Browsed by
Tag: weather

2017 Race to the End of Summer half marathon (San Jose, CA) – race report

2017 Race to the End of Summer half marathon (San Jose, CA) – race report

Apparently when my teammates were excitedly posting in our facebook group about a Groupon for the Race to the End of Summer, I somehow managed to sign up for the half at a steal of a price — something like $30, if memory serves — without bothering to look at a calendar. I didn’t realize I registered for a half marathon exactly one week after my pacing gig at Santa Rosa. You’ll be fine, I told myself. You’re just pacing. You can fun-run a half a week after a marathon. Don’t worry about it. In the interim, I learned that more teammates, plus friends Jen and Angela, would be racing that morning, so any anxiety or mental frustration I had with myself for being an idiot who signed up for a race without first consulting her calendar washed away. If I felt great, I’d run hard. If I were tired, I wouldn’t. Simply showing up to see a bunch of friends was worth the Groupon cost. I mean, granted, most people would seek other avenues to simply “hang out with friends” that don’t involve early morning soirees, but whatever.

In the 7 days between pacing at SRM and running the RTTEOS, I felt pretty well, just tired. I didn’t particularly feel egregiously sore or void of energy, but I noticed that I needed to sleep a little more each night than usual, and I kept my running mileage that week to a minimum, basically not doing much beyond the standard commute mileage with my kids. My coach urged me to treat RTTEOS as an easy-paced long run, though I was initially itching to run it as a workout; insert hysterical laughter at myself and a hearty number of facepalms here. Eventually, our strategy became take it easy for the first 9 (nothing faster than 7:50), and if and only if you feel well, drop down to nothing faster than 7:10. Ok. Compromise. I could do that.

…and then the inferno came. For Friday-Sunday of RTTEOS race week, if not also Thursday-Sunday, it felt like San Jose (and a lot of the Bay Area) was broiling. Friends and family often quip but it’s a dry heat! And look, after living the first thirty years of my life in the Midwest, I get where you’re coming from; I totally do. I know what it’s like to live and run in northeast Ohio or Chicago when it’s 90+ outside and 90%+ humidity, and it blows. Bay Area humidity doesn’t hold a candle to Midwest humidity. However, when it’s 110 degrees out, it still feels like it’s 110 degrees, even if we’re sitting at ~30% humidity — which would be outlandish for here, at midday — and not at the Midwestern 90+% standard. I find that steamy weather like that just drains the life out of everything and makes running, in particular, feel like a total slogfest, even if I’m taking things really easy.   

Come race day, I ventured down to southeast San Jose to the Sportsplex that’d serve as the staging area for the race start and finish. The half began at 7, while the 5k and 10k began later, around 8 or 8:30, if I recall. Wolfpack teammate Ashley was also doing the half, and other teammates Janet, Ida, and Jason were doing the 5k or 10k; Jen and Angela were also coming down from the peninsula/SF to race the 10k. Most of the race runs along the Coyote Creek Trail, which cuts into Hellyer Park, on the southeast side of the city — a place where I probably haven’t run since I was training for Oakland ‘14, right after we first moved here. The CCT is pretty similar to the GRT — very flat, fairly narrow in places, and periodically shaded and then exposed, though probably more of the former and less of the latter. The first mile and change of the HM course wound us through an office park before dumping us onto the path, where we’d head north to near-Hellyer for about 4 miles before retracing our steps, heading south until about mile 9, and then returning north. It’d be a fairly simple and straightforward course, and the out-and-back setup would be perfect to see friends and share side-fives.

