Leah at the Detroit Free Press transferred my marathon entry to a 5K and I began my training.  I started with 1/2 mile and slowly, SLOWLY added distance.  I was incredibly cautious, watching my speed and not adding more than 1/4 mile at a time.  I was so scared that I was going to feel a pop again and be back at square one.

I've been doing well and running pain-free since taking time off to recover.  I'm slowly increasing my weekly mileage but I'm not going any speed work.  This fall I've run three 5Ks.  I'm still competitive but I know that I'm in a different place than I was a couple of years ago, before all of my injuries.  But I love the joy that racing brings me.  

American Home Fitness Detroit Goddess 5K

Date: Sunday, September 18th
Location: Belle Isle

You know how I feel about this race!  Every year I swear up and down that I'll never run it again, yet here I was running it for the 4th year in a row.  I had originally signed up for the 10K, which I thought would be a great distance.  When everything went down with my foot I transferred to the 5K.  I was so excited to be racing again, putting on my RUNdetroit singlet and shorts, and getting to the start line with my friends.  Nothing makes me happier than racing, no matter what the outcome.

My friend Sara was also racing her first half marathon and I couldn't be more thrilled for her.  She did awesome with her training and I was excited to see her cross the finish line!

In a nutshell, this race was HARD.  I hadn't run this far since June 1st.  I started with the leaders and did my best to keep up with them.  In the end they were too fast for me; however, I had fun trying to catch them!  I finished fourth OA and first in my age group.  I won a pair of socks made from recycled water bottles.  







Three Packs a Day / Courtney Barnett
Born Again Teen / Lucius
Move Like You Stole It / ZZ Ward
Deceptacon / Jessica Hernandez
Rattlesnake / St. Vincent
Man / Neko Case
Little Numbers / Boy

American Home Fitness 5K

Date: Saturday, October 15th
Location: Milliken State Park

As my second 5K approached on Freep weekend, I was a bit more nervous.  I knew my fitness had improved in the month since the Goddess race.  I wasn't doing speed work but my pace was naturally picking up.  My weekly mileage had increased and long runs were up to 6 miles.  I knew I could run faster but how much faster was the question?  I also feared pushing the pace.  There was the ever-present fear in the back of my mind that any given run could be my last.

Brian and I arrived extra early to help with medal distribution.  It was fun to hang out with the other volunteers.  I was grateful that I was able to run the race and volunteer.  At the last minute the course had to be changed from last year due to a naval ship being docked along the RiverWalk.  I liked the new course, which went along a different part of the RiverWalk.  There was a decent hill in the first mile but overall it was flat.  I had to push hard, especially in the last mile.  I felt like I hadn't worked that hard in a race in a long time, which was a great feeling.  I ended up running it a full minute faster than my race last month!  Still a far cry from my PR but I couldn't have been happier!  I was ninth female and first in my age group.

After the race I helped pass out medals for the 5K and the kids fun run.  The latter was the best part of my day.  Seeing those kids cross the finish line with smiles on their faces filled my heart with joy!  I'm looking forward to racing and volunteering at this event again next year!







The Innocent / Mayer Hawthorne
Born Again Teen / Lucius
Runaway Baby / Bruno Mars
Violent Shiver / Benjamin Booker
Fast in My Car / Paramore
Deceptacon / Jessica Hernandez
Man / Neko Case

Mustache Dache Detroit

Date: Saturday, November 12th
Location: Atwater Brewery

I'd really wanted to continue to improve my 5K time once more this season but there was no chance of that happening on the Mustache Dache course.  For me, it is NOT a PR course.  It's always windy and this year was no exception.  But I never run this race for time.  I run hard but I run it because it's FUN!  The Mustache Dache is RUNdetroit's big race and I wouldn't miss it for anything.  

