Miami Half Marathon Recap

Big hello on this Monday! Hope your week is off to a great start! Only 125 days until Memorial Day, my official start to summer. I don’t go by the summer solstice! :)

Today’s post will be a quick recap of the Miami half marathon and our weekend down in the sunshine state.

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Welcome to December and 2016 races!

I can’t believe another year has almost passed! 2015 has been a good one- I got a new job that I enjoy, moved into a new place, moved in with a new “roommate” :), traveled around the world and within the USA, and ran some fun marathons. I saw several close family members and friends get married and engaged, have babies, get new and exciting jobs, hike new mountains, start new relationships, and run PRs!

2016 is just around the corner, and I am even more excited to dive in to the next year!

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New Orleans Marathon Review

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When I started working with my coaches a couple of weeks ago, I decided to train for a marathon and re-qualify for Boston with a finish time that would allow me to register for the race. This was a change from my initial goal of just “running for fun” in my next race, without a time goal. But seeing that motivations and aspirations can change depending on one’s mood, I decided to attempt a time goal one more time.

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Throwback to First Marathon @Disney!

Most Americans visit Disney World for the first time as a kid. I was 26 years old for my first Disney experience – my first marathon. Some may say that I was a deprived child, but I disagree. Needless to say, I loved Disney Marathon! Yes, both the physical running of 26.2 miles as well as being at Disney.

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My Journey to BQ at Big Cottonwood Canyon Marathon 

Warning: this is a long post! I have been meaning to write about my BQ at Big Cottonwood Canyon UT for a while and wanted to include info on the training leading up to the race as well as an overview of the race itself. If you don’t want to read about the blood, sweat, and tears I faced in this race, I won’t be offended if you click away :)

After my annual viewing of the Boston Marathon this past April, I found myself more determined than ever to attempt to re-qualify for the marathon (even despite the horrifically rainy and cold conditions of the 2015 race!). I decided that day in April to find a race in a unique location, which had a favorable course for a PR. I perused through my marathon go-to source (www.marathonguide.com), and quickly found my race of choice: Big Cottonwood Canyon in Salt Lake City, Utah. The race is put on by REVEL, and had great ratings. I watched some footage on a previous year’s race and promptly signed up.

IMG_0886Marathon training in Boston is fun!

My training:

My Big Cottonwood marathon training cycle started in mid-May. I had already built up a solid base after running Philly marathon the previous November, and had also run a couple of half marathons in the spring. But in general, I was starting this training cycle with fresh legs, and was determined to train hard and with consistency.

As a part of this plan, I hired my first running coach because I needed to make some changes to my training, and needed someone to push me. I also work best (like many others) when I am held accountable to someone other than myself- and this ended up being the missing link for me.

My coach set up my training schedule on google calendar a month ahead of time. I would log each run, and she would comment on occasion. Throughout summer 2015, I built my long runs up to 22 miles, and also added in speed work and tempo runs (400 meter, 800 meter, or mile repeats, with cool downs in between). I incorporated 4 half marathon races into my training, and at times added on more miles post-race if the day called for more miles.

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Providence half & Gloucester half this summer. Love incorporating half marathons with marathon training!

Some of my long runs were “fast finishes”, ie- the last several miles were at marathon pace. One long run included a couple mile warm-up, 10 miles at marathon pace, and a couple mile cool down.

IMG_09494th of July road race!

In general, I think I was prepared for Big Cottonwood Canyon on marathon day (September 12th, 2015). Some of my long runs during the training cycle did not go as well as I had wanted, particularly because of the time of year (summer), but I usually hit my speed work splits, so hoped that those runs would help me run strong in those last few precious miles.

IMG_0951Another training run along the Charles River

The race:

Big Cottonwood is known as a fast race, amenable to PRs. The first 19 miles of the course are mostly downhill, but miles 19-23 have some rolling hills. The last 2 miles are mostly back to being downhill, a change which is subsequently very tough on the legs (well, more tough than usual for the last two miles of a marathon). My sig Mark (who was running the half) and I decided to drive the course the day before the race, which helped me mentally prepare for the downhill and course logistics. I highly recommend driving a race course to prepare if you can, especially if the course is completely unfamiliar!

