New York City Marathon 2016 Recap

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“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.

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

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swag bags

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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-

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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!

6 weeks until NYCM

Hello friends! Thank you all for the kind replies on my last post. In that write up I mentioned being in the throes of marathon training. Everyday feels a bit like climbing up a small segment of a mountain and every step closer brings more excitement. I still have tons of climb left (6 weeks and a little ole 26.2 mile race called NYCM) but I’m at the point where I can vaguely see it all coming together and the work is exhausting but fulfilling. Four weeks ago, I wasn’t quite sure of myself but now that confidence is coming out. I truly love this point and it is just in time for a down week and a Half Marathon this weekend.  Here is what last week (7 weeks until marathon race day) looked like-

Monday-  10 miles with 10 Striders. Core/Strength

Tuesday- 2 by 4 miles @ 6:06 pace. Dry Needling session to loosen up.

Wednesday- 12 miles easy. Core/Strength

Thursday- 8 by 800’s averaging 2:45.

Friday- 20 Miles averaging 6:56 pace (last 8 at Marathon Effort). 

Saturday- 10 miles of Trails with Friends. Easy pace. Core/Stregth

Sunday- Off Day.  Stretching, hydrating, resting.

Originally Tuesdays workout was supposed to be the Thursday workout, and vice versa, but a horrendous rain storm with flooding changed that up a bit. To give you an idea, the weather was so bad that my kids had off of school for two days. Normally tempo work would be the day before the long run. Also Tuesday was done on the treadmill (because of weather).  I know many people hate the treadmill but I find it to be a huge training advantage. I’m too stubborn to slow the pace so I sometimes accomplish workouts that I may not have been able to mentally do outside.

Friday is my biggest day of the training week. Every long run is treated as a race day rehearsal. I eat the same breakfast before hand and make sure I’ve slept well. I purposely do these runs alone in anticipation of possible running a majority of  the New York City marathon solo. The first 12 miles were done around 7:30 pace and the last 8 were done at Marathon Pace Effort, which for Friday ended up being 6:26 pace. This was a huge workout for me.  People always surprise me when they throw around running marathon pace in workouts like its not a big deal. Marathon pace for 8 plus miles is a STRUGGLE for me.  It always has been and so if you are like me, don’t stress it, you’ll be amazed what your legs can do on race day with consistent training and taper.

Sundays are always my off day. I can’t tell you how nice it is to have a day where I can wear normal clothes and not worry about when/where I’ll squeeze in some miles. Last weekend especially I was thankful to have the day off because the family and I went on our first real camping trip.  Remember one of my resolutions was to go camping?! We did it! We went to False Cape State Park and I cannot recommend this place enough.  The Mr. and I went in with low expectations. Camping with three kids couldn’t possibly go smoothly right? Then we found out we had to bike in 7 miles to the beach camp site with all our things because no cars are allowed in. Surely that would end in a few tantrums right? There will be awful horse flies attacking us right? Nope. The kids had so much fun and our only regret was that we did not book our site for two days instead of just the one. Here are some photos in case anyone is interested. Our site was $16 to rent and was 100% private with a drinkable water spout and shockingly clean outhouses.

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              Easy peasy soft and safe bike path to the camp site.

You can camp directly on the beach but we chose the site 100 meters away near the fresh water and restrooms.

You can camp directly on the beach but we chose the site 100 meters away near the fresh water and restrooms.

Entire beach to ourselves!

     Entire beach to ourselves!

Crawled out of the tent to watch the sunrise.

                          Crawled out of the tent to watch the sunrise.

Beautiful beach sunrise.

                                        Beautiful beach sunrise.

Have a great training week friends! I’ll update next week on how my half marathon went. Looking back I found this photo below of  my bestie and I at this same race last year. Look how fun the post party is! It’s not too late to sign up for Crawlin Crab, hope to see many friends there!

