formats

Boston Marathon 2017 Race Recap: Part 1

 

unnamed (1)

Best gift ever from my friend Molly for the 2015 Boston Marathon!

 

 

I have heard some runners mutter that once they have successfully completed the challenge of running their first marathon they want and need a new challenge to focus their energy upon, perhaps a longer race distance or a different sport entirely. This, my friends, is not me in the least. I’m five marathons deep now and I can honestly tell you that I feel like I’m just starting to find my groove with the marathon distance.

It’s not just the race distance itself that keeps me enchanted with the marathon. Like chapters in a book each marathon I have completed represents a different phase of my life, different challenges that I have faced and unique experiences I have overcome. My marathon memories are not limited to the wedding day itself, but to the months of training that lead up to the event.  

 


bib-001

*The 2013 NYC Marathon (3:25:52) training cycle was complete with first after first. First time covering 14 miles, 16 miles, 18, 20… First time fueling on a run… First time going #2 in the woods (just being honest). Training for NY forced me to break down any previous beliefs of “how strong” my body really was. I was forced to believe in myself. Running the NYC marathon represents a fundamental shift in my life when I moved from being a person full of “I can’t…” and “I’ll never…” to a person who often says, “Let’s give it a shot. You’ll never know if you don’t try, right?”

 


 

IMG_1332

Chicago 2014: Focused on fueling, lost some lbs and got fast!

 

*The 2014 Chicago Marathon (3:16:23) represents being coached by the Run Formula and taking training to next level (focusing on nutrition, fueling, hitting splits, increasing my mileage to hit high 80 miles/week). I’ll admit that I became mildly obsessive with my running, and the pendulum swung in the favor of running over family time far too frequently. While Chicago may have been my fastest marathon to date, I don’t believe it truly represents the life of a healthy, balanced marathon mama.

 

 

 

IMG_8436

SO. MUCH. SNOWWWWW.

 

*The 2015 Boston Marathon (3:23:08) brought forth not only training through winter but training through the snowiest, coldest winter Boston has seen in 100 years!! That February I ran all 28 days, but only 3 days were outside on the roads (and may God have mercy on my soul). That’s 25 treadmill runs- GROSS!

 

 

IMG_0415

Who’s that nearly naked bonehead in the pink?

The race itself was chock full of unique, traumatizing marathon experiences: running in 35 degrees with downpour, feeling the bonk at milk 16 and doing the walk/run shuffle of pain for the final 3 miles. Boston Marathon 2015 may have been my fastest Boston to date and yet it was by far my poorest execution.

 

 

IMG_5265

Boston 2016: All smiles.

 

*The 2016 Boston Marathon (3:29:15) training cycle began immediately after I separated from my husband of 7 years. I decided to train for Boston during this challenging phase of my life to force myself to see that life can go on after a divorce. Most of my mental energy was focused on learning how to do something I had never done: live on my own. How do you balance your checkbook? How much money do I really need to make to survive? How do I explain all of these changes to my five year old? How do I make a small apartment feel as welcoming and loving as the large house that she grew up in?

 

IMG_1213

The one who puts it all in perspective.

 

I spent many long runs crying over the loss of my previous life, and the loss of the future memories that I had envisioned for my family. Running was purely therapeutic. Not only did running give me time to reflect on my new life, training gave me a goal- something positive to work towards while everything else felt like it was falling to pieces. I didn’t train to PR at Boston; I trained to finish with a smile. Sure, my time was 6 minutes slower than the previous year, but I wasn’t going for time. I ran purely for the love of running and what an amazing experience it was!

 

 

 

IMG_2617

*Not only did the 2017 Boston Marathon (3:25:59) training cycle parallel my return to my career as a full-time mental health therapist, but I also started dating a special someone. Training represented a true balancing act of coaching 15 athletes, working a full-time job, commuting to CT most weekends to spend time with my guy and of course making special memories with my Lilly-pad.

A true member of the rat-race, my daily winter runs gave me something tangible to work towards. Right now I may not be adding to my Roth IRA or putting money away to pay for Lillian’s college. Heck, I’m barely keeping my head above water financially month to month- but I’m doing ok. I really am. Slowly but surely I’m figuring it out all on my own. Even though I have a wonderful boyfriend who is financially secure he has not once tried to swoop in and rescue me; for this I am immensely grateful. He waits, he watches, he listens. He supports me in every way he can without trying to just fix it because he can. He knows that I need to see that I can survive on my own in order to believe it. It’s very hard to be on your own without feeling alone. Please reread that last sentence and let it sink in for a moment. Why? Because it is the epitome of my Boston 2017 training experience.

Aside from the memories I made with Chris and Lillian I was starting to alone this training cycle. Why? Because I think when you’re an adult you are alone. Maybe it’s a single mom thing or a divorcee thing- I’m not really sure. Even though I consult with Chris about nearly every decision I make at the end of the day it’s my decision rather than our decision- something I haven’t experienced in over a decade. I’m sure that being completely in charge of your decisions and destiny is a very empowering experience and I’ll get there eventually, but many moments of the past 5 months of training felt absolutely terrifying.

