Tag Archives: running

Three little letters

I was worried. I was worried you were going to show up looking terrible and want to continue and I would have to tell you to stop. You have no idea how relieved I was when you were adult enough to pull yourself out — Dad
I wonder if this is where they get the starter's gun
I DNFed a race. The big one for the season. I suppose it was inevitable. You do enough endurance races, and at some point it won’t be your day. How did we get here?
Before I get into it, a quick thank you to everyone who supported me going into and coming out of this race, especially my dad who traveled ~20 hours in total to watch.
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Rev3 Old Orchard Beach: Stop and go penalty

Alisa, my home stay/teammate from Portland last year, flew into Boston and we drove up to OOB together on Saturday. An early morning for me was an even earlier morning for her coming from the West Coast. Friday had been an interesting day. I had run into work, and though it’s only a 2.5 mile run, I had felt terrible. I decided not to run that evening on account of not feeling great and having a stomach that wasn’t quite settled. Despite the knowledge that I should go to sleep early, I hadn’t. So Saturday morning was a very early morning to drive the 1.5 hours to Portland. Fortunately, we had some Sludgies® to eat along the way.

Blueberries, bananas, blackberries and boranges.

Blueberries, bananas, blackberries and boranges.

Upon our arrival, Alisa went to swim and I just messed around for a bit, talking to the Powerbar rep, saying hi to all of the Rev3 family that I’ve come to know so well, and getting myself psyched to go for a run. I realized I had forgotten my Garmin, but no matter. I’ve been running with it a lot less frequently during the summer of nomojo, and having done the half course last year I vaguely knew where things were. As I ran, as I often do, I alternated between being in the zone and dreading the next few steps. This is not an infrequent occurrence, but when I have less mojo, the speed with which I alternate between the two states increases dramatically. Around mile 4 of my run, I stopped and used a portapotty[1]. Made it to 5 miles and decided it was time to turn around. I ended up walking a bit of the run in: my head was definitely taking it’s time working through what it wanted to do.

While checking in my bike, I ended up talking to a city council member from Old Orchard Beach, who was raving about the triathletes and how they bring such a good group to Old Orchard Beach. Well, Old Orchard Beach certainly does a great job in bringing out the best volunteers.

Alisa and I both grabbed an early dinner and then headed back to the motel. I ended up watching a bit of Too Cute Puppies/Kittens. Perhaps the best thing to get someone psyched up before a race?!

Early is terrible

Early is terrible

The Swim
I had a long time before my swim wave went off, so I spent the time drinking Coke and having Swedish Fish and Goldfish. You know, the standard. My stomach had seemed settled for a bit, but once I had my wetsuit on and was in the swim corral, I knew something was off. But there wasn’t enough time to do anything about it other than hope that I could keep my shit together. The tide was probably at its lowest which meant a very shallow start, including a fair bit of trudging through thigh deep water. The inbound and outbound legs seemed normal (aside from the walking) but the cross-leg seemed to go on forever. Looking at everyone’s times, it appears that it did (the fastest age groupers went through the swim in ~24 minutes which is just pretty damn slow for the fishes if there’s not something counteracting them. Also slowing people down? The cold: the water temp was announced as 62. That said, aside from my face freezing, my BlueSeventy Helix kept me warm as a… (what’s the opposite as cool as a cucumber?).

The Bike
Nothing to report here. Went entirely by feel. Dogged a bit of it where I could have pressed. Started pressing on the inbound leg, but my heart wasn’t truly in it. That said, there were moments of sheer exhilaration where everything that just clicked and felt amazing. Big todo for next year is to overhaul my drivetrain: I’m not sure I can stand the slipping gears or how much power I’m losing to it.

