This weekend, being the first I was in town in God knows how
long (woe is me, people invite me to their weddings and also I go on a lot of
vacations…), I took advantage of an open calendar and did a number of
productive things. Some were necessary
but not particularly exciting: I scoured the tub, toilet, and shower. Some were not necessary but very exciting: I
went to Stone Barns and participated in turkey herding. Some struck a balance between both: I had a
business meeting at 7am on Sunday morning that took place over the course of a
14 mile run.
14 miles is the farthest I’ve run since the Wineglass
Marathon back on October 6th.
14 miles at a 7:45 pace is not something I’ve done since… oh God. I probably averaged a 7:45 for the first 14
miles of the Hamptons Marathon in September, but that was more like 7 miles at
a 7:15 pace and 7 miles at a “someone put me out of my misery” pace. The good news is that even pacing feels a
hell of a lot better, and I was pleasantly surprised to discover I could both
hold the pace and a conversation about work the entire time. I was also pleasantly surprised to discover
that snot rockets were acceptable during this business meeting. No word yet on whether or not this practice
is also allowed when business takes place within the confines of the office,
but I’m leaning towards no.
A solid (and much-needed, from a confidence-boosting, I-don’t-wanna-be-starting-from-scratch-when-Boston-training-starts-next-month
perspective) long run was just one of the necessary and exciting accomplishments of my weekend in New York. I also plotted out the next installment of We’ll
Run For Beer.
Click to enlarge and marvel at my MS Paint skillz.
That freehand part in the Park is legit, right?!
We'll be meeting at Columbus Circle at noon on Saturday, December 7th. As you can see, we’ll be hitting up the Upper East Side this
go around. A bit about the course
This is a horrifying dive of a place. I
once went here with a date in cocktail attire and I think the music quite
literally stopped when we sat down at the bar.
I have every confidence that, even clad in spandex and wicking fabric,
we won’t be underdressed
If you’re a preppy suburban kid of a certain age who lived in a one bedroom
converted to 3 bedroom immediately after college, Session 73 needs no
explanation. If you’re not, I’m not going to tell you what Session 73 is like because
I suspect you won’t go. As I (barely)
recall, I went here at about 2:30am once because I wanted to go dancing. I may have embarked on this adventure alone. Please
don’t make me dance by myself this time.
Compared to Session 73, Trinity Pub is downright refined. It’s
where preppy suburban kids go when they realize they’ve become adults.
ABV: This little spot is the nicest of the bunch,
which is somewhat shameful since we’ll be pretty drunk by this point. It’s also technically in East Harlem, which
is home to the Genovese crime family, so try not to get lost.
If you’ve never participated in We’ll Run For Beer, the
basics are as follows:
Wear clothes for being active
outdoors in December. Sneakers, sweats,
Bring cash and an ID. Please don’t attend if you’re not 21. Not because I don’t love you, but because I
don’t want to be reminded that, unlike 20 year olds, I’m waaaay out of the
acceptable age bracket for making the rounds of the Upper East Side.
Be nice to each other. I try to bring lots of different groups of
people together for these, because selfishly it makes my life easier when all
my friends come to me. This means you’ll
probably be meeting new people. Don’t be
a dick to them. If you really don’t like
someone, just email me after and we can talk shit about them over the privacy
Be safe. Running is a hazardous endeavor
on its own, and that’s compounded by alcohol.
Having tripped and skinned my palms during the second edition of this, I’m
speaking from experience here. Please be
mindful of cars, Citibikes, pedestrians, preppy rapists, uneven sidewalks,
drunk frat boys, Mafioso, and other natural and man-made obstacles you will
encounter throughout the day. Unlike a
race director, I am not insured. Also, I’m
not rich, so suing me won’t be worth the hassle.
I'm in Minneapolis for a conference this week. Here's what the weather is like in Minneapolis:
While much of the running gear I packed won't quite hold up in those conditions (how do the scrawny old men who dominate the mid-winter shorts-wearer niche of runner do it?), I did squeeze one set of winter-suitable gear into my suitcase. And as luck would have it, there happens to be a 5k "fun run/walk" in conjunction with this conference of Thursday, according to the conference program! Here is how that discovery went down:
Boss: Oh on Thursday, there's a 5k. You should do it!
