2018 New Jersey Marathon Recap!

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2016 London Marathon: Winner Eliud Kipchoge’s reaction when he found out that he missed the world record by 7 seconds.  7 seconds!!

When I looked at my watch after the race, I was bummed that I missed a PR by 10 seconds.  Think about when Eliud Kipchoge ran London 2016 and he missed the world record by 7 seconds.  While world record > my PR, and I cannot run as fast as Kipchoge, it is the same feeling!  I have been thinking about how I could have made up those 10 seconds, but the only answer is that I should have run faster!  I know that I did not run the tangents well because I did not know the course.  My Garmin said I ran 26.5 miles.  Were my legs recovered from Boston?  Yes.  (Coach Brian would probably say “No!”) Did I run as fast & as hard as I could?  Definitely YES.  Knowing that I gave it my all, I can accept my time and set my sights on that PR at another race!

Andrew knows that I hate training, but I love to race.  I love a good race expo and I love a shiny new medal.  It is hard to just run one race a season so I have often run back to back races.  It is not as crazy as many people think.  You pick one of the races to race and you treat the other race as a training run.  Or you can race all of them!  Your legs will learn how to recover and manage the high volume over time as long as you do not get injured frequently.  If you are injury prone, then only sign up for one race at a time!  Here’s my history of consecutive marathons run 1-3 weeks apart:

New York – Philly 2011 (2 weeks apart)
New York (unofficial) – 60K 2012 (2 weeks apart)
Chicago – New York – 60K 2013 (3 weeks apart, then 2 weeks apart)
Chicago – New York – 60K 2014 (3 weeks apart, then 2 weeks apart)
New York – Philly 2015 (2 weeks apart)
New York – Philly 2016 (2 weeks apart)
New York – Philly 2017 (2 weeks apart)

Boston – Big Sur 2014 (6 days apart)
Boston – Big Sur 2015 (6 days apart)
Boston – London 2016 (6 days apart)
Boston – New Jersey 2018 (2 weeks apart)

As noted above, all of my back to back marathons have included the NYC Marathon and Boston Marathon.  Since those courses are tough, I have often used those as a training run.  Going into Boston this year, I was in great shape (minus the sprained ankle), but the weather in Boston was not racing weather for me so I treated it as a fun run and prayed to the weather gods for good weather in New Jersey.

Imagine my excitement when I saw this in the weather app on the morning of the race….

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Luckily, Andrew and I packed matching Marathon Tours ponchos!  We drove to the start and sat in the car for as long as possible before the start of the race.

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We managed to find our New York Flyers teammates before the race. The support from these teammates made this race more enjoyable!

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New York Flyers ready to take on 26.2!

My race plan was to try to stay at the back of the 3:25 pace group.  I felt that my legs were recovered from Boston and I felt that I still had some speed in my legs so I decided to try to run a PR.  I found the 3:25 pacers and fellow training teammates Justin, Mike, and Slava in the corral.  Justin, Mike, and Slava were also going to run with the 3:25 group.  I said to Mike & Slava that I hoped the 3:25 pacers run even splits.  Behind us, I recognized the the 3:30 pacer, who I thought ran too fast in the first half of the 2017 Philly Marathon!  He was one of the 3:30 pacers in NJ!  That was extra motivation for me to stay ahead of him!

At 7:30AM, the race started and we were off!  It was still raining a little bit and I noticed the humidity.  The weather conditions felt a little like last year’s Steamtown Marathon where I PR’ed.  Having PR’ed in those conditions gave me confidence that I could PR in these conditions as it was slightly cooler in NJ.

A 3:25 marathon requires you to run 7:49 minute/mile for 26.2 miles.  In training, one of the workouts that gave me confidence was running 100 minutes at marathon pace.  It was a workout that I dreaded, but with the help of two of my teammates, David and Na’eem, I was able to complete the workout at 7:47 pace.  Na’eem BQ’ed at Revel Mt. Charleston the day before New Jersey and it got me really excited to race.  I found myself during the race imagining that David and Na’eem were running with me just like during the 100 minute workout.  It helped me mentally as there was a gap between me and the pace group for most of the race.

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When your teammates’ “EASY” pace is your Marathon Pace.  Photo from my 100 min MP workout with David and Na’eem!

I stayed behind Justin, Mike, and Slava for the first half of the race to make sure that I did not go out too fast.  Justin fell back after the half, so I kept my eyes on Mike and Slava.  I had joked with Mike early in the race that he should not wear such a bright orange shirt because he was an easy target to see.  Miles went by and I stayed on pace, but the 3:25 group seemed to be getting further and further away from me.  Mike stopped to use the bathroom at mile 16. It took Mike about a mile to catch up and he said “Why didn’t you wait for me like Des waited for Shalane?! You could have won this race if you waited!”  Haha.  Mike quickly caught up to Slava and passed him.  I caught up to Slava at mile 18 and he said he was okay, but ended up having to walk a little bit.  After mile 19, I started to see other Flyers teammates on the other side of the road and it gave me a huge boost to see them and cheer them on.

The boost from seeing my teammates helped me stay on pace during that stretch because there was a serious headwind all the way to the finish.  Our coach told us that he was going to be at Mile 20 to run people to the finish line.  Coach Brian appeared a little bit after Mile 20 and he ran with Mike to Mile 21.  I chased them for a mile and then Brian waited to run a mile with me.  My legs were really hurting at that point and even though I was really happy to see Coach Brian, I could not show it.  Sorry Coach!  He asked me how I was doing and I think I said “Terrible” or “I hurt.”  I ran behind him for a mile and we managed to catch up to Mike and then he went back to run other runners in.  I told Mike “Let’s work together!”, but I ended up losing Mike.  Sorry Mike!!  I managed to hold my pace for another mile and then my legs started to shut down.  The last mile was a blur.  I knew the finish was on the boardwalk, but I did not know that we had to run off the boardwalk and back on right before the finish line!  I remember seeing the New York Flyers cheer station at mile 25.5 and then running as fast as I could to the finish line.

Here are my splits!  How I wish I could run those last 3 miles again!

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After the finish line, I keeled over and leaned on the barricade for support.  Someone told me to keep moving and I almost missed getting my medal.  A volunteer saw me struggling to walk so she held me up and helped me walk through the finisher’s chute.  I recognized a MarathonFoto photographer, Drew, who I met in Boston and I called out her name.  She came to my rescue and helped me the rest of the way.  Thank you guys so much!!!  My legs were screaming “Why did you stop running?!”  They were in a lot of pain.  Imagine someone squeezing your leg, your quads want to explode, and someone is stabbing you at the same time.  That kind of sums up how my legs felt after the finish.  I cannot remember a time when my legs hurt that much after a race.  I chugged a Gatorade while waiting for my teammates to cross the finish line.  Many teammates ran PR’s, BQ’s, or PW’s that day.  Andrew had a huge blister develop under his big toe and he had to stop twice to try to pop it.  I was so happy to see everyone in the finish area and celebrate with them!   Congrats everyone!!

Special thanks to the super Flyers Cheer Station at Mile 10 and Mile 25.5!  Thanks to Andrew for driving both ways!  Super husband!

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Team Andretty in New Jersey!

Funny story: I always carry 2 Biofreeze packets on me just in case I get any leg cramps.  They have saved me many times during a marathon.  I did not cramp during the race, but my legs needed a little boost in the later miles so I used both packets.  After the race, Andrew asked if I used Biofreeze on the course and I said “Yes! How did you know?”  He told me that he saw an empty packet on the course and wondered if it was mine.  It was!  Hehehe=)

Race Statistics:

2055 Finishers (812 Female, 1243 Male)
Men’s Champion: Leif Fredericks 2:23:56
Women’s Champion: Caitlin Phillips 2:41:43
My time: 3:27:02
Andrew’s time: 3:57:09
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2018 Boston Marathon Recap!