IMG_0947View in Moab during my last training run before the marathon!

Race expo was easy, on the small side. Plenty of parking, but you’ll need a car. Note that Utah is a very car-friendly, car-necessary state.

Our hotel was not one of the official hotels for the race, as those had sold out, but we were fine with the Courtyard Marriott in Sandy, UT. On race morning, we had to drive a few miles to the shuttle pickup. The lines for the shuttles were VERY long, but moved surprisingly quickly. They took us to the top of Big Cottonwood Canyon, roughly 9700 feet high in the sky, to where the marathon starts. Half marathon started a couple of hundred feet south of us at 7300 feet. Coming from Boston, I felt a little hard core being so high in the mountains.

REVEL runs an organized race- the top/start had plenty of porta potties, and our bags at bib pickup included mylar blankets and gloves, which were perfect for early mornings on the top of a mountain. Coming from sea-level, I could feel the effects of being almost 10k feet high, but the downhill nature of the course outweighed some of the effects.

True to the course description, the first 19 miles of the race were basically a steady downhill (with an exception of a steep hill at mile 4, which was at an elevation of roughly 8500 feet high- this was tough on the lungs to say the least). I maintained a 3:25-3:30 pace for this portion, and was determined to stay well ahead of the 3:35 pacer. A 3 hour 35 minute (or less) marathon finish was the time I needed to qualify for Boston.

After the half-way point, I desperately wished that I had trained on downhill courses more frequently to prepare for this terrain. But despite the deep fatigue my legs were feeling from all of the pounding, I felt great and ran consistent 7:30-7:45 minute miles. At mile 19, my pace slowed up as the course became hilly. Hills at 5500 feet elevation were no joke. At one point I had to stop and stretch, and also just catch my breath. It was a very interesting feeling, being out of breath at this point even in the flat sections. I knew that I was far from home.

At mile 23, I noticed the 3:35 pacer slowly creeping up to me and at that moment felt very emotional and overwhelmed. The pacer caught up to me at 24, and asked me how I was doing. I was honest and told her that I was very disappointed to see her. She said that she was running a minute or so ahead of a 3:35, that the rest of the race was downhill, and that she knew I had it in me to push myself. I know she had no idea, but her motivational lines helped me push through.

At that point, I was determined to reach my goal and pushed as.hard.as.I.possibly.could. I crossed the line @3:33.06 and saw Mark, who promptly yelled “you friggin qualified!!!”.

The rest of the day was a blur, but I remember bits of the following: devouring pizza and Gatorade at the finish, crawling to the car, showering off the massive amounts of salt that caked my body (maybe the dry air evaporated the sweat?), passing out for a long time, then crawling to the movie theatre and lastly eating amazing Mexican food at a restaurant in SLC where I devoured so many chips and guacamole, that I got my fill for the year…almost :)

End of story: run this race if you can. Loved everything about it, and it’s a great one if you’re serious about qualifying for Boston (aren’t we all?).

661About to cross the finish line- won’t ever forget that day!

What is your favorite running memory? 

Anyone else on the road to a BQ?

Let’s get through Monday and heading to Philly soon!

Good morning and Happy Monday! Hope your week gets off to a great start.

Two weeks from now, I will be heading down to Philadelphia with some family and friends. My sister and cousin are running the Philly marathon, and I am going to cheer them on!

IMG_0919City Hall along race course

I’ve run the Philly marathon three times- in 2011, 2012, and 2014– and just thinking about the race brings back many happy memories. Philly marathon was my second fastest marathon finish (2011 race), as well as one of my slowest finishes (2014 race).  Yet in the three times I have run the race, I learned so much and enjoyed it every time.

