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Frosty Half Marathon Race Recap

The Lone Runner team dinner.

 

This past weekend was EXACTLY what I needed.  It reminded me of why I not only love to run, but also how running can bring complete internet strangers together to become friends. Did I say friends? Because I really mean family.  My athletes, near and far, have seen me through a divorce,  leaving The Run Formula to start The Lone Runner coaching company, being a single mom, a new flame and subsequent heartbreak and I have seen them through pregnancies (Molly and Adrienne), nagging injuries, more tummy issues on the run than they’d care to admit ;), getting engaged and married (Dana, Kinsey, Grace and Bree in 2 weeks!!), new jobs, moves across the country, challenges with their own partners, post-partum depression, anxiety- everything. You name it and we’ve been through it together. No conversation is off limits. I aim to create a judgment free-coaching experience full of transparency where my athletes can (if they want to) share with me the challenges of their lives that are impacting their ability to focus on completely their training plan as written. Life stress is real stress and until runners can realize that the rest of your life will impact the quality of your runs (and vice versa too!) then there is an entire area for improvement that is missing from one’s running experience.

 

Me, Lisa and Sarah. These ladies are my EARLY runners. As full-time working mamas they are ON THE ROAD by 4:30 AM most mornings. They might live in different states, but the time stamp on their Strava motivates them to get their a** on the road. 😉 Sole sisters.

 

 

Mary Beth and Adrienne. These are my ladies with new babies!! ONE YEAR after having her beautiful daughter Mary Beth successfully completed the Chicago Marathon!!! I also had the pleasure to coach Adrienne through seven months her pregnancy. AMAZING running mamas. 🙂

 

The vast majority of my athletes are people who read this blog and simply reached out via email or message. At one point in time these athletes were complete internet strangers who share similar passions to my own: running, laughing, pushing forward no matter what. Well, internet strangers no more! About every six months I try to get my local athletes together for a team dinner to meet each other and welcome any new athletes into the mix. On Saturday night about 10 of my athletes came in from various parts of Florida, Rhode Island and Massachusetts to celebrate their hard work, meet each other and eat their faces off at delicious Rustic Kitchen in Hingham. I felt- heck, I continue to feel so honored to be the mama duck of this growing tribe of amazing runners. We all run different distances, paces and places- but WE. ALL. RUN. We all face difference challenges- emotional, financial, personal- but WE. ALL. RUN. We all know that if we don’t make time for our goals, then they will never be reached. We are tribe of passionate, real, goofy, fun-loving runners and I am so immensely lucky to be surrounded with their energy and spirit on a daily basis.

To be clear: we also fight like family. Oh yes! New chickadees often throw tantrums on the road and challenge authority – but I’m the mama duck. No one messes with BIG MAMA–so I just squawk at them a few times and put them in their place. BOOM! (as long as they’re not wearing aviator sunglasses and intimidate the crap out of me ;)).

 

***

Post Race smiles.

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts I ran the Chicago Marathon in October and my body has felt surprisingly spry since then! Why? I HAVE NO IDEA, but I’m rolling with it! Maybe it’s the small weight loss, or being more rested from not commuting to CT every weekend or maybe my body is truly adapting to the physical rigors of marathon training. Honestly, IT DOESN’T MATTER to me! Muahhahahaha. My conversational pace has been hovering in the 7:50-8 min pace range and a comfortable tempo has been at a 7:05-7:10 pace (as opposed to 8:20-830 and 7:20-730, respectfully). I feel like I’m getting fitter and very close to racing a half PR; when my athlete and friend Julie L. said she was going to fly up to Boston for Saturday’s team dinner and run Sunday’s Frosty Half in Raynham I just had to join in on the fun.

On Sunday morning Julie and I drove the 30 minutes down to Raynham Middle School to race the Frosty Half Marathon. My goal was to aim for 6:55 splits and theoretically break my previous PR of a 1:32:02. I was close!! Kinda… sorta…. well not really.

