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Race Report and Reflection

21 Apr

On Saturday, I ran my first 5K of 2014.  I did fairly well, considering it was the 3rd time I’ve actually run in 2014, so I was pleased.  And I had huevos rancheros after, so I was even more pleased.

The race was the BAA 5K.  The BAA, if you didn’t know, is the Boston Athletic Association, the group that organizes the Boston Marathon.  And, assuming none of you actually live under a rock, you know what happened last year at the Boston Marathon.  This year, the BAA expanded the field for the 5K, in part because they wanted people to feel like they were a part of the Boston Marathon experience, since though they are cracking down on bandits (people who run without numbers) this year.

This meant 10,000 people converging on Boston Common on a beautiful spring day at 8am.  I think the race was as organized as it could be for that many people, but OMG, the people.  There were still people starting when the finishers started coming in.  The getting of the medal, snack and a shirt took longer than the actual race.  It was kind of crazy town.

But it really was a great race.  The course was awesome, nice and flat.  There were people everywhere, cheering.  The shirts were great.  The course started at the Common, and at mile 2.25 or so, turned right up Hereford Street, then left on to Boylston Street, and crossed the marathon finish line.  The finish line was in place, the jumbotron was up and on, the VIP bleachers were ready to go.

I am fortunate enough to have made that right on to Hereford and the left on to Boylston once before, seven years ago.  But I know not everyone has had that opportunity.  I ran without headphones, and it was cool to hear the comments as we ran by.  People were so excited – “This is the only time we’ll get to cross the finish line of the Boston Marathon!”  One guy told the girl he was with “I want to hold your hand when we cross the finish line.”

I’m not a Boston kid, I grew up in RI.  I was so confused in college when people asked each other where they were from.  Almost everyone said Boston.  Upon further conversation, most of those people lived up to a half an hour outside of Boston.  What were they talking about?  I grew up 20 minutes outside of Providence, I would never say I was from Providence.  But everyone wants to be from Boston, you could tell it was said with a sense of pride.  I’ve only actually watched the marathon a handful of times (watching a marathon is kind of exhausting, for real).  I never had the day off, I’ve never went to the Sox game and then to cheer on the runners.  I went to school like every other kid in RI, and drank Dels and ate pizza strips and had no idea what people an hour north of me were doing.

But in 2007, I ran that marathon, and I really experienced it for the first time.  I have nothing to compare it to, for all I know the Chicago or NYC marathons are just as great.  But I rode the bus from Boston to Hopkinton, I ran through the tiny towns, through the girls at Wellesley, up Heartbreak Hill, into the crowds from the Red Sox game, right on to Hereford, left on to Boylston, and over that blue and yellow finish line.  I got my medal, wore my silver cape, and I felt so proud.  There are so many people who have run the Boston Marathon faster, better, more often, but it doesn’t matter.  I get to say “I ran Boston.”

Once I had a taste of the magic of the marathon, I was hooked.  I dreamed of taking my children there to watch the race on a gorgeous spring Monday, and maybe one day running it again.  I was so close to taking the day off last year and taking Emilia in her stroller to watch the race, to starting a tradition with her.  In the end, the pain of the logistics won out, and I’m glad we didn’t make the trip.

There’s not much to say about what happened last year that haven’t already been said.  I honestly cried off and on for days, not only over the lives that were lost, but for how I feared the bombs would change Patriots Day and the marathon I loved forever.

But after Saturday, running with 10,000 people who just wanted to be a part of Boston, no matter how small, I think that worry is silly.  I ran past people wearing Martin Richard’s name on their shirts.  I ran past so many “Boston Strong”, “We Run Together”, “We All Run Boston” signs.  I ran past (well, mostly I ran behind) countless blue and yellow ribbons, countless signs of inspiration, and most importantly, countless people who will never forget.

But most importantly, I ran with 10,000 people who will never let two awful men take away their Patriot’s Day weekend traditions, their love of their (wicked awesome) city, their feet hitting that blue and yellow paint on Boylston.  And that’s what it means to me, a kid from RI, to be Boston Strong.

 

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Race Report: Mews Gear and Beer 5K

24 Nov

Cold.  So very, very cold.

As you know, I love this race.  I think the Mews is a great place, good beer, good food.  The race is fun – tough course, but a great, downhill finish.  Free beer, good shirts, and great food when you finish.  We used to have a great tradition of doing the race as a big group, hanging out after until they kicked us out, and then moving the party elsewhere.  That tradition ended after only a couple of years for various reasons, but like many other traditions in my life I’m unwilling to give it up.  So I insist on running each year and drag whoever I can get along with me.