The run
I love running. I was giving everyone whose path I crossed a high-five. I grabbed a delicious PowerBar Pomengranate Blueberry Acai gel and probably got more of it on the ground than in my gut (it was good though. I typically go for the blander chocolate or vanilla flavored gels, but sometimes you just get lucky when you grab something). Continued on the downhills and then I made it to the mile 4 aid station where Carole was cheering for me (and everyone else):
Carole: Go Jordan! Go!!!
Me: (Pointing at the portapotty) Oh I’m going to go so hard.
Carole: (laughing) Number 1?
Me: No no.
At some point while I was in there, Carole asked if I was done yet. I’m not sure how long I had been in there. 2 minutes? 1? 3? Definitely a stop and go penalty of some sort. But hey, I’m not trying to crush myself for triathlon right now, so now reason to get in the dumps about it. So I kept on giving people high fives. Ryan passed me as he started out on the half run course and called me a sandbagger, but hey, I was just out there to have a good time.

So what are the takeaways from this race? I love it. I love racing. I loved the triathlon, and I’m a lot better at all three sports combined than I am at any one of them individually. I’m not trying, nor will I ever, set the triathlon world on fire. But whatever was missing is back now. Perhaps this means I need to race more to keep my competitive juices flowing (racing, it’s been said, is just icing on the cake… and I love icing). So now I turn my attention to the fall running schedule, which will see me take on new, terrifying challenges while trying not to be bummed that I’m currently a bit slower than I was last year. The speed will come back. And that’s a lot easier to do when the challenge of racing is ever present.

  1. For those of you new here, I had never used a portapotty until I was 25 or so, despite high school sports, etc

Oh right. So all of that happened

I had the post-marathon blues pretty bad: I wasn’t super psyched to train, I wasn’t super psyched to race. Life was good, don’t get me wrong. But I felt like the marathon training, coming back from the mangled ankle, and a general lack of focus and fitness in the biking and swimming left me far behind where I wanted to be. I traveled to Knoxville to help out with timing for Rev3, and while that was a wet and wild weekend (torrential downpours, driving all over Knoxville, etc), it didn’t bring as much of a fire to my belly as I might have hoped. So going into Quassy, I was not expecting good things.

The swim at Quassy probably went as well as I could expect. For the first time, I felt a lot of contact at the start, but I felt consistent (albeit slow) in the water. The bike was as difficult as I remembered. Up, down, around… I hit a high speed of ~50mph. While I didn’t blow up my race on the bike, I did drop my feed bottle around mile 20. Compounded with the fact that I had very little nutrition pre-race, I was going to be in a world of hurt. I was already feeling a bit of a bonk coming off the bike, and then the run… oh boy. It was 90 degrees out, and while my body might have been strong, my mind was not. Last year I had been able to run the entire course. This year, after mile 2, the course turned uphill and my mind just kind of shut the day down. I’m not sure if it’s the extra weight I’m carrying around from the lack of focused training or if I’m just being a giant wimp, but something has to give.

Today was the Mount Washington Road Race. I wish I could say I’m a mountain lion or mountain goat or whatever, but nope. The course is spectacular with views of the surrounding White Mountains. But there’s really no way to soft peddle the fact that the course is a bear. An average 11.7% grade. No downhills. No respite from climbing. No shelter from the wind above the tree line. A cruel finish that pitches up ridiculously. Yes I walked. Quite a bit of it in fact. But in doing so I had a great time with a bunch of people and prevented those thoughts that keep on telling me: just pick one sport, you’re not good at this. So up we went. Up up up into a stiff winds that were godsends when they were tailwinds and the coldest winds from the depth of hell just about any other time. And I can’t wait to try again next year: hopefully a bit lighter [1], hopefully with strong mental resolve, and hopefully, if I buckle down, much better fitness.

  1. Hopefully the June of Sobriety (except for one birthday that deserves celebrating) will help shed a few pounds.

Boston Marathon

It’s impossible to write a race report for Boston and not think about what happened after my race was over but before so many other people’s races were not. But I think part of getting back to normal, to living, is to be proud of what I accomplished that day. Not to treat the day as though nothing else happened, but to remember it for all that happened, the awesome and the awful. I’ve been trying to piece through my thoughts about the terrible things that happened, but what about the rest of the day?

It eluded us then, but that’s no matter — tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther…. And one fine morning
Shoes and medal
The marathon is, so far, a singular experience in running for me. So often, a marathon is early in the day with only the hardiest of fans (often friends and family) lining the course early on. My previous marathons were often spent with a feeling of being alone (not lonely, just running alone or around 2-3 other people). Sometimes this feeling was just because my day was not going the way I wanted it to, sometimes because there were actually no other runners around, and sometimes there was no one there to cheer you on. At Boston this was never the case. At Boston, there is always someone there, running with you, cheering just for you (or so it seemed). It’s the Boston running community. It’s the Boston community.

