Runnin’ with the Devil!

I hope you all are having a Happy Halloween! I don’t have any big plans for tonight. We live in a building that doesn’t get trick or treaters, and I don’t intend to go out even though I live 5 minutes away from probably the biggest Halloween party in the country (Salem, MA). I’m just not really into crowds, or staying up past 10 PM. (Can you say party animal?)

But I do enjoy Halloween. We’ve decorated the house, and I have some much more low key plans for today/tonight:

1.) Candy! I bought some last night at the grocery store, and I plan on eating fun size chocolate bars throughout the day. I’ve also really been looking forward to candy corn and peanuts ever since the candy corn started showing up on store shelves in August. (Recipe: Mix together candy corn and peanuts in a one to one ratio, then enjoy!)

2.) Costumes! Even though I don’t like parties, I still like getting dressed up. How’d I do? Can you even tell who’s who?

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Amy Farrah Fowler (from The Big Bang Theory)

3.) Scary Movies – We recently watched The Conjuring and that was really good. We still have to pick one for tonight though. Any suggestions? 


One thing I won’t be doing this Halloween, but have had a blast with in the past, is the Devil’s Chase in Salem, MA. I’ve run it three times and it has quickly become one of my favorite holiday races. Unfortunately, I’ve missed the race the last two years because it’s fallen on the same weekend as a goal race. (Niagara Falls Marathon last year, Cape Cod Marathon this year.)

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Let’s go running!

In honor of it being Halloween, I’ll give you a quick run down of what I love about the Devil’s Chase:

1.) It’s a Holiday Race: Really, I know no better way to celebrate than by running. This race in particular is good because it gets me into Salem around Halloween without having to deal with all the Hullabaloo.

2.) Everyone Dresses as a Devil: Okay, not everyone. What I mean is that this isn’t a costume race, it’s a Devil’s Chase, so there are hundreds of devils running around the streets of Salem. It’s funny. And there are some creative costumes, like deviled eggs or Devil Dogs.

3.) It Has a Theme Song: It’s not official, but I can’t think of a better way to get pumped than by listening to Runnin’ With the Devil on repeat on the drive to the race.

4.) It’s 6.66 miles: I like this; it’s quirky. How often do you run 6.66 miles? They also auction off bib no. 666 and proceeds go to charity. 

5.) You have to Dress up to Win: So even the super fast runners are devils. This is genius in my opinion.

6.) Candy: I don’t know why candy isn’t a more popular post race food. It’s delicious. 

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I’m way too happy for a devil, but Jeff has the right idea.

Have you ever run in costume? What are you going to be for Halloween this year?

Nifty Fifty!

Turns out the Cape Cod Marathon was my 50th race!

I haven’t really been keeping track of this sort of thing on purpose, but I noticed it because I use an excel document to keep track of all my races and the rows are numbered automatically. Once I noticed, I thought it was pretty cool that a “milestone” race was a special one; one I’d trained for for months and months.

In celebration of my 50th race, I’d like to share some fun facts from my first 50 races!

FIRST RACE: May 27th, 2007 ::: The Run to Remember ::: Boston, MA ::: 5 miles ::: 55:50 minutes Recap

LONGEST DISTANCE RACED: Marathon ::: 26.2 miles ::: 3 races

MOST RUN RACE: Delaware Avenue YMCA Turkey Trot 8k ::: 6 times ::: I Love this race! I can’t wait to line up for it again this year. 

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And I’ve run with my sis all 6 times!

MOST RACES PER YEAR: 2010 ::: 9 races ::: I don’t really shoot for a particular number of races per year, and I don’t think I’ll ever get up past this number. I don’t run to race, so I’ve become more particular about the races I sign up for. 

MOST POPULAR MONTH: October ::: 10 races ::: Best time of year to race, no one can convince me otherwise.

DISTANCE MOST RACED: 5k :::13 races ::: This is funny to me because it’s my least favorite distance. A lot of holiday races are 5k, though, and those are some of my favorites, so that probably has something to do with it.

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Did you say “Jingle Bell 5k”? Sign me up!

TOTAL DISTANCE RACED: 360.46 miles

TIME SPENT RACING: 63 hours, 48 minutes, 30 seconds

BEST POST RACE FOOD: Run-A-Latke 5k ::: Swampscott, MA ::: December 1st, 2013 ::: Latkes and Doughnuts ::: We had plans to go out to breakfast after the run, but the food was so delicious that we filled up after the race and didn’t even bother.

