The Boston Marathon 2017

Four years ago today I ran my third Boston Marathon and was blessed to be able to finish.

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I qualified again and ran Boston in 2014 and in 2016 and was supposed to be running it for the sixth time this year.  Instead, this Monday I will be in my surgeon’s office for my follow-up appointment and hope to find out more about what is to come for me and my treatment plan.


I’ve been thinking all week about so many of my friends and teammates from the Jersey Girls StayStrong Multisport Club, my Coeur Sports Team and my other fellow Newton Running Team members.  And truth be told, right now I’m feeling a little sorry for myself.  But, I will be thinking of each one of you on Monday and wishing that I was out there running with you.  If it’s your first, or your fifth or your twentieth — soak in each and every moment of it.  I love the excitement of Boylston Street in the days leading up to the race.  I love the energy at the race expo and number pickup and seeing friends from all over the world.  I love everything involved in Marathon Monday . . . . . getting to the start, hanging out in the athlete village waiting for my wave to line up, and running every step of the way.  Especially after the bombing in 2013 I made sure to look in the faces of the spectators who still come out and cheer for us, whether we were in the first wave or the last wave.  I love the signs and the families, the kids, the senior citizens, the college students and the music.  I even love the pain of the hills, and actually look forward to Heartbreak Hill.  Because it meant the hard part was behind me and I could look forward to the firehouse where my husband always watched for me at the window, and then the turn onto Boylston Street and that stretch to the finish line.

I wish each and every one of you the best day you can have.  I have one small favor to ask if you are running — when it gets hard, run just a little bit of it for me and I’ll do my best to get you to the finish!  902005_10152760851595521_1103218482_o


What To Do With All That Spare Time

Watching and reading posts in my Club’s Facebook group, and hearing comments and posts in other places prompted me to post the following, in the hope that it will drown out the voice of hysteria that seems to threaten to overtake all reasonable thought and action this week. It’s a triathlon, not brain surgery. It should be enjoyable, not stressful or anxiety producing.

I’m hoping that this information will keep everyone who is getting ready for their “A” race this coming weekend entirely too busy to worry about the dust in their house, the lack of food and meals for their family, the cross-fit class you’ve been dying to try, and any other non-race related distraction you are obsessing over.

So, here goes:

My free coaching advice for the day — RELAX!!!!!

If you followed a plan and did your training then you are good and the best thing you can do right now is relax. There is no last minute magic workout or purchase or adjustment or discussion or anything else you can do.

If you didn’t follow a plan and / or didn’t do your training then you are NOT good, but the best thing you can do right now is relax. There is no last minute magic workout or purchase or adjustment or discussion or anything else you can do.

What can you do? Check your equipment, lay out your clothes (check the weather) and review your nutrition plan as used in training. Eat healthy and clean, stay hydrated. Maybe get a massage or an adjustment or some ART if you normally do that.

“Worry is like a rocking chair: it gives you something to do but never gets you anywhere”. ― Erma Bombeck.


Double check that you have enough of everything you will use on race day to eat and / or drink. I always make sure I have an extra hour beyond my slowest predicted time.

Very important to have an extra hour of pre-race nutrition as you never know what happens the morning of a race. If there is a delay you aren’t starting in a nutritional / hydration hole.

Make sure you have water bottles, flasks, etc.

There is still time to get any of the above before the weekend if you are short.

Now is a good time to review what to do with your bike before a big race:

1. Hopefully you already scheduled a pre-race tune up at your local bike shop. If you didn’t then call now. Maybe you’ll get lucky

2. Make sure your bike is clean, that always makes me feel better.

3. Make sure your chain is clean and lubed.

4. Inspect your tires for damage (your bike shop should have done that, doesn’t hurt to double check, though).

5. Pump up your tires to around 100/110 psi and make sure they hold most of that pressure overnight.

6. Check your tire supplies for race day — For any longer distance race, I always carry two tubes, two tire levers, two C02 cartridges and the attachment for them, a dollar bill or empty gu packet just in case a tire “blows out”. If you have or are renting race wheels make sure that you can fill them from your CO2 device or hand pump.

Even if you don’t know how to change a flat you should have the above supplies, just in case you are lucky enough to have someone stop and help you. Do not ask or expect anyone else to give you their supplies. What if they need them later in the race?

If you don’t know how and / or never have I’d suggest you get yourself and your bike to your bike mechanic and ask them to teach you how, on your own bike! Yes, both the front and the back! And yes, on your own bike.

Last but not least, what are you going to wear?