The race was a complete shit show. No, seriously.

Maybe it was race day nerves or the previous night’s pasta dinner with the team. I don’t know and it doesn’t matter. Within 2 miles of starting the race I was in uncharted territory: I was going to need to stop for a (cough cough) bathroom break. First and second place took off down the road in their own speedy battle. I watched from afar as the ran side by side throwing down 6:45-6:50’s. Bye bye ladies. I’ll hang out here in 6:55-7 land in third place. Wait, I’M IN THIRD PLACE!!! Third place in a half- wahooooo!!  … Ohhhh my stomach… what on Earth is going on?”

I tried to ignore the discomfort for as long as possible, but by the time I was at mile 5 I knew I was going to have to use the facilities. But here’s where there was a problem: where exactly ARE the facilities??? I have never had this issue before so I didn’t look at the race map pre-race. So I did what any shameless runner would do: I hauled ass to the woods and dropped trou. I estimate that I lost about 30 seconds in this side hustle, just long enough for me to witness the fourth place female to zoom by me standing still. Oh no you don’t! I pulled myself together, hustled out of the woods and quickly took back third place.

But then it happened again. By mile 7 my stomach was in knots yet again. I can not believe this is happening. Where can I stop?  Can I stop? Should I suffer through? It’s only six more miles to the finish. Mayyyyybe.  I trotted along at a speedy, yet painful 7:10 pace as I did the math in my head. Six miles times seven minute miles…. that’s at least 42 more minutes!! Oh hell no. I won’t wait that long. Heck, I CAN’T wait that long!! Into the woods I went. Dropped trou I did. I shrugged my shoulders and shamelessly waved to the fourth place female runner as she spotted me crouched in the woods. And away she went down the road.

As I shuffled back onto the road to regain stride my mind began to battle itself. Should I even try any more? A PR is obviously out the window.. and yet the legs feel good and theoretically the stomach is *fingers crossed* settling down. While I was talking to myself I started to actually pick up the pace.  Even though my mind wasn’t sure if it wanted to put in the mental effort of racing for another 40+ minutes my body apparently did. I rolled with it. Sure, a PR was off the table. Who cares? It’s JUST a race. But, IT’S STILL A RACE! That means that I will do the best my body will allow given whatever crap happens. (See what I did there? bahahaha). A half marathon PR may have out of reach, but that didn’t mean that third place had to be gone too.

I told myself something I always tell my athletes: run the mile you’re in. I stopped worrying about IF I could hold the pace for the final five miles and focused on the mile and the moment I was in. I could see third place in the distance, maybe 20-25 seconds ahead. My attention shifted to closing the gap between us. At the tail end of mile 8 I came up behind her at the tail end of mile 8. Do I pass now? Do I hover behind her? Was she slowing down? Surging ahead? Where was she at mentally? If I pass her will she surge ahead to maintain third?  I typically run for myself and my own race times, so the mental component of racing against other runners on the road is fairly foreign. Ultimately I focused on how my own body felt in that mile and it felt GOOD. I threw down, surged ahead and took back third place just as we passed the mile 9 marker. Miles 8 and 9 were completed at a 6:52 and 6:59 pace.

Mile 11: A sweaty Kass is a happy Kass.

I wasn’t going to PR. I wasn’t going to have the race of my life. But I’d be damned if I wasn’t going to give my best effort!! To be clear- there are some dark moments when you’re pooping in the woods during a race. Of course I wondered if I should just stop running hard and run my comfy pace. But I couldn’t. That’s a cop-out. I was there to race! So, race I did.

The final miles were completed at: 7:20 (mile 10 hill), 6:58, 6:47, 6:52. And I felt GOOD. I felt insanely good out there for the final miles of the race. I held third place all the way through the finish and ultimately managed a 1:33:06 (7:06 avg) despite my two stops. I estimate that I lost about 60-70 seconds because of those stops. My PR is a 1:32:02. I’m SO CLOSE people. SO. DAMN. CLOSE. I. CAN. TASTE IT!!! Sunday wasn’t my day and that’s completely ok. I’m not angry or sad. I’m not going to dwell; I’m going to laugh my ass off. I crossed the finish line laughing hysterically because somehow I had a pooptastic day and was still able to come in third place at a half marathon!! Who does that??? I’m calling this one a win!

