Category Archives: NYCM

Marathonpalooza Part 2: Running the New York City Marathon!

WARNING: LONG & with photo overload! For the Marathonpalooze Part 1: MCM recap, click here.

Wow, where do I start with this one? The entire weekend was such an experience and I know I won’t be able to do it justice. The marathon consumed the entire city for the entire weekend – it was so cool to be a part of it, and to travel specifically for this purpose. I love Marine Corps Marathon, but since it’s a hometown marathon, a little of that excitement doesn’t exist (for me).

Brian and I flew in on Friday night and stayed at one of the host hotels, Sheraton Times Square. The location was pretty convenient for all marathon-related (and tourist-related!) activities; there were shuttles to everything we needed!

We spent Saturday morning at the expo, which was HUGE and so well-run. It was in the Javits Center which is basically all windows, so it was a bright, open venue. We got there pretty early, and even though it was crowded, we had tons of room to move around and wander. The guy who handed me my bib ran Marine Corps Marathon the week before previously, so it was sort of fun to chat with him about how hard the race was due to weather and other factors. MCM should really take a page from NYCM’s book and ditch the Armory in favor of a larger, airier, and more well-lit location. Another super fun aspect of this expo was that I could pick up my Asics mini-marathoner! Asics customized a limited number of mini-marathoners, and I was lucky enough to be chosen! The mini-marathoners were also spotlighted on a billboard in Times Square!

After the expo, we wandered around Broadway and Times Square a little bit where we carb-loaded & went to see my mini-marathoner on the big screen before heading back to the hotel for an early bedtime. Thank God for the extra hour of sleep that weekend because the next day was a long one.

I joked with one of my friends that there needs to be a manual written about the down & dirty of NYCM (and I’m sure there is something out there) because people only see the exciting parts of it, but not the parts where you sit outside in the freezing cold on Wadsworth Island for four hours before you start. My start time was 10:30am, and my bus was scheduled to leave at 6am. We got there at 6:30am, quickly made it through security, and did a whole lot of waiting in that now infamous wind. I am glad I wasn’t putting much pressure on myself for this race because I don’t know how people keep their heads in the game after a wait like that. It was a good time to make lots of new friends, including people I’d “met” on message boards (hi, Abbie!). Despite the long wait times, everything was organized perfectly and logistics were a breeze.

When it was finally my turn to start, I started getting really excited (and nervous!). Standing at the foot of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge surrounded by other runners and listening to “New York, New York” was amazing! It was hard not to get into it after that…in fact, it was a little TOO hard because I went out a little too fast and had to keep telling myself to reign it in. I’m sure part of it was just me wanting to get off that bridge and away from the wind ASAP. By now, everyone knows that the weather for NYCM this year left a bit to be desired because of how windy it was. Well, everyone definitely felt the wind on the bridge, and even though the view was beautiful, I think we all missed it because we didn’t want to expose our face to the brutal wind. It was so harsh that I kept tripping over myself just because my foot would crash into my other leg. You could feel yourself being pushed over by the wind, and everyone’s throwaway clothes were swirling and flying all over the place. Despite treading carefully over the bridge, I hit my first 5K at around a 9:40 pace.

After the bridge, we hit Brooklyn, where we’d spend a good part of the first half of the race. Brooklyn was so fun, and there were people everywhere. There was even a church that had all of its members outside cheering us on. SO MUCH FUN. I hit my 10K at an hour on the dot, so still a sub 10 pace, but I consciously tried to slow it down here. I hit my 15K at 1:36, so still a good time, but definitely slower than I started out which is what I wanted.

Unfortunately, it was around that time (miles 9-10) that it all started going downhill. After MCM, my left ankle bothered me a little bit, but I didn’t think anything of it because it wasn’t the foot that bothered my during training, so I thought it just needed rest. By Tuesday it was swollen, so I iced, elevated, wrapped, & rested it for the whole week in preparation for NYCM. It seemed to get better enough, and even though it was still a little sore on marathon morning, I thought it would be something that would dissipate after a few miles (like so many little pains do). If only that were the case, but it wasn’t! I ended up at a medical tent right before the halfway point because it started becoming so painful that I couldn’t put weight on it while running. At that point, I really didn’t know if I’d finish the race, and told Brian so via text.