Given that I was in wave one, given that I am a stickler for doing as I am told, I woke up at 5 AM, took my time getting dressed in race clothes and pajamas, grabbed a bagel, two bananas, some water and jumped on the T to get on the buses to go Hopkinton. Yes, I was early. Yes, there were still 4 hours before the race would start. But given my previous history with a terrible stomach, I wanted to make sure that I was hydrated, rested, fully finished with my morning duties, and with good thoughts about race day in my head. So it was that I arrived in Hopkinton with hours until race time, hundreds of port-a-potties to be used, and scoped out a place to lie down, eat my food, get hydrated, and relax. And that’s precisely what I did.

As race time approached, I knew I had to use the bathroom one last time. I dropped off my gear bag, but didn’t know if there were port-a-potties at the start (pro-tip: there are!), so waited in line, and was finally ready to head to the start with 15 minutes to go. Jogged my way through the hordes of runners in my wave and future waves and got to the start with a couple of minutes to spare. And this is where my memory of the day is not as clear as I would wish it would be. But I remember the important parts.

The Marathon
Here’s what Steve said to do before the race and how I feel like I did:

  • Run the tangents – Not fully possible
  • Don’t come off of Heartbreak too fast, wait until you get through Cleveland Circle and on to Beacon St. before thinking about taking up the pace. – There was no pace left
  • Your first mile should be the slowest. – It was the slowest of my first half? Does that count?
  • Bring snacks/hydration with you out to Hopkinton. – SUCCESS!
  • Sit as much as possible in Hopkinton. – SUCCESS!
  • Poop as much as possible in Hopkinton. – SUCCESS!
  • Run steady and enjoy the first 16 miles without doing anything crazy dumb. – Partial success? I don’t think I did anything really dumb. My splits over the first 30K are pretty much bang on consistent.
  • Strap it on and get tough once you hit Lower Newton Falls and climb over 128/95 – that’s where the race begins. – This is where I realized I was going to be able to run up every single one of the Newton hills (which I had never run before).
  • The hills aren’t all that hard…yeah, you’ll lose a little time, but nothing serious. – That’s the truth. In fact, the finishing downhills after the uphills are worse

3:00:04. Via the splits tab, I didn’t realize I was being so consistent for the first 16 miles (all miles within 8 seconds of each other). My first five 5K splits were all within seconds of each other.
40K in
I don’t remember much specifically about the first few miles, or about the race in general. I remember male runners jumping into the woods after the first downhill to pee. I remember enormous cheers as we passed the roadside pub in Ashland. I remember reaching the 8K mark (where I had turned around the week before in my tune up) and thinking the rest of this is unknown. I kept thinking to myself: “I’m going too fast. I need to slow down. My legs didn’t feel light all week. My legs feel heavy today.” And yet I churned out mile after mile at around the same pace, running in a still enormous group. I saw my parents in Framingham, and I’m pretty sure I gave them a wave before they realized it was me. I saw a runner drop his cap, turn around and charge back into the group to get it (why?!). I was overwhelmed by the cheers at Wellesley, and then shocked when I heard a thud and realized a Wellesley student had fallen over the barricade. I got cheers from friends and friends of friends and totally random people. I saw my parents again at mile 16 (though I wasn’t expecting them to be where they were). I kept waiting for the start of the hills, then crushed it up over 128/95. I saw the RaceMenu gang at the top of Heartbreak and figured the hardest part was over.I gave just about every BC student a high five as I cruised down the hill. I had a cheering section coming around the bend in Coolidge Corner (which I would still be hard pressed to find on a map). I was tired on Beacon and failing at calculating my expected finishing time. I stopped running for a few seconds. I thought I might be a Canadian marathoner for a while. I had friends at 40K, when I was in a bad place, cheering me on. I couldn’t catch my breath in the cold shadows of Boylston. I finished and I thought I would cry from physical and emotional exhaustion. I shivered through waiting for my gear bag, then hobbled around to meet my family at Parish. And the rest of the day I’ve written about and am still coming to terms with.

