I Qualified for Boston…?

I always thought that, when I finally went under 3:35, I’d cross the line and stop my watch and raise my arms in victory. I’ve been gunning for this goal since Hartford in 2011! I’ve been trying for this for longer than Paul and I have been dating! I imagined LOTS OF TRIUMPH. SO! MUCH! TRIUMPH!

I did not envision how it seems to have gone down: crossing the line, stopping my watch at 3:35:42, noting that the text alerts sent to my family said 3:35:40, accepting that as my new PR, and then, later in the day, going onto the official timing company’s website to confirm my time only to learn that it was 47 seconds faster than what the text alerts said—a 3:34:53.

Huh? Yay? I feel weird about this?

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My office could use a little interior design.

I contacted the race and the timing company. The race’s reply is here. The timing company’s reply was:

The only issue at the full start was the wrong gunstart got loaded to CT Live. How the system works is the gunstart button works on the release of the press. With the half starting 10 minutes late they were attempting to start exactly 30 minutes apart. The actual Gun start was witrh a Time machine (a seperate manual computer) which was verified. We have looked into both ends of the data and the results are correct. As a timer we manually have many back ups , which at times have saved us. computere are computers. the gun start that got loaded into the scoring software was correct. I realize it got confusing when net times got sent out which were off. after that happened I could not change that. But CTLive is not official times.

sorry for any confussion. We are looking at options for next yeat

(In which CT = Chronotrack, the service that was providing the live text updates. Why the text updates and the official race timing were done by different companies, I’m not sure.)

While this does not explain why my watch was so far off my official time—or why several other folks had the same problem—I’m not really interested in pressing the issue. I don’t want to be the girl who is like, “But my watch!”

And several people at the office have encouraged me, basically, to shut up and take the time. And I suppose I don’t blame them. Official results are official results.

And yet…I just can’t, you know?

I know that I started my watch after the gun, at the first timing mat, but the official results have my gun time (3:35:18) as 22 seconds faster than my watch. I trust my watch, but what’s more, I trust the collective power of several other runners’ watches, which were all “off” by about the same amount mine was. (I’ve counted four runners other than me—two I know in real life, and two who found me on the internet—who had the same experience.)

I won’t lie and say I wouldn’t attempt to use this time to get into the 2016 Boston Marathon. It’s only seven seconds under the standard; I wouldn’t get in anyway. But I’m not above trying it, if I don’t run a faster time before registration opens.

In the meantime, my #1 goal—one I think is doable, if I don’t make any of the dumb mistakes I made before Wineglass—is to run a faster time before next September. I have a race picked out. (Shh. It’s a secret.) I have a plan. I have the fitness. I just need to maintain it, and execute better.

Until then, I’m telling people my PR is 3:35:40. Sorry, official race results. We just disagree.

Fellow runners: How would you handle this situation?

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Race Recap: Wineglass Marathon 2014

“All PRs are good PRs” has been my mantra since I finished this race. I did run a PR–a 3:35:40. (Probably. That’s what the text tracking and my watch said. Official race results say 3:34:53, which, ??) And given everything that went wrong, it’s amazing I managed that at all.

The finishing stretch felt so long, guys.

The finishing stretch felt so long, guys. All photos courtesy of Paul, who, along with my mom, was wonderful enough to come watch me race. Seeing them along the course was EVERYTHING!

What’s frustrating is that I am so, so much fitter than that. I really am! For once in my marathoning life, I know that my result was not related to my fitness but to a couple other factors, to be discussed below. But first:

The Thing That Worked Well

My new day-before-the-race fueling plan! Instead of loading up on pasta and bread the night before, I had white rice with salmon. (This recipe, specifically. Highly recommended.) I also made some changes to what I ate for breakfast and lunch.

The result? My race-morning bathroom trips were drastically reduced. On bad days before, I would need two hands to count the number of visits. Yesterday? I only went twice. I arrived at the start line feeling hydrated and ready to go. It’s a nutritional miracle!

I used to think, “Wow, my race-day nerves are really bad.” Now I am like, “Duh. Why did I never consider what I was eating?” So, one piece of the puzzle officially in place for next time.

We stayed in this awesome AirBnb on Keuka Lake. House = can cook your own food. Win.

We stayed in this awesome AirBnb on Keuka Lake. House = can cook your own food. Win.

The Problems

1) Lack of Sleep: I woke up after about four hours of sleep Friday night and couldn’t get back, and Saturday, I just could not fall asleep. I might have gotten two hours, tops, that night. Ugh, right?