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Jeff always makes sure to capture the important moments. 🙂

 

Do you keep track of how many races you’ve completed? What are some of your favorites?

***Also, I just finished up editing a new Races page, where I’ve listed all my races and times and linked to all the recaps I have written. So, if you want to check out my 1st fifty races, take a look.***

2014 Cape Cod Marathon Recap

In which the weather is incredibly windy, the course is excessively hilly, and I run MUCH slower than I have in any of my long runs, but all is not lost as I still manage to finish with a smile on my face.

**Warning: this is a long one, maybe grab some snacks…I recommend Cape Cod potato chips and Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice


This recap isn’t the most exciting one to write because my performance on Sunday was pretty disappointing. Don’t get me wrong, I am happy that I finished and I very much enjoyed the beauty of the course, but I think I should have been able to run a faster marathon.  The course, described on the race website as “challenging”, was much more difficult than I anticipated even with that warning, and the goals/paces I had in my mind throughout training were not really realistic. I think that’s what really bugged me. Not that I ran the time that I did (5:31:??), but that it was so far off from what I anticipated (< 5 hours).

Okay, enough of that pity party…let’s talk about the good stuff!

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Saturday was my first trip to the cape. And since it’s October we got to stay right near the beach and pay off season prices! Win!

The race is held in Falmouth, which is about a 2 hour drive from our house, so Jeff and I got a hotel for the night before and called the weekend a “mini vacation”.  Neither of us have been to Cape Cod before,  so we headed down early on Saturday so we could do some exploring. I use the term “exploring” loosely since we mostly did race related activities: packet pickup and driving the course. But we also made it over to the beach for a bit of a walk before the wind blew us back inside the hotel.

The race expo wasn’t anything to write home about, except for the way they did the shirts. When I picked up my number I was given a coupon for a free cotton race t-shirt. OR I could use that coupon for $15 towards an upgraded version of the shirt. And they were printing (silk screening?) the shirts right there. After much deliberation I decided to go for an upgraded shirt. While I don’t mind cotton race shirts, I DO prefer a shirt that fits properly. So I opted for a neon yellow moisture wicking shirt that was available in a woman’s size. I loved the way they did this. I now have a shirt I love and will wear.

#1 reason to finish the race was so I could wear my awesome shirt

After visiting the expo, walking around main street, and grabbing lunch we hopped back in the car to drive the race course. You pretty much already know how I felt about that because I freaked out after and posted about it. I’m glad I saw the course before hand and was able to readjust my goals a bit, but it was SCARY. I pretty much wanted to just go home and not run the race after I saw what I was in for, but we’d already paid for the hotel room, and I wanted to be able to wear that awesome shirt.

Cranberry bogs! I was really looking forward to seeing these, and got a nice good look on Saturday as well as Sunday.

By race morning, I had managed to somewhat pull myself together. I decided to stay focused on my goal of enjoying myself, and try not to worry about my time.  My top priority was to go out slow, but I planned to keep an eye on my pace in case things ended up going better than expected. With a new plan, and some pep talks by Jeff and the rest of my fan club (Jeff’s parents and sister), I was definitely feeling less terrified by the time I got to the start.

The Before Shot

And then, we were off! The race started downtown, and then wound around some residential areas, before heading out to the ocean. I spent these first 3 to 4 miles keeping my pace in check, and enjoying the surroundings. Unfortunately, I had some pretty bad side stitches at this point, but I tried to think positively that this would deter me from starting too fast. That mental game seemed to work as I was about 30 seconds slower per mile than my training run pace and was all smiles when I saw my fans for the first time!

Big smiles around mile 3.5!

By mile 5, the side stitches had worn off, but that didn’t change my pace, and I continued to run at a pretty steady 11:30/mile for almost the entire first half of the race. According to the elevation profile, miles 5 to 12 were a steady incline. While I noticed rolling hills starting at mile 8, I didn’t feel like I was climbing before that. In retrospect, I’m guessing that my legs noticed even if I didn’t at the time. By mile 12, I wasn’t happy with how I was feeling. I’d been running slow and steady like planned, I’d fueled appropriately, and had seen my fan club three times! I should have had an excess of energy at that point, but I didn’t. So at the half way point I decided to throw out all time goals, and just keep moving forward with a smile.

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A couple of signs…just for me!

