Let it Go

As I’ve been reflecting on my spring running/training one thing kind of baffles me. Literally the only two races that I originally signed up to run this spring I ended up getting sick for. For the Unplugged Half Marathon, I got a chest cough/sore throat thing and timed it perfectly so that I was worse on race day. For the Maine Coast Marathon, I got a low-grade stomach bug. I don’t think it would’ve been that big of a deal if I hadn’t been racing, but when you’re trying to run hard for a long time and have to take water/fuel in, a slightly upset stomach can turn into a disaster, which I found out the hard way. My immune system really does stink!

Cross-country seasons normally consist of a series of smaller races that gradually increase in importance. In high school, I’m pretty sure I ran around 8 races throughout each season… depending on if I went to New England’s or ran in all of the smaller races. Sure, it was all leading up to a big race (states), but even if you had a bad race at states you could still kind of be proud of the rest of your season – you had other accomplishments. No, the most important one didn’t go well, but there could hopefully still be other things to be proud of.

The marathon is a whole other beast, though. There are months and months of training all leading up to one big race. The beating up your body gets running 26.2 hard makes it difficult to run marathons close together. The amount of effort and time put into training is normally way more than cross-country. After all, I don’t remember doing 3-hour long training runs in high school! If something goes wrong for race day, then it kind of sucks.

It feels absurd looking back at all of the hours and miles I put into getting ready for my first marathon. To have a freak stomach bug hit for race day is ridiculous to say the least. The marathon really is a b****.

But… there’s nothing I can do to change what happened. What’s done is done. I managed to finish another marathon and although it wasn’t close to what I had hoped for, I did finish. The best thing I can do now is move on and let it go… not to be cheesy. 😉

I’ve already got my wheels turning for future plans. It took me a few days of moping around, but I’m finally figuring out what I want to do next. I’m ready to let go of the past and move on.

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Bostoning it up!

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I definitely wouldn’t consider myself a city girl by any means, but if I had to choose a city to live in it would probably be Boston. That’s excluding Burlington, of course. According to CollegeBoard, Burlington is a “large town”, haha! Boston is small enough that you don’t feel completely lost, but doesn’t have the same attitude that you can find in some bigger cities like NYC.

I have officially used the T and commuter rail on my own without getting lost. SUCCESS! I’m sure I looked like a complete idiot looking at my map the first few times, but hey, I figured it out. Plus, the few people I asked for help with directions were exceedingly nice. My friends in my physics class laughed at me when I told them it was the first time going on the T by myself. Yep, I’m from the country.

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Apparently the college that I’m taking my summer classes at is not in a super safe area. There are two locations that the school is located in and I thought it was going to be in the other area. My class is in the evening and gets out around 9:15. Afterwards, the policemen that work at the school walk students over to the platform to catch the T. Ummmm, WTF? I guess we’re not in Vermont anymore.

My mom and I went and checked out the Friendly Toast yesterday in Cambridge. Breakfast is probably my favorite meal of the day, so that was perfect. I got some coconut pancakes with peanut butter on the side and a glass of soymilk. Yes, I eat my pancakes with peanut butter. Who doesn’t?!?! My mom got an omelet with beans, salsa, and avocado. Yum! There was a lot of sharing between plates of course. Sweet and salty compliment each other very well.

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coconut pancakes! I think I should’ve got a single stack, oops! I’ve got a lot of leftovers.

omelet with avocado, beans, and salsa. yum yum!

omelet with avocado, beans, and salsa. yum yum!

As far as running goes, I’m not that excited about running in Boston. I’m taking some downtime right now, but I’m sure once I get back on a normal running schedule I’m going to get bored pretty quickly. The running here is definitely limited. There are only so many variations you can do on the Charles. Plus, I hate to say it, but I miss my hills in Burlington! I’m scared I’m going to lose my hill fitness running in the city this whole summer. I’ll probably be coming out to my sister’s house on the weekends to search out some hillier routes. Check out the view from their back porch. Can you say paradise?

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All in all, I’m getting used to the city. It’s a big adjustment going from Vermont to Boston. The views from the tracks are definitely different. I miss the mountains, but Boston is growing on me in its own way.

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the track at UVM

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MIT track

MIT track

What are you up to this summer?

Surprise Marathon

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Surprise! I ran a marathon! This past weekend was the Vermont City Marathon up in Burlington, VT. My friend and I had signed up to run in a 2-person relay (each runs 13.1 miles), but after my disaster of a marathon in Maine I decided to give the marathon another go. I wouldn’t be perfectly tapered, but at least I could get a decent run in. The plan was to double-bib, so I would run the first 13.1 miles, hand off to my friend, and then keep running the marathon.

