my first second marathon, part one

If you're just tuning in, I ran my second (or raced my first) marathon on Sunday May 26th. Let's be clear on one fact before we continue: the difference to me between running and racing has NOTHING to do with finish time. It has everything to do with intentions and owning goals. My intention and your intention may result in different finish times. My goal race pace is a jog to Shalane Flanagan. This doesn't diminish the enthusiasm or pride I feel for my race.

Back to it, I raced the marathon distance for the first time at Vermont City Marathon. I set an A, B and C goal. I wrote them in my training journal back in December:
marathon goals
I'm 99% sure I'm using those little less-thans wrong. But they mean run 2:50 or my mind. And since I'm the sole audience of my training journal, that's good enough for me. Unwritten, but my true #1 goal: learn from the experience. I'll outline the rest of this entry using the lessons I learned, tried to learn or gave up on... kidding. 

Have a plan
Two weeks out from the marathon I started my taper. Here's what those weeks looked like leading up to Vermont City Marathon:

5/12 - 5/18
sun - 15 miles
mon - x
tues - easy 6
wed - 2 mile warm-up, (:75 at 6 min/mile, :75 at 7 min/mile x 8) x 2, 2 mile cool-down
thurs - elliptigo 
fri - easy 6
sat - easy 5.5
total: 43.5

5/19 - 5/25
sun - 10 miles
mon - x
tues - 5 (4:00 at marathon, 3:00 at half, 2:00 at 5k, 1:00 at mile)
wed - easy 6
thurs - x 
fri - easy 3 with striders
sat - x race eve
total: 24

I am lucky enough to be coached by Tom Nohilly who works with NJNY Track Club.

Don't waste energy on things out of your control... 
The week leading up to the marathon was really busy. There were projects with loose ends flying in my face and my stress level was higher than I would have liked. My appetite was very low, as is usual in times of stress, and I had to remind myself to eat. I wasn't sleeping well. To buoy my spirits, I thought of the amazing mama marathoners who somehow juggle everything. I thought of all the people with busy lives who run so fast and strong. And I didn't let myself play the excuses game. "Life is full!" I thought to myself. "How lucky!" 

...focus attention on what you can
BUT I did look forward to getting on the plane early Friday morning when I could become a selfish little marathoning amoeba. Stress leaves me without appetite and my natural state of ADHD in hyper drive. Thoughts flying around so fast and without any order. When I would see a thought fly by, I'd pin it down. I ended up with a long helpful list of what not to forget for the trip. I find it therapeutic to take my time packing for a trip. I spent hours organizing and reorganizing, uncharacteristically slowly. Setting an intention to be calm. It's freak show that Owen has learned to steer clear of. 

Race day blues.  ADHD meet OCD coping methods... 
Owen dropped me at SeaTac just after 6am on Friday morning. I had a direct flight to Boston. My mom would pick me up and we'd drive straight up to Vermont. I was nervous about what spending over 10 hours crunched in a various seats would do to my legs. I did what I could to minimize the affects. I bought the extra legroom on JetBlue and made sure I got up often. I wore compression socks under my jeans. I took an ice bath the night before. 

Enjoy the journey, sometimes literally
When I landed in Boston, I hurried off the plane and we took off toward Vermont. Holiday traffic was crawling until we hit New Hampshire.  We pulled into a truck stop in the outskirts of Lebanon NH and I took my cramped legs out on a 3 mile shake-out. I love running through little unknown streets. I wound my through a corporate parking lot and small neighborhoods. I found the Northern Rail Trail and turned around. 

Be thankful
We arrived in Burlington around 9pm. I'd been traveling for 12 hours. I called the Lymann, the elite coordinator, to let him know I was in town. He invited me to come up the Sheraton for dinner. I was exhausted but since I had been surviving on Picky Bars and pretzels all day I figured some real food would do me good. I also was looking forward to meeting the person who'd taken a chance on me despite my slower marathon PR. Lymann had paid so much attention making sure everything was just right for the weekend. I could tell it was simply in his character to care about the athletes he'd invited. 

Besides there wasn't much to do in the dorm they were putting me up in besides sleep...

When's the last time you slept on an extra long twin? Awww yeah. 
My mom graciously lent me her car. I dropped her off with my brother, saying hi quickly and headed up the hotel. I had a burger and nervously chatted with the volunteers at the table. Bart Yasso popped over to say hello. He was just as friendly and unassuming as he comes across in his writing and on Twitter. I fell over my words as I typically do when meeting anyone famous. Saying something silly like, oh I've met you on Twitter. Yeah...

