Last week I ran my first real PW - personal worst race ever. It wasn't a "worst" by a few seconds or even a few minutes. I ran a half marathon a full 16+ minutes slower than my best half marathon just two months ago. Of course, I'm not buying the photos from my PW event, but I had to laugh at my finish line pictures.

Check out the finish line photo at my best event - 13.1 NYC on April 3 (1:40:12) - and the finish line photo at my worst event - Johnny Kelley Half Marathon in Hyannis on May 30 (1:57:48).

Can you guess which is which? :)
Which should come first...

Ok, here's the good news: I'm officially an RRCA certified running coach! Woohoo! I spent Saturday in CPR and First Aid certification, aced both tests and walked out of there with the last pieces of preparation I needed to become a coach. I promptly sent copies of my cards to my coaching mentor Janet Hamilton and received this note back:

"I’m pleased to say 'congratulations coach'. You have successfully completed the certification requirements and are now an RRCA certified coach."

I am so excited to call myself a coach. Any day now I'll be listed on the RRCA website. YAY! Now to create my first training plan. :)

On to the bad news: I PWed in the half marathon! I ran my worst half marathon ever yesterday at the Johnny Kelley Half Marathon in Hyannis. A race that was my PR in February is my flop in May. I'm quickly discovering that I seem to stink at running in temperatures over 70 degrees. I didn't learn this too well last year because I avoided all races between April and October thanks to my wedding and honeymoon. Prior to that I never raced longer than a 5 miler in the summer, so I just didn't know. Now I know. I need to step up the heat training to do well in these warm weather races.

I'm not dwelling on yesterday's race... Just hoping it all pays off for that October marathon.
Until then, I'll only be racing 5Ks and 10Ks and everything in between. I don't think I even want to run faster than a 9:00 pace for 10+ miles in the heat. Uggh.

Happy and safe running!

I hope everyone is enjoying their Memorial Day weekend. I just wanted to wish all of our troops and veterans well. Thank you for all that you do and have done for our country. I look forward to running for you guys again in Run to Home Base 2011!

I've never been a charity runner. As a runner since I was 12, it's hard for me to even imagine using charity as an excuse to run or an excuse to get into an exclusive race. For instance, I will never use charity as a reason to run the Boston Marathon. I'll only be getting in there if I earn it.

Then, one day a few months ago, I received an email from the Boston Red Sox. This local team of mine was asking for runners to sign up for the Run to Home Base 9K. This race would begin on Yawkey Way and end on home plate in Fenway Park. OMG OMG OMG... That's all I could really think. OMG OMG OMG...

Then I saw the price tag: $1,000.

$1,000 to run a race? No, not really. It was $1,000 to run a race for charity.

My immediate reaction was that this goes against all of my rules. Then I looked at what the charity really is.

There are three causes I support regularly for various reasons in my own life.
1. ALS research - This horrible disease has taken someone dear to me. I'll do whatever I can to help this cause.
2. Our troops - These people risk their lives every day so I don't have to worry about mine. My grandfather stole away to WWII at the age of 16 and I still hear the stories today. I have a deep respect for military men and women.
3. Animal welfare - Some people are people people, some are animal people. I don't own pets anymore, but I can't stand to see an animal hurting for any reason. I consider myself a bit of an animal person.

That said, when I saw that the Run to Home Base supported our troops by raising money for brain injury and traumatic stress disorder treatment... I was in. I didn't sign up right away. I still don't like the idea of raising money to run a race. Just seems weird to me. But for such a great cause I couldn't resist. A few weeks later, I signed up.

Not long after, I was recruited to join the Remy Team's race crew. This was a lot of fun and provided me with extra fundraising support, which I was grateful for. Not many of my friends have a money to give to a fundraiser. Not many of my friends understand my need to run either, but that's another story.

The one problem with the Remy Team was all the talk about starting and finishing the race together. This is when it becomes charity running again. I love to RUN. Not dilly dally and fool around for some cute photos. The morning of the race, I skipped out on meeting my team so I could line up near the front of the race.