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It is by going down into the abyss that we recover the treasures of life. Where you stumble, there lies your treasure. -Joseph Campbell

Rock & Roll Half Marathon Recap

 

Yesterday morning I put my kids on the bus for their first day of school and just like that, Summer is over. Not according to the calendar but according to my heart that loves to have the kids home all day, hanging on the sofa, by the pool, or roaming the neighborhood with friends. We had an amazing summer, that went by way too fast. The good news is my running always improves as Fall swings in. I have more time to rest and no one begging me to ride bikes or play soccer when my legs are already exhausted from a workout. I’d still trade the recovery for more kid time though😉

With 9 weeks until my goal Fall race (NYCM) the mileage has reached into the 70’s and will continue to climb slowly. About a month ago, my phone blew up with messages.  Turns out the pro field for NYCM was released HERE and I’m on it.  omg.  Even still, this was not a surprise to me. I was kindly offered a spot months ago but the truth is, just like in the case of Boston, I didn’t really believe it and kept thinking I would politely be booted out. I mean, there are professional runners there and I’m a stay at home mom.  Needless to say, I am incredibly excited and grateful. Add in a huge amount of little  fear and the announcement was another kick in the tail that I need to keep up the hard work. I don’t think I’ve ever been more motivated to train well.

I am in my favorite stage of marathon training, where every day is a grind and every night I crash, falling asleep during the last half of an episode of Narcos. It’s okay, I read the book, I know what happens. Since I last wrote I have raced twice.  The first being a great execution on a 4 mile hilly course in Pennsylvania. I finished 3rd overall and first female and was really proud of myself. I never gave up trying to beat the guys leading. Not a PR but a great effort.

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The second race I have mixed feelings about. I went into Rock ‘n Roll Virginia Beach with a big training week and no taper. There was a hurricane on the way so I was worried the race would be cancelled as the 1 mile race was. My coach and I had talked about making this race a dress rehearsal for the second half of the New York City Marathon, using tired legs to simulate that final 13.1.  Here is what I did the 6 days prior-

Monday- 11 miles at an easy pace with 8 Striders. Core work.

Tuesday- 11 miles total averaging 6:50 pace with 8 by 3 mins hard (5:45-50 pace)/5 mins easy. Strength Work

Wednesday- 15 miles, low 7’s pace. Core Work

Thursday-  8 miles with 8 by 20 seconds hard after. Strength Work

Friday- 2 mile warm up, 20 X 2 minutes hard (5:40-45 pace), 2 minute easy, 2 mile cool down.

Saturday- Rest, Stretch, Hydrate.

Sunday was race day. The good news is weather was perfect.  Many deferred thinking it would be a mess but it was actually a beautiful day. My coach told me if I ran around 1:25 we should be pleased and it would mean I am on track to have a good day at NYCM (considering we have 9 weeks left and no taper). I was a little more stubborn and wanted to run 1:22-23.  I ended up running a 1:24:48 proving what we already knew, that my coach is much wiser than I. The effort was exactly how a second half of a marathon goes. Both the good and bad.  I felt confident and smooth up until I had 5 miles left even chatting a small bit with our great little group which included the top 3 ladies and a few guys I run with occasionally, then I mentally started falling into a negative place.  Our pack had split up and I was all alone on the back roads with hardly any spectators around. While my breathing was great my legs were so heavy that I started to feel sorry for myself. My pity party told myself that I had banked enough time in the beginning and that I was fine. Two things- 1.) Don’t listen to your pity party. 2.) Marathon Math never works! (or half marathon math in this case😉  ) When people ask me for marathon advice I always say, you are going to fall into a dark place, take a gel, remind yourself that you love this sport, and pull yourself out of it.  I did  just that and was able to pick up the pace but still it’s hard not to kick myself for that complacency and lost time. I finished 2nd female feeling “Meh”. Mr. Law and my youngest surprised me at the finish line. I didn’t realize they would come because of other obligations and seeing them was fantastic, putting all meh feelings behind and replacing them with mimosas at brunch. It’s easy to say onward and upward with a belly full of bacon.

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I have another half marathon in 4 weeks and I am hoping that this past Sunday was my rust-buster  back into longer distance racing and that I will be ready to chase a PR (sub 1:20) at the Crawlin Crab Half Marathon. The training intensity is climbing for the next three weeks and then the timing could not be more perfect for a combined down week and taper.  Then just a few more weeks of pushing until taper for my marathon.

Now with the kids back in school, I hope to blog more often. Thanks to those of you who have stuck by me when I choose to only update once every two months.  Leaving you with  a gorgeous photo I took at a 5 am track workout earlier this month.  Wishing you an equally beautiful September!

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