 

IMG_2620

This pic was taken by Trish, my neighbor, around mile 17. At mile 16 she saw me, screamed and proceeded to start running with me!! OUT OF THE BLUE! She kept me on pace for a mile and then snapped this pic before returning to her hubs/kiddos. I love you Trish!!

 

Then I ran Boston and my eyes were forced to open wide and take in something amazing: I’m not alone, I never was and I never will be. From start to finish the 2017 Boston Marathon brought forth many the absolutely amazing people I have in my life. From taking the yellow school busses into the starting line with Chris (something he has been talking about for a year) to meeting a complete stranger at the starting line who reads the blog to my neighbor Trish spotting me from the sidelines, hopping into the marathon and running with me for a mile up the first hill over 95 and MANY, MANY more amazing experiences- mile after mile I was reminded of how full my life truly is and how far from being alone I really am. In a sea of 30,000 runners and tens of thousands of spectators the big city of Boston felt so intimate, loving and supportive on race day.

I’ll give you my full story and marathon experience soon- but first I have to say THANK YOU. You may not realize it, but your support via tracking me on an app, having the courage to say hi to a stranger at the starting line (Abby Coers!) and/or making a poster to cheer on the runners on race day- that means something to me. It matters. YOU MATTER. Your comments, your support, your love– made my marathon. THANK YOU.

Two parts training + one part solid hydration and pacing plan + one part pure miracle = I floated to the finish line at the 2017 Boston Marathon in 3:25:59 (7:52 splits). I may have ran 3 min slower than 2015, but this was by far my best executed marathon to date. I NEGATIVE SPLIT a marathon!! Actually, I NEGATIVE SPLIT THE BOSTON MARATHON on a hot day!! Holy wow, what an experience!!!

To be continued…

 

Kass/The Lone Runner

formats

Twas the night before Boston.

IMG_0046

It’s the night before Boston. I have so many things that I want to (and eventually will) write, but it’s the night before Boston and I have to get my butt to bed soon!! Somehow tomorrow I am running my fifth marathon?!?! How did that happen?! Why does it still feel like my first?

Goals? Well I’m pretty sure I’m fit enough to run a 7:45 pace give/take IF the legs show up- BUT it’s going to be 70 degrees tomorrow. While 70 degrees isn’t horrible, I’ve been training in 40-45 degree temperatures. So, I’m going to adjust my plan and run smart! My #1 goal is to run sub 3:35. My #2 goal is to run sub 3:29:30 (last year time, 7:55 pace). My #3 goal is to nail 7:45 average- whatever time that is. But no matter what- I’M GOING TO HAVE A KICKASS TIME AND SMILE FOR ALL THE MILES!!

IMG_0215

 

*If you’re running on the course I’m pretty sure I’ll be wearing my hot pink compression socks and Lone Runner shirt (pictured above) and running on the south side (right side) of the road).

*If you’re watching from home I’m bib #15405. 

I’m nervous as hell, but there’s no turning back now!! Time to run myself a marathon!!

 

Never Stop Running,

Kass

IMG_2601

Hello Tuesday morning, you sexy thang.

formats

Boston Bound: Meet Lisa Grafton

 Boston Athletic Association - Google Chrome 2232016 101828 AM-001

On May 31st, 2015 I received an email from a blog reader interested in my coaching services. I had just completed the RRCA run coaching certification program (read about it: here and here) and I was an eager young coach ready to share my passion with as many runners as possible. Then I received an email from a Miss Lisa Grafton and I immediately became scared sh*tless. It’s one thing to train yourself for a marathon. It’s an entirely different matter when a complete stranger puts their marathon dreams in your hands for the next 4-5 months. You better be darn sure that you can get them to marathon on race day!

In all honesty back in May of 2015 I was about seventy percent sure that I could confidently get an athlete to marathon day… ok that’s low balling- let’s go with seventy five percent. Because I was so green in the coaching field when Lisa approached me for coaching I was brutally honest with her about my newness. Since she had been following the blog she knew of my coaching knowledge- or lack thereof – already. But she knew me- my passion for running, my training philosophy, my experiences working at the running store and my know-how of learning to run after my daughter was born- she knew it all and she was willing to take the risk. There are times in our life when we just need someone to give us a chance at our dream and Lisa gave me that chance. She was willing to risk her marathon dreams of a BQ on me- and for this I will be forever grateful. <3

Since May 31st 2015 Lisa and I have sent 887 emails to each other- that’s more than 2 emails a day. She has seen me through being a stay at home mom, to working at the running store, a divorce, escapades in dating, love, loss and life. I have coached her through 2 marathons (Baystate 2015 and 2016) and countless races at every distance. I have stood at the finish line to catch her in my arms – sometimes as she flies into the finish with a PR (SSYMCA Frozen 5k with a 22:52, 7:22 pace) and sometimes with tears in her eyes as she tries to shake off the pain from a TOUGH race (oh Run to the Rock Half Marathon 2016 why do you have to always be balls hot out with evil evil rolling hills??).

