Philadelphia Marathon Race Recap – A Shiny New PR!

There was once a girl that had a huge goal of one day becoming a sub 3:30 marathoner! She knew it would take lots of hard work, dedication and determination & last Sunday Runday that girl’s dream came true!!Β πŸ’™πŸ’›πŸ¦„Β Just 8 weeks ago I made the final decision to run a fall marathon! After running Boston Marathon in April; I told myself I’d take the fall off from the marathon! After pushing through wind, pouring rain & freezing cold temps in Boston it took my body some time to recover. As the months went by; I felt better and better with each run and continued increasing my mileage. I kept my weekly miles between 6 & 7 miles and stuck with a longer weekend run. I was itching to run another marathon but deep inside I knew I promised myself I’d take the fall off. So I continued running for pure joy; running shorter distance races and just enjoying every moment of it. In early October; shortly after my 38th Birthday & after running a comfortable paced half in 1:43 in humid temps – I did it; I made the commitment to run a fall full marathon!
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I chose The Philadelphia Marathon! Only a 1 hour drive from where I live & a full that I’ve run two times before! I was feeling good & so excited to officially be training for my 15th marathon! I continued increasing my mileage; continued with my tempo runs etc. and just enjoyed every moment. On 10/15 I ran the Seaside Half in 1:44 just practicing pacing for the marathon. After I finished; my Dad said to me – “you looked like you were just running a comfortable race!” I felt amazing that day & it was just what I needed 6 weeks out from my 15th marathon!
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Training continued; that next weekend I ran my 1st 20 mile of the training cycle at 8:06/mile pace.
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2 weeks later; my 2nd 20 miler of the training cycle in extremely windy
conditions with an overall pace of 7:57/mile.
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I was in shock; I have never hit sub 8:00/mile in a 20 mile run! It was officially taper time for me & this run was just what I needed going into it! For the next 2 weeks; I focused on allowing my body to recover! In the days leading up to the race; I focused on extra sleep, loading up on my carbs and all positive thoughts! The Friday before; hubby took the day off and went to the expo.
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We picked up my race bib; I was so excited to be running Philly again!
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They even had all the shirts displayed from previous years! I was so excited to see the race top displayed from the year that I ran it for the 1st time in my 2nd marathon in 2011′.
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I packed a bunch of snacks with me for the trip, kept hydrating and made sure not too stay on my feet too long. After the expo; I grabbed lunch with hubby (more carbs) before heading home to rest & pack my race check in bag. After 10 hours of sleep; I spent Saturday resting with the exception of a shirt shake out run. I spent the day hydrating & carbing up for race day!
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I went to sleep before 8:30pm and woke up at 3:55am on race day full of energy & soo ready to tackle my 15th marathon!! We arrived by 5:30am to Philly. We quickly found a lot to park that was just blocks from the start. It was chilly with temps around 33 degrees!
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I wore a fleece zip up with a pair of fleece pants that I’d throw off prior to the race. I also had on “arm warmers” long socks that I cut to keep my arms warm.
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Before the start I used the restroom, took my gel and drank water before getting in my corral. I gave hubby a kiss, then he said “you are going to do amazing!”
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I was filled with so much excitement and had a good feeling! I was going into this race with no nervousness, no pre-race jitters with the mindset of – this is another long run, you’ve got this!
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As I stood in my corral waiting for the race to start; I spotted fellow Tiux Ambassador & friend Christine! We had been trying to meet up all morning and with the crowds I wasn’t sure if I’d find her! I was so excited to see her! We lined up with the black corral & in minutes we were on our way! The crowd was amazing! Christine and I were chatting while taking in the positive energy of the spectators as the miles just flew by! We ran through the city streets & rolling hills completely full of energy enjoying every moment! Christine and I ran side by side for the 1st 8-9 miles before losing one another in the crowd. At mile 13.1; I looked down at my watch seeing 1:46. I was feeling fantastic and thought to myself; if I can hold this pace – I’ll finish in 3:32 earning myself a PR and another BQ! In the back of my mind; I knew after all it is a marathon & anything could happen over the next 13.1 miles! I continued running; staying completely in tune with my body – fueling along the way and just enjoying every single step! Shortly after; I heard the announcers cheering on the winners coming through the finish! I then passed my good friend & running buddy Steph who recently finished Chicago & NYC Marathons! I looked down at my watch at mile 15 & immediately knew that my time was quicker than the 15 miles I did in training! With 11 + miles to go – I knew anything could change at any time! The energy of the crowd was truly amazing & I was powering through the miles! At mile 20, I spotted Janelle! I heard her yelling “Go Mer Go” as I ran by I smiled and waved at her!! Minutes later as I approached mile 21; I saw Elizabeth who yelled to me! As we ran passed one another; we high fived & I yelled good job girl! At that moment I heard someone yell “Go 3:30 group go!” I looked up and there was the 3:30 pace group right in front of me! At this moment; my emotions overcame me but I had to stay calm. “Did I really catch up to the 3:30 group?” I couldn’t believe it! I stayed calm as I ran left passing the 3:30 group staying in complete tune with how my body was feeling! I looked down at my watch and said to myself “Mer, just 4.2 miles left – you’ve got this – let’s do this!” The final 4 miles were filled with slight inclines but at that moment – I was running on pure determination! I felt strong and I was on a mission! With every mile; I was running stronger and stronger! I looked down at my watch & knew that there was a good chance that today – I’d become a 3:30 marathoner! I stayed calm & controlled just putting one foot in front of the other! At mile 24; I heard “Mer” it was Gabby! I had no idea she was running this race! We said hello & good job and I kept on running! I knew the finish line was near & I knew I had a big PR! I pushed through the hills, took in all the energy from the crowd and could hear the announcer at the finish line!
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I knew I was getting near & there it was! The finish was in sight! I looked down at my watch & couldn’t believe what I saw! As i ran closer; my pace became quicker and quicker!
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With a smile from ear to ear and tears in my eyes – I crossed the finish line in 3:27:27!! I was officially a sub 3:30 marathoner!! I was completely beside myself and as I write this; I am crying happy tears! I went into this race with absolutely no pressure on myself! I had no time goal in my head! My friend Haley asked me a few days prior “What is your goal?” My reply was “to beat my fastest Philly; which was 3:34:03 in 2011”. Deep down running a sub 3:30 marathon has been a long term goal of mine but I never in my life imagined it would happen today!! I crossed the finish in complete shock! I kept looking at my watch to make sure I wasn’t dreaming! At that moment; all the tough training runs, all the times I pushed through the tears, all the times I stood up when I fell were all worth it! This moment was truly magical! Within minutes I found my husband! I ran over to him and cried on his shoulder as he said to me “you are freaking amazing my love – I am so proud of you!”
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I was freezing cold but at that moment nothing mattered – I felt a joy that I haven’t felt in years & I wanted to hold onto that feeling forever!
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I turned on my phone that hubby had been holding while I ran and was so humbled by the number of texts, comments and messages from all of the kind souls that have supported me through it all!
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I’ve had some terrible races, had several days I’ve thought about giving up on running; questioned if I was too old? Not the runner I once was! This girl just crushed a 6 1/2 year old personal best by 6:07 qualifying for Boston for the 6th time, while running my 1st ever marathon with negative splits & I can honestly say I am PROUD! I immediately called my parents to tell them the news! They had been tracking me the whole race & were soo proud! They said “you were flying!” They asked how I felt and I said “AMAZING!” I knew my sister; my angel was right beside me through the whole race! I felt stronger & stronger with each mile! I felt energized throughout the whole race & my legs just kept powering through quicker and quicker with each mile! After the race; I saw that Christine who I had started the race with finished in 3:39!!! I was soo happy for her!! She ran a huge PR & BQ! I texted her and told her where I was! I said “meet me by baggage; I want to give you a huge Congratulations hug!” We took some pics and chatted about this amazing race!
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Such an incredible day for us both! We were both freezing so we hugged one another & she headed to go find her family and I found somewhere to quickly change into some warm clothes!
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After I changed; I saw Gabby who i had seen at mile 24! I asked how she did & she told me 3:28! This girl just ran an 11 minute PR after just running a marathon weeks ago! I was soo happy for & proud of her! We took some pics together before going to grab something to eat!
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Hubby and I found a little pub just blocks from the finish where we grabbed a bite to eat! After days of eating carbs – the 1st thing i wanted was chicken & a celebratory glass of wine of course!
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After lunch; we took a walk around Philly through the Christmas Village!
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There was so much positive energy in the air and I was on Cloud 9!
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We then decided to go to Franklin Institute!
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Hubby asked “are you ok to go?” I said “oh yes, I’m on such a huge runners high!” So we headed inside and spent the next few hours in the planetarium and exploring all the awesome things there are to see in the Franklin Institute.
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We left Philly just before 5pm. All I could think as I left is how this would be a day that I would never forget!
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Here I am 8 days later; still on Cloud 9 & I don’t think I’ll be coming down any time soon!
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There will be tough days; there will be days that you want to quit, days when you question why you are doing this – keep showing up & keep putting in the work!! In the end it is all worth it! There is no feeling like accomplishing something that you once thought was impossible! Dream. Believe. Achieve.
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Thank you as always for following my journey & thank you all for your constant support!

