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Sugarloaf Marathon 2018: Part 1

 

“What do you get out of holding on to him?” … Kacey asked me back in January. I sat there in tears in her office reminiscing about my previous life and the relationship that once felt like a fairy tale. The sticky silence filled the space between us as my mind hastily searched for an answer that could support my downright refusal to move on. But nothing came to me. Tears streamed down my face, my jaw dropped open as if preparing to speak, but all I could muster was a blank stare in her direction. “How is this helping you move forward? Move on?” she askedTo her credit these were all questions I would be asking a client in my own session… questions that I had been avoiding asking myself.

“I feel broken.”  These three words had been playing on repeat in my mind since late October.  Love. Acceptance. Laughter. Trust. Gone. I erupted, “I’m just not the same as I used to be. I want the old me. I want my old life- the one where we danced in the kitchen and made love on the living room floor. The life where I actually believed in love. Not this nightmare where he’s out there falling in love with another mere weeks after we broke up. Is love complete bullshit? What the f*ck was I feeling for the past year and a half?”  I sat there in front of Kacey confused, hurt and angry. Very very angry. My whole world felt like it was flipped upside down and aggressively shaken like a pre-teen emptying a piggy bank enroute to the arcade. What once was full is now empty. What once was whole is now broken.

I could feel the walls around my heart being built. The concrete foundation was poured the day I quietly accepted that I can’t trust any man to be there for my daughter and myself. Nothing is permanent. Nothing lasts forever.  These thoughts feel cold and distant. These thoughts are completely unlike my hopeful, warm-natured self, yet they feel so necessary right now.

Am I irrevocably broken?

***

Training

Training for the Sugarloaf Marathon 2018 started weeks after I ran the 2017 Chicago Marathon (3:24:04) and days after the dissolution of my previous relationship last October. I have only ever ran large marathons (NYC, Chicago and Boston) and wanted to experience something completely different. Sugarloaf presented as a fast course in late spring with Maine’s beautiful mountain scenery and quiet spectatorless streets. Quiet streets. I longed for quiet streets. I needed to experience my strength, if only to just remind myself that it exists. Just me and the road. Yes, Sugarloaf would be my spring marathon.

Unfortunately training this cycle was a complete mess. After the break up I stopped strength training and went full force into running. Why? Cause running felt good. Just that simple. In November, December and January I ran a lot and I ran hard. I still remember a 16 mile training run I completed at a 7:16 pace, a far cry from my typical long run pace of 7:50-8 min/mi. I was being reckless and I knew it. But damn did it feel good. I signed myself up for PT and put all speed work on the back burner. In fact, instead of running 65-70 miles and 7 days a week (as I had been) I backed way off. In February I ran about 5 days a week and 35-40 miles. By March I was confidently up to 6 days a week and 50-55 miles and by April/early May I was able to manage 6-7 days of  60-70 mpw.  This is me compromising. :-D. I also committed to PT 2x a week with Sarah (who is a runner and boss at her job) at Professional Physical Therapy in Quincy, MA. She helps me stretch, strengthen and I even trusted her enough to let her do some dry needling! Overall I believe PT helped tremendously and played a significant role in me being able to race on Sunday.

I shifted my focus away from speedwork and towards safely building back my endurance of doing 70 miles a week. A typical week in April/early May looked like this:

M/W/F   5 miles EASY @ 9-930 pace

T /Th/Sat  10-12 miles  @ endurance pace around 8-8:20

Sunday – 20-22 mile long run with splits descending from 8:30 down to 7:00; avg 7:45-7:50

*Long runs were devoted to hill training. I sought out all the hills in Braintree/Weymouth that I could in order to  physically and mentally prepare for the nasty hills Sugarloaf had to offer between miles 5-10 of the course.

I spent many of my training miles practicing the art of being in the moment and most importantly letting go. My body may not have been cooperating this winter and spring so I shifted focus to my mind. The mind is the unseen game-changer of any marathoner’s journey. If I couldn’t physically train the way I wanted to, then I would utilize this training cycle to develop my mental strength and stamina.

In early winter my mind was stuck in a repetitive cycle of questions. Questions that related to my anxiety, my stubborn body, my past relationship and even my unknown future. Questions that often started with “why.” I found myself engaging in a tug-of-war to pull away from these negative distractions and simply run. While running I practiced allowing the thoughts to enter my mind and dissolve into the thin air around me. Once on a run I actually visualized myself running by my worries (who were sitting on a bench watching the Wollaston waves, obvi). I was taking control. Well actually I was beginning to let go and finally starting to feel at peace.