The one word I would use to describe this year’s race is EPIC.  If you have 5 minutes, here are the other words that I would use to describe my experience. =)

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EPIC.

Leading up to the Boston Marathon, people asked me if I was going to race Boston.  I told them that it would depend on the weather.  Once the weather forecast was 100% rain, I decided that I was not going to race for a PR, but I would try to match my course PR (3:31:16) or run a course PR.  I trained really well this winter with only one injury (sprained ankle that did not happen while I was running!) and I have run in rainy and windy conditions before so I thought my goal was realistic.

I decided to stick with my race outfit of singlet, arm sleeves, running skirt, hat, earband, and gloves.  I added a shower cap, latex gloves, and a clear poncho to my outfit for the rain.  Someone suggested wearing throw away sneakers to the start, so that I could start the race in relatively dry sneakers.  My sister gave me the best throw away clothes including a one-sie that covered my feet.  Now my socks would also stay dry pre-race!  I was actually more worried about my spectators than about myself. It was going to be a miserable day for spectators and I did not want anyone to get sick.

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Pre-race outfit!  Pajama pants, 3 top layers, and one-sie on the outside!

My friend and former Back on my Feet teammate, Andrea, invited me to hang out with her team (Team with a Vision) so I would have shelter from the storm pre-race.  As I walked through Athlete’s Village and saw the mud pit surrounding the tents, I was so grateful that Andrea offered me refuge.  At Andrea’s refuge, I was able to get ready for the race and hear the start of the mobility impaired and women’s races.  The rain kept coming down harder, but the weather did not bring down my spirits.  I was running my 12th Boston Marathon and a monsoon was not going to stop me.  I love this race!

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At Athlete’s Village with my buddy Sarkis!
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Back on my Feet Hope House Reunion!
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What I wore to the starting corrals!

At 10AM, I took took off my one-sie, changed into my dry sneakers, wrapped them in plastic bags, and headed out to the starting corrals.  I had 3 layers on top of my singlet that I slowly took off in my corral as it got closer to 10:25AM.  Once I was down to my singlet and clear poncho, we started moving up closer to the start line.  I noticed that a runner dropped a glove and I quickly picked it up and chased after him.  I did not want him to start the race with only 1 glove!  I felt good about my good deed before the start, but my smile quickly went away as another runner looked at my race outfit and said to me “You’re going to be cold in that.”  Instead of telling him to “F*%! off”, I said “I will be fine and I will run faster to warm up if I get cold.”  Fellow runners, do not say negative things to other runners RIGHT before the start of ANY race.  Be supportive of each other, especially when weather conditions are less than ideal.

The race announcer found Meb in the first corral of my wave and it got me excited to know that Meb was actually running in the same wave as me!  It was the coolest thing!  As I stood waiting for the gun to go off, I noticed that my sneakers were already getting wet.  I had to mentally prepare myself for 26.2 miles with wet feet!  My feet were soaking wet by the 3KM sign and runners were trying to avoid the big puddles, but there was no point.  I just ran right through them.

The last time it rained on Patriot’s Day was in 2015.  I remember being so cold that my bladder shrunk and I had to pee for many miles, but could not find an open porto potty.  I learned that it was very difficult to make yourself pee while running so when I stopped to see my family at mile 18, I was able to start peeing and continue peeing as I ran.  I hoped that I would never have to pee on myself again, but then we had a monsoon on Monday….

The rain and wind really did not bother me, but it affected my bladder and I had to pee by mile 8.  My clothes were still dry because of my poncho and I really did not want to pee on myself again!  I stopped at a porto potty at mile 9 and felt amazing afterwards.  I thought that was the end of it, but I was wrong.  By mile 13, I had to pee again.  My clothes were wet by then so I did not have a problem peeing on myself as the rain would wash it away.  Why waste time going to the porto potty?!  The problem was that I still could not start peeing while I was running!  This is a skill that I do not wish to learn!  Luckily, I had many friends along the way and each time I stopped to give them a hug or say hi, I was able to start peeing before running away.  Some I told, some I did not!  =)

I knew after my first pee break at the porto potty that I was not going to run my goal of a course PR, so I just made the most out of my experience.  I debated throughout the race about taking my poncho off or leaving it on.  Every time I wanted to take it off, it rained harder, so I ended up leaving it on as it offered some protection from the elements and it was clear so my bib was visible to everyone.

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Mile 18 with Andrew!  I was so happy to see my family cheer squad!

One of the best parts of the race was when I got to mile 17 and saw my New York Flyers teammates!  Andrew was there waiting to run a few miles with me.  As we left the cheer station, Andrew told me that Desi won the marathon!!  It was just the boost that I needed to get me up the hills.

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The NYC Marathon poncho came in handy and kept my mom dry and warm!

Andrew ran me to mile 19 where we saw our friend Greg.  After a quick chat, I headed up Heartbreak Hill solo.  I managed to roll my bad ankle in a crack in the road at the bottom of the hill.  Serious.  A few expletives later, I gathered myself and slowly ran up Heartbreak Hill.  My poor ankle was going to hate me later.

After making it up Heartbreak Hill, several things pulled me to the finish line.  Seeing my good friend Caren at the end of the Haunted Mile, seeing Kurt (a BOMF teammate) on Beacon Street at mile 24, and seeing the Dana Farber cheer section at Mile 25.  I gave hugs to all of them and then powered my way to the finish line.

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Running down Beacon Street! Photo courtesy of Kurt!

I would not have made it to the finish line without the support from everyone.  The volunteers were amazing and they deserve a medal for being out there longer than most of the runners!  Thank you for volunteering!!

This makes 5 years in a row of bad weather at the Boston Marathon.  2014: hot. 2015: rain & cold. 2016 & 2017: hot. 2018: torrential downpour. Next year, I am sure it will snow. Bring it on!

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3:45:02. 11th Consecutive Boston Marathon. 12th Boston Marathon overall.

Race Statistics:

Number of registrants: 29,978

Number of starters: 26,948 (3,030 did not start)

Number of finishers: 25,746 (95.5%) <-drop from last year’s 97% finish rate

Men’s Champion: Yuki Kawauchi 2:15:58

Women’s Champion: Desiree Linden 2:39:54

Men’s Wheelchair Champion: Marcel Hug 1:46:26

Women’s Wheelchair Champion: Tatyana McFadden 2:04:39

 

Things that might have helped/worked better for those conditions:

  • dishwashing gloves duct taped to my arm to create a seal so my hands stayed dry
  • GU that was taped to my body and not in a pocket so it would be easier to access
  • life preserver =)

2017 Steamtown Marathon Recap!

To finish a marathon, you have to respect the distance and do the training.  To PR in the marathon, you have to do better training and commit to your goal.

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This is how I finished the race on Sunday.  Fully committed right up to the finish line.  

This summer, I joined the NY Flyers Marathon Training Program again to work towards breaking 3:30.  I was more determined to reach my goal after missing it by over a minute last year.  I agreed to train 4 days a week (up from 3 days/wk) and only signed up for 1 race during the training period (NYRR Team Championships 5 Miler).  I was tempted to sign up for other races and PR in the shorter distances, but I kept reminding myself of the real goal.  I did not want to risk injuring myself before the marathon.

