Another Windy Tempo Run

If I didn't know better I'd think I lived in Chicago. Chicago may be the official windy city, but I am here to tell you Cleveland would hold its own. Especially on the lake.

Target today was 4 at 6:25 followed by 2 at 6:10. Salty had 5 at 6:25 so I decided to do at least the first 4 with her and see how the legs felt and then hopefully pick up the effort for two more. Unfortunately our route had us working with the wind on the way out and into the wind on the way back meaning pace pretty much would be thrown out the window and effort would have to suffice as 27 mph winds just don't really allow for an even pace without a crazy change in your effort.

We ran relaxed the first 2.5 miles out before turning into the cross wind for about half a mile uphill and then turning into the brunt of the wind for the next two miles. It was nice to change the routine from our typical out and back and I was hopeful that perhaps the added buildings on our route would block some of the wind.

Salty was really doing great and my legs felt awesome so I decided on the fly I would at least do the 5 with her and help play pace maker to keep our pace from falling too far off into the wind the last mile. It helped that our buddy Kevin was a yellow target not too far ahead for us to catch. While the wind certainly slowed us down we held even effort for the 3rd and 4th miles and I stepped it up a bit the last mile to keep us on. I decided I wanted to end the workout on a high note so I called it at 5 before jogging the cool down with the rest of the tempo crew. I figure better to feel great and remain uninjured as I come back from the marathon. No need to force it and I know I would have had to be near sprint to get that last mile to 6:10 into the wind.


Training Catch Up

The past two weeks were focused on taper and recovery. I am so ready to get back to semi-normal training this week!

April 11-17th

Total Mileage 30 - 35.

Monday: Easy.
Tuesday: Track.
Wednesday and Friday: easy miles @ 7:20 or slower. 6 x 30 sec @ 5:30 pace on Friday
Thursday: Tempo
Easy miles

How it played out:

34 miles
1 rest day (Monday Sick in bed)
6 runs
No swims
1 ART session
1 massotherapy session
On antibiotics through April 19th

April 18th-24th

Marathon then recover

3:00:46 at Boston
46 miles including the marathon (all easy 8:00 or slower)
4 runs
3 days off
no swims
One crazy fun whirlwind weekend in DC for Easter

Hot Hot Hot...

and Windy. Headed to the track at lunch yesterday to keep Salty company and see how the legs were feeling. Probably not the best workout for me post marathon, but just wanted to get moving a bit. Unfortunately mother nature has put the stops on any decent weather for track workouts so far this spring and yesterday was no different. 2 mile warm up to the track and greeted by 25-30 mph winds and really hot conditions. (About 82 I think) I immediately thought to myself, what was I thinking? But sucked it up and did our strides then started in.

Goal was 3* 1600 followed by 6*200 goal 1600s 5:55, 5:50, 5:45 200s in 40. A little slower than my pre marathon repeats but figured this would be tough with my quads still a little sore and obviously still recovering aerobically from the marathon. Tough would be an understatement!

First mile we took off too fast in an 84 but salvaged the mile in exactly 5:55. But I was definitely working. 3 minute rest and we were off for 5:50. I paced the first lap and came in right on, but slowed a little with the wind on the second lap and bowed out when we hit 2:56 for the half. I didn't want to screw up Salty's workout and it was clear I couldn't pick up the pace for two more laps. (AKA I was a big pansy!) I jumped back in on the last lap and did my best to push the pace but the wind was knocking me around and all I could come up with was 1:29. Everyone was looking pretty toasted, faces were red and we had no water so I decided we had a few options, break up the last mile, or stop looking at the watches and just run as hard as we could. We took some extra rest and chose the latter. We ended on a 6:01 which all things considered I was happy with.

Then the dreaded 200s. Salty just took off on me, I screwed up my watch on the first one and thought man I must be going slow, but Salty informed me she just hit 36 so I am calling that one 39. Given how I felt I was happy with that. We took the recoveries real easy, mostly walking, and ran the 200s with the wind at our backs and I managed to keep them all between 38 and 39. No pain in the legs which is what I wanted, definitely still a bit juiced and the feet got some hot spots, but other wise I was happy with it. Hoping to recover pretty quickly here and I think I am on my way!

On that front I am going to stop being a big wimp and start hitting the ice bath more frequently than I have been. Last year I was really good about it, but I have been wimping out so far this spring!

Looking forward to Thursdays Tempo!

In The Waiting Line

For someone who is so anti music while running I do really enjoy a good tune and find music speaks to me more than almost anything else. (Perhaps I should stop being so purist as clearly it is working for the pros) Pandora is one of the highlights to my day. I set up my channel with all kinds of criteria but somehow Pandora just seems to know what music I am craving for my given mood. So glad this tune popped up this afternoon!

I used to try and post a video here a week a long long time ago. Might be fun to spice it up over here and do this every now and again in the future.

I've liked this tune for a long time. But clearly it is fitting right now as I plan my next steps towards achieving my goals.

