Friday, April 18, 2014

I have no idea what to expect.

Here I am, balancing my last few hours between packing for a little trip to Boston and cramming in one last blog post.  Because come on.  You better post something before a big marathon, especially someone like me who only runs one marathon per year.

I am really looking forward to having a wonderful, emotional, claustrophobic, crazy, fun time.

My goal is to leak positivity out of every limb.  Out of my ears and eyes and mouth.  I want to enjoy the experience for what it is, and soak in every mile instead of count them down, or wish for the finish line to arrive.

Boston Happy

It can be a challenge for me not to get mired in negativity about my "bad" leg.  I remember too vividly how it felt to run my last marathon, in Napa, and how the leg obliterated what I thought could be a PR day.  I often feel betrayed by the leg, and so when it locks up, I get very angry.  I feel unlucky.  But of course, my leg did not betray me, I betrayed it.  It's all laid out here on the blog--it started bothering me back at the end of 2011, and I just kept on chugging along, not taking care of it for who knows how long.

It's not unfair.  I'm not unlucky.  So what if I have to stop every few miles to stretch out my leg.  At least I can run! Far! At the Boston Marathon! Relatively quickly! It will all be groovy.

I have focused a lot of time and energy in the past 2-3 months on the leg, and while there were glimmers of hope, my leg still quits on me.

My best analogy is that it feels like running with a leg that is sewed on; and after about 2 miles, the threads start to unravel, coming further apart by the mile, and then the leg falls off and I have to pull to the side and sew it back on.  The next mile is easy with the leg freshly sewed back on.  Then it starts to unravel again.  Cycle continues.

About 6 weeks ago I googled "graston" in my new city because if it's good enough for Michael Phelps, its good enough for me.  I found a bunch of athletes raving about a certified graston doctor who helped all their wildest injuries disappear, so I made an appointment.

My first appointment with him ended with my left leg from my outer knee up to mid-thigh completely bruised and battered (I guess this is called a success)?

While I can't claim to have found the cure, I do love this guy and his energetic drive to "fix" me.  Also, he has done a helluva job fixing all of the side effects of running through the leg-lock, such as an angry IT band, tight "calves of steel" as he calls them, and a couple other goodies.

He also has me wearing arch inserts because my bad-leg arch isn't looking so hot, which is an awkward adjustment, but I will be trying it out at Boston.  (Not for the first time - I've done at least 6 runs in them so far).

Hopefully once Boston is over his treatment will find even greater improvements.  No improvements = finally get an MRI.


The 9 weeks of training for this marathon went by just as quickly as 9 weeks would, but the cool news is the speed work I did went very well 85% of the time.

I find a huge amount of joy and excitement in those little gains and "PRs" even though they are just, ya know, speed work.  Sometimes it's about the journey....not the destination... and I really love the training journey.  I love my morning runs.

I also love this little guy.  Pointless photo. 
The noteworthy workouts of past 3 weeks:

April 1: 5 x 1 mile at ~5:55.
April 3: 12 mile tempo at ~ 6:40 pace.  This included at least 4 stops, mostly for traffic lights but I won't lie my leg needed the stretch break. This is about 15-20 seconds faster than my "goal marathon pace."  My goal, as always, is to PR.  My other goal, is who gives a shit just run hard.
(75 miles total this week)

Taper week 1:
April 8: 8 x 400m at 78 seconds.  This is my first training cycle where I am regularly running 400m's under 80 seconds, and that has been delicious! I would like to try my first 5k soon before this fluke ends.
April 10: 7 mile tempo at about a 6:50 pace.  I didn't stop once, which was hard.  Very hard. My leg didn't like it and it made my pace slower than planned.
(55 miles total this week)

Taper week 2:
April 15: 1 mile @ 5:41; 1/2 mile @ 2:47; 400m @ 1:17.  While these times are fast, I felt like crap, which was worrisome.  The taper always makes me feel awful.
April 17: 4 mile hilly tempo @ 6:45ish.  Felt heavy and not great again.  Humph.
(19 miles so far this week)

SHOES.  Shews.

