Monday, April 29, 2019


If you want to run, run a mile. If you want to experience a different life, 
run a marathon. 
~ Emil Zatopek

Let's just pick up where we left off, shall we?  Saturday night we had a rager and stayed up dancing until midnight.  Kidding.  We went to bed at 9:30.  In another life maybe.  Sunday I had to get up early and take Grace to her soccer game, which I was psyched to watch as I'd missed it the day before due to the 5K.  As I mentioned in the last post, the rest of the Hotel Trax crew also got up early and scattered in different directions for the day; the plan being to meet back in the afternoon to get ready for the Oiselle team dinner, an event that I've had the pleasure of hosting for the past five years.  It was a gorgeous day and after soccer and lunch we re-grouped and started decorating.  That's right, Chicken brought party supplies and she and Grace dove right in to the paper chains while I went to grab the food.

Chicken hanging paper chains

I love this shindig because it gives me a chance to catch up with Oiselle birds from all over the country that I don't normally get to see.  I also get to meet new people, like Laura Darrow, who flew her entire family in from Hawaii and brought all of 26 of them, including her in-laws.  She also brought me local coffee and chocolate so I will forever welcome her and anyone from her extended family into my home from this point forward.  Seriously, though, it's pretty cool to throw a bunch of strangers together who share a common interest and watch as everyone becomes fast friends.  The energy in the room is always so incredibly warm and positive at this gathering.  It's such a nice vibe to surround yourself in the day before a marathon.

Bird Fest

We ate large amounts of pasta and hung out until around 7:30 and then everyone began to scoot in preparation for the next day.  It would be a big one for all of us; both runners and spectators alike.  For some reason, Jackie and I decided it would be a fun idea to cover our arms in temporary tattoos.  A few of us got really into the application process, because it's hard to put those suckers on by yourself.  I'll never got a sleeve, but I won't lie and tell you I didn't feel pretty badass when it was done.  

All the tats with Jackie

Jackie and I also happened to be the only ones racing the next day so after everyone left we quickly started gathering all of our gear so we'd be ready for an early departure the in the morning.  When I run as a TWAV guide, I pack a little differently than I do if I'm running on my own.  I don't bring music, obviously, as one can't guide with tunes blaring.  I bring more food, as we wait around for a long time before the race starts.  I also bring plenty of extra clothes and plastic bags, which I assumed we would need based on the weather forecast.  And then, of course, some cash for post-race coffee and a cab.  The nice thing about prepping in guide mode is that there very little stress compared to the normal stress I feel when I'm actually racing for myself.

Prep time

When we woke up on Monday it was pouring.  Like...buckets.  And thundering and lightening.  It was crazy and we were laughing about it, but also crying.  And praying that the weather would shift as the forecast had predicted.  Jeff got up and drove us out to Hopkinton so we didn't have to catch the bus from Boston which would have required that we be downtown at 5:00am and would have been beyond brutal.  Bless him.


I got to the Vision Center around 9:00am and quickly found Michaela, the young gal that I'd be guiding.  We had spoken via text throughout the winter, but we'd not yet met in person, so it was nice to finally connect.  She was admittedly and understandably nervous.  I couldn't do much about this but I told her to just let me know whatever she needed from me as waited until our wave to be called.  I also met her other guide, Kelly, who had coached Michaela in high school.  Around 10:00, they called for us to head over to the start so we went outside and grabbed a team photo before walking over to our corral.  It was grey and rainy when we headed out but we could feel the humidity rising and asked Michaela if she wanted to shed her long sleeve, which she decided was too much to deal with.  We would later regret this.  It was kind of chilly as we stood around and waited, but this wouldn't last long.  Finally, at 10:25, we were off.  

Michaela had trained hard all winter and we had no doubt that she was ready to rock.  This was not her first marathon, so she also knew what to expect, which was good.  Her goal was to finish somewhere between four and four and a half hours; a very reasonable goal given her training and past race times.  For our first few miles, we cruised around 9:30 pace.  Not surprisingly, this was way too fast.  It's just so hard to reign it in during that first stretch as the nerves are in high gear, the excitment is even higher and the course is a slight downhill.  Kelly and I worked to pull back the pace  and then to settle in there.  Not long after we started, the sun began to peak through the clouds and the temperature and humidity began to rise immediately.  This was not what we'd assumed we'd be dealing with and was a big fat bummer given how early on it was in the race.  But, there was nothing we could do it about it, so we tried not to talk about it.  