Ashley and I ran a couple mile warm-up, and things already felt pretty warm for not-quite-7am. By the time the race began, it was already nearly 80, and we had the luxury of having a warm wind that offered no relief from the morning sunshine and out-of-place humidity. It was great to share in the pre-race song and dance with Ashley, and while we waited for things to get moving, I saw some of my other SJ running buddies, like Becky and Bertrand, as well as Sarbajeet, who had just raced SRM a week prior and had come down to pace the 1:45 HM group. This race had a sizable local draw, and I was surprised to see so many people I knew. Before too long, the gun blared, and we were off!

that’s my teammate Ashley next to me and Sarbajeet behind me

Right off the line, I settled comfortably as third woman. I kept trying to run by feel and not clockwatch, but I was also trying to be cognizant of my coach’s wishes, so I admittedly saw my Garmin much more during this race than I typically do. Nothing faster than 7:50 for the first 9, I kept telling myself. It took a long time to get there — and I knew it’d mean some pretty sweet and ugly positive splits, since I had started faster than I should have — but it was fine. Much like at SRM, I felt bad for anyone who had targeted any of the events at RTTEOS because race day conditions weren’t really conducive to super fast times, even though the courses definitely were. Once we hit the turn-around at the northernmost point, around mile 4, I had a blast side-5ing just about every runner and walker I saw. Hat-tip to the morning’s pacers from the East Bay; their enthusiasm and genuine encouragement was pretty awesome. I felt like I was surrounded by a bunch of midwesterners during this race because so many runners I encountered during the OABs were just incredibly friendly and nice. It was fantastic!

the photographer was a real jester. He cracked me up and had me *this close* to being convinced that I knew him because of his goofy antics

By about mile 6 or so, one of the aid stations was giving out wet washcloths, and at the risk of looking like a weirdo who had just walked out of a Bed Bath and Beyond with a looted (and sopping wet) napkin, I enthusiastically took their offerings and somehow managed to only soak the right side of my body. I couldn’t get the cloth to wrap around my neck, since it was too small, so I settled with tucking it into my bra strap for a few miles before tossing it. It took me a solid 6 miles to finally get down around 7:50s — what I should have done right off the line — and honestly, I was glad to be there. Nothing hurt; nothing was uncomfortable; I just felt tired. It was like I had to keep telling my legs to have some semblance of power and lift. I have read before that post-marathon, you often feel better, in muscular or skeletal terms, way before you’re actually in the clear on a cellular level. I’m not a scientist, but that seems to make sense. Even if you’re not racing a marathon, just covering the distance — and thus, being in repetitive motion — for a few-plus hours can surely wreak some havoc on your body. I couldn’t help but laugh both to and at myself during RTTEOS for thinking that I’d somehow magically be up for doing a hard HM workout a week after pacing. Sometimes, many times, I am a moron.

note the strategically-placed washcloth

At any rate, basically from mile 1 to mile 8 or 9, I stayed in the third woman position, and I leapfrogged with one or two males; otherwise, there were entire swaths of the southernmost outs on the course where I couldn’t see anyone in front of me, making me sometimes wonder if I had missed a turnaround somewhere. By the southernmost turn around 8.5, I saw that the 2nd woman had moved up to first — maybe a couple minutes ahead of me — and that the now 2nd woman had dropped back to being maybe a minute or so ahead of me. Seeing lots of friends again on this portion of the OAB was a fun treat, and some folks had mentioned that the 2nd woman was within reach, though I couldn’t see her anywhere ahead of me, thanks to the twisting course.

If I had the chance, I’d ask the world to dance

By mile 9, I had to decide whether I’d heed my coach’s words and pick things up to about a 7:10 for the last 4 or just fun-run it in. I felt fairly mentally checked out and kinda bored — with the heat making things unpleasant and less fun that it ought to be — but I felt well enough to at least try to pick it up for a handful of miles on to home. Hey, you can finish the race faster if you pick it up a bit, right? In doing so, I passed the 2nd woman around mile 10, and I ached for her because she looked like she was hurting a lot. I didn’t have much of anything left in my please let us just take a nap legs, but I managed to finish as the second woman overall on what seemed like a very short course. I ended up with 1:38 for 13.1 (probably closer to 12.9) a week out from pacing a marathon, and for having basically no expectations or goals for this race, I was pleased. Not my best, not my worst, but a finish is a finish. I am always so happy that I can do this stuff, and even if I bitch about the details that impede a perfect performance, I am always grateful.

