I’m Running The Boston Marathon (it’s official)!

OK, OK…I know…enough of the Boston talk!  But I promise this post won’t be whiny.

It has been a long 2 1/2 weeks since this happened…


Thanks Amanda for the video!  Pay no attention to my bad form.

But I finally received my acceptance email from the B.A.A. on Thursday (at 2:11pm, not that I was waiting or anything).  What did it take?

6:  emails to the B.A.A. from me
4:  phone calls to the B.A.A.
1:  fax to the B.A.A.
1:  email from the LVM race director* to the B.A.A.
1:  email from the LVM race timer to the  B.A.A.
*this email came from Gerry Yasso (yes, Bart’s brother).  Bart designed the LVM course.  I love Bart Yasso and now his brother is pretty awesome as well.   

I cannot believe it’s finally official!

AND, I cannot believe how lucky I am.

  • After the NJ Marathon (May 2011), I knew I could BQ.  I was lucky enough to get another shot at BQing and found a marathon within driving distance the day before Boston 2012 registration opened.  Talk about down to the wire.
  • There was hurricane Irene, then more flooding, and 90% humidity leading up to the race.  I was lucky enough to get a cool and overcast day with little to no mud.
  • Then the unthinkable happened, Boston registration was still open on September 19th and I was lucky enough to register.

Little did I know that I was about to get even luckier

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One second slower (say I had a violent sneeze during Mile 24) and I would not be running the Boston Marathon.

This is a dream come true!  There are no words to express how happy I am right now!

Boston will be my 10th marathon.  What a way to ring in the double digits!

PS – My running twin, Cindi, is going to kick ass at the Twin Cities Marathon on Sunday.  Stop by and wish her the race of a lifetime!

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Boston Update: Thursday Edition

If you want to hit “mark all as read” in your Google Reader because you are sick of hearing about Boston, I don’t blame you.  I’m pretty damn sick of it myself.

The update is that I still don’t know.  I make daily calls to the B.A.A. (I swear there is an audible groan when they hear my voice).  I send emails and faxes.  Has it helped speed up the process?  Nope.

Yesterday I was told there were 300 runners in my situation (most of them ran international races) and they hope to get through them yesterday and today and let us know on Friday.  I was told they are not giving away my spot; just checking that my finish time was not falsified.  They have 2 emails (which I also faxed to them) from the LVM stating that my finish time is 3:43:46.  What the hell more do you need?

Maybe I’ll hear today?  I’m not holding my breath.  Take your damn time, B.A.A.

In the meantime, I’m trying to focus on other things.  Like the fact that I’m running a 5K this weekend with my niece, Sarah (her second 5K!).

Sarah's first 5K

A Quick Update On Boston…

The update is that I still don’t know and may not know if I’m officially in for some time (officially is the key word here).  Most runners found out yesterday if they were accepted or not.  I have yet to receive an email.  All I know is the cut-off time for my age and gender is 3:43:46 which is exactly my finish time at the Lehigh Valley Marathon.

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See the time for the 35-39 age group?  Through and including 3:43:46?  So technically, I’m in (by the skin of my teeth)!  How incredibly lucky is that?

There appears to be an issue verifying my finish time.  I have spoken and emailed the B.A.A. twice today.  They cannot use the posted times on the LVM website for verification (I asked).  The LVM does not give out finishers’ certificates (which the B.A.A. would accept for verification).  I also emailed the race director of the LVM to see if he/she can help in anyway.

The second time I spoke with the B.A.A. she said it may take up to 4 weeks to verify my time.  I burst into tears (thankfully, I’m working from home).  It has been a stressful 2 days and that was the last thing I wanted to hear.

I know my finish time meets the requirements but I cannot celebrate and be happy about it until I receive an acceptance email from the B.A.A.  

I feel like I am doing everything in my power to help out and move things along.  I guess I just have to wait some more 😦

Rant n’ Rave

9/26/11
4 miles easy

BOSTON UPDATE:  I should know by today or tomorrow if I’m in (or out, but I’m trying to think positive, so let’s just focus on the “in”).  My stomach is in knots and I’m terrified.  My BlackBerry will not leave my side today or tomorrow and every time it blinks, I’m going to say a little prayer that it’s the B.A.A. giving me good news.  Fingers crossed…

RANT
Back in July, me and my friend Sara decided to sign up for the Great Urban Race – Philly.  Think Amazing Race but on a much smaller scale.  We both have wanted to do this type of race for awhile and were excited.  We even came up with a great team name – Rally Girls, after Friday Night Lights (we are huge fans).  Loooong story short, the Great Urban Race sucks.  I successfully registered but Sara could not (it kept charging her for 2 participants).  Sara called and emailed the GUR staff numerous times and, essentially, they could not fix their registration issue.  Sara even asked if they could do something manually if she provided her credit card numbers.  Nope.  GUR’s solution?  Come down on race day and we can register you for $60 (the late registration fee, because it was our fault we weren’t registered on time).  Hell no.

