An Ras Mor logo of Somerville Road Runners (go black and yellow!!)

Right now, I know that regular readers of my blog (I know of a few out there, thank you!) are probably falling over from the shock that this is my 3rd post in a week. That hasn’t happened in, oh, I can’t tell you when.  Just like my first mile being done in 6:58 today.  That has been done, oh NEVER BEFORE!! And I kept on going, I didn’t keel over and die!!  (Even more strangely, my mind started playing tricks on me, thinking I could break into the 22 range?? Must have been lack of oxygen to the brain.)

JUMPING UP AND DOWN!! JUMPING UP AND DOWN!! (Yeah, I can be kind of spastic sometimes…) 

My stats: 

  • 17/123 in my division, I am so psyched!!  (Top 13%)
  • 65/408 women (Top 15%)
  • 296/861 overall (Top 34%)
  • Garmin time: 24:30 (started it, stupidly, before I crossed start line, and we only had a timing mat at the end)
  • Official time: 24:34, with official distance of 3.1
  • Garmin distance: 3:19 miles
  • Average paces: officially 7:55 per mile.  Garmin pace: 7:41/mile.
  • Garmin mile splits: 6:58, 8:00, 8:10, and 7:10 (last .19 miles.)

I calculated my actual time for 3.1, and based on that last .19 miles, figured it to actually be more like 23:50, which was totally my goal!!

 I think I am totally cool with only having 231 guys beat me because that means I beat 222 of them!! Woohoo, love the running skirt!! (Yes, I do wear it on purpose, it kind of motivates me to keep passing guys.)  I have to figure out a way to put the words “you’ve been chicked!” on my back at some point, LOL.  (Just kidding, I’m not like that. But it does feel good to pass guys and feel a bit girly while doing it.)  I’ve kind of decided I don’t care anymore if people think it’s silly to wear a running skirt, or wear pink, both make me happy so I’m going to do both!

Things I’ve got to do better:

  • Spend little bit more time warming up, although today I probably did more than usua, just not as much as I do on the treadmill.
  • Keep my asthmatic lungs more in check, I felt like I was coughing at points during the race, and afterward, I definitely had some of the asthmatic cough kicking in. (Yes, I carried and used my inhaler during the race. It’s worth carrying it.)
  • You see the discrepancies in distances and times above?   RUN THE TANGENTS BETTER!!
  •  Um, pacing?? Where have my magical pacing powers gone??

So, as you can see, I went out too fast. I looked down at my watch at one point and saw something in the low 7’s, but I was like, “I feel ok, don’t look at the watch again.” Mile 2 considerably slower. Mile 3 included the water stop, and a tiny walk break later to eat some sports beans, and catch my breath. It was in the 43-44 range, temp wise, so I did feel an impact on my breathing, even afterward.

I can honestly say, I’ve never done a below 7 minute mile. EVER. To give you an idea of the last time I did a time trial (at indoor track about 15 months ago while with MVS), it was 7:29, and yep, I stopped immediately afterward that night.  Today, I kept going!!! I realized that I’m also I’m running about the same pace I did in high school. That’s so awesome!! (Of course, in high school, we had no idea I had asthma, go figure.)

Our race was an out and back course, down Mass Ave into Harvard Square and then back  up to Central Square.  Although I did a bit of weaving in the beginning (ugh), I finally did find my rhythm and stopped doing the giant slalom/super G (as my brother calls it) after about .25-.5 miles, I think.

Because everyone I was hanging out with was faster than me (hello, 7th and 8th girls overall), and my friend Dan did somewhere in the 22:30 range, we were able to bolt out of the race pretty early.  Believe it or not, but there are two races held on the same day, both names starting with An Ras, and being 5Ks, run by clubs with the word “Somerville” in the name. (And no, it’s not a coincidence.  I don’t know all the details but way back when, the other group splintered themselves off from the Somerville Road Runners.)  So, one of the girls’ boyfriends had signed up for the other race. So did a few of my friends, thinking it was the race that my running club organizes.

So, we rushed over there as fast as we could, and I was able to see one of my friends finish in literally the top 2% of his division, and something like the top 1% overall.   How do you round up a percentage that starts with two zeros??  [Yeah…he’s fast, you could say. :-)]  So happy for him that he can do that and keep a level head on his shoulders. 

Although I’m disappointed in myself for having walked a bit through the water stop, and then walking about 10 feet later on to take some sports beans, I am not going to let it eat me up. My Garmin still says I ran an average of 7:41 and that was truly my goal when I got up this morning.  As long as I know that my actual 3.10 mile time was under 24, I am happy.  

I texted my trainer and immediately got back a response of  “That is AWESOME!!”  Everything he’s taught me so far has really paid off. He’s worth every penny.