Michaela's family and cheer squad was out and ready to meet us around mile 6 and all three of us were looking forward to seeing them.  Unfortunately, Michaeala's stomach began to cramp up pretty soon after we started, the pain ebbing and flowing sporadically as we ran.  There wasn't much we could say to help the situation, so Kelly and I did our best to distract her and to make sure she was hydrating as it was now very hot and humid.  Around mile five, we all stopped to use the bathroom.  Kelly and I then told Michaela that she really needed to get rid of her black shirt as it was undoubtedly making things more uncomfortable than necessary.  Getting this off in our sweaty state was no easy task but we managed and after waving to her family, I passed it off to them.

We were now in cruise control, running steadily around ten minute pace.  Michaela's stomach, however, was not cooperating and she was often bent over in pain as we ran, which was awful.  We tried stretching, slowing down, eating chews, nothing worked.  She kept saying, Whatever. It hurts. But it's fine.  Let's just keep going.  Such a trooper, she was.  Kelly let me know that she'd had stomach issues in past races but they'd never been this bad.  I was guessing that the heat was not helping the situation as I saw a lot of other runners struggling with it.  There was nothing we could do but encourage her to keep moving and to support her when she needed to take breaks, which we did often.

After the half, we were stopping at almost every water stop either to fill Michaela's water bottle and to grab fluids for ourselves.  We were also pouring water over our heads to try and bring our body temp down.  You can see all the smooshed cups in the photo above.  It was like running through a sea of paper at each stop and it got worse with each mile.  It was nuts.  Despite her stomach issues, Michaela actually crushed the hills and then finally we were on our last 10K.  She was still hurting, but she had a new, determined drive and we could tell that she was ready to get it done.

The above photo was from mile 24.  People were going crazy, both the runners and the spectators, cheering for Michaela and Team With A Vision, and she was getting really fired up.  At one point, she started high-fiving people, which takes a lot more effort and energy when you're blind.  Kelly and I had to remind her that we still had two miles to go and she needed to bank whatever she had left in the tank, at least until we got to Boylton Street.  She agreed and settled back down but she was really moving now, better than she'd flowed all day.  She was checking her watch often, so ready to be finished.  Naturally, it started to rain at this point.  Wouldn't be a Boston marathon without all three seasons to deal with, right?  It was coming down hard, but we had been so hot that it felt good.  Very different from last year, thank goodness.

About four hours and fifty minutes later we were finally on Boylston street.  I turned to Michaela and told her she'd made it.  That we could see the finish line.  And that she should soak it all up because she'd earned every second of it.  It was the first time I'd seen her smile since we'd started.  It was a really magical moment.  

Right after we crossed the line we hugged and then passed Kelly's phone to another finisher asking him to take our picture.  In hindsight, we probably should have waited a bit as the guy was definitely a little thrown off given that he, too, had just finished.  But, we just weren't thinking straight at that point and we really wanted to celebrate the fact that we'd done it right at that moment.  Sorry guy.  We walked slowly to grab our metals and then a woman wisked us away to a VIP tent, which we weren't expecting but were more than happy take advantage of.  I'm not sure if this is new or they just started giving TWAV runners access to it, but there is no question that someone like Michaela should get this special treatment after running a marathon.  We sat her down and got drinks and food and grabbed our bags to get dry clothes, all of us very eager to take off our wet socks.  Michaela's shins and feet were killing her so she laid down a bit and regrouped as Kelly and I got ourselves together.  After about thirty minutes, we made our way out of the tent to find Michaela's family.  She was so sore and tired.  We all were.  But despite this, we were happy.  Happy to be done. Happy to have crossed the line in one piece.  Happy to have worked together to help Michaela reach her goal.  And happy to go home, lie down and do nothing for many hours.  