It was definitely an experience… not so sure it was an experience that I want to repeat anytime soon, though. I kind of wish I had set my goal for this race to just finish, but I’m Laurel, and Laurel has issues taking things easy. Long story short – it didn’t go as smoothly as I was hoping. When I got to the relay exchange zone I don’t think the officials called out my bib since I was wearing two (one for the relay, one for the marathon). It was really crowded in the exchange zone. I ran up and down it two or three times trying to find my friend before handing my bib to an official who advised me to keep running.

The last half of the marathon was pretty rough. I was all frazzled that I couldn’t find my friend in the exchange zone and I had lost the pace group I had been staying with because of the relay exchange. The sun really started to come out and I was sweating like crazy. Around mile 17 I started getting calf cramps. It felt like the whole muscle was moving and seizing up on its own. I had never gotten calf cramps while running before, so at first I thought I had strained a muscle, but I was able to keep running after a few moments. I probably should have seen that coming – my right calf had been acting up a little the week before the race.

All in all, I made it to the finish line. I’m definitely not pleased with my time, but I guess I should be happy that I ran the 26.2 miles. Yes, I’m disappointed. More than anything, though, I’m hungry for more. At the moment, I’m still too upset to think about running another marathon, but there’s no way I’m not going to try it again… It just might take a little time. I’d like to race in a few shorter races to gain my confidence back before embarking on another.

pre-race faces

pre-race faces

I also joined a new team - Olde Bones Track Club!

I also joined a new team – Olde Bones Track Club!

chilling out post race

chilling out post race

my family was also part of a 5-person relay!

my family was also part of a 5-person relay!

 

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post race pics

Next on my Plate

1)    Taking some time to rest. Although I absolutely hate taking time off, I know it’s in my best interest. Luckily, I’m not really sore anymore, but my body was definitely hurting on Monday. My ankle that I injured a few months back is giving me some issues, so I need to figure that out. Most importantly, I need to get back in the mental state to be able to train and race hard again. This last month was emotionally draining and I need time to recharge and figure out what’s next for me.

2)    Figuring out how to hide my bruised toenails and awful tan lines. I’ll be in a wedding in a few weeks and need to not look ridiculous. I’m thinking I’ll either wear closed-toed shoes or some really dark toenail polish to hide my nasty toenails… as long as they don’t fall off before that. Then I’ll be sticking with the closed-toed shoes for sure. For my tan lines, I think I might get some spray tan to use on my feet and shoulders. I’ve got a lovely sock and racer back tan that I’m rocking at the moment. #runnerproblems

What’s next for you? Any races coming up or are you in rest mode?

Hellooooooo Boston!

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Since I got out of school last Thursday things have been a bit hectic to say the least. We drove to my sister’s house to spend the night, came to our apartment in Cambridge for another night, went up to Maine for the race, I spent a couple days with my friend in Maine, but have finally landed back in Cambridge. I’ll be spending the summer taking some physics classes at a nearby college. I know how to have fun. 😉

I haven’t done a ton of exploring of Boston yet, but have gone on a few runs around the area. So far this has just involved me running the five minutes over to the Charles and running various loops along the paths and bridges. Yesterday I took a couple of pictures of some cute little goslings! Yes, I know that I’m acting like a complete tourist right now, but look how cute they are!

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My hometown is a pretty rural area with lots of dirt roads. We had some trails up in back of our house and there was a park 10 minutes away that was perfect for running. Even where I go to school in Burlington is not all that busy. There are loads of bike paths around. The most traffic I ever really deal with includes the 10-minute run down to the waterfront bike path.

Granted to say, Boston is kind of a culture shock in comparison to what I’m used to running in. It’s very loud, there are many obstacles, it’s more crowded, and much flatter. Probably the most annoying thing, though, is that I have to stop. If you run straight on the Charles there’s an intersection at least every mile. I’m definitely not used to dealing with that. It breaks up the whole rhythm of my run. Today when I went for a run it was a little less chaotic. I went when it was raining, so there weren’t nearly as many people out running as there have been.

I’m sure there are many more places for me to run that I just don’t know about. I haven’t done much research. Any suggestions? Where’s your favorite place to run at in Boston?

 

Reflecting

Over the past few days I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on my race. That first night I just couldn’t figure out what went wrong. I had fueled exactly the same way as I had during my long runs. I didn’t out too fast. In fact, my plan was to negative split so I actually went out 15 seconds per mile slower than my goal pace for the first 3 miles. I just couldn’t figure out what had gone wrong.