This was my first race of the year, so I know I can improve. Whereas at first I was kind of disappointed to see that 24 as the first part of my time on the clock, I realized, a few years ago that would have been unthinkable to me.  Now I’m disappointed to see it?  Nope, I have come a long way in just a few years, and especially with all the changes in my life over the past several months, I realy have nothing to complain about. Only something to smile about. (And thanks to the two of you on Twitter who thought I should change my Twitter name of middlepackgirl to “frontpackgirl.”  So flattered…would you believe it’s not been taken yet?? LOL)

I now know what my top percentage goal is going to be for the year for my division. If I make it, I’ll let you know.

YAYYYYYY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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By “Flying,”  I mean I’m on a total high after today’s race.  🙂

All I can say is, I pushed. I really, really pushed myself on this one. And, what I’m most happiest about now is that I didn’t let myself down. I had a goal in mind – I was afraid to tell too many people in case I couldn’t achieve it, but I did it. I DID IT!

Loved the way the sun's rays scattered on top of Ruthie at old house

My brother, the running coach at Urban Athletics NYC’s World Trade Center location (ask for Jim Saint-Amour if you call), gave me a suggested goal of 51:25 for today, based on my fastest 5K time of 24:45.  Now, my brother’s always been an optimist and one of my biggest cheerleaders when it comes to running, so I thought he was being overly optimistic.  But something he said to me last week on the phone really stuck with me during this race: “sis, it’s gonna be hard, and you’re not gonna have anything at the end if you do it right. You’re gonna feel totally wiped, but you can do it, sis. You can do it, go for the time, go for the time.”

Favorite memories from today: 

  • Seeing Joan Benoit-Samuelson at around mile 2.75 for me (over 3 for her!) and seeing the huge smile on her face as she looked at all of us running in the opposite direction.  This woman ran Chicago yesterday in 2:47:50, and she was kicking ass again today, and there she was, cheering for us, can you believe it?!  I yelled out “Go Joanie!” when I was pretty close to her and she looked right at me and smiled. Definitely gave me a boost there!
  • Seeing the women age-group winners, and noting how amazing these women look. The woman who won the 60-69 age group was 69, and set a record for 69 year olds by 2 minutes! If I look anything close to how awesome those women look when I get to those ages, I will be SO happy.  I often get mistaken for being in my late 20s/early 30s (and hee hee, sometimes even a law student!)  It’s sooo gotta be the running!
  • Seeing the elite runners, including Katie McGregor, one of my personal faves, and much earlier in the race than I’m used to. (I’m telling you, I started much further forward in the pack this year.)

Ruthie, pooped, after a 3 mile walk on Saturday

Unlike last year when I found myself near the porta-potties as they sang the national anthem, I was waiting on the street by 11:45.  I didn’t do a lot of warm-up, just some stretching, so my legs felt a bit heavy for the first mile or so. As you can tell from my stats, I did a bit of weaving. (My friend, Dan, who is new to racing, now understands my aggravation with people lining up at the 7 minute mile pace, only to begin walking about 200 yards after the start line. In case you’re wondering, yes, he got some weird looks from the women around him, since this is a race “for women.” Doesn’t mean they dont’ allow guys to run it, however.)

I have to admit, I saw how close I was to the start line this time around, and part of me felt like “I can’t be here, I’m not supposed to be this far up in the pack.” But part of me also felt like “you know what? I’ve been working my butt off all year, I do belong here!”  Still, it made me nervous to pass Dan after a few minutes, and then I didn’t see him again until he had just passed Mile 4, and I was about a half mile back from him. Seeing that difference between us made me feel better and like I was on track.

This was one of the first races I’ve run where I’ve looked down at my watch and felt happy with my splits. I passed the 3 mile mark at about 25 flat (net-time), which I knew put me on target to finish with a “51” in the first part of my time. That definitely helped to quicken my legs when I looked down and saw 8:39 as my current pace at one point. I told myself to kick it up a notch and get moving, and the next time I looked at my watch it said 8:04 as my current pace. Definitely an improvement!  

Watching a very captivating episode of "Dog in the City" TV

Up until very recently, my goal for this race had been 54-55 minutes, and I thought even that would be really hard. However, running with my friend Dan once a week for the past month or so has really, really helped. He’s younger and a naturally gifted runner, that much is obvious, and I’ve grown much stronger mentally by running with him. I didn’t use to do tempo runs (they scare the bejesus out of me) but running with him, we talk, and I don’t stop when I otherwise would.

I took a look at my times for this race since I started running it, and I can’t believe how far I’ve come. This year, I’ve had much, much more personal stress in my life but one good thing that’s come out of it is that I’ve never run this well in my life before. My recent races have given me that one small time frame where I can forget everything else going on in my life, mentally, and just focus on what’s happening physically for that brief distance of 5K, 5 miles, or 10K.  It’s also been the one constant in my life these past few months, other than the support I’ve had from family and friends. I think without it, I might have felt like “losing it” a lot more often than I have.