The second I walked into the medical tent, they asked me what was wrong and I just burst into tears. It took me a minute or so to finally get out what was wrong, and they sat me down to look at it. It was swollen, so they iced it and inquired whether I was going to go back out there (duh, yes I was). They told me that after looking at it, I shouldn’t really put too much hard effort in to finish. One of the aid attendants came up to me and said, “Are you wearing new shoes today?” I seriously almost slapped her for asking me that question, and I know I gave her the biggest side-eye before saying, “Of course I’m not wearing new shoes to a marathon…” After sitting for what seemed like forever and being ignored by everyone there, I decided to have them wrap it and be on my way because they clearly weren’t going to be of any more help to me!

From then on, the rest of the marathon was just a massive struggle-fest. I ran until I couldn’t stand the pain anymore, and then I walked…rinse, repeat and alternate with some tears. I tried so hard to enjoy what I could, but it was cold and windy and I was hurting. I was counting down to mile 16 when I’d finish crossing the Queensboro Bridge, get to Manhattan, and see Brian. Except that it never happened. I did successfully cross the bridge & made it to Manhattan, but I didn’t see Brian, and that was a downer. Eventually he texted & we planned to meet up at mile 22 before heading into Central Park. Okay, something else to look forward to!

The next 6 miles when pretty much how the last few had gone: run, limp, walk, cry a little, try to high five little kids, etc. The crowds were awesome, the other marathoners were pretty awesome, the volunteers were awesome (seriously awesome)…I just wish I could have enjoyed it more instead of wishing so hard for it to be done! And, after counting down from mile 16 to mile 24, I MISSED BRIAN AGAIN. I’d like to think it was because I was moving too fast for him, but HA HA, that was not the case this time around! I wasn’t as sad about it this time around because I knew I only had TWO MILES left! Even though I was really struggling at that point, there was no way I was going to backtrack once I suspected I had passed him.

Everyone was struggling during these last two miles in Central Park (which felt so so so long), and there was a lot of camaraderie. I was still crying off and on because I was in so much pain, and ended up next to a tall Dutch man who just looked at me and patted my shoulder in solidarity. It was so nice to feel like we were all in it at once. The crowds at that point were cheering loudly too but a lot were saying things like, “don’t give up!” or “run, everyone!” Well, I am a HUGE proponent of finishing strong the last mile or two, but sometimes you are injured and just cannot do it, so those cheers were pissing me off. I did make more of an effort to run more than walk in those stretches, but I thought my ankle was going to fall off my leg.

The second I finished, I burst into tears again (not just the passive, pathetic crying that I had done ohhh, the entire second half of the marathon), and a guy right after the finish said, “YOU ARE HAPPY, RIGHT?!” I mean, I guess so, but mostly I was just in pain and so relieved to be done…or so I thought. The walk out of Central Park to get to your non-baggage ponchos (awesome, by the way) was SO LONG. I finished in the daylight, and didn’t meet up with Brian until the sun had set. Unlike after MCM, I wasn’t disappointed in myself, but really just in so much pain that I wanted to find him and leave. After the mile or two walk out of Central Park, we got our ponchos and had to walk another 10 or so blocks to get to family meet-up. My ankle was killing me at that point and I wanted to go to the medical tent again, but it was still in a restricted access area, so I opted to bypass it and head straight to Brian…well, I had to take a lot of sitting breaks, ha.

I finally got to him & made him snap a picture through tears before walking another mile and a half to the hotel (which took forever because roads were closed and I was hobbling and stopping for breaks the whole way).

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YAY OMG I AM DONE WTF DID I IUST DO?