Boston Marathon Recap 2011

This year I thought it would be better to get to Boston a little later, save some money, spend less time on my feet etc. At some point shortly after I signed up for the race in October I booked a flight for Saturday evening. Note to self, never again. Just spend the extra money, get there Friday night or Saturday morning so I can relax a bit. Getting in Saturday night just left me with no time to stop and breathe. I had all these grand plans to spend some time on the plane reading through my old race reports and preparing mentally for the task at hand. Instead I decided to spend the airplane ride writing notes to all my girlfriends in the race as I realized I wouldn’t have time to do that when I got into town. The plane wouldn’t land until 7:45ish meaning we weren’t going to get to our hotel until 9ish. Wanting to get up early and get the shakeout run in before our clubs photos at 9 AM, I knew we’d want to hit the hay early. I had fun that morning picking out stuff for little goody bags meant to pamper my girlfriends a bit and let them know how impressed I was with their hard work and how I wanted to see them do well in the race on Monday. I had stuff to make room signs but decided to wait until I was in Boston to make up some fun signs.

Sundays itinerary was a bit daunting but I knew hardly any of it would involve being on my feet so I wasn’t concerned. I even thought it would be nice to be a bit distracted. The plan was early morning shake out run, 9 am photo somewhere near the finish line, bib pick up, brunch in Cambridge, 1 pm elite technical meeting, 4:30 pm dinner, then to bed. We woke to rain and decided we would either postpone the shakeout run or hit the treadmills. I decided on postponing, I knew I would have some time between the elite meeting and dinner. Another note to self, just get out in the rain and get your shake out run done first thing. By the time we did our shake out run around 3 pm the city was nuts and we were in a rush to get back for dinner. My legs had been feeling a bit “funny” since Thursday, but no pain so I was ready to roll after the shake out, get some dinner and get to bed!

Since we had some extra time in the morning I made up door signs before heading to our group photo. Then it was off to get our bibs and head to brunch. Brunch was great, we had excellent food and fun times chatting over our prospective races.

But then it was off to the elite technical meeting. Traffic was nuts and I arrived a few minutes late spending a few more minutes running all over the Fairmont Copley trying to find the right room. Thankfully MY had saved me a seat. I snuck in as conspicuously as possible, we listened to the race director go over all the details about boarding the buses in the morning, following the proper path around the various medians on the course, and proper etiquette when getting passed by the lead vehicles. We also were surprised to find that MY actually qualified for using the races elite water bottle stops each 5km. So we grabbed a few water bottles and I let her know I could tape gels to them and deliver them in the morning since she would be driving to Hopkinton. I behaved and didn’t try to get any photos with any of the famous runner in the room. We were sitting in the same aisle as Kara Goucher and her husband, and in front of us sat Desiree Davilla and Kim Smith. We saw Alberto Salazar and of course many of the foreign runners and men who would be running as elites. We learned that there were actually three “tiers” of athletes in the elite start. John Hancock supported athletes, B.A.A. elites, and then those were divided into those that were permitted fluid stations and those who didn’t qualify for that. Race morning John Hancock athletes would have two elite buses and B.A.A. elites would have four that would take us straight to Hopkinton and to a little church right next to the start line. It was neat to learn all of this, but probably was not a necessity to attend. While I attended this meeting my family drove around the race course to determine their cheering plans and my roommates hit the expo.

Got back to the room and went to visit my friend SBF who had opted not to take the elite start the next morning. I found her chilling in her pjs in her room and was definitely jealous that I still had a short run to get in and dinner before finally being able to chill and go to bed! Good luck wishes were given then it was off for our shake out run. We tried to run backwards through the course a bit to show my friend BH what the finish would look like, but traffic was nuts so we ended up veering off onto the Charles for a bit. I was running a hair faster so I ended up just doing my own thing before heading back to the hotel to quickly shower and head to dinner.

My club had about 19 members running at Boston this year. Most of the year I am fine with the light ribbing that is normal amongst members, but last year I really let the pre race predictions get to me, so this year I wanted to avoid all of that and just focus on myself. I was happy that my family made the drive to Boston and it was really important for me to be surrounded by those that love me and wanted to see me succeed. Turns out I didn’t have to deal with any of the pre race predictions this year as the restaurant really didn’t have a good plan for our large party. It ended up all of the guys had a table to themselves and the girls and my family were together. While I was happy to avoid the ribbing it was a bit annoying that we couldn’t enjoy dinner as an entire group. Gladly the service was good and we had our food on the table and in our bellies quickly.

Exhausted we made our way back to the grocery store to get some last minute goodies for the morning (having already picked up the essential post race celebratory beverages the night before). The fresh air perked me up enough to put my race bag together and tape up MY’s water bottles and gu before passing out. Of course my brain wouldn’t shut off for an hour or two but I did manage to get in a decent night’s sleep.

As usual I woke up a bit before the alarm. It’s always hard to decide when to eat before Boston since you have to be on the bus 3-4 hours before the start. I decided to get coffee and oatmeal at 5:30 when starbucks opened and eat that with plans to eat a banana and peanut butter shortly before leaving the room around 6 am. I wished the girls luck as they headed off to the school busses. I was worried about BH as she seemed to be coming down with something and just didn’t seem happy to be running her first Boston (turns out I needn’t have worried, she ran the race perfectly and had fun doing it despite feeling ill and sore from crashing her bike earlier in the week). Nerves were starting to get the best of me as I was left alone so I decided to see what time SBF was heading over to the VIP buses. I still needed to drop off MY’s bottles so I didn’t want to wait too long. I wished SBF luck and my stomach seemed to settle as I headed over to the Fairmont Copley. I dropped the bottles off with no problem but only saw a few runners sitting around. I decided to strike up a conversation with one of them, and ended up riding the bus over with her. She was from Michigan and we just had a really relaxed ride over learning about each other’s training, previous races, etc.