Past 3 years:

  • 2007: 1:02:13
  • 2008: 1:00:09
  • 2009: 59 minutes (this race involved a face plant, and sprained ankle around mile 1)

 Stats from today – wow, what a difference!

  • Garmin time: 51:52
  • Garmin distance: 6.29
  • Garmin average pace: 8:15 min/mile
  • Official time: 51:51
  • Official distance: 6.2 miles
  • Official average pace: 8:21
  • Division place: Women 30-39 = 234/2079 (Top 11%)
  • Overall place: 715/6719 (Top 11%)

I definitely felt like I left everything I had in me, on the road, today.  As we neared the Boston Public Gardens, I had a feeling I could beat 52 minutes, but it would involve a very fast last quarter mile. I couldn’t do an all-out sprint like I normally do at the end, but I was able to pick it up, and my last .29 on my watch was at a 7:04 pace. This, after my 6th mile in 8:06!!  I have never been soooo glad to see a finish line in my life.  It was such an awesome feeling to look up at the finish line clock and know that after subtracting 45 or so seconds, my net time was under 52! I DID IT!

Anway…

Sorry, no pics from the race.  My car broke down last night, so I had to do “bag check” which included my cell phone. I wanted to race with as little extra weight on me as possible. I know many of you are “Ruthie Lovers” so I hope you like those instead! (She came for an overnight visit this past Saturday.)

Allow me to float through tomorrow, now….yay!!!

Sunset over skyline of Boston, view from Castle Island in "Southie" (or South Boston, from those not from around here)

Yep, been a busy week of racing for me. After not having raced since the Weston Marathon Sports 5 Miler back in July, I decided to do 3 races within 2 weeks of each other.  So far, two down, one to go!

On Labor Day, my friend Meg and I ran the Second Annual Bad Habit 5K.  It’s a flat and fast 5K, the only “incline” is the Eliot Bridge, and even that really isn’t much. So, it’s a really good opportunity to set a PR. And PR I did!

Until last week, my fastest time at the 5K distance was 25:33, set at the BAA 5K that was held the day before the Boston Marathon. As of last week, my PR became 24:58 (per my Garmin, anyway, the official results said 25:03, even though when I crossed in front of the clock, it said 25 flat.) 

 I realized after I finished that I made the mistake of pacing off of the wrong person, a guy running in front of me for most of the middle of the race.  I didn’t feel like constantly staring at my watch, and wanted to go with the flow. I passed him on the incline to the Eliot Bridge, and then he passed me as we got closer to the finish line, prompting me to say to myself, “oh no, you don’t,” and I sprinted toward  the last .15 mile or so, and BEAT HIM BY ABOUT A FOOT. (I later looked him up and realized he was 31, so woohoo to me!) I “chicked” a guy!   🙂

Stats from the Bad Habit 5K: 

  • Division: 3/25!!! (too bad they only gave prizes to 1st 2 in each division)
  • Overall placement: 46/132
  • Garmin time: 24:58, time clock: 25:00, official results time: 25:03

 

NEWS FLASH: As of this week, my new PR is now 24:45!!!

View of the Chestnut Hill Reservoir, Boston College is at the far end in the distance

This past week, I ran the Massport/Zumix Run to the Beat 5K.  It’s an inaugural race, so the turnout of 226 runners was pretty impressive. It was also pretty well organized, with a good police presence at the beginning to make sure the road was clear for runners. 

There was a choir standing underneath a bridge about a half mile from the start/finish line, and because it was a loopish course, they were there to serenade you, both going and returning.  There was also a band comprised of mainly kids, who played for us along the route.  Every volunteer holding a directional sign was a kid/teenager, and they actually looked interested in the outcome of the race – one even held out his hand for people to high five him as they ran past.  And, while spectators were few, the ones we did have were quite spirited, which, as we all know, really helps!

Another view of the skyline, taken at sunset, from Castle Island

This race was exciting to me for a whole bunch of reasons, but for one main one.  It was my friend  Dan’s first race EVER.  He’s been running for a year or so, but just never raced. And now,  I think he’s hooked!  (Better late than never, he placed in the top 15% overall, and top 1/3 for his division. Not bad for his first race ever – he beat me by two solid minutes!)  We will definitely do that race again next year.

We thought we’d run together, so neither of us wore headphones. But, he is younger than me, and well, he’s a guy, so he runs a whole lot faster than me.  When we first lined up, there was a lady standing in front of us who turned around, saw us, and said “you guys go in front of me, you look fast.”  (NEVER had anyone say that to me before!)  I said “yeah, i don’t think I am going to keep up with all of those guys in front of me” to which she responded that she definitely wasn’t! 🙂  Gotta say, it felt weird to line up closer to the front than I normally would, but with Dan’s speed, I didn’t want him to have to zig-zag a lot at the beginning.