I barely thought about the marathon until the final taper week. The entire training cycle wasn’t about setting a PR or conquering Sugarloaf hills. Running was devoted to fully accepting my new reality, to letting go of doubt/fear/emotions, to letting go of him, to healing and to rediscovering the art of being in the moment. Some runs were effortless where happiness seeped out of my pores with every step, while others left me feeling suffocated by tears and shallow breaths.  Onwards, I said to myself.  Keep pushing forward. 

***

Race plan

“I always create a race pace bracelet that gives me goal paces for every mile based on the elevation profile and my goal time. One race I finished withing 10 seconds of my goal time. What’s your plan for Sunday?” revealed Sarah N (badass marathoner x17) while running together a few days pre-marathon.

“Ummmm I don’t really have one..  Sub 3:35? Sub 3:30? Maybe sub 3:25? I just want to get out there and run… see how I feel and go from there.” 

I went into this race with a very different mindset than previous marathons. Typically I have a specific goal in mind and have completed training runs with a few miles at marathon pace. But not this time. The day before Sugarloaf I sat down around 4 pm and looked at the course elevation profile, assessed the predicted weather conditions, read a few blog race reports of Sugarloaf and then crafted a very loose plan. Based on my training runs and marathon history 7:50-8 has become my go-to pace, the pace where I feel mentally very comfortable and dialed in.

My vague goal was to run a sub 3:30 with a more specific plan to run 7:50-8 min pace for the first 7 miles, hit the nasty hills at mile 8/9 comfortably and pull back to 8:30, run  miles 11-20 @ 7:50-8 and then attack the final 10k. My athlete and friend Lisa (who was also running) laughed at me for my relaxed approach to the marathon, especially as I had crafted her goals and race plan weeks earlier. But honestly, the goal of this marathon had little to do with the time on the clock.

…well, that’s what I told myself at the time.

To be continued…

 

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Boston Marathon 2018: Who to track.

 

IT’S COMING!! THE BOSTON MARATHON!! Runner’s Christmas! I may not be running the marathon this year but that doesn’t mean I’m any less excited. The energy in town is explosive right now so much so that I went into Boston all myself yesterday. That’s right- yesterday I challenged myself to head into the big city all alone. I ran some errands on Newbury street, headed into Cambridge for Scott Jurek’s book signing of North (his new book about running the Appalachian trail) and then finally made my way to the expo where I was surrounded by thousands of my people- marathoners :). I felt completely at home at the expo bopping around from table to table. I even bumped into my two Lone Runner athletes who happened to be there at the same time (yay Laurie and Will!!), caught up with my favorite Hoka Rep from my running store days and even saw a few other South Shore Running Moms.

 

Scott Jurek and his wife talking about their new book, North.

 

I roamed the aisles, took it all in and was on no one else’s time clock but my own. It was perfection. I bugged the dude at the Garmin booth for a while to help me reprogram my fenix5, sniffled in sadness when I realized that Sweaty Bands didn’t have a booth at the expo this year and inhaled farrrrr too much Krave turkey jerkey (the cherry bbq flavor flav is to die for. Drool.). Oh and MOST IMPORTANTLY I purchased MY RACE CHEERING SHIRT:

 

 

Shalane is MAH GIRLLLLL and I will be cheering her on rain or shine!!  I’M SO EXCITED!! But Shalane isn’t the only one I’ll be looking out for on Monday! One of the best parts about living in Boston and being a member of the amazing running community is that I know A LOT of people who are running on Monday. Here are a few of the runners who I will be tracking on marathon Monday….

 

Laurie Swansey (25104) – My friend and athlete, Laurie was born with club foot and has ran Boston 3 times so far in the Mobility Division. Last year she wrote this post where she declared 2017 would be her final year. The marathon was hard on her body and she swore she was done, especially after having undergone surgery after the race. But then I got an email from Miss Laurie in October telling me that she had secretly signed up for Boston again without telling her hubs and was sneaking in workouts on her new Peleton to safely gain fitness. Bahaha! I love this woman!! Will you take me on again as an athlete?? Kass, will you get me to the starting line?  HECK YES I WILL LAURIE! Tomorrow you will run your 4th Boston and I’m sooooo proud of you! Sub 5- here we come!!