After the Boston Marathon this year, I developed plantar faciitis in my right foot. I took a few weeks off, but it never went away.  I knew the only way it was going to go away was rest, but I decided to get treatment and run through it (Do not do this at home. Rest and let it heal!).  I saw my massage therapist almost every 2-3 weeks, had my foot taped regularly, and did a lot of foot exercises.  I also had to modify workouts because I figured out the shorter repetition work (200m & 400m) caused a lot of pain in my foot.  Surprisingly, my foot felt better a few weeks before the marathon!  It was not 100%, but it would survive the marathon.

The forecast for race day kept changing from rain to cloudy to thunderstorms.  All three were bad for running a marathon, but there was nothing I could do about the weather!  I could only focus on my race strategy and stay positive.  I hate running in the rain, but I did not let that get to me.  Instead I thought, well, if I have to pee mid race, I won’t need to go to a Porto Potty. No one will know if I pee on myself!  Positive thinking despite horrible weather conditions!  Negative thoughts will only bring down your race.

On race morning, Andrew and I drove to downtown Scranton and found a great parking spot 3 blocks from the finish line!  It was a good start to the day until it started to rain.  The bus ride was about 45 minutes so I took a nap.  When I woke up at Forest City High School, it was pouring!  Gah!  We were greeted by cheerleaders and volunteers, but all the runners ran into the high school for shelter.  Andrew and I hung out in the gymnasium and finished getting ready for the race.

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We got here around 6:40AM! 

Screen shot of the weather from my phone that morning……

After several trips to the porto potty and drawing on my hand, we were ready to run!

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My coach told me to aim for 7:55’s for a goal time of 3:27:37.  I would have been happy with 3:29:59!

We found Coach Stephen at the start.  He was pacing the 3:35 group and I told him right before the race that I did not want to see him until the finish.  Maybe knowing that he was behind me the entire time gave me a little motivation to not slow down.  At the sound of the boom from the cannon, we were off and running towards Scranton!  I positioned myself in between the 3:25 and 3:35 pace groups.  Like the Wineglass Marathon, there was no 3:30 pace group so I was on my own.  I took everyone’s advice and started out very conservatively in the beginning. I let the 3:25 pace group go and let everyone pass me.  It felt like the beginning of the Boston Marathon!  I ran alone for the first few miles and did not waste any energy making friends along the way. By mile 8, I was running alongside this guy who was running about my pace so I decided to be friendly.  His name was Dave and he was also running his first Steamtown Marathon and hoping to run 3:27-3:30.  We stayed together until about mile 15 and then Dave fell back a bit.  I decided at that point to try to run a little faster because I was feeling pretty good.  I knew there were hills in the last 3 miles so I thought I would bank some time before hitting the hills.  I hoped that taking it easy in the first half saved my quads for those hills.

The aide stations were great and well organized.  There were only 14 official aide stations, which I thought was not enough given the weather conditions, but we were saved by all the unofficial water stations set up by the locals!!  Thank you!!  I took water bottles whenever they were available and poured water on my head to keep me cool.  I poured a lot of water on my head.  There were also a few sprinklers along the way, which helped as well.  Needless to say, I was completely drenched by the finish.

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Can you see the water/sweat on my arms and legs?!  I don’t remember what mile this was, but it was really pretty!

I noticed that in 2 of my attempts to break 3:30 (Myrtle Beach & Wineglass), I had 1 mile during the race where I lost focus and ran a very slow mile, which cost me my PR.  In addition to drawing the train on my hand, I wrote “SNAP OUT OF IT!!” on the inside of my wrist.  I would only look at it if I got off track, but the rain and sweat washed my drawings & writings off within the first few miles!  This was going to be a mental race as much as a physical race.

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What my hand looked like after the race!

At mile 19, 2 female volunteers told me that I was the 27th female and that I could be in the top 25.  My focus at that time was not placement, but to get to mile 20 so I could eat my last GU!  You run 1 mile at a time!  I was amused by the comment, but when I looked ahead, I could not see a single female runner so I did not focus on trying to catch them.  I focused on keeping pace and staying cool.  If they told me I was 4th female, then that would have made me run faster to try to catch 3rd place!

Mile 23 to 24 was the hardest mile because of the gradual incline and it was mile 23!  Crowd support was amazing during this stretch, but it did not make my legs run any faster.  I clocked an 8:29 that mile, but when I looked down at my Garmin, the total time said 3:11.  I had 18 minutes to run 2.2 miles!  I knew I had sub 3:30, but I also knew there was 1 more big hill at mile 25.5 so I had to continue to stay focused.

Andrew and I drove the last 2 miles of the course the day before, but all I could recognize on race day was the last 2 turns.  I knew that once I made that left turn, I had 1 more right turn and the only thing between me and the finish line was “Cooper’s Hill”.  There was a nice downhill leading up to Cooper’s Hill so I hammered down the hill and then gestured to the crowd to cheer louder.  It helped power me up the hill and I was at the top in no time.  The next half mile was a bit of a blur (literally) because I could not keep my eyes open.  I pushed down the hill and gave it everything I had until I crossed that finish line.  As I crossed the timing mat, I knew I had broken 3:30 and I was so overwhelmed with emotion that I started crying like I had just won the marathon.  I scared all the volunteers at the finish line and they probably thought I was going to collapse at any moment. Hahah. Sorry volunteers!!

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Eyes closed and leaving it all out on the course!

After I calmed down a bit, I was able to tell them that I was just so happy to have PR’ed!  I got my foil blanket, got my medal, and took a deep breath.  I looked down at my watch and was even more surprised to see that I ran faster than my predicted time!  I also ended up 19th female and 3rd in my age group!

I am super proud of my PR and how I ran the race.  I am proud that I never lost focus and never got negative thoughts in my head about the bad weather. It was definitely a race that required more strategy and focus.  I remember when I ran 3:31 for the first time (Boston 2013), I was more relaxed, smiling, and giving out high-5’s throughout the race.  Maybe I could have run a bit faster, but that was not my focus at the time.  At Steamtown, I was so focused that I did not even wave or acknowledge the volunteers towards the end of the race.  Sorry volunteers!!  You guys were great!

I would love to go back and run the race again when the weather is better.  Could I have run faster in better weather?  We will have to wait and see. =)

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PR jump!

Men’s Champion: Hillary Too 2:23:40
Women’s Champion: Lauren Liuzzo 3:09:34

Andrew’s time: 4:04:13

My Time: 3:26:53

Nutrition during the race: 5 GU Roctane’s, 12 salt tablets, 8 ounces of regular Gatorade (I carried this in a small bottle for the first 4 miles and then tossed the bottle), and lots of water!  My left quad and right foot were on the verge of cramping up towards the later stages of the race, but they never did. Whew!

10 for 10!!!!!!!!!!

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This year I ran my 10th consecutive (11th overall) Boston Marathon! How did I get to 10? Seems like it was just yesterday when I ran my first Boston in 2005.

As a senior in college at Boston University, I ran on the Boston Marathon course because my apartment was at the 40K point of the marathon. During one of my runs, I thought of applying to run the Boston Marathon for the Dana Farber Marathon Challenge (DFMC)! I did not know that DFMC was the largest charity team and a lot of people applied for the team. I was waitlisted. I did not have another plan, but kept running through the winter in case I got off the waitlist. Good thing I kept running because I got an email at the end of January saying that I got a spot on the team! I was so excited, but also very nervous because I did not have a lot of time to fundraise. I reached the fundraising minimum the week before the race (whew!)! I remember race day being sunny and I made the rookie mistake of not wearing sunglasses or a hat. I finished in 4:07 and was the happiest marathon finisher ever!