The ride went quickly; we had motorcycle escorts that cleared traffic for our busses as we headed to Hopkinton. We arrived and were ushered along a small street into a church. The bottom floor was laid out with tons of yoga mats and elite athletes were spread out all over. As we were ushered upstairs we walked by Alberto Salazar. Peeked in a few rooms to see where we should camp out and saw Ryan Hall getting ready. We found a relatively empty room and plopped down. We were joined by a few ultra runners’ who I recognized and another fun runner from Canada before MY and her husband showed up to join the party. Was probably a little too relaxed chatting away pre race as before I knew it we were warming up on the small street behind the church circling around and around with the Kenyans, Blake Russell, Desiree Davilla and Ryan Hall. It was just so surreal. A few butt kickers and then it was back into the church to strip down, hit the bathroom one more time, and head to the start. We were told to just leave our bags in the rooms and they would be taken to the finish for us. I realized too late that I still hadn’t put sunscreen on anywhere but my face. Oops! I decided to go with the gold headband last minute for a little something that would stand out in the crowd.

We trooped to the start line and I was disappointed to see Joan Benoit Samuelsen just getting warmed up meaning she had opted to take the mass start. We got to the start line and I did a few last strides. I was pleasantly surprised to hear my friend MC cheer my name. It was a nice boost to see a familiar face in the massive crowds. Too late I realized I had neglected to do any of my normal pre race dynamic stretches, everything was just happening so quickly!

It was my intent to line up a bit back from the line but everyone seemed adverse to being up front and with so few of us I found myself lined up right behind Kim Smith, Blake Russell, and Desiree Davilla. Talk about star struck! I wished them all luck and was surprised to see they seemed to feel the same I did, excited for each girl on the line and ready for a great day. I looked for Kara Goucher but did not see her as she was tucked in the opposite corner. I did see past winners Catherine Nderba and Dire Tune. It was just so crazy. Before I knew it we were off and running. The crowds were so crazy I had no idea I had several other friends who had come to the start to cheer me on.

My plan was to go out a hair slow, but I was willing to push a little if it meant having a pack to work with. I didn’t look at the Garmin as it had acted funky during the warm up. I was in a small pack with several girls who had confirmed they also were looking to run 2:45. I was surprised to be joined by MY as she had indicated she had planned to run more conservatively as her training had not gone as planned. She commented that we weren’t used to seeing so many women run away from us. That should have been my queue to back it down a notch. Instead I stayed with the pack and was a bit dismayed as we crossed the first mile in 5:55. Not good. Time to settle into pace and focus. I knew we had a tail wind, and clearly the first three miles at Boston have a lot of downhill so I didn’t worry about the fast first mile. I probably should have clued in though when I noted that MA who is a downhill runner wasn’t ahead of us.

The next few miles also ticked off ahead of pace. Nothing insane, but not the planned slow start I had intended. The crowds were great as always and I was doing my best to relax my mind and settle in. The problem was that the pace just wasn’t falling in line. Somewhere after the 5k and before the 10k I fell a bit behind the pack I was with. I told myself it was ok, I just needed to settle in, don’t let them get any further ahead. For about a half mile I was distracted by a motorcycle with a cameraman who snapped photo after photo of me running along. Rock star treatment, but I certainly was not feeling like a rock star as I was now by myself and staring at the daunting task of running 20+ miles by myself.

The crowds were awesome. Just a consistent roar as I moved my way towards Boston. I never took the smile off my face as I did my best to run by feel, trying not to worry about the watch. I would high five kids every now and then and grin for the crowds. Unfortunately each mile was ticking off a bit too slow. 6:20-6:25 when I needed 6:18s. I knew I had a little time to play with from the fast start but it was making me nervous that I couldn’t get into the 6:18 zone. At the 10k I started to look for my family and took my first gel. Fingers crossed that I would get a boost from both and break out from my 6:25 funk. But as I neared mile 8 it was clear I had somehow missed my personal cheerleaders so I began to look forward to the Wellesley girls and my next gel at mile 12. I always seem to struggle with these miles at Boston. The hills here are small, but they seem to be just enough to throw me off my rhythm.

Starting to get a little worried at this point as clearly mile 8 is a little early in a marathon to be giving yourself a pep talk and I had been struggling to mentally relax since mile 4. I was definitely overwhelmed by how quickly my brain started to work against me when I lost my pack. It was crazy to watch as one by one by mile 8 our pack had become a line of girls strung out all running alone.

Around mile 8 I was caught by another runner and I forced myself to go with her. Convincing myself that if I pushed the pace with her I would break out of my funk and get back on track. That mile was on in 6:14, but I was just working too hard to do it. I lost her by mile 10 and the all too familiar feeling of pain and fatigue in my quads was starting. I was determined to enjoy this no matter the result so I plastered that smile to my face and starting grinding out each mile. Before Wellesley I caught another female and encouraged her to join me. She picked up the pace as the girls roared for us, but shortly after Wellesley she fell off and I was again alone. As I took my second gel my new Canadian friend caught me all smiles. She encouraged me but my legs were not responsive as I let her pull ahead near the half way point.