I will be wearing a shoe that is pretty new to me for the marathon.  The Brooks Pure Connect 2.  The Pure Cadence 3 never warmed up to me.  I'm sticking with the Cadence and Connect 2's until they expire.

Pure Connect

The left shoe in this image is for my left foot -- I always wear out the outer heel first.  What does that say about how shitty the foot lands? This is a real question.  I don't understand this foot

The weather is a little scary to me for a 10:00 a.m. start - I'm seeing 64 degrees which is practically a sauna for a marathon as far as I'm concerned, especially having trained in a t-shirt at 40-50 degrees most mornings of the past month.  I'm remembering all the salt I was losing at the last marathon I ran (also reaching the 60's) but all can do is fuel as normal.  I tried Salt Caps a few times during long runs the past 2 months, and I always felt like crap after taking one.

In the spirit of leaking positivity: thank goodness it isn't hurricane weather, or in the 80's+.  It will be lovely, especially for those awesome spectators ;)

Ok my final Boston questions for you:

  1. Where should my cheerleaders hang out? Any recommended tricks for how to see them twice, etc.?
  2. Seriously what do you eat before a marathon when you have been awake for 4 hours?  The most I could manage to practice during training be awake for 1.5 hours before running.
  3. What happens if you mess with the bus schedule? My wave requires bus boarding between 6:00 and 6:50, and you can bet I'm going to try and get there at 6:49.  But....what happens if I get on the next wave's bus schedule? I don't intend to, but I want to know my worse case scenario.  Do I get booted to the next start wave?
  4. Where are all the meet ups? I want to see my blog friends. 
  5. Food. Beer. Museums. Parks.  Please recommend.  


  1. Bless the stars!!! A pre-Boston post...and YOU CAN RUN!!! You're going to have a blast. See everyone. Do everything. And run one fucking kickass mile for me and Moeser :) I love you! You rule!

    And cute nephew photos are NEVER pointless :)

  2. About damn time, sheesh. I expect a race recap! Good luck and have FUN!

  3. This isn't helpful pre-Boston, but I use Endurolyte capsules from Hammer on long, hot days out on the trails and I really like them. They have less sodium than something like Salt Caps but more balanced electrolytes. And while my body doesn't tolerate a lot of Hammer products, Endurolytes don't bother me.

    Oh, and good luck!

    1. I took those last weekend while training for a long, hot ultra that will happen next month, and you are right, they are boss. I highly recommend them.

    2. I am stupidly not afraid to try new things on race day, so I'll look for endurolytes at the expo. Or at least try them this summer. Thanks!

  4. Good luck good luck good luck good luck! Enjoy every inch of it!!

  5. Treat recommendation: peanut butter cannoli at Mike's Pastry!

    Have a great race!


  6. Hope you have a great, fast, happy, positive race!! And that your leg behaves as you expect it, or better. Sorry I can't help you with any of the Boston questions. But I would eat besides my regular breakfast lets say 4 hours before the race, some type of energy bar 2 hours before the race.

  7. Good luck, good luck, good luck! And can I just's a refreshing attitude you have. So many healthy living/running bloggers run their bodies into the ground then whine about why X is happening to them? It's all within our control - attitude, running strategy etc. Once you really do identify what you can control and do the best you can with that....well, it's all you can ask for. You are going to have a blast!

  8. Also 10am is my favorite time of day to run. I like to wake up, do a few hours of work, then run...when my work schedule allows. I don't usually wake up hungry, so I wake up and drink coffee. The about 60-90min before my run I eat my usual breakfast. It works just fine.

  9. There is s Charlie station (metro/train) around the halfway mark so if your cheerleaders are speedy they can cheer for you there then hurry to the finish. My cheerleaders did that last year. Although with changes this year, I'm almost afraid to recommend that. I'm guessing the finish line area will be harder to get to this year, or at the least, harder to get to a good spot.