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2005 group photo in the corrals before the race!  (This is a scanned photo. I think I used a Kodak disposable camera to take photos that year!)

I made it a goal to qualify for my next Boston Marathon run because fundraising was too stressful as a student. It took me 2 years to qualify and I have to thank my Garmin for my time. Literally. In the 2007 NYC Marathon, there was a period of a few minutes where the finish line timing mats did not work. They asked runners who were affected to send in proof of their times. I was one of those runners!!  I sent in my Garmin time of 3:40:40 and hoped that they would make it official so that the BAA could verify my time after I applied. Back then, the qualifying time was 3:40:59 so I just made the cut!

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I will never forget the effort it took to run my first BQ.  I also secure my name tag much better these days.  hahah=)

New York Road Runners accepted my time and I was officially a Boston Qualifier for 2008’s race! I won’t bore you with race recaps of each year, but I will share with you my top 10 favorite things/memories of the Boston Marathon! In no particular order:

*The Dana Farber Marathon Challenge: I ran with the team again in 2012, 2013, & 2014. I owe a lot to this team and have made so many friends from being part of this team. I also met my husband on this team, so DFMC holds a very special place in my heart.  I ran in memory of my dad who passed away from cancer in 1998 and Andrew was running in honor of his dad who was fighting lung cancer when we met.  My dad never got to see me run, but Andrew’s dad was able to see us both run Boston in 2013.  Andrew’s dad passed away later that summer.  Though no longer with us in person, our dads will always be with us in spirit.

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This is the 2012 DFMC team picture!
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My dad’s “In Memory” card for the pasta dinner.

*Boston College: Everyone raves about the “Wellesley Scream Tunnel”, but to be honest, the Scream Tunnel has not been as loud in the past few years. In 2005, I could really hear them a mile away.  The girls are still there with lots of signs, but there are not as many as in the past.  The Boston College kids at mile 20 are my favorite. They are loud, drunk, and sooooo happy to see you!  Wellesley girls: step it up!

*The Expo: I love the expo. Enough said.

*My family cheer station at Mile 18: My sister has a friend who lives by Mile 18, so she parks at her friend’s house and waits for me to run by to cheer me on. My mom usually comes up from NYC to watch me run and in the past 3 years, Andrew has watched with them too.

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I was so excited to see my niece (in the white jacket) in 2011. This is the year that Geoffrey Mutai ran 2:03:02 and it did not count as a world record!
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My sister & niece braving the cold & rain in 2015!

*Seeing my friends along the way: My friends are the best!  I have to give a special shout out to my City Sports Run Club friend, Jan, for sharing miles with me and helping me when I was having a tough time in the Newton Hills.

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2013 Boston Marathon: When I see a friend on the course.  hahaha=) 
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2014 Boston Marathon: Hiiiiiiii!!!!
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2016 Boston Marathon: Same pose EVERY year. haha=)
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2012. Felt like 100 degrees. Jan (in yellow City Sports top) helped me through the heat!  I could not have finished without him.

* Kenmore Square: Running by my old apartments and through Kenmore Square always brings back fun memories of college & post college. DFMC also has their cheer station at mile 25 so that gives me a big boost before the final mile. The Red Sox game is usually done by the time I run by, so the crowds are amazing there.

*Boylston Street: The stretch to the finish line is always special.  Here you can get the crowds to scream louder if you gesture to them and you can soak in all the energy and realize that you will soon be a Boston Marathon finisher!

*I cannot write about Boston and not mention 2013. The weather was perfect that day and I had the race of my life. I was having the best time until I found out what happened at the finish line. I am thankful that my friends and I were safe, but am sad every time I think about everyone who was affected that day. How we came together after that day made me realize how strong runners can be to overcome anything. We will always be Boston Strong.

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2013 pre-race photo with the guys at the DFMC refuge.  I love these guys.

*Meb: I first met Meb after the 2013 BAA 5K at the Fairmont Copley Hotel. Back on my Feet had a team run the 5K and our meeting room was in the same hotel where the elite athletes were staying. As I was leaving with my friend Seann, Meb was walking to get breakfast. He seemed to be in a rush, but when we showed him that we actually knew who he was and asked him about his injury and his plan for coming back, he slowed down and talked to us! We took a photo, shook hands, and let him go eat breakfast! Meb watched the race from the grandstands that year because he was injured. He came back in 2014 and won for the city of Boston. I was at mile 10 when someone told me that Meb won the race and it totally made my day!

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Me & Meb back in 2013!

*Andrew: We met on the day of the 2012 Boston Marathon at the church where DFMC runners gathered before the race. We did not start dating until after the 2013 Boston Marathon and got married last year! Andrew was stopped on Boylston Street in 2013 and he returned in 2014 to finish what he started. He decided to take a break from fundraising and watch the race in 2015. Unfortunately, it was cold and rainy in 2015. Terrible conditions for runners and spectators, but he was there again in 2016 and 2017. Thanks love! I will not talk about getting to the Quarter Century Club for a while. Getting to 10 in a row is a huge accomplishment for me. I will take it one year at a time from now! =)

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Andrew escorting me up the Newton Hills in 2016!

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I want to congratulate my marathon sister, Bethany, for also running her 10th consecutive Boston this year!  Here’s to many more!  =)

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2017 Tokyo Marathon Recap!

Pre Race Hotel Selfie!

On Sunday, I completed the Tokyo Marathon!  It was quite the experience so I have a lot to say about it.  I hope this helps other runners in the future who plan to run the race because it is a trek to get to Tokyo and there are quite a few differences compared to American races.  The distance, of course, is the same. =)  I applied for the international sub-elite lottery, but did not get in.  Andrew and I signed up with Marathon Tours to get a bib and hotel room.  I invited my mom to come with us from NYC and two of my aunts from Hong Kong also met us in Tokyo on Thursday.  We booked them a separate room at the same hotel to make meeting up easier. It was Andrew’s sixth marathon major so it was nice to have a cheer squad for him. =)

