Eat Drink Run Woman

Musings from a Seattle personal chef with a fitness problem

Archive for the ‘Beantown bound’

Published October 13th, 2010

A Victoria’s BQ (but far from victorious)

You know the elation you feel when your training, pre-race nutrition and race-day strategy coalesce into the perfect race?  Well, that feeling eluded me in Victoria this past Sunday.  Mind you, I was still able to pull a BQ out of my sorry arse, but it sure twasn’t pretty.  Even though this was my 44th marathon, the experience proved you just can’t take the distance for granted.  Get too cocky and you risk getting chewed up, spit out and left on the curb licking your wounds.

For those in race report overload I’ll cut to the chase: I finished in 3:57:40; not the PR I was hoping for (needed to beat 3:54:34), but good enough to be invited to the 2012 Boston party should finances allow.

I was determined to follow a more regimented training schedule for this race, at least as regimented as a Marathon Maniac could be.  My goal was to PR, but I also considered going for a 3:50. After my BQ at Seattle Rock ‘n Roll (3:55:42) at the end of June I ran “only” one other marathon — Missoula on July 11.  I was pleasantly surprised with my time — 4:04 — given it was only two weeks after Seattle.  (I probably could have run a sub 4 if it weren’t for two bathroom breaks).  I vowed to concentrate on speed and shorter races for the rest of the summer.

Most of my longer runs for the remainder of July and August were in the 9- to 13-mile range, however, I did run/hike two 25-milers and ran/walked a couple of 19-milers.  (The first two were on the White River 50-mile course, a mountainous single track.  The latter two were on carriage roads in Maine; while I was able to run the first 10 miles of each run, the heat and humidity slowed me to a slog during the last half.  So I don’t consider any of these long runs to be quality runs, although they did give me time on my feet).

My August mileage was also very low — 136 — compared to the 175-200 miles I had been averaging.  However, I PR’d in a half marathon in early August, shaving almost 5 minutes (ran it in 1:48:52).  I was encouraged to see McMillan predicted a 3:49:36 marathon time based on the half, but I also knew that’d be a stretch.  I also raced a 10K in mid-August (got 3rd in my age group) and was on a competitive women’s team for Hood-to-Coast (we placed 4th in our division).  Still, I knew I had a lot of work ahead of me to reach my goal, including upping my mileage and getting in more long runs.

My first race in September was a trail 25K which I took very easy.  I followed that up with a road half the next weekend; I was on track for yet another PR through mile 9, but the rain and headwind got the better of me.  Still, my 1:50:03 time indicated a PR was not out of the question at Victoria.  I also got in two 20-milers, another half and a couple of 12-milers, finishing up the month with just over 180 miles.


Published April 28th, 2009

Boston Marathon, Part 2 — I kissed a girl


Since I forbade him from banditing the race, my husband decided he’d run the course early, adding on a few miles to make it a 50K.  He left the B&B at 4 a.m., ran to Back Bay and caught the train to Framingham.  While he turned around in Hopkinton, he decided to save the section near Athlete’s Village for when he officially runs the race.  Long before I started making my way toward the corrals he was done.

Meanwhile, I got up at 4:30 to eat some instant oatmeal and down a couple of cups of coffee (the owner of the B&B not only got up early to have our coffee ready, she also had bagels, peanut butter and bananas available for us to pack).  I threw my drop bag over my shoulder and we headed to the T to catch the 5:15 subway to Boylston (runners ride for free on Marathon Monday).  Paula Sue’s running group took a few group photos, then we were loaded onto one of the buses to Hopkinton.

While it was somewhat clear in Boston, it got increasingly foggy as we neared Hopkinton.  Although I had packed both warm and cool weather gear, I opted to be resplendent in my Maniac gear — tank, arm warmers and wind breaker, along with my Race Ready shorts.  However, over that I wore an old pair of sweats, long-sleeved cotton race shirt and winter rain coat (I looked like a dork).  I was told to bring something to sit on in case the ground was wet, so I found a great use for the banner we used to use for our personal chef chapter:


I tried to take in everything at the Village.  Picture in front of the “It all starts here” billboard?  Check.  Write my name on my legs in black marker?  Check.  Get a shamrock temporary tattoo?  Check.  Score a pair of Boston running gloves?  Check.  I was like a kid in a candy store.

While I thought three port-o-potty visits would suffice, my bladder thought otherwise just as I was dropping off my bag.  We still had several minutes before the start, but as the minutes ticked away I started getting nervous.  I shed my throw-away clothes, but left on my heavy jacket until the last minute (wouldn’t you know it — I managed to hang on to the jacket I intended to donate, but lost my good one).  I hadn’t realized how far it was to walk to the corrals, so I started jogging to get around the crowds.  Even before I hit the #19 corral the gun had gone off, but fortunately it would take several minutes before we crossed the start line.