Race Start

We were asked to get to Fenway early. Then we basically sat there for an hour. It wasn't bad though... had the best seats of my life. :)

About half hour before the start, the announcer asked runners to head to the corrals on Yawkey Way. We had 30 minutes till the start, but I headed over anyway. And waited. And waited. They finally started the speakers, all 50 of them, around 8:00 and we started running about 25 minutes late. Many of the speakers were great and had stories to share... Others were sponsors I could have done without. One racer next to me asked me if I remembered how to run when they were all done speaking. It did feel like forever.

We finally lined up at the start. Me right near the front. And we were off!

The Run

First mile was way too fast - a result of starting in the front. I clocked a 6:52 first mile. It actually didn't feel all that bad, but I thought I'd run this race around 7:30 pace, my last 10K time. I tried to stay around 7:00 but it definitely caught up to me later. Let's just say I didn't have negative splits.

We ran out of the Fenway area, down Mass Ave., over the bridge to Memorial Drive, down Memorial to the right, then looped back to the left, then looped back again to Mass Ave, over the bridge and back to Fenway.

It was a VERY fast run. It went by fast and felt fast. Great flat course with lots of water stops! It was so well organized, especially for a first time race. I just loved it.

As I was running, I realized that not that many women had passed me. I thought there was a chance I was in the top of my age group, but I wasn't entirely sure. I'm also not even sure I like that stat at all. How well I place really only depends on who I'm running with, right? So if no one good runs, then what does that tell me about me? Nothing. It is fun to place near the top... especially when telling family who don't know the difference between a 7:30 and 8:30 pace. I'm Just not sure place matters much to me personally.

In any case, I kept chugging along and my quads started screaming. I am only 3 weeks out from my marathon, which had me limping for a week. So really only two weeks of more comfortable running before I went out and ran this all out. I didn't care much though... It was fun. :)

Race Finish

As we headed down the back way to Fenway near Jillian's, I started trying to pick it up. I didn't have a lot left in the tank, but I got the pace back up to 7:00-7:10 after dropping down to the 7:20s. One chick passed me, but she was nice and cheered me along. I appreciated that and didn't mind that I couldn't keep her from passing me. My legs were screaming. I wished her well and was happy to see her passing some dudes ahead of me. Go girl!

Then we turned onto Landsdowne, I knew I could go faster, but it hurt. Know what kicked me in gear? A spot of pink in the corner of my eye. Another girl was sneaking up on me. Oh nononononon. I may not care what place I'm in, but I'm not letting someone draft off me only to kick my butt in the last quarter of a mile. So I found 5th gear and took off.

We turned sharply into Fenway... me, pink and this guy who I leapfrogged back and forth throughout the race. We then turned sharply onto the warning track near the Green Monster.


Fenway seemed packed to me, even though it wasn't at all. I can only imagine how it feels to be a player. I felt like a rockstar or something. So cool.

Now I'm on the warning track, having cut off a few folks (sorry!). Then I did whatever I could to get faster and faster and a little faster. I pulled away from my merry crew... Only to get passed by a Prefontaine wannabe in, where else, the last 10 feet!!

Oh well. It was FABULOUS to run that race.

Fenway and the Troops

I was sad to be done, but awed by Fenway. I slowly walked around and started seeing soldiers along the way. I shook every hand and thanked every one of them for all that they do.

Before the race, I wrote names of military men that I know all over my arms. When I had to dig down and get those quads moving, I just thought about my grandfather, the men who lost their lives in war and those who are in Iraq and Afghanistan now. It was an honor to wear their names and an honor to raise money to help them recover from the stress they have to bear now. I would do it again in a heartbeat.

As I approached home base, I saw Army Chief of Staff General George Casey. I got to shake his hand. It was so cool to meet him... Even if I did miss actually STEPPING on home base as a result of that handshake. Only me. My husband will never let me live that down.

I'll just have to do it again next year. :)

Final tally on fundraising - $1,070!

I loved the experience of this charity run. I loved helping that cause. I loved the race. And I'm happy to be able to share photos and videos of it all with troops in service now. If you want to support our military or just wish some great people well, check out the Facebook Group for B Company 412th Aviation Support Battalion (B Co 412 ASB). The real heroes!

