One door closes…

Less than 10 days until the Shamrock Marathon. One of my favorite weekends of the year. For that reason this post is hard to type up so I’ll just get to it. I have decided to pull out of the Shamrock Marathon. Insert tears here. This was an incredibly tough decision to make. One that I put off making and couldn’t bring myself to share with anyone outside my tiny circle of close friends until now. Earlier today I picked up that sweet new Running Etc. race top pictured above and got a little achey in the heart that I won’t get to pin my favorite number 7 on it like last year.

About 4 weeks ago I was running a solo mile repeat workout on a road loop. The times were fantastic and my confidence was beaming. I noticed one sharp turn that  I would repeat 5 times throughout the workout thinking maybe it was too aggressive. I didn’t follow my gut, brushed the concern away, and all this while wearing racing flats (ugh). The following morning I couldn’t walk without pain in my left calf.

A few days off soon became a week, a week became two, then they became 21 consecutive days off running. I had two A goals this season and while I am back to running (not perfect but I’d say 90% healed thanks to the amazing team at Direct Performance), if I run the Shamrock full in this condition than I most likely would jeopardize my recovery and build up for the Brooklyn Half Marathon. This decision really totally sucked was very difficult to make. Last year Shamrock was a dream race for me. I am so very proud of that race and still consider it to be one of the best I’ve ever executed considering the Nor-Easter storm headwinds we faced. Having my spouse put my medal around my neck, best friends there cheering, and coach along the course was such a GIFT. Feeling self pity for not receiving that incredible gift again seems almost greedy.

I tell my kids all the time, you can choose to be the victim or the victor in every situation. You can choose to feel sorry for yourself or you can choose to turn the experience into a great one. I chose to have a few tears then move on.  I knew immediately that I would still be celebrating Shamrock Marathon weekend in one way or another and will now be helping out the awesome J&A Racing team with the weekends festivities. Without going into detail they found a job for me that fits my personality and, get this, I get to drive a golf cart 😉  There are so many incredible details that go into making Shamrock a unique and fun race that normally I have to gloss over because I’m running. Now I get to be on the other side and look forward to sharing it with you all.  I promise it will be an amazing weekend and its not too late to sign up. Online registration closes Tuesday at 11:59 pm. The half is where I got my PR but all the courses are fast and PR worthy (I promise to scream loud and dance awkwardly for you!!)  Also look at the expo line up below….Bart Yasso, Elyse Kopecky, SHALANE (my idol) and many more!! Did you miss that?  I’ll type it again Shalane Flanagan is coming to Shamrock!

Thank you all so much for supporting me. I cannot wait to cheer for some of you at the Shamrock races next weekend!!  For all my local friends racing the One City Marathon this Sunday, lots of luck for you. Fingers crossed for a tail wind 😉

 

-If you can meet with triumph and disaster  and treat those two imposters just the same…- R.K.

Spring 2017 Goals


Happy 2017 friends! I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season. Things here have been mostly wonderful. After the New York City Marathon, I took a good month off. Two weeks of no running and another  two weeks of low motivation sprinkled with 2-3 milers here and there. Then of course, December being December, running was there but not on my high list of priorities. We did however end my running year on a fantastic note.

My son, Matthew, and I ran the Surf-N-Santa 5 miler here in Virginia Beach. So…much….fun.  J&A Racing organized the Worlds Largest Santa Run and we met the Guinness Book of World Record goal! In order for each runner to count towards the official Santa numbers they had to wear a five piece suit (Beard, Hat, Shirt, Pants, & Belt) that were included with race entry. Needless to say the entire race was hysterical. Matthew and I ran with my closest friend and also a few other groups of friends along the way and I couldn’t stop laughing at us all in these fat suits. At Mile 2 there was a gingerbread cookie stop and later in the race there was a Candy Cane lane. We loved it and running with Matthew, who ran all but a few steps at a water stop, was something I’ll cherish forever. I see it as a Mom/Son tradition for years to come.

img_20161217_154728297_hdr.jpg

img_20161217_160251018_hdr.jpg

The race is held late afternoon so that you can run under the Boardwalk Holiday Lights.

img_20161217_172233623.jpg

Just over 45 minutes for this guy!