The weather this year was perfect - sunny and mid-40's.  The wind proved challenging and I finished nearly a minute slower than the Freep 5K a month ago.  BUT it was my fastest time on this course, so I was happy about that!  I also placed 5th female and 3rd in my age group.  I got a pretty great pint glass.  Thank you Atwater and RUNdetroit!

I was so happy with my mustache that I wore it for a few hours after.  Brian was super creeped out.  I don't understand why!







Maneater / Hall & Oates
Attention / The Raconteurs
Run (I'm a Natural Disaster) / Gnarls Barkley
Sharp Dressed Man / ZZ Top
Everybody Get Dangerous / Weezer
Bodysnatchers / Radiohead

My favorite finish line photo to date

That wraps up my fall 5K racing season!  Here's to hoping I can make it to January in one piece so I can start training for Boston with healthy legs and fused bones.  Bring on 2017!

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Henry Ford Human Performance Clinic

Last week I had the opportunity to visit the new Henry Ford Human Performance Clinic with my friend Megan.  The Performance Clinic is part of the Sports Medicine Program and is housed in the William Clay Ford Center for Athletic Medicine in New Center.  I was going with Megan for three reasons:

1. As Megan's coach, I was super excited to see the data and use it to adjust her training plan with her most accurate RIGHT NOW paces.  Being there to see it firsthand and ask questions would be more helpful than having Megan explain everything after.

2. When my toe fracture heals I will be going through the process myself.  By going through it with Megan I will have a better understanding of everything when I get to do it.

3. (Most important reason) Everything is better with a friend!  

Megan lives just a few blocks away from the William Clay Ford Center so I drove to her house and we walked over for the 7:30am appointment.  After checking in Eric came to get us from the waiting room.  I met Eric while he was working at RUNdetroit.  Now he has this super cool job in Exercise Physiology and Preventative Cardiology and was looking professional in his non-running shoes and lab coat.  

Megan had some forms to fill out and then Eric tested her cholesterol, blood sugar, and triglycerides (she had to fast overnight).  He did this with a finger prick and test strip, which then went into this little machine and quickly read her results.  Much faster than going to a lab and having blood drawn!

Next Allison, Eric's intern, took Megan's height and weight.  Then it was time for her to go into the Bod Pod!  The Bod Pod calculates body fat percentage and lean body mass.  It does this displacing air around you in the Pod.  (Similar to a water dunk that would displace water.)  The Bod Pod also calculates RMR (resting metabolic rate), which is the number of calories an individual burns daily at rest.  We felt this was the most vital piece of information from the Bod Pod, as both Megan and I tend to not fuel enough as marathon training miles increase.  Knowing how many calories we need to sustain our bodies on a daily basis without moving - not to mention running X number of miles, strength training, etc. - will help us make better choices with our nutrition.  Our nutritionist will love the information, as well!

After the Bod Pod fun, it was time to head to the treadmill!  Megan spoke with two different doctors - Dr. Nayak and Dr. Kateyian - to discuss both the test and her health/running history.  Megan was hooked up to an EKG to monitor her heart and fitted with a mouthpiece to measure her oxygen/carbon dioxide exchange.  This is what would give us her VO2 max and anaerobic/lactate threshold

Eric had already programmed everything into the computer.  Megan would have a minute warm-up and then the real work would begin.  She would run for about 10 minutes at an all-out effort until she had reached her anaerobic threshold.  We were all cheering for her while she ran!  Dr. Kateyian was monitoring her O2 and CO2 exchange and let Eric know when had hit her VO2 max.  At this point Eric dropped the pace so she could cool down enough to have a seat again.  That was the end of testing!

Then Dr. Kateyian went over Megan's results and explained her VO2 max and lactate threshold.  He put everything in very clear terms and didn't dumb anything down for us, which was cool.  After this we sat down with Eric to review ALL of the results.  While we had been speaking with Dr. Kateyian, Eric had been converting the treadmill results to paces.  This is where I was most excited!!  Up until this point, Megan had been training based on spring race results.  Now we had paces based on accurate, RIGHT NOW scientific data. And it's specific to Megan and her body.  As a coach, this was such a useful piece of information.  I went home and got right to work on updating her pacing plan.  

