Wow, I can honestly say this might be the first time in the 5 years I've been running that I'm actually wicked happy and excited to be tapering. Last weekend I ran my last 20 miler before marathon #10. I split the miles again with my friends Shannon and Kim. Shannon ran the first 7.75 with me and then Kim ran the last 12.5 (the run is actually a 20.25 mile loop). It was a perfect day for a long run. Started out a little cloudy and cool, but as we finished the sun came out and it warmed up a bit. The first 7.75 miles of the run goes from my house through a very short section of Tewksbury and then into the back roads of Andover. There is one really big hill from mile 2-3 and then another one that sneaks up slow and gradual from 6-7.75 that's where the tag team hand off happened and Shannon finished and Kim began running with me. The next part of the run is a portion of the loop that I hadn't run in a long time and a totally new experience for Kim. We leave the little league field in Andover where we meet and run to the Andover Country Club and through the golf course past million dollar homes and then back to the main road for a slow climb that connects the loop to the 18 miler we have done before. From that point there is about 8 miles to go and more than half of it is hills. I compare it to the Newton Hills because it's not one big hill, but a series of hills with short sections of recovery inbetween. The longest section is between mile 15 and 17 on North St. in Tewksbury. Kim seems to really enjoy it, I call it a "suckfest". At the top of that hill marks 3 miles to go and as Kim always says, "Anyone can run a 5K". We get a mile of down hill running before the last two miles climbing back up into Lowell towards my house. Overall, it's a challenging loop but mostly quiet back roads and beautiful neighborhoods. Here's the elevation profile:
Sunday morning I was signed up for the Lowell Firefighters 5K. It started at 10:30 and is about a mile and a half from my house so, I ran to the race for a little warm up. Got there, picked up my number and chatted with some friends while waiting for the race to begin. I had no expectations for the race, just there to support a good cause and have some fun. A nice easy recovery run/celebration for finishing my 20 miler so strong. I started out nice and easy and I actually felt a lot better than I expected after the long run the day before. Seriously, ICE BATHS ARE MAGIC. I picked up the pace a little in the second mile, then with a mile left to go I really started to push myself. One person at a time, I'd put them in my sights and then pass them (I guess it's rude to count them out loud, haha, just kidding). Rounded the last corner and there's a little hill before the fast downhill finish. I saw a few girls ahead that looked like they were in my age group so I took them out and kicked to finish strong. Turns out they WERE in my age group. I didn't place, but I was 12th out of 35 and #13 was 2 seconds behind me and #14 was 8 seconds behind her. So, that little kick at the end was worth it (Even if I did almost vomit on the timing guy at the finish line). I got some water and let me heartrate come back down to normal before the light jog home. Felt amazing, with a huge smile on my face, training done, taper beginning, feeling good.
Monday, as you might guess, I rested. Yup, I'm learning. I could have run and I kinda wanted to, but I rested and did NOTHING. I deserved it. I worked hard and ran a total of just under 50 miles the week before (49.3 to be exact). I got home from work and cleaned my house a little, folded some laundry, then curled up on my couch with a book and a blanket and called it a day.
Tuesday, I had a wicked busy day at work. The day flew by, I was in and out of meetings, I got a lot done, and I still had a lot to do. The last meeting of the day didn't go as well as I had hoped, it was ok, but not great and I was kind of wound up and frustrated that I didn't do a good job (even though I'm pretty sure I did and it's all in my head). I changed into my running gear and couldn't wait to hit the pavement and run along the Charles to get some of the stress and frustration out. When I started running I knew almost immediately that it was going to be more frustrating and not stress relieving. It was really windy out and I felt super sluggish. I struggled to move my legs and felt like I was running in water on another planet where gravity had doubled. Not fun. Not the release of energy I was hoping for. I cut the run short and finished more frustrated than I was when I started. I went home and tried to relax and read my book, but couldn't even do that. My eyes were burning and my eyelids were too heavy to hold open. I ended up falling asleep on my couch at 6:30pm. I woke up when a friend texted me around 8pm and I just went to bed.
Wednesday I woke up still exhausted. I had tossed and turned all night and didn't really get much sleep. But it was a new day and I was determined to make the most of it. I got to work early and finished up some things that were on my to-do list from the day before and had a few more meetings. Scheduled some follow ups and felt really good about how things were looking. I'm making progress and getting things done, I like it! The day came to an end and I put my running gear on and headed to Kim's house for our weekly Wednesday running date. I was thinking about my run the day before and hoping that I felt better when we started running. I didn't want to jinx myself and say anything. Usually when I have a crappy run on Tuesday the week is redeemed by a great run on Weddnesday so I just went with it. Kim and I ran the same loop as the week before only backwards and about half way in we heard a hollah from a car behind us, at first it was hard to tell what they were yelling, then it was my last name! It was my friend Charles that ran Crossroads with me in 2011 and did the Boston Marathon (a lot faster than me) too. We had just spoken a few days earlier and it was so random to see him in the middle of nowhere on a Wednesday night run. Such a pleasant surprise. It was awesome. Kim and I finished the run and I felt a thousand times better than the day before. We averaged 9:30s even up the giant hill to her house at the end of the run. Then before I left to go home we had a little dance party with her daughter who has recently learned how to "booty drop". Hilarious and adorable.
There's so much going on in the next few weeks I don't know where to begin. Here's a brief summary and I will update along the way: 18 miler, going to Copenhagen, potentially a finalist in a wicked cool contest (details to follow), fun run with friends I haven't seen in a while and hopefully some of the best coffee and chocolate chip pancakes ever, Big Lake Half Marathon, Birthday spa day, Birthday cake!, Bennington Vermont stair climb, and last but not least marathon #10 Shires of Vermont. Phew, it's goona fly by and it's gonna be AWESOME. Stay tuned.
Ok, so here's a preview of the contest I eluded to: Huffington Post The Buried Life Contest Link to my story They will select 10 finalists next week and voting begins May 1st. If I'm one of the finalists and I get the most votes, they help me cross this item off my bucket list.