Just keeping it real folks!

Post race I ran back to find my girl Julie. I found her around mile 12 and ran her in to the finish! Somehow she ran the EXACT same time as her previous half PR! She’s amazing and I’m so proud of her. 🙂 You’re amazing Julie- keep pushing!!

Up next: YMCA Frozen 5k in January and you better believe I’m going after a PR (break 19:58). Here’s hoping!!

 

Can’t stop. Won’t stop. Never stop.

Kass

 

***

Overall race thoughts:

I can confidently attest that this race was incredibly well organized: hats to all participants, SO MANY happy, smiling volunteers/police out there on the road to direct the runners, plus a breakfast buffet after the race with sausage (I’m sure there was other food present, but I honestly just honed in on the sausage links).  The Frosty Half is put on The Colonial Road Runners; I would absolutely recommend this to any runners looking for a mostly flat (with a few rollers) half in December!!

 

I GOT AN ANDROGYNOUS TROPHY PERSON!! Please Note: I didn’t do sports in school so this is a BIG deal and makes me the happiest runner girl.

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Let the healing begin!

 

17 miles along Wollaston Beach as the sun rises. Photo cred: Greg who writes Soutiearuns.com

 

Let’s let the healing begin, shall we? Do you think I can follow the same post-marathon recovery plan to recover from a heart break? Why not give it a try. I’ve spent the past few weeks running endless miles alone under the bright blue sky, breathing the crisp air and hearing the fallen leaves crunch under my feet. Countless times my mind has fluttered to memories I made over the past few years. I’ll be honest- I’ve had to stop once or twice and cry for a few minutes but the sadness passes. It always passes. My mind, which a few weeks ago was churning over with a waterfall of endless worries, is finally starting to slow down so I can actually process the past 2 years and accept where I am and who I am today.

Right now running is to me like a a lovie is to a toddler who needs his/her snuggle toy to stay safe from the nighttime monsters. My runs are my therapy session, my safe place and my security blanket all in one. I’m also trying to use running to help me look forward to the future to create new goals for myself. Signing up for winter and spring races, creating my own training plan and even plotting out my runs remind me to look forward, not back. Looking back on the roads I’ve ran won’t get me anywhere new. As hard as it is right now I need to look forward. I need to find new roads out there for me to explore. I can do this. One day at a time, one mile at a time. Can’t stop, won’t stop.

Yes,  I’m healing. Slowly, but surely I’m healing.

 

***

Post Chicago goal: Enjoy the sun and see the sky every day 🙂

Post-Chicago Recovery Running.

After I run a marathon my body typically feels like it has been hit by a mac truck. I usually have a hard time walking down the stairs or even sitting down on the toilet. But not this time. (whaaaaaaaaaaaaat?!?!) I’m not entirely sure why, but my body feels REALLY GOOD since Chicago. After running 6 marathons maybe my body is starting to adapt to the stress of training and/or covering the distance of the marathon. Maybe I hydrated like a boss at Chicago and was able to run within my physical capabilities without doing too much wear and tear. Maybe it’s sheer luck. Either way I am absolutely LOVING RUNNING lately.

Here have been my mileages week by week:
Week 1 post Chicago: 16 miles

*Took 3 days off from running and then did an EASY 4. Felt surprisingly good and rolled with it.