IMG_0747 update2014 race with my sibs and Mark

Some thoughts:

  1. This marathon is great for a PR. The course is relatively flat (with the exception of some moderate hills between miles 7-10 (University Park areas and West Philly zoo/memorial) and 19-22 (Manayunk area), but the race falls in the time of year for ideal race temperatures. In the three years I ran the race, temps ranged from the 40’s to low 50’s—ideal for a great time.
  2. Given the timing of the race, training starts in the summer but the majority of the long runs will be in the cooler September/October months.
  3. The race has great spectator support. There are sections of the race where spectators are more sporadic – through the park prior to the halfway mark and along the schuylkill river miles 15 to 26.2 (with the exception of lively Manayunk). However, the out and back course layout enables you to see the elite runners pass by, which is especially motivating for me.
  4. Race day is held the weekend prior to Thanksgiving holiday, allowing you some nice rest (and food!) for the week following the race (week zero).
  5. The city of Philadelphia has a lot of great food options- we have always eaten very well pre- and post- race!
  6. Spending a weekend in Philadelphia before the holidays is special time. The city is decorated and festive.
  7. There are plenty of hotel or airbnb options close to the race course. We’ve always stayed downtown and have been able to walk to the start of the race (and crawled back post-race). Super convenient!
  8. Race logistics are organized, with pacers as well as adequate hydration stations throughout the course.

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I am disappointed to not be running Philly this year, but am really looking forward to being a spectator this time around! I might jump in towards the end of the race to help pace her, but TBD. She is going for a BQ and I think she will meet that goal in this race!

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Stay tuned for a recap in a couple of weeks!

Has anyone run Philly marathon? Any tips or tricks that you’ve learned from the race?

 

Chicago Marathon Review

I ran the Chicago marathon in October 2013. It was a race to remember for many reasons, but most memorable was the fact that I ran with my sister and brother (my cousin came too but sadly couldn’t run due to an injury). My parents also came to watch the race, and we had a fantastic time together in the Windy City.  There are so many things to say about the race, one of the largest races in the country, but I will narrow it down to two quick lists of what did and didn’t work. Chicago was my 7th marathon, but I still learned a lot from the race.

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What didn’t work:

  1. Not following the #1 running rule of thumb of not going out too fast in the first half. I had not trained adequately for this race (skimping on the long runs, no speed work), so thinking that I could pick up and run 8 minute miles was not a reality that would last for long. I bonked somewhere between mile 16 and 18- not ideal!
  2. As I mentioned above, not training adequately for this race. In 2013, I pulled away from having a focus on running and training for races for many reasons, and this resulted in some slower marathon times, including Chicago. It is what it is- you get what you put into it. I am not disappointed by this span of slower races- I was happy to even finish them! Running was there for me when I wanted to get back into being in better shape/work hard in training.
  3. I went out too fast, and I think this is why I tweaked my left hamstring at mile 20. So I had to walk the last 6.2 miles, but I was determined to finish. My second half was two hours longer than my first half!
  4. The weather in Chicago was on the warm side for this marathon- the race started in the high 50s and jumped into the mid-to-high 60s towards the end. My ideal running weather is in the 40s and 50s (this is proven to be ideal for most runners- read here), so this was a bit warm for me. The weather factor was unavoidable, but just added to the difficulty of this marathon.

IMG_0891The Chicago bean (cloud gate)! Can you spot me?

What worked:

  1. Chicago really does live up to expectations of being a flat, fun, memorable race. It is very well organized, with so much spectator support. My parents said that it was very easy to get around and watch us at several different locations, so a great race for spectators!
  2. Given the popularity and size of the race, the course tends to be crowded, but I felt that there was a good flow going with my corral. All water stations were well-supported with volunteers so there wasn’t much traffic there either.
  3. Chicago is an amazing city (I don’t have to sell you on that!)- beautiful buildings, great restaurants and bars, and great people. It was a welcoming city to spend a weekend and run a marathon.
  4. Staying in the downtown area made getting to and from the start and finish line very convenient for my siblings and me. I would highly recommend staying on Magnificent Mile.

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I really want to run this race again one day, after training sufficiently. It is certainly a race to run a PR- and if not, you’ll still have a wonderful time in the city!

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Destination Utah: Part 2, Zion National Park

517Zion National Park in between monsoons

After Big Cottonwood Canyon marathon in Salt Lake City, Mark and I packed up and drove four and a half hours south from SLC to Zion National Park. We didn’t think that anything could compare to our time in eastern Utah at Arches and Canyonlands, but we were wrong!