The package also included a day tour on Friday, which was great because we would have never gone to all of those places on our own in one day!  At the end of our tour, they dropped us off at the expo, my favorite part of marathon weekend!  I wish we had more time and knew that there were 2 floors to the expo.  We wasted a lot of time on the top floor and only realized as we were leaving, that there was merchandise to buy on the lower floor.  I thought all of it was sold out and was prepared to leave, but got excited when I saw the lower level!  After a very rushed shopping experience, we hopped on the Marathon Tours shuttle bus back to the hotel.  The trip should have taken an hour, but because of an accident on the highway, it took us two hours to get back to the hotel.  We were exhausted!
Selfie in front of a torii at Meiji Jingu Shrine.
Group photo in front of Senso-ji, Tokyo’s oldest temple.
Marathon Expo!
Saturday, Andrew and I went for a shake out run in the park by the hotel and to Meiji Jingu Gyoen.  You are not allowed to run on the grounds at Meiji Jingu Gyoen so we shortened our run and turned around.  After showering and having breakfast, we walked and shopped in Shibuya and Harajuku.  We managed to get back to the hotel by 4pm to relax, but when I looked at my Garmin later, we had walked over 28,000 steps!  Oops.  Marathon Tours hosted a pre-race dinner at our hotel so we did not eat sushi or ramen the night before the race.  At the dinner, they briefed us about some of the race details and answered questions.  The finish line was new this year so Marathon Tours did not have all the answers because they also had to learn about the new location.  I read the runner’s guidebook and online blogs, but you do not really fully understand everything until you experience it first hand. Here is my experience of that day broken up into sections.  Enjoy!
The Start Area: Friends warned me that security would take a long time and that there would be limited bathrooms at the start. Security gates opened at 7AM and were only a few blocks from our hotel so we left at 7:20AM. I had the map from my race packet, but expected to see signs to direct us to our assigned security gates. There were no signs. Just volunteers who were not directing traffic. They only provided info if you asked a question.  Once I got to my security gate, I waited for about 10 min to get my ID band scanned and then got my bag checked. I cannot imagine how long the wait would have been if we got there later.  They definitely needed more people to scan ID bands.
Prior to the race, I read the race manual, which had a lot of rules.  They did not allow you to bring any plastic bottles into the starting area.  We were told that the race organizers did not want a lot of trash in the starting area so they limited the amount of items we were allowed to bring in. See pictures below.
What I do not understand is how some people got through security with backpacks and duffel bags!  I wondered how much contraband was in their bags and how security was going to check their bags when the rule book said that they were only allowed to use the clear plastic bag given to us at the expo.
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An example of how some runners went to the starting area.
Huge tote bags!
There was water, bananas, tomatoes, and Pocari Sweat in pouches for runners at the start, but I was too rushed to take anything.  I needed to use the bathroom!
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A friend told me that they labeled the porto potties “Western Style” so that foreigners did not have to use a squat style porto potty.  When I saw how long the lines were, I did not care what style I got. I waited about 15 min to use a porto potty, which I thought was not too bad.  The bad part was that I could not figure out how to open the door once I finished my business. I panicked for a few seconds and fumbled with the lock and door handle until I was able to free myself from the squat toilet porto potty. Whew!  Crisis averted!
Seriously not enough porto potties for runners.
 Afterwards, I headed to bag check and was impressed by how organized it was considering how crazy everything else was in the start area.  I got back in a different bathroom line to try to go one more time before getting in the corrals, but the line was wicked long so I left and headed to the corrals.
The most organized bag check ever!  I was assigned to 37-12.
 There were some signs directing you where to go, but it was not very clear. I ended up on this foot bridge and had to ask a volunteer for directions. Andrew entered through a different security gate and I could not contact him because I do not have international data on my phone.  We did not set a meeting point beforehand because we had no idea what the situation was like in the starting area. I waited a few minutes by his corral and was so happy to see him.  He told me that he was also in a very long bathroom line and just got out of the bathroom.
Chaotic starting area!
 We were in the corrals by 8:20AM as they closed at 8:45AM and we did not want to risk being sent to the back of the corrals if we missed the cut off time.  We stood in the shade shivering because we only had a poncho to cover us.  It was stated in the manual that throwaway clothes were not allowed in the start area. I still wore my Marathon Tours poncho, but did not bring my throw away blanket.  I was told to gently put my poncho down on the barricade and to not throw it over the side like we usually do back home.  I kept my poncho on until two minutes before the start. Even though the runner’s manual said that they would not be collecting throw away clothes, there were volunteers with trash bags taking all of our clothes and trash bags. One poor volunteer got pelted in the face by someone’s shirt. That runner did not get the memo to “gently” put their clothes to the side.
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The Race: The wheelchair athletes started at 9:05AM and runners started at 9:10AM.  The start line was right by our hotel so my mom and two aunts were able to watch us at the very beginning of the race.  After I saw them, I ran straight to the first porto potty stop, which added a little bit of distance to my race. All of the porto potties were positioned away from the race course so we had to run off course to get to it.  (I felt that there were more porto potties along the course than at the start!)  I thought for a few seconds whether or not I should close the door completely because I did not want to get locked inside again, but I probably would have fallen into the squat toilet if someone barged in on me, so I locked the door. Thirty seconds later, I freed myself from the toilet and got back on the course!
The road was wide, but there were a lot of runners so I was always surrounded by people.  I do not know if it was the bathroom break, the jet lag, or the anxiety of running a new race, but I could not get into a good breathing rhythm.  Something felt off so I had to focus a lot on my breathing.  I was also very distracted by all the runners and spectators in costume.
Free advertisement for Starbucks!
So impressed by pink feather man wearing sandals to run a marathon!
Triathlon gear and Japanese outfits!
Panda on the loose!
Mt. Fuji!
Sailor Moon!
Some people thought the crowds were not that great, but I thought they were amazing.  In NYC, there are some spots (eg. Verrazano Bridge & Queensboro Bridge) that have no spectators. There were no quiet sections and the course was lined with spectators from start to finish.
This was the McDonald’s cheer section!
Cheerleaders out on the course!
The course is advertised as flat and fast, but it was not entirely flat.  I think the Chicago Marathon has a flatter profile than the Tokyo Marathon.  There were a few out and backs, which were good and bad.  The good: I was able to spot my faster friends a few times and exchange cheers.  The bad: I wanted to be on the other side of the road!  My neck also started to cramp because I ran with my head turned to the right looking for friends and Andrew for many miles.  I almost missed water stations because I was not paying attention to the left side of the road!
One of the out and backs along the course!
Weather: It was a cool day, but very sunny and there was very little coverage from the sun despite all the tall buildings in Tokyo.  I took off my gloves within the first mile and decided to take in nutrition earlier to prevent cramps.  My other concern was that fluid stations were not as frequent as I preferred. The first water stop was at 5KM.  Subsequent water stops were every 2-3KM.  I did not think that was enough because my lips were so chapped during the race and I felt dehydrated.  I took two cups of water at each station and took eight salt pills during the race.  I was still pretty salty at the end of the race.  The electrolyte drink was called Pocari Sweat, which I knew I did not like so I only took water.  Fluid stations also altered having water and Pocari Sweat first.  The inconsistency threw off my timing of when I would run in to grab a cup.  The order should be consistent at every station to make it easier for runners.
Since I started taking in my fuel (Honey Stinger Fruit Smoothie Chews) at mile 4, I finished them by mile 16 so I needed to eat something else.  Also, after 40 chews, I really wanted something salty or plain.  I knew they had “bread” at the later aide stations so my plan was to eat some bread to fuel the last few miles. I was really excited to grab a roll at the aide station, but was disappointed after taking my first bite that it was very sweet.  I looked down at the roll and saw that it had a red bean paste filling inside!  I ate around the filing and then threw the rest out.  They also had tomatoes, oranges, and chocolate, which I could not eat because of my acid reflux, so I stuck to drinking more water at each aide station.
This is me before I realized there was filling in the bread.
At the Marathon Tours briefing the night before the race, they told us that the marathon organizers clean up very quickly after the race so that it would not seem like there was even a race in the morning. There were hundreds of volunteers on the course holding clear plastic trash bags to take our trash. One of the rules in the book was “Take your garbage home to keep the city clean”.  They take their sanitation very seriously in Tokyo.  I did not see a single trash can when I walked through the city streets and the streets were spotless.  It was amazing and eye opening.
Volunteers: I felt like there were more volunteers than runners.  They were amazing, friendly, and full of marathon cheer!  Volunteers who did not have anything to hand out, stood there and clapped for us.  Best volunteers ever!
The Finish: I was hoping for a big finish line banner to help me gauge how far down the road it was, but they only had two pillars on each side.  After the finish line, we walked for about 2 miles to get nutrition, towel, mylar blanket, and baggage.  I will NEVER complain about walking to get my bag after the NYC Marathon again. We walked forever to get a bottle of Pocari Sweat, which I did not drink. I needed water and really felt like I was about to pass out if I did not get water soon.  Once I got to the water table, I saw that it was small bottle of water.  I chugged the water and asked for another one even though the sign said “One bottle per person”.  The volunteer was nice enough to give me another bottle. The bottle of water came in a plastic bag and we used that plastic bag to collect a banana, bread, and a box of something.  It would have been more efficient to have the bag already packed with all of those items!
Can you see where the finish line is?
After getting my bag, which was the quickest baggage retrieval ever, I found my friend Paul and Andrew.  I walked with Andrew to get his 6 star medal and took some photos.  There were a lot of tents for runners in the park, but we were so exhausted that we did not look around and went to catch the shuttle bus back to the hotel.  The shuttle bus was only for runners who came through a tour group.  Runners who came on their own had to take the subway back to their homes/hotels.  The race packet included a free 24 hour subway card, but it did not work on all the subway lines so it was not that helpful.  I was very glad to be part of Marathon Tours and have the benefit of the shuttle bus take us back to the start line area.
Post race photo with some extra bling!
Overall, I was very entertained and wish I had been in better shape to feel better in the later miles.  I was so happy to see my mom and aunts three times on the course.  It was a pretty amazing feat that they were able to get to three spots on the course and see me and Andrew each time.  One of my aunts is fluent in Japanese so it made navigating the metro and city a little easier.  I am so thankful that they came and so happy that they were able to see us run.  It is always special to me when I am able to share my passion of marathon adventuring with my family.  My mom and aunts had a great time, but they were also pretty exhausted from spectating.  It was a different type of “marathon” for them, but they have so many stories to tell others now.
Super cheer squad with awesome signs!
Here are some race statistics:
Men’s Champion: Wilson Kipsang 2:03:58
Women’s Champion: 2:19:47
Men’s Wheelchair Champion: Sho Watanabe 1:28:01
Women’s Wheelchair Champion: Amanda McGrory 1:43:27
My time: 3:45:56
Andrew’s time: 3:50:06