At first, I feared I was just becoming an insomniac, but I think I figured it out since. When I woke up Friday, I started reading on my Kindle Paperwhite, and I read that before I tried to sleep on Saturday. (Plus several times in the dark in the middle of the night, in attempts to get to sleep.) For some reason, I thought the light from that screen was OK at night, but turns out, it’s the same kind of light as an iPhone/iPad, just positioned differently.

I’d read on this before bed before and never noticed a difference, but perhaps it’s why I often wake up in the middle of the night. And perhaps it’s a definite no-go when I have a big race coming up and sleeping will be more difficult anyway.

2) THE STUPIDEST MISTAKE: I will blame this decision on my sleep-deprived brain.

I drink Nuun pretty often, but never before or during a run.

When I woke up exhausted before the race, I thought, “I’ll just have one of those Nuun Energy tabs in my first glass of water this morning. That should help.”

NOPE. NOPE. NOPE. The bubbly water made my stomach churn almost immediately, yet I finished the whole glass, thinking, “I need a little hit of caffeine or I’m never going to make it.” NOPE. NOPE. NOPE. STUPID.

3) I probably should have carried my own water bottle during this race instead of relying on the water stops (since that’s what I do during training).

4) This didn’t affect the race, but my newish shoes were DEFINITELY not broken in enough. Hellooooo, black toenail. (On my big toe!) It hurts. I will spare you a photo.

The Race Itself

Weather was perfect. I felt more or less good until I tried to take a gel, which did not mix well with the Nuun in there. The first two gels (at miles 6 and 12) sat kind of okay. The third (at mile 17.5) did not. I abandoned my plan to take another in the 20s and spent the remainder of the race trying to move forward and not barf.

Taken not long before the ill-fated mile 17.5 gel. The dude next to me was having similar stomach issues. Aren't marathons weird, in that we discuss our guts freely with complete strangers?

Taken not long before the ill-fated mile 17.5 gel. The dude next to me was having similar stomach issues. Aren’t marathons weird, in that we discuss our guts freely with complete strangers?

As usual in these poorly-executed marathons, it took all my (already limited) mental capacity to move forward without stopping to walk. The last 10-K was an epic mental battle of wanting to quit entirely but knowing that, if I could fight that urge, I’d run some amount of PR. I don’t even want to look at my splits. UGLY.

I’d say the low point was the 3:35 pacer passing me at mile 24. But really, there were so many low moments in that last stretch.

I felt worse than I ever have at the finish, likely mostly a function of having gotten almost no sleep the previous night and very little the night before that. I ended up in the medical tent just because I was cold and cranky and crampy and needed some Gatorade and a chair in a warm place.

But check out that rear view, amirite? Look at my calf muscle!! Wow!

But check out that rear view, amirite? Look at my calf muscle!! Wow!

What Now?

After a post-finish meltdown in which I told Paul, “I HATE MARATHONS,” I am eager to try again, smarter. I have the fitness to go faster. I 100% know that. I know what I did wrong, and I won’t make those mistakes again.

I desperately want the marathon I know I can have: The one where I spend the first half, comfortably, at 3:35 pace, pick it up a hair through the 20-mile mark, then race into the finish. The one where I only feel barfy in the last 5-K, and that’s only because I’m picking it up so much and passing so many people, not because I am giving my stomach fuel and it’s too angry at me to digest it.

I don’t know when that marathon will be. Gotta talk to the coach. But I know I have it in me. And at least I know what to eat the day before the race now!

I got really cold after the race and this is what happened. Fashions.

I got really cold after the race and this is what happened. Fashions.

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And This Is Why You Should Keep a Training Log

I did a comparison tonight of my weekly mileage totals leading up to Marine Corps (my current PR marathon) and the equivalent weekly mileages leading up to Wineglass (which I’m running Sunday).

photoI averaged almost 10 more miles per week this time around. That has to count for something, right?

I also took a highlighter to my current training log to highlight all the quality workouts I did this time around. (A brilliant tip c/o masters’ half-marathon world record holder Deena Kastor, who I got to meet at work the day after she set the record, but that’s a different story.) I did quite a few! Some doozies! Some workouts that I remembered being tough, but reading about them, I said, “Wow! I can’t believe I did that!”

I feel prepared and excited to race. This is very unlike me. Usually, I am filled with dread. Getting a coach was worthwhile if only for this feeling.

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Race Recap: Dine and Dash Burgers and Trail Race 2014

Yesterday, for the first time in my 12-year history of running, I was the female overall winner of a race.

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Yes, I ran the race in my hot dog costume. (There was also a costume award–which I wasn’t eligible for after winning the other prize–and I wanted to make sure I won something. I wanted one of these commemorative plates!)