I tucked that burger away and then drove my roommate, Michelle, and I back to the dorm at Champlain College. She was really friendly. A good person to share a dorm suite with. We laughed about the creepy staph infection poster in the bathroom and hoped we would be okay showering without flip-flops on. Then it was lights out. 

I let myself sleep in because I couldn't fall asleep AND I knew what a sleepless night race night usually was. Might as well put some hours in the bank. I popped out of bed around 9:30am.  I was excited to meet up with my family! Nearly everyone in my family lives in Burlington/Shelburne. We met up at Panera Bread... mmm carbs. 

As you can tell they are SUPER excited to see me... over here guys!!
The first rule of race not talk about race day 
I was glad to meet up for breakfast and talk about anything and everything besides the marathon OR the marathon forecast, which was looking worse and worse. The work is in the bank, the plan is made, the 20 mph winds are out of my control... there is no reason to obsess on any of that. Instead I wanted to hear about my grandparents going back to Tony's homeland, Italy, or my Aunt Liz winning tickets to see 30 Seconds to Mars and meeting Jared Leto. Please tell me, are his eyes really *that* blue?

After fueling up with carbs and conversation I snagged the roomie and we hit the expo. I got my number, met up with my sis for the first time, and took photos with our clique. 

What up guys? Next time can you please invite Joannie?
I told my roommate I wanted to find a banana for the next morning. She told me there was one in the hospitality room. I assumed this was a place we could sneak food even though we weren't staying at the hotel. To my surprise, no! It was even better! An oasis for elite runners. Subway sandwiches, bagels, cookies, Gatorade, snacks, and The Spirit of the Marathon looping on a TV... it was nervous runner paradise. Why the hell hadn't we been in here all day?! 

Feathers are for music festival teens
I stalled out there for a few hours eating and decorating my first elite bottles. I'd dreamt of the elusive elite bottle since the first time I'd seen one... maybe a year ago. Oh, the visions of pipe cleaner creations I could make!! But when faced with the supplies, I froze. I knew Susan Empey always made little handles with pipe cleaners so I started there. But what to fill them with, banana or watermelon Nuun? And how do you stick the PowerBar gels on?? And what about the tape? Should I use feathers??!? Eff yes!! 

Meeting in session, but I'm too into my Nuun bottles. 
As I went out of my mind crafting, other elites began to filter in. A runner from Brazil sat next to me and immediately burst into laughter, pointing at my bottles. Rude! His coach began filling his bottles with an inch of Pedialyte and nothing else. Another runner showed up with 16oz Coke bottles filled with 2 inches of bright blue liquid. Yet another began to unpack and fill little Ketchup and Mustard bottles. Holy shit, I'd underestimated the intensity of elite bottles. This was a whole other world of crazy. 

Pretty sure you can visibly see me freaking out in this picture... I'VE MISCALCULATED THE # OF FEATHERS!!
Anyway, after sizing up all the elites while silently freaking out  our technical meeting (which was basically: 1. the weather suuuuuucks 2. here is a diagram of the water bottle table 3. you're going to get up effing early 4. don't worry we'll treat you like the race day baby divas you are (phew) and being called "a mountain" by the Brazilian coach I headed over to my grandparents house for pasta. Took a few awkward family photos and called it a night. 

I can't tell you how many photos we have right here, or how many times I've laughed through it... #fail
Someone's having fun on the floral love seat! Oiselle FTW. 
Marathoners! If you listen closely you can hear our silent screams for help... 
Time to toss and turn in the extra long twin bed... at least I had my rad Podium PJs (available this holiday from Oiselle). Tried to calm down with deep breathing and legs up the wall. Finally took a Melatonin and then drifted around between worlds until my alarm went off. (Melatonin is an herbal remedy, but I'm super sensitive to it.)

RACE DAY!! Coming in the next installment of "My First Second Marathon".... 


  1. Dude. I'm gonna need you to hurry up on the next installment!

  2. PJs!! They look awesome.

    If I had to decorate an elite bottle it would probably be way over the top. I'd probably not even be able to pick the bottle up...

  3. Podium PJ'S!!! Nice tease about that, and the race report. Can't wait to read the next one.


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