2016: What a Year!

As 2016 comes to an end, I want to reflect back on the amazing things that happened this year.  It was a busy year that included getting married, a lot of running, and a lot of travel to fun places.  Andrew and I ran 2 new marathons (London & Wineglass).  Andrew completed his first full Ironman.  I joined the New York Flyers and participated in their Marathon Training Program in hopes to finally run a 3:30.  While I fell short of the goal, I managed to run a 7 second PR!  Here are some of the highlights from the year. Enjoy!

  • Getting Married! 2/6/2016!

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  • Running 5 marathons (Boston, London, Wineglass, NYC, Philly)
  • Honeymoon in Maui!
  • Travels to London & Paris with Andrew.
  • Marathon PR at Wineglass.

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  • Watching Andrew compete in Ironman Mont Tremblant.

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  • RTB Ultra (This was amazing because we finished, but very painful!)

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2017 will bring new adventures.  Andrew and I will celebrate 1 year of being married!  Andrew will complete the World Marathon Majors in Tokyo in February!  After Tokyo, we will be going to Hong Kong so Andrew can meet the rest of my family!  I will complete 2 streaks in 2017!  In April, I will run my 10th consecutive Boston Marathon and in November, I will run my 15th NYC Marathon!  Then I can retire!  Ha!  Besides running adventures, we will also be traveling to 3 weddings.  The race schedule is not entirely set so we may throw in a few other races if our schedule permits after all of that!

I wish everyone has a happy and healthy 2017 with lots of laughter, love, and running!

#40!

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This past weekend, I ran my 40th marathon!  I did not know until a few months ago that the NYC Marathon would be my 40th.  I usually lose track of my count and have to go look in my book.

Since it was my 40th, I wanted to really enjoy the 26.2 miles and not race.  Race hard=have lots of pain. Take it easy=have lots of fun.  My goal was to run a 3:37-3:40.  Running a negative split to earn free shoes from Strava also would have been nice, but I positive split by about 2 minutes, so no free shoes for me.  Weather was perfect and the crowds were amazing!  I felt great until Mile 23 going up 5th Avenue.  The quads cramped like always, but I kept running because that was the fastest way to the finish line.  I do not usually walk during a race because I know I will have a very hard time running again if I stop to walk.  I have learned to run through the cramps over the years and they eventually go away or my pain tolerance goes up as I continue running.  It was great to finish strong all the way to the finish line and I was all smiles as I raised my arms up in victory.  I told Peter Ciaccia that I just ran my 14th NYC Marathon and he said “Next year, you’ll be part of the streaker club!”

I ran my first marathon in 2002. In 14 years, I have run in 8 different states (CA, FL, IL, MA, NY, OH, PA, SC) and 3 different countries (Canada, Hong Kong, and UK).  The majority of my marathons have been NYC and Boston, so I did not travel to many states.

People often ask “Why do you do it?” “Is it worth it?” The answer is always “Because I love it and yes, it’s worth it!”  I have met so many great friends through running, traveled to fun places, and I met my husband through running!  I love the challenge and each race experience is so different.

The NYC Marathon has been on my schedule every year since 2002.  How do I manage to run NYC every year?  I have gotten into the NYC Marathon through the lottery, time qualifier (when the 1/2 qualifying time was 1:37), and I have done the 9+1.  Since 2002, running 15 NYC Marathons to get guaranteed (non complimentary) entry for life was a goal.  At that time, 15 did not seem like a huge number, but having just run #14, I am amazed that I have stuck with it for so many years!  Just for comparison, to get guaranteed entry at the Chicago Marathon, you have to run 5 in the last 10 years.  That sounds so much easier than 15!

The NYC Marathon is my favorite marathon and I have so many good memories from the race.  There were also painful memories of legs cramping and falling down 2 times in the past 14 years, but I have loved each race every year.  I am not one to look at data and statistics, but from experience, many things have changed since my first tun in 2002.  Here are just a few fun facts from 2002 off the top of my head:

  • The 2002 marathon shirt was a cotton t-shirt.
  • Champion chip was the timing chip and we had to secure it to our sneakers to get an official time.
  • The 2002 marathon did not have a title sponsor.  The race was simply “The New York City Marathon”.  (ING became the title sponsor in 2003)
  • Meb also ran his 1st NYC Marathon in 2002 with me. =)
  • The Staten Island Ferry was not an option as transportation to the start.
  • The marathon expo started on Wednesday. =)
  • The day before the marathon, NYRR had a run only for international runners.
  • I finished in 4:38:56!  (I ran this year’s race in exactly an hour faster! 3:38:56!)

Technology and social media has changed the marathon culture tremendously over the years.  I am usually resistant to change, but I think the changes have been positive despite race registration being more difficult for popular races.  I do not know the numbers, but I know that the number of people running marathons has increased since 2002 and I always love welcoming people to the club.  More people are trying to lead active and healthier lifestyles, which is great!

Marathoning has become a lifestyle for me.  I am always “in training” and running never feels like “work” (unless it’s speed work!).  I have a closet that is only for running clothes (I might have more running clothes than regular clothes.).  I love going on race-cations! I love that my husband also runs and supports my crazy obsession.  He is the best because I always get a little crazy (from excitement!) during marathon weekend.  The NYC Marathon and Boston Marathon has been part of my schedule for so long that it would seem weird if I spectated instead of ran (that will never happen!)  My friends know that I run long on weekends and they know where I will be the first weekend of November and Patriot’s Day in April.

What’s next?  A new country next year!  Entry into 2 streaking clubs next year (Not that type of streaking!  Get your mind out of the gutter!)  My 10th consecutive Boston Marathon and my 15th NYC Marathon!!