@meretherunner14

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Boston Marathon 2018 Race Recap

Well here I am 7 months later finally getting a chance to post this recap & I can say Boston Marathon definitely lived up to it’s expectations! I still don’t have the words to describe this day, but I can say that this race goes in the books as a day I will never forget for more reasons than one! Strong winds, pouring rain & freezing cold temps greeted us on the morning of April 16th!Β Hubby and I packed up the car early Friday morning; stopped off at my chiropractors office for one last adjustment before the bug day & hit the road! We were Boston Bound & I was so excited! This would be my 2nd Boston Marathon; 1st since running in 2013′. So many emotions as we drove up to Beantown! After years of trying to earn my ticket to Boston; in April of 2017′ – I finally ran my 5th BQ & that earned me my spot! I still remember getting the news & learning of the 3:23 cutoff). I headed to Boston this year with big goals in mind! I heard bad things about the weather, but refused to check! I refused to let that be the one thing that worried me all weekend! After a 4 1/2 hour drive; we arrived in Boston!! Our 1st stop was the finish line. I visited Boston in July while on vacation but prior to that my last time there was when I crossed the finish in 2013′. So many emotions as I stood there at the finish line. As I walked over to it; I got choked up.

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After visiting the finish line; we headed to the expo! I couldn’t believe this was happening; as I picked up my race bib – I got choked up. So much hard work over the last five years brought me to this moment & I was so thankful.Β πŸ’™πŸ’›Β After picking up my bib; I took a walk around the expo – checking out everything & doing lots of shopping!

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This time; I promised myself I’d purchase a lot so can remember this special event for years to come. We made lots of purchases and took lots of photos before heading over to our hotel to check in.

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Saturday arrived & we were up early & off to Boston Common for the BAA 5k. I chose not to register for the 5k so that I could rest up for Monday, but my hubby ran! We arrived early & met up with friends who were also running! We took some pics before everyone headed over to the starting line for the start of the race! I stood there as thousands of people passed by; so excited for this amazing event! I quickly headed over to the finish line to watch from there hoping to see some friends crossing the finish line! While I was watching for hubby, I ran into Karen; a friend on Instagram! It was so awesome to finally meet her! Then I saw Jennifer & Jeff; they ran the race together! I stood by the fence cheering; watching for Damian & there he was!! I yelled, I cheered, I snapped photos & took a video of him as he crossed the finish line of his 7th 5k! I am so proud of him!

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After the race; we met up with my friend Wayne! Wayne and I met at the 2013′ NYC Marathon & have kept in touch since! Wayne has played a huge role in my training and has helped me get to where I am now always offering advice! It was so great to see him & catch up after 5 years!Β  Saturday after the race; my brother & law and sister in law would be arriving in Boston to join us so we headed back to our hotel & waited for them to arrive! We had plans to visit the Sam Adams Brewery when they arrived so that’s exactly what we did! I am not a beer drinker, but I had to try some of the 26.2 Brew!

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We checked out the souvenir shot before heading out & over to Heartbreak Run Company! This was on my list of places to check out while visiting. Such an awesome store & the staff was really kind! Of course we took some pics outside of the store!

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After walking around for a bit, we headed back to our hotel to grab some dinner & continue carb loading! Sunday morning arrived, it was cold & windy! I headed outside for one last shakeout run before the big day! So many thoughts were going through my mind! So much excitement; I kept asking myself “am I really running Boston tomorrow?” “Is this a dream?” I finished up my shakeout run & headed inside to the hotel gym where Jess was working out! We chatted about our plans for the day &Β & about the nasty weather in the forecast for Marathon Monday. I headed up to my room & hubby and I decided to head out for a bit. I didn’t want to do much walking as I knew I needed to save my energy. We grabbed a bite to eat, visited the finish line one last time before the big day and met up with Kyla! Kyla and I have followed one another on Instagram for over 5 years! It was so amazing to finally meet her IRL! She is super sweet & so inspiring! We took lots of pics, chatted a bit & wished each other good luck! Before hubby and I headed back to our hotel; we took some pics, did a bit of shopping (I finally found the Boston Marathon hoodie I had been searching for all week) then we picked up ponchos because we knew there was lots of rain headed our way on Monday.

