Thank You, Boston

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Looking back at my previous posts, I realize how bad of a place I was in at the beginning of the summer. After a horrible marathon experience, I was emotionally drained. I spent months and months training for that one race and it had gone terribly wrong. I still cringe talking about it. Add on top of that moving to an unfamiliar city where the only people I really knew were my immediate family and let’s just say I wasn’t too happy. I had a summer full of physics classes ahead of me, no real friends in the area, and was questioning my running ability.

When I think about it, though, a summer in Boston was just what I needed. At first it seemed new and intimidating, but it was also a place for me to start with a clean slate. I wasn’t around people I knew, which in a way was relieving because I didn’t have to explain over and over again about my marathon. Nobody knew who I was, which was just fine with me.

I still remember those first few runs on the Charles. Everything seemed so loud and busy. There were so many people going in different directions in comparison to what I was used to. I also spent the first week back to training on the Cambridge side getting extremely frustrated at all of the intersections. Took me a little while to realize that I preferred the Esplanade.

At this point, I was still registered for the Baystate Marathon, but was very unsure if I wanted to go through with it. VCM had been so extremely painful that I’d thought, “Why would I ever want to do that again?” after crossing the finish line. I spent a while moping around trying to figure things out before fully committing to running Baystate. I just couldn’t leave the marathon alone after having some bad timing getting sick.

However, I decided that things needed to change. I absolutely love running. It’s my passion, but at the beginning of the summer my heart just wasn’t there. The spring hadn’t gone as planned and my confidence had taken a blow. I needed to add some more fun back into the mix.

One of the biggest changes I made was joining the November Project. From the very first session, I felt welcomed and included. After going to the first Monday workout, I was hooked. The November Project had worked its magic on me and I started to get my spark back. I was determined to go to all three workouts that week. If you’re curious, I did accomplish all three workouts, but I also couldn’t walk normally at the end of the week because I was so sore!

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hill sprints on Summit Ave!

The November Project runs on high fives and hugs!

The November Project runs on high fives and hugs!

I had the stupid idea of running to and from the Wednesday workout at Harvard stadium. I learned pretty quickly that that wouldn’t be possible. I was humbled, and by the end of the workout I had to call for a ride because there was no way I could run the five miles home.

Throughout the summer, I learned what the tribe was all about – having fun while getting a good workout in. Hugs from strangers, high fives, and “f*** yeah’s” are all in a day’s work.

I had to find my way around Boston to all of the different locations of the November Project. Most of the time, this meant I had to use a GPS to get me to wherever it was. I’ve run into the heart of Boston, all up and down the Charles, around Cambridge, Brookline, Brighton, etc. It helped to get me out of my comfort zone and I explored a lot of places I probably wouldn’t have otherwise.

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This became one of my favorite things to run by. Whether I was out for an easy run or a hard workout, it always inspired me.

This became one of my favorite places to run by. Whether I was just out for an easy run or a hard workout, the message always inspired me.

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I signed up for a few 10ks over the summer and surprised myself by taking a big chunk of time off my previous PR. That helped give me the confirmation that I still had my running ability and was in good shape. Heck, I was in PR shape!

running to my new 10k PR

running to my new 10k PR

Now that I’m back at UVM, I feel like my old self and I know that Boston was a huge influence in making that happen. It provided me with the new motivation and confidence I needed. Thank you, November Project, for welcoming me with open arms. I’m already looking forward to working out with you again when I get back for winter break! More in general, thanks Boston, for providing me with a clean slate and a home away from home. You helped to light that fire in me again.

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Running Injuries and Touring Boston

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Running injuries come with the territory. When trying to reach your potential, you walk the line of getting injured. Almost every runner is going to deal with a running injury at some point in their life. I’ve heard of stats that say close to 80% of runners get injured at least once per year. Unfortunately, I’m pretty prone to getting running injuries. Piriformis syndrome, shin splints, patellofemoral pain syndrome, compartment syndrome, peroneal tendonitis. You name it, and I’ve probably dealt with it.

Since I’ve started training for longer distance races, the frequency of my injuries has decreased quite a bit. Funny how that works, right? My guess is that it’s a combination of less frequent racing, not wearing my spikes anymore, and running longer distance speed workouts. The short speed sessions make my calves flare up.