Published April 27th, 2009

113th Boston Marathon – Part 1


The picture captures it all — the joy, the pain, the tears.  It’s the overwhelming elation I feel for accomplishing something I thought inconceivable.  No more am I the scrawny, awkward, non-athletic teenager, nor am I the overweight and miserable 40-year-old.  I AM A BOSTON MARATHONER.  Here’s my story.

Official time: 4:15:48
Overall: 18202/22849
Gender: 6902/9302
Age group (F45-49): 1066/1456

While I got through my first two marathons with minimal mileage using the run/walk plan, I tried Pete Pfitzinger’s 18/55 for my first BQ attempt at the North Olympic Discovery Marathon.  I missed my goal by 15 minutes, regrouped and BQ’d 10 weeks later with a 3:54:34 at a small Marathon Maniac-sponsored race called the Light at the End of the Tunnel (I needed 4:00:59).  I squeaked in another BQ in October 2008 at Royal Victoria with a 4:00:26, so barring financial ruin I’ll be toeing the line again at Hopkinton in 2010.

While Pfitz was indeed strenuous, I liked the plan and intended to follow it for Boston.  However, I figured I wouldn’t try for a particular time.  Sure, I wanted to finish strong but I also wanted to take in the experience.  By the time I ran Royal Victoria I had become a Marathon Maniac, and the multiple-marathoning bug had hit.  I ran three more marathons for the year after RVM, then ran another on Jan. 1 and the Goofy Challenge at Walt Disney World Jan. 10-11.  I had no intention of running any others until Boston, but when I saw the Yakima River Canyon Marathon on April 4 was a Maniac reunion, I decided to run it as a training run for Boston.  But I swore that would be it; HA!

By early February I was jonesing for another race, so my husband and I signed up for one on Feb. 8, then I ran my first 50K on Feb. 22.  As a result I tossed out my plan to follow Pfitz’ 12/55 program for Boston.  His speed work beats me up, and considering all the races I was running my No. 1 priority was recovery.  That said, come March I wanted to see if I had ANY speed left in me, so I entered the annual St. Patty’s Day Dash fully intent on racing it.  While I was thrilled with my pace (about 8:20 — fast for me), I knew I could have gone faster if I had elbowed my way closer to the front.  Oh well.

A couple of days later I ran almost 7 miles at an 8:37 pace.  During that run my heel, which had been barking at me for several weeks, decided it had had enough.  While I wasn’t sure if it was plantar fasciitis, I was definitely dealing with a bruised heel.  I took the next four days off from running, focusing instead on cross-training.  And despite admonitions from the owner of my gym, I raced a half marathon that weekend.  While I missed my overall half PR by less than 40 seconds, again I was pleased with my effort.  (The course somewhat mimics Boston in that you get a couple of killer hills at the very end).

Again I had to take several days off to nurse my heel, but I got new shoes for work and replaced the shoe inserts with green Superfeet.  I also put the Superfeet into my running shoes, which helped tremendously.  I was able to get in a few more runs before Yakima, but I took it easy and ran by feel.  I then ran/walked Yakima, finishing in just over 4:36.  (That course also mimicked Boston with a 1.2-mile hill starting at Mile 22 that climbed almost 300 feet).

I came up with several goals for Boston, ranging from the “you’re freakin’ crazy” goal of another BQ or PR, to the more realistic 4:10-4:15 range, to the “You went out too fast, didn’t ya?” goal of 4:25-4:35.  I was hoping to make this my third fastest race, which would mean finishing in under 4:15:19.  Ever so optimistic, I printed out pace bands for a 4:05 and 4:10 marathon using a spreadsheet someone developed on the Runner’s World forum.


Published April 21st, 2009

Wow… Ow

I’ll be posting an epic report soon, but suffice it to say it was a tough race.  I made my “You never know what race day will bring” goal, finishing in 4:15:48.  What race day — or actually Mother Nature — brought was a steady headwind that hit just as I was entering the Newton Hills.  I ran up ALL of them (I actually only walked through the water stops), but the winds certainly held me back.  I also lost several minutes at a potty stop at mile 12 (that was my slowest mile at 13:35).

I did a great job of holding back for the first several miles (I’ve heard if you don’t feel you’re running too slow, then you’re going too fast), running the first three miles in 9:43, 9:24 and 9:23.  I then sped up just a bit, but tried to keep my effort consistent.  When I got to the Newton hills my times were above 10 minutes for three miles.  But someone pointed out on one of the running forums I belong to that my second half was only 4 seconds slower than my first!  (Darn bladder).

It was truly an amazing experience and I look forward to next year!

Published April 16th, 2009

Next up: No. 15

To say I’ve been distracted this week is an understatement.  I can’t believe I’m heading to Boston tomorrow!  What a long, strange trip it’s been.  This will most likely be my last post for several days, but I plan on posting updates on Facebook.  In the meantime, check out the Runner’s Lounge podcast featuring four Boston-bound runners, including yours truly.