The next morning it was a crisp, cool, beautiful sunny day.  Of course.  Last year, after we'd run in a Nor'easter?  Same exact thing.  But Boston is gritty, you know?  The city.  The winter weather.  The people.  The marathon course.  That's what what makes it Boston.  It wouldn't be the same if we knew what we were getting ourselves into every year.  And it definitely makes crossing the finish a hell of a lot sweeter.  I'm always a little sad when this weekend is over.  It's like a seventy two hour window of bliss, when everything is good and right in the world.  There's really nothing else like it.  It's such a privilege for me to be a part of it, especially as a member of TWAV.  My hope is that, for as long as I can keep doing it, in any way really, I'll be on the line in Hopkinton and crossing the finish on Boyslton.  Huge congrats to Michaela.  I've no doubt she'll be lining up again, too.

Listen to this:
Dreamin - Mind Bath

Saturday, April 20, 2019


As per usual, summing up my Boston marathon weekend is likely going to be a challenge.  Because also, as per usual, I had about a hundred different things going on and I want to tell you about all of them.  I’ll do my best to break it down without going into too much detail.  Fair warning, there's still a lot of details.  Every year my house is a home base for friends, teammates and family and this year was no different.  I love it.  The more the merrier.  Rolling in first was my Oiselle teammate and dear friend, Jackie Grendel.  Jackie was coming up from Virginia and would be running the marathon.  She arrived on Thursday night and between the long day of travel and her marathon nerves, which were already in high gear, she settled in pretty early.  I did, too.  Because I always do.

We got up early Friday morning and ran an easy five mile shakeout followed by quick showers and coffee.  Well, coffee for me.  She doesn’t drink it.  No, I don’t get it.  Note the clothing in the above photo.  It was still pretty chilly at this point.  Not for long.  I'll get into that later, though.  Around 11:00, we drove into Boston to grab our bibs and hit the expo.  My girls didn’t have school on Friday because of staff development, so I roped them into coming with us by promising them lots of free samples and random goodies.  Worked like a charm.  Parking in Boston is always a real treat.  But, as luck would have it, we pulled into a spot on Hereford street directly across from the Hynes Convention Center.  I probably checked the street signs five times before trusting that we could stay put.  It was a good sign, we agreed.  After getting through security, we walked up about six flights of stairs and finally got to the floor where they were handing out numbers and shirts.  This first step, alone, probably took us about 45 minutes.  As we made our way back downstairs, Grace looked at me and said, Mom, this really isn’t as cool as I thought it would be.  Jackie and I laughed as we explained that we hadn’t even gone into the expo yet.  She was not buying it but we told her to trust us.  And then, well, it was like walking into Willy Wonka’s Chocolate factory.  All four of us were giddy.

First things first.  We walked right over to the wall to take photos with our numbers.  Rosie patiently took these for us, understanding the importance of it, which I loved.  Then we turned around and ran smack into Joan Benoit Samuelson.  Jackie and I almost had a heart attack.  If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you’ll remember that I got to run a few miles with Joan during the Sugarloaf Marathon.  I'd been trying to break 3 hours and she was using it as a training run for her then upcoming Chicago marathon.  After pushing me along for a two or three mile stretch, she let me know she was dropping back but encouraged me to pick up the pace and get it done.  In the end, I missed it by 16 seconds. But, post-race I found her and thanked her despite the fact that I hadn't hit my goal.  Be patient. she’d said. You’ll get it.  As you also may know, a year later, I finally did.  So, of course, I wanted to tell her about it.  

Now, I’m no dummy.  I knew she’d probably forgotten about Sugarloaf and running with me.  And while she admitted that she didn’t remember my name, she did say that she’d thought about that race often and wondered what had happened in the end.  It was pretty cool that I got to come full circle and share the fact that I’d done it with her.  Samuelson won Boston back in 1979 when she was 21 years old, setting a course record of 2:35:15.  This year, exactly 40 years later, her goal was to run within 40 minutes of that time.  I had no doubt that she would do it.  Spoiler alert, she did.  THIS WOMAN!  I’ll always be in awe of her and all that she has accomplished.  Not that she’s even close to done.

Rosie and Grace had stood by patiently while I had my starstruck moment with Joan but shorty afterwards they told me they were ready to split up and do their own thing, so we picked a meeting spot and time and they were off and running.  Literally.  Next stop for me and Jackie was the NUUN booth.  Both of us have been on the NUUN team for several years and we were eager to meet Mason French, our team manager and someone we talk to regularly via email, in person.  I already knew he was a cool cat, but hanging out with him in person re-confirmed this.  We had so much fun talking NUUN, running and other things that I don’t remember.  We said our goodbyes and he sent us off with lots of NUUN goodies.  He's the best.