 

 

 

 

Will Hall (25333)- Will is my childhood friend from my days back in Jersey! He moved up to Boston years ago and works like a dog to support with wife, Rena and 2 beautiful sons. This will be Will’s FIRST marathon and he’s aiming for a sub 4:30. GET IT WILL!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eric Wheeler (5596) Qualified. I’m not sure how or when but Eric has become one of my closest friends and support systems. A husband and father of 2 Eric squeezes in 2 workouts a day and seems to make it to every single hockey and lacrosse game out there.  Wheeler is incredibly fit and has put in the work– time to go sub 3 (that’s 6:52’s people!) on Monday so CHEER HIM ON!

 

 

 

 

 

From left to right: Dana Spencer, a force mulitsport athlete, Eric Snyder.

Dana Spencer (5302) Qualified. If you’ve been a long time reader then you’ve heard me chatter about mister Spencer. Dana is a Quincy firefighter, husband, father of 2 adorable kiddos, Ironman triathlete, marathoner, ultra-marathoner and Force Multisport coach. This guy knows his sh*t. Dana has been immensely supportive to my running and coaching over the years. He follows the Hanson’s Method of running which has taken himself from a 4:13 marathon time to a 3:01! Bring on Boston.

 

 

 

 

 

Sarah Norcott (18643) Qualified. I wasn’t sure I’d ever meet anyone who loved running as much as I do, but then I met Sarah (through strava, naturally). This woman is AMAZING. She beams pure glee when she runs, jumps, frolics her way to the finish line and yet takes her running/training incredibly seriously. Side note: I don’t know if I’ve ever seen her without compression socks. She ran a 3:34:34 at Sugarloaf last year to earn a spot at this year’s Boston. Despite some nagging knee pain after last year’s California International Marathon girl has been training day in, day out and I know she has some serious strength in those legs. Sarah- we need to run more together!!

 

 

 

 

Greg Soutiea (28710) – Qualified. Greg thinks Boston’s so nice, he’s going to run it twice!  One wild vegan ultramarathoner with one heck of a beard, Greg will be running the Boston marathon from finish line to the starting line in the wee hours of the morning. A quick change and refuel and then Greg will be on his way again. He uses Boston as a day of fun and sometimes drinks a few beers along the way. This year he has decided to start a the back of the pack and see how fast he can make it to the finish. Read more about Greg, his beard and his ultramarathon adventures on his own blog here. Boston.com highlights this feat in the following article. Greg and Lauren are two of my favorite people in Quincy as not only do we often run together but they keep inviting me over to their home even though I (or my brood) have repeatedly (x3) broken things. Doh!! Home depot gift cards make it all better, riiiight?

 

Lauren Soutiea (19180) – Qualified! This amazing vegan athlete and Quincy resident has been logging the miles day in and day out, many accompanied by her awesome Vizsla Grettle. She even put in a 24 mile split run during training!! Lauren has worked incredibly hard to qualify for Boston and tomorrow will be her day to run hard and HAVE FUN!

Adam Manewell (4794)- I follow  mildly harass Adam on Strava. I own Q-town and Sea Street and he gets all of Weymouth- except for Webb park, that is neutral territory. 🙂 Gotta love having turf wars with people I’ve never met. Adam is an INSANELY FAST runner with the BAA team, husband and father. He is a dedicated athlete and his training has truly taken shape this season. I’m pumped to see what he throws down on Monday.

Thomas Giardino (2270)- Tom is a speedy runner from Falmouth who I met thru Wheeler and the Strava interwebs (naturally). He is aiming for a sub 2:50 and has undoubtedly put in the work. Give it hell out there!!

Christina Hall  (10257) Christina is a Boston south shore mother runner, nurse, ultra-marathoner, Boston Qualifier x8, cross-fitter and entrepreneur of EndurFit Nutrition Coaching. I’ll be brutally honest here: I have a total girl crush on Christina and I think I’ve met her only 1 or 2x. She is a force of nature when it comes to her running and it simply astounds me. Even though she is nursing an injury and hasn’t ran since February Christina is determined to cross the finish line with a walk on Monday. Go Christina!

Katie Lenihan (27540)- Another South Shore running mom this will be Katie’s second Boston! She qualified for her first Boston which ultimately went haywire due to *I believe* she had an alergic reaction on the race course and blacked out around mile 20. Lenihan is on her revenge tour and I know she’s going to kick ass. Go Katie!!

Anne Normand (20831); Apryl S (2086) Westfield, MA , Fred Campagna (7513) Bristol RI. I totally creep on these athletes daily via strava. Anne is committed to her training, Apryl is the epitome of a mother runner as she runs barefoot and often will do sprints in a field to log miles when her daughter is playing and Fred- well Fred is a CT meteorologist! I love reading his strava posts because they ALWAYS include the weather and it makes me chuckle. I’m not sure what Fred is going for, but based on his training I’d say sub 3 (maybe even sub 2:55). It’s been really cool to watch his progression in pace and devotion to training 60-70 mile weeks!