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We arrived back to our hotel & met up with Jess and Mike for dinner. As I looked at the menu; I thought carbs, carbs, carbs! I had been carbing up the last few days – having packed many foods from home to avoid trying anything new! I decided to go with chicken & plain pasta with a side of Italian bread for dinner! After dinner, I headed up to my room to prepare for race day. I questioned my outfit of choice several times. With a forecast in the high 30’s/low 40’s with strong gale force winds & rain – I wondered if shorts and a tank top was a bad idea? Will I be warm enough? Am I putting myself at risk for hypothermia? Should I wear pants instead? Will I be uncomfortable running in pants? Will the heavy, wet clothes slow me down!? I had no idea what to do, but decided to go with the shorts, tank top, compression socks & hat and play it by ear! I had a hard time falling asleep that night! I felt completely full of energy; restless! Maybe it was all the carbs? Maybe it was my nerves? Maybe all the excitement? I finally managed to fall asleep; only getting about 5 hours of sleep today. I woke up feeling good; excited & ready to conquer whatever it was that mother nature threw our way! I got up, got dressed, kissed hubby good bye & headed downstairs to catch the shuttle to Boston Common where we would get picked up to be taken to Hopkinton! Upon arrival, I quickly headed over to meet Alisa (an IG friend who I’d finally get to meet IRL) at her hotel; it was pouring buckets, windy & freezing so we waited inside before taking an Uber to where we could catch the bus. We checked in our baggage & quickly hopped on the bus. While on the bus; I decided it would be a good idea to run in tights rather than shorts so I quickly threw them over my shorts! I wondered if all these layers; including a long sleeve top & a poncho would be too much but I figured if it was I would throw it off before I started!

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We arrived to Hopkinton in about 30 minutes! It was pouring & we even saw a mix of snow! It was freezing, windy and just plain awful weatherwise!Β  As we walked over to the tents; all you saw were huge puddles & lots of mud everywhere!! It was like nothing I had ever seen before!! Every runner was in a poncho. Runners were sitting on plastic garbage bags, had garbage bags around their sneakers in an attempt to keep them dry – there was just mud everywhere!

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We sat and waited under the muddy tent as it poured and mixed with snow! Finally our wave was called & we lined up in our corrals! We were all completely soaked & just laughing as we headed over in our soaking wet clothing, sneakers; almost all in ponchos! Within minutes we were off! Despite the strong winds, pouring rain and cold – I decided I was still going to give the PR a go! Maybe I could hold the pace; maybe I couldn’t but I promised myself – I was leaving it all out there! I started off strong – right on target! I was conquering those fierce winds & feeling fantastic holding between 8:00 – 8:10/mile for the first 13 – 15 miles. Around mile 15, my legs were starting to feel it from pushing through those 40 – 50mph winds. I was pushing but they weren’t powering through as fast! I kept pushing, some miles stronger than others! When I got to Heartbreak – my legs were just toast! I fought hard; refusing to stop, refusing to walk – I pushed through! Wind in my face, pouring rain & wowie quite the hill! I got to the top & just felt so proud of myself for not giving up!

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As I ran the final miles of the race, I focused on keeping myself warm, staying in tune with my body & finishing strong! As I turned left onto Boylston, I threw off my poncho & sprinted to the finish of my 2nd Boston Marathon (14th marathon)! Arms in the air & tears in my eyes – I crossed in 3:42:42 running a 29:34 course PR!!Β πŸ’™πŸ’›Β It wasn’t the time I trained for but with the conditions that Mother Nature threw our way; how could I be upset? I just crossed the finish line of the Boston Marathon!

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I left Boston that day feeling proud; feeling like I left everything I had out there on the course & definitely put out a PR effort!

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Before Boston I promised myself I’d take the fall off from marathons after running 8 marathons in the last 4 years, but I that definitely changed as last week! One week ago; I put my 15th marathon in the books!! Recap Coming soon!

Have you had to adjust your goals in a race?
Did you feel disappointed after or did you celebrate your achievement?
Thank you as always for following my journey!
@meretherunner14

 

Yuengling Shamrock Marathon Race Recap

On Friday March 16th , I had the pleasureΒ  of heading to Virginia Beach after being asked to be a Shamrock Marathon social Ambassador! I was so excited! Having run this race 2 times before (the half distance in 2011′ & the full in 2016′); I knew what a fantastic race it was & immediately accepted!

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This year I chose to run the half distance as I was training for the Boston Marathon on 4/16. After a 6 hour drive with my hubby which included a beautiful, scenic drive over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge we arrived to the Virginia Beach Convention Center where the expo was being held! I had plans to meet up with friends that I follow on IG so when I arrived, I texted them to set up a meeting spot! I picked up my bib & went over to the registration desk when I met Kristy. Kristy works for J & A Racing! She & I communicated a lot by email prior to this weekend! She played a huge role in putting everything together for this amazing weekend! I then met Amy Frostick; the race director! It was so awesome to finally meet her. Having run this race before; I know just how amazing it is & I was so thankful to again be a part of it. After picking up my packet, I headed over to where Bart Yasso & Kara Goucher were speaking! Now, Kara Goucher has been a huge runspiration of mine since I began running 9 years ago! I have yet to meet her, but I had hoped that this would be the weekend I finally did!! I headed over the where she was about to take the stage. I heard “Meri, Meri!” It was Donna & Lisa! Two inspiring runners that I follow on IG that are originally from NJ! How cool is that? We chatted for a bit before asking Kara to take pics with us! I was so excited to meet all of these ladies! We sat through a Q & A session led by Bart Yasso while we all asked Kara questions! It was so great that both Adam Goucher & there son Colton was also there! So sweet! After the Q & A session we all got to take pics again with Kara!

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The last few days I had contemplated racing the half or simply using it as part of my 20 mile training run for Boston. I thought, what better person to ask than Olympian Kara Goucher. Well that is exactly what I did! Kara suggested that I use the half as part of my training run, she said “don’t race it – save it for Boston.”

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Β That night I had the honor of attending the Shamrock Marathon VIP Dinner led by Amy & Jim Frostick. I met Jim & Coleen whom I have followed on Instagram for years! It was so great to finally meet them! Also at the VIP dinner were Bart Yasso, Kara Goucher, Adam & Colt!Β  Bart Spoke to us about race weekend with Amy and Jim.

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Kara then spoke to us about running, spoke about Shamrock weekend and answered any questions she had! At one point Kara sat at my table; right next to me! So cool! She was super sweet and so genuine! Of course I asked her to take another pic with me! Hey, when you meet you runspiration two days in a row – you need to document it!!