I can't wait to go through this process as soon as my toe is healed and I can run again!  I would highly recommend it to all athletes and coaches.  The cost for the clinic is $299.

Check out Megan's website Happy Legs, Happy Heart for a more thorough write-up of the process from her perspective.  

Sunday, May 29, 2016

On the Run: River Bank Run 25K 2016

For the past three years I've wanted to run the Fifth Third River Bank Run in May but forgotten about it until the last minute.  It creeps up on me and all of a sudden I think, "Crap!  It's THIS weekend?!"  To ensure that didn't happen for a fourth year in a row, I signed up when registration opened in November.  Brian and I booked The Holiday Inn shortly after.  Grand Rapids has been on our list of weekend getaways for a while so this would be a perfect excuse to go there.  There are countless breweries (several of Brian's favorites) and many vegan dining options in the city.  Beer, good food, AND a race?  I could hardly wait until May!

The race fell on May 14, just 4 weeks after Boston, which I hoped was enough time for my legs to recover.  Unfortunately, after my marathon my hamstrings weren't in as good of shape as I had hoped.  My right was decent but my left was giving me trouble.  I spent the 4 weeks babying them by easing back into longer runs and quicker paces.  I wasn't able do get any speed workouts because I didn't think it was worth the risk.  My goal was to enjoy the race and run happy; not to run my fastest paces.


It took us an eternity to get to Grand Rapids on Friday night because of traffic.  Brian dropped me off at the expo while he went to check in at the hotel.  Maybe it was because I was at the tail end of it but the expo wasn't much to speak of.  I picked up my bib and shirt, grabbed a free water bottle, and headed out.  I met Brian back at the hotel (only a 10 minute walk) and we went straight to dinner.  

Dinner was at The Mitten Brewing Co.  It was small, crowded, loud, and had a 2-hour wait.  At that point we didn't know where else to go so we waited.  Drinks were good and people-watching was fun, plus the all-vegan menu was worth the wait!

BBQ Chicken Pizza (yep, all vegan!)


Saturday's weather was overcast and in the 40's - absolutely perfect for racing.  Also a far cry from Marathon Monday's sunny 70's one month prior!  I dressed in my usual shorts and RUNdetroit singlet but this time I added an ear warmer and arm warmers.  For my warm up I also had a long sleeve and pants.  It was windy, making it feel even colder that it actually was.  

While I ran my mile warm-up I started to get anxious.  My stomach was a wreck.  I'd been having some digestive issues again and eating that late-night pizza surely wasn't helping matters.  My legs weren't good either.  Glutes, hamstrings.  Oh I was a mess.  It was a long, slow, painful mile.  I had no idea what was going to happen on that course.

Brian went with me to the start line.  I love having him with me as long as possible.  We found a spot to meet after the race and he snapped a picture of me before I found my way into the corral.

I took Brian's advice and started conservatively with the 2:00 pace group.  I didn't want to end this race like my last two races - miserable, sore, and regretting starting too fast.  It was a good group of people, many of whom were from the area and knew the course well.  I got a few pointers but was mostly told to enjoy myself and it would be over before I knew it.  Sounded great to me!

The race starts downtown and has a pretty good crowd.  The course exits downtown Grand Rapids pretty quickly, however, and the crowds thin.  I stayed near the pace group and around the same group of runners for the first 3-4 miles.  My pace was holding around 7:35/mile, which felt nice and easy.  I was closely monitoring my hamstrings to be sure they were feeling okay.  

The first 6 miles of the course takes runners down Indian Mounds Drive, a beautiful tree-lined stretch of road.  I loved this section of the race and took in the scenery as I ran.  By then I'd dropped my pace a little bit and although I was feeling okay, I was still being cautious.  