Week 2: 45 miles

Week 3: 40 miles

Week 4: 60

*I had off from work this week so I was able to rest and recover more than usual, which allowed for a higher mileage

Week 5: 53 miles

Week 6: 53 miles

Week 7: 60 miles

 

I’m well aware that my mileages have been all over the place!! Typically after a marathon I take a week off and follow it with a week of 20-30 miles, then 30-40 miles. Finally, I will aim to hit at 40 miles a week for about a month to  safely build my base mileage back up. Not this time!  Running has felt absolutely awesome so I’m just rolling with it until December 4th when I’ll start a more structured training plan and begin integrating speed workouts. The vast majority of my running over the past 7 weeks has been completed at a conversational pace. I must say that since emotional distress is fantastic for weight loss and weight loss is fantastic for faster running my runs have been much speedier than before. In the past month I’d dropped a little weight and wow what a difference it has made in my running times.  Silver lining?? While 8:20s typically were my go-to easy run pace, I’ve recently dropped down to running 7:55-8’s with little extra effort. Last week I did my first post marathon workout; I ran 9 miles with 2 sets of 10 minute intervals at a 6:35 pace! Well helloooooooo there! I don’t know where this speed is coming from but heck yes I’ll take it!

I’m incredibly curious about where my racing fitness is at soooo I signed up for a half marathon on a whim! Next Sunday December 3rd I’ll be racing the Frosty Half Marathon in Raynham, MA. Here goes nothing! After the Frosty half I have my eyes set on the following winter/spring races:

*Frozen 5k in Quincy

*MV 20 Miler in Feb.

*Newport half marathon in April

*Sugarloaf Marathon in May

 

I want to do ALL THE RACES! It feels really good to have something to look forward each month. It’s hard but I know I need to keep looking forward, not back. I’m pumped!! Let the healing begin!! 

(If you can guess where that movie quote comes from you get extra, extra kudos! :))

 

Can’t stop, won’t stop. Never stop.

The Lone Runner

 

Cooking update: I cooked my first Kass-a-role!! bahahaha. But seriously. It was totally edible and I’m very proud of that. 🙂

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Two Feet.

 

I’ve spent the past week filling my days with running, work, activities with Lillian, baking and even a trip to New Jersey to visit the family. Each day has been chock full of things to do as I’ve made new memories with my little Lillian and yet each day still feels a little empty. I’m adjusting, but it’s hard. I’m not in a rush to pretend that everything’s ok. I spent the better part of a week in shock and the next week trying to grapple with my new reality. Yea, I’m not ok- and that’s ok. I’m functioning. I’m going to work, getting my sleepies in, running, talking to friends and taking care of myself. I’m doing what I need to do, but I’m sad and I’m not afraid to say it or feel it.

Last week I walked into a coffee shop at work and heard Ingrid Michaelson’s The Way I Am on the radio and left with tears in my eyes. On the drive down to Jersey Lillian heard Pink’s, Just Give me a Reason song on the radio and out of nowhere told me, “one day you’ll learn to love again too Mommy.” Holy Moses. Talk about instant tears.

Time. Everyone says it just takes time. Well, I’ve got nothing but time so…. silver lining?

It’s always okay in the end. If it’s not ok, then it’s not the end. (or something like that).

***

Never Stop Running.

 

I’ve spent most of my free time brainstorming what’s next for me personally and professionally. I started off the week with various awesome, but unrealistic and somewhat outrageous ideas like writing a book, going full force into my own coaching business and even going back to school. Then the dust settled, the emotions calmed and I started to truly reflect on what I need right now for my life and the years ahead. Here’s what I have figured out thus far….

 

The security I experience when running is a beautiful escape from the rest of my life where other things feel foggy and confusing. Running is my sanctuary. It is my second home. It is where I feel found.  When I’m running my mind quiets down and I allow my life worries to disappear. I don’t have to worry about Lillian’s college fund, my career, my clients or even tomorrow. When I run I get to look at the clouds, breathe in the fresh air, scream woohoo at the top of mountains race garbage trucks and T-buses from stop to stop and feel like a bad-ass as I kick hard to beat red lights at an intersection. I get out of my head and get into my shoes and I feel life coursing through my veins. There is no doubt in my mind that running is where I am my best self. It’s my peace and quiet in a busy day. It’s my happy place in an emotional week. It’s my sanctuary in a daunting life. At its core running is where I feel found.