thrilled I can do this stuff but happy as hell that’s behind me

Truth be told, the real reason I even decided to stick with the race and actually show up that morning came after I crossed the line. I knew I’d see so many friends at this small race, and seeing everyone come through the finish line — Ashley and then Becky, for the half, and then Janet, Angela, and Jen, on the 10k — made it worth it. We all shared eyerolls and curse words over the weather and basically screwed around for an hour and change before parting ways. For my finish, I earned a $50 gift card to Sports Basement, which was nice and unexpected.

finally meeting Jen and Angela, at long last! (PC: Jen)


women of Wolfpack: Ida, Janet, and Ashley (PC: Ashley)


valiant attempts, ha! that’s Ida, Janet, Jason, Ashley, me, Jen, and Angela. In my dreams, I am an extra in Bring it On: World Domiation. In reality, well… (PC: Ashley)

There was a time in my life where I registered for every race under the sun and raced them all, every last one of them, as hard as I possibly could. That perspective eventually shifted and became something that more resembled Oh, I get to run 6 miles today, might as well sign up for this 10k and do it as a training run. Over time, that perspective eventually changed, too, when I realized I was paying a whole bunch of money to do training runs that I could do for free. These days, especially with two kids and a husband in the mix, I rarely sign-up for a race — and thus, take extra time away from my family on a weekend morning —  that I don’t intend to actually run hard and go for my best on that day. RTTEOS was an exception, though, given its cheap costs from the Groupon, it being a short drive from home, and the most excellent camaraderie before and after the race. The company made it 1000% worth it. Seeing folks from social media was also a treat (Hi, Laura!). I am working on recruiting the super-friendly first place woman, Tiffany, to Wolfpack, so if you’re reading this… please! Both Lisa and I will welcome you with open arms! And of course, shoutout to my husband, per yoosh, for handling the daughters at home that morning and for letting me go play with my friends for a little bit. I’m grateful.

having a tender moment with Ashley, apparently (PC: Ashley)

Overall, I think I’d recommend RTTEOS. It was an excellently-organized local race, and its smallish size made everything easy to navigate. It’s a bit of a bummer when races don’t allow for race day bib pickup, but logistically, it’s probably a pain in the ass for them, so I get it. They had some of the usual vendor stuff afterward, and for half finishers, we earned medals and got (black) wicking tees and truckers. Folks who AGed across any of the races also earned additional medals. If you’re interested in doing this race in the future, I’d recommend either registering early or holding out hope for a Groupon to appear again. Friends who ran the 5k and 10k reported that their Garmins seemed to closely align with the respective distances, though I haven’t met anyone who ran the half who posted anything close to 13.1; for everyone, it seemed really short. Take it for what it is, though; as far as I know, the course isn’t certified, so you kinda get what you get (and you don’t throw a fit, as they say in preschool). The trail is fast and flat and conducive to PRs and speedy times; running in SJ in late August or early September is always a gamble with the heat, though, so be prepared to adjust expectations accordingly. There are few road races in SJ — which is weird because we’ve got over a million people living here, and there are tons of runners — so I think that if you’re local, you should get this one on your calendar. Plus, it benefits TNT/LLS, and you know how I feel about that organization.  

I walked away from my supported training run with an unexpected voucher for my efforts and a whole lotta warm feelings in my heart upon seeing some friends, so I’d call that a win any day: broiling weather be damned.

2017 Santa Rosa Marathon Race Report – Pacing 3:33 (Santa Rosa, CA)

2017 Santa Rosa Marathon Race Report – Pacing 3:33 (Santa Rosa, CA)

This picture — the disbelief, the digging, the holding back puke or tears (or both), the enormity of the weight being lifted off your chest as you realize that HOLY SHIT I JUST DID IT — this is what it’s all about. You can’t not smile. You can’t not love it.