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The dinner was delicious & the event was just unforgettable! It was so wonderful to hear all of the amazing things that J & A racing has done for the children in the community. That night I headed back to my hotel feeling so unbelievably inspired! I just couldn’t wipe the smile from my face. I woke up the next morning bright and early & headed out onto the boardwalk to log some miles prior to the race as I planned to use the half as part of my 20 mile training run! As I ran I saw other runners heading to the start, the course being set up & just enjoyed watching the sunrise! I ended up logging about 5 miles before heading to the start to meet Rebecca & Gabby! I quickly found them & within seconds the race began! I was feeling good sticking with high 7:50’s to low 8:00’s. I saw Gabby and ran beside her. After each mile; we compared paces – both of us feeling really good! As we ran, we chatted & just enjoyed taking in the beauty of the course! There were spectators out there cheering us on; the energy was just contagious! As we ran through the base; the wind picked up a bit but we stayed strong – maintaining the same splits that we ran the whole race. I knew that day was going to be a huge PR for Gabby & I was so excited to see her accomplish her goal!! As we approached the beach area; you could feel the ocean breeze! Spectators cheered us on & I cheered for Gabby saying ” you’ve got this girl – we are almost there!” We stayed together & as we approached the finish I knew Gabby had crushed her half PR!!

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We finished in 1:46:01!! I paced her to over a 4 minute PR & I am so proud of her!! After the race, I finished up my final 1.9 miles to make 20 miles @ 8:05/mile! A very strong training run for me!! 2 mile warmup (8:23, 8:21) followed by 18 miles @ 8:02/mile average! (8:10, 8:11, 8:07, 8:02, 8:07, 8:10, 8:05, 8:04, 8:02, 8:04, 8:03, 8:03, 8:05, 8:09, 7:57, 7:55, 7:42, 7:48)!

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After the race; I had the pleasure of meeting Heather, Patrick and Holly! Hubby and I then headed over to the VIP tent. There we grabbed a bite to eat & I tasted the newest Yuengling Beer! I saw Eileen & Harry two runners also from NJ! We took selfies with Bart Yasso and chatted about running!

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I also got to see Colleen; who I met the day before & she introduced me to Kara – another inspiring runner that I’ve followed on Instagram for years! Hubby and I hung around in the VIP tent for a little before heading back outside to cheer on the marathoners finishing the race! There was so much positive energy & support as each runner crossed the finish line! It was truly incredible! Hubby and I had to head back home that day so we said good bye to everyone & we headed back to our hotel.

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Before getting on the highway; we made a quick stop at for a post run protein smoothie for me – it was just delicious! We then stopped off at the nearby Acme for some snacks for the 7 hour car ride ahead of us! As we drove home; I couldn’t stop talking about all the highlights from this weekend! From the amazing expo, to meeting Kara Goucher not once but twice; to meeting so many positive – like minded people to running one of the best, most organized races out there! The whole experience was truly magical! Without a double; Shamrock Marathon weekend will forever be remembered as one of the most memorable & incredible weekends of my life! πŸ€πŸ’š

Thank you as always for following my journey! Next up – Boston Marathon!

@meretherunner14

 

NYC Marathon 2017′ – Race Recap & More

Fourth time’s a charm. Well that is not exactly how the saying goes, but sometimes that’s exactly how it works out! That is exactly how I describe my 4th TCS NYC Marathon (13th marathon) on November 5th! I went into this race completely different than I’ve gone into my prior marathons & mentally – I think it was just what I needed! In April, I ran my 5th BQ IN 3:35:38!

 

I promised myself if BQ’d in April that my fall marathon would not be about running a specific pace but instead enjoying every moment with no goals! I promised myself, I wouldn’t put that pressure on myself but instead just take it all in! In July, my hubby and I took a trip to Bermuda for our 10th anniversary.

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Although, I was running 5 days a week; maintaining a good base – I didn’t yet start training or even have a plan in place. I did a lot of running through the summer in the summer heat; enjoying early morning miles just chatting with friends or logging miles by myself before relaxing on the beach for the day. In Bermuda I continued with my normal running and strength training. When we returned, I felt refreshed and was officially ready to be in “training mode.” Only I still didn’t have a solid plan written out for myself. I visited the track 1x a week,. I did my long runs very early on Saturday morning – many miles logged with my running buddies Jennifer, Steph and Jeff on the trails

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or along the beach.

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I kept my weekday runs easy paced and I even raced a bit through the summer! September rolled around; still no plan in place but I was increasing my mileage each week with a combination of recovery weeks. My focus this time around was to have fun with the full and focus on a fast half! On September 17th, a couple of days after my 37th birthday, I ran the Newport Liberty Half.

 

Another unseasonably warm, humid day – I wasn’t quite sure how things would go but I ran safe & finished strong. I finished in 1:44:24! It was my fastest half in 5 years! I quickly wondered what could have been in ideal temps but was very proud! Even got to enjoy this awesome morning with my family including my my sister in law; Jess and some friends (Laura and Mary)Β  who ran as well!

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Picture above with the inspiring Laura and Mary!

I continued doing exactly what I had with still no written plan in place. October rolled around and on 10/15 I took another go at racing the half distance! Yet, another unseasonably warm/humid day. I had hopes of going sub 1:40, but with the warmer temps I wasn’t sure how this would go! My hubby did the 5k so I cheered and waited to see him cross the finish line before it was time for me to start my race! I saw him coming, yelled his name, snapped some pics & watched him cross the finish line of his 6th 5k!!

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I quickly lined up to start my race and stood with the 1:40 pacer! I introduced myself and we were off! I felt good, some miles quicker than others but I was sticking with them. Around mile 8, the pace was quick and I decided I better slow down a bit to save some energy & not overheat. I felt strong! I heard “top 10 female!”

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I thought to myself – no way!! I pushed, although it was warm, I knew I could do this!!

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The whole time, I repeated to myself “I’ve got this!” Finally the finish line was in sight! I flew through in full sprint crossing the finish line in 1:42:59 in the top 10 females and 2nd in my age group!

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This was my fastest half marathon since 2012!

 

A huge confidence booster of a race; I continued training just as I had been with no set plan written out. Race week arrived! My sister in law Jess was running her 1st marathon so I planned to drive us both into the city to the expo! So much excitement! We both worked a half day then headed in to the expo.

 

We picked up our bibs before meeting up with running buddies & Instagram friends we had yet to meet in person!

 

It was so awesome to finally meet Tiffanie and Jill!!

 

And to see Jennifer & Vivian!

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We took lots of pics, did lots of shopping before heading home to rest up for Sundays race!

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I had my outfit all ready for race morning; of course!

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Sunday morning , hubby and I woke up at 3am to get ready & head over to Jess & Mike’s house! I drove us to the Meadowlands where we took a bus over to Staten Island! Upon arrival we found our corrals; I hung out in the orange corral with Jess & ate my breakfast before heading over to my corral.

