Friday, June 24, 2016

Sleep Success Story

My favorite part about having published a book is hearing from people who were helped by it. Within just two weeks of launching Boston Bound, a runner named Alison reached out to me on the book's Facebook page and said that she loved the book so much that she lent it out and planned to read it for a second time before her upcoming marathon. Naturally, I was curious to learn more about her. After hearing about her journey, I couldn't resist sharing it on my blog.

Alison, a doctor, began running just over 4 years ago when her neighbor was training for a sprint triathlon. The neighbor wanted someone to keep her accountable so the two of them started to run in the evenings, after she put her children to sleep. Ultimately, the triathlete moved and joined her local running club-- the Hendersonville Running Club. This club has seen her through the majority of her training.

"Within my running group, I have developed a close knit group of girls and we meet every weekend to do our long runs together," she said.

Since she started running, she has completed 9 half marathons, multiple 5K’s, and 5.4 marathons (due to the last one being shut down just before halfway point). Her half marathon PR is 1:56:43, and her full marathon PR is 4:15.

"I would like to continue to build as an athlete. I see myself as more than a runner: I am a mom, a runner, and a doctor, and so much more. I would like to build speed, endurance, strength and continue to succeed in running. Of course, I want to PR my races, but being healthy is a huge part of my training. At some point in the distant future, maybe a BQ would be in my reach… maybe. I’m not setting my sights on it yet. My biggest goal other than the above, is to run a marathon in under 4 hours."

Sleep & Anxiety Woes
Alison: a doctor, runner, and mother
After getting to know her background, Alison told me about some of her struggles with running. They primarily revolved around anxiety and sleep.

"My pre-race anxiety has always been terrible! That goes along with my test anxiety that I have always had. The week before a race, I am normally having nausea, diarrhea, and butterflies in my stomach-- these will come in waves. I have always had an underlying anxiety, but anything that feels like a 'test' will make me nervous. To me, the race would 'test' how fit I have become.  I obsessed about things like the weather, my last two weeks of training runs- I always seemed to fall into a runners depression during my taper weeks-- losing confidence in myself, feeling down, and then the increased anxiety."

She has struggled with getting more than four hours of sleep the night before a race. She would lay awake in bed, feeling exhausted, but with her mind playing out every possible scenario for race day. She would obsess about numbers, paces, the weather, and all sorts of "what-if" scenarios.

"The night before my 2nd Marathon- Rocket City Marathon- I was with two of my friends and I was tossing and turning until 2:00 a.m. They finally heard me and asked what was wrong, so I told them. Thankfully, one of the girls had a Benadryl, and I took half of it. Within half an hour, I was asleep and got a whole 3.5 hours of sleep! I managed to PR that race by 25 minutes, but I think I could have done better had I actually rested my body."

So, from that point forward, before every race, Alison would take half a Benadryl the night before, but it would always leave her feeling dry-mouthed during the race. "I know that this isn’t the answer," she told me, "but it allowed me to get close to six hours of sleep at least before a race."

Overall Mindset and Focus
Alison told me that her mind always raced as she approached race week. "I obsessed about numbers, paces, weather, water stops, and nutrition. I continually focused on the things that I couldn’t control and they controlled me for at least 1-2 weeks before the race. Taper time was always the hardest for me- the lack of confidence that I felt left me feeling down and doubtful of my impending performance. Hyper-focusing on times/paces were huge for me. I was constantly playing out different scenarios in my head of how I could catch up on time if I was short, how to get through water stops without adding too much time, monitoring my pace during the race. I would check the weather where the race location was, several times a day for the week leading up to the race- worrying if it was too hot/cold/windy/rainy, etc. Obsession. There is no better word."

Alison recently wrote a blog post about her latest marathon, which unfortunately was shut down near the halfway mark due to severe weather. She mentioned that Boston Bound helped her immensely with this race, so I was curious to hear how.

"Boston Bound made a huge difference in how I felt in the weeks leading up to my latest marathon, the morning of the race, and the race itself. Hearing that you also suffered from pre-race anxiety, really helped me realize that this wasn’t just me. Also, I realized that I was focusing on all the wrong things! I was obsessing about things that I couldn’t control- such as the weather. A friend of mine had suggested I read this book (he didn’t even realize how much pre-race anxiety I had), and I was attached to the book the moment I read it. I have underlined and starred multiple sections of the book, so that I can refer back to those pages.