This year, we didn’t get to go and pick up the numbers early and get our free beer, because J had to work, and we had a lot to do around the house to get ready for Thanksgiving.  My brother graciously went and drank our free beers for us.  What a giver.  My parents watched Emilia, and kept her last night as well.  Bonus!

I did not want to run this race.  If you looked at the thermometer, you’d understand why.  26 degrees and windy.  It was cold, maybe the coldest race I’ve ever run.  I had many layers on (including one made of too small spandex.  Sexy), and I was still frozen.  Due to my awful sense of direction, we only arrived about 30 minutes before the start, which was a blessing.  Just enough time to get our beer wristbands and hit the port a potty before we started.

Even though the race field looked smaller, apparently everyone was just huddled in the tent for warmth, and the start was pretty crowded.  J and I stuck together for about 2 miles, and didn’t walk at all.  Then he pulled ahead of me, and I walked a bit up the giant hill at the end.  I probably could have run up the whole thing, but I had it in my mind that I was going to walk, so I did.  Kind of stupid, but I was pretty happy that those were the only few minutes I walked the whole race.

After the race, we had some beers and, when the line died down, got some food, which promptly turned to ice.  It was really that cold.  We were outside for about 2-1/2 hours total, and I may never warm up completely.  Still, it was a fun day – I’m just glad I don’t have to do it again for another year!

Two Race Reports

6 Oct

Remember all those races I ran in 2011?  And then I ran one in 2012?  I haven’t done much better in 2013.  And I actually watched a race, while drinking coffee, still in maternity jeans with a 6 month old.  (I then took that 6 month old on a Providence pub crawl.  Not my finest day).

I only ran 3 races (so far) in 2013, and two were in one week.  The first race was in June, and I did pretty awful, yet drank a warm Guinness at 10am to celebrate not dying.  I earned that gross beer!

My first race since then happened to be Emilia’s first race ever.  J& I ran the CVS 5K in Providence, and pushed the little freeloader in her fancy jogging stroller.  I don’t know if you’ve ever run with a jogging stroller, but it has its pros and cons.  The cons are that it adds 40ish pounds to push (stroller + 1-year-old), it feels like its going to steal your child and launch her down hills (thank goodness for that wrist strap!) and it’s just kind of awkward.  The next time you run, try doing it with both hands just hanging out in front of you at chest level, not letting your arms swing.  Weird, right?  It’s still weird (but better) with one hand.  The pros are that you have somewhere to stash your stuff, and you can use it as leverage if you find yourself falling on a trail run.  So, really, the pros aren’t that great (side note: I suck at trail running).

I’ve been out on a few runs with the jogging stroller, thanks to my running/marathon buddy Michelle and our summer tour of the MA DCR parks.  J also pushed the stroller for about half of the course (he may have run over some toes at the start, but who’s counting?) so that helped.  Emilia was great the whole race, she ate her cookies, almost fell asleep, and even held J’s fingers while he ran at one point.  There is a large hill at the end of the race, and J offered to take the stroller, but, being the martyr I am, I said – no, I’ll do it, but I’ll tell everyone you made me push it.  And then I beat him by a second.  Emmy’s favorite part was after the race, when she got to sit on the grass and have pizza (I think it was J’s favorite part too).

Six days later (coincidentally, the next time I worked out), I ran the Color Me Rad in Seekonk with my BFF and 3 of her buddies.  I left Emilia at home for this one, since they throw colored cornstarch at you, and, while I’m no doctor, I’m pretty sure that’s no good for a baby’s lungs, especially one who’s had pneumonia.  It was an early day, we met at 7:15 and got to the race by 8 or so.  We were pretty psyched to start, we all had on white to capture the color, they gave us cool neon sunglasses, and we applied “RAD” tattoos.  We were scheduled to start in the 9:20 wave, but since no one was paying attention to what wave you were in, we just jumped in with the 9am wave.  Along with everyone else.  We counted down to the start about 4 times before we were off, but we were able to throw some color bombs at each other to keep us occupied.  Finally, we were off!