I hit the half almost a minute slower than I wanted but still close and I held hopes that like last year I would still have a day close to my Columbus time from last fall. I thought, you might not OTQ today, but you can still come close to a PR and run well even with the soreness. I told myself to just use the crowds to pull me along mile by mile. Smile and enjoy every minute as this was a special experience.

I started to look forward to seeing my sister around heartbreak. Like last year I stopped looking at the watch. I wasn’t upset and I didn’t want to get upset so I figured it was best to just run whatever pace the quads could handle and get to the finish! Unfortunately apparently despite the better fitness the pace my quads could handle was eerily similar to what I did last year on the back half of the course. I gritted my way through mile 14 and 15 again having to turn down an invitation to pull forward with a female who caught me and encouraging a female I caught and passed.

Somewhere around here I heard a bicycle trailing me. I was running on the right at this point, not doing a great job with tangents, just sort of following the curb. The bike informed me I was doing fine and to just hold my line as the mens lead vehicles were about to make their way by. Sure enough there went the trucks with their cameras and shortly after a small pack of Kenyans flew by me as I climbed one of the first Newtown Hills. Shortly after they were followed by a single runner, then Ryan Hall who I of course cheered for like a nut ball! Little did I know he had been leading the pack on and off all morning and was now surging again to get back into the pack. I couldn’t believe how quickly they had caught me. Had I been on goal pace I had thought they would catch me around mile 21. I thought man they are either flying or I am really stinking it up out here!

The whole morning I was basically at war with my senses. Before the race I had all these plans in place for when it got tough, all these tactics I have used time and time again in training, but they all just went out the window. It was almost like I was having an out of body experience. I knew this feeling of pain, I knew it wasn’t going to go away, but I kept deluding myself that the adrenaline from the crowds, or the next gel, or a good tune would help me get through it. I just kept smiling and telling myself this would pass quickly. It wasn’t going to be the result I wanted, but it wasn’t the end of the world. But I just kept coming back to the realization that this was really freaking hard and wow it is not getting any better!

I have never wanted to walk so bad in my life during a marathon. I just kept thinking you can’t walk, these crowds are cheering for you, they don’t want to see you walk. Time just seemed to be in slow motion. The crowds all seemed to blend into one. All the cheers for F47, or my gold headband, or princess were appreciated and I conveyed that with a smile or a wave, but my body just didn’t delight in the crowds like I hoped it would. I actually was happy to hit the hills, they were slow, but at least they weren’t as painful. But it just wasn’t what I trained for. I trained to hammer up these hills feeling strong. Instead I was on a survival march to the finish.

At mile 20 I was happy to see my friend JV running backwards through the course. He encouraged me to really hammer this last 10k. I don’t even know if I said anything to him but I wanted to convey that I was ok, that I wasn’t having the day I desired, but that I was ok with it, and I was just happy to be healthy and participating in this amazing event no matter the result. I was so happy that I wasn’t devastated by the way the day was coming together for me. It was a bit of a shock that I was really ok with my body not performing the way I would like, and even with how mentally I was letting myself down. Clearly I had had quite a few miles to come to terms with the fact that my mind and body were just not ready this day. I am sure I didn’t express this to him in those few seconds but I hoped that my face and smile told him that I really was ok.

At that point I started to look for my sister. I never did find her although apparently she had the crowd yelling my name and screaming I love you. I really was disappointed to miss her. I swear I would have made her run with me at that point, it was just getting really tough to keep moving forward on my own. Despite getting caught occasionally by men from the mass start I was never near another runner for more than a few seconds. It was just a long time to be alone in your own head pep talking yourself on to the finish. Around mile 21 I was sad to see that my new friend from Michigan was having stomach problems. As I passed and encouraged her we were caught by MA and we all slowed to a walk for a few seconds to encourage each other on to the finish. I can’t lie, it felt so good to just stop for a second. I knew I had to get moving or I was not going to be able to start running again. MA pulled ahead of us and for the next mile or so AH and I struggled together. The crowds loved seeing a pair of us, and around mile 22 we were greeted by one of my favorite get me going tunes “Gotta get through this” but my legs were just trashed. AH had to fall back, her stomach just wouldn’t settle. I started looking at the watch to figure out the damage. Poor math skills told me I might still be able to break 3 hours if I was running under 8 minute pace. Forgot about that last .2 mile stretch :)

The last few miles I just struggled to get to the finish. My quads and hamstrings were completely shot and I just kept looking at the crowds hoping for a break in them so I could walk and spend a few seconds without pain. Alas, those Boston cheerleaders lined the course and screamed for me to keep going. The stream of male runners now was a bit more frequent but nothing was getting me moving. Around mile 24 a baritone sax played a jazz tune I like and I sang along clearly showing my energy levels were just fine. Shortly after the Citgo sign I finally saw my parents smiling and cheering me onto the finish. I gave them my now perfected “Not my Day” smile and a wave.

I was once again frightened for my legs on the last dip under the bridge on Commonwealth before turning onto Hereford. Again I hoped for a break in the crowds so I could walk or slow, but again there were screams of “We love your headband” and I smiled and kept moving. As I made my way up Hereford smiling to the crowd so happy this was almost over I was passed by a small Asian man who I immediately recognized as my fellow club member KL. The joke when I found out I was accepted into the elite start was that I should wear a shirt suggesting Ryan Hall give me an encouraging pat as he passed me late in the race, and then I was told to make sure I didn’t let KL catch me and slap me on the ass. Well thankfully KL is a gentleman and he said nothing as he passed, but I screamed like a crazy woman for him, happy he was running so well for his Birthday.