I was so so so so so so so so so happy to get back to the hotel to rest, eat, ice, shower, & thaw out because it had been the world’s longest day. The situation sucked, but I was proud that I had powered through. The orthopedist that I visited this past week, though, may not agree with that! He sent me for x-rays of my ankle which showed tenodonitis for sure, and because my ankle was still swollen (even a week later), he prescribed anti-inflammatory meds and sent me for an MRI this past Thursday to see if it’s a stress fracture or ruptured posterior tibial tendon. Oof. We’ll see what the prognosis is tomorrow (Monday) morning. It’s still a little swollen, even after a week on anti-inflammatories. I am just ready to run again and am getting antsy!

The rest of our weekend in NYC was so fun! We went back to Central Park (via taxi, ha ha) the next day for Marathon Monday, hung out in Times Square more, went to the 9/11 museum & memorial, and GOT TO SEE JIMMY FALLON. Uhhh, SO AWESOME. And we got home just in time to vote :). The only thing I am sad we didn’t get to do is to see a show on Broadway. Next time, because even though I had a really tough race, part of me is so determined to make it back to NYC next year to do it all again!

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Filed under Marathon, Marine Corps Marathon, New York City, New York City Marathon, NYCM, Race, Races, Racing, Run, Running, Travel

Marathonpalooza Part 1: Marine Corps Marathon 2014

Hi, everyone. It’s only been about 4 months since I posted last…oops. Anyway, that four months consisted of lots of long runs and not quite hitting my weekday mileage like I needed to, and oh, a half marathon, a ten-miler, and two marathons.

Marine Corps Marathon did not go nearly as well for me this year as it did last year. We stayed at the Fisher House team hotel, Key Bridge Marriott, and they placed us right next to an elevator. I am a light sleeper, and that elevator was LOUD. Those two things meant that I got almost no sleep whatsoever. Okay, fine – that alone wouldn’t kill my race, even if it made me crabby. When I woke up, though, my mind was just not into it. Before leaving Brian, I started crying and said, “I just don’t want to do this. I should be home with Caroline on her birthday.”

Eventually I tried to shake it off and headed to the team hotel with the Fisher House group. I met up with my running buddy, Danny, and some of my Fisher House teammates there and headed to the start. I was secretly hoping to hit 4:15 but the main goal was to finish in good enough shape to take on New York City the next weekend. I started the race feeling pretty achy and crampy & not knowing why. Unlike last year when miles 1-21 seemed easy and fun, these miles seemed really hard. I was not enjoying it, and despite starting in a faster corral, we were still maintaining the same pace we maintained last year through the first 5k (which is pretty much dictated by the crowd of runners around you). That was really frustrating to me.

At the halfway mark, I kept telling Danny to go ahead because every part of me was aching and sore already, and I had no clue why. I was really needing a Brian sighting SOON. Eventually we separated, and I struggled through the next 2-3 miles until I saw Brian. I begged him to take me home because I just didn’t want to be there, but he sent me on my way and told me I would really regret not finishing. Okay, fine, I headed off again towards the National Mall. The first 20K was actually okay, but the rest of it was a struggle pace-wise. I made sure to up my fuel intake and that seemed to help a little bit because the next time I saw him, I was a little more peppy. AND I had a Bart Yasso sighting! Woohoo! My first (and hopefully not last!) one! I trudged through the mall with the sole goal of making it to the Bridge on time. I knew that once I made it there, I could technically walk the rest of the way and still finish, and I found that comforting, even though I didn’t walk the rest of the way!

Long story short, the bridge sucked, as it always does. It was hot and hard and I just wanted a water stop! Two Fisher House teammates caught up with me and helped keep me sane, at least, until I decided to head off on my own once we got into Rosslyn. Rosslyn was good for making other runner friends, because we were all suffering by that point. I even ran into an amazing Fisher House volunteer who saw me and told me I looked great, but I looked at her and said, “I think I might cry.” She was awesome and said, “well, then you cry! Look how far you came, you can do whatever you want!” She walked with me for a block or two until I felt ready to run again…such a wonderful person!