Then after seeing my fan club again (seriously, they were EVERYWHERE..it was AMAZING), at around 15.5 miles, I changed up my strategy a bit more. The serious hills were getting started at this point, and I was really wondering how I’d make it another 10+ miles. So, I decided to run/walk up the hills. I started with a run a minute/walk a minute strategy, but for the most part I was able to run longer than a minute before I wanted/needed to walk. Even with this new plan, this part of the race was very difficult. It was so hilly, and with the wind constantly blowing in my face, I was starting to get a bit chilly. I just kept thinking about my fan club waiting for me at mile 19, where I’d turn back towards the ocean (and out of the shade), and that got me to put one foot in front of the other. 

Finally back in the sun! I think I’m waving and not hitting myself in the face.

Once I made it back to the ocean, I knew the worst of the hills were over. Don’t get me wrong, there were still more hills, but at least they would be further apart, and I could enjoy some sunshine and ocean views while running up them. And that’s pretty much how the remainder of the race went. I continued to do run/walk (all the time now, not just on the hills), and I enjoyed the scenery and smiled like crazy every time I saw my fan club (another 3 times I think it was). Finally, at mile 24, the course flattened back out, and I plodded along back to main street.

Where I FINALLY, after five and a half hours, crossed the finish line! 

I was very excited to receive my first ever space blanket!

Overall, I had a pretty good day. Like I said before, I was disappointed in my time, but I kept moving forward, and enjoyed everything I could. I had some awesome fans, and the course really was super nice to look at. I even got an oreo frappe right after the race, and it was quite delicious. I don’t regret signing up for this particular marathon, but I think that from now on, I’ll stick to marathons that don’t call themselves “challenging”.

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Me and my biggest fan!

Freak Out!

I’ve never posted from my phone before, but there’s a first for everything, right?

I just finished driving the race course and HOLY CANNOLI! It is sooooo hilly. I used to be nervous, but now I’m downright scared!

I’ve been revising my race goals a tad….I’m throwing out all time goals, going to run by feel, and hopefully make it to the end in one piece. Preferably with a smile on my face.

Wish me luck! I’ll need it. 🙂

Nerves!

Oh my gosh! I just got really nervous! It’s all so real all of a sudden. Yikes! I’m running a marathon on Sunday!!!

This is the last post of my (not quite) week long (except for wednesday) blog-a-thon, and will be the last post before the big race. I should probably get some goals written down, maybe tell you guys my race plan, maybe recap my training.

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Shot from my last “long” run – 8 miles.

Race Goals

After my spring half marathon, and again after my summer 10k, I used a pace calculator to help me set a projected marathon time goal. Both were A LOT faster than I would have guessed was possible, and I pretty much immediately dismissed them. I still used training paces associated with those goals times, but judging by my last marathon and how I’ve felt on my long runs this time, I’m showing up with some much more practical goals in mind.

  1. Have fun: I’ve never been to the cape, and I want to enjoy the scenery. It’s billed as a challenging course, but I don’t want to poop out and miss anything.
  2. Finish Under 5 Hours: If I maintain the pace I’ve had in my long runs, this is totally doable.
  3. PR: My current PR for the marathon is 4:51:11, I feel like I could beat this, we’ll see.
  4. No Super Slow Miles: Last time, I started falling apart at mile 23 and ended up getting a 15+ minute mile (I averaged 11:06/mile) before I pulled myself together. I’d like to hold it together this time, and keep my slowest miles under 14 minutes.
  5. Average under 11 min/mile: This is faster than goal #2 and #3, so it’s probably my most aggressive goal.
  6. Even splits: The second half of the race is hilly, so negative splits don’t really seem possible, but if I negative split on effort, I figure I could end up with even splits. Most important part of this goal…DO NOT GO OUT TOO FAST.

And that’s it…I guess I have 6 goals. I think #1, #2, and #6 are the most important to me.

Another shot from the last long run.

Race Plan

What’s more exciting to read about than pacing and fueling plans? Nothing, right? Here’s mine:

  • Run by feel: Easy for the first 14 miles. I gauge my effort by reciting the pledge of allegience. Generally, I try to do this when people aren’t around. Should be interesting in a race setting. Then, I’ll pick it up to a medium effort through mile 24, and from there on out…book it!
  • Keep the pace around 10:55/mile…Yeah, I’m running by feel, but at the begining of the race 9:40s are going to FEEL great. So, I’ll be trying to keep my pace somewhat in check by adjusting at every mile based on this 10:55/mile…give or take 15 seconds.
  • Eat a GU every 4.5 miles. And candy at the mile 17.5 candy stop!!!
  • Walk for 2 or 3 minutes with each GU. No more, less is acceptable after mile 14.
  • Don’t hold back on the downhills! Also, don’t walk and GU on a downhill..