 

Frozen 5K

Lisa (far left in pink hat) nailed her 5k PR at the 2016 SSYMCA Frozen 5k!!

 

On March 10th 2017 I finished the Black Cat 10 miler in a feels like of -8 degrees, glanced at my watch and knew that Lisa wouldn’t be too far behind me. So I turned around and I ran to her. I found her trudging through the 30+ mph winds in the final mile of the course and told her to tuck in behind me. I told her, “Don’t think. Just follow my feet. Four laps around the track left… WE GOT THIS…three laps… never stop running… two laps… the finish line is just around the corner… ONE lap. GO GO GO.” In May 2015 Lisa took a chance on me and I’ll always do my absolute best to be there for her. Why? Because sometimes in life you need someone to believe in you enough so that you can begin to believe in yourself and your own strength. I’m starting to realize that Lisa and I do that for each other <3 

 

IMG_2469

 

Meet Lisa:

Bradford, MA,  47 yrs,  Bib # 21165

Here is her Boston story…

 

For the first time in my life I will not be standing on the sidewalks spectating the Boston Marathon – this year, I will be on the course, running. I’ve been running since 2008 – countless 5ks and half marathons, 6 marathons.   Back in 2008, I was not working, my kids were in 1st grade and preschool and for the first time, I found myself with a few hours to myself.  I had a new gym membership and found myself walking on a treadmill quickly becoming bored.  Curiosity led me to increasing the speed on the machine and I was soon breaking into a light jog and the best part was that I wasn’t losing a lung in the process.  Each day I returned fascinated by this challenge of pushing myself farther and faster.  I was hooked.  Once I had graduated into racing the half marathon distance, I knew I would run a marathon but that my heart would tell me when that time would be.  

  photo 1

Each year, I would watch the Boston Marathon and be so inspired by the countless numbers of “regular” runners making that 26.2 trek from Hopkinton.   There were some years that I would join my father in his annual pilgrimage from Haverhill, MA to downtown Boston to spectate the marathon.  During those times together, he would turn to me and say “someday” meaning “someday” he would be watching me out there running the course.  Yeah, Dad, maybe someday.  When the bombings happened in 2013, I was devastated for so many different reasons, but it was then that I knew I was ready to run my first marathon.   I was now a full-time working mother with a husband who worked second shift.  This meant that my training runs were always run early in the pre-dawn hours before I needed to get the kids and myself ready for school and work. After I finished my second marathon only 5 minutes slower than my Boston Qualifying time (3:55) I knew I had a qualifying run in me. 

 

A couple of failed attempts later and I found Kass.  Actually I think I was meant to find her.  It was 5 days after I had run my 4th marathon and blew up on the race course.  I was very discouraged.  I had been following Kass’s blog – loving her honesty,humor and ability to connect with me through her words – and she had just  announced her plans to pursue a running coach certification.  I contacted Kass asking if she’d coach me to hit my goal to qualify for Boston.    Kass introduced me to heart rate training, track workouts, and strength work.   I began to run faster than ever and felt strong when I ran.   I never once missed a workout – I logged every mile Kass put in front of me, every crazy core exercise, all the strength.  There would not be any regrets.  I did not want to risk falling short of my goal. The day of my goal race arrived and for 26.2 miles I maintained a pace I would never even dream about before working with Kass.  Mile after mile, it all clicked.  The weather, my fueling, my legs.  I crossed the finish line 11 minutes faster than the time I needed to qualify.  11 minutes!  There was no denying that I was going to run the 2017 Boston Marathon.  I wanted to cry and laugh at the same time.    That day is now here.  Kass has continued to coach me (she’s the best) and I’ve had a successful training cycle -with the exception of the flu arriving to visit me last week.  When I think of all that Boston is and visualize myself as a part of this momentous day, I become overwhelmed with emotion.  I’m excited to share this day with so many and to give my Dad  his “someday” 

xoxo,

Lisa (Bib #21165)

 

 

Two years ago Lisa was a complete stranger who lived in a town about 45 min north of Boston. Today she’s not only my athlete but my close friend whose daily emails about her runs wield the power to make inappropriate jokes that makes me spit out my coffee at work in-between bouts of snarky laughter. Muhahhahaha!! On Monday Lisa will tackle her FIRST Boston. I can’t even begin to express how amazing this journey has been and how sweet the victory of running the Boston Marathon will taste. GO GET YOUR BOSTON LADY!! YOU DESERVE IT!! I love you!

Never stop running,

Kass