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First stop en route to Zion was Kolob Canyon, a section of the national park that is northwest of the main site. We were still very sore from the marathon & half marathon, but were able to drive to an amazing overlook.

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We then headed to Zion, which is accessed via the quaint town of Springdale. Our B&B for the next few days was situated in the downtown area, and surrounded by the canyon. Shuttles buzzed back and forth from Zion entrance to downtown, making the location of our B&B very accessible to the park. We loved the Novel House Inn!

FullSizeRender (8)Virgin river was wild post-monsoons!

We spent the next couple of days exploring Zion’s impressive geology, molded by the elements over thousands of years.  Our legs continued to feel the effects of the race, so we opted for more moderate to easy walks. Some memorable hikes include Emerald Pools Trail, Weeping Rock, and Riverside Walk, the gateway to the narrows.

During our second evening in Zion, Mark attempted to hike the Canyon Overlook Trail (which is on top of a tremendous switchback road) while I rested my legs in the car. As he started to ascend the overlook, rain began to trickle down, but the trickles soon turned to monsoon rain. Luckily he was able to climb down without too much difficulty, but this gave me a real scare! We noticed right then that waterfalls appeared suddenly out of nowhere across the canyon walls. On our drive down the switch back, a boulder had fallen in to the road! We were able to drive around it but were reminded again how powerful nature is, and how Zion National Park is an active park continuously being formed by nature.

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While in Zion, the surrounding area experienced some intense flash floods, an intense battle between water and rock. At the Zion visitor center, there was a hand written note at the wilderness desk indicating that flash flooding was “probable”.  At the entrance to the narrows, there was another more permanent sign indicating the same thing. Regardless of how formal or up to date the warnings were, we did not make it far into the narrows/slot canyons, given our physical shape post-marathon. We were lucky, as the flash flooding in the area became a very serious issue. Another reminder of the power of nature.

IMG_0647Beginning of the narrows

In between monsoon rains, I was able to take a photo of the rainbow (top of post). Our third day in Zion was met with some rain, so we stuck to the shuttles and visitor center, as well as the town of Springdale. We were sad to leave this incredible place but are looking forward to returning some day! I am eager to visit Zion (and Utah!) again with fresh legs! Angels Landing here I come!

Nashville Half and Running in the Rain

Good morning! Although we’ve had sunny skies in Boston lately, this post is about running a race in the rain. Don’t let wet weather discourage you from getting out there!

A couple of years ago, some girl friends and I decided to meet up for a destination race. We chose Nashville, and weren’t disappointed with this choice. The Rock and Roll marathon was held at the end of April, and we signed up for the half marathon.

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The race started downtown Nashville on Broadway, and curved around the city past all of the main sites, including the Country Hall of Fame, Music City Center, and down Music Row. The forecast called for rain so we came prepared with plastic bags and extra layers. Unfortunately, cold rain did not let up throughout the entire race, which was particularly challenging since the course was full of irregular rolling hills. Through trial and error, I have come up with a list of tips for running in the rain.

  1. Wear a trash bag or poncho to the start- something that you can toss when the gun goes off.
  2. Make sure any electronics are sealed.
  3. Wear a hat or visor to keep the rain out of your eyes. I always opt for waterproof over cotton materials.
  4. Wear darker colored shorts and shirt instead lighter colors/white, as white can become see-through. For darker times of day, bring out the neon/reflective gear. I purchased my neon vest and jacket here.
  5. Wear wicking socks and apparel to minimize the chaffing. Wearing tighter tops also helps.
  6. Use more Body Glide than normal, and apply it more than once prior to the start.
  7. If you are checking a bag at the race, pack dry socks, a long sleeve and a jacket. I would recommend hand warmers as well if you plan to be out there for awhile.
  8. Know that waiting for the start might be a bit miserable, but once you start running your body will heat up and you might start to have fun out there!