"I realized that positivity and confidence were an integral part of my training and tapering. I didn’t check the weather at all except for two days before the race, when I was packing for our trip. My husband was busy checking the weather several times the week before the race. Whether he told me it was a high likelihood of rain, low chance of rain, hot, cold, or thunderstorm, I kept telling myself that I needed to focus on the things that I could control: I could control myself- my mind, my positivity, my confidence."

Sleeping Easy
Alison went on to tell me that she finished Boston Bound for the first time, one week before her marathon, and then read it halfway through again the week before the race.

"Just by changing my mindset, I didn’t’ suffer runner’s depression during my taper time and I wasn’t anxious the week before the race. If I started thinking about anything that would make me nervous, I remembered positive thoughts: I have trained hard and I am going to run this race to the best of my ability. The night before the race was the best night’s sleep before a race I ever got!! I got a whole seven hours of sleep- and without Benadryl!!

"In the morning, I ate my breakfast without significant nausea and had no butterflies in my stomach like I normally do. I was laughing and cuttin’ up with my sister and husband even as the race started. I have never felt so confident in myself as I approached a race as I did for the Race Around the Lake Marathon. The confidence wasn’t that I would attain my PR, it was that I knew I would race the best race I mentally and physically could. My favorite quote from the book, which is my new mantra is: '…focusing on the things that I can (control) is the key to a healthy mindset and ultimately, success... I now expect myself to run the best of my ability regardless of the circumstances. And the ‘best of my ability’ doesn’t always equate to a PR.' "

Alison's next marathon is the Hartford Marathon in October. Coincidentally, this was my first BQ target race! Her coach has decided that for the next month she will refocus her training on speed, and she can build up endurance again after that. Her main goal at Hartford is running a sub- 4 hour marathon. She's going to swim to help with endurance and work on cross training with core strength as her focus.

"Another thing that I would like to continue to focus on is mental toughness. I think that that is harder to work on, but the summer heat and humidity will give me plenty of opportunity! Onto Marathon #7!"

Best of luck, Alison, and thanks for chatting with me!

You can learn more about Alison on her blog.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Training is heating up!

It's been awhile since I've posted a training update. I blogged regularly about my Boston Marathon training, and it helped me see the bigger picture of my hard work.

After the marathon, I took a few weeks of recovery. I did not run at all during the week following the marathon, and I took it extremely easy the following week, logging just a few very easy treadmill miles while on vacation. I eased my way back into things the third week after Boston, culminating in the Mother's Day 4-Miler. And then, "operation get Elizabeth speedy" kicked into full gear.

The plan is to keep the mileage relatively low (like in the 40's instead of the 60's) and to run two interval sessions a week. No tempo runs, no marathon pace runs-- just really fast stuff.  This means spending a lot of time at a sub-7:00 pace. Ultimately I hope to run the Army 10-miler at a sub-7:00 pace, so that work starts now. And of course, building this fast base will only help me when it comes to training for my fall marathon in November. On top of it, all of this work is happening in the heat and humidity of northern Virginia, which is great for both physical and mental strength.

Here's a snapshot of my training from the past five weeks:

I don't anticipate that my long runs will get above 12 miles for at least another six weeks. Running for an hour and 45 minutes is plenty to keep my endurance up without tiring my legs for the speed work. Let's dive into a few workouts.

I ran this workout about 10 days prior to the Twilight 4-miler. It was three sets of 1600m, 1-minute recovery jog, 400m. In between each set was a 3-minute recovery jog, which equated to just over a lap around the track.

I always start my track workouts conservatively and I find that it's hard to go fast for the first rep of anything. But this was different. I run my track workouts by feel (I don't use the Garmin pace) so imagine my shock when the first 1600m clocked in at 6:38. Oops! The good news is that it felt like a 6:50. The bad news is that the humidity would catch up to me, making the rest of the 1600's slower. My times were:

1600m: 6:38
400m: 1:30
1600m: 6:48
400m: 1:30
1600m: 6:43
400m: 1:29

The fact that I ran a 1:29 (5:56 pace) for the last 400m means that I still had plenty of energy at the end, despite the speedy start.

Onto another workout. On Thursday of this week, I ran a workout that was really challenging to commit to memory! I had to look at it several times and remind myself that the ladder climbed up (not down) for the interval parts.