Since I was the only Rally Girl registered and the rules are you need 2 team members to race, I asked for a refund.  They refused.  So, for what it’s worth, I’m blasting them on my blog.  Consider yourself warned if you sign up for a Great Urban Race event.

RAVE
Back in June, Molly and Al from races2remember sent me a pace band for the Lehigh Valley Marathon.  I love myself a pace band and fully intended to use a 3:45 band for the LVM.  These aren’t ordinary pace bands though.  Split times are based on the elevation profile of the marathon you are running.  Races2remember staffers run marathons all across the country to “test out” the course (by the way, this would be my dream job).  So you get a pace band with realistic split times based on downhills and uphills.  Their list of marathons (and half marathons) is extremely comprehensive.  The LVM is a very small race, and it was listed.

You can get a set of 3 pace bands for $7.50, so you can mix and match finish times.  I would highly recommend them if you are into using pace bands.

Got any rant or raves to share on this Monday?  

*I was sent a pace band at no cost in exchange for my review; however, my opinions are my own.  

Thursday Thoughts

Since I’ve been rather verbose lately, I’ll keep this short and sweet.

RACE SHIRTS
Race fees are expensive, so is it too much to ask for a race T that fits?!  My pile of ill-fitting race Ts is growing.  I get the appeal of a unisex size  – it’s much easier to order and cheaper.  When I see that sizes are unisex I generally get a XS.  What usually happens is this…

Thanks LVM!

I end up with a Youth XL, which is wide and short (this one was just large in general and oddly tight on my neck).  I will never wear this shirt!

But sometimes, they get it right (thank you Philly RnR Half).  This is a proper unisex XS…

Someone wanted in on this picture

BOSTON
Is the word “Boston” everywhere or is it because I’m obsessed?  Last week my neighbor asked how my marathon went.  He was wearing a Boston T-shirt (kinda of ironic).  I went food shopping on Monday and there was a song about Boston playing.  I saw a truck the other day and all it said on the back was “Boston”.  I’m going crazy and I need to know NOW!

STEP AWAY FROM THE FOOD
I’m still eating like I’m running 50 miles a week.  I may need an intervention or that LVM shirt will fit me.  Thankfully the “fun run” period is almost over and then it’s back to training.

What are your feelings on race Ts?  For the amount of money we pay, I think they should have women’s sizes.  

Believe

Thank you for all the incredible comments on my post yesterday.  I think Alyssa said it best…

I thought all BQers were naturally speedy and ran sub-4 marathons without even trying.

That’s a myth!  I used to think the same thing.  This is exactly why I wrote that post – to show you that an average runner can BQ!

How’d I do it?  Let’s start with the physical part first.

Know what works for you
When I’m coaching someone, I often tell them that I made every mistake in the book so they don’t have to.  I really think I did.  Lots of trial and error.  But it made me a smart runner.  I know what my body can handle and what it can’t.  I know which training plans will work for me and which ones won’t.  I know when to back off and rest and when to kick it up a notch.

Listen to your body and keep a training log.  After each training cycle and race, jot down what worked and what didn’t.  Review often and look for any patterns.

Marathon-paced long runs
I love me some marathon-paced long runs!   I wrote a post awhile ago explaining my reasoning for not doing long, slow distance long runs here.  LSD does not work for me.  I gave it a fair shot.  My coaching certification is through RRCA and they heavily stress LSD long runs for everyone – beginners to elite.  I 100% agree with LSD long runs for beginners who need to build an adequate endurance base.  But, if you have a time goal in mind, you need to incorporate some MP miles into your long runs.  For the simple reason that practice makes perfect.

Speed work (FIRST training plan)
I used the FIRST training plan for my last 2 marathons (with modifications – I added in some easy runs for more mileage).  I definitely credit it with helping me BQ.  Before the NJ Marathon, I went to the track here and there but I wasn’t consistent.  I’ve been doing speed work consistently for the past 9 months and the results are astounding.  My marathon pace dropped significantly.  And I saw results quickly.