At the end of Indian Mounds Drive was an aid station with cheerleaders.  I could hear them before I saw them!  After the cheerleaders the road was lined with spectators cheering as we curved around into Johnson Park.  As peaceful as Indian Mounds Drive was, it was about time for some noise!  I said something to a guy next to me about the crowd.  A moment later he asked my pace because he wasn't wearing a watch.  For the next 4 miles we stuck together, chatting about running and averaging a 7:10/mile pace.  There were a couple of hills in miles 8-10 but nothing significant.  

Coming around a curve and up a hill, I saw the 7:30 pace group ahead.  I was feeling good so I picked it up a bit and joined them.  My plan was to stay with them for the last 5 miles but that pace felt easy so I moved on.  I was comfortable to push a bit more as I neared the final third of the race.  

Unfortunately, my stomach was starting to act up.  It had been iffy the whole time but I was starting to worry with each passing mile.  4 miles to go.  I was eying every porta-potty I passed.  Should I stop?  I kept going.  Maybe that one.  No.  I was afraid of losing valuable time on the clock.  What if it was a false alarm?  What if I ended up being in there forever?  

As I approached the 20K, I started to think I had no other choice.  There was a porta up ahead.  I had to stop.  No way I could make it 3 more miles.  So I got to it . . . and kept going.  For a few feet and turned around.  Screw it.  Not worth it.  

After I stopped I caught up to and passed several people I'd been running with, including the whole 7:30 pace group.  My last 3 miles were the fastest of the race.  In fact, mile 14 was a full minute faster than mile 1!  It was definitely worth the stop.

Right after I stopped the course took a turn through John Ball Park.  It was a beautiful little park that I later found out has a zoo.  It reminded me of a mini central park.  From there we ran past some historical homes and before I knew it I was back into town, near our hotel, and turning toward the finish line.  I was smiling and waving to crowds, so grateful to be finishing strong and happy!  

Other than some slight hamstring pain on my right side in mile 15 when I pushed the pace, everything felt good.  It has been a long time since I've run smart and pulled off negative splits.  Right now, a smart race is more important a fast pace.  






CLIF Banana Maple Oatmeal, banana (pre-race)


Riptide / Vance Joy
The Valley / Mayer Hawthorne
The Joke Explained / Wilco
Black and White / Parquet Courts
Ex's & Oh's / Elle King
Something About You / Lucius
I'm Shakin' / Jack White
Born Again Teen / Lucius
Pedestrian at Best / Courtney Barnett
Swell Content / Speedy Ortiz
The Wolf / Mumford & Sons
S.O.B. / Nathanial Rateliff & the Night Sweats
Shut Up and Dance / Walk the Moon
St. Cecelia / Foo Fighters
Counting Stars / One Republic
You've Got Time / Regina Spector
Elevator Operator / Courtney Barnett
I'm a Wheel / Wilco
The Innocent / Mayer Hawthorne
Lately / Soul Asylum
Deceptacon / Jessica Hernandez
Spark / Fitz & the Tantrums
Just a Kid (with The Blisters) / Wilco
Mallie Chan / Otto Vector
Lust for Life / Iggy Pop
Rattlesnake / St. Vincent
Blood for Poppies / Garbage
The Walker / Fitz & the Tantrums
Turn it Around / Lucius
Ship to Wreck / Florence & the Machine
Race for the Prize / Flaming Lips
Brave / Sara Bareilles
Uprising / Muse

What's a race without a banana photo?

Brian and I met at Starbucks.  I was STARVING because I wasn't able to take any gels during the race.  Then we headed out to some breweries.  We went to Brewery Vivant, Founders Brewing Company, and The Hideout Brewing Company.  Vivant was Brian's favorite; I loved my Mango Magnifico at Founders.  Hideout was okay.  I had a good spiced pumpkin cider.  Here are a few pictures from our morning of brew-tasting:




After, er, lunch, we figured it was time to get something for dinner and ended up at Stella's Lounge.  I saw it had many vegan options - burgers, sandwiches, appetizers - so it sounded perfect.  We walked from our hotel, giving us a chance to check out a bit more of the city.  Stella's has a fun and funky vibe, from the arcade games to the murals on the wall. The food was really tasty.  We had beer-battered avocado bites to start (The Avocado Nugents).  Following that I had the sweet potato burrito and Brian had a burger.  Everything was delicious.  I will have to go back to try more of the menu.  