The photo above just shows one rep. I've recently started using Instagram to share my workouts and I'm never sure how to quickly represent a complex interval workout! This one combined 10K effort with mile-race effort. It was 4 x (1000m at 10K effort, 200m jog) followed by a bunch of really short/fast intervals. I think I may have done this workout once before, but I'm not sure! It was 72 degrees and 99% humidity, threatening thunderstorms. Definitely tough. Here's how it went:

1000m: 4:23 (7:03 pace) -- too slow. I was being overly cautious about going out too fast!
1000m: 4:12 (6:45 pace) -- too fast. I was overcompensating for being too slow on the first one.
1000m: 4:17 (6:53 pace) -- just right!
1000m: 4:15 (6:50 pace) -- just right!

Then I had the three-minute recovery jog. Then I did this:

200m: 0:42 (5:38 pace) followed by a 200m recovery jog
300m: 1:06 (5:54 pace) followed by a 300m recovery jog
400m: 1:28 (5:52 pace) followed by a 400m recovery jog
600m: 2:23 (6:23 pace)

I wish I had given a bit more effort on the 300m and not completely wasted myself on the 400m. It was a challenge to run the 300m hard because I finished around the curve of the track instead of the straightaway, and usually the straight finish is where I pick up most of my speed. That 400m in 1:28 was a PR for me (or at least tied with my PR) so by the time the 600m rolled around, I didn't have much left. I would have loved for that 600m to be about 3-4 seconds faster. But, it was so hot and humid! Overall, I was really pleased with my effort level, and I think that this workout will help me immensely in my upcoming 5K.

When I'm not at the track, I'm taking my easy runs really easy. Those are typically 50-60 minutes in duration, but can be as short as 30 minutes. My pace is typically 8:50-9:10 depending on how my legs feel and how hot/humid it is. This week I have a workout that's so challenging that my coach told me to stand still during the recovery period to catch my breath. I've never done that before (I always jog) so I'm excited to see how it goes!

My next race is the Firecracker 5K on July 4th, which I did last year and the year before. It will be great to see the year-over-year progress.

Special thanks to Greg for taking all of these photos of me! I love being able to share these workouts on Instagram.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Generation UCAN Review

I'll preface this post by saying that I hardly ever review products on my blog. Companies do not send me free products to review and I only write about products that I'm passionate about, like the Mizuno Elixir replacement. My blog is mainly focused on the journey to achieving my running goals, so I only review products that I believe will help me get there. I'm pleased to present this Generation UCAN review!
Generation UCAN prize pack

Last July, the McMillan Running company named me their athlete of the month. Along with this honor came a prize pack full of Generation UCAN products. I had known for awhile that Coach Greg McMillan believed strongly in UCAN for fueling, so I was looking forward to trying it out. However, I was in the midst of half marathon training, and my long runs weren't long enough to require fuel. That said, I continued to use gels during my races.

During the Columbus Half Marathon last fall, I took two Honey Stinger gels, as was custom for me. At the finish line, I ended up vomiting. It was not pretty! I had been a victim of stomach distress during races in the past, but I had never vomited.

Why I tried UCAN: Stomach Distress
Aside from the fact that I had a prize package of UCAN and Greg McMillan endorsed it, I had also heard that the product was easier to digest than gels. I had been faithful to Honey Stinger for years because it was the only gel my stomach could tolerate-- but it couldn't always tolerate it. The Columbus Half Marathon is a good example of that, as is the Columbus full marathon from 2014, when I simply wasn't able to get the gel down at mile 16. As a result, I ran the last ten miles of that race with no fuel. The same thing had happened to me at the B & A Trail marathon back in 2013.

During training runs, stomach distress had also been an issue. There was about a 1-in-3 chance that I would end up in a bathroom during a long run because of an upset stomach. Not fun!

So, once I started training for the Boston Marathon, I thought I would give Generation UCAN a shot. Another benefit of the product is that you don't need to fuel as often with it. One serving of UCAN lasts for up to two hours! For long runs of 16 miles or less, I would simply have one serving of UCAN SuperStarch about 30 minutes before the run, and I would have enough energy to get through the run. I also used it before some of my weekday morning workouts if they were long, and I found that I was energized and able to execute the workouts according to plan. And, as advertised, I never once had stomach distress with the product.

Why I stayed with UCAN: Convenience
One of the hardest parts about running a long race is having to fuel. When it's below 40 degrees, my hands go completely numb so taking a gel becomes extremely challenging. Another part of the challenge is that you have to take gels, like Honey Stinger, with water. So not only do you have to open the gel and get it into your mouth, you also have to have enough water at the exact time. Who needs that when you are running at 100% effort?!