Training Recap

I’m not much for a training recap. I ran a bunch. My longest run was 22 miles. I ran 3, 4, or 5 times a week (lots of variability) with speed work thrown in. And I tapered VERY severely….I ran 1 time this week. That’s good right? Ha!

I did my best to add in lots of hills to my long runs. I’m concerned about the hills, but I PR’d at a hilly half in the spring, so I’m trying to stay positive and keep that in mind.

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Low quality screen capture of the elevation profile on my last long run.

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The race!

Let’s pretend that option 2 is less scary! They don’t have the same exact scale (although it’s close), so option 1 probably only looks easier because of that.

 Well, that’s all I got for you guys. Happy Weekend, and I’ll see you on the other side!

Adventures In Spectatoring

After only two posts, I failed at my week long blog-a-thon. Oops. Sorry if you stayed up all night last night just waiting for a post from me, and I didn’t come through. I hope we can still be friends.


A couple of weeks ago, my two sisters-in-law (Jenn and Rach) ran the Hartford Marathon. It was the very first marathon either of them has ever run! Because Hartford isn’t super far from our house, Jeff and I decided to go cheer them on. I’ve never spectated a race before, so Hartford was a new experience for me, too.

Because the race was 2 hours away, we decided that the best plan of action would be to leave at around the time the race started and see them for the first time at about the halfway point. The night before the race, I made some signs and we loaded up on snacks for the drive/waiting.

race signs

Neither of us are familiar with Hartford, but Jeff studied the course map and google maps in preparation, and I was all set with the GPS. Sometimes, when I’m in charge of GPS I freak out a little, but luckily we found a great cheering spot very easily without me having to do anything. (Phew!) We ended up at around 12.5 miles into the race, and posted ourselves on the sidelines under an umbrella (it was unpleasantly cold and rainy).

While Jeff tried to figure out when we might see our runners, I was awkwardly yelling motivational cheers and holding my awesome signs! One runner even came over and gave me some trash to throw away for him. Yay! Talk about making a difference!

Then out of no where I heard someone yell my name.  Ooops! We almost missed Jenn. Luckily, she was on top of things. She had come by sooner than we thought, and was looking really good. I didn’t have time to switch to her special Jenn sign, but she gave me a heads up that Rach was right behind her, so a few minutes later, we were better prepared when Rach came by. Rach was also looking great at that point, and seeing them both was so exciting!

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I didn’t take a lot of pictures at the race…so here’s one of our pumpkins buckled into the backseat of the car!

After we’d seen Jenn and Rach, we headed back to the car. It wasn’t great weather for spectating, so we had some snacks, and read the books we brought along. About 45 minutes later, we took a short walk over to where the runners would be looping back towards the finish, mile 21.5. This time I tried EXTRA hard to pay attention so we wouldn’t miss Jenn. It was still a close one. She came out of nowhere! I had time to switch from a generic sign to the Jenn specific sign, but I dropped the generic sign in a puddle in the process. Once Jenn zoomed past us, we continued to cheer until we saw Rach.  Both Jenn and Rach were still looking strong which was a great relief. There were definitely some people struggling quite a bit at that point.

After Rach ran by, we high tailed it back to the car so we could get to the finish before Jenn. And again, we made it JUST IN TIME. As we showed up at the finish chute, Jenn was coming out. I can’t believe how close we were to missing her several times. We are very efficient spectators…no time wasted! We hung out with Jenn for a bit and met up with some other members of her fan club before splitting off to cheer for Rach as she crossed the finish line.

Both Jenn and Rach did AWESOME! And before I knew it the whole thing was over. In addition to the two of us, the fan club also included their parents, their husbands, and my niece. We didn’t meet up with the rest of the fam until the end of the race, but we all went to lunch after and got to hang out a bit.

All in all, it was a pretty fun day. I would definitely spectate again. Cheering for Jenn and Rach was really fun, and cheering for strangers was okay, too. I’m not a super loud person, so yelling out to strangers was a little bit of a challenge, but the runners all really appreciated the support. I only did one really awkward thing.