Denver. (real name Megan)

In late August, I took advantage of an opportunity to return to the Santa Rosa Marathon in (surprise) Santa Rosa, CA, for a second year, to pace. The last time I did it, in 2014, I co-paced the 3:35 group; this time around, I would be pacing the 3:33 group solo. I didn’t pace in ‘15 because I was a couple weeks postpartum, and last year, I had to bail because of that whole colitis nonsense. Just like in 2014, this year, many runners from all over, and in particular, CA, flocked to the SRM because its flat course is quite conducive to nice and shiny PRs and BQs, and logistically, it’s one of the last marathons in the US before Boston registration opens in mid-September. In other words, if you’re itching for a fast time, SRM is a (relatively) safe gamble. The race has had a trying history the past few years (course issues last year, timing issues another, and an earthquake the year I last ran it), but it seems to be a race that, I guess like a good wine, improves with time. Naturally, oenophiles also like the wine-heavy presence in the race, too, what with it being in the thick of northern CA’s wine country and all; the marathon is known, among other things, for taking runners literally through and alongside wineries, and at one point in the race, you actually run through a barrel house at mile 10 at DeLoach (and have an opportunity to hit a Chardonnay aid station). It’s a really enjoyable course and race experience.

c/o: SRM

Among many other friends, my pals Meg and Connie had targeted this race for some great goals, and while being totally fired up about your own race is awesome, I’d argue that being excited for someone else’s race and training is about as good as it gets. I knew the work that they both had put into their training — while juggling career, family, and life obligations — and I was so excited to see how they’d tear it up on course. I also felt weirdly nostalgic and fairly introspective going into the race as well — the introspection apparently balancing the rahrahrah for my friends — because I had realized a few weeks earlier that SRM was going to be my 30th marathon in the decade that I’ve been doing this stuff. What’s more is that the universe conspired (and logistics worked out) so that my 30th marathon would become essentially a way for me to give back to the running community — at a highly anticipated race and at a pace that is a highly sought-after goal for many people (since 3:35 is the BQ for women ages 18-34). The 3:33/8:07 minute per mile pace that I’d be leading was a pace that for years, I never would have thought I could have (comfortably) handled; hell, my PR was minutes slower than that for years. Suffice it to say that pacing at SRM was a bit of a mental something or other. I can’t quite put my finger on it without sounding completely granola and wanting to hold your hand while singing kumbahyah or something, but it was cool as hell. I was so glad to be there, so excited for my friends racing, and just so ecstatic to help people run strong races.

Saturday: expo, hot as balls, Japanese

Connie, Meg, and I ventured up to SR for the expo in the mid-afternoon, when the temperatures capped out around 105 or so. But it’s a dry heat! Right, sure, but when you open your oven after you’ve been baking cookies, it still feels really effing hot and you feel like you’re looking death in the eyes, right? Same thing. It was toasty, what I call “mouth of Satan hot” (hat tip to fellow Dante lovers out there). DeLoach is one of the major sponsors of the marathon, so as in 2014, the expo was on the winery grounds. Meg, Connie, and I were in and out relatively quickly and still managed to see some of our other friends (Anil, Gene, Vicky) who’d be racing or pacing Sunday morning. We chatted with Beth, the pace group coordinator, and learned about contingency plans for race day, since it was slated to be another triple-digit day. Rumors were circulating that the marathon start time would get moved from 6:30 to 6 or even 5:30, but they were unfounded. We’d later learn that the course would provide additional aid stations and would throw in misting stations and kiddie pools filled with water, ice, and sponges on the course. If nothing else, Connie, Meg, and I kept reminding ourselves that with our 6:30 start and our respective time goals, we should more-than-comfortably finish the race before things got blazing, 100+ degree hot. It might be in the 70s or so — and my experience has shown me that 70s and 80s in California feel significantly hotter than the same temperatures in the Midwest — but it wouldn’t feel that horrible, and realistically, we three shouldn’t be in it for that long.

hello from mile 10 of the marathon at DeLoach


3 East Bayers and one Southern; I’m the weirdo who insists on wearing pants when it’s hot as hell

The women (and Gene) and I opted for a most excellent dinner at Haku Sushi in downtown Santa Rosa, and even with the hot as balls temps outside, piping hot tofu and veg udon, washed down with some Easy Lover sushi, was great for a marathon eve meal. The ladies and I soon retired to our hotel in Rohnert Park; Connie braided Meg’s hair and my hair (why not); and I think I was asleep — though not sleeping well — by about 9:30. (Pro tip: if you’re going to race SRM, book your accommodations really early because things tend to fill up. Expect to pay a lot of money for pretty standard rooms; that’s typical Sonoma County/wine country).