In March of this year, I ran the Shamrock Half Marathon. For breakfast, I had my standard bagel with peanut butter two hours beforehand. 30 minutes before the start, I had a packet of UCAN SuperStarch mixed with water. I consumed zero calories during the race, and not needing to take a gel freed my hands from carrying a water bottle. I ended up setting a PR by over a minute and a half, running a 1:33:36! I loved not having to worry about fueling mid-race or carrying a bottle.

As my long runs for Boston increased to over 16 miles, I started to take UCAN on the go. I would still take a serving 30 minutes beforehand, and then about 80-85 minutes into the run, I would take a UCAN gel. This video shows I made the gel:

Given that the UCAN was far more convenient then gels, and that it didn't cause me stomach distress it was a no-brainer to make the switch. But there was another key benefit that I learned about after I had been training with the product for a few months: UCAN helps train your body to burn more fat.

Major Perk: Burn more fat
I used to wonder if taking so many gels on training runs was a bad thing. After all, isn't the point of a long run to teach your body to burn fat as fuel, not all the sugar you give it? I've heard of some runners doing long runs without any fuel at all, but I know that it can be rough to recover from those, making your future workouts suffer.

With traditional gels, the calories are released into your system all at once, overwhelming your body with an abundance of glucose to use. With Generation UCAN, the energy is released gradually, over time. This is why it lasts longer. With this gradual release, your body uses some glycogen as fuel, and also some fat.

When I ran the Boston Marathon, I consumed a full packet of UCAN beforehand, a full packet gel at mile 10, and then I had some honey stinger chews to get me through the last 4 miles. I could have made another UCAN gel, but I didn't want to carry two of them, and having a few chews at the end didn't require me to carry water, and didn't cause stomach distress. I slowed down significantly during that race, but I attribute that to the heat-- not my fueling strategy. This exact fueling strategy was perfect for a 24-mile training run in cooler weather two weeks before Boston.

Meb and me!
UCAN Ambassador
I received an email from Generation UCAN last March asking for ambassadors in the local area. I did not hesitate to volunteer. Since I'm already pretty active on social media and I love going to running events, I figured I might as well help promote a company I believe in. I already had the opportunity to represent UCAN at an event in Arlington last March, where I met Meb! Yes, Meb uses UCAN too. Once again, UCAN did not pay me to write this blog or even ask me to do it. It just works so well that I wanted to share my success with it.

UCAN also offers recovery drinks, snack bars, and a hydration product. The "UCAN Hydrate" is a powder you simply put in water that turns plain ol' water into electrolyte enhanced water. I use this when it's warm out, and just re-stocked for the summer.

In terms of flavors, my favorite flavor of the SuperStarch is lemonade, followed by blueberry pomegranate. I do not care for the orange or chocolate flavors.

I now drink UCAN SuperStarch 30 minutes prior to every race I run, regardless of the distance. And I've had plenty of energy during my past few races with no stomach distress.

UCAN Discount
If you want a 10% discount code for the UCAN website, be sure to use this link and the discount will apply automatically.

I hope you enjoyed this Generation UCAN review!

Sunday, June 12, 2016

4 Miles in 91 Degrees

Last night I ran the =PR= Twilight Festival 4-miler. This was my 4th time running this race, previous years were 2007, 2008, and 2015. Having run the race just last year, I remembered it pretty well. One of the benefits of keeping a blog is that when I repeat a race, I can look back on my report to remember the course.
Greg and me at the start line

Last year, it was 85 degrees, and I thought that was extraordinarily hot. This year, it was 91 degrees, maybe even a bit hotter at start. I always run in the mornings, so usually it doesn't get above 72. This year, we got a late start to summer, so I only had about two weeks to acclimate. And to top it off, this past week offered morning temperatures in the 50's, so there was no acclimating this week.

I ran the Mother's Day 4-miler about a month ago in 27:51, and I knew I was in much better shape for last night's race. It's amazing how a just month of speed work and interval training can really make a difference. At the Mother's Day race, I was just coming off of the Boston Marathon and I hadn't done any speed work. But, that race was much cooler-- in the upper 50's. It also measured nearly a perfect 4 miles according to my Garmin, whereas this Twilight race measured 4.08 last year and 4.07 this year. So, when comparing apples to apples (Garmin time to Garmin time) I like to take those things into consideration.

Given all of these factors, I decided I would go out at a pace of 7:00-7:05 and try to speed up later in the race if I could. My stretch goal was a PR (beating my 27:51) but my more reasonable goal, given the heat, was to set a course PR from last year's 30:08.