NashvilleDespite the difficulty of the race, I was happy to end up with a half marathon PR, crossing the finish line at 1:43. Post-race we rested and then re-grouped for a night in Downtown Nashville- which was an absolute blast! The rain had also run its course, and the sun came out as we headed out. We headed to Broadway to purchase cowboy boots, and then proceeded to bar hop the city’s variety of country western and modern bars.

I hope to run Nashville again, but will aim for the marathon distance next time!

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Destination Utah: Part 1, Canyonlands & Arches

Good afternoon readers! Hope your day is going well.

I have been working on my post for Utah for awhile now, and it’s been tough to narrow down the photos to use for this blog- the state is so photogenic! There is so much to say about Utah that I decided to break up the posts into three sections- stay tuned for a post on Zion National Park as well as the Big Cottonwood Canyon marathon review!

When I signed up to run Big Cottonwood Canyon marathon (Salt Lake City, UT) in September, Mark and I decided to make the most out of being out there. We booked a week-long trip, with the marathon falling in the middle of the week. Neither of us had been to Utah, so we wanted to see as much of the state as possible! Thank you to friends and bloggers such as Hungry Runner Girl for inspiring us to visit Utah!

IMG_0882Canyonlands National Park

After landing in Salt Lake City, we picked up the rental car and headed directly east to Moab (about a 4 hour drive from SLC). We checked into our glamping site, Moab Under Canvas, and headed to Canyonlands National Park for a quick afternoon visit.

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Sun rising slowly over Moab

Canyonlands is a beautiful national park, and we loved the areas we explored on the Island in the Sky side of the park. We checked out Mesa Arch via a short hike, and then chose a slightly longer hike up Aztec Butte. Both hikes offered incredible views of the canyon.

366Mesa Arch

We wished we had more time in Canyonlands, but it was hard to fit everything in!

345Looking over Canyonlands

367View from Mesa Arch

Our stay at Moab Under Canvas was a memorable experience as well. It was truly glamping at its finest! Everything you would need under a tent, with hot coffee and breakfast each morning and relatively clean portable bathrooms with showers. Camping under the Moab sky allowed us to see a night sky that was nothing like I’ve ever seen- everything from the milky way to the north star was glowing. We would highly recommend staying at MUC if you’re in Moab.

326Our glamping site

Following our first night in Moab, we spent the day at Arches National Park. This majestic park has over 2,000 stone arches, and amazing sandstone rock formations molded over thousands of years by the elements. The sunsets over arches national park are also incredible, lighting up the red rocks so they appear to be on fire.

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453Arches at sunset

Arches is accessible by car, with lots of parking at many of the must-see sites (we did go slightly off-season, in September, as opposed to the peak July and August season). Many of the sites require walking and/or more intense hiking. Given that we were running a marathon a few days from our visit, we decided to stick to the easy to moderate trails. Some highlights include balanced arch, skyline arch, delicate arch (only saw from ground), fiery furnace, and park ave.

IMG_0884Delicate Arch

438Fiery Furnace

We can’t say enough about how much we enjoyed Arches National Park. It was a stunning and unforgettable, very different from anything we have ever seen. Words do not describe the incredible beauty of the park, and it is a must-see when you are in that area of the country!

IMG_0883Arches at sunset is incredible!

Los Angeles Marathon Review

Good morning, hope your week is off to a great start! Running outside after work in the dark yesterday reminded me that daylight savings won’t happen again until March! Only about 4 months to go until longer days! :)

Last March my sister and I decided to escape the Boston winter and run the Los Angeles marathon. While running a PR was not the goal of this race, I did fit in some long training runs prior to the race. However these runs were mostly inside on the treadmill because of the weather. The race was just over three months after my previous marathon, Plymouth Plantation in MA.

015 Santa Monica Pier 

We flew to LA the Thursday night before the race. We stayed in Santa Monica, near where the “stadium to sea” race ended at the Santa Monica Pier. We loved this area of LA (like most people!), and found some great food options. Sugar Fish, Stella Barra– pizza and other carb-rich items were perfect pre-and post-race! We also enjoyed exploring the Santa Monica Pier, Muscle Beach, and Rodeo Drive and shopping at Third Street Promenade.