Seeing as how most bloggers (am I a blogger if I only write 6 times a year?) are writing their goals for the year, I feel the need to add mine. My running goal this year is simply to race as well as I train. While I had a fantastic 2016, one that I am proud of, I never finished a race feeling as though I lived up to the level I was at during the actual training cycle. I’ve been doing this marathon thing long enough to know what workouts should result in what goal time and honestly I was in much fitter shape than I showed at New York.  I could blame it on wind, nerves, solo running time, excitement, etc. but truth is I just should have tightened my laces and ran tougher. As for Spring 2017, I have some great races lined up to keep challenging myself.

January 14th- Distance Series 10 Miler

February 26th- Colonial Half Marathon

March 19th- Shamrock Marathon

March 26th- Seagull Sprint 1 Mile. <- Excited to Co-Direct again! Not racing.

May 20th- Brooklyn Half Marathon 

Can I have two “A goals” for Spring? Well, I do. The Shamrock Marathon is my main training goal but the Brooklyn Half is close as well. The Full is my favorite distance and Shamrock is a race that is close to my heart so there was no doubt in my mind I’ll be chasing a PR there (as long as I can stay healthy.) The Shamrock course is easy to mentally break up, easy for spectators, easy for logistics, plus I’m surrounded with an amazing training team, friends family, and Coach. Plus I always love their swag. 😉 I didn’t want my season to end there though. I’ve been wanting to break 1:20 in the half for ages. Not sure if it will be doable with time off after Shamrock but at the very least, I wanted to put myself in a highly competitive race to aim for it.  Last year 18 women ran under 1:20 at the Brooklyn Half. I love that and am really looking forward to running in NYC again.

I do not have anything set in stone for the Fall, but am leaning towards California International Marathon, in case any friends are thinking of the same. I would love to hear from anyone else running it. Its the last of my personal Fall U.S. bucket list marathons since I’ve done Chicago, Twin Cities, Philly, Seattle, & New York. More suggestions welcome!

Now the not so wonderful news.  In December we said goodbye to our incredible dog, Buddy, who was almost 16 years old. Saying goodbye to him was easily the hardest decision I have ever made in my life.  The kids were so brave about it all and I put on my bravest face but was a wreck. Steve was an awesome rock for us. I hesitated to share on here but he was one of my first running “Buddys” and I’ve mentioned him quite a bit on this blog. I still get super emotional about him. I even choked up at a grocery store when I saw his special food for sale (He was on a sensitive stomach diet so I rarely saw it in stores). It’s the little things but I am truly grateful that we were able to have him in our lives for 15 years. We adopted him from the SPCA when he was a year old and he traveled the country, living with us in 7 different states! He will always always be a part of our family even if he isn’t with us. One of our last photos-

img_20161221_201618771.jpg

Now back to running specifics. Workouts have been going wonderfully. Last week was my first official training week back. This week being the second week was a bit rougher as the legs start to feel it but it feels great to be back in the marathon grind. Here is a quick look at what I had and have for this week-

Monday- 10 miles easy (snowed in, on treadmill)

Tuesday- 8 total, 4 mile tempo in 24 minutes flat (again snowed in! treadmill)

Wednesday- Last day on treadmill, thank gosh! 10 miles easy, last 400 at 6:00 pace to mimic some striders.

Thursday- 2.5 mile warm up, 4 X 1 mile (5:39 average) 2.5 mile cool down.

Friday- OFF. 

Saturday- 10 Mile Distance Series Run. No goal pace, just see where I am at.

Sunday- 14 miles very easy.

If you are local to Hampton Roads, Direct Performance is hosting new Sunday morning group runs at 7 am at their Great Neck location. I plan on getting quite a few of my long runs in starting there.  Have a fantastic week friends! Happy Training!

New York City Marathon 2016 Recap

img_20161107_060904.jpg

“New York, you chewed me up and spit me out but I love you so much anyway. Most incredible race experience of my life and so grateful even if it didn’t go as planned. Thank you for the love everyone! Never gave up… Ever.”

 

Above is my Facebook status after my race at New York yesterday. After typing and deleting several sentences again and again to start this blog post, unable to clearly express the emotions, using that status made sense. It says it simply enough.  This past weekend was an experience I will cherish for the rest of my life. I was able to share that experience with my spouse who was incredibly supportive and proud the entire time, something that wasn’t an option when I ran in the Boston Elite field because of Navy life. For those reasons, I refuse to let the finishing time on the clock define my experience and memories of my weekend at the New York City Marathon.