The city was quiet on Sunday.  We ate at a small, casual breakfast at The Kitchen Counter, just a short walk from our hotel.  After breakfast we walked around a little bit but it was a cold day so we didn't stay long.  We made plans for the next time we visit Grand Rapids - museums, parks, gardens, and more breweries.  It is a wonderful city!

Photos by Brian Wolski

Sunday, May 22, 2016

On the Run: Boston Marathon 2016

Being back in Boston 5 weeks ago filled my heart with joy.  I wasn't sure what race day was going to bring but I was grateful to be there after my hamstring injury kept me away last year.  I hadn't set a goal for the race other than to run happy and finish injury-free.  

As for the rest of the weekend, Brian and I were ready to take a much-needed break from work and enjoy some time in one of our favorite cities!  We had Red Sox tickets for Saturday night, blocked off plenty of time for the race expo, and found a few good places to eat.


We spent a lot of time at the expo this year.  I had my shin and hamstring taped at the KT Tape booth, we watched the marathon course preview, and we stood in several lines to meet quite a few of our favorite runners.  I drank as much free NUUN as I could while we were waiting!  

Dean Karnazes

Meb Keflezighi

Scott Jurek

Amy Hastings and Shalane Flanagan

Ryan Hall and Desi Linden

There were a few other highlights as well:

TSA stole my race food.  Glad to get another in my race bag.

Everyone had their name on this wall.

And yes, I caved and bought the jacket.  Sucker.


We stayed in Cambridge and ended up eating dinner there all three nights.  Breakfast was the same each day - Pavement Coffee House.  There were several around and it was quick and easy.  Sadly I wasn't able to find good oatmeal but the Pavement sesame bagels with jam were really damn tasty.

Sesame bagel with raspberry jam.

Pre-race pizza at Pinocchio's (Cambridge) *WARNING - the eggplant is deep-fried!  blegh!

Veggie Wrap & sweet potato fries at The Friendly Toast (Cambridge)

Burger and fries at Veggie Galaxy (Cambridge) + carrot cake to go

Race Day

I was up about 4:45am on race morning.  Brian documented me getting ready.  My new accessories were a headband from the expo and a Motivate Wrap.  Everything else was the same things I always wear for races - RUNdetroit singlet, Lululemon shorts, neon yellow Swiftwick socks, Saucony Type A racing flats, and Saucony Runderwear to match my shoes.  Creature of habit.  

This year instead of taking the regular school buses from Boston Common to Hopkinton I took a charter bus booked through Bauman's Running Shop in Flint.  While the school buses are fine, runners have to get off in Hopkinton and wait outside in the Athlete's Village.  Porta-potty lines are long and the grass is damp.  It would be bad on a cold rainy day.  With the charter you can wait on the bus until your start time and there were porta-potties by all the buses that never had lines.  The bus had water bottles, sunscreen, snacks, and extra toilet paper.  All this for $35.  Totally worth it!

The Bauman bus picks up at Hilton Back Bay, which was about 1.5 miles from our hotel in Cambridge.  Bus loading was at 6am so I took a cab, not wanting to be up any earlier than necessary.  Brian took the ride with me before circling back to the hotel to get ready for his long day of spectating.  Because Bauman's is a Michigan bus, I knew several people on it, one being my friend Lindsay.  We sat together for the ride to Hopkinton and planned to start together.  This year I was assigned Wave 1, Corral 8 but wanted to start with her in Wave 2, Corral 2.  I didn't want to be a turtle among cheetahs up in that first wave!