As for my goals for the race, of course I have several tiers.  I doubt I have another BQ in me right now, and besides, I think I’ll want to enjoy the experience and take it slow.  But who knows — perhaps I’ll get caught up in the excitement.  My heel is holding up well, and I’ve been taking this week easy.  We may have to deal with wind and rain on Patriot’s Day, but I’m used to that.  If you’d like to track me, I’m bib #19631.

Here’s the breakdown of my tiered goals:

  • The “Who do you think you are, Deena?” goal: sub 3:54:34 (a PR)
  • The “Lay off the crack pipe, woman” goal: 3:54:34-3:59:59 (sub 4 hour)
  • The “Pretty optimistic, aren’t ya?” goal: 4:00:00-4:00:59 (BQ)
  • The “It’s a stretch considering my training” goal: 4:01:00-4:09:59 (beats the time of the No. 10 finisher in the very first Boston Marathon in 1897)
  • The “That’s a reasonable challenge (and most realistic)” goal: 4:10:00-4:15:18 (beats my North Olympic time)
  • The “You never know what race day will bring” goal: 4:15:19-4:25:00 (still a good race, but not as fast as I hope)
  • The “Started out too fast, didn’t ya?” goal: 4:25:01-4:35:00
  • The “What — did you stop to kiss the Wellesley girls?” goal: 4:35:01-4:45:00
  • The “Ruh Roh — something’s wrong” goal: 4:45:01+

Wish me luck!

Published April 2nd, 2009

Just a quickie

Egads!  Another two weeks has flown by.  However, I’m flying to Tucson on Sunday to spend time with Mom & Dad, so hopefully I’ll have some time to properly blog.   The great news is he’s doing well, although it will be another two weeks before he’s given the go-ahead to travel home.

I rocked the Mercer Island Half (will post a full report soon); while I missed my overall PR set at last year’s Kirkland Half by only 41 seconds, I cut off almost 4 minutes from my course PR (while they’re both hilly courses, Kirkland’s hills come in the beginning, while Mercer Island’s are at the end).  However, my heel was sure talking to me afterwards and still hurt considerably the next day.  But a trip to the shoe store remedied things; I’m now sporting an ugly — but very comfortable and supportive — pair of Brooks walking shoes with the green Superfeet for work (they replace my Dansko clogs which have been giving me problems).

I actually haven’t done a lot of running in the past two weeks, instead focusing on cross training to heal my heel (the fact the weather has been downright CRAPPY certainly played into things).  But I hope to go on a quick run tomorrow morning before heading over to Yakima for the Yakima River Canyon Marathon (it’ll be a slow training run for Boston).  I’m really looking forward to this marathon as it’s a reunion for the Marathon Maniacs.

In Boston news, I received my celebration jacket last week, however, I’ve decided I’ll wait until after I cross the finish line to wear it (a lot of people will be wearing them on marathon weekend as they figure they’re celebrating qualifying for the race).  I also bought a singlet and will probably pick up a hat at the expo (yes, I know I said I wasn’t going to buy any more race stuff, but I also recall saying Boston gear doesn’t count!)

Anyhoo, for those of you who still bother to stop by, I promise I’ll be a more prolific writer in the months to come.  (And you KNOW I’ll be posting an epic Boston report!)

Published March 19th, 2009

Play that funky music

Boy, you know you’re a lame blogger when you see someone who claims they’re on sabbatical has written more than you.  Sheesh!

Yeah, I’ve been in a funk.  Some of it is warranted — my 83-year-old dad was rushed to the hospital a couple of weeks ago when he fell at my sister’s house in Arizona.  At first he was diagnosed with pneumonia, but the diagnosis kept getting worse and culminated in a quadruple bypass surgery a couple days ago.  It’s been a whirlwind of emotions, but I’m so grateful for my sister and everything she’s done (Tucson is known for its world-class cardiologists, so I know he’s in good hands).  My darling and I are planning on heading to Maine to visit the folks after Boston, but right now we’re playing it day-by-day.  However, it sounds like they’ll be able to travel soon and we’ll be there to help them settle back home.

Some of my funk is due to general unease over the economy.  While being self-employed has its rewards, it can be unsettling at times.  Sometimes I feel I’m hanging on by a thread.  And then there are the irrational emotions that flow over me during my “lady time.”  Something as innocent as a lost shoe will send me into a wailing tizzy:  “I can’t find anything in this mess!” “If we had a larger house we’d have more storage space!” “We’re NEVER going to be able to afford a larger house!” “What am I going to do with my life?” “I feel fat!”