Huge thank you to David Monti for organizing incredible fields on both the mens and womens side at New York this year. The U.S. Marathon Olympians were not able to run so they were brought in as Course Marshalls.  It was a running nerds (me) dream to see all the professionals at different events, meetings, and during the race.  NYRR treats the elites so well. We had all expenses paid, wonderful meals provided, per diem for dinners, a fantastic welcome bag of gifts, massages, and more. Organization of bottle drop offs, uniform inspections, drug informational meetings, and the final technical meeting were flawless, making each athletes preparation time run smoothly and stress free. Every employee and volunteer went above and beyond to make sure we felt comfortable. They went out of their way to set us up for success and I am truly grateful.

My weekend began on Friday when Steve and I arrived at our hotel. We were greeted kindly, signed all the necessary paperwork, were given credentials for Steve to join me at most events, and I was able to book a massage for early the following morning.  I didn’t sleep particularly well. The city is gorgeous but loud! Even on the 25th floor I could hear taxis honking and car alarms blaring.  I was up early the next morning and I dragged Steve out of bed to watch the Abbotts Dash to the Finish 5K that ran right by our hotel lobby. It was amazing to watch in my sweats and nice to duck back inside quickly for breakfast. The easiest race spectating ever.

img_20161107_062149.jpg

Hard to see but the view out of the elite breakfast suites was gorgeous. Peeks of Central Park!

img_20161107_093417482.jpg

swag bags

img_20161107_061459.jpg

Friday Shake out run in Central Park with the guy who puts up with me always.

After breakfast I had a massage session with a physical therapist that without me saying a word, new exactly the issues I have to see my physical therapist here in Virginia Beach about.  My left hip acts up and he was able to gently work that out. That was followed by a uniform inspection. Unfortunately I was unable to wear my usual Running, Etc. singlet. NYCM is a IAAF Gold Label race. The lettering on my Running Etc. singlets was too large. Instead I wore a plain sports bra and shorts. Our bibs ended up being gigantic (no complaints because I LOVE them) but they were unable to be altered by folding or cutting so they covered up half our bodies anyway. Next we had fluid drop offs. Having elite bottles was a nice perk. I was able to tape my gels to the bottle so didn’t have to worry about carrying those. The last event of the day was the professional athlete technical meeting and dinner. Steve was able to come to both of these with me. At this point my nerves were showing up so I wanted all the calming influence I could get.  Every possible question we had was answered there and then some. Dinner afterwards was wonderful. I have a stomach that can sometimes act up so I stuck with rice, rice, and bread. It worked because I had zero nutritional issues on race day.

The next morning it was go time bright and early. I awoke at 4:45 am for breakfast at the hotel. We had to board our bus at 6:15 am and can I just say that the ride to Staten Island was gorgeous. The sun was rising through the tall building and off the water. I put in my music and pinched myself at this beautiful and quiet tour through the city to the race I had been waiting for months to enjoy. We were bussed to an indoor track that was spectacular. We had plenty of room to stretch, warm up, and use the facilities. I did my warm up here while in awe of how fast some of the top elites warm up. They must have run a few miles at a very quick pace.  Before we knew it, it was time to get bussed back to the start. The starting area gave me chills. Music was playing, announcements were made, and the sheer magnitude of it all struck me. I had been dreaming of standing on that bridge at that moment for months and soaked in every detail.

20161106_060643.jpg

About to board bus to start at 6:00 am for a 9:20 start…my coffee needed coffee.

Two miles on the Verrazano bridge went by in what seemed liked 30 seconds. I quickly found a nice small pack of women to run with and we averaged 6:30 pace arriving off the bride into Brooklyn. This was EXACTLY what I wanted at that point.  While my goal time was 2:46-2:47 my overall plan was to run a very conservative first half.  This course is a tough one. I was told this a hundred times and I never took that caution for granted. I was very confident that if I ran a “safe” first half that I could dial it down on the miles from 15-20 where we get a nice reprieve from the hills. Spoiler Alert- It didn’t go as planned.  Brooklyn won my heart quickly. I didn’t expect so many spectators out so early (We started 30 minutes before everyone else). My bib said “Lawrence”  instead of Kris or Kristen and I am so thankful now that it did.  I didn’t feel like I was running just for me, every time I heard someone yell “Go Lawrence” I felt like I was running for my family team. They sacrifice more than they should for my running life and I wanted to pull off a great day for them. A few spectators in Brooklyn yelled “Go Larry!” to me and made me smile.  And honestly every borough, while visually different, had the same incredible enthusiasm that shook me to my core in the best way.