It was great to hang out with Lindsay and the other people I knew before the race.  Having friends helped calm pre-race jitters and the 4 hours passed relatively quickly.  Our start time was 10:20 and we had to leave the Athlete's Village by 9:40.  It was a long, slow one-mile walk with all the crowds.  As we got closer to the start line, Lindsay and I both realized that because of all the water we'd had on the bus we had to make a last-minute bathroom stop.  It was 10:00.  We dashed to the portas and prayed the lines moved fast.  10:05.  10:10.  Thankfully we made it and were able to get to the corral by 10:15.

Talk about cutting it close.

In those few minutes while we were waiting, Lindsay and I thought, hmmm, it feels a little warmer than the predicted 65 degrees (it was actually 70).  There wasn't a cloud in the sky.  We were already sweating.  In hindsight, I should have taken this into consideration and adjusted my starting pace considerably.  Instead I headed out on what would ultimately result in my slowest marathon ever.  

The beginning of the Boston Marathon is absolutely incredible.  Like last time, I wanted to shout out, "I'm running Boston!" as I ran past the crowd-lined Hopkinton streets.  I was so happy to be back.  My legs felt good but I knew I had to keep my pace in check in that first downhill mile.  Lindsay and I were chatting but nerves had set in a bit.  Somewhere around 1.5-2 miles, I grabbed for my iPod, clipped onto my shorts.  I hadn't turned it on yet and wanted to have it ready if Lindsay and I were separated.  I felt the right side - no iPod.  Left side - no iPod.  I looked at Lindsay in panic.  "Oh my God - I accidentally donated my iPod to Goodwill!"  I had left it in the pocket of my throwaway sweatshirt and was in such a hurry to get going that I completely forgot it!  My first marathon without music.  My first RACE without music.  Okay, I can do this.  But I was thrown off and my pace quickened.  Before I knew it I was ahead of Lindsay and on my own.

I remember passing over the 5k timing mat.  It made me happy knowing my friends and family would get their first update.  I turned to a man running next to me and said, "Now our family will know how we're doing."  "Not dead yet!" he replied.  I picked up the pace a bit.  Perhaps he wouldn't be my new running partner.

By mile 6 I was starting to question my decision to run this race.  Breathing was a struggle and my legs felt heavy.  I was running too fast (7:08-7:16) and should have slowed down by a good 30 seconds per mile.  My mouth was a desert and water wasn't helping.  The heat was affecting me more than I realized.  (Unbeknownst to me, the temperature had climbed to 79 degrees by this point.)  I ran past the train station in Framingham and wanted to hop on and catch a ride to anywhere.  20 miles to go.

Around mile 7 I opened one of my CLIF Shots.  Maybe that would give me some energy and help with the dead legs.  The sweetness of the gel was nauseating and my mouth was so dry I could barely swallow it.  Two miles and two water stations later, I tossed the wrapper aside, grateful to have gotten the nutrition down.  18 miles to go.

Usually in a marathon the first half is easy and goes by quickly.  Getting to the 10-mile mark was tough.  From 10-13 felt like an eternity.  My pace dropped 15-30 seconds per mile and I was struggling.  I was trying to enjoy the miles by waving to the crowd, high-fiving kids, but my joy was wavering.  Lindsay and I had written our names on our arms so occasionally a spectator would cheer my name and that would be a huge boost.  I was missing her and wishing I'd stayed with her.

As I neared Wellesely College, my pace quickened.  There is nothing on the course quite like the Wellesely Scream Tunnel.  Racers can hear it from a half mile away.  Girls screaming, holding signs, begging to be kissed.  It's deafening and a sight to behold.  I ran though it with a huge smile on my face, taking it all in.  My heart was full of joy seeing all these women come out to cheer for us!  This year the Scream Tunnel could also be called the Wellesely Wind and Shade Tunnel.  We had a pretty decent head wind for much of the race, which was not cool, but I appreciated the beautiful tree-lined shadiness as we ran past the college.  There wasn't much of that anywhere else on the course!