Given all of this I haven’t been particularly motivated to write.  But fortunately I haven’t let my funk interfere with my training.  Since I last wrote I’ve logged in a little over 130 miles, which included the Ghost of Whidbey half marathon (a small Maniac race) and the St. Patty’s Day Dash, as well as earned a bronze medal through the President’s Challenge (more on all of those in a bit).

Because I’ve added several races to my schedule, I’ve ditched my plan to follow Pfitz’ 12/55 plan for Boston.  My body has been rebelling of late, and since speedwork tends to aggravate whatever aches and pains I’m feeling, I’ve decided not to follow his prescribed workouts, opting instead to run by feel.  Some days I’ll feel speedy and will run an average of 8:20-8:35, other days I’ll take it slow, averaging 9:45-10:15.

Speaking of Boston (which I’ve been doing quite frequently; my darling simply rolls his eyes), I received some news the other day that got me out of my funk: my bib number!  So if you feel compelled to follow me on April 20, I’ll be #19631 (back of the pack).  By coincidence my number is the year of my birth, plus the No. 1; I’m hoping that’s a good sign.  I’ve also ordered my Adidas celebration jacket and a racer-back tank top (hey — they were on sale; I won’t wear them until after completing the race), plus a really cool shamrock t-shirt with the Boston logo (I probably WILL wear that before the race, but will also wear it at next year’s St. Patty’s Day Dash).


Published February 5th, 2009

How to qualify for Boston

This week the Runner’s Lounge asks us to let you in on the secret of how to qualify for Boston.  Why on earth would I want to do THAT?  I can put up with you stopping by my blog, but that doesn’t mean I want to rub sweaty elbows with you in Hopkinton.

I kid!

Frankly, even though I’ve managed to qualify for Boston twice, I can’t say I have the secret.  So many factors come in to play — some you can control, others you can’t — there’s no guarantee what works for one person will work for another.  While I worked hard to get my BQ, I was also blessed with a bit of luck.  I may not have the secret, but I’m happy to share my road to a BQ.

The following factors are what I consider to be the most important in my BQ quest:

Obviously, this is one you can’t control.  There are many folks who argue BQ standards favor older women, especially those in the 40-49 age group, and I just so happen to fall into that category.  The standards account for bodies that get creakier and less responsive with age, yet perhaps I’m in that sweet spot where my body isn’t so decrepit I can’t pull off a 4-hour marathon.  Compare that with the 3:15 my darling needs as a 38-year-old man.  As many of you may know, he missed his time by a mere 18 seconds in the same race where I first BQ’d.  But was my age/gender the only reason?  Maybe, maybe not.  My training was more regimented than his, and I believe I got in a couple more long runs.

The race
Here’s something you can control.  There are hundreds of BQ course around the country from which to choose — some with a reputation for being a fast course (CIM, St. George, Tucson), others not.  I chose the North Olympic Discovery Marathon in Port Angeles for my first BQ attempt.  It’s a scenic, small race (about 600 marathoners) on a relatively fast course.  Even though I missed my BQ there (you can read about it here), I do think it’s a great course on which to BQ.

Not wanting to leave things to chance, I chose the Light at the End of the Tunnel for my second attempt as it’s an all-downhill course (you can see the elevation profile in part 1 of my race report).  Some running Nazis may claim it’s a cheater course, but if the USATF certifies it, then it’s good enough for the BAA.  Still, even though I was ecstatic after the Tunnel Marathon, I wanted to challenge myself on a more difficult course.  While I wasn’t sure if I had it in me going into the race, I BQ’d again at Royal Victoria with a 4:00:26.


Published January 26th, 2009

And so it begins

As we were starting out on our 8-mile run today hubby asked me if today was the start of my official Boston training.  I had to think a moment, but then realized it was!  You see, I pretty much have been in perpetual training mode, so I don’t really think in terms of a training beginning and end.  But with Boston I was eager to get back into a more formal schedule that includes hill and speed work (both of which I’ve curtailed of late.  I’ve just been getting in the miles).  I’ll be following Pete Pfitzinger’s 12/55 program (12 weeks, up to 55 miles per week), but will be tweaking it to fit in a 50K in February and a marathon April 4.  I won’t bore you with the details as I did last year, but I’m sure I’ll be whining blogging about BUAL™ workouts in the coming weeks.

(Oh my God — Boston’s only 12 weeks away!)

Published October 14th, 2008

Royal Victoria 2008

This past Sunday, I ran the perfect race.  It wasn’t a personal best, but it brought together everything I’ve learned in my prior five marathons.  That’s not to say I won’t continue to learn, but I have a much better idea of what works for ME.  This marathon also proved I could run a BQ on an “unaided” course (I know many running snobs would consider the Light at the End of the Tunnel Marathon a “cheater” given it’s all downhill.  While I obviously was more than happy to use that as my BQ, I do feel redeemed I could run a fast race on a more challenging course).

Buckle in folks; another epic race report follows.