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While walking walking over to my corral, I ran into my inspiring friend Sashea who was running her 1st marathon since having her little girl last fall!! We met in 2013′ & have very similar running journey’s! She is so sweet! Of course we took a pic then gave each other good luck hugs & headed to our corrals!
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I arrived to my corral with about an hour until go time!! I took a seat on the ground as I waited for Wave 2 (my wave) to be called to line up. I had been texting Lindsay; a long time IG friend in hope of finally meeting her! I told her where I was sitting and within minutes she found me! Lindsay was one of my 1st followers when I started my page 5 years ago! I was so excited to finally meet her!! We took a selfie, chatted for a bit and wished one another good luck!
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I sat and waited and out of nowhere saw my friend and running buddy Steph!
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She, myself, Jennifer and Jeff logged many miles together training for this race! I was so excited to see her! We took a pic, chatted for a bit – deciding we would run together! Within minutes our wave (wave 2) was called to line up! We headed over to line up. The excitement was building and adrenaline pumping! We moved closer to the bridge and it started to rain a little. I didn’t mind one bit because the temps were perfect, the wind was calm and I was about to conquer my 13th marathon (4th NYC)! Within minutes, we were off! I remembered not to let the adrenaline get me on the bridge (I’ve definitely failed to do that in the past). This time was different; the crowds on the bridge didn’t allow for us to take off. It was so jam packed that many of us were tripping over one another. We kept the pace easy over the Verrazano (in the 9:20’s) just saving it all for the next 25.2 miles to come! The first mile actually ended up being our slowest mile of the race by about 1 minute, but crowds are definitely to be expected when running NYC! I hear it all the time & I say it all the time; NYC is not a PR race – it is a race all about pure enjoyment, the experience & taking it all in & that was my goal that day! As Steph & I ran we smiled, we gave high fives, we chatted (just as we did on our morning long runs) & we had a blast!
I felt amazing, energy level was fantastic, fueling with 1 gel every 5 miles with water & Gatorade at every station and salt as needed! Steph and I ran together until about mile 22 when I looked back & didn’t see her. I kept looking and didn’t see her. I thought, I must have lost her in the crowd. I realized that the next 4.2 miles would just be me and the streets of NYC! I still felt great! As I ran I saw Cynthia, I saw Janet who took this pic:
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I heard complete strangers cheering my name! This is what I love so much about NYC; the support, the energy – it truly is incredible! As I ran, I thought a lot about how far I’ve come, I thought a lot about my past marathons, I thought about my sister in law running her 1st marathon, I thought a lot about my sister & truly believed that she was right there running beside me & saying “Go Mer Go!” As I ran mile 23; I remembered the struggle I’ve had conquering that mile in past years & I wasn’t sure how it would go. As I ran up that incline, I repeated to myself “I am strong” “I’ve got this!” I made it to the top; entered Central Park & thought to myself, wow! I’ve never felt that strong tackling that hill. At first I was shocked, I didn’t do any hill training, my running routes are mostly flat, I asked myself ” how did I just conquer that incline that has always almost left me in tears so strong this time?”
My only answer was lots of speed work leading up to the race & just plain trusting the process! I ran the final miles of the race; not wanting the race to end. For the first time in my 4 NYC Marathon’s I didn’t struggle in the final miles. Before I knew it, I was entering the park with the finish line just a short distance away. Although I didn’t all out race that day; I wanted to sprint through the finish line so I picked up the pace; finish line in sight and gave it everything I had! I crossed the finish line with a smile on my face & a tear in my eye! I looked down at my watch and quickly realized that I finished just 19 seconds short of a BQ in 3:40:19.
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I had no goal to BQ in NYC and had no idea coming so close was even a possibility. Yes, when I saw that for a moment I wished that I had all out raced that day, but I quickly reminded myself that not all races are about a BQ or about running a PR. They are about so much more! I crossed the finish line that day with over a 15 minute NYC Marathon and ran one of my strongest marathons to date!
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After the race; I immediately called my parents & my hubby to let them know how I did!
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After picking up my baggage; I ran into Steph! I was so excited to see her & so glad everything was ok! She finished just minutes after me and again BQ’d!! I was so happy for her!!
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I found my hubby and brother in law in the family meeting area and we headed over to Columbus Circle to go wait at the finish line to see my sister in law Jess finish her 1st marathon.

 

It started to get really cold, windy and rainy as we cheered for the runners! It was so exciting being there in the final mile of the marathon watching all of the faces of determination as the runners came by! We kept our eye out for Jess as we received updates on the live tracker knowing that she would be coming soon! Then, there she was!! I quickly turned my camera to video and did a live streaming video on IG so that others could see! She saw us, gave us hugs as she cried tears of happiness and I screamed so loud cheering I almost lost my voice! I was so excited for her! I know that one thing that was top on her bucket list was running her 1st marathon in NYC and here she was less than one mile away from that becoming a reality! Such an unforgettable moment! We quickly rushed over to meet Jess at the family meeting area where we took lots of pics!

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After the race, we headed to a restaurant to grab a bite to eat with our hubby’s and share a celebratory glass of wine!!

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After completing my 13th marathon that day; I took 5 full days off and slowly returned back to running maintaining a base.

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I’ve enjoyed running and racing with running buddies/friends (below with Jennifer & Steph at the Jingle Bell 5.3 mile Run ).

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Last week, while on Christmas vacation I began training for the 2018′ Boston Marathon! I kicked off Boston training with a trail run with Jennifer and Jeff who with also be in Boston in April along with Stephanie and me!

I have yet to write out a solid training plan other than my long runs; I am thinking that the way that I trained for NYC is the best option for me. I took it day by day; getting in every required run, getting my long runs done bright and early but never stressing or feeling overwhelmed. In the end; I enjoyed every single training run; developed some wonderful friendships and ran aΒ  race that I was content with! That is what running is all about isn’t it?

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Do you go into every single race with a goal time? Have you ever gone into a race with the goal to simply enjoy every single moment?

Do you write out a solid plan for every race? Does this approach work better for you as well?

Do you do most of your training with friends or on your own? Which do you prefer?

I am excited to share my journey to marathon # 14 – Boston 18′ with you all!

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Thank you for reading my recap & as always thank you again for following along on my journey!

Mere Β  @meretherunner14

 

NJ Marathon Recap – My 5th BQ – A Dream Come True

“All dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.” “Walt Disney.
One of my favorite quotes & I couldn’t think of a better was to start this blog. Last Sunday, I ran my 12th marathon – getting there wasn’t an easy journey but with persistence, determination and dedication I made it happen & I got much more than I hoped for!
After running the Philadelphia Marathon in November with a BQ in 3:39:01 (BQ by 59 seconds); I knew I’d have to run another marathon & work hard to secure my spot for Boston 2018!

Running Boston in 2013′ – for years I’ve been “Chasing the Unicorn” in hopes of being there again.