However, my latest complaints are an adductor and knee issue. Neither one has greatly affected my training, but just enough to make me pissed off.

My Thought Process as soon as I have to miss a workout

Oh my god, I’m soooo out of shape. I think I just spontaneously gained 10 pounds. I’m going to mess up my whole training schedule. What if I can’t run the race? Geez, I’m soooo out of shape. Quick, text my friend and complain to her (sorry, Dana).

This is when I have to tell myself, “Laurel, SHUT UP!” In case you couldn’t tell, I’m very Type A, so making myself stay calm is kind of difficult. Logically, missing one workout is not that big of a deal, but making myself BELIEVE it is a whole other story.

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Luckily, my family and I have been vacationing this week, which has provided a nice distraction for me. I finally finished with my physics class last week and don’t head back to school until Sunday. Although I’ve been hanging in the Boston area this summer, there are so many things to explore and I still feel like I haven’t seen half of it! Here are a few pics of our adventures this week:

DUCK TOUR!!!

DUCK TOUR!!!

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cool gold teapot

cool gold teapot

cool rainbow crosswalk!

cool rainbow crosswalk!

Ducktouring under the Longfellow Bridge

Ducktouring under the Longfellow Bridge AKA the construction area that never ends

biking with the family on Cape Cod

biking with the family on Cape Cod

Running on one of my favorite running routes. Found a tunnel!

Running on one of my favorite running routes. Found a tunnel!

Penguins!!!! at the New England Aquarium

Penguins!!!! at the New England Aquarium

STINGRAY!

STINGRAY!

Meeting Myrtle the Turtle!

Meeting Myrtle the Turtle! She looked like she was posing for us.

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beautiful flowers at the Boston Public Garden

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Yes, my favorite color is pink. How would you know?

Yes, my favorite color is pink. How could you tell?

cute little birdy!

cute little birdy!

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Have you gone on any cool vacations lately? Dealt with any stupid running injuries? What is your thought process like when you get injured?

Streaking Runners

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Since I’ve been living in Boston, I’ve enjoyed running on the Charles because of all the other people. Runners, bikers, walkers, old, young, buff, skinny – all shapes and sizes. The esplanade invites all different types of people. When I get out of my zone and do a little bit of people watching, I realize that there are some really interesting scenes.

The strangest experience happened yesterday morning. I woke up bright and early to run over to the November Project. I refuse to wake up any earlier than 5:40, which means that I throw some clothes on, put in my contacts, stuff some food in my mouth, and run out the door to make it to Summit Ave on time. Therefore, I’m not fully awake until I’ve run a couple miles, which is why I didn’t quite believe what I saw yesterday morning.

As I was running over the Mass Ave Bridge, I was looking at the ramp that leads down to the esplanade. There weren’t a ton of people running that early, but there were a few. All of a sudden I noticed something not quite right. I blinked a couple times because I didn’t quite believe what I was seeing. There appeared to be a guy running… completely naked. Well, unless you count running shoes as clothing.

I didn’t quite believe it and figured he must have some underwear or something on that I just hadn’t noticed. When he got to the top of the ramp, sure enough he took the turn to run in the Cambridge direction towards me. Nope, no he was not wearing any underwear. I quickly averted my eyes and acted like everything was normal. I did NOT want to make eye contact. He was going at a good pace and passed by me within a few moments acting like everything was normal. He would’ve blended right in if he was wearing clothes.

The other runners on the bridge were also acting like everything was completely normal. It would’ve been one thing if it was a Saturday night and there was a guy streaking, but at 6:00 AM on a Friday morning? I was so confused. It makes me wonder if this was an everyday thing that the guy does. There aren’t many people awake that early in the morning and probably not as many police out. Maybe he was just out for his normal run… naked.

I spent the last few miles of my run to Summit Ave questioning if what I saw really happened. Was I dreaming? Did I just imagine that? I DON’T UNDERSTAND. I guess I’ll never really know why that guy was streaking. I’m not sure I want to know.

Have you seen any strange sites on your runs recently? Ever seen a runner streaking? Anyone else running on the Charles yesterday morning?