    You can get on the second wave bus but remember, Athletes Village is going to be packed by then. The longer you wait the harder it will be to find a good spot to sit down and the longer the lines to gatorade, coffee, and most importantly, the bathrooms will be. It's annoying having to get there so early but if you do, then you can get a fence to lean on and wont get stuck in the middle of a crowded field crammed next to strangers.

    I ate bagels and drank Hammer Perpetuem. Then added lost of coffee....tons of coffee :)

    Wishing you all the best!! Run the mile you are in and don't stress if you have to stop and stretch out your leg for 30 seconds. You ran some amazing tempo paces while doing that, so you know it can be managed while still running fast. Have a great weekend!!

  10. Eeee! I'm so excited for you! I hope you have so much fun, and I'm looking forward to reading your race report! I'm sure you will have no problem focusing on each mile as it happens. I've heard the atmosphere of the entire race is such that it's impossible NOT to.

    I've actually been starting almost all of my long runs at 10 a.m. lately, because that's when next month's A-race starts, and I've found that eating some combination of the following works for me: hard-boiled egg, banana, bread with a layer of peanut butter. All three are neutral and bland enough that my stomach doesn't get upset, even if I start running while still in the process of digesting, but it's also substantial enough that the food lasts a while.

    Okay I'll be haunting your blog until I see your race report so I can live vicariously through you. Good luck!

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  12. Whoops - wrong account! Good luck! Hope you have a great race! :)

  13. Have a great time in Boston!

  14. Good luck! I didn't realize it was supposed to be that warm...after this crap weather we have had all year figures.

    Have you ever tried the Brooks pureflow too?

    For NYC, when I was awake 7 I just had two of my exact same normal breakfast...that worked out well.

  15. 1. Seeing you twice could be hard because the T is SO SLOW on marathon Monday (okay, the green line is always slow, but more than usual) of my teammates is having her parents see her at the Woodland T stop (2nd to last stop on D line of Green line, between miles 16/17) then head into the city (probably getting off at Kenmore, near Fenway). I'm having my cheerleaders stand near mile 25
    2. english muffins with pb and honey
    3. my team does a lot of volunteering for the BAA so we are special snowflakes that get our own bus....I don't know for sure, but I can't imagine they'd boot you to the next wave if you're a little late
    5. Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and Boston Public Library are the two places I always recommend people go

    Good luck! Seems like you have a great attitude about the race. If I see you in Hopkinton I may be a creepy reader who says hi.

  16. In answer to #3, my experience with the BAA is that your bib gets you where you need to go. If you have a bib, you can get on the bus with wave 2 runners. Some people intentionally drop back a wave, so this wouldn't be questioned. Once you get there, if you have a wave 1 bib and you get there before corrals close, you go with wave 1. That's not what they tell you, because if everyone took a different bus, it wouldn't work. But if you're late, they wouldn't stop a runner getting to where they need to go on race day.

    My leg pain/lock ended up being a back problem. I got an MRI at Mass Gen a few weeks ago. I have sacroiliac joint disfunction and a bulging disc at L5-S1.The disc bulge is pressing on the nerve and causing pain down my leg, but amazingly no back pain AT ALL. I never would've put it together that the spine was the cause. I had a selective nerve root block injection at my L5. They initially inject an anesthetic, which provides immediate pain relief if the spine is in fact causing the pain. The nerve block starts working after 3-7 days. I'm on day 4. It's definitely much much better but doesn't feel like an absolute cure yet. I also have a partially torn hip labrum which could account for some pain, but apparently 97% of the population tears their hip labrum at some point. Anyway, I'm not sure if you have a leg or spine problem, but if you get MRIs, check for both!

    Best of luck in Boston!