But at some point I have to stop running and reenter daily life as a functioning, working adult. Well crap, so what do I do then? And this is where I’ve been stumped for 2 years… if not longer. At some point I have to believe in myself, my own strength and take action in life. I had enough strength to leave a marriage and face the world anew. I need to find that strength again and build on it tenfold (times infinity).

While Chris and I were dating I often experienced fears and worries about being alone. He consistently assured me that even if I was physically alone that he was there with me in spirit. His words washed over me without ever truly sinking in. Being alone. Why did I- why do I fear this SO much? I guess I’ve never really been alone in my life. I went straight from a college dorm room to living with my boyfriend (now exhusband). I’ve never had to pay the bills 100% on my own. In all honesty I never thought I would have to truly stand on my own two feet without a partner. Ridiculous I know, but it’s the truth. When you get married at 24 years old you assume it will be forever. You assume that you will lean on each other, pay the bills, raise the family, prepare for retirement and pay for your kid’s college- together. And then it doesn’t work out, you’re alone and you’re now in charge with little to no experience. Well, shit. That’s scary. Fuck yes I’m scared of being alone!! Haha. Seriously! Wouldn’t you be!?!

I need to know that I can stand on my own two feet, and not just when I’m running. I need to assume that it will be just me for the rest of my life- I sincerely hope it won’t be, but if I build a career and a life for myself based on that assumption and the right partner comes along, well that will be a cherry on top.  I need to develop my career to create stable future for Lillian and myself. I do have a job and I am currently working, however I do not receive benefits, vacation time or a retirement plan. This past weekend my brother put it into perspective when he said, “Kass, you’re a mouse on a wheel. You stop running and the wheel stops turning. You get sick- no money. Your client doesn’t show- you don’t get paid. Vacation, snow storm, Lillian gets sick- all no money. Mouse on a wheel, Kass. Mouse on a wheel!” It’s a tough pill to swallow, but in many regards he’s right. Even though I love what I do there is a lot of financial instability within my current position. This financial set up has been a breeding ground for my anxiety that has only increased throughout the past year. I’m not sure how, but something will need to shift. I need to learn how to stand on my own two feet and have confidence that I can do it on my own.

Lastly-begrudgingly- I need to stay single for a good long while. This part makes me sad. I’m a snuggler. I’m an affectionate woman with a lot of love to give. I love laughing, hugging and loving. I desperately want to find a partner who I can share all parts of myself with- good and bad. Heck, I thought I did.  But I need to heal. I need to grow. I need to be alone. For now.

 

So what will I do with all of my newfound free time? I have some ideas…

*I’m determined to finish watching the entire series of Grey’s Anatomy- I’m currently on season 7. I know, I know, BIG plans. But this will keep me busy.

*Learning to actually cook. I’m going to buy a cookbook and cook my way through it- that will make for some fun blogging adventures, I’m sure.

*Connect with local friends. When you’re out of town most weekends you tend to lose touch with your local friends. Well, I’m here and I’m free every other weekend, play with me!

*Run somewhere new. My last relationship taught me how much running can enhance your life and bring you to new, unseen places if you let it! Your run can be a mini-vacation in your weekend simply by running somewhere new. It’s my goal to continue to do this and see new places all over Boston.

* This weekend I’m signed up to take the USATF Coaching Certification course. No matter how much I fight it I LOVE coaching runners. I’m SUPER excited to take this course- except for the fact that it goes until 10 pm on Saturday night- cough cough, I go to bed by 9 – yikes.

 

A change is definitely on the horizon folks. I feel it coming. I’ll let you know when I get there :). But for now I’ll be running. Next post will be about running, promise!!

Can’t stop, won’t stop.

Kass

My favorite time and place to write… in bed at 5 am 🙂