Consistency is key here.  Pick a day each week and dedicate it to speed work.  It’s easiest to do on a track but any flat, paved path (free of traffic) will do.  And don’t think you have to run all-out…that is a misnomer.  You can do intervals at 10K or half marathon pace.  For my final weeks leading up to the Lehigh Valley Marathon, I kept my intervals at 10K pace because I found myself overstriding (and subsequently hurting my hamstring) when I did intervals at 5K pace.

2-week taper
This training cycle was the first time I experimented with a 2-week taper.  And I will never go back to a 3-week taper again!  For me, it’s more mental than anything.  I had a good 22-miler 2 weeks before the LVM.  The day of the race I kept thinking that all I had to do was repeat the run that I did only 2 weeks before.  It boosted my confidence significantly.

Before you try a 2-week taper, think about how long it takes you to completely recover from a 20 mile run.  If it takes awhile, I would err on the side of caution and stick with a 3-week taper.  You don’t want to have any lingering effects of that last 20-miler come race day.

Train for the worst case scenario
I learned this the hard way during the Pocono Marathon.  Know the marathon course.  Look at the elevation profile.  Ask people who ran the race in previous years (sidenote:  take their advice with a grain of salt.  A big hill to some is a little hill to others and vice versa).  If there are small hills, train for big hills.  It will only help you come race day.

Now for the mental part…

Break it up into small chunks
When I started to get closer to my BQ time, I looked at each marathon as a way to inch closer and closer to my ultimate goal.  My goal for Steamtown was to break 4:00 hours.  Then my goal for NJM was to hit 3:50…and finally BQ (3:45) at LVM.  This made it much more manageable and less daunting.

Believe
Such a powerful word.  Believe in yourself AND in your training.  If you think you can, you can.  If you think you can’t, you can’t.

Be present
This tactic worked well for me at LVM.  Instead of thinking ahead to the later miles (i.e., the last 6.2), I forced myself to focus on the current mile and mastering it.  It can get overwhelming to think of how many more miles you have and how you are going to maintain MP, blah, blah, blah.  It’s a vicious cycle of self-doubt.  If you find yourself going down this road, snap out of it (during the LVM I audibly said “stop”) and regain your focus.

Phew!  I had lots to say.  If you made it through this post, kudos…you deserve a gold star!

A Walk Down Memory Lane

This blog is only about 9 months old so many of you have only seen a brief snapshot of my running.  I want to walk down memory lane and show you how far I’ve come in 10 years.  This post is not about bragging but about showing you that anything is possible…if you want it badly enough.  For me, qualifying and running the Boston Marathon were dreams of mine for the past 10 years.  I’m sure people thought I was crazy talking about BQing when I was still hours (yes, hours) away from my BQ time.  But Boston was always in the back of my mind during every marathon.

Marathon #1:  Marine Corps Marathon 2004 – 5:12
My goal was to finish.  I treated this marathon like a party.  I stopped and chatted with Matt, I stopped for pee breaks, I stopped for stretch breaks.  I seriously spent a half hour stopping.

Marathon #2:  NYC Marathon 2005 –  4:36
A huge improvement but I should have done some hill work.

Marathon #3:  Marine Corps Marathon 2006 –  4:58
I had a terrible training cycle and my head just wasn’t in it.  I was ready to quit at mile 10.

Marathon #4:  Marine Corps Marathon 2007 – 4:11
I told you I loved the MCM!  I was finally beginning to make some progress here.   I was ecstatic with this time!

Marathon #5:  Philly Marathon 2008 – 4:12
Oh, I was pissed about this one.  It was 15 degrees at the start…I never warmed up and my lungs burned since I wasn’t acclimated to the cold yet.  Just awful.

2009:  I took a year off marathoning to get married, buy a house, and honeymoon in Europe 🙂

Marathon #6:  Pocono Marathon May 2010 – 4:13
I was livid about this race.  It was much hillier than I thought (this is the sole reason why I always train for the worst case scenario).  I hated the marathon and the course.  I had a great training cycle but hit the wall HARD at mile 19.  Up until mile 19, I was on track for a sub-4:00 but I fell apart mentally.  At this point I was SO SICK of finishing in the 4:1x range.

Marathon #7:  Steamtown Marathon October 2010 – 3:58
Redemption!  Finally, a sub-4:00!  This was a great marathon too.  Gotta love the downhills.

Marathon #8:  New Jersey Marathon May 2011 – 3:52
We all know what happened here…

Marathon #9:  Lehigh Valley Marathon September 2011 – 3:43
BQ BABY!