    1. Keep an eye on the torn labrum. Mine really did a number on me.

  17. With the way that the course is laid out, it is hard to see people more than once. :/ My favorite cheering spots are anything from mile 21ish onward toward Kenmore Square (and those are all easily accessible via the Green Line). Will be happy to give more specific recommendations.

    As someone else mentioned, I highly highly recommend the Boston Public Library (free) - it's a beautiful building with a lovely courtyard, right in Copley Square (by the finish line), they have a really cool map room (if you're into maps), and they have a beautiful and emotional new exhibit about last year's marathon. You should definitely step in and check it out.

    If you let me know where you're staying, I could give more specific food/drink suggestions. Good luck!!

    1. I am staying near Boston Common, where the buses pick up. You know, so I can wake up as late as possible ;)

  18. Good luck to you!!! I hope you have a GREAT time & your leg doesn't cause you too much trouble. All my Boston food reccs are super out of date, but I remember that there WAS lots of good food, so I'm sure other people will have good advice.

    Oh, & if you want a pair of size 8 (I think?) Connect 2's, you are welcome too them as they are too narrow for me. :-/

  19. You should definitely go on a guided tour of the Freedom Trail! Obviously I'm biased 'cause I work there, but all of our guides are a hoot and we wear those bad ass colonial costumes. Sadly, I won't be giving any of the tours this weekend (since I'm running the race, too!), but seriously I love all of our guides. They might be SUPER crowded for marathon weekend, but I recommend doing a later tour (2pm or 3pm) because they tend to be less crazy. Avoid the 11am and the noon if you can just because I think the tours will be HUGE.

    Other fun things? Somebody already mentioned Isabella Gardner. That museum is just the coolest. It was made by a crazy old spinster who loved collecting incredible art. What' s not to love?

    Do you like meat pies? There is an amazing meat pie place in Southie called KO pies. Also it's in my neck of the woods so I go there prettttyyyyy frequently. One day a lady working there asking me "wow, can't get enough pie, can you?" ouch.

    Cambridge Brewing Company in Kendall Square is pretty nifty. They brew their own beer and it's tasty.

    If you want a nice day trip you can take the ferry out to the Boston Harbor Islands.

    Other museums that are swell: the MFA, Museum of Science, and the ICA.

    Also do not go to Mike's Pastry. It is delicious, but that lines will be insane. Go to Modern Pastry instead. It's right across the street and just as good. If both of them are swamped go to Bova's on Salem Street. It's open 24 hours.

    I hope that helps! I'm not as helpful about marathon stuff because this is my first Boston. Have fun!!!

  20. Nothing happens if you miss your bus. You get on the next one.

    I dunno if you're going to the party/drinking/Fenway Park/House of Blues/whatever, but I told a bunch of people I'd go to that after, so maybe see you there?

  21. You're probably already asleep, but just wanted to say GOOD LUCK!!!!! Leak positivity from EVERY pore!!!! I'll be cheering for you (in my PJ's... because it will be early here).

  22. So I looked up your results (at least I think they're your results) from yesterday's race, and it looks like you had an amazing race (and quite the PR). I hope you're enjoying the experience and we look forward to a recap soon (hint, hint - how about writing it on the plane home?)

    1. I think you probably found Caitlin Smith's results - she's a great elite athlete who lives in Oakland. I think she was probably going for 2:40ish, and despite some problems ran a stunning 2:48. Most definitely not me ;). I'll recap the race soon of course, and it was an unforgettable run that included more struggling, pain, and fun than any run prior.

  23. Wish I had seen this before running boston! I had similar feelings going in, including an injury I was still recovering from at the start of training, but the one thing I did not see coming was the HEAT! The sun killed me in this race and not sure what I was thinking since I knew what the weather would be. I wound up pouring buckets of water over my head with little relief. Tough race but agree about the fun too!

  24. I'm so glad it sounds like you are going to someone who sounds like they might be helping your leg! That is good news. And I can't wait to read the next post about the marathon!! Wheeee!!


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