I told my coach that I was worried about passing out or getting heat exhaustion if I pushed too hard. He told me that the race was short enough that I shouldn't worry too much about it, and that I should go out hard, instead of the conservative 7:15 pace I had originally planned on.

Before the Race
Greg and I arrived to the race armed with cooling tools! I wore my cooling wristbands that I had
purchased at the Boston Marathon expo. We also had a cooler full of ice that contained my UCAN drink and some wet towels. I've learned that it's really important to stay as cool as possible before a warm race, so I dumped ice into my sports bra for the warm up and poured water all over my head. My coach advised that I purchase an ice vest to wear before hot races, but it did not arrive in time. I'll try it next time!

Before we started the warmup, I encountered a zebra U-haul! I had seen these zebra U-hauls in the past and it always makes me so happy when they show up. In fact, whenever I am driving and I spot a U-haul, I try and check to see if it's got a zebra on it. With a zebra U-haul at the start line, I took it as a sign that the race would go well.

I love zebras! What a great surprise!
One of the great things about this race was that a bunch of my friends were also running it. It was fun to warmup with them a bit and then hang out afterwards.

Miles 1-2
Last year, my first two miles were 7:30, 7:45. I knew that the second mile was all uphill and that it should feel ridiculously easy at the beginning because the heat would catch up to me pretty quickly. The race began and I situated myself directly behind my friend Lisa. We had chatted that we were going to go out on the easy side of things, so I kind of let her do the pacing. My effort level during mile 1 felt a bit like marathon pace effort, which was not what my coach advised, but the heat was intimidating.

After the first mile, things got noticeably difficult. The hill came and instead of feeling like marathon pace effort, it suddenly felt like 10K effort as we climbed that hill. Lisa and I were running side-by-side at this point and it was nice to have the company. She said that her mouth had no spit in it, and the same was true for me. It was sort of like a cotton-mouth feeling (despite all the water I had drunk that day). Greg later reported that he felt the same thing and we figured it was probably the air quality. After all, we were under an air quality alert.  I clocked the first two miles in 7:00 and 7:13.

Miles 3-4
At the start of mile 3, I began to pull ahead of Lisa and I remembered how last year I really hammered it home during this second half of the race. That said, my 7:00 first mile was not as conservative as last year's 7:30 mile, so I wasn't sure what kind of energy I would have. During this whole time, Greg was about 15-20 seconds ahead of me. He had pulled ahead at the very beginning and I decided not to follow. The sun dropped a bit lower in the sky at this point, which was a huge help. At least now the course was mostly shaded. Once I decided to start really pushing, it started to feel like true 4-mile race effort.

Liz and me at the finish- was hoping for a better shot of us!
I passed a lot of people during these last two miles and not a single person passed me. It felt great to be passing people and feeling strong! The 4th mile seemed to go on forever and ever. At that point, I still felt strong but everything hurt. I seriously needed to rely on every mental toughness skill I had in my arsenal. I kept telling myself that the finish line was not far and I needed to continue to push as hard as possible. I wanted to run my fastest possible race and by this point, it was 99% mental.  These miles clocked in at 7:07, 6:49.

The finish and beyond
After my Garmin buzzed for 4 miles there was still a bit of running to do. 26 seconds at a pace of 6:06, according to my Garmin! During the last mile, I had been closing the gap on my friend Liz, and I really gunned it at the end to finish at almost the exact same time as her. She's extremely fast so the fact that I finished with her means that I must be in excellent shape!

At the end of the race, I kept saying to Greg and to myself, "F*ck the way I feel!" I was so wasted. Everything hurt. I was so hot. Wow. That was definitely a really, really tough race. I'm glad I was able to stay strong!

We dominated the 35-39 age group!
My official time was 28:36, which earned me 2nd place in my age group. Greg and I cooled off and then I got ice cream from the ice cream truck! One of my favorite things about this race is the ice cream at the end. Lisa's friend Tiffany came in 1st in our age group and she came in 3rd, so it was cool that the three of us did a 1-2-3 sweep of the 35-39 age group.

I was really pleased that I ran this race 1 minute and 32 seconds faster than I did last year-- and this year was hotter! This is great news because it means I'm in good shape and the consistent track workouts are still working their magic!

After we got our awards the three of us and our husbands headed to a local brewery for beers and pretzels. My typical bedtime is around 8:30-9:00, so this meant staying up really late. But I had fun, and it was worth it. Part of the fun of racing is the social aspect and it was fun to get to know Tiffany. This morning I cranked out 9.6 miles at a very easy pace of 9:19 and my legs felt decent. I didn't sleep well due to my body being off schedule, so I will probably crash later this afternoon!