Enjoy your Memorial Day weekend and give thanks to our troops!
You don't realize how much you miss your blog until it's taken away from you. FatCow took several weeks to get its act together and finally fix whatever problem was keeping my posts from showing up. I'm grateful for the fix, but not at all happy with how long it took.

Anyway, quick recap...

  • Still recovering from Providence Marathon, sort of.
  • Ran a nice fast 9K yesterday and raised $1,070 for the Run to home Base! Awesome finishing in Fenway Park. Just awesome. More to come on that later.
  • Have my CPR certification this weekend to make my RRCA certification official.
  • Getting ready for the Hyannis Half this Sunday! Hope my quads feel better by then.
I'm always finding races I want to run. So I'm starting a list..

Dipsea (CA) - Did anyone see the story about this race in the May Runner's World? I have to run this race, even more so because Dipsea is so hard to get into. I may fly to California just to mail in my registration the day it opens.

London Marathon (UK) - It finishes at Buckingham Palace! Plus I'd get to visit London.

Mount Washington Road Race (NH) - 7.6 miles up 6,288 feet. Last 50 yards is a 22% incline. I love a challenge though I'm sure I'd be cursing myself during the race. Only way in is lottery. No luck this year, but I'll keep trying.

Eugene Marathon (OR) - I was inspired by Steve Prefontaine long before I even cared that much about running. He made me want to run. Now I want to run the marathon that finishes on his track at Hayward Field. I almost chose to run this marathon on May 2, 2010, but opted to stay local and run Providence. Next year... who knows!

Hood to Coast (OR) - This relay race takes place in my mom's neck of the woods. I want to run it with her. Just have to get her to run more than 20 feet!

Athens Marathon (Greece) - How awesome to run the original marathon route and finish in the birthplace of the Olympics?

Safaricom Marathon (Kenya) - My husband will see this and think I'm nuts, but this list doesn't have to be entirely sane. This marathon takes runners through a game reserve in Kenya. I don't think I'd have a shot of winning any age group prizes, but to run amongst the Kenyans in their own country... awesome.(test)
Just finished taking my exam to become a Road Runners Club of America certified running coach. Now I'm so happy to say that I passed! "A" student. :)

Now to get my CPR and First Aid certifications. That will be a nice Saturday event next weekend.

I've already had a few people ask me for running advice and I'm excited to get started. First plan of attack... Create my own personal training program for my fall marathon, which I think will be Hartford. First rule in this round of training... Always think positive!
Definitions of "Providence" according to

1. The foreseeing care and guidance of god or nature over the creatures of the earth.
2. God, esp. when conceived as omnisciently directing the universe and the affairs of humankind with wise benevolence.
3. A manifestation of divine care or direction.

4. Provident or prudent management of resources; prudence.
5. Foresight; provident care.

I'm not a religious or even a particularly spiritual person, but running the Providence Marathon today, I figured it couldn't hurt to think that maybe the stars would align and this would be my day to qualify for Boston. I've trained more this winter than ever before for a marathon. My half marathon times have been awesome for me. This could be it!

Not the case.

I ran a great race, right on pace give or take a few seconds, through the first 20 miles. 20 miles on pace! I'm very proud of that. Keeping that pace after mile 20... not easy in 80 degree temperatures.

While the rest of Rhode Island was enjoying the lovely sunshine and warm temps in their flip flops and shorts, those of us running the Providence Marathon were cursing. Why, of all days, did we have to have this weather?

You see it's not just the heat that's bad. It's what the heat does to you. Or to me at least. I take water and Gatorade from every fuel station I pass, but I don't drink all of it because I have a sensitive stomach. By mile 21 in 80 degree temperatures, my body was CRAVING fluids. I tried to take more earlier, but I knew it would come down to one problem or another -- stomach pain or dehydration. 

When I passed some waterways in the 20 mile range, I was tempted to jump in. I'm not even kidding. I was overheating. The next aid station I hit, I walked through it and drank several cups of fluids. Another big mistake. I started running just past the last volunteer handing out Gatorade and 30 seconds later thought I was going to throw up everything I just drank. I didn't, but that feeling never went away.

