Running Against the Wind – Shamrock Marathon Recap

We pick a race, we mark the calendar, we write up a training plan, the countdown begins as we train for months & months for this long awaited day! This past Sunday; that long awaited day was the day that I ran my 10th marathon (yes, number 10 πŸ™‚ )! After winning a race through a contest on Instagram; the decision was made in early January and the training began! The 12 weeks of training that is! After just running TCS NYC Marathon in November; I knew that a Spring marathon was definitely on the schedule so I made it a point to maintain my endurance the best I could! I’m glad I did! Training overall went very well; although sometimes challenging due to winter weather but I made it a point to get all my training runs in even if it meant doing 18-20 milers on the treadmill. I finished up the last couple weeks my of my training with my peak run (22 miles) just 2 weeks out from my marathon. My 22 miler was cold and with snow the night before I ended up running most of it on the roads along the beach instead of on the boardwalk as planned. But hey; as runners we make it work, right? On this run I practiced pacing and fueling for race day; finishing the final 5-7 miles sub 8:00/mile feeling strong! I ended my 22 miler at 8:16/mile! My first thought was, “Wow, if I can do this on race day I’ve got myself another BQ!”

22 miles in the books and it was officially taper time! Logging 45-50 miles per week and working full time; there was a part of me that was glad that I would get to rest more over the next two weeks. However; I knew it would only take a day or two before the taper madness began! I focused on lots of stretching, yoga and foam rolling. The next day; the unexpected happened. I woke up with a sore throat, headache and over 102 fever. My first thought was “How did this happen? My marathon is 2 weeks away; what if this is the flu?” I was panicked so I immediately saw the doctor. I was told I had an upper respiratory infection and needed rest & lots of fluids. I thought “what if I am not better in time for my race?” At that moment; I realized I had no choice but to do something that was very hard for me in the past & that was take a few days completely off from running. I knew there was no way my body was going to fight off this fever or bad cold if I didn’t rest. That week; I focused on getting extra sleep, made sure I ate enough – even though I had absolutely no appetite and I didn’t run. I took 3 full days off from running and on day 4 (just 10 days out from my marathon) I hit the pavement for 5 easy miles. I was by no means 100%; still coughing a bit but I was definitely getting better. With each day I was feeling better and better! The following Sunday I headed to the beach for my final Sunday Runday before Shamrock Marathon. That day I had paces in mind that I was determined to hit, but just getting over being really sick I was unsure if that was possible. I made a promise to myself that I would not push myself if my body was not feeling 100% recovered. The winds were fierce as I headed north on the boardwalk. I asked myself, “How am I going to do this?” At that moment; I quickly changed my mindset to “I CAN DO THIS!” I conquered the strong winds 5 miles out before looping around to head 5 miles back; hitting all sub 8:00/mile’s on the second part of my run. I did it! I did exactly what I set out to do despite being sick the week prior. I couldn’t believe it!

At that moment; I realized I was as ready as I could be to head to Virginia and go get that goal time that I trained so hard for! The final week before my race, I focused on fueling (CARBS, CARBS, CARBS), hydrating, staying as stress free as possible, getting even more sleep and envisioning myself crossing the finish line in my 10th marathon! I took the day off from work the Friday before my marathon; spent the day packing (throwing 9 different race outfits in my suitcase because I refused to look at the weather after hearing strong winds/rain). Saturday morning Hubby and I woke up bright and early; packed up the car, grabbed some WAWA coffee and we were on our way! The ride to Virginia was great; we hit absolutely no traffic! Our ride over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge was just stunning!

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We arrived to the Virginia Beach Convention Center for the race expo just after 1pm to grab my bib, meetup with friends and browse the expo! I immediately grabbed my bib and took some pics under the rainbow with the pot of gold at the end! At that moment I made a wish that I would find that pot of gold at the finish line on race day with a nice new BQ! I met up with a friend, walked around a bit and chatted a bit with the awesome Bart Yasso.

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I did a bit of shopping and did something I have never done before; I bought my first running skirt! πŸ™‚ That night we grabbed dinner (PASTA), I laid out my race outfit and headed to bed before 9:30!

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My alarm went off the next morning and I woke up feeling full of energy and ready to get out there and run my 10th marathon! Hubby and I planned to walk to the start which was just 2 miles away, but when we walked outside it was pouring rain! I made a quick decision to take a cab to the start while hubby stayed behind as he had just gotten over strep throat. He planned to meet me at the finish line in just a few hours.He said to me “You’ve got this Mer, you are going to do amazing!” I took the cab over to the start with a few other runners and we chatted on the way there! It was pouring and it was cold. We arrived to the starting line where runners were huddled close to the buildings standing under the overhangs to block themselves from the rain and the wind! The wind was soo strong that volunteers had to keep securing the starting line. This wind was like nothing I had ever run in before and I wondered just how I was going to do this for 26.2 miles!