After NUUN, we hit up Saucony.  They always partner with Dunkin Donuts for the marathon and their expo booth is usually pretty sweet.  This year was no exception.  We found Rosie and Grace enjoying the free donut samples and the next thing I knew I was buying both of them the cool Dunkin-themed shoes.  Yes, I am a sucker.  

We all went to a few more booths, and then Rosie and Grace took Jackie and I back to some of their favorites; Rice-A-Roni, Cooked- Perfect Meatballs.  OMG the meatballs (their words).  Finally, we got out of the expo, but before we headed back home, we wanted to make one more stop to say "hi" to our friend Jenny, who works for Salomon.  She was conveniently working in a pop-up shop about three blocks away so we walked down and grabbed ice cream on the way.  Rosie and Grace were more than happy to help Jackie with her carbo loading.  Jackie and I had the pleasure of meeting Jenny at last year’s Birdcamp and were thrilled to give her hugs and catch up for a bit. 

Then, imagine our surprise when we walked in and saw the one and only Kathrine Switzer giving a talk and signing books.  I had another little mini freakout as I explained to Rosie and Grace that Switzer was the first woman to run the Boston marathon as a numbered entrant back in 1967.  When she was through talking, I walked over and introduced them to her.  All of us were so moved.  It was a pretty special moment to share with my girls.  I'm sure I embarrassed them.  I don't care.

By now it was about 2:00 and all of us were totally wiped; definitely time to get home.  We pulled in to my driveway just as our Oiselle teammate, Sasha Gollish, was getting out of her cab.  Sasha’s a pro runner for Oiselle and would be racing the 5K the next day.  She was coming in from Canada and I don’t get to see her often, plus Jackie had never met her, so we had another little love fest with hugs and photos.  Yes, there would be a lot of these throughout the weekend.  

Later that evening, Sasha cooked us a delicious dinner; perks of having guests for sure, as I don’t cook and my husband was at the Red Sox game.  After that, Sasha and I got ourselves organized for the 5k, which I was also racing the next day and Jackie hit the hay.  We needed to get going around 6:30 the next morning as the race started at 8:00 so we both turned in shortly after Jackie.  Before my alarm went off, I could smell coffee which was no surprise as Sasha loves coffee as much, if not more, than I do.  At 6am it was already warm out and a little humid out.  First time in months.  Of course.  We had an easy trip into Boston, parked and headed over to the tents to drop our gear before leaving for a warmup.  As we cruised through our first mile, it started to rain and by the time we got back we were soaked.  And hot.  Very hot.  Gotta love New England weather.

I always love to do this race for a few reasons.  First, held down at the Boston Common, it has a really similar vibe to the marathon, which is pretty magical.  Second, I don’t ‘race’ the marathon as a guide, so even though I would be running the marathon on Monday with Michaela, doing the 5K gives me a chance to test the wheels and see what I can do, something I tend to crave come marathon weekend.  Third, since it’s a fast and flat course a good time is a high probability.  And fourth, while I hate the 5K because of how short it is, I do like to test myself in them every once in a while and I find it oddly fun and painful at the same time.  My goal for this one was just to push hard and see what I could do.  I hadn’t run a 5K in over a year so I didn’t really know what to expect but was feeling like I could likely manage a 6:10 average pace if I played my cards right.  My first mile was actually a 6:20, but this was primarily because I had to do quite a bit of bobbing and weaving due to the heavy traffic in the beginning.  For mile 2, I found a groove and started repeating my mantra out loud which was, RELAX. HAVE FUN. I mean, you can’t really do ether during a 5K, but I was trying to trick my mind into believing it was possible.  I was not checking my watch too often, just trying to run by feel.  My second mile was also a 6:20.  Not what I’d hoped but I was now fighting a headwind and was feeling the effect of the humidity in my breathing.  With one mile to go, I focused on finding a new gear.  I knew my Oiselle teammates would be on the corner right before the finish and that after I saw them I’d be on the final stretch.  That alone propelled me forward.  Fortunately, my body responded to the shift and I cranked it up to a 6 minute pace for mile 3, finishing in 19:03, a time that is not far off from my current 5K PR.  I was pretty excited about that.