The last quarter mile you get over your pain for those few minutes and just soak up the finish. I smiled and waved at the crowds and just was so happy to be almost done. Since the clocks were mass wave time I had no idea of my time as I crossed the finish line and heard my name. When I finished I was immediately greeted by a volunteer who wanted to usher me to the VIP tent. But I could see KL ahead of me and wanted to congratulate him. I hobbled and screamed his name repeatedly until he heard me. I gave him a big hug. He informed me he thought he had missed he PR by a few seconds and started to tell me his splits before I told him I needed to peel away and get some dry clothes. From about the 10k on I had been dumping water on my head and now that I wasn’t moving I was getting cold quick. Someone with a videocamera asked me for a quick interview, which just seemed so bizarre to me after running so far from my goal, but I smiled and answered her questions before getting my medal and being ushered to the VIP tent to get my bag. The volunteers were awesome and had my bag to me within seconds of me making it into the tent.

I quickly found all the girls I had met that morning and while most of us came short of our goals that day I was happy to hear that Caitlin Smith had qualified for the trials! And MY had finished in 2:49 after being unsure if she would even be able to finish. The tent was a bit crowded and apparently some of the men felt it was ok to just let it all hang out as they neglected to find a changing room so I said my goodbyes and got out of there to find my parents and get into my dry clothes. I had intended to get back out and watch friends finish, but as usual I wasn’t walking too well and the logistics of getting from where I was to the course seemed awfully daunting. So I called my parents and told them to meet me at the hotel.

As I made my way to the hotel I called my husband and we chatted about the race. He was surprised that I wasn’t upset, fearing I would be upset not only about coming so far from the OTQ but about missing sub 3 here yet again. But I really think it almost would have been worse to come close to the goal but still miss it. The good thing about having such a rough time here last year was that it was not a shock this year when things started to seem eerily familiar. It turns out the past three years here I have run almost exactly the same time on the back half of the course. End results being 3:16, 3:06, and 3:00. Was it what I wanted, no. But it certainly wasn’t the end of the world. Did it sting a little to know I placed behind runners that I know I am capable of running with, sure. But the goal wasn’t to come to Boston and run a safe conservative feel good race. The goal was to OTQ and have a great experience in the elite start. So only one of those goals was achieved. Unfortunately when you set your goals high you are bound to fail spectacularly every now and then. I am glad that I have figured out how to take that failure in stride.

End result was 3:00:46, my second fastest marathon ever, my fastest Boston. It was perhaps one of my stupidest run races, 14 minutes slower on the back half is just ugly. I learned a ton of lessons from this experience, and I learned a lot about myself. This course is certainly not a slow one, clearly the weather and conditions were perfect for doing something amazing on Monday. The fastest marathon ever was run that morning, Ryan Hall ran the fastest marathon by an American ever. Countless elites and friends ran personal bests. No excuses, I just didn’t live up to expectations on Monday, and that’s ok.

I think the farther away from the race the more disappointed I am in myself. Which is a first, usually I feel better about my efforts after things settle down. But this time I can’t lie, I just didn’t run a smart race. I ran like I was in a 10km race, not a marathon. Lesson learned, don’t go out so fast that you won’t recover and be able to hold the pace. How many workouts did I have this winter where I learned this yet come race day I just threw that out the window? That said I am disappointed that despite all the hard work my body just doesn’t seem capable of running an aggressive marathon, yes I went out too fast, but it wasn’t like I did something insane, all the girls I started with have run similar times as me in short and long races, I just wasn’t able to handle the pace on that course, and they were. I realize my strength lies in running a steady effort race, but I can’t help wishing my body was capable of more, that my mind was able to push through better, that I could tap into some deeper well allowing me to run well even if it isn’t the exact way I would prefer to run the race.

I definitely need to work on my mental tenacity here and I need to play to my strengths next attempt. No more hilly courses when the goal is to run a time. A more low key atmosphere where I can focus on running relaxed and steady will be key. But despite how I felt directly after the race I know I am not done with Boston yet. I will figure out how to run my best race here one of these years!

All that to say this Boston is a race I will never forget. It was an amazing experience. I wouldn’t take anything back other than the fast start and my shoe choice (I’m down one toenail, with another looking like it is on the way out). Was the elite start at Boston the best way for me to go about achieving the OTQ, clearly not. A look at the results showed that all but two females from the elite start who were behind me dropped from the race. Not a single female from the elite start ran between 2:45 and 2:46. But as one of the women I started with said, the morning before the race is one of my favorite running memories. For each story of victory at Boston there is a story of loss. And I am so happy for all those that were able to line it up on the day. And I look forward to doing the same for myself soon!

Boston Quickie

I feel like I have been in mad dash mode since Saturday evening when I got to Boston, no time to just stop and breathe. Needless to say I need a few days to process everything before I write a real race report. But some initial thoughts and splits are below.


Starting with the elite women at Boston was just an amazing experience. The whole morning is just a blur of good times. I met some fantastic women and was just so relaxed and happy to be a part of something so special. That said I severely underestimated the mental demands of running this marathon by yourself and I need to invest some serious time in preparing myself to race better solo in the future.