Bib and t-shirt pickup were at the LA Convention Center- plenty of parking and we thought it was conveniently located in the city. After eating our pre-race meals of peanut butter and banana on bagels, we shuttled over to Dodger Stadium a couple of hours prior to the 7:30 am race start. We felt that the shuttle system was convenient, and enjoyed hanging out in the stadium until the race started. Always a luxury to use real bathrooms instead of porta potties!

019 (1)Dodger Stadium prior to the start

The race started with a steep downhill, and a few more rolling hills followed. The rolling hills continued throughout the race until mile 24, when the course veered steadily downhill until the last 0.2. Course was overall scenic, passing all of the notable LA sites including Hollywood Hall of Fame, Beverly Hills, Rodeo Drive, Palisades Park, and Santa Monica Pier.

FullSizeRender (7)Santa Monica Beach

There was also a decent amount of entertainment along the course, and adequate water stations. The issue that my sister and I had with the race was the heat—the race started with a 70 degree temperature and climbed up into the mid-80s by the time we finished. I decided early on that given the heat, I would take this race easy and enjoy the sites. The race directors pushed up the date of the race by several weeks, which I think is a great idea. Hopefully future LA marathons are met with cooler temperatures!

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Santa Monica finish line shot

My sister and I were happy to relax in the California sun on Santa Monica Beach for the rest of the trip!

Miami Marathon Review and a Destination Half!

A couple of years ago I ran the Miami Marathon (I also ran the half marathon in January, 2016- check out the recap here!). I signed up to run this race in January with some friends, knowing that it wouldn’t be a goal race but a recovery/fun race (being in Miami and all!). I had run Philadelphia Marathon two months prior and was a bit disappointed with my finish. I crossed the line in my goal time, however did not feel physically well during the race and post-race, so wanted to move on from that as soon as possible. I have more thoughts on the idea of jumping into running another race too quickly following a disappointing performance- stay tuned for a future post on this!

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Needless to say, Miami Marathon would not ultimately be my “comeback” race (that wouldn’t happen for a couple of years), but I did enjoy my time out there.

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Boston runner feeling the Miami heat!

Positive memories about running Miami marathon include:

  1. The race is relatively flat- the only hills are the highway overpasses connecting the islands.
  2. The race had adequate water and fuel stations, and plenty of support from volunteers.
  3. Course is fairly scenic, running throughout the city and Miami beach. I was tempted to drop out and jump in the cool ocean on more than one occasion! I was also tempted to drop out and head to the clubs that were still active when I arrived to the race.
  4. Spending a weekend in Miami in January. 80 degree weather always beats 10 degrees.
  5. Excellent pre-and post-food options, including one of my favorite restaurants Yardbird, can be found everywhere in Miami.
  6. Expo is well organized and situated conveniently with lots of parking or walking distance if staying in Miami Beach.

039View of the city from Brickell

Some things to keep in mind if you are running Miami Marathon (or the Half Marathon):

  1. Even though the race is in January and starts before sunrise, it’s Miami in January. This is a hot race, and not ideal for a PR. It’s one to enjoy as a destination race. Drink water and/or Gatorade at every water station!
  2. The second half of the marathon is always tougher than the first, but even more so given this marathon’s course. Miles 14-19, the first few miles post-half marathon finish, are a bit boring, and this continues when you cross into Coconut Grove (mile 19) until mile 22 (to the start of the Rickenbacker Causeway). After the causeway, you head back into downtown, where the crowds and entertainment pick up.
  3. Wear sunscreen, even though the race starts before sunrise. Miami sun is intense, particularly if you haven’t seen the sun in months.
  4. Enjoy being in such a fun city and make sure to load up on Cuban food post-race (not recommended pre-race!)

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So much relaxation and recreation in Miami!

Mark and I decided to head back to Miami this January and run the half marathon. It will be a great training race for Paris, and well, an ideal time of year to get out of Boston.  Can’t wait to explore Miami more!

588Miami Beach 

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Marine Corps Marathon Review

My first MCM and marathon #13 was a great experience overall!