14976745_1209087989180714_3384455295389715071_o

The first half went by in a blink. I had turned my watch so that I could not see the pace or time, only time of day. I ran entirely on feel and sometimes worried that I was running too slow.  I told myself to stay patient though because the wind was real.  The Queensboro bridge does not allow spectators. It was so surreal to be on this huge, quiet New York bridge with just one other runner (our pack had dwindled by mile 15 to two of us) The Course Marshalls truck drove by us and Amy Cragg cheered for us.  I looked over at Marilyn Arsenault and said “How incredible is this?!?!” I’ll never forget that calm before the storm hit a few miles later. Coming off that bridge, the plan was go time. Soak in the deafening crowds of First Avenue and continue to gut it out to the finish.  Well my legs had other things in mind, I did gut it out but the pace was frustrating and I felt deliriously hopeless to fix it. The lead men passed us and while exciting was distracting. I found myself trying to get out of the way and losing my sense of pace.

unnamed

Steve had this close up view of my confused face at in the elite tent. I swear I have resting confused face! 

By mile 19 I started to panic, the hardest part of the course was approaching and my legs were starting to scream. The steep downhills had wrecked my right shin and every step I was wincing. Marilyn was super encouraging when she had no reason to be. She could have left me in the dust (and did but only after I waved her ahead). I yo-yoed her back to me a few times through pure effort but really didn’t get my legs under me again until I forced another gel and more fluids. I passed a few ladies the last 10K and that momentum was enough to get my brain back into fighting mode. Don’t get me wrong, I was in agony but I was still pushing 😉 I could only see one more lady in front of me and I worked really hard to catch her but failed too.

img_20161107_060811.jpg

Friends Kevin and Tim took this in Central Park. Believe me, my body was on fire but seeing friends gave me a huge smile. How can you not smile in the last 10K of the New York City Marathon even if it punched you in the gut?!?

One of the best moments of the day happened immediately when I crossed the finish line. I finished and felt so defeated. I’m sure the look on my face was obvious. I looked up ahead of me and steps away Meb Keflezighi was standing a few feet away talking to someone. Looked like an interview. He saw my pain and stopped talking, waved his hand to the person to give him a second, looked back at me, gave me a fist bump and told me in the most genuine voice that I did a great job. For non runners, Meb is like THE BEST. This moment was golden to me.  Still makes me smile.

While that clock read 2:55:03 (8-9 minutes slower than I had envisioned it…yikes!) I am still 100% proud of myself for a few reasons.  That was the toughest course I have ever run.  I had underestimated how difficult it is to compete with a 30 minute head start on the rest of the field with a headwind for 18 miles. We tried helping with the wind but with only one or two other skinny bodies, no such luck. I competed as well as I could with those I could.  When the going got tough I focused on RACING and passed as many as I could see. Out of 34 elites I finished 24th.  Yes I finished 38th out of the entire womens field but its hard to race people you can’t see. I wouldn’t trade my experience for anything but do believe all of us in the womens field could have run better in the open field.  No excuses though, I was prepared to run faster and I didn’t but still my take away is that I LOVED this event. Even though this course kicked my tail, I thought it was honest, gritty, exciting, and one of the best I’ve ever run. New York, I fell in love with you in 26.2 miles.  

Thank you ALL so much for the incredible support. I turned my phone on in the van back to the hotel post race and immediately had to turn it back off because the messages brought tears to my eyes. I didn’t want to open those flood gates! I felt a bit defeated but someone told me you don’t come to New York for a fast time, you come to New York to RACE.  I did what I could, with what I could, on the day. You win some and you crash at some. It’s all part of the journey and this one was an event I will hold dear to my heart forever. Thank you all! Specifically a huge thanks to my coach Jerry Frostick. He is the perfect balance of relentless, positive, ambition and has no problem politely telling me to shut up when I start feeling sorry for myself, ha.  Now I recover and more fun begins while I get to track and cheer for friends the rest of the season….while eating loads of pizza, candy, and wine plus sleeping in 😉 Have a great week everyone!