My sweet girl, Ruthie, just hanging out, in the backyard

Our first mile was 7:40, and suprisingly, I only slowed to 8:04 and 8:09 for my next two miles. He ended up leaving me after about 1.25/1.50 – I had told him prior to the race that he shouldn’t slow down on my account. But I’m very proud of myself for sticking with him as I did. After that, I just tried to concentrate on getting a song running through my head (Britney Spears’ “3” did the trick, in case you are wondering.) I was pleasantly surprised to pass the 2 mile mark before my Garmin showed 16 minutes!! 🙂

Luckily, only a few ladies passed me over the course of the second half of the race, and I admit, I looked at them to try to determine if they were in my age group or not, LOL.  Turns out the girl who just beat me at the finish line by 5 seconds was in my age group.  But the next one wasn’t anywhere close – I beat 8th place by almost 2 WHOLE MINUTES!!

Stats from the Massport/Zumix Run to the Beat 5K:

  • Overall placement: 64/226
  • Division placement (F30-39): 7/47!!!!
  • Gender placement: 17/117!!!!
  • Garmin time: 24:45, official result time: 24:50

Anyway,  we are hoping to run together again soon – I am hoping we can make it a regular occurrence.  As we all  know, you’re much less likely to skip out on a run when someone is waiting for you. Plus,  I am always afraid of doing tempo runs on my own, and running with him could definitely substitute for one of those. (It’ll have to be an easy run day for him.)

Boats at Castle Island beach (I loved how blue the water was.)

I spent the rest of Saturday with my friend, Meg, at Castle Island. For those of you not familiar with Boston, it’s in South Boston. Neither of us felt like expending too much energy, so hanging out on the beach was just the ticket. There’s a beach shack type of eatery called Sullivan’s, and dinner for two of us cost an entire 11.30. Awesome!

All in all, the weekend was a really good one and was just what I needed after feeling kinda down toward the end of last week.  I ran a race and I hung out with two really good friends. It’s funny –  a few months ago, both of them were just coworkers of mine.  (Actually, Dan and I had never really spoken because we’re in 2 different departments.) Now I count them both as very good friends, people who I can talk to about so much, and who I can’t imagine not having around.   I feel very blessed to have them both in my life.

P.S. Monday morning, I ran 7.5 miles in 67 minutes – average pace was under 9. Having run with Dan a few days prior gave me confidence to not freak out when I saw some of my paces were comfortably in the 8s. Running partners and friends can help so much!

Not sure I’m going to know what a sense of normalcy really is for a while, but in an effort to restablish some in my life, I’m gonna just go ahead and post my race report from my fastest PR ever at the 5 mile distance. I really think it’s my favorite now. (What a surprise.)

Any race ever sponsored by Marathon Sports is usually pretty well run. You get multiple emails in advance, parking is well directed, and the food afterward is good and plentiful. This has always been the case with this race, and this year was no different. The only thing I would ever complain about at this race is the fact that it’s kind of a mass-free-for-all at the beginning, with no timing chips, so the further back you are from the start line, well, the more you have to fight for a realistic time.  (In other words, it’s a big old CF.*)  I luckily found another girl trying to do the same thing as me at the beginning, trying to book past the crowds on the outside edge of the course, so I took off right behind her.  My Garmin time was only 13 seconds off of the official gun time.

If you’ve never been to the Boston area, you should know that Weston is a beautiful town. It’s not unusual for homes in the town to cost upwards of $5M. The course is a combo of cross-country, road race, and then finishes on a track. It’s got a number of uphills (and of course downhills, which are awesome, as we all know.)  Occasionally, I looked at the beautiful houses we were running by to distract myself. Towns like that are like the school where I work — a totally different reality that you just acknowledge exists, and then you go on  and live your life, so it doesn’t bother you. (Example: Tom Cruise sat in on an Entertainment Law class this past spring. Enough said.  And no, I will never mention the name of the school publicly. If you can read between the lines, please don’t mention it by name in a comment. Too many bots on the web these days.)

Before the race, one of my track coaches ran into us and I was describing the course to her in terms of how it compared to the hills for the 13.1 Marathon, which we both ran a month ago. (Hard to believe that was only a month ago, a lot has changed since then.)  I was saying “it’s nothing compared to those,” and that’s when Lis piped up and said “um, I remember two years ago, something like ‘Oh My F…ing Mother of God” coming out of your mouth when you saw the one hill about mile 1.5.  Um yeah…I did say something like that, LOL.  Honestly, at last year’s race, I didn’t remember much of that hill, and this time around, I just kind of laughed to myself when I hit it, because really, I must have been a HUGE baby two years ago! It’s nothing!!