Another issue for me: I absolutely hate long stretches of roads or trails. A long stretch where I can see like 1/2 mile down the road is a nightmare for me. I thrive on courses with lots of scenery, spectators, twists and turns. Providence Marathon did not have a lot that, other than a couple of twists and turns. Very few spectators. A lot of residential streets and bike trails. A lot of boredom for me. Some people may love that. I just can't stand it. Too much time to think about every step.

So, combine the heat, my exhaustion, my nausea, my boredom with the lack of spectators and long stretches of straightaways... And I had a bad race. Or at least worse than I would have hoped.

But even with all that said, all of those excuses, I still think it was a mental battle I should have overcome. I had a few miles early on, including a few on some big hills, when I could have gone a little slower. Not much, but a little. That may have helped stay on pace till mile 22 or 23 at least, so I would have had fewer miles to suffer through in the heat at the end.

I also psyched myself out. Looking back at my Garmin stats, my 8:20ish pace dropped to 8:45 at mile 20. I remember it freaking me out, because I didn't have that much space to play with to qualify for Boston, so I tried to run the next mile fast. My "fast" at that point was only 8:35. Just a half hour earlier my fast was around 8:00 pace. I started really freaking out. I started to think maybe I won't be able to do this... THAT did me in. Once that thought entered my head everything in my body hurt. I started noticing every pain, every blister, my dizziness from the heat, my heavy legs, my heavy clothes from dumping a glass of water on myself... Just awful. I let in that seed of doubt and I let everything get to me.

Not my wisest move.

I honestly don't know that I could have BQed today, even if I overcame all of those mental and physical challenges, but I think I could have done better.

I'll just chalk up this race to more marathon experience. I'm glad I did it. And I'm looking forward to the next one even more.

Final time: 3:51:32 -- 7 seconds behind my NYC Marathon time, 10 minutes and 33 seconds away from Boston qualifying time.
We're here! I'm writing to you now from the Renaissance Hotel's 24-hour business center. It's quite nice, though these computers are way outdated... But anyway.

We had a great dinner at Andino's in Federal Hill. Now we're off to watch Fire Water. Then to bed early.

I'm excited and nervous about tomorrow. My biggest "dilemma" now is just deciding if I want to wear my headphones or not. I've never worn them for a marathon, and thought I never would, but after a few great training runs and shorter races with them... I'm wondering. I'll probably make a last minute decision about that in the morning.

I just wanted to wish my fellow Providence marathon and half marathon runners great luck in tomorrow's race! Hope we're all celebrating PRs over a beer when it's all over.

See you on the pavement at 8:00 am.
I can't believe it's marathon weekend.

It's now almost exactly six months since my last marathon. I've had six months to think about all the mistakes I made in NYC. Six months to wish I hadn't gone out too fast then. Six months to prepare for what I have to do this Sunday. Now it's all passed. I've done everything I can do. I just have to wait and see.

In the running coach class I took two weeks ago, i learned a lot about visualization. Visualization is a powerful tool that well trained runners use to prepare for an upcoming event. The thinking is if you are very focused and visualize something from start to finish, even the seemingly impossible, it actually can happen.

Here goes an abbreviated version...

I see myself at that starting line, waiting with anticipation. I hear the starting gun and go -- SLOW! I picture myself running along the water, nice and easy. I visualize myself picking up the speed just a bit, maybe, after a few miles in. I see myself running up a few hills, enjoying the change. I see my family and friends along the route. Reaching the half marathon mark. Starting to run at that threshold of pain, so my hip joints don't explode! Taking my water and fuel. Reaching the 17 mile mark, one of my least favorites. Tuning out the boredom and the pain. Reaching the 20 mile mark! Getting excited now. Just a few more miles. Mile 22, 23, 24... Time to let it all out now! Finally closing in on that 26.2!

Boston Marathon will happen one day, but providence must come first.

All I have left to do now is think.

Oh, and go to the expo tomorrow. Yay running stuff! :)