Just before Wellesely there was a CLIF station and I grabbed a mocha Shot for later.  The only flavor I had with me was vanilla and after that last one, there was no way I could have another.  Maybe mocha would go down better, plus I was hoping the caffeine might help.  When you are through Wellesely you are past the halfway point.  14 miles to go.

I'd kicked it up for the Scream Tunnel but things went downhill again, more than ever now.  My pace dropped to 7:50's for the next 6 miles.  I had progressed from jogging through water stations to walking through water stations to full on stopping. In fact, I no longer ran from mile to mile.  I ran water station to water station, grateful for the chance to stop again.   My mouth was beyond dry.  I felt like I was the only one struggling.    My legs hadn't been great to begin with and they were getting worse with each passing mile.  I broke my a$$ to qualify for this race but I wasn't going to break it again to finish.  So I pushed on the best I could, trying not to worry about pace.  I kept trying to find the happy within myself.  I used the energy of the crowd and other runners to help.  And it did.  This race is amazing for that.

I considered pulling over and waiting for Lindsay to catch up.  Surely she couldn't be far behind.  But I kept on going.  And then, just before mile 20, I saw the familiar RUNdetroit wings ahead of me as I was finishing a cup of water.  I tried to catch up but was afraid I couldn't actually reach her so I desperately screamed, "Lindsay!"  She turned and we ran to each other, practically hugging mid-run.  We were both babbling about how awful it all was and how we had to just finish no matter what.  I was so relieved because I thought I was the only one struggling out there!  Her feet were bad and the heat was destroying her; my hamstrings were bad and the heat was killing me too.  We were quite the pair.  Alone we might not make it but together, we could finish this race.  6.2 miles to go.

Together we conquered Heartbreak Hill.  We ran through Brookline and were careful not to trip over the train tracks.  The Citgo sign welcomed us back into Boston.  We turned right on Hereford and left on Boylston together.  Brian was waiting for us on Bolyston and had people cheering for us loudly as we ran past.

And then we ran the last beautiful stretch of the marathon together.  Down Boylston Street, past the deafening crowds.  I pointed out the Starbucks ("You're Almost There").  And then we WERE there, crossing the finish line hand in hand, arms raised.  We did it! 

After hugging each other we were shooed away from the finish line.  I made sure to grab a cup of Gatorade along with my water (holy dehydration!).  When we were getting our medals I saw Dean Karnazes getting his medal and said, "Hey Dean!  How did it go?"  He shrugged nonchalantly and replied, "It was a marathon."  I laughed and said, "Yep.  Just a marathon."  Sure Dean.  Just a marathon.

We parted ways and I met up with Brian.  I had a lot to process.  It was a tough day on the course - the toughest I've experienced to date.  Two years ago I had the race of my life in Boston.  Everything went right and I walked away with a PR.  I am not the runner I was two years ago.  My hamstrings aren't 100% and I didn't want it badly enough this time around.  Not enough to sacrifice my health and risk further injury.  I knew going into this race it wouldn't be my fastest marathon, though I wasn't expecting it to be slowest my marathon.  In any case, I am still proud of the work I did on that course.



CLIF Banana Maple Oatmeal, banana (pre-race)
CLIF Shot, vanilla (miles 7-9)
CLIF Shot, chocolate (mile 18)

And as always, I couldn't have done any of this without Brian.  He's supportive of my early alarm clock, my OCD training schedule, the way I plan my week around running.  He knows I'm crazy but doesn't complain.  He had just as long a day as I did on Marathon Monday.   

Boston 2016 taught me many lessons.  One of them is that race times don't tell the whole story.  Thank you for reading mine.