For the swim:

Check your goggles and make sure you have a spare pair with you. Could be sunny or cloudy so I recommend both light and dark tinted goggles.

Check your wetsuit. Plan on bringing all possible options if you have — sleeveless, long sleeved, swim skin. Water and air temp can change quickly, be prepared for all possible options.
I use goggle defogger for my goggles, and Aquaphor on any possible areas that chafe.
Hopefully you have been training on some workouts with what you plan on wearing. Lay everything out, make sure everything is available and you haven’t lost anything, loaned it and not gotten it back, ripped anything, etc.

Swim / bike / run attire:

Keep checking or the like for race day temps and realize that over 5 or 6 or more hours the weather can change a lot. I like layers — gloves, arm warmers, vests, etc. that allow me to add or remove stuff. Putting a long sleeve shirt on over something when you are wet isn’t always easy.

Plan for plus or minus 10 degrees from what is forecast. Make your decision the day before and / or morning of.

A good place to check is either of these two websites for some guidelines. I have found from experience that I like to feel “Cool” if I am racing, and “In-between” when training.

Just a quick post, if I worry about formatting and the like I’ll never get around to publishing it.  Hoping it helps someone relax a bit!

Boston Marathon 2014, the day before.

Lots of thoughts and feelings as I headed out to Boston for my 4th time running this race.  If it was any race other than this particular Boston Marathon I probably wouldn’t be running, I’m just not prepared.  I am not making pre-race excuses, actually I hate hearing that from other athletes.  My run training has been spotty at best over the last couple of months, I did not push myself out the door when it was cold, or snowing, or raining.  Since this was an awful winter all up and down the east coast there was lots of days I just didn’t push myself out the door.   My eating has not been spotty — and the extra 10 pounds I’m carrying are a testament to that.  Last year’s race was a gift — I ran well, had fun, qualified again for this year and most importantly — I finished about 4 minutes before the bomb went off.  My finish time was courtesy of the bathroom stop that I did not make.

This year’s race is a privilege to be part of, and I intend to enjoy every moment of the journey tomorrow.  I will high five those spectators, and look in their eyes and say thank you.  Just as us runners are running in spite of what happened last year, theImagespectators are also doing what they do in spite of what happened last year.

I will run tomorrow for all those who can’t, for so many different reasons.  I dedicate my run to Lt. Ed Walsh and firefighter Mike Kennedy from Engine 33 in Boston, they were killed in a fire on March 26.  Mike Kennedy had planned to run the marathon this year.  So, I guess there went my excuses.

“Mike Kennedy knew then that he wanted to run the race this year to honor the victims he treated, and the courage he witnessed, to show people that you don’t back off after you are attacked. When Frankie Flynn got job-related cancer before Christmas and died a month later, well, Mike Kennedy had one more reason to run, and so did nine other guys from the house, Chris Dunn among them. It was all a go until 2:43 on the afternoon of March 26, when the alarm sounded at Engine 33, Ladder 15 for a fire on Beacon St., a few doors down from Tom Brady’s place.”

Read more:


A Good Training Day

I’ve been receiving so much great information about swim practice and technique lately, it’s hard to keep up with it all.  There was a post yesterday in the Total Immersion Coaches group that really appealed to me, a series of focal points for a tune up from Suzanne Atkinson.  I decided I’d add them to my tune up practice for today, and then do a variation on a previous practice.   I’ve said this before, and today was one of those days — be prepared to switch gears when it feels appropriate.

Here was Suzanne’s post as a tune up:

5 x 50 as:
#1 fingertip drag
#2 Drag to elbow lead
#3 Elbow lead to smooth entry
#4 Smooth entry to open axilla
#5 open axilla to shaping catch

Made me think about my 400 focal point tune up.  Decided to bump mine to a 500 and do each one for 100.  Felt great, and noticed lots of points in my stroke to work on improving.

Next set was a tempo trainer ladder for 50s at 1.6, 1.55, 1.5, 1.45, 1.4, 1.35, 1.3, 1.25, 1.2, 1.15

As I prepared for the next set I realized that what I wanted to do, and felt I needed to do was take those focal points from the beginning tune up and use them instead of focusing on tempo.

So next set was 6 x 300 and I chose to pick one focus for each. and I do have to say that I felt very “Shinji-like” in the fact that I could hold a focus for an entire 300.  Today was not a fast practice but I felt it was a very productive practice.

On a different note, the air this morning was 60.

North County Aquatics pool on a chilly morning
North County Aquatics pool on a chilly morning

Getting to the pool and getting in the water was tough!  Once I got in I found the 83 degree water was beautiful, even though under “normal” circumstances that would be way to warm.