The rest of Rosslyn was sort of a blur (except the donuts), and I remember heading into the Pentagon the same way we did it for Army 10-miler. The tunnel heading out of the Pentagon and up towards the finish was just a wind tunnel. It was crazy! I saw Brian one more time before hitting the finish, and I had the pleasure of the Fisher House hill runner coming down to meet me at the base of the Iwo Jima hill to run with me up towards the finish. I promise I was running up it even if I was alone! 🙂

I was so upset by this entire MCM performance. I was feeling so off and in pain and I couldn’t put my finger on why, but I knew I didn’t want to push too much because I wanted to stay in one piece for NYCM. My head was not in it, my body was not in it, and I was just over it before it even started. The weather was HOT (70 degrees at the finish), sunny, and windy – the perfect storm for dehydration. Apparently, this was the slowest-run MCM in 10 years, and the weather definitely had something to do with it. The wind dries all your sweat, so you don’t even feel like you are dehydrated until it was too late. On top of that, when I got home, I realized why I had felt so off during the entire race: I had gotten my period right smack dab in the middle of the marathon! Once I realized that, I felt a little better about everything that had happened, and even laughed, albeit a TINY bit. Way to keep me humble, universe!

No photos, because, well, I didn’t have a good time, so I didn’t take many. I didn’t really feel like this was a huge accomplishment, though I guess just finishing it was. I am ready to move forward and maybe try again next year…orrrrr maybe I will just stick with the 10K (especially if the marathoners keep getting poop brown shirts).

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Filed under Fisher House, Fitness, Marathon, Marine Corps Marathon, New York City, New York City Marathon, NYCM, Race, Races, Racing, Run, Running, Team Fisher House, Washington DC

The long holiday weekend (and Firecracker 5K results)

There is truly nothing better than a long weekend without any crazy plans, and that is exactly what our 4th of July weekend was like! The big focus for us was lots of relaxed family time, especially since military life will strike again soon!

We started off the long weekend with Potomac River Running’s Firecracker 5K and kids’ fun run in Reston followed by a delicious brunch with our friends. This was SO much fun and was my second sub-8 min/mile 5K race. Splits were 8:04 min/mile, 7:24 min/mile (!!!), and 7:44 min/mile and I was mere seconds from a PR, but this was just the confidence/motivation-boosting race that I needed after an “eh” spring race season. Oh – and we even had a Duggar sighting!

I love these action shots from the kids’ fun run! Audrey is running like the wind! It was only a moment later that Caroline ended up face first in the pavement, but she rebounded quickly 😉

14579966132_9eb30464f1_o Firecracker

After the race and brunch, we had a neighborhood parade to participate in! It didn’t take long before Audrey realized we did it all wrong – we shouldn’t have walked IN the parade because no one throws candy to the parade participants! Despite this, it was a fun time…well, at least until our nap-deprived children were tired of being in the sun and started throwing some fits…

We spent the rest of the day hanging out, grilling, and having mini-fireworks displays with the girls. They are so easy to please at this age – love it! Actually, that is basically how we spent the rest of the weekend, too, and it was glorious! The weather was wonderful so we spent about 80% of our time outside. It’s too bad summer won’t stay like this.

Marathon training went well this past week with no missed runs – hooray! My long run was a beautiful trail run that I actually enjoyed. It was nice to go out and not care about pace but instead try to enjoy it.

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Filed under Celebrations, Family, Fisher House, Fitness, Marathon, Marine Corps Marathon, Military Life, New York City Marathon, NYCM, Races, Racing, Run, Running, Team Fisher House, Virginia

Week 2 training & the hiccups (or kidney stones) that accompanied it

I knew going into last week’s training that it was probably not going to be my best training week in terms of hitting all the miles required, but I had no idea it would turn out the way it did! Last week was busy for me in terms of class & assignments, and since that is my top priority right now and it’s sooooo early in the training cycle, I was okay with it. I missed my Sunday 9-miler because I was on a home visit – I always feel blah about missing a long run, but it is what it is! I intended to do a second 5-miler this week as well but didn’t get to it. Oh well. Here’s what the week looked like:

Sun: no run

Mon: 3.1 at 8:48 min/mile – I was NOT feeling well that morning!