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Race Results:

Men’s Winner: Ghirmay Ghebreslassie 2:07:51

Women’s Winner: Mary Keitany 2:24:26

Total Finishers: 51,388 (Female: 21,457; Male: 29,931) : Unofficial numbers from NYRR

2016 Wineglass Marathon Recap!

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I decided to do something new with training this summer to prepare for the Wineglass Marathon. I was actually going to train properly! Ha!  I became a member of the NY Flyers and signed up for their Marathon Training Program.  The program was 18 weeks with weekly coached speed workouts and 3 coached weekend long runs.  I was ready for something new and to finally hit my goal of running a 3:30!

Unfortunately, my stomach had other plans.  I had very bad heartburn this summer, which caused esophagitis.  It was painful to eat as my esophagus was swollen and food had trouble passing.  People who know me know that I love to eat and can eat a lot.  Esophagitis really tested my mental state because I had to cut out caffeine, acidic foods (tomato sauce, orange juice, PIZZA!!!), chocolate, fried foods, big meals, and alcohol.

I had some pretty good long runs despite the pain, but I also did not finish some long runs because my stomach cramped or I crashed because I could not eat my GU.  My gastroenterologist actually told me to stop eating GU because something so concentrated was not going to go down well.  I tried Generation UCan, but I could only take it if I made a smoothie and I put too much liquid in my smoothie so I had to go pee mid-run.  I figured out that my stomach could handle Honey Stinger chews so I planned to use that for fuel, but it meant that I would have to eat a lot of chews to equal the amount of GU that I would normally eat.  A cavity was sure to develop after the race.

I loved the speed workouts on Wednesdays with my new training group because it was something that I never did on my own and it was encouraging that I could run at the speeds that my coach told me to run.  It was also great to train with a big group of people and everyone was so nice and supportive throughout the training.

So I felt ready for race weekend despite my stomach issues and the weather not looking too great.  It was either going to be muggy or it was going to rain.  My coach wanted me to start out running 8:10min/mile for 8 miles, then speed up to 8min/mile for the next 8, and then run 7:50min/mile for the next 8.  Whatever I had left would be for the last 2.2 miles.

I usually run even splits and have never been great at negative splits because it is always so hard to hold back in the beginning of a race.  So on Sunday, I stood way behind the 3:25 pace group and in front of the 3:35 pace group (there was no 3:30 pacer).  My plan was to stay in front of the 3:35 pace group and slowly distance myself from them.  Sounded pretty good until I got engulfed by the 3:35 group within the first mile and looked at my watch to see them clock a 7:58 first mile!  So much for a pacer!

I quickly got out of the group because I didn’t want to get tripped or elbowed in the large group.  I settled in with a small group of women and I felt like I was going as slow as possible to try to stick to my plan.

Another problem I had was my bladder. I needed to pee and I did not go in the corn fields next to the start line like other runners because I did not think it was very nice to pee in someone’s corn field.  As I approached the mile 6 flag, I saw someone get out of the only portopotty by the the flag.  I raced to the portopotty to make sure no one else got there before me, peed quickly, and jumped back out onto the course.  Even though the course was downhill after the portopotty, I could not catch up to the group of girls so I let them go.  I was quickly joined by a runner named Mark.  We became fast friends and chatted away.  It was Mark’s first marathon and he was hoping to run around 3:30, which would also be a BQ.  As Mark and I clicked away the miles, others joined and we had a little group to share the miles.  Runners were very spread out on the course so it was great to have some company.

Some runners eventually sped up and some dropped back, but Mark and I stuck together. We saw his family 3x along the course, which was a great boost for Mark. Mark wore a yellow shirt with a picture of a boy on his back and I asked him about it. The boy was Mark’s son who passed away unexpectedly, which was the catalyst to Mark’s running career.  Mark started with a 5K run in memory of his son and he worked his way up to running a marathon.

Mark asked me why I run marathons and I told him that I love the challenge and that it has introduced me to so many friends along the way, including my husband.  I shared with Mark how Andrew and I met while running for the Dana Farber Marathon Challenge for our dads and that we just got married.  When you’re running a marathon, there’s a lot of time to share your life stories!

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Photo taken by Mark’s family during the race!

By mile 18, our legs were both feeling the fast pace, but I told Mark to focus and that we would get through it together.  Suddenly, we heard this girl coming from behind us yell “I’m going to Boston!!!”  As she passed us, she said “My legs are shot, I’m running with heart from here!” I wish I had her energy at that time.  Mark was able to stay with her and he took off.  I kept them in my sights and just tried to keep a steady rhythm.

The next few miles were a bit lonely and I could not eat another chew, but I noticed that I was catching up to a few runners.  By mile 25, I caught up to Mark and he told me that his legs were done.  I told him to keep moving and stay with me.

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So close to the finish!!

I knew that I was not going to hit my goal, but I still wanted to finish strong.  As I made the last turn onto Market Street, the finish line was in sight and I ran as fast as I could.  The result?  A new PR!  By 7 seconds.

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PR Face!

Mark finished right behind me and I gave him a huge hug afterwards.  I told his family that he was going to run a few more marathons after this one and that I would see them in Boston 2018!  So I ended the day with a new PR and a new friend.  🙂

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I was disappointed that I lost focus in those later miles because I was so close to 3:30! But I have to accept that the race was over and I did the best that I could that day.  Overall, it was a great weekend.  I had fun at the Corning Museum of Glass and walking downtown.  I even got a few souvenirs from the museum. =)

How do you handle disappointment from not reaching your goal? You sign up for another race!  Good thing I’m already signed up for four more marathons. =) When I hit my 3:30, I will have PIZZA again.  PIZZA PIZZA PIZZA!!!

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Team Andretty completes another marathon this year!  #2 for Andrew and #3 for Betty. 2 more to go this year!

Race statistics:

Men’s winning time: 2:24:49

Women’s winning time: 2:47:35

My time: 3:31:09

Mark’s time: 3:32:03

Andrew’s time: 3:53:15

Total Participants: 1922 (784 Men, 1138 Women)

Race Swag for $105 registration Fee: reusable bag, half zip long sleeve running top, stemless wineglass, a small bottle of champagne, glass medallion medal, amazing post race spread (soda-Coke & Diet Coke!, chocolate milk, cookies-chocolate chip, sugar, & gingersnap!, bananas, apples, chicken noodle soup, pizza-sigh)

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A few of the race goods!

2015 Transrockies Run Stage 3: The Longest Day Ever!!

Thursday, August 13, 2015: Stage 3 of Transrockies Run: Leadville to Camp Hale

Mileage: 24.5 Miles

Elevation Gain: 2,700 Feet

Food eaten: 3 GU’s, Lay’s potato chips, Fritos, PGJ, 1/2 banana, pieces of watermelon, Shot Blocks, and Honey Stinger Chocolate Waffle.  Lots of water and some Pepsi.

Time: 6:54:02

Night #2 of sleeping in a tent was a little better.  I woke up at 2:50AM instead of 2:15AM!  I was hoping to get more sleep since today was the longest stage out of the six days.  After a quick breakfast, we headed over to the start, which was on the main street in Leadville (Harrison Avenue).  Andrew and I were excited to run on the road for a few miles before heading into the trails!  We missed the asphalt!

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At the start!
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So happy to run on the road!
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Woo!!