At a pool?
At a pool?

This may have been my last practice at the North County Aquatics facility.  We are leaving Vero Beach on Friday morning, Thursday is supposed to be very cold and and  pool isn’t open till afternoon on Friday. I’ll miss it and the pleasant staff and patrons.  This car in the lot this morning did give me a laugh as I was leaving.

5 mile build run on a local dirt road finished off training for me for Wednesday.  Finishing the run with a sub 9 minute mile felt good!

I’ve also become much better about planning meals in advance and cooking.  I made two very simple yet tasty recipes for tonight, Apple Glazed Turkey and Roasted Brussels Sprouts (made with already cooked leftover turkey bacon).  It’s been nice eating at home, and hopefully helping me get back to “race weight” again.

Thursday is pack up and get organized to move day for us so not sure what if any training I’ll get done, Friday and Saturday are “travel” days so I better get something done.

Running With Gears

Today was long run day — 10 miles this week.  Off Bryan and I went to the jungle trail, sunny today and temperatures were warming up.  I started my run slowly, as usual.  And when I say slow I mean slow — like an 11 minute mile.  Next mile was a 10:35, and as always I was thinking about my own training and my coaching.  I thought about swimming with the tempo trainer and how we are all learning to swim with gears.  How about running with gears?  I decided that I would take my 10 mile run and try to steadily descend throughout.  I was thinking 10 seconds per mile, but that was a bigger jump than I planned in the beginning.  Going from 11 to 10:35 would come back to bite me at the end.  But, I continued to think about the comparison to learning gears in swimming and learning gears in running, and how much that would pay off in running, and especially in longer distance triathlon.

So, continuing along I went from 11 to 10:30 to 10:20 to 10:10 to 10 to 9:50  and now it started getting tough!  I was barely able to hit 9:44, 9:37, 9:41 for miles 7, 8 and 9.  I was determined to make the last mile faster — and pushed through for a 9:32 mile, but I didn’t feel as good as I wanted to.  What did I learn?  If I make a plan stick to it, and it reminded me of what I always say to my athletes — if you are running long the early miles should feel easy.  All it all it was a good run though, and I’m going to continue to work on gears in all my training.

It would have been very easy to just sit and lounge for the rest of the day.  I had committed to doing a practice that Terry Laughlin, the founder or Total Immersion, had emailed out to all of the TI coaches.  And I can’t let my virtual swim team down,  so off I went to the North County Aquatics Center.  I am getting used to the spectacular facilities to swim that are available.  I paid a whole $16 for access for a month to this beautiful pool!  So far, I’ve only had to share a lane once and that for only 5 minutes.

North County Aquatics Center, so inviting!
North County Aquatics Center, so inviting!

Monday’s swim practice turned out to be a breakthrough.  I felt as though my stroke count, time and overall feel in the water was coming back.  I did cut the original practice a bit shorter though, I started getting cramps in my calves (from the long run I’m sure).  There is so much to focus on while swimming, and it is rewarding to see the instant feedback by way of improved stroke count and pace.

I never get tired of watching the sunset, no matter where I am.  Tonight there was a beautiful  sky to close out the day.  I am forever grateful and truly blessed.

Treasure Coast sunset.
Treasure Coast sunset.

2013 Comes to a Close

I can’t possibly write enough to cover what has occurred over this last year.  Ups and downs, but definitely more ups.  Joys and sadness, but definitely more joy.  I feel that my life is more than I ever could have imagined, and more than I ever deserved — my family, my friends, my Club members, my training partners, my business partners — life is good.  I truly love the life I live, and I live the life I love.

Although not sunny in Florida today it’s still warm.  I enjoyed a steady paced 5 mile run and thought of other runs I’ve been on while traveling.  The abandoned orange groves remind me of my training trips to Clermont, Florida.  The cows and other wildlife remind me of runs in Costa Rica — especially the cows — which led me to think of my friends Mary Lynn and Bryan and the debate over skinny cows vs. healthy cows.

Quiet night tonight, I don’t expect we will be still awake to ring in 2014.  Tomorrow I plan to join in the TI Virtual Swim, still need to decide on a practice but I am looking forward to the beauty of the outdoor long course pool!

Skinny or healthy cows ;-)
Skinny or healthy cows 😉
He was definitely checking out what was going on!
He was definitely checking out what was going on!
White babies, how cute!
White babies, how cute!
Jack asses everywhere you go.
Jack asses everywhere you go.
A palm tree nursery.
A palm tree nursery.