Tues: no run

Wed: 5 miles at 8:40 min/mile

Thurs: 3.1 miles at 8:20 min/mile

Fri: no run

Sat: 7.1 at 8:37 min/mile

The 7-miler was my scheduled long run this week (it was a low-mileage Kurtis week), and while it was scheduled for Sunday, I wanted to get it in on Saturday because Audrey & Caroline had their own races to run Sunday morning – Potomac River Running’s Mighty Mile Kids’ Race! They were both really excited for it, especially Audrey. Good thing I got that mileage in early since Sunday morning took an unexpected and unpleasant turn.

I woke up around 4:30am on Sunday with abdominal and pain on my right side. I thought I had pulled a muscle or something and tried to switch positions and go back to sleep. That did not work out very well – I could not find relief no matter what position I tried! I suffered alone for a while, but then I started getting nauseous and throwing up. I felt like maaaaybe I should wake Brian up, but I didn’t want to get him up so early! We are going through a bad sleeping spurt w/ the girls, and he is always up at the crack of dawn (or before). I didn’t want to be the cause of the early wakeup this time when we go to bed every night hoping that the next morning is the morning the girls sleep in! I couldn’t stand it anymore, though, so I woke up and told him what was going on. He said that I looked so pathetic that he couldn’t find it in his heart to be mad at me…ah, love. 🙂 We sat on the couch for a little while with me in fetal position before I decided I was going to try and get some sleep. I went back to bed and still couldn’t get any relief, and then I threw up again – all over the sheets. I called Brian in and he sat next to me for a while. Eventually it got bad enough that we decided to get the girls up and go to the ER, so the girls came along with their crazy bedhead and footie pajamas.

Long story short – after lots of time in the hospital, more throwing up, an IV, a urinalysis w/ elevated red blood cell count, bloodwork, and a CT scan, the diagnosis was a kidney stone. I actually passed it in the waiting room, and it wasn’t very long after that I felt way better. B told me he could tell when I was feeling better because I actually talked audibly instead of whispering and mumbling 😉 On our way out of the hospital, we spotted the Ft Belvoir Fisher House! I don’t really pay attention that much when leaving the hospital because usually I am driving chatty children home from doctor appointments, so this was maybe the second time I noticed it. I remember when they were building both FH and the hospital and that area was just a huge pile of dirt. So cool to see it up and running – and it is beautiful!

So, yeah. That was our “relaxing” Sunday morning! I have had two natural births (I call Audrey’s birth a “supernatural” birth), so I am not a wimp when it comes to pain – and that is what made B realize it was serious because I don’t cry wolf with things. If I complain, I am probably already way past being in normal pain and on my way towards excruciating pain, ha ha. And for the record, I prefer childbirth to kidney stones. At least with labor you can move around and ease the pain, contractions come in waves and aren’t constant, AND you get a sweet baby after.

The girls were angels during that whole 4 hours in the hospital, but Audrey was really sad to miss her race. I am doing a 4th of July 5K, so she gets to come run the fun run to make up for it!

Here’s to a better training week this week – it can’t get worse, right? I will leave you with pics of my sweet baby Bear (her older sister was pouting in the other room):

 

 

 

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Here we go again

Marathon training season has started once again! It honestly doesn’t feel like it’s been a year since I started last year’s training cycle. I can’t decide how I feel about starting up again. On one hand, I was really itching to start a new training cycle because I wasn’t really thrilled with spring, but on the other hand, there goes my life for the next 4-5 months. What have I gotten myself into (again)?! The idea of not getting to sleep in until the end of October makes me want to cry! But let’s be honest – these days, “sleeping in” isn’t really sleeping in anyway.