Boss: You have to win.
Nothing like potential unemployment as a motivator. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go hit the treadmill and do speed work for the first time in a month to get ready for Thursday...
Klout recently sent me a couple envelopes of Blowfish to try. For those who don't know, Klout is a service that, um, does something with your contributions to social media and, um sends you things? I don't exactly know what it is or what the purpose is, but from what I gather, if you tweet enough asinine things, Klout determines you to be an "influencer" and sends you products it deems topical to your life. Thus far, I've received cat food, some kind of knock off Skinny Girl cosmo mix, and Blowfish, which is marketed as a hangover cure. This is a stark and depressing assessment of my life and my sphere of influence. On the plus side, the internet indicates that the "single cat ladies who drink too much" cohort is a large one...
Having had 2 margaritas followed by several more than 2 IPAs last night, I woke up this morning feeling... not my best. I stumbled into the bathroom and gulped down 2 Advil when I woke up, after which I spied the envelopes of Blowfish in my bathroom. Despite very fine print and very compromised fine motor skills, I was able to both hold the packet up to my face and read the ingredients, which include aspirin and caffeine. Since my recent blood work indicated elevated liver enzymes (allegedly just a two-marathon-in-two-weeks response, but better safe than sorry...), I decided this morning wasn't the day to put my liver through the wringer by taking aspirin on top of Advil, so instead I put pants on, and took myself across the street to get a cup of coffee and an egg and cheese sandwich.
After a solid 3 and a half hours of couch time/Advil digestion time and no real improvement to my condition, I decided to up the ante with Blowfish. The instructions (again, the print is REALLY small, so it's entirely possible this isn't accurate) suggest you drop 2 tablets into 16 oz. of water and drink as soon as the fizzing stops.
Note that the "pants" I put on were of the "sweat" variety. Single cat lady status: confirmed. Also, I dare you to read that, especially through eyes glued shut with last night's mascara in a dark bathroom.
Having recently been taking Airborne on account of the post-race plague, I was fully prepared to drink a murky, fizzy, slurry and get on with my life. Much to my surprise, once the Blowfish dissolved, it looked more like Sprite. I braced myself as I brought it to my lips (that's what she said) and took down about half a glass in one go. It wasn't strictly medicinal in taste, but Sprite it was not (worth noting: OMG how good is soda when you're hungover?).
Hangover supplies: Blowfish, coffee, and iPad. Not pictured: egg sandwich (already consumed).
I don't know if the Blowfish just brought me up to a pain relief and caffeine threshold not previously reached through Advil and coffee, but holy hell this stuff really worked! No kidding, I went from useless lump watching Face the Nation (proof that I'm old: hungover from like 6 drinks over the course of 5 hours, and watching political talk shows...) to full on vacuuming, furniture rearranging, toilet bowl cleaning productive human being. (Claire, are you sure you want to broadcast to the internet your standards for a successful Sunday? LOOK AT YOUR CHOICES!). While I think a more controlled experiment must be conducted to rule out the possibility egg sandwiches work THAT well at alleviating hangovers (and let's be honest; there's a reason they're the standard bearer for weekend breakfasts), I think this stuff is definitely worth your attention. Klout sent it to me for free, but I've spent my own money on WAY less useful things (for example: my cat friend, Dorito), so this is a worthy investment, and it's only a couple bucks. I've definitely seen it in the check out aisle at Duane Reade, so I'd suggest picking some up on your next trip and giving it a go.
Any hangover remedies you swear by? You'd think at this point I'd be an expert, but beyond the usuals described above, and the diner beverage trifecta (coffee, Coke, water), I don't have any magic tricks. Once last winter I was so hungover after a Christmas party, I made my mom hold cold compresses over my eyes. She was not impressed. I was 28, for the record.