For those of you who read my race report from the half-marathon at the end of June, please note that there are no porta-potties in the background in this picture. We made SURE of that, which is also why we all look like our eyes are closed. Mine were tearing up — it was so hard to look into the sun/camera that night. It’s not a great picture of me, but Meg and Lis sure look great!  Oh, and if you’re wondering, I only wore the shirt for the picture – of course it came off when I ran, it was something like 80 degrees that night! (Like I’ve said before, running shirts are useless in the summer!!) LOL

TANGENT ALERT:  Since I will now be living in the building next to Meg, we were thinking the other day that one of us could take turns dropping each other on parts of the Boston Marathon course so we could get used to running parts of it. Let’s see, hill training on HeartBreak Hill, anyone?! What are we, nuts? (Don’t answer that.) I did see some good hills to try the other night when I drove her home, that’s for sure.

Anyway…since my overall Garmin time was 41:33, every single one of my miles was under 9 minutes. I was worried that my first mile was a bit fast because my coach was in my sightline (and she’s super fast – she ran the half a month ago in 1:43, and wanted to do this race in 38 mins.) but I soon lost her, and settled in. It was an awesome feeling to see the 4 mile marker and know that I was in the 32 minute range. I thought to myself, I could even do an 11 minute mile from here, and still turn this into a PR, but I was NOT going to let that happen. That was a really crappy week for me, and I just wanted to have one good thing to look back on. Luckily, this race was it for me!  (If you’re looking for my stats, please see my most recent post.) 

Anyway, not one of my most exciting posts, but I’ve had a lot going on this week. I’ll now be stuck without TV or internet (except for my iPhone) for the next 4 days until Comcast can stop by…please pray that they get a cancellation and it gets installed sooner!!  That’s ok,  I have a feeling I will have plenty of unpacking to do in the interim. I’m not a good packer, so this could take a long time to get things organized.

Have a good beginning of the week, everyone!

Before the race - Lis, me, and Meg all squinting into the sun

*Mom, don’t ask what a CF is in the comments. You don’t want to know what it stands for.

View at sunrise of one of the Blue Hills

I usually try to keep a positive face on my races, so I’m gonna try and do my best about the race today. Temps were at about 72 to start, at 6:15 a.m. That didn’t bode well because I don’t deal well with the heat. But thankfully, it didn’t start later in the day. (By the way, I was up at 3 a.m. Bill had complained about how early we had to go to sleep, yet he was snoring after about oh, 5 minutes, making me want to shoot him.   I, on the other hand, was awake until at least 10, and then woke up at least 4 times. Sigh.)

It is an “official” PR for me at this distance, I guess.  (I say that because I’ve run too far in both half marathon races I’ve run this year, not great with the tangents.) Just wish it could have been a PR by more.

Let me just throw out the stats:

  • Total finishers: 2674 (918 Male, 1774 Female)
  • Overall place 1368/2674 (yep, right in the middle as my blog name suggests)
  • Place among females: 760/1368 (top 43%)
  • Place among division of W 35-39: 88/212 (Top 41%)
  • Ave. time of my division: 2:25:06, so at least I was above the average for that.
  • Official time: 2:14:20, pace 10:16

Me, looking surprisingly normal in running gear (I love my new shades!)

Positive:

My first half split was 1 hour flat and felt really good.  I was clicking off miles where I wanted to, somewhere in the 9:12 and 9:16 range.  (Some followed my race tweets – those will always be slower because I have to start  up my phone, and then my Garmin when I hit the mat, because the Garmin is much more accurate.) This bodes well for me to do 5k and 10K races over the summer and especially in the fall when the temps get a lot cooler.  My first 5 miles were in the lower 47 minute range, or high 46s, with a few inclines already thrown in, and with me holding back on speed knowing I had a lot more miles to go. This basically teaches me that I’m a 5K and 10K runner. Unfortunately, as you can tell from my time, the second half was not so great.

Positive: 2 of 3 of the big hills didn’t give me problems. The third hill comes at about mile 10.25ish, and goes until, yep, about 11.6. The friggin thing never ends. I’ve run it before, the whole way, without stopping, but today realized that a girl walking next to me while I was running was keeping even pace. So, I decided to power walk when I did walk.

Me and one of Bill's friends, "Rads" who finished in 2:17:06.

Positive:

Knowing my total running time would have been about 1.5 or 2 minutes faster if I hadn’t stopped to strip off my shirt (yep, ran “topless” for at least half the race, LOL), make a pit stop at a porta pottie or to fix the camelbak tube thingy so I could actually get something out of it after about mile 3.) Of course, the clock doesn’t stop just because I did.

Positive:

First and last miles were under 9 minutes (which means I still have closing speed of some sort, just how fast it is is relative to the distance.) Wish they all could have been that way!