Sunday: race! Pace!

An early race start meant an earlier wakeup (about 3:30), but sharing that nonsense with friends always makes it seem less strange than it really is. I mean, honestly, when else in your life are you going to set an alarm for (essentially) the middle of the night so you can wake up, eat oatmeal, drink black tea, and hopefully will yourself to have a bowel movement and if you’re lucky, go back to bed? If you’re shaking your head, you know; it’s totally bizarre. We left the hotel shortly after 5 and comfortably arrived to downtown SR around 5:30, before much of the pre- and post-race stuff was set-up in the new start/finish location (Old Courthouse Square, instead of Julliard Park; the Square is a better and more spacious staging option, IMHO). Meg, Connie, and I each did that pre-marathon dance all morning long where you basically oscillate between needing to pee (nerves), thinking you have to poop more (nerves), forgetting stuff in the car that you were going to use pre-race (a Gatorade bottle full of water), and trying to find that weird, elusive balance between not thinking about this Great Big Thing that you’re going to do with your body for the next 3 hours and change, plus or minus, and not not thinking about this Great Big Thing that you’re going to do with your body for the next 3 hours and change, plus or minus. Care, but not a lot; don’t care, but give yourself permission to give a damn. Lean in; dissociate. Over. And over. And over.

palpable nerves


pretend you’re not nervous!

Right around 5:50, as we were getting ready to go run a 5 minute easy warm-up, I learned from Beth that I had a co-pacer for the day, Simon. Surely, somewhere in the cosmos the angels were trumpeting on high! I was simply elated. Though I knew I was physically capable of running an evenly-paced 3:33 marathon, a marathon is a long way to go by yourself — and especially when people are relying on you in some capacity. Sometimes people forget that pacers are humans, too, and that we — like anyone else — can have a bad day or a rough race. Though by race morning I wasn’t hugely nervous about pacing, I was still slightly anxious that something would pop up and make my race go awry — stomach issues, long portapotty lines, fueling mishaps, the world ending, anything. Learning literally moments before I was about to go warm-up that I had a partner in crime was such an enormous relief. Moments after Simon and I met, he joined in our warm-up, and immediately, our bantering put my nerves at ease. Our kids were about the same age; we had stuff in common; he had also done this before (and had more experience than me, both in racing and in pacing); so I quickly gleaned in our approximate 6 minute warm-up that we’d have a good time for 3 hours and 33 minutes.

Without much fanfare, aside from some mild confusion about the starting corrals, we began the race. Since 2016’s snafu with runners going off-course early on, SR rightfully made some great changes to the earliest parts of the race. In addition to moving the start time from dark 6 o’clock to lighter 6:30, the first 5k of the course was completely different from how I remembered it in ‘14. Back then, it seemed like we spent a ton of time in SR’s quaint little downtown area, making a thousand turns; in 2017, we spent hardly any time at all downtown, and every intersection was marked to hell with cones, barricades, and a vocal volunteer (or three) who let us all know that we were heading in the correct direction.

somewhere in the first 5k, likely very early on. Simon wanted to hold the sign the entire race; bless his soul.

We picked up the Santa Rosa River Trail (SRRT) by about mile 3 and just like in 2014, stayed on it for a long time before getting over to DeLoach and the Sonoma County back roads. The SRRT is pretty similar to SJ’s GRT, though smaller and narrower, and it’s the same path that IM SR used for its marathon just a month earlier. The first 10 miles of SRM were pretty flat, if not a little net downhill, and our group comfortably cruised right along, with me silently reveling in gratitude for all the shade that we had for the first part of the race.

pretty early on, between miles 3-8 on the SRRT


airborne together

Before we hit DeLoach and the county roads, we had to do a quick out and back on a crushed limestone-esque trail that went perpendicular to the SR trail — presumably to make up for the mileage that was cut off from the new downtown portion of the course earlier — and it allowed me to quickly see my buddy Sarbajeet on the other side of the trail, ahead of me and pretty close to the 3:08 pacer. Unfortunately, I couldn’t see where Anil, Connie, or Meg were.

thinning out a bit somewhere between miles 3-8; you can see Simon about 10 steps behind me. this pic corroborates my husband’s claim that I have a tendency to wave to people by placing my waving hand strangely low. in addition, my smile makes me look like I’m in pain. also: vineyards!