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I decided that no matter what I was going to make the best of this day! I was running my 10th marathon and to me that made this day very special; wind and rain were not going to take that away from me. I realized that I may not be able to meet my goal that day, but I was going out there and doing my best! So I put on my hat, put on my IPOD, took my spot in my corral & decided I was giving this my all no matter what! I was ready to conquer those strong winds! I took my first gel and within minutes we were off; I practiced pacing a lot in my training and with the wind as fierce as it was I knew I really needed to pace myself well! Other runners passed me, but I just focused on the pace on my watch. The first three miles were great; no wind, my pace was a little quicker than planned but nothing crazy. I felt great; I was determined and I was ready to go get that BQ. By mile 4 we looped and at that point the winds became very strong! I fought through strong while still pacing myself. The headwinds averaged between 25 – 36 mph; like nothing I have ever run through but I refused to give up! After mile 4 there was no break from the strong winds! At miles 11-12 when we ran up onto the boardwalk the wind along the beach was so strong that my ankles were hitting one another and I could not run in a straight line! I almost lost my hat in the wind several times but I refused to give anything less that my very best! Through all of this; I felt strong, I never once felt like I needed to stop, never felt like my energy dropped and for that I was thankful! I ran the whole race with a smile from ear to ear! I gave high fives, I smiled, I chatted with other runners; I enjoyed every single step! At miles 20-22; the winds became even stronger – if that was even possible! I later heard that they reached up to 36mph at that point. I pushed through; knowing I only had 6 miles to go and somehow from that point on I gained my pace back a bit as I continued to conquer the strong wind!

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That wind could not take that smile from my face! I was feeling great! I knew today was not going to be the day I ran my 4th BQ, but I was ok with it! I continued on the final miles the same exact way I ran the whole race; with a huge smile and determination. At mile 26; I saw my hubby!! I was so happy to see him! I sprinted that final mile as fast as I possible could (7:51/mile) and I crossed the finish line feeling absolutely amazing!!

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I was proud of myself for never giving up against that strong wind; I was proud of myself for finishing strong and I was proud of myself for completing my 10th marathon – my fastest marathon in 3 years! My fueling was on point and I know; in better weather conditions – I had my 4th BQ! I crossed the finish line in 3:48:47!

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I crossed the finish line; received my medal and found my hubby! He gave me a huge hug and told me how proud of me he was for an amazing race and for pushing through as I did in such tough conditions. I am so thankful for all his support in everything that I do!

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We took some pics after the race before heading back to get warmed up! It was in the high 40’s but with the wind it felt so much colder! That night; I celebrated putting my 10th marathon in the books and wore my medal proudly!

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Hubby and I enjoyed our final day in Virginia doing a bit of sightseeing along the beach

and visiting beautiful First Landing State Park

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Yuengling Shamrock Marathon was absolutely amazing & so was this weekend! This was a fantastic race with a fast/flat course and I will definitely do it again! Hopefully the next time the wind will give me a break! πŸ™‚ On to the next one! Thank you as always for following my journey!

Has anyone else experienced similar weather in a goal race? Have you had to change your race goals last minute due to weather etc? Questions, comments – please share! πŸ™‚

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FINALLY! A Pair of Leggings that Stay Up While I Run!

Has anyone ever found an absolutely adorable pair of running leggings only to put them on; head out for a run and end up pulling them up every half mile because they are literally falling off? Not staying in place? Just plain uncomfortable? Well that has been the case for this runner many, many times! I can recall race photos where I am actually tugging on my pants; pulling them up so they stay in place! I was so HAPPY when I finally had the opportunity to try out Dona Jo – Jo Jo Leggings! These leggings are not only superΒ  CUTE; they are also moisture wicking and the BEST part —-they actually stayed up while I ran!!! Woohoo!!

Dona Jo Leggings come in sizes 1, 2 and 3!

  • Size 1 fits sizes 0 – 8
  • Size 2 fits sizes 10 – 14
  • Size 3 fits sizes 16 – 20

I ordered size 1 and they fit like they were made for me! I am wearing the “Airbrush” pattern and seriously love these pants! The moisture wicking material made them extremely comfortable and easy to move in!

Dona Jo – Jo Jo Leggings get an A + & thumbs up in my book!! I highly recommend these leggings to fellow runners and fitness enthusiasts! πŸ™‚

Use promo code meretherunner14 at https://www.donajofitwear.com and receive 20% off your total purchase!!! Enjoy!! πŸ™‚

dona jo

 

 

February Training Recap – Almost There!

Another month of marathon training in the books for this girl! Along with the month of February came more crazy weather here in the Garden State! There were negative wind chills and there were beautiful spring-like days! I ended the month of February with 177.2 miles logged; the most miles I’ve logged in one month since training for Boston 3 years ago. In February I focused on getting extra sleep; so important while training for a marathon. I focused on fueling properly, getting in enough runs at goal pace and putting in the hard work! I kicked off February with some speed work; mile repeats!

