first double digit run of the training plan!
Long runs keep getting longer. I was excited at first. I hit nine miles, then ten miles, then eleven… Just as the long runs keep getting longer, the short ones do too. At the beginning of “the plan”, I was tasked with 3 mile short runs and 6 mile long runs – cake! Long runs were finished in about an hour and short runs accomplished in the time it took to watch an episode of Friends.

Gone are the good ‘ol days. I'm beginning to understand what fellow runners say when they reference training for a marathon is a selfish act. Last Sunday marked my longest run since my first half marathon in September 2011. Dreadfully Merrily I ran along for 12 miles, noshing on Sport Beans and taking exaggerated water breaks along the way. Halfway into my mileage, I looked down at my watch and thought “oh my god – I have another hour to go”. More time on the road translates into less time anywhere else, it’s logical, I suppose. The luxury of a quick run before dinner or work has morphed into an event requiring carrying a water bottle, planning a low traffic route and creating some new playlists.

My 8.5x11” Dictator calls for a long run of 15 miles this week. I’m guessing it will take around 3 hours. Does it make me a little nervous that there are still 11.2 miles to make it a marathon and I’ll only be 3 hours into it at 15 miles? Yep.


trail fail.

Wave Inspire 8 [source]
My favorite running store was hosting a trail run sponsored by Mizuno last week. So I did what anyone would do, enlisted runBFF to skip our team speed workout and go on a trail run and check out new Mizuno kicks. I wasn’t quite sure what was in store, but as I approached the group and noticed a shiny display table with 2 size runs of men's and women's  Wave Inspires, I realized you’d trade your shoes for a pair of sparkly new Mizunos to test-run. Not many things make me happier than new shoes, so I was instantly ecstatic.

All sporting new sneaks, the group made their way to the trail and took off (I guess it was more of a “start running” than a takeoff - speed is not my forte). The majority of the 2 mile loop I was focused on not tripping over limbs, rocks, roots, rouge squirrels or plunging down a rocky hill into the river; but when we had time to chat, runBFF and I were gushing over how great trail runs are. Mostly we focused on the lack of cars, cooler temps, change of scenery and how running specific loops near our homes make us want to jump off the rocky cliff into the river casually wondering “if we hurt ourselves do we get to keep the shoes?!” Something about running around in the trees and dirt is super fun, but all good things come to an end and we had to return the shoes.

So about the shoes. Loved them and will be buying a pair. I even got some good blister advice from the friendly Mizuno rep.

After we got our gross old sneakers back, it was clear 2 miles wasn’t worth the drive, so we ran the loop again. Chatting and frolicking, this girl got a little too relaxed around mile 3.5 and stopped looking down at the aforementioned limbs, rocks, roots, rogue squirrels and cliffs. Out of nowhere, this root lurched up, grabbed the front of my foot and took me down hard. I met the floor of the forest with a thud and was pretty sure I was rolling down a cliff to my demise. Realizing there were not any cliffs in sight, I looked up at runBFF who was standing (now that’s a girl with balance) waiting for the okay to laugh until she cried (I give her credit for waiting so long).

gross old shoes
Sitting up I was thanking my lucky stars that the group portion of the run was over, so I could sit in the dirt as long as I wanted testing my elbows, wrists and knees to make sure I wasn’t in need of any urgent medical attention. I don’t think I’ve fallen and scraped my knees (and hands, and wrists, and arms…) since I was probably 7 years old. Unfortunately I had given the shoes back already, because I totally could have bled on them for a pity pair. The battle wounds have been with me for a week and counting. The bruises on my legs are a new accessory that nicely compliments navy blue and purple components of my wardrobe.

I recently finished reading the trail running issue of Runner’s World. Some knowledgeable woman noted that if you’re going to run trails, you’re going to eat some dirt. Truth.

Trail: 1
Me: 0


race recap: boiling.

Runners weren’t the only ones who turned out for Boilermaker’12. Mr. Sun was there as well, gleaming in all his glory. Race time was 8am and it was 70 degrees with 87% humidity and no breeze. Awesome. Moving on to 10am, closer to the finish it made its way up to (77 still without a breeze). The numbers aren’t staggering and I’ve certainly experienced worse, but it was hot and disgusting. Thankfully there were nearly a million water stops, so one cup was for drinking, the other for wearing. By the end of the race it looked like I attempted to swim through a body of water in an ill fated short cut route.

just a few people at the start line [source]
Holy start line. It was just like any other start line…with 11,000+ people. Thankfully there was a great deal of porta-potties, but I still endured a 20 minute line (bonus: the “bathrooms” were clean! Win!). Once that nonsense was out of the way, runBFF and I moseyed to the start. We were assigned births by bib color and didn’t qualify to toe the line with the elite runners, so we navigated the crowd of gold bibs (the last color to start…) and made our way to a solid middle starting point. Having never experienced the race before, I thought the crowd seemed really nervous. In addition to the typical warm up runners (by the way, you have 9.3 miles to go… use mile 1 as your warm up you overachievers), there was actually a guy in the grass near the pack of people doing pushups and burpees (clearly he’s out of my league). Once the gun went off we stood still and waited. And waited some more. At one point the announcer said “just over 4 minutes in and they’ve completed mile one” – if hearing that doesn’t set you up for success, I don’t know what will.