Positive: No obvious fueling errors.  Gatorade Prime ROCKS! (First mile felt not so fast and it was 8:46).  Sports Beans, Endurolytes, and Gatorade seem to work well for me.

Positive: It feels weird to say this, but after all these weeks of not eating Oreos, I think I’m possibly cured of my addiction. I looked all around the car for them this morning, thinking Bill had hidden them, but no dice. There were none waiting for me at the end of the race. He offered to buy me a small pack of them later today, and I was like “nah, I think I’m good.”

Unique cloud forming over Atlantic Ocean, in Hull, MA (we went there for lunch to take it easy.)

Positive:

The race is held in a very pretty area south of Boston, that I’ve really enjoyed running in the past few weekends, even if my runs didn’t always go that great.  (See the photo above if you don’t believe me that it’s beautiful.)  There’s a lot of shade cover, and the route is very pretty for the most part. (Unfortunately or fortunately, they closed the roads. That meant few or no spectators for most of the race. I run with headphones so unless I know the people cheering, it usually doesn’t make a huge difference to me unless I  happen to make eye contact with someone and then there’s a boost.)

Positive: I don’t have to eat Country  Pad Thai next week.  Don’t get me wrong, I love it, but I need a break after eating it for at least 7 of the last 8 weeks. 🙂

Few Negatives about the Race Organization:

I am hoping these can be corrected next year – it was an inaugural race.

Storm cloud moving out over the ocean

A few things that frustrated me, and I think just about everyone else: water stops with NO CUPS. Yep, that’s right, they seemed to run out of cups by the 4-6 mile mark. They set up the water stops in the center of the road, since this course had a lot of “turn-arounds” so the water stops would get people running in both directions. If you were lucky enough to grab a cup the first time you saw the water stop, you had better hold onto it because odds were, there would be none waiting for you when you saw it again.

I’m sorry, if you’re going to hold a race in the summer, you can have an overflow of cups.  They can always be saved to be used the following year. The volunteers ended up holding out water gallon jugs. That’s right, jugs.  People were literally cupping their hands and having other runners pour water into their hands, or drinking straight from the bottle that god knows how many other people had drunk from before them. Talk about gross. I am SO GLAD I run with a camelbak for races of this distance – I never trust the courses to provide enough liquid. People who did were really hurting today. I had a girl ask me for a gel at about mile 11.5 or so – I didn’t carry gels (used sports beans and endurolytes religiously) but offered her some sports beans which she gladly took. Then she asked me if we were getting close to mile 12. I hated to tell her we were  only at 11.6 at that point and my Garmin was just about even with the race course at that point.

Bill insisted I include this "artistic" (LOL) photo of myself that he took with a new camera app.

Also, I believe the website said that they’d have sports drink and water at every station. Um.  Yeah. NEVER saw the gatorade or whatever it was, honestly.  Only water in the gallon jugs. They had GU at only one stop that I saw, and it was about the 5.5 mile point, at the top of the road to the summit, from where you can see the city of Boston at a distance (I did make sure to look today. You could see the skyline.)

And one last gripe – this was a major race for Team Challenge.  That’s fine, I ran as a charity runner a few years ago myself, so I think it’s great more and more charities are getting involved. But there was a large number of them who were clearly walkers, who lined up toward the front, and then walked at the start of the race. About 4 or more deep.  My husband said he could see all the pissed looks on runners’ faces, as many of us went up onto the sidewalk to get around them.  (Seeing as I fell last week, and I know how badly uneven that sidewalk is near the start of that race, I was scared to death of falling again.)  My guess is that those individuals were just clueless, as many of the others were running right along with me. I know Jill Will Run’s walkers won’t do something like that in Napa!!

But, to end this on a positive, at least I know now for sure what my strength is – shorter distance to middle distance.  There is a line in one of my all-time favorite movies that I’ve seen about 56 times, Top Gun (don’t judge), “I feel the need, the need, FOR SPEED!” And yeah, that’s kinda what I need right now. I’m going to start focusing on the speed workouts our coaches are doing for the middle distance runners, and find some good upcoming 5Ks, 5 mile and 10K races.  I feel like I really need to throw the hammer down on speed over the next few months.  The 7-minute-range miles need to become the norm in 5Ks, rather than a fluke or once-in-a-while thing.  (I do them at track practice regularly now when we do mile repeats and last week’s first mile at 7:43ish didn’t seem like it was that fast.)

Luckily for me, this is Greater Boston so there’s no shortage of races –I just found a 5 mile race for July 3rd that’s got me thinking, “maybe, just maybe.” 🙂

(Hope you enjoy some of the pics of the ocean in a town called Hull, on a peninsula, just south of Boston.)