Right after I crossed the line, I found Sasha.  We cooled down together, threw on some dry clothes and went to find the rest of the Oiselle crew.  Oh my...just...all the feels.  I haven’t seen a lot of these gals in such a long time and it was yet another love fest.  We hugged and talked over each other as we made our way to the Thinking Cup to grab coffee and chill for a bit.  It was so much fun to reconnect and share stories with everyone.  It's never enough time, though, so a little bittersweet.

Sufficiently exhausted, Sasha and walked back to the car and headed back home; both of us craving some much needed down time.  I got a solid 30 minutes before I had to turn around and get back out to my my older daughter’s soccer game on the other side of the city.  Mom points for me.  The upside was that my dear friend Erin, aka Chicken (long story) had since arrived chez Trax and was happy to join me for the trek.  It was a gorgeous day and we sat on the sidelines and caught up as we soaked up the sun and watched Rosie and her team play.  By the time the game was over, I was a walking zombie and thus when Rosie asked me if she could have ice cream for lunch, of course I said, yes.  We drove back home and I finally got some time to just sit on the porch and relax with my buds.  Heaven.

Around 5:30 that evening, my sister-in-law, Locky, rolled in from NYC.  She was also running the marathon.  Fortunately, Rosie was at a friend's house so Locky could crash in her bed.  We now had a ridiculously full house.  Fun?  Yes.  Restful?  Not really.  Worth it?  Totally.  We finished off the night with burgers and more conversation.  Then all of us turned in early.  I know, shocker. The next day  Locky would be going to meet up with her daughter.  I would be making an hour long trek out West to watch Grace play in her soccer game.  And Chicken and Sasha would be going back into Boston to do a shakeout run with the Oiselle crew.  Then we’d all be reconvening for the dinner which I’d be hosting for Oiselle friends and family later that night.  So, I’ll close it off here, and we'll pick it back up with the team dinner and, of course, the marathon itself, which I promise, will not disappoint.

Listen to this:
Halfway There - Rozes

Thursday, April 11, 2019


"Man runs seven marathons on seven continents in seven days at record speed"
~ Sports Illustrated

Today I am beyond excited to introduce you to Michael Wardian.  I've actually had his profile teed up for a couple weeks now.  But his resume is so long and robust that I've needed more time than usual to put this one together.  As you may know, Michael has been doing unbelievable things in the running world for several years.  I would say, in reading through his bio, that he's really almost superhuman.  And, at the same time, he's one the kindest, most humble, down to earth guys.  Which, of course, makes him that much cooler.  I connected with Wardian after I heard him talking with Mario Fraioli about his record breaking World Marathon Challenge in which he ran a marathon on seven continents in seven days in an average pace of 2:45.  Let me pause so you can digest that for a moment.  Basically, when he wasn't running, he was on an airplane flying to the next continent, eating, changing his shoes and attempting to get some sleep before his next marathon.  Just, in my opinion, totally insane.  But he didn't stop there.  After his 7 in 7, he decided to continue on and attempt his own personal challenge of completing 10 marathons in 10 days in an average time of sub 3 hours.  Which he also did.  He ran his ninth and fastest of the 10 in 2:48:43 and became a Guinness World Record holder upon finishing.  While that feat is totally mind-blowing in and of itself, it's just one small piece of his epic running career which he somehow manages while also working as an International ship broker, coaching and raising kids.  I knew Michael was a music fan because he runs for Jaybird, a company that I proudly represent as an ambassador.  He also guided a runner at last year's Boston marathon and volunteered for the Blindfold Challenge at the BAA 5K to raise awareness for the Massachusetts Association for the Blind And Visually Impaired, an organization that is near and dear to my heart.  So, after hearing all these many bits and pieces of his incredible story, I just felt like I wanted to know more. Or to know him.  Or both.  In addition to the aforementioned world record at the World Marathon Challenge he also holds the below Guiness World Records:

~ World Marathon Majors(Tokyo, Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago, NYC)-2:31:09 Avg
~ Running a Fastest Marathon pushing a Pram-2:42
~ Fastest Marathon as a Super Hero (Spider-man)-2:34
~ Indoor World Record for fastest indoor Marathon (2:27:21) 
~ Indoor 50K (3:06:07) on 200 Meter Track
~ 50K World Record on a treadmill in 2:59:49 (2015)

That's right, folks.  An INDOOR 50K.  Take a second to read through his entire bio when you have a sec.  It's mind boggling.  Michael will be coming in to run Boston this weekend so I wanted to get this post out today as a little inspiration piece for all of us to chew on as the marathon events unfold.  Whether you are are a runner or not, I don't believe you if you tell me you're not in awe of this guy.  Huge thanks to Michael for taking time out of his ridiculously busy schedule to tell us more about himself.  Okay, that's it from me.  Let's me Michael Wardian, a runner who rocks.