How did I manage to shave off 30 minutes from May 2010 to September 2011?  Hard work and determination.  I’m not naturally speedy.  I didn’t run track or cross country in high school or college.  I didn’t hit the running genetic jackpot.  I’m just an average runner who dreamed big.  That’s it.  If I can do it, so can you.

Tomorrow’s post will focus on what I did physically and mentally to shave those 30 minutes off.

Do you have big running dreams?  Share them!

And The Winners Are…

Winner #1 – BETH

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Winner #2 – B from Fearless Fitness (sorry, I couldn’t find your first name)!

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Winner #3 – BRANDY

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Thanks to everyone who entered!

Beth, B, and Brandy (all Bs!) — I will be sending you an email soon!

 

 

Updates And An Unexpected PR

Updates first, good stuff second!

Update #1 – Boston Registration
The very, very good news:  registration is still open and I was able to register at 10AM today (yay!).  The bad news:  per the B.A.A., those who are the fastest among the pool of applicants in their age and gender will be accepted.  Accepted athletes will be notified by September 28.  Not only do I have more waiting ahead of me, I’m BQ-1:14 (1:14 under my BQ time).  So all the runners who are BQ-4, BQ-3, and BQ-2 will get accepted before me, until slots run out.  Clear as mud, right?  I cannot take this waiting anymore.  But I have to remain positive – I got to register today, which I didn’t think was possible one week ago.

Update #2 – CBS Philly Most Valuable Blogger Awards
I was robbed!  I checked the website last Thursday and found out I didn’t win (thanks for the heads up, CBS Philly).  A gluten-free blog won, which I find hysterical.  We live in a city that lives off soft pretzels, cheesesteaks, and Tastykakes and a gluten-free blog wins!  That’s random.  But thank you to everyone who voted each and every day.  I’d like to think I came in second place 😉

Update #3 – Giveaway
I will pick 3 winners tonight, so there’s still time to enter!

I had a race-tastic weekend!  On Saturday we did a Family Fun Walk and managed maybe 1 mile in 19 minutes.  Thanks to Hawk’s pooing, sniffing, and general lack of walking in a straight line.

I had the pre-race jitters

Re-hydrating

Puppy love

Sunday was the Philly RnR Half Marathon (aka, Team RTLR Half).

Team RTLR + Rocky

The weather was absolutely perfect.  I had originally planned to run this race for run but at the starting line I decided to see what pace my legs could do.  What did I have to lose?  If my legs got tired halfway through – oh well – I’ll just slow down during the second half.  I wasn’t surprised when my legs settled into marathon pace (8:30).  At mile 6, I got this incredible surge of energy and my pace dropped to 8:15s then 8:09s.  At mile 9, I thought I may have a shot at PRing so I dropped my pace even more (again, if I crashed and burned it didn’t matter…so why not?).  Splits for miles 10 through 13:

M10 – 7:57
M11 – 7:42
M12 – 7:36
M13 – 7:37

I crossed the finish line with a 1:48:33 – good enough for a 1-minute PR!!   My legs were more sore post-half marathon than they were post-BQ.  Ouch.  I won’t be racing again anytime soon (meaning the next few weeks).

Ann, Sara, and Jen:  you ladies did an amazing job!  I’m very proud.  Each of you looked so strong at the finish!

Sara was all smiles at mile 13!

Have a great Monday!  I have the day off and I’m going shopping!

Fantastic Friday

TGIF, indeed!  I have a 3-day weekend ahead of me and I could not be happier.  I must confess that I did take off to register for the Boston Marathon on Monday.  Let’s hope I’m registering at 10am on Monday and not sulking!

I caught a glimpse of a rainbow outside my house last night. Good omen for Boston registration?!?!

This week has been hell at work.  All day meetings from Tuesday to Friday.  I am so looking forward to this weekend.

Tonight, Matt and I are going out to dinner to celebrate my BQ.  I told you I would milk this for as long as possible!

I found out there is a 5K on Saturday morning right in my neighborhood.  My initial thought was to race it (seriously).  I mean, my legs feel fine.  And by fine I mean they don’t hurt when I walk down the steps and get up from a seat.  I finally came to my senses and realized “racing” a 5K was not happening.  Kara suggested running with Hawk.  The race website said they welcome strollers and pets so me, Matt, and Hawk are going to walk the 5K.

As long as it doesn't interfere with my nap schedule

And then Sunday is the Team RTLR Half Marathon!  I have lots to look forward to this weekend.

You still have plenty of time to enter my giveaway!  I will pick 3 winners on Monday, September 19.  If you don’t use Twitter or Facebook (or already follow me on Twitter and Facebook), leave a comment anyway and consider yourself entered!    

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