I GOT TO WEAR SHORTS TODAY! I GOT TO WEAR SHORTS TODAY! For some of you, this may not seem like a big deal, but to a girl who’s been wearing three layers on top and sometimes 2 layers on the bottom to run through this winter, this was freaking awesome!! We had two days this weekend of 50+ degree weather. Oh, how I love it!  (Right now, the sun is welcome. By May, I’ll want it to be overcast when I run races.)

And to prove how long it’s been since my skin has seen the sun (other than when it’s reflecting off of the sun, that is), here’s a picture of me and my friend and coworker, Meg, who ran the Claddagh 4 Miler earlier today. 

You may be wondering where my friend Lis was. I have bad news.  Those of you who have been reading my blog for a long time know that she has suffered off and on from shin splints.  That’s what she thought was bothering her again a few months ago, so she stopped running for a bit to give them rest, as everyone always prescribes. She then got really busy with work (I mean, insanely busy.) She ran the 3 mile race last Sunday, and by Tuesday she was in a lot of pain. Enough for a CPA to get herself to the doctor during busy season. Turns out that her doc thinks she’s got Lateral Compression Syndrome. I think that means her muscles are too big for their compartments?  Anyway, she’s been told surgery should make it all better. Some folks in her running club think physical therapy will make it better. All I know is, it sucks. It’s been killing her that she can’t run so much due to work, but now, to be really sidelined?  I mean, this REALLY sucks. She loves running and she’s an avid hiker. She basically can’t do anything if it involves her legs. Ugh.

Which is why I really wanted to get a PR today.  If  couldn’t do it for myself, I could do it for her.  And I did!! By a whole 2 minutes, and 9 seconds, per the official times.  I was so happy when I finished – I feel like I’m running strong this spring during my races, and I’m not sure how long it will last, but I am just going to go with the flow. And keep on thanking my guardian angels for giving me that little extra push whenever I need it. I will also continue loving my playlist of feel-good songs. They’re not always the fastest tempo but they lift my mood and that does a ton for me.

Now, before you read my stats for today, I’d like you to please see the elevation map on the USATF page.  Go ahead, click on this link.   If that doesn’t work, then click this link, and then click on the link that says “course map.” From that page, click on that little box that shows the elevation chart. That should explain my difference in splits for mile 2.

  • Mile 1: 8:15
  • Mile 2: 9:41
  • Mile 3: 8:06
  • Mile 4: 8:04
  • Official overall time: 34:31, 8:38 average mile pace
  • Official distance: 4 miles
  • Garmin distance: 4:07; 8:29 average mile pace (same time)
  • 288/909 overall
  • 43/179 in my division, W30-39 (I’m 37, hopefully the older I get, the faster I’ll get?!)

 Yes, Mile 2 has a killer hill. It’s bad enough that even over my headphones, I heard the “holy s56&#* and f$%@&” remarks fly out of people’s mouths as soon as they turned the corner, after already climbing for a bit. I kind of laughed inwardly because that’s exactly how I felt last year when I saw it. This year, I expected it. And this year, I also expected to have to walk it a bit. But I didn’t! (Well, unless you count the water stop where I then proceeded to suck in air, and panick a bit when I couldn’t catch my breath, thereby thinking that I was going to have an asthma attack and realizing my inhaler was nowhere near me. Hey, only one pocket in my shorts, and it was filled with sports beans. A girl’s gotta have her sports beans.)

Anyhoo, the course’s 1st and 4th miles are blessedly flat.  Mile 2 has the aforementioned hill/mini-mountain, and mile 3 reminds you that what goes up, must come down, and thank God, quickly so. It was about mile 2 that I decided, yep, it’s time for the shirt to come off. I almost couldn’t believe I was doing it myself. After all, this morning I was still debating the shorts vs. capri tights issue. (Carol, aka ridgeley on twitter had told me this week to wear shorts and a short sleeve shirt, and I was having trouble believing it, just because I’ve been so used to wearing so many layers, it takes some mental adjustment every year at this time.)

Anyway, I finished in just my shorts and running bra. Did I also mention I was wearing my spring/summer running shoes, the Brooks Adrenaline 9s? (I wear the Brooks ASRs in the winter, as they’re warmer and more water-resistant.)  It feels SO GOOD to not have to wear warm weather gear just for once.

I know, I know, this weather is a big tease. We’re very likely to get more snow or a hard frost before spring really comes.  Just let me enjoy it for a little while….and my PR until next week, when I do the 5 mile race (never done that course before, but the elevation chart does look a little bit more forgiving.)

I do need to give a shout-out to my coworker, Will. He was excited for most of last year to move into a new division.  Go figure why:  Will’s stats: 1/27 M60-69; time of 27:21, average pace per mile: 6:51.   Sometimes good guys do finish first!!

#1 and #2, done!!

Today began the first of three races in the Wild Rover Series. They’re run 3 weeks in succession, and the distance increases every week. Week 1= 3 miles. Week 2 = 4 miles. Week 5 = 5 miles.