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I decided I would run the Shamrock Marathon in VA. Last March; I ran it through wind & rain in the midst of a storm finishing in 3:48:49. Running Shamrock Marathon (a March Marathon) meant I’d have to start training again 6 – 8 weeks post marathon. I was determined! Training was going well; I ran one of my fastest 16 milers (8:05/mile) – smooth sailing right!? Wrong! A few days later I started feeling tightness down my right leg (through the knee). I stretched, tried running = pain. I decided to see my chiropractor – it was better but not great. I saw the podiatrist wondering if it was my orthotics – still pain. It was mind boggling – what could this be? I knew for a fact my calves were tight, I knew I had very weak hips/glutes – could that be it? I decided to try a few things on my own & go from there. I couldn’t continue training through the pain so I decided to take 2 weeks off from running! In that time; I incorporated lots of hip/glute exercises 3 – 4x a week (exercises I will share in a separate blog). I focused on extra stretching, yoga & foam rolling. I also received a pair of insoles from Enertor – they worked wonders. Within 2 weeks I was back to running & even better running with minimal pain. I kept the mileage lower for a week or two to be cautious; I continued my hip/glute strengthening and continued to run pain free. At this point; I had missed 3 long runs & decided it would be best to defer my marathon. My heart was set on going for a BQ & with the training runs I missed – I didn’t want to risk it.
I decided to continue training & if all went well – register for NJ Marathon which is where I ran my PR (3:33:34) in 2012′! The race that earned me a spot at the Boston Marathon in 2012′.
I continued training, my speed workouts were going well, I had no pain on long runs, I continued strengthening my hips & glutes – I was feeling great!! 4 weeks prior, I finally registered for NJ Marathon!!
I decided again on a 2 week taper doing my final of 3 20 milers just 15 days out from race day! My body responds best to a shorter taper, anyone else?
Race week, I focused on extra sleep, less stress (basically planning meals prior, getting work done ahead of time at work, keeping myself from anything that could cause me stress including the weather – which I refused to look at). I planned my meals the week prior – focusing on extra carbs – lots of carbs. I planned to leave work early the Friday prior to the race, visit the expo & pack my bag that night so Saturday would be strictly for a shakeout run followed by relaxation. Friday I visited the expo, picked up my race bib then headed home to relax on the couch before getting 12 hours of sleep.

Saturday with temps nearing 85 degrees – I headed out for a 2 mile shakeout run. I was ready!! My legs wanted to fly but I resisted the urge! I stretched and spent the rest of the day relaxing; imagining myself crossing the finish line with a BQ! I wasn’t nervous this time, but instead felt confident; knowing that I put everything I had into this training!
Sunday Runday had finally arrived!!!! I was so excited!!! We arrived about 90 minutes before the start.

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I decided that my goal was a BQ more than anything so I chose not to risk a PR (after chatting with a friend). My BQ time is 3:40 so I decided to stick with the 3:35 pacer & if I felt good in the later miles go for it. I quickly found the 3:35 pacer & we were off.

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I felt really good! It was cloudy, 58 degrees and humid. I thought to myself, “should IΒ  speed up? Go for a PR? I quickly reminded myself – “this is a marathon & anything can happen in 26.2 miles!” I am definitely no stranger to this. In 2013′ in Boston I cramped up so bad I had to stop at a medical tent, in NYC 2014, I took a huge fall at mile 18 & was brought into a medical tent, at NJ Marathon 2015′ – the heat got to me and I dehydrated. On that note, I decided to continue on with the pacer! We crossed the 10k with an 8:12/mile pacer. I was feeling great, giving high fives, cheering. Paying close attention to fueling & hydrating as I ran. At mile 11, I saw my friend Martina!! She ran out on the course with an ice cold water bottle for me! I sipped some & poured it on my head to cool off!! Martina ran with me for 1 1/2 miles; at that point we were a bit ahead of the pacer & she reminded me to pace myself & stay with the group! She reassured me by saying “you’ve got this girl!” By mile 13.1 I was right on pace crossing the 13.1 mark in 1:47:40 (8:14/mile). Still feeling great, but in the back of my mind not forgetting that I was only halfway there. I continued to pace myself, staying right beside the pacers. We headed south toward Asbury Park – I knew just a few miles up we’d be greeted by large crowds & the adrenaline kicked in!! So many people cheering for us through Asbury Park then Ocean Grove as we looped around and headed onto the boardwalk! I looked down at my watch at mile 19 & my pace was 7:46 (my fastest mile yet). As we ran through Asbury Park – the pacer picked up the pace a bit. I crossed the 20 mile mark at (8:13/mile). I was feeling good but worried if I pushed too hard I may pay for it later so I continued on at the same pace. Running North back to Long Branch, I was feeling good!! I was right on pace but didn’t for one minute lose focus! The race wasn’t over until I crossed that finish! The pacer was a bit ahead of me & noticed them picking up the pace. I decided to pace myself – my goal was a BQ – my A goal a sub 3:36! I knew if I could hold the pace I had for the next 5 miles – I had it!! I stayed focus paying close attention to signs from my body. I hydrated, took my gels and took salt. At mile 24 my legs felt a little heavy but I focused on just keeping myself relaxed and focused! As we came up to mile 25; we approached the boardwalk. I knew I’d again see Martina; there she was! My legs were burning but I felt so determined. I yelled “Martina – I need ya!” She dropped everything & ran out onto the course yelling “Meredith, you’ve got this!” “You’re so strong!” “Follow the unicorn!’ as she pointed to the unicorn on her Boston jacket! πŸ’™πŸ’›

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She yelled “pump your arms!” At that moment , it was all mental for me – mind over body!!! I wanted this more than anything!! She ran off to the side and said “Girl, this is your moment – go get that BQ!”

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She ran down the sidelines watching as I left it all out on the course, sprinting through the finish!! I then heard my hubby yelling “Go Mer, go!!!”

At that moment my dream became a reality – at that moment I became a Boston Marathon Qualifier for the 5th time (2nd time on this course) finishing in what my Garmin said was 26.69 miles in 3:35:32 (official time – 3:35:38 – 8:13/mile – a BQ by 4 minutes 22 seconds)!!

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I crossed the finish line 2 thumbs up – filled with so much joy!! I did it!! I accomplished my A goal; running my fastest marathon in 5 years! It was truly incredible; I wish I could take that moment & just hold on to that feeling forever. πŸ’–

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I know my sister was running beside me that day, there is no other way to describe the strength, determination & power I felt that day! It was my strongest race to date & I know she played every part in making that day as magical as it was.Β  Here I am 8 days later still on cloud 9!

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After the race I was greeted by my hubby, who was so proud!! I then immediately saw Martina!! She was so happy! I thanked her for all her support! She is the best & truly such an inspiration to me!

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I then met my sweet, inspiring friend Michelle who’s hubby was running his 1st full marathon! He finished in 4:19!! So awesome!!

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Damian and I then headed over to our favorite little beach bar that we go to every time I run a race there!

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We met up with friends; including my awesome & inspiring friend Mary who I met 5 years ago at our local gym. She ran the half marathon & will be going for her 2nd BQ this September; I know she will do it!!

I spent the day just riding that runners high & believe it or not – I am still on cloud 9 today!