After 2.5 miles on the road, we headed into the trails on a steep climb.  As we climbed, I got a headache and my heart was racing.  It was the same headache that I had during the last few miles of Stage 2.  Gah!  I had to slow down and take the climbs very slowly.  Andrew stayed with me the whole time to make sure I was okay.  I am glad he stayed with me because there were times that we were the only ones on the trail.  There was even a point where we thought we were off course because we did not see anyone in front of us and we did not see a pink pin flag.  Luckily, we were on the correct trail and we were so happy to see every pink pin flag in the ground there after!

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Mountain to the right, cliff to the left!

The downhills really hurt today.  I looked like Quasidmodo running down the trail.  I also needed to poop for most of the run so running too fast would have caused me to poop my pants.  The volunteer at CP3 told me to go in the woods, but I could not do it.  I was not comfortable pooping in the woods so I held it until we got to camp.  It was quite comical and laughing about it is what got me to the finish.

At the finish, Andrew and I were handed new Nathan hydration packs.  Houda announced during the previous briefing that the last fifty finishers would receive Nathan packs.  I was not aiming to be one of the last fifty, but the combination of headache and poop caused me to slow down so much that we ended up being one of the last fifty!  I threw my Nathan pack to Bill & Tim, who were waiting for us at the finish line, and I ran straight to the porto potty!

Another perk of being one of the last 50 runners was that Houda set aside tents for us so we did not have to walk around looking for an empty tent.  Thanks Houda!  The “back of the pack” tents were set up on a peninsula so we joked that we had a lake side view.  The downside was that there was geese poop on the peninsula and mosquitoes were everywhere.

After a hot shower and snack, we witnessed history as the first ever Beer Mile (not organized by TRR) was held at Transrockies.  It was quite entertaining and we all thought that clothing was mandatory for the mile!  =)

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R rated Beer Mile! Clothing optional.

Camp was set up at Nova Guides in Camp Hale.  The best news was that we were going to camp here for 2 nights so we did not have to pack our bags tomorrow morning!  Camp Hale was a US Army training facility created in 1942.  Soldiers were trained in mountain climbing, skiing, cold weather survival, and other weapons.  Yes, we learned some history on this trip as well!

We ended the tough day on trails with taco dinner!  We love tacos!  Later, we learned that a few years ago, people got sick from eating bad beef at taco night and ran the last 3 stages with diarrhea.  I was glad I packed Imodium just in case that happened.

That night we went to bed exhausted, but feeling good for having survived the first half of Transrockies!

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Hanging out lakeside in front of our tents! Soaking our legs in the cold lake water for recovery! So happy to be done!

2015 Transrockies Run Stage 2: Hope Pass!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015: Stage 2 of Transrockies Run: Vicksburg to Twin Lakes

Mileage: 13.3 Miles

Elevation Gain: 3,200 Feet

Food eaten: 3 GU’s, Lay’s potato chips, 1/2 banana, pieces of watermelon, and Honey Stinger Honey Waffle.  Lots of water and some Pepsi.

Time: 4:43:40

We set our alarms to wake up at 5AM, but I did not need an alarm because I woke up at 2:15AM and never went back to sleep.  Sleeping in a sleeping bag on top of a sleeping pad was not as comfortable as expected.  So I laid there, trying to be quiet and not wake Andrew up.  At 5AM, I heard other alarms going off so I started to get ready!  We quickly packed all of our stuff back into the black duffel bags and Andrew carried them over to the pick up area.  Then we went to breakfast before taking a shuttle to the start.

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Beautiful sunrise at Camp Arrowhead!
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Lots of black duffel bags!
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Our super cool and old school shuttle bus to the start!

Usually, I eat a banana, a cinnamon raisin bagel, and some gatorade for breakfast before a marathon.  At TRR, they served a full breakfast buffet (scrambled eggs, sausage, potatoes, silver dollar pancakes, oatmeal, cereal, fruit, yogurt, coffee, tea, hot chocolate, OJ, bread, and bagels).  I LOVE breakfast so it was very difficult for me to decide what to eat before the run.  I know scrambled eggs do not agree with some of my friends, but I had never eaten scrambled eggs before a run so I decided to try it!  What’s the worst that could happen?  I ate scrambled eggs, potatoes, 2 sausage links, and 1 pancake.  I drank water instead of my usual tea with breakfast.  Andrew stayed away from the scrambled eggs, but had 5 sausage links and potatoes!

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Start of Stage 2!
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The boys at the start!
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Matching with our Brooklyn 1/2 shirts!  It was a cold morning so I started with my jacket on.

Today, we were running part of the Leadville 100 course.  We started on a gravel forest service road and hit CP1 1.7 miles in at the trailhead.  The checkpoint was so early because there was no good spot in the next few miles for a checkpoint.  After CP1, we entered a steep singletrack trail and climbed for 2.5 miles to the summit of Hope Pass, which is over 12,500 feet!!  It was so steep that one mile took us about 40 minutes to hike (rest breaks included).  Runners in the Leadville 100 run over Hope Pass twice!

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Single file all the way to the top!
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Andrew was right behind me and ready to catch me if I fell backwards!
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Probably should not have been taking selfies along the dangerous steep climb up the mountain! =P
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Somewhere in the middle of the trail where the soft dirt track became all rocks!
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The trail eventually opened up so we could see the top of the mountain!

Throughout the climb, I paid a lot of attention to my breathing pattern and to my heart rate.  I did not need a heart rate monitor to let me know that my heart was beating too fast.  I could feel it.  We took a lot of rest breaks to let our heart rates go down and to take in the views.

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So happy to reach the top of Hope Pass!
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The top of Hope Pass!

Going down the other side of Hope Pass was easier on the heart, but it was scary because you could easily slip and fall down the side of the mountain.  That probably would have been faster, but more painful!

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Nice sign before heading down the mountain!
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Amazing views as we headed down the mountain!

Once we got down from the top of the mountain, we hit a singletrack trail alongside the Twin Lakes Reservoir.  This relatively flat section should have been much easier than the mountain, but I started to have a headache.  Damn altitude!  Bill and Tim had gone ahead because Tim was hungry and needed to get to the finish!  Andrew and I ran with Jeff all the way to the finish.  We ran as much as we could and walked a lot, but that lake seemed to go on forever!  At one point, I looked at my watch and could not believe that we had been out there for almost as long as Day 1!  We were so happy to see the finish line and crossed hand in hand with Jeff!

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Our Super 8 friend, Katie, captured our finish! Look at the clouds rolling in!

We grabbed snacks at the finish line and then took a shuttle to our camp in Leadville.  After settling in and showering, we got 30 minute massages before dinner.  There were massage therapists daily and you could sign up for 30 minute slots (for a fee) whenever you wanted.  I had my massage therapist work on my shoulders, back, glutes, and quads since those were most sore after 2 days.  It was nice to have this service, but we did not think it was necessary every day.  We used the Stick or Roll Recovery on the days that we did not have massages.

Dinner was at the National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum so we did not have to eat in a tent tonight!  Dinner buffet consisted of penne pasta, grilled chicken, choice of marinara sauce and pesto sauce, vegetable lasagna, salad, and ice cream!  It was delicious!  We were the first ones at dinner because I wanted to walk around Leadville before the stores closed at 5pm.  Most of the stores were closed before 5 though!

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First ones at dinner!
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Andrew standing in front of the oldest saloon in town! Established in 1879!

After a short shopping trip, we headed back for round #2 of dinner as TRR staff gave the medical and course briefing for Stage 3.  Stage 3 was going to be a long day so we went to bed early after prepping our Nathan packs.  I hoped that I would sleep more than 4 hours in night #2 of camping.

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Good night Leadville!