And the race wasn’t only about fast running. It was also about fast eating. (Which I learned I’m actually pretty terrible at.)

The race was the Dine & Dash Burgers & Trail Race in Hamburg, Pennsylvania. It’s part of the town’s annual hamburger festival. How it works is: You eat a burger, then run a mile, then eat another burger, then run another mile. When I told my coach I was doing this, she said, “Sounds miserable.” I often run shortly after eating eggs and toast, so I wasn’t too worried about stomach problems.

What I should have been worried about, though, and what I should have trained better for, was the speed-eating portion.

There were 32 people in the race, and I was the second to last person to finish the first burger. Second! To! Last!

Luckily, I was able to quickly gain some ground on the first run segment, despite my hot dog costume, which was not terribly breathable or aerodynamic.

Ladies be like, "Ugh. I just got passed by a hot dog."

Ladies be like, “Ugh. I just got passed by a hot dog.”

My second burger went down a bit more smoothly despite the fact that it was at least 25% larger than the first one. I learned that you need to use the water to wash down hunks of burger that may not be as chewed as you’d like them to be. And then, I was given some beads (how they tell at the finish that you completed your second burger) and was headed back home.

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My time of 19:52.6 was good enough for first female. (No idea how that breaks down in terms of burger-eating time versus running time.) But, I will admit that it was not good enough to beat Paul, who totally smoked me at this race.

Hurting. But he said this race was better than the Philly Marathon, so!

Hurting. But he said this race was better than the Philly Marathon, so!

This was a fun little race that I wouldn’t be opposed to doing again. For $25, I got two burgers, a sweet T-shirt (see below), and an awesome plate that I will be displaying proudly in my office (see below the below). And, I learned that my hot dog costume isn’t so restrictive that I can’t run freely in it, but that I should probably save it for cold-weather races.

Tie dye! The front has a fake comic book cover (the festival's theme was Superheroes) with the Hamburg movie theater showing "The Dark Cow Rises." The back has the race logo, a determined-looking running hamburger.

Tie dye! The front has a fake comic book cover (the festival’s theme was Superheroes) with the Hamburg movie theater showing “The Dark Cow Rises.” The back has the race logo, a determined-looking running hamburger.

I shall cherish this award forever. My first overall win!

I shall cherish this award forever. My first overall win!

For more photos, see the event sponsor’s Facebook page.

 

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Race Recap: Kelly LaBare 5K 2014

This race was my first ever road race back in 2003 (!), so when I realized I’d be in Binghamton for it, I figured it might be cool to do it again. “I’ll totally blow my 16-year-old self out of the water,” I thought.

Well, I did, but not by as much as I expected—21:24 versus 23:15. I really thought I’d go sub-21 because I did it, handily, after all that beer and cheese back in March.

No. It was warm and very humid (84%!) and my body just DID NOT WANT. I went out like I was going to go sub-21 and very quickly was like, “NOPE.”

NOPE.

NOPE.

I was wildly disappointed after my 2003 performance as well. Funny how that works!

I am trying to remember a few things: that it was humid, that my coach had me run four warmup miles in weather that didn’t require much of a warmup, that she did so because I am working toward a marathon and not a 5K, and that my performance was, down to the second, exactly what the Run Smart Calculator prescribed for me given the conditions and my current fitness.

Basically, I wanted this race to boost my confidence, and it didn’t. But I probably shouldn’t have expected it to.

At least I got in a little racing experience before The Big Day. I hadn’t raced since April, so, I guess that’s good?

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Eras of Music Discovery, and Why I Just Can’t Spotify

I recently downgraded from paid Spotify to ye olde free version. They said, “Ooh, baby, give me one more chance…”

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…but I did not let them back in my heart.

So, I wasn’t really using Spotify, which is a great reason to quit. I found it inconvenient for listening in the car—plug it in! wait for it to connect! figure out what I want to hear! hope my service doesn’t go out!—unless I was going on a long trip. And artists don’t really make money from it, and I want the artists I like to make money.

But my #1 problem with Spotify was, and has always been, this: There’s just too much freakin’ music.

Before Spotify, I got into music in a bunch of different ways:

1993: Saw Free Willy, asked for a portable compact disc player and the Free Willy soundtrack for Christmas, listened to “Will You Be There?” through headphones at the dining room table (because if you moved the player at all, the CD would skip).

My first CD.