After the marathon I took 5 full days off; something I’ve never done before but I knew my body needed it. I am back to running; just easy miles for right now.

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So what’s next? Hmm. In November I will run my 4th NYC Marathon (13th Marathon). I have one goal for NYC – to have fun (no time goals)! For now its just recovery & shorter distances as I set new goals for myself!Β  I can’t wait to see what’s next!
The road isn’t always easy & doesn’t always go as planned. Dream big, never lose sight of your dreams & never give up because “dreams do come true if you have the courage to pursue them!” I know mine did!

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Boston 2018′ here I come!!

Questions about my training etc? Comments? Please share!

Thank you as always for following my journey!!Β  @meretherunner14

My 4th BQ – Finally A Reality – Philadelphia Marathon Race Recap

On Sunday, November 20th I toed the starting line of the Philadelphia Marathon excited to run my 11th marathon & 2nd Philadelphia Marathon!!

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For days; I avoided watching the weather forecast knowing that was the one thing that would send me into a complete frenzy! Every time someone would ask “When is your marathon?” and I would reply with “Sunday!” I’d stop them before they could even say a word about the weather, but the expressions on their faces told me it wasn’t good! I stayed calm, knowing in my heart that I put in 16 weeks of the toughest training I had done in years. I trusted my training going into this race with the motto “everything I need is already inside.” A friend of mine saw the forecast and said to me “you are stronger than the weather, remember that!!” That was another motto I took with me that day as I ran the streets of Philadelphia! Going into this race – I had no pre-race jitters which is completely abnormal for me. I took my place in the black corral, made sure my shoe laces were tied tightly (something I always do before a race) and waited for our corral to start!! Although I didn’t watch the weather forecast; I could tell it was not going to be an easy race judging by the wind gusts! The temperature was around 42 degrees, which in my book is ideal marathon weather! Within minutes we were off! I knew I’d have to pace myself properly because I didn’t want the wind to tire me out! I maintained a pace of 8:15 for the 1st 10k running mostly throughout the city where the tall buildings blocked the wind. We then ran through the rolling hills of Philadelphia which I don’t remember from the last time I ran Philly! At the half marathon mark I was at 1:48:10 – averaging a pace of 8:16. Just before mile 14 we passed the art museum and we greeted by a huge crowd of spectators, cheering our names and giving us high 5’s!! I then spotted my husband and gave him a high 5 as he cheered “Go Mer Go!”

I was so excited to see him out there! At this point the wind really started to pick up as we headed into Fairmount park running along the Schuylkill River! I repeated to myself “I am stronger than the weather!” At this point not only was I conquering the wind but also the rolling hills in Fairmount Park. I held strong taking water and Gatorade at every single aid station. At the 30k mark my average pace was 8:18. I pushed through still feeling so strong despite the wind and the hills!! At mile 20 was the turnaround point & I wasn’t sure if the wind would calm down or pick up. At times I thought to myself “ok this is tolerable” but by the next minute I was thinking “am I going to blow away?” So unpredictable! I pushed through and kept repeating positive mantras in my head! Around mile 22; I spotted an Instagram runner friend; Bennett! I told him I was on target for a BQ! He said to me “you’ve got this!” Deep down; I knew I could do it! I felt so strong & if I could just push these final 4 miles the goal I’d been chasing for 4 years (running my 4th BQ) would finally become a reality!! I pushed through, some moments tougher than others as Bennett encouraged me to push through! We approached mile 26 and the crowds of spectators grew larger & larger! We were greeted by lots of smiles, motivational signs & encouraging words!!! I spotted the finish line; Bennett said to me “come on you’ve got this!”

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I kicked the pace up running beside Bennett & crossed the finish line with a BQ; running my fastest marathon since 2012′!!! I am still on cloud 9! I can only imagine what I could’ve done in perfect weather conditions but I am completely ecstatic!! I not only accomplished my goal, but I earned myself another BQ!

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Official time – 3:39:01!!! Almost 10 minutes faster than my March Marathon on a more challenging course!

Definitely a proud moment for me!!

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2 Philadelphia marathons – 5 years apart – both BQ’s on the same exact date – 11/20!!

I am still on a runners high!

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A huge thank you to my husband who puts up with the madness of marathon training; waking up early on weekends for races, carb loading with me etc. He is truly the best & I am so lucky to have him in my life! None of this would be possible without his support!

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Thank you as always for following my journey!! Mere @meretherunner14

NYRR France 8k – Race Recap

Another hot/humid summer day in NYC. I drove into the city bright and early; called my friend H & we headed to Central Park for our long run. I was running the France 8k as part of my long run so I decided to log a few miles before. I logged 2 miles in the park with my amazing friend Haley before looping around to head back to the starting line & wait for the race to begin.

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My only goal for this race was to enjoy the run. I had no time goals as I was using this toward a 12 mile long run while earning credit toward my 9 + 1 for TCS NYC Marathon 2016. I took my place in my corral and minutes later the Star Spangled Banner was sung. Halfway through the song; it started to rain. In minutes we were off! By mile two it started to downpour and my sneakers began to fill with water. They got heavier and heavier with each mile! I had no goal time so my only goal at this point was to finish without slipping. I refused to give up no matter how heavy my sneakers got. I kept moving! I crossed the finish line, took a quick photo and tried to dump some of the water out of my wet shoes.

I was soaked & it was more humid than it was before the race began, but I knew my work was not done! I had a few more miles to go to complete my 12 mile run so I got to it. I continued running in Central Park in & logged my 12 miles! Not a bad pace for running in soaked clothes. πŸ™‚

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After I completed my run; I met up with Haley & we grabbed some protein smoothies before heading back to her place to watch the Men’s Olympic Marathon. H was nice enough to give me dry clothes to change into so I didn’t have to drive home completely drenched! She’s such a good friend!

By the time I left the city; the sun was shining and it was just beautiful outside!

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It was a good day!! Next up – 5th Avenue Mile!

Thank you as always for following my journey!! @meretherunner14

 

Neptune City 5K Race Recap – 1ST in Age Group

A little behind with my race recaps – racing, marathon training and a busy work schedule have kept me from blogging as much as I’d like to. Thinking back to August 6th; a cloudy, humid morning. As many 5k’s/races as I’ve done – this distance still gives me the pre-race jitters. The thought of going all out for a shorter distance gets my nerves going, but I continue to register for them constantly testing my limits!! It was a hot/muggy morning – high humidity so I quickly took the pressure off myself by simply saying to myself “Be safe let’s see how this goes in the heat – listen to your body!” Before the race start we all said the Pledge of Allegiance. I took my spot at the front of the pack & within minutes we were off. It was hot/humid so I made sure to pace myself! I was feeling good at mile 1 and continued to pace myself through mile 2. With 1 mile left, I picked up the pace a bit in hopes of a strong finish. I don’t run well in heat/humidity but I crossed the finish in 23:07 feeling strong!