Many people have asked if the 4 seconds bother me. Even before the bombs went off, the answer was no. Now even more so. The time is as it is because that’s what unfolded over the day. Every choice we make on race day can go a million different ways. Sure, I could have gone a bit slower in mile 1, but maybe I’d feel the same at the end. I could have pushed through all of the pain, but maybe I end up a mess. That’s not to say that it’s random or it’s impossible I could have gone faster. Next year I will. But there’s nothing about those three hours I spent on that course that I’d want to change.

April 15, 2013

Collecting thoughts here. Many I’ve posted elsewhere but am duplicating here

April 16, 2013 AM

April 16, 2013 AM

April 15, 2013
I’m sure I will write a race report at some point, but for now: Boston, I love you.

My parents, my brother’s girlfriend, and I were waiting for lunch post-race. I decided I was too cold and wet to stick around waiting for a table, so we decided to walk back to my apartment where I could shower, get warm, and change into NOT pajamas. As I showered, I realized how little of the race I remembered and how I would have a problem writing an in-depth race report. When I got out of the shower, I got a text from my brother in the Hancock Tower telling me about the explosions before I had even seen anything on twitter. And with that, the events of the day have overwhelmed the day’s event. We don’t know who decided to place two (or more) bombs, detonate at least two of the bombs, why he/she/they did that, what the motivation was… we know so little about the cause, but we know so much about the reactions of those there to provide assistance and comfort to the wounded. The first responders have been just amazing: running into the exact things we run away from. We’ve seen this before, but I’ve never seen it so close.

I was home when it happened. I am uninjured. But I am still shaken. People’s lives torn asunder, just an hour or so after I’d left the area (as we neared my apartment, I was told that it was 2:30, only ~20 minutes before the first explosion). I’m alternating between exhaustion and sadness. I can’t continue to watch the news coverage, but I can’t not watch it (though I could do with less repeat of the footage — often graphic — of the explosion and immediate aftermath). But it’s all just so tragic and sad.

I love Boston. I love the city and its people. I love the Boston Marathon. I’ll be running again next year and every year I can.

Old State House April 16, 2013

Old State House April 16, 2013

April 17, 2013
I don’t mean for this to diminish what has happened. Not at all. It was terrifying and sad and senseless. I ache: physically and emotionally.
I walked through Government Center last night, on my way to meet Gregory Soutiea for a beer (or three), past what seemed like the entire Cambridge MA SWAT team, past Army EOD trucks, all in a hope to get back to some sense of normalcy. I was on the phone with my dad, and he asked, as so many have, if we, if I, will ever feel safe again. And the truth is I feel no less safe today than I did Sunday, or Monday as I was running. Perhaps there was more that could have been done on Monday to prevent what happened, but I doubt it. Assholes with guns and bombs and terrible thoughts in their heads and hearts are hard to stop and hard to predict. Like so many acts that instill us with terror, it appears at once both targeted and random: targeted towards society as a whole, but random in its selection of victims. I am incredibly sad, often on the verge of tears (both in pride of all the good that everyone performed in the immediate and not so immediate aftermath and sadness over the lives ruined and lost and forever changed). But I don’t feel any less safe. I refuse to feel less safe.

April 18, 2013
The week after a marathon is usually a week of recovery, and often mental recovery, but not in this way. It’s a bit disjointed to feel so affected. I was about a mile away, already finished, showering, and ready to celebrate the day when the bombs went off. But I have friends who had just finished, friends and family who hadn’t yet finished, friends and family who had watched me finish and walked through the same crowds. Every time I thought “I’ve check on everyone I know who is running” I realized I knew 5 more people who were running, who might have family there. And that speaks to how tight knit the Boston running community is, and how tight knit Boston is as well.

I wasn’t planning on buying a marathon jacket. After all, it’s just a marathon. I’ve never bought race gear except for after I’ve finished my iron distance races. But then the explosions happened and, I suppose, selfishly I want something to say, “I ran this. I was there that day. I support the race, the city, and the people”. And so I contacted City Sports yesterday, learned they still had some jackets, and asked them to hold one of the ones they had left. And then I started walking.