Old Friends and New Shoes

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This past weekend I went on a little road trip to see my good friend Ellie, who I mentioned in a previous post. We went for a good run on Saturday together and she even joined me for part of my long run on Sunday, which was very helpful. Thanks, girl! We ended by taking a dunk in the stream. So jealous of the swimming hole – sand, not rocks, and deep enough to actually swim in. Of course, I still ended up getting Raynauld’s afterwards. I’m seriously talented. I can get Raynauld’s in August.

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my lovely Raynauld’s

I don’t really see the resemblance, but we still got the question, “Are you sisters?” by someone we didn’t know. We’ve been asked this numerous times even though Ellie is almost a half-foot taller than me. One time someone even asked us if we were identical twins. REALLY? Really. We still joke about that time when our names got mixed up at a track banquet. Apparently, “Ellie Cole” is a real person. Anyways, it was so nice to see her. Even if we go months without seeing each other, everything is back to normal when we meet up.

Here are a couple more pics from the weekend:

Ellie hanging with the creepy eyes.

Ellie hanging with the creepy eyes.

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I wrote down the directions on my hand for my run and DIDN’T get lost! Success!

When I returned back home today, the new shoes I ordered were waiting for me. Yippee! There’s nothing like going for that first run in new shoes. They’re so bouncy and fresh. I probably made my old shoes last a little too long, so the new ones felt fantastic.

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When I’m in marathon training, I go through shoes so quickly. It gets annoying. Although running isn’t that expensive of a sport, most new models of shoes are $100+, which can add up when you’re getting those miles in. I’m now at the point where I know what shoes work for me (Mizuno Wave Riders) and I could care less what model I get. Sure, if I had tons of money I would get the newest model of my favorite shoe with the extra pretty colors, but when the older model works fine I’d rather not spend more.

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Here’s my little trick for saving money. Recently, I’ve been buying my shoes off of Ebay. I check to make sure the seller is experienced with good ratings and that the shoes have very little wear according to the pictures. Most orders can be returned if you don’t like them. The most recent shoes I got were described as being worn once or twice before the person realized they were the wrong size and couldn’t return them. I literally bought them for $20.00 including shipping! Booyah! The shoes match the description of only getting one or two runs in. They still have that new shoe smell about them and the details on the tread are very clear. If I had the choice, I wouldn’t want my shoes quite as white, but for $20.00 I’m not going to complain. I barely run on trails, so my shoes don’t get all that dirty. And, NO, I’m not getting paid to say this. Just thought I’d share my little trick with you!

What’s new with you? Do you like going swimming after your runs? Get any new shoes recently?

4 Running Pet Peeves

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I love running with other people. There’s something really nice about being able to chat, laugh, and share the pain with friends. Runs go by quicker and are much more entertaining when there’s someone to share them with. However, there are certain things that people do that can get under my skin. To name a few…

The One-Stepper

This is the person that always needs to be a little bit ahead when you’re running together. It doesn’t matter what the pace is. They ALWAYS need to be in front. It doesn’t matter if you speed up to try and run next to them. This is a bad idea because they will just pick up the pace even more to stay that half step in front. The best thing to do is just not engage and let them run that little bit ahead of you.

The Elbower

It doesn’t matter how wide the path is or if the entire road is clear. This person will somehow still find a way to brush elbows with you. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes I won’t be paying attention to where I’m running and will accidentally bump into someone. The elbower, though, will continually do it throughout the run. Leave my personal space alone!

The Overachiever

This is the runner that races EVERY. SINGLE. WORKOUT. Easy days? Nahhh. There’s no such thing as recovery. My friend and I used to refer to this as the “freshman syndrome.” Incoming runners in high school often feel the need to prove themselves and always have to be in the front during the warm up, cool down, or easy run. I get it, though. I was that annoying freshman when I started high school. It took me a couple months to realize that not all workouts are meant to be raced.

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The Fast Finisher

Speaking of racing runs, this is the runner that needs to finish every run with a good sprint. It starts off gradually about a quarter mile from the end. The cadence just gets a little bit quicker. Then quicker, and quicker. By the time you can see the end they are in a full out sprint.

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Don’t worry any of my current running friends. None of you do these things! Thank goodness.

Speaking of running friends, I’m going to visit one of my first running buddies tomorrow! Yippee!!! Ellie, who I ran the Santa 5k with is now in the same state as me, but is unfortunately still 3+ hours away, which means I haven’t been able to see her since May. Our running friendship goes all the way back to 5th grade when we ran Girls on the Run together. We were some of the only girls that actually ran during practice, which meant that we quickly became close friends. We would run around the field, chatting the whole way, until our arms were filled with potholder loops. We then went on to run track, cross-country, and some relays at VCM together.