My key takeaways from this race are:

  • It's advantageous to stay as cool as possible immediately before the race
  • Heat is deceiving. It doesn't feel hard at first, but then it hits you! What felt like marathon pace at the beginning felt like 5K pace at the end.
  • Shaving 1:32 off of a 4-mile race time in just one year is significant, and points toward a successful fall
  • I'm going to continue to crank out track workouts and be really well prepared for my next two 5Ks in July

Saturday, June 4, 2016

The Boston Marathon Course Revisited

About three weeks after running the Boston Marathon, I returned to Boston for a business trip. I was honored to be speaking at a marketing conference on the topic of social media, and my hotel was enticingly close to the Boston Marathon course. So instead of opting for the hotel treadmill, I took a short Uber ride to Newton-Wellesley hospital, which on Marathon Monday is better known as mile marker 17.

My training plan called for a 60-minute run, and my original plan was to run for 30 minutes, turnaround, and end back where I started. I figured I would get to run most of the Newton hills that way. I brought my phone with me, which was a first, mainly so that I would be able to Uber back after I was done. But a nice fringe benefit was being able to take photos and video. And I actually relied pretty heavily on the Boston Marathon app, which offers a map of the course, complete with a "blue dot" that indicates where you are. I would have probably gone off course if I hadn't had that.

Boston Marathon App

I started my run at exactly mile marker 17 according to the app. That way, I could compare my splits to what they were when I ran the actual marathon. It was a gorgeous day in Newton. It was sunny, 50 degrees, and no wind at 6:30 a.m.--  much cooler than on race day. However, I think it got up to 70 degrees by 11:00am, so the day didn't actually tease me with better racing conditions! There were very few cars on the road, and thankfully the entire route had wide sidewalks that were suitable for running.

Miles 18-19
I began running and was loving the fact that I was back on the course. I definitely remembered the way the course twisted and the small-town feel of the surroundings. Mile 18 was the second of the Newton hills and mile 19 was a downhill. My times were 8:54 and 8:35. In the actual marathon, my times for these miles were 8:23 and 8:16. So, I was actually in pretty good shape still at this point in the race. One of the many things that I was pleased about with my Boston performance was that I got through the first two Newton hills without slowing down too much. According to my coach, most people really slow down on the first one, but I stayed strong.

Miles 20-21
Time for Heartbreak Hill! As I expected, this hill was not incredibly steep, it was just kind of long. Her's a video of me running up it. You'll want to turn your speakers on to hear my narration!

It was nice to be running up that hill without hurting! And, I ran it faster than I had done during the marathon, because I didn't have 20 miles of hot running on my legs. My paces for these miles were 8:48, 9:08 and during the marathon they were 9:10 and 10:06. Even though I don't plan on running Boston again for another two years, I think this run helped give me perspective. And now I know which hills I train on are most similar to Heartbreak.

My original plan had been to turn around, but I couldn't resist-- I had to keep going and see what was ahead. I figured I could just take an Uber back from wherever I finished.

Miles 22-23.7
As I started running these miles, I realized that I had zero recollection of this part of the course. I had been in so much pain, that all I could focus on was moving forward and telling myself to keep pushing. So, this seemed like an entirely new experience. Here's the video!

I also got a little bit confused when it came time to transition from Commonwealth onto Chestnut Hill onto Beacon Street. Thank goodness for the app! As I said earlier, I had no recollection of this part of the course, so it wasn't more or less hillier than I had remembered. My paces were 8:41, 8:45, and 8:25 for the last 0.7.  During the marathon they were 10:03, 10:49, and 10:30. The next time I run this route, I hope for them all to be sub-8:00!

I really didn't want to stop-- I wanted to run all the way to the finish line! But my plan only called for 60 minutes and I had the conference to get to. I was able to see the tall buildings of the city off in the distance when I stopped at 23.7, but I wasn't officially in Boston.

Final Reflections
I really love that I was able to re-visit this course so soon after the race itself. It's crazy that 364 days out of the year, the course is a relatively quiet two-lane suburban road. On Marathon Monday it's completely transformed into something almost magical. I had actually expected to see more runners out at 6:30 a.m. but I only encountered 3 or 4 of them.

During my flights to and from Boston, I took the opportunity to do one last review of Boston Bound. I had a prototype copy and it was surreal reading my own book, called Boston Bound on a plane to Boston. Now that the book is published, it's an entirely different feeling. But I'll save that for a separate blog post.