Name: Michael Wardian
Where you're from: Oakton, VA-United States of America
Where you reside now:  Arlington, VA (about 13 miles from Arlington)
Age: 44 years old will be 45 on April 12, 2019
Occupation: International Ship Broker, Professional Runner, Coach

MABVI Blindfold Challenge

What do you love most about running?
What I love most about running is moving through the world under my own power and seeing just where my limits are and then pushing to shatter them.

What do you love most about music?
What I love about music is that it can move you deeply and each song can have an unique meaning for each person.  I also love that music can transform an experience and give your a soundtrack to whatever activity you are doing.

Band (current, all time or both): Current: Coldplay / all time: NWA
Album (current, all time or both): Current: Cleopatra-Lumineers / all time: Snoopdog-Doggystyle or Dave Matthews Band-Under the Table and Dreaming
Race venue: Boston Marathon
Music venue: Michigan State University Auditorium
Race distance: All time: Marathon, currently: As far as possible
Show you've seen live: Dave Matthews & Tim Reynolds Live
Ice cream flavor: Lemon sorbet as I don’t eat dairy anymore

Sweet or salty? Salty
Live or recorded? Record live
Coffee or tea? Tea
Summer or winter? Summer

Which band or artist would you go see tonight if you could? Lumineers
Which band or artist (wait...but no longer alive or playing together) would you go see tonight if you could? Doors
Which band or artist would you like to have dinner with tonight if you could? Sting
Which band or artist would you like to be playing alongside you during your next race (or long run)? Rage Against the Machine


Today I feel like (fill in the blank):
Amazingly spry...I have been feeling rundown post FKT but today I feel great.

Top 5 Songs for running, dancing or both?
1) In the Air tonight, Phil Collins
2) Country Roads-John Denver
3) Killing in the Name off-Rage Against the Machine
4) Don’t Panic-Coldplay
5) Lose Yourself-Eminem
1) Safety Dance
2) Sweetdreams
3) Disco Inferno
4) Oh what a night
5) Sugar Magnolias
Last 5 Songs you listened to today?
1) 100 Miles and Running-NWA
2) Hey Ho-Lumineers
3) Country Road-John Denver
4) Seven Nation Army-White Stripes
5) Bust a Move-Young MC

Listen to this:
The Safety Dance - Men Without Hats

Monday, April 8, 2019


For the past few months, in regards to training, I've been working on getting faster and thus not focusing on the marathon for the first time in like, eight or nine years.  It's very different for me and it feels kind of strange to not be thinking about 26.2 miles all the time.  But, I'm not missing all the 20+ milers that I have been slogging through cycle after cycle and year after year, so I'm good with it.  Three weeks ago, I ran the New Bedford half.  I did fine.  Not great, not bad.  My "goal" race, the one I put on the calendar last fall as my main event for the spring, is in May.  After NB I asked my coach if I could squeeze another half in between March and May.  I just felt like I needed more practice at running hard at goal pace and since I didn't have a marathon to taper for it made sense.  He agreed.  So, I signed up for the Cheap 1/2 marathon up in Amesbury, MA.  I did the full last year and it was a great event.  It's also cheap, so that's a bonus.  My training has being going pretty well over the last few weeks and my coach has definitely been ramping things up a bit in preparation for the May race.  Last week, in particular, was intense with a long run on Monday, a very tough workout on Wednesday followed by a second run in the afternoon, and a 10 miler on Friday.  I emailed Lowell mid-week asking him if he didn't feel like the work load was a bit too intense given that I was running the half on Sunday.  Are we not going to taper a little, I asked?  No, he said, I wasn’t planning on it. Was just going to test your fitness on tired legs.  The half marathon in a month is a bigger focus for us. Well all righty, then.  I was sufficiently toast by Friday but I had Saturday to recover and was psyched to see what I could pull off on tired legs.  Sort of psyched.  You know what I mean.