1994-1997: Friend’s eccentric dad made me copies of Weird Al tapes. Saw Alanis Morissette videos on VH1, purchased album at The Wall (lifetime guarantee!), listened to first few tracks on drive home with my mom, was mortified to learn that second track (“You Oughta Know”) contained the F-word, did not even know what “would she go down on you in a theater” meant. Saw Titanic five times –> “My Heart Will Go On.”

1998-2000: TRL. And the radio, of course.

2001-2004: I would hear a song I liked on some music-video channel—Fuse? The Box?—and download it using the file-sharing site of the moment. (RIP, original Napster.) This is how I ended up with at least 50 unlabeled CDs of random crap from this era. (I have them in my car. Paul likes to pop them in on long drives. One contained several Shania Twain songs. Another, several Blessid Union of Souls tracks. One had a song by City High that wasn’t “what would you do if your son was at home / crying all alone on the bedroom floor ’cause he’s hungry?”) My friends got me into Dave Matthews Band and John Mayer (and I’ll never forgive them). I also liked to go to Target and purchase albums that just looked cool. (How I got into Modest Mouse.)

2005-2008: College. I worked for a freakin’ music magazine. I was definitely not cool enough for the job, but many of my coworkers were. And once I heard of an artist I liked, it was easy enough to find an album through some program that let you download music from other computers on your network in the dorms. Hence: full albums from MGMT, the Decemberists, Death Cab, Kings of Leon (when they were cool), Justice, and on and on.

2009-Spotify: I went back to the high-school method—obtaining songs from the internet (not from a sketchy Napster-like service! ones that were hosted on blogs, through sites like Hype Machine) and burning random mixes to CDs. I’d find the songs through XPN, or Sirius XMU, or Stereogum.

And then I joined Spotify, and it became, “HOW MUCH OF THIS CAN I LISTEN TO?” instead of, “Oh, I like that song. I think I’ll check out the album, listen to it several times, and really give it a chance.”

And you have to do the latter thing in order for music to become a teleportation device.

By that, I mean, you know how there are some songs or albums you can listen to and they transport you back to a particular moment and/or era in your life?

Some personal examples:
“Landed” by Ben Folds = breaking up with my long-term high school boyfriend and finally settling into college
“Sentimental Heart” by She and Him = my first fall in the Lehigh Valley, trying to keep a long-distance college relationship afloat
“No One’s Gonna Love You” by Cee Lo = driving to Bethlehem (while belting this out) on a cold evening in December 2010 in search of my first solo apartment

If you only listen to everything one time, you’ll never build those connections. And there will never be a song that makes you feel the freedom of ending your first serious (and not awesome) relationship, or the bittersweet feeling of clinging to the past when you know you should really be moving forward, or like you’re going to go look at a shitty apartment because your roommate is moving to New York City and almost all your friends will follow her soon but you don’t know it yet.

Music is for emotions!

In conclusion, I bought a couple albums on iTunes today and thought, “I don’t have any blank CDs. This stinks.” And then a coworker was cleaning out his office and put a whole stack of blank CDs on the free table. It’s a sign. Spotify-free is the way to be.

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#YesAllWomen Are Told to Be Fearful

A few years ago, I took a free women’s self-defense class at a local martial arts studio. The instructor’s first advice to us was, “Never go anywhere alone.”

Don’t go for a run alone. Don’t go to the grocery store alone. Don’t even walk to or from your car in broad daylight alone.

He actually told us that! He actually told a room full of women never to go anywhere alone! And he MEANT it!

Awaiting our lecture. Click through for more photos that really misrepresent the overarching message of this class.

Awaiting our lecture. Click through for more photos that really misrepresent the overarching message of this class.

When I read through some of the #YesAllWomen tweets, this was one personal-experience incident that came to mind for me. Sure, I’ve been catcalled more times than I can count. I’ve been followed while running twice. I’ve been made to feel unsafe by men, strangers and non-strangers alike, and that’s bullshit.

But what this instructor told us was a different kind of bullshit. His message was, “You should feel unsafe, always. You should have a less-rich experience of life, just because someone could be lurking out there, waiting to hurt you. It’s better to hide away in your home where it’s safe* than to venture out into the big, scary world all by yourself.”

(*My most alarming experience of this nature happened inside the place I was living at the time, so apparently I shouldn’t have even been there alone.)

I expected this class to be empowering. I expected to be told, “Here are some practical ways to kick someone’s ass if you ever need to defend yourself.” Instead, I was told, “Step one: Live in fear. If that doesn’t work, well, here are some defensive moves. But they aren’t nearly as effective as living in fear.”

That’s not fair.

Yes, bad things can and do happen to women at the hands of men. But teaching women to be constantly fearful is not the answer.

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