Crawlin Crab Half Marathon Recap

f556f85c-5d82-4160-a11f-f1c759664662

This past weekend is one of my favorite racing weekends here in Hampton Roads, Crawlin Crab time! The half is held on Sunday while a 5K and 1K are held the previous day and a Craft Brew Fest are held in conjunction (Every half entry gets four craft beers along with some other sweet swag). Having run this race twice before, I knew what I was getting into. The course is a great one, winding through Hampton, Virginia by the gorgeous water and through downtown and outlying neighborhoods. The crowd support is wonderful and the best part is that afterwards the party is full of fun activities, a live band, and good food. The energy of the event automatically sets you up for a great day.

Going into this race, I had a down week of training. That means my mileage was slightly lower (high 60’s instead of high 70’s) and I had two hard days instead of three. The race would be my third hard day. Morning of I woke up 2 hours early, sipped Hammer Perpetuem and Coffee while eating my normal WaWa soft pretzel. Mr. Law and I picked up my friend, training partner, and neighbor Megan for the 30 minutes trip to the race start. That whole way I sipped on Gatorade Endurance. Once we arrived to the race start an hour early, I avoided more fluids. Parking was easy and before we knew it, it was time to warm up. The temps were warm 75 with a 67 dew point (yes I am a nerd obsessed with the daily dew point) but I felt comfortable at the start.

With no goal pace expectations, I started the first 3 miles with two friends. They had quickly cut the pace down and instead of staying with them like I should have, I let them go. We were averaging 6:04 and I told myself that was too fast.  Afterwards, talking with my coach, that was foolish. I’ve run those paces in workouts and as odd as it sounds, running 6:04 pace with a pack is easier than 6:10 pace alone. I need to work on my race day confidence. From mile 3 on I was solo.  Maybe not the best strategy but like I’ve mentioned in the past, I suspect I’ll run a majority of NYCM solo, so any practice is good practice.  This is where I’m really proud of myself. Unlike at Rock and Roll, I never let myself get overwhelmed. I turned my Garmin to show time of day only and broke the race down in sections- 5 miles, 5 miles, and a 5K.  I faltered a bit from miles 7-9 showing 6:28, 6:23, 6:27. That’s what killed my attempt at a PR, a whole minute in there lost, but it is what it is. It was hot & humid but honestly I’m not sure how I faltered so much there. Like seriously, what happened?  Once I realized it, I was able to work hard to get the pace back down again. I knew I had good friends cheering at mile 11, my coach would be at mile 12, then my husband would be at the finish. That was a great feeling.

I was hurting but I think I had a huge smile on my face the last 5K. I finished in 1:21:46 (6:14) pace as first female, 6th overall. I had won this race twice in the past so I was ecstatic to win a third time even if I did not run as fast as I would have liked too. Mr. Law was at the finish line and put my medal on over my head. I was not expecting that and what a great moment it was.  I told him I had to change out of my shoes fast so we could get back to cheer for friends, especially Megan and while walking back I saw her finish. She was so fast!!! We almost missed her. She finished 3rd overall. We have put in SO many miles together, SO many hard days, SO many tearful days; so to have us both on the podium at one of our favorite events was perfect! It felt really good. Here are some photos-

14448955_845326672170_8714351402521880518_n

I told you I had happy face!

I told you I had happy face! Clear mile markers at EVERY mile and placed perfectly!

Had no clue he would be on the actual finish line! So wonderful.

Had no clue he would be on the actual finish line! So wonderful!

 

Megan and I with our awesome Coach Frostick! He and his wife, Amy, and team (J&A Racing) host the best races down to every little last detail.

Megan and I with our awesome Coach Frostick! He and his wife, Amy, and team (J&A Racing) host the best races down to every little last detail.

Oh Snap, we did it!!

Oh Snap, we did it!!

I love this hat! We also received cute tech t-shirts.

I love this hat! We also received cute tech t-shirts.

Thank you all for reading! I have a big week ahead of me (80+ miles) and if Hurricane Matthew cooperates, a half to race on Sunday. I’m kicking myself for paying for a Half Marathon the day before I realize a Hurricane is headed our way. To my East Coast friends, please stay safe out there! Good Luck to my many friends running the Chicago Marathon this weekend!