P.S. It's worth noting that, despite the fact that only about 3 people read this blog, and one is my mom from two different computers, people sometimes offer to send me free shit to review. I almost never take them up on it, because I have absolutely no interest in running the Pretty Princess 5k on a comped entry and reviewing it. But this one actually seemed topical, because, duh. Don't get scared that I'm going to start accepting free shit all the time and writing about it. Unless you're interested in sending me free egg sandwiches. In which case, try to schedule delivery for Saturday and Sunday mornings, extra credit if they'll arrive immediately after a wedding...
P.P.S. Always drink in moderation. And do as I say, not as I do.
On Saturday, September 28th, I ran my 15th
Marathon at the Hamptons Marathon in East Hampton, New York. It was not my best day, but I will try not to
let that color my race report, since it’s really not the race’s fault. But if you want to read a unadulterated positive
report, head on over the Ali on the Run, who ran it in 2011 and agreed (per her
recap) that is was tough but sure seems pretty happy in her race photos. Me?
Decidedly less so…
(If that picture didn't make you LOL, something is wrong with you. I can't stop laughing. MY FACE! MY T-REX ARMS! MY POSTURE! I'm hunched over to about 5'6" here. That's 5 inches of hunch!)
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
The Hamptons Marathon naturally gets a lot of NYC-based
runners, so packet pick up was held at Jack Rabbit on the Upper West Side for
two days during race week, which was a nice touch and left me with one less
thing to do once I got out East. While
it’s less than 2 hours from Manhattan (when there’s no traffic, which is never)
and a race morning drive to the start would be feasible, I elected to take
Friday off and drive out in the afternoon to give myself as stress-free a
weekend as possible. This was, after
all, my A race for the season. Neat…
I stayed at The Atlantic in Southampton, which isn’t
too far down Montauk Highway from that seafood joint that’s on the left side of
the road right as you’re first entering the Hamptons. You know that one, right? Has anyone ever been there? Anyway, being right on Montauk Highway was
convenient in the sense that I couldn’t possibly get lost, but as you know if
you’ve ever been out there, you could probably wait to make a left turn off
Montauk Highway for longer than it takes to run a marathon.
Also, Southampton is not at all close to East Hampton, and
further still from the race day shuttle in Amagansett. This worked fine for me because I had a
rental car, but don’t stay in Southampton if you’re planning to take the
Jitney. Do make “it’s Jitney, bitch”
jokes regardless of what mode of transportation you use.
Okay, so Friday, check in, drive down the road to get a
slice of ‘za, swing by 7-11 for some bread, peanut butter, and a six pack, go
back to my hotel, lay out my bib person, have some pre-race deep thoughts, and
generally feel pretty freaking good about the race. My training was not perfect, but it was
pretty stinking good – more 20+ milers than usual, nailed my GMP runs up to 10
miles like it ain’t no thang, killed it at the track, etc. Basically I’m planning my post-race victory
party as I’m chowing down on the pasta I brought from my apartment. I have two beers and call it a night, ready
to murder number 15.
I wake up at Zero Dark Thirty and see that the hotel lobby
hasn’t yet prepared coffee, which is forgivable since bars are only just at
closing time at this point. So I dash
across Montauk Highway to the gas station across the street, where a very silent
shopkeeper seems somewhat concerned that cheery girl in a sweatsuit has come
looking for coffee at 4:30am. He definitely
thought I was on drugs. I return to my
room, suit up, spread some pb on some bread, and hop in the car.
Here is a fun fact: Montauk Highway has traffic even at
5:30am. Not heavy, mid-summer
Saturday-levels of traffic, but traffic nonetheless. The drive to Amagansett is a straight shot
down the highway, so I jammed out and ate my toast for 40 minutes and then
parked in the designated beach parking lots and boarded a bus to the
start. A+ logistics, folks.
The race starts at the Spring School in East Hampton, and
the gym at the school was open for runners (and race day bib pick up), so I
took my coffee and sat on the floor in there for awhile listening to tunes and
getting myself in the zone. I was even
able to replenish my coffee, gratis, at the start, which is a much appreciated
perk. Porta potties were plentiful, and
I was the very first person to use mine!