Ten minutes after the gun went off and we finally crossed the line, I hit start on my Garmin and tried to focus less on staring at my feet and more on my surroundings. At the mile marker for .1 a lovely crowd of people assured us that the next 9.2 miles would lead to free beer; thanks. Right after mile 1 runBFF spotted a lone porta-potty dropped from the heavens and stepped aside. I vowed to stay to the right and I walked through most water/ice stops but we never caught back up with each other. I instantly regretted not bringing my iPod, but the crowd collectively said “don’t worry, we’ve got you covered” and threw a barrage of wildly entertainment my way. Some favorites:
  • Middle aged belly dancers (yep)
  • A donkey (I guess there were other zoo animals around too, but I only saw the donkey)
  • The International Mile
  • Bagpipes (I LOVE bagpipes)
  • Cheerleaders
  • The Zebra Ice Pack (ladies dressed in sassy zebra print while handing out ice)
  • The guys that sang the bowling ball song (it goes like this “clean your balls, we’re going bowling")

Miles 1-5 ticked away a little too easily. It felt like a training run (but really hot) with a ton of water stops and families handing out freeze pops (my excitement couldn’t even be contained). And then a quarter through mile 6 I started complaining, took a walk break, took another walk break and was acting like a baby. I sucked it up and started mile seven as if I was actually in a race and not just out for a Sunday stroll. All said and done, I PR’ed my previous 15k time by more than 9 minutes (but less than 10…remember when I was walking in mile six? Yep. Me too.), so I was happy.

pint glasses always fit. race t-shirts? not so much.
Once I stopped having a panic attack about how I was going to find R in a sea of 20,000 people, I walked around the finish for a bit and eventually we bumped into each other. Luckily he was at the finish cheering for me (not that I saw him because I was intently focused on watching my feet at that point… the “look up” approach I started with in the beginning faded. After I traded my sneakers for flip flops to relieve a massive blister, we followed the crowd to the brewery where seemingly all of Utica was standing. We got water, beer, freeze pops and of course, the coveted goody bag containing super sweet pint glasses. After about half an hour, we were tired and hot, plus sweaty runners kept grazing R and I got beer spilled on my foot, so we called it quits on the post race party and walked to the car.

The early morning was worth it. The race was fantastic. The course was wonderfully challenging and anything involving freeze pops is a success in my book. I’ll be back next year and I’m vowing to sprint mile 6.

More awesome things at Boilermaker:
fly over view of one crowded post race party [source]


destination: race.

Sunday I will be waking up a bit (two and a half hours) earlier than long run Sunday calls for to road trip it to Utica to participate in the 15K road race with 13,999 other people. Of those 13,999 others, many are elite runners from all over the globe (I’m pretty confident with all this speed work I’ll be right up there with the pack, so look for me in the finish line photos). Finishing a portion of the same route before I do will be 4,000 5K participants. This race has been on my list for a while, so I’m glad I was paying attention and signed up before the race quickly sold out (there was still snow on the ground when registration closed).

With 18,000 runners invading the city, throw in spectators, fans, friends and family – I personally apologize to the local residents for my part in turning their city upside down for the weekend. I’m thinking minus the detours, road blocks, ridiculous parking situations and people trampling their lawns, they enjoy it. I’ve been  told residents literally line every street of the 9.3mile course to cheer on the weary and tired (and with a forecasted temp of 84ᵒ there will be many) and pass out freeze pops (!!!) to those who want to pause for a treat (this had BETTER be true or I will be one unhappy camper) before heading to the massive post race party (who doesn’t love a post race party?) at The Matt Brewing Company (who doesn’t love a post race party at a brewery?). Oh. And instead of race t-shirts they give out pint glasses so you can enjoy all the brewery has to offer. Also promised is music, family fun events, recovery tents, an F-16 jet flyover, vendors and a lot of goodies. Although I’m pretty sure no one is heading to the Boilermaker specifically for their amazing recovery tents…

And now, a few key Boilermaker med tips:
  • “No alcohol the night before the race.” - read: save yourself for the post race party.
  • “Heat and humidity are your enemies. The higher they get, the slower you should run.” – Not true. Not if you’re Kenyan. For specific examples, please see the 2012 Boston Marathon results.


it happened.

For years I have been silently mocking those who bound around local trails sporting the ridiculous accessory known as the “hydration” or “fuel” belt. I understand the practicality. Yes, you should be drinking when you’re on the trail logging some serious miles…but come on. A fanny pack style belt containing 5-7 “pods” of your beverage of choice is a bit much. The obvious (and cooler) solution is to carry a water bottle and circle back to your car/house/office when you need a refill.

I never wanted this day to come, but at 8pm on Saturday night I found myself at the store elbow deep in hydration options to fulfill the needs of any runner (big Saturday night for this girl!). Faced with the prospect of another 88+ degree day, I knew I couldn’t hack it for 10 miles carrying only a small bottle of sport drink. And there I was pawing through options, sighing dramatically and announcing my displeasure in choices to my shopping partner. I carried the handheld options around the store for a bit and complained ad nauseam about how itchy they felt and what a catastrophe it would be when (not if) I threw it while running and tripped over it myself or caused harm to a fellow runner. Two stores later and with a little coaxing from R, I took my pink (yep – you better believe if I’m wearing a reverse fanny pack it will be obnoxiously colored) Nathan Performance Gear Triangle to the checkout line.

I guess deep down I knew I would eventually need to buy one, I just didn’t expect it to be so soon. In its defense, it was super comfortable for 10 miles, comes with a pocket (big enough to fit fuel, keys and a phone) and has a built in ID tag you can fill out in case of an emergency.

Do I feel dumb wearing it? You bet. Did I end my run dehydrated and delirious? No. I'm not looking to make my new accessory an every run item. This little gem has been relegated to temps above 85 degrees or runs in the double digits. I still contend that had I been training in the fall/winter, this would not have been necessary. Thanks summer training plan.