However, by Monday I noticed that my stomach was still pretty off. I always feel a little queasy after a race, so I wasn’t surprised that I wasn’t feeling so good on Sunday. However, my appetite did not pick up at all the following day. I would go to eat something and feel full and kind of nauseous after a couple bites. This continued for the rest of the week. I had to force food down to avoid bonking on my runs. My appetite didn’t start to pick up until last night.

My close friends know that I have a major sweet tooth and I mean MAJOR sweet tooth. I’m not a huge fan of candy, but cake/cookies/brownies are right up my alley. The fact that I wasn’t even interested in those made me realize something was off. After talking to my friend, I think I caught some sort of stomach bug that was going around. I seem to keep having perfect timing to get sick for race day.

Overall, my mood is doing a little better. Yes, Sunday was an awful day, but there’s no use dwelling on the past. I’m trying to focus ahead on my future plans and get excited for that. After all, I’m only 20 and have many years of running ahead of me.

Any suggestions for places to run in Boston? Where’s your favorite place to run?

Being Honest

Since I started this blog back in November I’ve grown it on honesty. I’ve talked about the good, the bad, and the ugly of running. I mostly try to stick to a positive note because that’s more fun for me to write about and is probably more fun for you to read. That’s what makes this so tough. As most of you know I had my first marathon yesterday. Unfortunately, it was far from a positive experience. Very far.

Everything had been going perfectly leading up to the race. I was healthy, my legs felt fresh, and I was in racing mode. The first few miles went great – the pace was so easy it felt like I was just out for a jog. Then things took a turn for the worse. I ate my first GU as planned at 45 minutes in and soon after my stomach got queasy. After drinking some water at the next aid station things only got worse. I ended up puking soon after. I gritted out a few more painful miles before stopping around halfway.

I’ve replayed the whole scenario over in my head so many times trying to figure out what went wrong. My best guess is that it was a combination of pretty bad nerves and maybe drinking too much water in the race. I often joke with my running friends telling them that I have a stomach of steel. It’s not easily upset. I can eat food fairly close to running and be perfectly fine. Through this entire training cycle I have not had any stomach issues. I’ve fueled on my long runs (mostly with GU’s) and was just fine. That’s why this whole thing doesn’t make sense. The only other time I’ve puked in/during a race was one of my first 5k’s in middle school where I went out way too hard.

I know my stomach was a little upset before I started running. However, that’s the way my stomach always is before a race. I get nervous, my stomach gets a little jumpy, but that’s normal for me. I’m trying to learn from my mistakes, but it’s hard to when I don’t really know what caused this to happen.

I feel awful about dropping out of a race. I’ve NEVER done that before and I’ve been running in races since I was 7 years old. To have a DNF now is just plain embarrassing. The whole thing just seems surreal. It doesn’t feel like it really happened, but is just a horrible nightmare.

Logically, I do believe that stopping was the smartest thing to do. If I couldn’t keep down my fuel during the race then I would’ve hit the wall REALLY early. Plus, I don’t know if I could’ve kept down any more water, which would mean I would get very dehydrated. I’m also the type of runner that wouldn’t just be happy finishing a marathon. I want to finish somewhat well. I understand that making it to the finish line of a 26.2-mile race is a huge accomplishment in and of itself, but I know myself and I know I wouldn’t be happy finishing with a bad time.

As of right now, I’m pretty bummed. To think about all of the time and effort I put into this race is crazy. I never thought it would end this way. I spent most of yesterday in a horrible mood, but am ready to be done with that. After all, I’ve got some plans to redeem myself in a couple weeks, but I’m not quite ready to talk about that with people yet.

When I was younger I think the “runner” part of me was too much of my identity. I got too caught up in being an athlete and running well that I used it to define me. I would connect a bad performance with being a “bad person”, which is a horrible thing to do. Talk about killing your self-esteem. Yes, I am a runner and that is a big part of my identity, but that’s not all of my identity. There is so much more to me than just being a runner and I need to remember that.

I wanted to run well mostly for myself, but also for my family, and lastly for you guys. It’s been so awesome connecting with people through my blog. It would’ve been so great if I could tell everyone about how awesome my first marathon went, but that’s just not the way things turned out.

It’s been painful writing this post, but everyone who’s been supporting me deserves to know what happened. I had a few hours after my race yesterday where I was avoiding my texts and Facebook messages, but now I just have to pull off the Band-Aid and get it over with.

The honest truth is that there are ups and downs in running. Things don’t always go as planned. That would be impossible. I’ve had many a time over where I’ve had bad races, but I’ve also had a bunch of good races that make everything worth it. We gain strength from our failures and that’s what makes us better runners.