And we were in a field running in circles.  No music, nothing to look at, and the color bomb stations were set at every kilometer, so not even that much color.  The field was rocky & muddy, and you had to run on an incline in some spots.  That is, where you could run.  Since this wasn’t a timed event, walkers were mixed in with runners.  And they were walking four across the narrow path, so there was a lot of bobbing and weaving to get around them, making for a frustrating run.  The color bomb stations were ok – you either got someone throwing handfuls of colored cornstarch or squirting some warm, dirty water like substance at you.  And there was nothing to do at the end, you would have thought that with 7,000 people they could have wrangled up some food trucks or something else to eat besides mini Lara bars.  We tossed some more cornstarch, got our picture taken, and headed for the car, where we took some more pics and dusted off, daydreaming of Bloody Marys and Eggs Benedict.

And we sat in the car.  And sat.  And sat some more.  For about 1-1/2 hours.  The man next to us ranted and raged at his kids, a fun family day ruined by a parking jam.  We gathered more supplies (stupid Lara bars) and almost got in a fight with a girl who wouldn’t let us out (“we” and “almost” are both strong exaggerations).  My BFF listened to 4 hungry girls yelling directions at her as we darted across the lot into better lanes, finally free.  And then we sat in more traffic.  But THEN, we got beers and food and re-designed the race and all was right with the world.  I think we’ll all be passing on this race next year.

So, what’s next?  Definitely the Mews 5K in November, but I’d love to sneak in a couple of races before then.  Once I get over this sore throat that’s kept me whining on the couch all weekend.

 

Mews Gear n Beer 5K 2012

25 Nov

This was my only race of 2012, which is kind of sad.  But, it is what it is, and I knew I wanted this to be my first race post baby.  Even though this year was a lot different from last year, I’m still glad I did it.

A nice perk of this race is that, if you go get your number on Saturday, you get a free beer.  So J & I took Emilia with us for a ride and out tolunch.  It would have been nicer if I hadn’t left my license at home and could have enjoyed a free beer, but it was still a nice afternoon.  The baby wasn’t all that impressed by the lack of beer, though.

 

 

The weather was great on Sunday, and we left the baby at my parents so we could enjoy the day.  While I have a great jogging stroller, I didn’t bother getting the infant seat adaptor since I’d only use it for a few months, and really, it’s not like I’m running every day.  By the spring, the baby will be able to hold her head up well enough to go in the jogger and the weather will be getting warm again, so we’ll take advantage of it then.

J & I decided to stick together during the race, which, in retrospect, wasn’t the best idea.  You know how sometimes people you exercise with motivate you to keep going or to run faster?  That didn’t happen.  We walked a lot, and were just kind of “eh” about the whole running thing.  I’d say we did about a 50/50 split of running and walking, and finished in 42 minutes.  Nothing to write home about, but we didn’t exactly give it our all either.

The best part of this race is the after party.  Plenty of beer on tap, and great food.  My college roommate came down to run (and smoked us), and we saw some friends we haven’t seen in way too long.  After a few beers and some mac & cheese, we headed to dinner at my parents and a happy, spoiled baby.

There probably won’t be any more races in 2012, but I promise the Mews won’t be the only one in 2013!

Race #7: The Mews Tavern Gear N Beer 5K in Wakefield

26 Nov

Wow, its been four months since my last race.  Crazy, and kind of sad.  The Mews is one of my favorite races, because a bunch of friends do it, and, more importantly, there’s free beer at the end.  It was a beautiful day, 60 degrees and sunny, but I woke up with a stomach ache and just wasn’t in to it.  I nearly just stayed at the bar and ordered a beer and a burger instead of running.  Instead I lined up at the start with J.  Bad decision.

Even though this is the 3rd time I’ve raced this course, I swear the hill got bigger at the beginning.  Good lord.  I should have quit then.  But I soldiered on, and J stayed with me the whole time.  The first and last hills are killers, but the middle of the course is nice, through neighborhoods with lots of people cheering.  I briefly lost J when I stopped at the second water stop and it was manned by one dude who was not keeping up with the water consumption at all, but I caught back up.

Until the big, giant hill at the end.  I had in my mind that I would walk up it, and that’s what I did.  J kept right on going, though.  He may be more stubborn than I am.  I walked the steepest part, then coasted downhill to the finish, but he beat me by about 30 seconds.  I saw him look for me at the end, but he didn’t slow down.  I was okay with him beating me, I had my worst race in a long time (31:56, it pains me to type that), and its my fault for letting him run with me a few times recently!

After, we had a lovely afternoon drinking beer, tasting whiskey, getting free Chapstick, and later, eating pizza and cookies.