Jessica Byrnes (19033), Derrick Hamel (195), Amanda Deblauw (4856) – Behold the power of Strava stalking! Jess and I are friends via the interwebs as she lives in the town in Jersey where I grew up! Even though I don’t get back to Morristown too often it’s awesome to watch her train on many of the roads I run on!! Derrick is the runner to watch this marathon!! He is a SIX03 runner from Newmarket New Hampshire. Do you see his bib- 195! That’s no joke! He is one INSANELY fast runner and won the Eastern State 20 miler in a 1:48:06 finish time (that’s 5:21 splits people. The best part is the he used this AS A TRAINING RUN. 5:21 splits isn’t his all out pace – vom. I don’t know what time he’s gunning for at Boston but my bet is that it’s sub 2:30. And then there’s Amanda Deblauw, also a SIX03 runner from Newmarket, NH who is gunning for the almighty sub3. Deblauw suffered a stress fracture in the fall of 2016 when she ran the Hartford Marathon in 3:00:31 (6:54 splits), had to duck out of Boston 2017 but is BACK on the hunt for a sub 3.

Abby Coers (16908) Lincoln, IL – I met Abby at the starting line at Boston last year, reconnected with her in the starting corral at Chicago and am SO EXCITED to have her back in Boston this year!! GO ABBY GO!!

Amanda Jacob Erickson (and baby) (13488) Nashville, TN Race4Chase – I met Amanda in the starting corral of my first Boston marathon back in 2015. It’s amazing the random friendships that can begin from standing in the porta potty line :). Amanda is a CRAZY amazing marathoner who runs between 3-4 marathons a year and typically throws down a 3:25 give/take. Although I distinctly remember her running a sub 3:20 the first year we met and she said, “I just felt good, so I went!” This year Amanda will be running for two – and as always she will be raising money for the Race4Chase foundation that serves the Sandy Hook Memorial Foundation.

 

My current plan is to be at mile 21.5 in Cleveland Circle Square. I might be with people, heck, I might be alone… nahhhh I’ll be with THOUSANDS of my closest friend!! I’ll be wearing my shalane tshirt, my green hoodie, jeans and probably a poncho but I’ll be screaming for you all!!! I’m thinking I’ll be on the left side of the road.

HAPPY MARATHON MONDAY!!

** DO NOT FORGET TO WEAR A HAT !!!! ***

Can’t stop, won’t stop. Till you cross the finish,

The Lone Runner

 

 

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Wilder Running Retreat

 

I GOT IN!!! I just found out that I was one of approximately 40 female runners (out of approximately 125 applicants) to have been accepted to go to Lauren Fleshman’s Wilder Running and Writing Retreat at Point Lookout in Northport, Maine next Fall. The three day retreat will be held in late September where participants will write, run, yoga and run some more through the trails and scenic views of Maine.

Wilder Retreat is in its second year and originated in Portland, Oregon. I learned of last years retreat too late to apply but put my name on the list to be one of the first notified for this year’s dates and locations. Led by Lauren Fleshman the retreat is geared towards women of all ages who at their core love to run and write about running. I know, I know- it’s like they created a weekend retreat just for meeeeee! In addition to writing and running there will be a mindfulness/yoga component to the weekend.

In case you’re not familiar with Miss Fleshman’s iconic work, Lauren running has brought 2 USA championships in the 5000 meter event and 5 World Championships for Team USA and a spot in the Hall of Fame. She is the co-creator of Picky Bars, the co-author of the well-known BELIEVE training journal series and is closely affiliated with Oiselle. Oh and girl ran a 2:37 marathon at her first 26.2 attempt at NYC in 2011. Yup, she’s my basically my idol.

A lot has been swirling around in my head this past week. A change is coming, maybe several changes. Good changes? Well, I sure hope so. I want to write about my excitement, my nerves, my hopes, my fears – all of it, but somethings is stopping me. I’m holding a few things close to the chest. It’s necessary. As goofy and open as I am in this blog I put a lot of thought into what I am willing to share with the world. Yet, I wonder if that’s fair. I want to be able to write like nobody is reading but that takes some serious courage and strength. I’m not sure if I’m there yet. My hope is that this retreat will help me further develop my written voice and find the confidence in my writing that has been wavering over the past few months.

The only problem is that I have to wait till September!!! I wanna go nowwwwwwww :).

Time to get ready for Sunday long runday 🙂

-Kass