The race start was at 7:00am and the drive was an hour North, so I had to get up at 5:00 on Sunday morning.  That was so rough.  The Winchester Starbucks opens at 5:00am.  I was stupidly happy about that.  About halfway up, I believe I mumbled something like, I am never getting up this early again for a race that isn't my 'main gig' again.  Ever.  But then, I arrived as the sun was coming up over the water.  It was hard not to be floored by how beautiful it was.  So, that might have changed my mind.  Well, it did at that moment.  Not sure about long term.  Rather than focus on how tired I was, and the fact that it was only 38 degrees outside, I made a conscious decision to embrace the situation and make the most our of the morning.

The above photo is me trying to do this.  I'm trying very hard.  I walked over to the tent and grabbed my bib from my friend, Eli Bailin, also the Greenstride race director.  He's always so damn peppy in the morning.  I don't know how he does it.  

I dropped my stuff back off at car and made my way out for a quick warmup.  After two miles, I was legitimately heating up, which I was very happy about, so I ditched all my layers, deciding not to wear the arm warmers that I'd been planning to race in.  I got all my gear together and headed to the start where I grabbed a quick shot with the great Michael Grenier, Eli's trusty race MC who's just bursting with positive energy from the second he gets going.  I always look forward to hearing him do his thing.

Much like last year, it was a small group of runners, so we all stepped up to the line and were sent off with a Ready, Go! right at 7:00.  Okay, so once again, my goal pace for this race was 6:35 or to stay within the range of 6:30-6:40.  You guys are probably getting sick of hearing this by now.  I kind of am.  Right off the bat, I settled in and crossed the first mile in exactly 6:35.  Never happens.  The next couple miles felt good and I was holding steady in my goal range if not a little faster, so I was psyched.  I crossed the first lap, which was 4.5 miles, at 28:42, so I was averaging 6:23 at that point.

As I started my second lap, I was staying in the 6:20s territory and I was feeling ok with it.  So I decided to hold on and see if I could do something special.  And then my headphones cut out.  The music was continuing to play very lightly out of the phone, but I must have forgotten to charge my Jaybirds because not matter how much I messed with the buttons they weren't coming back on.  Instantly, the wind was taken out of my sails.  I tried to forget about it.  But I just couldn't.  I really need music for a distraction.  I'm admittedly dependent on it.  So, knowing I had 9 more miles to go with just my own breathing, well, I was really bummed.  I attempted to convince myself that this was one of those Micheal Phelps moments, you know, when his coach purposely fogs up his goggles or loses them during practice so things don't go smoothly and Phelps has to hold it together despite the chaos.  But, I could also feel my pace sliding, almost like I had no control over it.  Right then, I took the PR off the table, hoping to relieve some pressure, and told myself to just run hard, get a good workout in, and do the best I could given the situation.  At mile 7ish, three of us slowed down, not sure whether to turn or go straight.  After we figured it out, one of the guys, I'd later learn his name was Kalliman, started chatting with me.  He asked if I was doing Boston and using this as a training run.  I told him that I was but that I was guiding for Team With A Vision.  Oh man, that is so cool, he said.  I want to do that.  Can you tell more more about it?  So, I did, well as best as I could given our effort.  When we first started talking, he'd mentioned that he was trying to run around a 1:26/27, so I decided to just use him as a pacer and to stop looking at my watch.  The next thing I knew, we were crossing into our third and final lap.  And, oddly, we kept talking.  I have never done this before during a race when pushing hard.  I mean, yes, it was kind of broken up a bit as I was still working hard and breathing heavily, but it honestly felt good to talk.  It was like I needed the distraction and though I was probably running a little slower, it was helping me focus the way my music typically does, so I just kept at it.  He told me all about his past roles as a pacer, some of the amazing race experiences he's had with runners who were trying to reach their goals.  We realized that we're both running Chicago in the fall, so we talked goals and strategies. I mean, it was just flowing and felt totally natural.  And then we were finished.  We crossed together in 1:27:22.  Which, given all that had happened and how the second half of the race had unfolded, I was very pleased with.  Who would've thought?