Thoughts on the Race

I thought that the Maine Coast Marathon was put together really well. It was an absolutely beautiful course. It went by the ocean a few times and we got a nice breeze. The temperature was rising throughout the day, so it was nice to feel the wind.

There were aid stations every mile or two and each one was a different charity. All of the runners would get to vote at the end as to which one was their favorite, and the winning aid station would win some money. I thought that was a great idea and I’ve never seen that at a race before.

I wish I could give a full race write-up, but I unfortunately only ran half of the race. I would love to be able to come back and run the race again. We have unfinished business together.

First Sighting

Like I said before, it’s been awesome connecting with people through my blog. I know it’s mostly my friends on Facebook that see my posts along with a handful of other bloggers. However, on Sunday I met the first person I didn’t know who had heard about my blog. I ran by my family along the course and they were all cheering, “Go Laurel!” when I went by. Another runner heard my name and recognized me from my blog. How cool is that!?!? He was very nice. I hope he had a good race! That was awesome!

Wrapping Up

At the moment I’m hanging with my awesome friend from Maine. She’s showed me all around her town and has taken me to some pretty cool places. What I need most right now are distractions. When I’m by myself I start reliving everything that happened on Sunday, but if I’m with people or doing stuff I can be perfectly happy because I forget what happened. My friend understands that and is being so supportive of me. I really do have some amazing people in my life. After all, it’s hard to be in a bad mood when you see this;


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Marathon Eve

I can’t believe it’s finally the day before my race. I started seriously training specifically for this race at the end of December when my sister and brother-in-law gave me the registration for Maine Coast Marathon as a Christmas gift. I had to survive running through the most miserable winter I’ve ever seen.

I ran on ice-covered roads after a horrible ice storm. I learned that there’s such a thing as a polar vortex and ran with my friend in -2 degree F weather (not including wind chill). I’ve done way more training for a race than I’ve ever done in my life. The farthest I ran before this training cycle was 15 miles. Now I’ve done 3×20-milers. I stupidly hurt my ankle kicking a chair on accident. I ran a half marathon a month ago… sick with a chest cough/throat thing. And lastly, I survived finals week without getting sick!

sooooooooo much ice!!!!

The yak tracks came in handy with the snow

The yak tracks came in handy with the ice

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the polar vortex didn't agree with my Raynauld's

the polar vortex didn’t agree with my Raynauld’s

my poor bike path! It only reappeared a little over a month ago.

my poor bike path! It only reappeared a little over a month ago.

 

I’ve put so much effort into training for this race. I know I’m ready. I’ve followed my training cycle so carefully and have put in the work. Now I just have to trust my training.

We’re officially in Maine hanging out in the hotel room. Here are some photos of from our trip.

oops. I think I packed too much.

oops. I think I packed too much.

 

me and Sammy on a road trip!

me and Sammy on a road trip!

Dad and Samson

Dad and Samson

We've landed!

We’ve landed!

Race swag from the expo.

Race swag from the expo.

 

Carbo loading!

Carbo loading!

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In 12 hours I’ll be running my first marathon. I can’t believe it! I’m so nervous and excited all combined in one. I’ll be posting an update tomorrow as soon as I can.

Taper Madness

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Two days to go until my marathon! Woot woot! This last week has been very stressful with exams and all, but they’re finally over. Thank goodness.

I think that because I was so busy studying for finals I didn’t get the full on taper madness as most runners do. I just didn’t have the time to get worried about running less because I had so much work to do. I didn’t mind just going for a half hour run on Thursday. In fact, it was kind of nice. If I had to spend the normal hour and a half training I would’ve been stressed about not having enough time for my studies.

However, I did get a tad crazy over my taper. As you could probably tell from my last post, this mainly involved freaking out about getting sick. The majority of my close friends got sick this week, which turned me into a germaphobe. My hands are dry from washing my hands so much! With only two days left until the race I think I’m in the clear (knock on wood).

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In my taper madness, I’ve also been obsessing about race day weather. As of now it looks like there is a high of 72, low of 51, wind at 12mph, and a 0% chance of rain. A little hot for my likes, but not too bad. Luckily, the race starts at 7:30 and I will be done around 11:00ish is everything goes all right, so it won’t be super hot by then (hopefully). Overall, not too bad. After the last Vermont City Marathon (40 degrees and rainy), I’m okay with it being warmer.

Tomorrow we’ll be headed up to Maine for the expo and will be staying overnight there. I can’t believe it! Less than 48 hours until my marathon!