Sorry, second person…
Kick off was at 8am, so I checked my gear around 7:45 and
headed towards to start to do some striders, mostly just to stay warm. I situated myself around the 7:30/mile sign
within the corrals, where I started chatting with a local runner. I think his named was Joe, or possibly Tom,
and I’m sorry I can’t remember, because he was totally a nice dude. We swapped race stories in the corral, he
briefed me on the course (which he described as being “worse than Boston,”
which I probably should have taken into consideration, but what can you do?),
and when the gun went off, we found ourselves step-by-step.
JoeTom had noted that I was wearing a 3:20 pace bracelet, and explained that he ran a 3:20:00 as his PR in Boston. I mentioned I hadn't yet run a 3:20:anything, but was hoping today was the day (spoiler alert: not the day). He didn't plan to run that fast in the Hamptons, but was happy to run with me for as long as he could. He went so far as to say he'd be dying by the half if he kept up. (Spoiler alert: that was me who was dying).
We ran a quick first mile (7:19), but that's pretty customary for me, and by mile two, we settled into a spot on 7:37. I was feeling good, the conversation was making the miles tick by, and when I saw a 7:41 mile 5, I decided to pull away from JoeTom in an effort to stay on pace. While I don't think this was a critical error, since it's not like I started sprinting away, I never again felt comfortable for the rest of the day.
Mile 1: 7:19
Mile 2: 7:37
Mile 3: 7:27
Mile 4: 7:35
Mile 5: 7:41
The weather was warmer than I would have liked, but only by about 5 or 10 degrees, and the beginning of the course is mostly shaded. I was hydrated, had eaten breakfast, and had pasta, pizza, and beer the night before, but somewhere around mile 6 or 7, the check engine light went on, the air was let out of the tires, the tank went empty, the engine sputtered, and every other car metaphor for "holy shit, I can't go on" set in. For the first mile, I figured it was just nerves or something. I had done GMP runs longer than 7 miles, so there was no way I had over exerted myself. I tried to shake it off and get myself together. I fought for another few miles, during which 7:40s felt like 5:40s, and talked myself off a ledge. "You have some time in the bank, you're fine." But I knew I was not fine. And also, I was terrified. I had been tired in a race before (it's a marathon, after all), but never this soon, and even in the final miles of my PR, it didn't feel anything like this.
Mile 6: 7:38
Mile 7: 7:31
Mile 8: 7:40
Mile 9: 7:35
Mile 10: 7:47
At this point, I was still on pace, but was coming to terms with the fact that it wouldn't be possible to stay that way. I pledged to ease up until the half split and reassess. Unfortunately, miles 9.5 to at least 15 were in direct sun, and while it wasn't all that warm out, the sun beating down on me certainly didn't help me feel any better.
There's a 180 degree turn at the 10 mile mark, and on my way out, I passed JoeTom headed towards 10. He gave me a wave. I gave him an "I'm fucking dying."
Shortly thereafter, I started thinking about dropping out. I knew I had another marathon the following weekend, and there wasn't really a sense in wasting myself for a mediocre finish and risk jeopardizing that race. Oddly enough, I felt preemptive guilt and embarrassment having spent much of my time in the start reading tweets from 78,453 members of the New York Runner Army who were eagerly anticipating my race results. In actuality it was more like 5, and they were heart warming tidings of good luck and not "don't blow it, chump" sentiments, but nonetheless, I knew I'd eventually have to admit defeat to them. This was a totally dumb way to feel, but we're in the tree of trust here, right?
Despite the preemptive embarrassment, by 11.5 I committed to dropping at the half. 13.1 miles would be a nice long run ahead of the following weekend's marathon, and for arbitrary reasons, at least getting half way there seemed like something.
I spent the next mile and a half thinking "holy shit, I can't believe I'm really going to DNF. But especially, I can't believe I'm okay with DNFing." Each split now began with an 8, and still felt like agony.