Clearly I got a bit caught up in the moment the first 5k or so. Rookie mistake and I paid for it by running alone from about mile 4 on, and my quads, per the norm here, starting to rebel as early as 10 miles.

I need to find some new racing shoes before my next marathon. My feet were bloodied and blistered yet again, and I do think they contributed a bit to the shredded quads. My downhill form leaves something to be desired, and racing flats just aren't cutting it for this type of course.

As usual I feel like the luckiest girl on the planet. My family drove all the way from Michigan to see me, I had friends go out of their way to visit the start line just to see me run the first 30 seconds of the race, dozens of friends spent their morning on their computers tracking me, I came home to a beautiful bouquet of flowers, and others have been busy sending me links to photos of me in the race. I am truly blessed.

Mentally I am in such a better place than I was last year after this race which was a pleasant surprise. Last year I was nothing short of devastated after this race, I was an emotional mess. I am proud that I have learned how to take the good and the bad races in stride and know that I will use this as fuel to do better next time. After a few days of reflection I know I will be back at Boston next year and maybe #7 will be the year I figure out how to tackle those downhills!

Per usual the Cleveland crew did great. Once again roomed with the amazing Barb Broad who I am so proud to call my friend. She again took her age group by storm running a 3:19:01 marathon PR. The SERC masters were a close second in the team competition with Kam Lee missing his PR by 1 second (and catching and passing me on Hereford!), Mark Godale running a 2:41 just a week after his 100 KM race, and Paul Romanic running a PR 2:42. SERC ladies didn't fare quite as well, but we did manage to come in the top ten, placing 6th. My friend Beth rocked out her first Boston despite feeling under the weather and crashing her bike early in the week, she is the definition of tough. Countless others from the club ran their best Bostons. A few, like me, had a rough day, but we all had a great time. Very proud to be a member of SERC.

Athlete Alert

Event: 2011 Boston Marathon
Runner: Elizabeth Hansen
Latest Results:
Location Time Pace/mile

All times are unofficial. Times may vary in post race official results.

Athlete Alert

Event: 2011 Boston Marathon
Runner: Elizabeth Hansen
Latest Results:
Location Time Pace/mile

All times are unofficial. Times may vary in post race official results.

Athlete Alert

Event: 2011 Boston Marathon
Runner: Elizabeth Hansen
Latest Results:
Location Time Pace/mile

All times are unofficial. Times may vary in post race official results.


Before every big race I always stop to reflect on all of the amazing people I have supporting me. I'm still not quite sure how I got so lucky, but I really do have the best family and friends anyone could ask for, and they all support this crazy hobby of mine. I am eternally grateful for their support.

Somehow I have managed to surround myself with this huge network of real life and virtual friends who want to see me succeed. That is not always a given in endurance sports so I am glad I have found myself this perfect niche that helps drive me to be better while accepting me at whatever level I am at.

Clearly I want to qualify for the 2012 Olympic Trials this year, and the goal is to try to do that Monday, but regardless of the outcome on Monday I want to remember to be grateful for how far I have come, and for all the wonderful people who have made it possible for me to do so. Monday is going to be an amazing experience toeing the line with literally some of the best female marathoners in the world. And trust me I do not take that for granted, a lot of hard work got me here, and I plan to enjoy every minute of Mondays race!

Hopefully the athlete alerts will work this year and you will be getting live updates here on the blog! But if not the bib number is F47 and live tracking should be available on the BAA site Monday morning! Start is at 9:32 AM and the plan is to roll through the finish before 12:18 PM if at all possible :)

Thanks to everyone that has followed me here and supported me virtually and in real life. I truly am such a lucky lady!

Thursday Pre-Marathon "Tempo" Run

Seems like I have always done a few miles at marathon pace in place of the usual tempo before most marathons. Not sure it really does anything for you other than being a nice mental break from easy running during the final taper week. And also good to practice pace and get a last "feel" for it. But typically I don't feel that great so not sure it is always the best mental workout. Gladly today felt fine. Granted we were blessed again with a tail wind on marginal today. (And it looks like we may be "blessed" with the same at Boston Monday. While a tailwind sounds fantastic to me, it definitely will warm things up a bit, and predicted temps are starting to creep a little higher than would seem ideal for this midwest runner who hasn't run in more than a few days over mid 30s since October! But hopefully once I am in race shorts and a tank the temps will feel perfect. Add water stops and fingers crossed I will be feeling fine.) Workout today was 5 miles, 3 at 7:00 pace and 2 at 6:20 (I wanted to hit 6:15 for these as that is the pace I am thinking I will target on Monday). Ended up getting in a little over 7.5 miles and with warm up and cool down averaged 6:57.

Tempo miles felt pretty easy. During the marathon paced section it wasn't necessarily easy, but it wasn't that much work, I did find if I relaxed too much or chatted too much the pace would slip, so need to be a little more conscious on Monday. 6:58, 6:57, 6:50, 6:14, 6:13

Hamstrings both felt good, no tightness. Things just felt a little "funny," likely residual effects from the new A.R.T. treatment. I've been sleeping funny from the sinus infection too so I am hoping my lower back and piriformis will feel better after a few more days of normal sleep and getting away from the desk. Energy levels are coming back around. Nose is still running a bit while running, and this bit of gunk is clinging on making me cough a bit, but even if it stays at this level I should be good to go Monday. So much better than how I felt Sunday!

Have I mentioned I have not been a fan of taper this go around? So ready to get on that plane Saturday and get the Boston party started!