Boston Marathon 2014

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

On the Run: Martian Invasion of Races 10K 2016

On one of the colder, snowier days we've had in a long time (I swear, spring in southeast Michigan has been colder than winter!), Brian and I reluctantly shed our warm layers and stepped out of the car.  Normally we run from home to Ford Field Park for the Martian Invasion of Races but because of the cold, we decided to drive and park a bit closer.  It was going to be a long morning outside and we needed other clothes nearby.  We were running the 10K at 8:00, cheering for friends finishing the half around 10:30, and meeting my students at 11:15 to run the Kids' Marathon at 12:00.  

It was snowing when we got to the start corral and the winds were picking up.  I wasn't wearing my racing flats and had on my huge warm mittens.  Thank goodness I wasn't planning on racing this thing today, not with Boston a week away.  My plan was to start out at marathon pace (7:15/mile) and drop down if my legs were feeling okay, hoping to get in some good tempo miles.  I didn't start at the front because I didn't want to push the pace.  I also wasn't really paying attention, was talking to people, and all of a sudden the corral was filled up all the way to the start line!  

Thankfully the crowd thinned out quickly.  As planned, I started out at marathon pace.  At the first mile marker I caught up to three ladies, held pace with them, then inched ahead on a slight incline.  (Hill work is paying off!)  One of them caught back up to me and got ahead until mile 2.  At that point the course hits a ramp that heads downhill to Hines Drive.  I had picked up the pace a bit and caught up to her again.  Once we hit Hines - my familiar training ground - I passed her.  I was motivated by volunteers cheering and a cameraman.  I smiled, waved, and thanked them all.  Before I knew it I had pulled away.  When I hit the turn-around and heard a volunteer say "first female" I was shocked.  I hadn't realized no other ladies were ahead of me!  

After the turn-around I saw a few other people I knew to wave at and cheer for, including Brian.  Then the course hits the paved trail section that winds through campus, where it gets a little hilly.  This year the race was small so it was a bit lonely in there.  I only saw two men ahead of me the whole time on the trail.  After chicking the first one I chased the second one the whole way to back to Michigan Avenue, where I was finally able to pass him.  Unlike Rock CF a few weeks ago, my legs felt good and strong finishing.  It was much slower than my best Martian time, but it was a solid tempo run at the end of a less-than-ideal marathon build-up.  

Brian did an amazing job with his race!  He has not been a fan of 10Ks but this one might have made him a convert - even in the wintry conditions!

After the race I ran a couple of cool down miles (in a white-out), then hit Starbucks to warm up with coffee and oatmeal.  Then it was back to the races to cheer on some fellow RUNdetroit Flight Club friends as they finished the half marathon.  I also picked up my award - a stein and medallion from Glass Academy as well as a free entry for next year's Martian 10K.  YAY!




E.T. / Katy Perry
S.O.B. / Nathanial Rateliff & The Nightsweats
Shut Up and Dance / WALK THE MOON
Caught Up / Jessica Hernandez & the Deltas
St. Cecelia / Foo Fighters
Born Again Teen / Lucius
Random Name Generator / Wilco
Swell Content / Speedy Ortiz
Something About You / Lucius
Girl From Mars / Ash
The Walker / Fitz & the Tantrums
Deceptacon / Jessica Hernandez & the Deltas
Cadillac, Cadillac / Train

Finally it was time to go meet the 50+ students (4-5th Grade Girls Running Club, plus other boys and girls in K-5) and my co-captain who were coming to run the Martian Kids' Marathon from my school.  Since February the kids have been running and logging miles, trying to run 25 miles total.  Saturday they were lining up to run their final 1.2 miles of the marathon.  At the end they would each receive a marathon medal for their hard work.  
I was so proud of all the mini martians!  While we waited in the cold, the kids warmed up with high knees and knee hugs to get their muscles ready.  Then they ran their hearts out, with smiles on their faces.  Crossing the finish line with these kids made my heart happier than crossing it during my own race.

And see that girl in the pink?  Watch out for that one.  She may be small but she's determined and she's got quite a kick.