Next up – I really don’t know.  The Jingle Bell in Somerville is the day after our Christmas party, so that’s not going to work.  I might do the Providence Jingle Bell next weekend, but I kind of doubt it.  2011 may end with only 7 races.  Here’s hoping to a better 2012!

Out of Gas

20 Oct

I’m in a huge running rut.  Remember the list of races I was going to do this year?  Did you notice I haven’t done one in 3 months?  I have my reasons, and these are some of the lamest:

–          I hate my running route at home.

–          I can’t run first thing in the morning before work.

–          I hate the treadmill.  Hate it.

–          My running buddy is on the DL for at least the next 5 months.

Lately, I’ve been running once or twice a week, 2-3 miles.  I’m getting slower and slower.  I don’t even save runs on Run Keeper because I’m embarrassed by them (which makes no sense, since I’m the only one who sees them).  I was invited to join a trail running group at work and I’ve come up with 1,000 lame excuses why not to run with them.  #1 is fear of being too slow and getting lost on the trails, which is something I do constantly on my own.  (I ran by the same truck yesterday three times.  I don’t know why it’s so hard for me to read the map.)  I’m also afraid of being eaten by a coyote.  Actually, I’m just afraid of seeing a coyote.  I’m pretty sure I’ll just drop dead on the spot.

I’m doing other stuff, which is good.  I’ve never been a run every day kind of girl.  Even when I was training for the marathon, I’d only run 4 times during the week.  I need variety.  I’ve been doing DVDs at home (P90X, 30 Day Shred) and doing the elliptical at the gym along with the running days.  I’m planning on joining the gym at BAC to give myself less excuses in the winter.  But I miss going out for a “good” run.  I know any run is better than no run, but I want to run far & fast and be exhausted and proud at the end.  And I know the only way to do that is to run more.

So, what’s next?  I guess I need to pull the trigger and sign up for some races.  The Mews Tavern Gear N Beer 5K is coming up, and I’ll be damned if J beats me again.  I’m looking into an obstacle course 10K in RI.  Regrettably, I have to skip my Thanksgiving 4 miler (the Gobble Gobble Gobble) as we are hosting Thanksgiving this year (yikes!)  I’m sure I can find some sort of race in December that gives me jingle bells for my shoes, so I’ll sign up for that as well.

I have loftier goals for 2012 (don’t I always?)  2011 didn’t work out the way I wanted it to, in a few different ways, so I’m hoping 2012 steps it up a bit.  I’d like to do a destination half marathon in the Spring, and then, possibly, run a marathon in the Fall.  Yup, I said it.  It will be 5 years since Boston, so now feels like a good time.  (Note that I said it feels like a good time now.  Before I start training).  Of course, there are a lot of things I need to do before that.  Such as, find a running buddy, lose 15 pounds, map out some good routes, and, most importantly, get off my ass and run.  I’ll work on those all after vacation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Things I Hate, in no Particular Order

27 Jul

Disclaimer: despite my hatred, I wish no harm to any of these people/things. Except the geese.

Brett Favre – retire or don’t retire. I don’t care. But stop going on tv and crying about it. You’re a football player. Man up.

Birds – they’re loud and squawky and dirty. All of them. They wake me up at 4am. Anyone remember bird flu? (The exception to this is dead, cooked birds. Those are cool.)

Canadian geese – I see no redeeming value in these creatures. I doubt they even taste good. And they’re mean. I’ll cross the road if I run by one, because I’m convinced they’ll attack me for no good reason.

John Mayer – I’m sure he’s a great guitar player and all, but I can’t get past his lyrics. “Your body is a wonderland”? “Say what you mean to say”? Gag. Stupid, cheesy, gross. I was horrified when he dated Jennifer Anniston.

Flan – could there be a more disgusting dessert? The only dessert that should jiggle is Jell-o. I was adamant that I not get the free birthday flan at my Mexican birthday dinner a few ears ago. I made my friends spring for the fried ice cream, the far superior Mexican dessert.

The Black Eyed Peas – yes, you were cool for awhile. Until I heard that awful song every day. And I can’t believe you messed with Time of My Life. Patrick Swayze is rolling in his grave over that one. It’s as bad as putting baby in the corner.

Trail running – in all fairness, I’m not 100% sure I hate it, but I got 5 feet into a trail today when I fell and scored this, so it’s not my favorite activity at the moment.

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