I crossed the 13.1 timing mat, incidentally exactly on pace for a 3:20, and saw nary a race official in sight. So I continued on, assuming eventually I'd find someone who could direct me to a med tent or saggin' wagon. As I pressed on, the runner next to me struck up a conversation. "How's it going?" "Not my best day," I told him. Understatement of the year. And this was a year I ran 39.3 miles on a broken foot...
Finally, at 14.5 we came upon an aid station with porta potties and a cop. Having already thrown in the towel and just looking for a way to do so officially, I decided I might as well stop to pee. The porta potty was occupied, but I didn't mind waiting. I was DNFing; what difference did it make?
After a pee, I moseyed on over to the cop, to have that fateful conversation:
Me: Hi. I'd like to drop out.
Me: So do you know how I can get to the finish?
Me: Is there a way I can get a ride? Like, will you be going there eventually?
Him: Oh I'll be here awhile.
Me: Okay, so do you know where the next med tent is?
Me: Should I just keep going until I get to one?
Him: Yeah. Yeah just keep going and you'll get to one.
In all, I do think this race is well organized and volunteers were totally on top of their game. But there was a pretty crucial communication break down somewhere if a uniformed cop on the course couldn't give me any information on medical aid.
Without much other choice, I pressed on, having spent about 10 minutes between miles 14 and 15.
Mile 11: 8:05
Mile 12: 8:01
Mile 13: 8:19
Mile 14: 8:24
Mile 15: 9:18, and I'm pretty sure I actually stopped my watch once I decided I was bailing and stopped to pee.
I don't have a whole lot to say about the rest of this race, since I ran it begrudgingly. It's mostly rolling hills, though since I was feeling terrible, it seemed way more uphill than not. At mile 18 my Garmin reset itself, so I have no data beyond that point, which is probably for the best. I figured if I made it to mile 20, I might as well just finish the damn thing. Around mile 20, we hit a dirt path, which was a nice change, and JoeTom had told me in the corrals not to hold back from that point on, since the course was essentially downhill from there. While I tried to heed his advice and pick it up for the last 6 miles, any effort to do so was futile - my legs had been stone for close to 13 miles by that point.
Mile 16: 8:51
Mile 17: 8:50
Mile 18: 9:07
Eventually, I crossed the finish line in 3:42:09, a perfectly fine time had I not been racing for a 3:20. In fact, it was my 5th fastest marathon. But fifth fastest is a long way from first fastest, especially when you've put in the work.
As I stumbled through the shoot and towards my gear, a man stopped to offer me a bottle of water. I hesitated to take it when I realized, by the medal around his neck, he was also a finisher, and was offering me his own water. "Nothing is given, everything is earned," he told me. He also maybe looked kind of like Jesus, but I was really tired and in a fragile emotional state where I was looking for meaning in things, so that part could be wrong. But he really did say that.
As I've already mentioned, I was surprised I wasn't more upset about how the day played out, but from training to fueling and hydration to execution of race strategy, I really can't identify anything I would have done differently. I will tell you, in the spirit of over-sharing on the internet, that I peed blood for a bit afterwards, which isn't awesome, and my post-race muscle fatigue was definitely higher than normal - potentially scary signs of something more than run-of-the-mill marathon wear-and-tear. I took super good care of myself in the week that followed, and knew I'd be taking it easy at Wineglass, but I was really conscientious about hydrating and eating properly (and taking it easy on the beers) while I recovered, just to be sure.
As it were, I happened to have a physical recently, post race, which turned up an electrolyte imbalance in the form of high potassium. It's only moderately elevated, and my kidney function is fine, but I definitely took a beating in the Hamptons that I did not anticipate. Concerned phone call from my mother in 3, 2, 1...
I probably won't return to this race because I'm the kind of person who holds a grudge, but if you're in New York, it's really easy to get to, a scenic if not "fast" course, and held at a time of year when weather should be favorable. It's also not a very competitive field - the winner in my AG (25-29) ran a 3:30, so if that appeals to you, go for it.
As for me, my disappointing finish obviously didn't deter me from future marathons, since I've since run another. And my failed pursuit of 3:20 has only made me more determined to get it in the Spring. So here's to a solid spring season, and to the next great adventure! But first, we rest.