We’ve shared plenty of hilarious runs, adventure runs, horrible runs, our victories, and our losses together. She’s always there for me and even though we go to college far away from each other, I know I can always give her a call if I need some boy-advice or just someone to rant to. When she got to college, she stuck with the shorter distance races and heptathlon whereas I moved up to the longer distances. I’ll still probably wrangle her into running some of my long run with me on Sunday, though.

Here’s a throwback to when we ran in the Junior Olympics together ~2007. I don’t care that it’s not Thursday, so be quiet. 😉

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So glad we outgrew that awkward braces phase.

What do you think of the running pet peeves? Do you know someone that does these things? To my running friends – do I do anything annoying? Did I miss any?

Whole Wheat Banana Pancakes

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As you can probably tell by now, I’m kind of obsessed with pancakes. Looking back at my previous posts, I realized that I mention the awesomeness of pancakes quite a lot. They’re such scrumptious little treats. How can someone NOT like them?

This morning I made some whole-wheat banana pancakes using a recipe from the blog 100 days of real food, which basically involved me googling for a whole wheat banana pancake recipe and clicking on the one that had five stars next to it. You can find the recipe here.

The pancakes turned out great. The recipe yielded roughly 18 small-medium sized pancakes. I used three bananas instead of two because mine were on the small size, so the pancakes turned out very moist and sweet. I’m going to freeze the leftovers as the recipe says I can just pop them in the toaster for whenever I want some.

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I had to top it off with some of the maple syrup I won from the Huntington Race and of course some peanut butter. This is what I do when I’m home alone. I’m such a rebel.

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my race prize!

my race prize!

Are you a pancake lover? Pancake and peanut butter lover? What do you do when you’re home alone?

Bridge and Back 10k Recap

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Long story short: 4th woman overall, 1st in age group, 59 second PR, 41:43

This morning I ran in the Bridge and Back 10k in Salem, Mass. My plan was to go out more conservatively and pick it up in the second half. Unfortunately, I went out a little too conservatively as I got stuck behind a group of women and had to dodge my way around them. I seriously need to work on not underestimating where I should line up. This has been a reoccurring theme for me.

My legs felt great today. This week was a bit of a down week for me, which was nice because I’ve been dealing with a tweaky groin. Shout out to me for getting one of the most awkward running injuries! Luckily, it’s just been gradually getting better and I didn’t notice it at all during the race. Once I got to the 3-mile mark I really cranked things up and picked off quite a few people. Towards the end I was definitely longing for the finish line, though. The course had quite a few short turns at the end and I kept thinking the finish line HAD to be on the next road. I guess that’s something to be expected, though, since I hadn’t seen much of the course. Here’s a few pics from today:

running into the finish!

sprinting into the finish! I don’t know what shorts tan you’re talking about. 😉

My thought in this picture: Don't puke, don't puke, don't puke...

My thought in this picture: Don’t puke, don’t puke, don’t puke…

My wonderful supporters: Thanks Mom and Dad!

My wonderful supporters: Thanks, Mom and Dad!

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We checked out the cemetery near the finish. It was the oldest one in Salem. Luckily, there appeared to be no runners from the race in there. 😉

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a very very old headstone

Thoughts on the Race

Overall, I really enjoyed this race! The course was great. It started in downtown Salem, went out over the Salem/Beverly Bridge, and did a little loop before heading back. The course wasn’t super hilly, but definitely had a few rolling hills, especially going over the bridge. However, sometimes I like that more than pancake flat because it helps to break things up.

There were 3 water stops along the way and a post race party at the Tavern in the Square. Personally, I would’ve liked a different location for the awards as it was very crowded and loud inside. There were probably more people than expected for the race plus there was a chance for thunderstorms around 10:00, so I understand the location. There were some bagels and fruit inside the tavern, but I unfortunately missed the frozen yogurt at the finish. Awww, man! When I came back from my cool down they had run out, but I got a coupon to get some free froyo at Orange Leaf so that makes up for it.

In conclusion, I’m extremely pleased with how my race turned out and am getting really excited for my fall marathon.

Race swag

Race swag