As I have so many times the past couple of days, I’ve walked across the Longfellow Bridge from Cambridge into Boston, through Beacon Hill, and between the Common and Public Garden. I’ve turned down Boylston a number of times, and despite it being open all the way to Berkeley Street, I can’t make it past Arlington yet. At some point, Boylston will be opened completely, and I’ll walk down it, past the spots where lives were changed and ruined. But for now, it’s a bit to fresh to continue down the street.

This is not to say that things aren’t returning to some sense of normal. We’re remembering to also focus on the joy of raceday, the application of all of our training to the race, the cheering of Wellesley and Boston College and Hopkinton, Ashland, Framingham, Natick, Wellesley, Newton, Brookline and Boston. We won’t forget, but we will recover.

Deep center at Fenway

Deep center at Fenway

April 21, 2013
The end week was, at its core, surreal. Glued to the tv, to twitter, to The Globe trying to pick up any piece of news I could.

I spent Saturday afternoon at Fenway with some friends. Friends who had come to the marathon to watch me and their other friends running. We had avoided serious physical harm that day, but Matt and I, I think, still feel the effects pretty openly. “Do you ever wish you were at the finish line?” The obvious answer is no. But I think it gets to a deeper seated question (or two): what gives us the right to feel so impacted by the explosions despite not being there when it happened? And secondarily, what would we have done if we had been at the finish line? As to the second, I hope I never have to find out. To the first, I think, we’re allowed to be impacted. We should be impacted. Matt’s a lifelong Massachusetts resident. I’m relatively new here. But we’re both members of the running community. This attack, as it was, was an attack at everything we held dear: running, Boston, our friends: all of our communities. It does matter why the attacks took place, but even without that knowledge, it is still hits very close to home. It hits home.

They always said it took 15 or 20 years of living here to feel like a real Bostonian. Or, this past week.
Scott Kirsner

Time does not, cannot heal all wounds. There are some wounds that can’t be healed. But for those wounds that will heal, the healing has started. Life begins to return to a more normal reality.

Waxing and waning

I’m still alive. I got through dog sitting, and while I enjoyed it, I don’t think I’m ready to have a dog just yet. I’m sometimes bad at budgeting time, and while Kaipo forced me to get a little better at that, it meant that I had to reprioritize things, like some training. But right now, every run counts, so I’ve only been putting the cycling by the wayside.

As cold as it looks, and windy to boot.

As cold as it looks, and windy to boot.

This weekend was supposed to be a 16 miler. As a result of late nights Thursday and Friday, I decided I needed to head up to NH to get some quality training and avoid the craziness that is St. Patrick’s Day in Boston. Unfortunately, I woke up Sunday to temperatures in the low teens and a brisk[1] northerly wind. I had enough gear that I thought my workout (1 mile easy, 2 @ 6:45-6:55 repeat until complete) would be doable. But as I started, I quickly realized that 1. my legs were still, for some reason, incredibly dead and 2. I can do headwinds, I can do cold, I can do hills; I can do two of them at once, but all three during a hard workout? No thank you. That said, I think if it weren’t for the pace requirements, I could have gotten 16 miles in. Instead, feeling exhausted and slightly upset with myself, I drove home and fell asleep around 9:30PM.

As a bit of a sidebar, my confidence with regards to running ebbs and flows from day to day and even within runs. I see friends setting PRs, and I haven’t even really raced yet in 2013. The mangled ankle is still swollen from time to time and there are small aches and pains associated with the entire lower leg. As I’ve said, I’m constantly adjusting my expectations with regards to Boston. Some days I worry that qualifying is out of the picture. But for the most part, this is out of my control. All I can do is move forward.