Registration for the race was in March. My sig/running partner Mark and I were lucky enough to secure bibs this year through a lottery system where we think only half the registrants got in.

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The MCM was held on the last full weekend in October (the 25th). Mark and I flew down to DC on Friday night, and headed to the expo on Saturday morning for bib and t-shirt pickup. The expo was huge, one of the largest I have been to! We were able to pick up the goods and grab lunch before heading back to the hotel for a relaxing rest of the day. Dinner was at Ella’s Pizza with my cousin and his girlfriend who was also running. It was a great pre-race meal and I recommend the pizza for all DC friends!

584Walking by Washington Monument the evening before the race.

Race day: We woke up around 5am, and did the usual pre-race routine:

  • Quick hot shower
  • Application of body glide to most areas of the body
  • Dynamic and foam rolling stretches
  • Coffee
  • Banana/bagel/peanut butter pre-race meal. I also had half of a honey stinger.

After this, we were off on the metro! It was crowded but easy to get to the Pentagon stop where the race started. What we hadn’t planned for was the hour-long security line to the runners’ village at the start. MCM decided to increase security this year, and therefore 30,000 people had to go through metal detectors to gain admission to the start. Fortunately we got to this point ahead of time, but we only had 20ish minutes to use the porta pots and scurry over to the start before the guns went off.

MCM put on quite a show at the starting line with a flyover and five parachuters from the sky displaying massive American Flags. It was incredible! Soon after this moment, we were off! My goal was to just enjoy this race and take it easy, given that my previous marathon (Big Cottonwood Canyon, UT) was just six weeks prior. I hoped to finish in just under 4 hours.

FullSizeRender (1)Walk around the National Mall on the Monday after the race

Instead of writing a recap of the entire race, I’m going to write what worked what didn’t work for the race. If you are considering running MCM, take note!

What worked:

  1. The enthusiasm displayed by the Marines handing out water and along the entire course was incredible!!
  2. The race was run very well overall- loved that we could take the metro straight to the start and finish. Post-race food was great and water and Gatorade were plentiful during the entire course. Starting line had some great effects. Mile markers shown throughout the course.
  3. Crowd support along the entire race was incredible! There were a couple of areas with no spectators, but crowds did line the majority of the course.
  4. Medal, tech t-shirt, and other race swag were great.
  5. Running along the “blue mile” was incredibly memorable- this was a memorial for fallen soldiers, and their photos lined a stretch of the course.
  6. Course was overall interesting, passing many monuments and other interesting areas of DC and Arlington.
  7. Plenty of porta-potties throughout the race!
  8. My race nutrition worked well- my pre-race meal combined with three GUs and Gatorade at every other water station throughout the race kept me from bonking (for the most part!). I usually have 3-4 GUs throughout a marathon, but found 3 to be sufficient this time.
  9. Receiving my medal at the finish line from a Marine was amazing. Made me feel so hard core!

What didn’t work:

  1. Long security lines at the start did not allow us time to use the porta pots more than once, so I had to use one along the course (around mile 2). Check out runnersworld.com‘s review on the long security lines.
  2. The pouring rain at the start until mile 8 made the beginning mentally and physically tough!
  3. The course was hillier than I had anticipated, particularly the first three miles and the last few (miles 21-22 were on a highway that was not flat), and there’s a fairly steep hill right at the end. I had not trained for this.
  4. The course was crowded throughout the entire race. There was not one moment where someone wasn’t running beside and in front of me, which resulted in a lot of zig-zagging and ultimately running over 27 miles according to the GPS. Water stations were a bit of a cluster too.

Overall, Mark and I each had a great race and would highly recommend this marathon to anyone. I met my goal of running sub-4 hours (3:58), and felt strong in the hours and days following the race. Looking forward to some rest before I start training for my next!

Packing List When Travelling to a Race

Good morning and happy weekend! Given that I recently ran a race away from home (Marine Corps Marathon in Washington DC), the logistics of running a destination race are fresh in my mind. Destination races/”runcations” are one of my favorite parts of running! You don’t want to be without the essentials for race day, so I have developed a list of things you should bring with you.


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