I started off thinking that I wanted to try Hanson’s Marathon Method, and I even bought the book to read. It was really interesting and appealing, but in the end, I don’t have the time to dedicate to the higher weekly mileage. I kept thinking I could make it work, but the reality is that I probably can’t, especially with two nights of class in the fall. Someday I do want to try this method (if I keep running marathons…) but for now, it is too ambitious.

I came across Doug Kurtis’ marathon training plan in Runner’s World and was intrigued. He splits some of his long runs into two segments, one run earlier in the day and the other run at least three hours later. This doesn’t happen with all of the weekend long runs in this plan, and I thought it sounded like an interesting strategy. I also like that his intermediate plan included some speedwork, whereas Higdon’s (the one I followed last year) doesn’t. I penciled it into the planner next to the Higdon Intermediate mileage, and they are both similar enough that it made me feel like the Kurtis plan would prepare me for MCM and NYCM, but different enough that hopefully my interest stays piqued. The Kurtis plan has 6 days of running per week while Higdon has 5 and one day for cross-training (which, honestly, I used as an extra rest day last year). I also like their similarities because I feel like I can hybridize my plan by fusing them when I need to (if that makes sense). If I miss some mileage in the Kurtis plan during the week, maybe I can make up for it using the little bit of extra Higdon training mileage on the weekends. Flexibility is so important to me because marathon training is, oh, only about 5% of my life – mothering, working, military spousing (aka: Brian will be traveling at some points), & grad school take up the rest of it.

Kurtis’ plan is 20 weeks, so it already started. I hopped in at week 2, which was last week. I hit all my runs that week, hooray!!

S: 8 miles (8:45 min/mile pace)

M: 3 miles (8:39 min/mile)

T: 5 miles pace (8:18 min/mile – I used it to do 9×400 intervals at 5k pace w/ 1 mile warm-up, 1 mile cool-down, 1 min or so between intervals)

W: 5 miles (8:45 min/mile)

T: 3 miles (8:16 min/mile)

F: rest

Sat: 4 miles (8:34 min/mile)

I’ve already missed my long run for this week (9 miles) because I was out all afternoon on Sunday doing a home visit for class, but since it is so early in training and it’s a mileage I hit pretty regularly, I am not worried in the slightest!

And, just like last year, I am fundraising this year for Fisher House. If you remember, I was a Top 25 fundraiser last year thanks to all of your support!

Bring it on, MCM & NYCM! I will be ready for you (I think)!

 

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New York City or bust

Last Wednesday, I received an unexpected email in my inbox (and no, this is not an April Fools’ joke):

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To say I was taken by surprise would be an understatement. I entered my name into the lottery back in February, but assured Brian that there was absolutely no way I would ever get in this year. My plan was to enter the lottery as many years as it took to get in, and then to run it without question whichever year I was actually accepted. Because I don’t live in NYC, it is a bucket list, once-in-a-lifetime race for me. It just happened to come a lot earlier than expected/planned! This race has a lottery acceptance rate of 10-15%; 77,000 people applied for lottery entry, but only 9,000 were accepted. Eesh! No wonder I didn’t expect to be one of them!

I am a little overwhelmed (but still excited!) at the prospect of running it because this is now not only a marathon, but an adventure! I was signed up for MCM and Richmond this fall (with MCM being a training marathon & Richmond being my PR-goal marathon), but will more than likely defer Richmond to next year. The plan right now is to sloooowly run MCM and then do NYCM the next weekend. That plan is a little intimidating, but I just can’t fathom not being at MCM with Fisher House on October 26. Obviously doing two marathons a week apart means I will probably have to sacrifice performance time, but I think I am okay with that (Brian begs to differ). I am not sure I even want to run NYCM for time, either – I sort of want to enjoy the experience and not rush through it! We’ll see how things go… 🙂

Here are some Rock ‘n’ Roll USA pictures – I look like I was having more fun than I was! The not-so-happy pictures were fewer than I thought, actually…

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Filed under Fisher House, Marathon, Marine Corps Marathon, New York City, New York City Marathon, NYCM, Races, Run, Running, Team Fisher House, Washington DC