Starting to feel like myself again! Managed two miles at the track last night around marathon pace and felt pretty good (6:10 and 6:15). Followed that up with 4*200 at 39, 38, 38, and 37 and other than some hacking and a slight runny nose felt pretty good. Funny how ones body can go through the gamut of paces in such a short time period. From flying on Thursday, to drudging on Sunday, to solid on Tuesday. My legs are definitely probably feeling bi-polar right now.

Still clinging onto a bit of gunk this morning on my shake out run, but energy levels are close to 100 and this is a hack I can deal with as it is clearly on its way out!

Went in for my last A.R.T. session. My right leg has had no issues in a few weeks, but my left hammy just won't seem to let go of that last bit of tightness. Well we'll see tomorrow, but I have a really good feeling that we got it worked out this morning. He worked on the sciatic nerve which apparently had attached itself to my hammy a bit, which is why it wouldn't let go of that last little bit of tension.

And even more fabulous news. Joan Benoit Samuelsen is running in the womens elite start at Boston! AAANNND likely going for the OTQ. As if this whole thing wasn't already exciting enough. Fingers crossed that she does intend to go for the OTQ and that she plans to run an even effort race, cuz if so I sense I am going to be running with a great group on Monday :)

Marathon Week 7 Rundown

Goals for the week:

Total Mileage: 50 - 55

Monday: Easy.
Tuesday: Track.
Wednesday and Friday: easy miles @ 7:20 or slower. 6 x 30 sec @ 5:30 pace with full recovery on Friday
Thursday: Tempo run; 6 miles @ 6:25
10 miles @ 7:00
12 miles @ 7:10

How it played out:
1 sinus infection kicking my butt starting Thursday night, better part of Friday and Saturday spent coughing, better part of Sunday and Monday spent sleeping. Started antibiotics Saturday night. Cough seems to have subsided this morning. Still a bit groggy from all the time spent in bed but I think I am coming around. Not how I wanted to feel this weekend, but better now than next weekend!
48 miles
6 runs (Friday no run)
Weekend runs were slow and Saturday was cut to 5 miles.
4200 meters swam in 3 workouts
1 ART session for the hammy's
1 massotherapy session

Speedy Finish Tempo

Goal for the run was 6 miles at 6:25. I asked coach Tuesday what was up with the slower pace on the tempo. He advised me that he didn't want to give me anything too difficult this week as he didn't want me to struggle and have a perceived bad workout messing with my head after last weekends long run. Well I told him as long as the weather was fine I was going to aim to at least run goal marathon pace for the run.

MY is finally starting to heal so she decided to join me. I was excited to have company, but worried about running too fast since she hasn't done speed work in awhile. I didn't want my workout to send her back to the injured ranks.

Since we were heading out into a headwind today I told her we'd try for 6:25 for the first three and 6:15-6:20 for the last three. We were chatting casually the first mile as I looked down to see an average of 6:37 around the half mile. Hmm perhaps this wind was a bit stronger than I anticipated. Shut my mouth and got to work to bring us down closer to 6:25, knowing it was no big deal if we were a little slow on the way out because clearly it would be easier on the way back in. After the first mile we settled in and the miles just flew by. When we turned around it was obvious the wind was stronger than I thought because we actually backed off the intensity a smidge and ran almost 20 seconds faster that mile. I asked MY several times if her leg was ok as we continued to up the pace, and she said everything was good so we just flew the last 3 miles back. It felt so smooth. Definitely should try to do more of these tempos where we finish with the tail wind and perhaps run a bit more conservatively the first few miles. I felt like I could have hammered out a few more easily. So a nice feeling leading into the weekend!


Average 6:12


Mother Nature has apparently not been getting the training memos. Showed up to the track last night and instead was greeted by a wind tunnel. So far this spring we've had one decent track night that wasn't either freezing, raining, or crazy winds. The wind last night thwarted our goal workout of 5* (800, 400) at 5k pace and instead we did 300s to try and get in some decent speed without facing the wind every lap. Have I mentioned I pretty much despise anything shorter than quarters on the track? :)

This workout seemed easy in principal, but I had a hell of a time with it. Goal was to run 300 around 60-62 then jog the 100 meters straight into the next repeat. Really wasn't sure where the 300 mark was so we opted for the marker we thought was 300, I am pretty sure it was, but regardless we did 12 repeats somewhere between 299 and 301 meters. Pretty quickly I realized I was not going to be able to hold 60/61 with the minimal rest (about 26-30 seconds) and I started dogging the recovery jogs eventually walking to catch my breath and getting scolded to just back off the 300 pace rather than walk the recovery (longest recovery was 46 seconds). So I just kept jogging the recoveries, and the last few 300s were closer to 63 and 64.

Both NC and I felt really weird during the cool down, like our legs were made of jello and our brains were frozen. I think it was just the cold wind combined with the workout making me feel fuzzy, but who knows. Thank goodness it is taper time and the hay is in the barn, because that workout was not fun! Maybe next week Mother Nature will play nice!

Mental Soundtrack

While I am not a proponent of running with headphones, I have to admit I do run with music. The music in my head.