Week 1 = big f%&*S hill. Week 2 = HUGE F&*##(%# HILL.  Actually, correction, it’s a mini-mountain. One that was so steep last year, I just gave up and started walking because the walkers were passing me while I attempted to run up it.  Week  3= ?? because I was sick last year and didn’t run it. I’m looking forward to hearing the bagpiper play as he marches back and forth through the cemetery. Yes.  More on that in two weeks.

As the title of my post indicates, this was a PR.  A PR that almost didn’t happen. Because of Ruthie. She got out today from the back yard, through a post in our fence that was a bit loose, and with all the rain we got here, we think she just pushed against it and slipped out before she knew what was going on.  Then, it snapped back into place.  I’d just arrived home from the grocery store, and Bill greeted me outside with “I let Ruthie out to pee, and now I can’t find her!” Our backyard is not to large, and is totally fenced in, with really no place for her to hide. Plus, she usually comes running when we call her back in but this time, all he got in response was silence.

Luckily, we have tags on her with Bill’s cell number and because she’s so friendly, she’s a horrible fugitive, and was easily captured by a man wonderful enough to call us, as we were both out canvassing the neighborhoods and trying not to panick. She’d only gone about 1/4-1/2 mile.

 As you can see below, she’s just fine now.  Thank God, because I don’t know what we would do without her. She’s so much a part of our hearts, I was crying when I hugged her when we got her home, and begged her to never do that again.  Bill told me that when he arrived at the good samaritan’s home, she started wagging her tail and trying to get to him. She then jumped into the backseat of his Explorer in a jiffy.  Thank God, she wanted to come home! 

Ruthie, the fugitive, sleeps...

Anyway, Bill has put lots and lots of barriers in Ruthie’s way so that she can’t bolt free again. Phew.

Anyway, here are the stats for today’s race.  My friends Lis and Meg also ran it.

  • 806 total runners
  • 35/162  in F30-39 division
  • 251/806 overall
  • official time: 24:47
  • overall pace: 8:19
  • Mile 1: 8:32
  • Mile 2: 8:11
  • Mile 3: 811

Me, Meg, and Lis at the start (Gumps 3)

Thumbs up:

  • Ran with friends! 
  • Starting mat at beginning AND end (change from last year.)
  •  Disposable timing chips.
  • Technical long-sleeve shirts, male and female cuts, flourescent color!
  • Warm enough to run in only 2 layers, with lighter gloves.

Thumbs down:

  • Only 3 porta-potties outside, 2 stalls inside for women, 1 of which wasn’t working (same as last year, not enough!)
  • Smallish size bar, with not enough bartenders working so crowds got crazy afterward inside (same from last year)

 My goal for today was to break 25 minutes.  So glad I did it, especially because that last mile was hard. Harder than the first because at least then I felt fresh.   The first mile is uphill for at least half of it.  Enough of a hill that I think a fair amount of people walk up it or portions of it. 

But, what goes up, must come down, as we all know. I concentrated on trying to make up speed.  I knew I was in alright shape though, because the Mile 1 clock said 8:29 when I ran by it (gun time, remember) and that’s what it said last year as well.   However, I didn’t remember the mini hills that followed.  (As Lis said, she and I have a good way of blocking out stuff we don’t like to remember. Yep, she ran it also, under 30 minutes. I think that’s an awesome time, especially because she’s not been able to run in at least 2 months due to shin splints, and the fact that she’s a CPA.)

Garmin wonder twin nerds, go!

Mile 2’s clock said 16:30 as I passed it. My brain was somehow able to calculate that I was running faster at this point, which made sense considering Mile 2 included the mini but not mammoth hills, and some downhills. I knew could just try to hang onto the pace I was doing and my goal was within reach.

Mile 3 was when I felt like I was running much slower. I didn’t feel as strong during mile 3 this year as I did last year. But, the good thing was that I knew some landmarks this time around, and that, combined with my Garmin, helped me to know when I could really sprint at the end.  Plus, I said a silent plea to any angels who might be around and listening, to please help if they could, and they answered.  I looked down at my watch close to the end, saw 2.91 on the mileage, and an overall time that started with “24” and just ran as hard as I could. I’m really trying to improve on my times this year.

At the start, think I'm stretching and trying to keep warm (didn't know Bill was taking it)

Some good news – a lady that has run indoor track with me for part of this winter, who I’ve mentioned on the blog, Lynn, ran it also. She’s 56, and afterward told me she’d just be happy to have come in within the top ten of her division. I checked her out on Cool Running, and she WON her age group, with a time of 23:48.  (I said to Lis that inside I can beat her on the track but get us running further than a 1/4 mile and she kicks my ass!)

Anyway, I now have the center of this year’s 3-part medal. (If you run all 3, they fit together like the pic below.)  Yay!

Wild Rover Series medals