Could I have pushed harder?  Definitely.  Could I have PR'd?  Who knows.  And, as my coach reminded me after the fact, it doesn't really matter because I get to try again in a month.  The win here is that despite the early setback, I was able to pull myself together, work with what I had and get it done.  And, do it pretty well all things considered.  And, the best part?  I had such a great time running with Kalliman (fun fact, we already followed each other in Instagram) and working together as we chatted to run a solid race.  Well, I should give him the credit.  He did most of the work.  But still.  If there is one thing I've learned from all my years of racing it's that something always goes wrong on race day.  Always.  Weather is bad, music doesn't work, can't find something, coffee guy doesn't show up when he's supposed to (still bitter).  Seriously, there is always at least one thing that throws us off.  And all we can do is adapt and make the most of it.  Which is often really hard to do.  And sometimes it doesn't pan out.  But once in a while, it does.  And that's kind of what it's all about, right?  It's what makes us better at this whole racing thing, so that when push comes to shove, we can rise above it and get shit done.  So, I'm not going to dwell on it.  Once again, I've banked the pros and cons.  And I'm ready for the next one.  Giddy up.

Listen to this:
Late To The Party - Savoir Adore

Monday, April 1, 2019


A little over a week ago my older daughter got hit with the flu.  Yes, she got the flu shot.  We all did.  So much for that.  For the next five days she battled chills and sweats as she watched tv and slept.  I have to give her credit, she's a really good patient.  Rarely complains despite how miserable she is.  It's impressive.  Saturday I drove out to NH to watch my younger daughter play in a soccer tournament.  My husband had gone for her first game and I'd stayed home with Rosie.  He called me with an update, letting me know that she didn't play great, sort of looked half asleep, actually.  It was the first game of her spring season, but still.  When I got to there for the second game she told me she felt 'off'.  It's so hard to gauge with kids in terms of how bad things really are.  I told her to warm up and see how she felt once the game was about to start.  A few minutes later she shook her head, no, that she wasn't up for it.  So, I didn't force it and we sat and sat on the sidelines instead.  When we got home later than night she told me she still felt weird.  You know where this is heading, right?  The next day, bam, fever.  So, on Sunday I had two kids down for the count and I was praying to whoever is up there that I didn't catch it myself.  My main saving grace during this week of flu-laden misery was, you guessed it, running.  Because it got me out of the house.  Sometimes twice. (note:this is the one and only time I was genuinely happy to have doubles on my schedule).  Because it cleared my head.  Because after multiple hours of being a nurse-mom, I wanted nothing more than to get out and move my entire body.  To shake things off, if you will.  And to be by myself.  It didn't matter how far or how hard, I just needed to go.  I'm almost always in training mode and this past week I was reminded how important running is for my basic daily survival.  Fortunately, the girls are older and I can leave them solo for a while.  They also understand and respect my need to run and never question it when I take off regardless of whether they are healthy or sick.  Granted, for this past week, I always made sure they were set and as comfortable as possible on their end before leaving.  And understandably, I often got calls mid-run requesting things like ginger-ale and popsicles, which I assured them I would go get as soon as I got home.  But, otherwise when I was running I was temporarily free and the reset was exactly what I needed to get back to the house and into sick-kid deal mode.  Between the two of them, they missed five days of school with a weekend in between.  I love my girls but those were some long ass days.  Running got me through it.  Well, if I'm being honest, running and coffee.  There was lots of coffee consumed due to their many restless nights.  Whatever.  I ran a total of 70 miles from the day Rosie got sick until the day Grace was finally done.  I was supposed to do a workout on the Friday of Rosie's second day home.  Didn't happen.  I just ran.  Most days it was cold.  One day it was pouring ran and cold.  One day I had 18 to get done which I broke up into three loops of six and checked in on the girls during each one.  Bottom line, for seven days, nothing else mattered besides taking care of my girls and with running I was able able to take care of myself at the same time.  It's such a simple thing, running.  You just step outside and go.  I've been so goal-driven and PR hungry that I've lost site of this recently.  I was really grateful to have the outlet this past week.  Next time I feel like running is a chore or I'm dreading a workout, I'll try and remind myself how much running does for me.  It was a very small silver lining in an otherwise brutal week.  I'll take it.

Listen to this:
Mockingbird - Wild Belle