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To be completely honest after 2 stress fractures; speed work was something I shied away from in my past couple of marathons out of fear of injury. This time around; I decided to face my fears and give this training cycle all I’ve got while focusing on extra sleep & proper nutrition. My first week in February was a recovery week as I prepared for the higher mileage to come. 1st long run of the month consisted of 14 miles; we got a bit of snow so I had to make it work the best I could!

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Don’t worry; I didn’t run all 14 miles through the snow, lol! I’m not that crazy! ” πŸ™‚ With the second week of February came chilly weather; including negative wind chills! With an 18 miler coming up; I wondered “How am I going to get this done?” That Saturday; I braved the freezing temps/negative wind chills for 6 miles!

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With more negative wind chills in the forecast for that Sunday (also Valentine’s Day); there was no way I was taking my long run outside so I took my 18 miler to the treadmill!

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A big THANK YOU to my hubby who uploaded all new music onto my IPod for me the night before this run! It actually made this long treadmill run a lot less painful than I expected it to be! Overall a great run in my book! Week 3 of February arrived; the temperatures warmed up a bit and I was finally able to take my running back outdoors!

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With this week came more focus on marathon goal pace runs! This included a mid week tempo run that consisted of 9 miles! It’s been quite a while since I’ve run this kind of mileage or done a mid week run of this distance, but I went into it with pure determination & confidence! “I can and I will!”

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And guess what? I did! This run was windy, but I pushed through and hit my goal pace! That Saturday marked exactly one month until my marathon; so I put on my Shamrock Marathon shirt from when I ran in 2010 (pic below) every time I look at this pic it makes me smile!

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Shamrock Half 2010′

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Sunday arrived and with Sunday came warmer temps & a 20 miler for this girl! I took my run to one of my favorite trails!

This run went really well; I practiced fueling and pacing for race day! I enjoyed the beauty on the trails around me and waved to other runners also getting their long runs done as they passed by!

I was pleasantly surprised on this run and this finally gave me that confidence that I needed to believe that my goal of running my 4th BQ may not be so impossible after all! The final week of February arrived and with that came another mid week tempo run; this time – 10 miles! It was pouring rain/windy and 61 degrees, but I went for it!

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This was a tough one; rain and wind but I did it! HUGE runners high after this run! Something about running in the rain that I just love!Β  As the weekend grew closer the weather warmed up a bit and I took full advantage of being outdoors as much as possible!

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My last Sunday run of February consisted of 15 miles; it was a recovery week as I prepared for my peak run; 22 miles on 3/5! I took my run to the beach. It was a beautiful day; not a cloud in the sky!

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I enjoyed the ocean breeze in my hair and the sun beating down on me! The wind was pretty fierce that day, but the clear blue beautiful skies made up for it! At mile 5 I ran into my sis-in-law Jess then again at mile 10 I saw her again; as we passed one another I gave her a high 5! That high 5 gave me that motivation that I needed to finish my last five miles strong; it is just what I needed! Thanks Jess!

I ended up finishing this run with the final 5 miles in the low 8:00’s and high 7:50’s!

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It was a perfect day at the beach in my book!

On Saturday I did my peak run – 22 miles (8:16/mile) along the beach and I am officially in taper mode or as I like to call it “taper madness”! Just 12 days until Marathon number 10!! πŸ™‚

Thank you as always for following my journey to marathon number 10!!

How is your training going? Does the taper drive anyone else crazy? What do you do to keep yourself busy during the taper?

February Miles For Melissa

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Last week; I asked the running community to log “Miles for Melissa” for the 4th month in a row since suddenly losing my sister in October! In November when I started “Miles for Melissa” we logged over 400 miles then again in December over 400 as well!Β  In January we logged 1,134 miles and completely crushed my goal! Guess what!? In February; we did it AGAIN!!! I had a goal of 1,200 miles and although I wasn’t quite sure if we would make it; I was dreaming big! I asked runners to use the hashtag on Instagram for every run between the dates of 2/27 – 2/29. Runners from all over the globe once again joined in running in groups, running through snow and rain, dedicating long bike rides, long ultra training runs and their races (marathons) to my sister! I am completely humbled by the number of runners that joined in once again this month! This month; together as a running community we completely exceeded my goal logging 1,268.63 miles!!! Over 3,000 miles since launching “Miles for Melissa” in November!! I am so thankful for the kindness and support from runners all over the world! I will continue “Miles for Melissa” every month in memory of my beautiful sister who was a runner herself! Next run will be the last weekend in March! March 26-March 29th! This month; on March 20th I will run my 10th marathon; dedicating every single mile to my beautiful sister; my angel! I love you and miss you so very much Mel! xo

Thank you everyone from the bottom of my heart! Mere @meretherunner14