As I am getting fired up for Boston I have been subconsciously firing up a mental playlist. There are days when a good tune is just what I need to get through a tough workout. Sometimes I intentionally pick a song that helps me keep the pace, (although sometimes it is hard to switch off whatever is in there and switch to my desired "soundtrack") sometimes it is just the last song I heard in the car that gets stuck in there, but usually when the running gets rough there is some sort of tune or tunes on repeat in my head that fall right into my desired cadence. Below are a few that currently either get me fired up before the run or get me in the groove during a tough spot.

Born this way - Lady Gaga
Higher - Taio Cruz
Breaking Dishes - Rhianna
More - Usher
Tonight - Enrique Iglesias
My Body - Young the Giant
New Low - Middle Class Rut
Howlin for You - Black Keys
Not Afraid - Eminem

And a few of my old staples for getting fired up. How funny that before Columbus both Usher and Enrique were on my mental fire it up list with different songs. These guys just know how to get this girl fired up I guess!

OMG - Usher
I Like It - Enrique Iglesias
Suddenly I See - KT Tunstall
I Gotta Feeling - BEP
Dirt off my shoulder - Jay-Z
Go Gadget Flow - Lupe Fiasco
Swing your rag - TI
Green Light - John Legend
Pump it Up - Elvis Costello
Evacuate the Dance Floor - Cascada
Heads Will Roll - Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Lasso - Phoenix

What tunes currently get you fired up to workout or race?

Weekly Rundown Marathon Training Week 6

Coaches goals for the week:

Total Mileage 60-65
Monday: Easy
Tuesday: Track
Wednesday and Friday: easy miles @ 7:20 or slower. 6 x 30 sec @ 5:30 pace with full recovery on Friday
Thursday: Tempo run
12 miles @ 7:00
16 miles @ 6:25 avg. (start @ 6:35 and last 5 under 6:20) 2 mile warmdown

How it played out:

65 miles
7 runs
5 swims totaling 6700 meters
1 ART session
1 Massotherapy session

Bring on the taper!

That was Rough!

The problem with big key workouts is sometimes they just don't go as planned, and sometimes they just don't feel that great! Thanks goodness that has not been the case for the majority of my workouts building up to Boston. Before Columbus there were plenty of "blown" tempos, and many track workouts that ended in seriously slow repeats. But this build up almost all of my key workouts have been achieved since switching to marathon focus, and those that weren't met before during the lactate threshold phase weren't too far off.

I can't lie, training for a spring marathon and living in the Midwest is many times an exercise in frustration. You can't race much, weather screws up your plans a lot, and a lot of times you deal with injuries. The lack of sunshine affects your mood, and it is sometimes hard to find the confidence that you easily obtain during the build up to a fall marathon. I've definitely had some highs and lows mentally this build up, and unfortunately I seem to be in a mental low this week. Possibly because I had a tough work week, possibly the reality of racing in just over two weeks is hitting me and that brings with it some fear. Without any real races since the Kent 5k I find myself in familiar territory wondering just what my body is actually capable of.

All of that leading into todays last long run. And boy was it a doozy! Before Columbus we did a big 18 miler two weeks out too. Then the goal was run 6:35-6:45 for 18 miles, we ended up averaging 6:34 and I went on to run 6:30 pace at Columbus. This go around goal was 18 miles with 16 averaging 6:25, last 5 of the 16 at or better than 6:20. We hooked up with some our teams fast guys to try and get more of a race feel and learn to sit back "in the pack" and take advantage of their company.

Well I just didn't feel good today. Despite the great company and pretty good weather I was just juiced. It probably didn't help that the pace was a little aggressive, sitting at a 6:29 average for the whole run at mile 9 which included a 7:29 warm up mile, we had been running an average of 6:24 pace from mile 1 through mile 12 when we were to pick things up. Thought I would get a bounce at mile 11 when we stopped at the car to get water and gel and I stripped down to shorts and a t-shirt. And I did get a brief boost, but that was killed quickly after about 1.5 miles into the pick up. I was struggling and I really just wanted to quit. I wasn't doing poorly. I was right around 6:20 pace, but I was just dying to do it. I kept searching for some motivation to get myself in gear but I could not find it. At mile 15 I noted that I was at an average of 6:28 pace for the whole run and told myself that at 16 I could head straight to the cool down. 6:28 is pretty darn close to 6:25 and I was just not feeling it. I walked for a few minutes after mile 16 and sucked it up and decided to try and at least give one more mile a good effort, but the mental damage was already done, I had quit and I was disappointed. I eeked out a 6:23 and then suffered my way through a 1 mile cool down.

I have not been that mentally or physically juiced by a long run in a long time. I spent the next few hours beating myself up for not just finding that other mental gear and pushing through. Funny how 6 little minutes of suffering was just too much for me to withstand today, and how 6 little minutes are the difference between being thrilled over a run and beating myself up about it. Mostly I am just dissapointed because I thought that I had gained enough strength and mental "callusing" that this type of thing was in the past for me. Turns out I am still human :)

After an easy swim, a long hot shower, and shopping for some friends I am feeling better about things. Better to have a "bad*" run today than in two weeks at Boston. Let's hope I got that out of the way and that now I am ready to rock and roll at Boston! I have two weeks to get my mental "A" game ready and my body recovered from this training block.

*Even with two miles close to 8 minute pace the total average pace for today's 18 was 6:31, albeit with two brief breaks. And 15 miles at 6:24 pace is certainly the fastest 15 miles I have ever run. Not bad for sure. Just wish it had felt a bit better :)