With all that, I got home from work yesterday and decided to get my 16 miler in (as Steve said, “At this point, miles are you friend”). Set off, and was really trying to hold myself back around the 6:55 pace for the first couple of 2 mile intervals, but that’s easier said than done (5 seconds/mile slower is just 1.25 seconds a lap slower on a track, and splitting the timing that fine is just not really all that easy). So I just continued on my merry way, sometimes into the damp wind that was a prelude to the mess that is today (in which case I was not so merry), sometimes with the wind at my back. And though it was cold and partially miserable, I was able to run in shorts and a long-sleeve bike jacket. All of which made for a bit of an easier workout.

It turns out I ran the entire 16 in 1:51:43, which is about 8 minutes slower than my first ever half-marathon. I got stronger as the miles progressed, even if there were some stomach issues cropping up. So the run was a great confidence booster (especially in preparation for my 18 miler this weekend). Maybe sub-3 is still in the cards, but I am confident another BQ is in the cards… so long as I Tri-Slide up my nips. Because cold weather and cutting glass don’t play well together.

How are you feeling about your end of winter fitness?

  1. Does a brisk wind by definition always occur when it is cold outside?

Be calm. Be brave. It’ll be ok.

Before I get to running, I had a 5 minute TT on the bike today. This was actually my second go in two weeks at this, as two weeks ago I flew out of the proverbial gates and was crushed before 2.5 minutes were up. Today, with targets in mind, I rode a much smoother (full) 5 minutes. That’s not to say I felt good afterwards:

I had one of those runs on Monday where everything just felt pretty good. Easy pace felt easy. Nothing hurt. But the path to getting out the door was far less than easy. I had to convince myself, really convince myself, that 25 minutes of easy running had to get done (it was on the schedule). And I think I know why.

Just like Costa Rica and Quassy last year, I’m afraid that I might have to adjust my goals. The #mangledankle set me farther back than I’d like to admit. While I was out in Boulder, Steve made it pretty clear that <2:50 at Boston is pretty much out of the books. I’m beginning to wonder if sub-3:00 is even out of the books as well. Too be honest, Monday’s run was the first run where I actually felt back to my “old[1]” self. Maybe it’s because I haven’t raced in 3 months (even Super Sunday, where I ran tempo and that felt easy, didn’t feel like a great run and definitely wasn’t me racing). Maybe it’s because I’m a bit heavier right now than I have been in a year or two. Maybe the ankle isn’t fully healed (it’s still in a perpetually swollen state, even if it doesn’t hurt at all). What I do know is that there are still 7.5 weeks to get ready (or as ready as possible) for Boston. Running will get easier. Trust the plan as it is formed now (as much as I can).

What do you do when you think you need to readjust?

  1. Emily, I think, will get a kick out of this because my old self, the old self she remembers very well, is not someone who could run the 4 miles easy and feel like it was easy. What I meant was pre-injury me

Death to the MangledAnkle! Long live the MangledAnkle!

I’ve run twice this week. Where in previous weeks I might measure my running in miles, this week I’ve been mesasuring it in minutes. And this week was somewhere around 40 minutes (as opposed to 40 miles). But no matter. I AM RUNNING! Boston is however many weeks or days or months away (13 weeks, for those who are counting). But I am excited for triathlon and running.

I’m not going to be racing competitively any time soon (the mangledankle will do that to you), but I’m running and I’m not worried about my ankle going to shit and being in massive pain… I run. It’s what I do.

But my body doesn’t seem to appreciate my desire to continue running (from nothing and everything). It seems I’ve come down with a low grade misery of the sinuses; nothing nearly as bad as it could be (I even got 3.4 miles in tonight). Nothing to prevent me from training. Nothing to prevent me from anything really. But enough to make me feel unpleasant. But still, I run.

There’s some exciting stuff coming up. Sponsor stuff. Racing stuff. Ideas about life stuff. Stay tuned. But in the meantime, go for a run or something.

Running into the ground

This weekend was all about racing hard, training hard, and living better. I had a bad week motivation wise for training, so I was looking forward to having an awesome weekend. And I did.
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10K Test of Stomachs

Ran a 10K (well, really 6.25 miles) this morning. All part of testing for the month of April. The short story is I ran a 41:48, increasing my Vdot another 0.5. But the short story leaves out all the interesting bits. So if you want the more interesting version, and you haven’t eaten in the last hour and aren’t eating anytime soon, let’s continue, shall we?
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