At one point, a runner yelled out to me “Is this the finish line, here?” and I awkwardly answered “Nah, you’ve got a ways.” Probably not the best thing to yell to runners at mile 21.5. My bad! I was already struggling to come up with things to yell (you’d think it would be easy), but having to actually respond to someone was obviously too much for Ms. Awkward (that’s me).

All in all, I had a good time. Jenn and Rach had a good time. Success!

Have you ever spectated? Do you find being loud stressful? 

 

Race Volunteering

For day two of race week blog-a-thon, I’m unearthing a blog post I started a while ago but never finished. Very fitting for the season…the post that came back from the grave….ooOOOoooo

The ghost of unwritten blog posts…I’m haunted!


Moving on from that silliness….a little over two months ago, I tackled a running related New Year’s resolution of mine that didn’t actually involve running: being a race volunteer.

It took me until August to do this because I was a tad incredibly lazy about looking for opportunities. And to be completely honest, I didn’t stop being lazy about it, the volunteer request just showed up in my inbox one day. I get lots of emails advertising area races, and one of them that came through had a “volunteer registration” button alongside “race registration”. I don’t think I’d seen this before, and if it wasn’t so easy to sign up I wouldn’t have thought to help out. Nice job, race director.

Anyways, once I had signed up I got a call to confirm and to check my availability. Turns out they needed people to help get race packets together in the week before the race. That worked perfectly with my schedule, so I arranged to do that for a few hours a couple of days before the race.

At the designated time, I drove to my local YMCA and found my way to race headquarters! Sounds exciting, but it was just the gym, with two people stuffing race packets. There was one other volunteer, an older man who admitted that his wife had added volunteering at the Y to his “honey do” list. Haha! The race was put on by the YMCA (but you probably already guessed that?), and the other person stuffing packets was the Y employee in charge of putting on the race. This was her first time being in charge, and occassionally some of the people helping her would pop in when they had a free moment.

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Me running through the park where the race started. At a VERY different time of year.

When I showed up, the race numbers were already stuffed into mini, race number sized envelopes with runner’s names on them. My first job was to put 4 safety pins in each one of those envelopes, and then stuff those envelopes into corresponding larger manila envelopes.  It sounds super boring, but I had a good time. I enjoy repetitive tasks, I find them calming.

Our next step was slightly more involved…we stuffed the manila envelopes with race shirts. This is where things got a little dicey, in my opinion.  The first 100 runners were guaranteed a shirt, and their manila envelopes had a “T” on them to indicate this, as well as a requested size. Everyone else just had a size. As it turned out, the race director had ordered enough tshirts that everyone that registered would get one…but maybe not the size they requested.

We started stuffing envelopes that had a “T” to ensure that if someone was guarenteed a shirt, they would get the size they requested. Then Ms. Bossypants showed up. Ms. Bossypants was another Y employee who had experience with race planning, and had planned 7 other YMCA races. She came in and kind of took over the show. She started filling all the envelopes with shirts, regardless of a “T”, and had us all do the same. Eventually, we ran out of some sizes, and this resulted in some runners with the “T” not getting their requested size.  This really bothered me. I didn’t think it seemed fair, so I tried my best to sneak around and switch shirts so that all the “T” packets had their requested size. It just seemed right that if you were guarenteed a shirt, you should have size priority over someone who is just lucky to get a shirt. Don’t you think?

My guess is that Ms. Bossypants doesn’t race very often or ever, because in my experience, runners take our shirts VERY seriously.  And let me tell you, these were AWESOME shirts. I’m lucky they over ordered because they offered me one for my help…good thing I wear an apparently upopular size. 🙂

Notice how the logo on the shirt is the same as the park statue you can see in the picture above! Cool.

Sweet shirt, right? They had ladies sizes, and ladies shirts were sleeveless. Probably one of the nicer race shirts I have, that fits…too bad I can’t claim I ran it.

Aside from Ms. Bossypants cramping my style, I had a really good time volunteering. I would definitely consider helping out again, and probably will. The YMCA has a whole series of runs throughout the year, so there will be plenty of opportunities, it’s just a matter of scheduling.

And now, some questions for you all:

  • Have you ever volunteered for a race?
  • Do you enjoy repetitive tasks?
  • What do you think – just stuff the envelopes as quickly as possible or give the “T” runners size priority?
  • Do you feel as strongly as I do about race shirt sizing? (I get really mad/disappointed when I don’t get a shirt that fits)