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I felt like I still had something left in the tank & that was a good sign considering I had my long run the next day!!

I found my hubby & we headed over to check the results. I placed 1st in my age group, 4th female and 24th overall.

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I received my medal on stage and after I went to breakfast with my hubby to celebrate. I am so thankful for his constant support!!

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Next up – NYRR France 8k.

Thank you as always for following my journey! @meretherunner14

Boomer’s Cystic Fibrosis Run to Breathe 4 miler – Race Recap

With summer here; although I am training & racing – I’ve fallen a bit behind on my blogging! Here I am, back & catching up!😊 On Saturday, July 16th I got out of bed bright & early to head this NYC. Today, I would be running my ” 6th NYRR race toward my 9 + 1 for

NYCM 2017. It was another hot, humid summer morning in the city. I did not have any time goals going into the race & decided not to put any pressure on myself to run a certain pace. My thought was “its hot – its humid – I’ll run with no music – listen to my body & see how this goes.” The race began with the singing of the Star Spangled Banner, announcements from the race director – telling us to run safe in the heat and some inspiring words from Boomer Esiason. Within minutes, the race started. It was a hot one but I felt good. My goal was to not focus on the time on my watch but instead ruin by feel & hydrate along the course! I crossed the mile 1 marker at a pace of 7:58. I wasn’t all out racing, I was running a comfortable pace & feeling good! I made sure to grab water sip some of it & pour the rest over my head at every water stop. At mile 2 I was at a pace of 7:59, still feeling good. Halfway through, the sun was shining bright & it was getting even warmer but I was so determined! I crossed the mile,3 mark at 7:44 pace and at that point I said to myself “finish this race strong!” We came to a downhill in the park where there was a crowd of spectators yelling “less than a mile to go!” I kept repeating to myself, you’ve got this! I conquered the heat finishing mile 4 at 7:37! Average pace was 7:48/mile – finishing just 27 seconds off from a 4 mile PR even in the scorching heat.

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Overall, I was very happy with the way I paced myself in this race & content with my time. Below; I’m sprinting full speed to the finish line!

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After the race I ran into my amazing friend Martina who ran the race as part of her long run for TCS NYC Marathon! It’s always so great to see this girl!!

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I headed back over to the finish to stand with my hubby & brother- in-law as we cheered on my amazing sister-in-law Jess as she crossed the finish line!! 😊

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We hung out in Central Park, took some pics & just enjoyed the beautiful summer weather in the city!!

As always our hubby’s were there to support us & to be silly!

We grabbed some Starbucks coffee!

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Of course Jess & I got our Instagram names put on our cups!!

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After we said goodbye & headed back to the parking garage where our car was. The guy in the parking garage was nice enough to let us know that if we came back in 30 minutes (which would be 4 hours of parking) the cost would be half. We decided to grab some protein smoothies so we found this cute little place nearby and that’s exactly what we did!!

It was a wonderful day with wonderful company!!

Thank you as always for following my journey! Mere @meretherunner14

Β Next up – Neptune City 5k – 8/6 (I placed 1st in my age group – blog coming soon)! 😊

Belmar Five – Race Recap

This summer has been quite busy; putting me a little behind on my blogging but here I am on “Throwback Thursday” ready to tell you all about this awesome race! I am blogging as I wait for my car to get an oil change so here goes!! On July 9th I ran the Belmar Five! This is a local race that takes you through beautiful Belmar; one of the Jersey Shore beach towns.

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People from all over New Jersey & even outside NJ come to participate! This race is known for being one of the hottest races of the year (last year’s race pics below).

However this year was quite different! This year it was cloudy, humid & misty & the rain picked as the race started.

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This was my second year running this race. Last year I ran this race with a sesimoid stress fracture in my foot (with my doctors ok) so I knew this year’s time would most likely be better!I went out running with no music; as I’ve done in all my race & training runs since early June. I went out with no pressure on myself; no high expectations but simply a goal to just run strong! I’ve found in the past that when I set goals for myself prior to a race; I would spend the whole race looking down at my watch stressing myself out if I’m not where I need to be. That took the fun out of racing for me. With that; I’ve recently stopped running with music, stopped starring down at my Garmin constantly to take the pressure off myself & just focusing on listening to my body & running the best race I can. The start was a little crowded which helped me to pace myself for the first mile – keeping it at 7:43! The rain was coming down but with the high humidity, it just felt perfect!! At mile 2; I was feeling good and I spotted Heather – a fellow instagrammer on the course so I ran beside her and said hello!! We saw one another out on the course at Runapalooza in April, but never actually met so it was so great to see her!! I continued on pushing through the humidity & enjoying the rain falling on me; keeping me cool!! I crossed the mile 2 mark at 7:39. As we headed into mile 3 and approached the Belmar boardwalk; we were greeted by a large group of people cheering for us!! I was feeling determined & loving these cooler temps! We ran through a bit of wind as we ran along the ocean, but I pushed through strong holding a 7:43/mile pace. With just 2 miles left; I looked down at my watch and knew the chance of running a PR was pretty good!!! I stood clear of focusing on the time on my watch prior to this to keep from stressing myself. I was determined; pushing the pace crossing the mile 4 mark at 7:38/mile pace. I was feeling good!! I said to myself “1 mile left Mere; you’ve got this!” I focused on staying strong as my SparkletΒ  bracelet from Momentum Jewelry says and you know what – I did!!!

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I ran mile 5 at a 7:26/mile pace crossed the finish line with an overall pace of 7:37/mile!!! πŸ˜€ This was huge for me; not only a course PR (shaving over 3 minutes off of last years time) but a new 5 mile PR! 😊

I managed to run negative splits and place 11th/ 165 females 35 – 39 years old, 76th/1,216 women and 355th/2,438 overall!! I was so proud! After the race; I ran into Heather, we chatted and of course took some pics as we Instagram folks do!

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She told me of a post race BBQ for all runners at a local Bar/Restaurant in town so hubby and I decided to go!! 😊 Each person received their choice of a hot dog or hamburger platter! We also received a medal & a flower at the finish-line, a T-shirt and a Belmar 5 souvenir cup for the races 40th anniversary!!

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Hubby and I hung out and just relaxed for a few hours; it was so nice!!

Overall it was a wonderful day; I earned my 53rd medal & put my 84th race in the books!

Although it tends to be a hot one every year; this is one of my favorite races along the Jersey Shore & I will definitely be back next year!!! 😊

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And… my car is ready – talk about using time wisely!! Thanks for reading!

Do you go into every race with a time goal? Do you enjoy running in the rain as much as I do? Do you race with music?

Thoughts? Please share.Β 

Next up – Boomer’s Cystic Fibrosis – Run to Breathe – 4 miler – NYRR – NYC (already ran it – recap coming soon).

Thank you as always for following my journey!!! Mere @meretherunner14