We exited the SRRT around mile 8 before picking up back county roads from 8-20. Simon and I were hitting the paces pretty well, and we noticed that we had about a .04-.1 discrepancy between our GPS watches and the mile markers pretty early on. Between the two of us, we were wearing four watches (2 GPS, 2 stopwatches) and a pace bracelet, so our contingency plans had contingency plans. Because the SRRT was pretty narrow, we rarely ran right next to each other — usually, I was a couple paces ahead of him — but between our matching shirts, him holding the 3:33 sign, and our group of runners behind me, but in front of him, we seemed to have a pretty good-sized group parading between us for a long time. I’d periodically look back to ensure that I wasn’t getting too far ahead of him (and our sign), but I was never more than about 30-50 seconds under our pacing goals at each mile marker (and usually, about .5-.1 longer in distance). When I thought our gap between us was too wide, I ran the roads as they appeared, taking things easy on any inclines and then allowing my stride to open on any declines. I could always hear him, and anytime I turned my head, I could always see him, so I wasn’t sweating it too much that we weren’t in lock-step together for the entire 26.2. Understandably, some people prefer to pace by themselves, and while I initially felt a bit guilty or like a shitty pacer for not being exactly next to him for a lot of the race, we were doing what we were supposed to be doing. (In retrospect, in 2014, I ended up being “the caboose” of our 2 person pacing team, and it’s mentally really taxing to be there. This time around, I guess I just didn’t want to put myself — or my runners — in that position). 

Even if you’re not a oenophile, it is still pretty neat to run through DeLoach and through the barrel room. The signs are always fun, and hell, you can hit a Chardonnay station right after you get out of the barrel room if you want! I must have eluded photographers this time around because I don’t have any pictures from that part, unfortunately.

While the course is very flat overall, there were some pretty good rolling hills on the county roads between miles 11-18, some which I didn’t remember from ‘14. We fortunately still had a bunch of shade over us at that point, and we came through the half in about a 1:46:x, right where we wanted and needed to be.

right around halfway, coming up one of the rollers. notice the Peanuts gang on our pacer shirts? Charles Schulz lived in SR (and there’s a museum in his name there, too).

By halfway, or halfway and change, our group was still running really strong, people were in good moods, and honestly, it was just nice to be out for a long (long) Sunday run. I often thought of my friends racing and hoped that they were having good and enjoyable runs, too. I felt gutted when I saw Anil at the mile 14 or 15 AS, but he was all smiles, so I figured things were okay, relatively speaking. He had had fantastic training and racing in the lead-up to SR and had come prepared to fight for a new PR and a solid BQ, but it wasn’t his day. I’ve been there before and can relate, and man, it sucks. The marathon can be such a heartbreaker.

Somewhere in the 18 or so mark, we exited the rolling county roads and made our way back to the SRRT by way of some flat and seemingly arterial roads. Along the way, I caught up with a woman who had been hanging in our group since the very beginning, “Denver,” who had run with Simon in ‘15, PRed, and was really hoping to PR again this year. I really enjoyed chatting with her and laughed when she apologized profusely for hanging on my hip, since we had so much open road that she could have been running on instead. Girl, that’s why pacers are there! Simon was still about 20 or so seconds back from me, and I told Denver to just keep cruising along, and that by mile 20, we’d pick up the river trail and be on that all the way in to the finish line. Despite her smiley demeanor, I knew she was all business and was determined to finish the final 8 as strong and as well as she had run her first 18, and she went on ahead of me by 19 or so. Soon after, I ran into my Wolfpack teammate Barrie, and we hypothesized about how our other teammate, Sarah, was doing in the full (spoiler: she won!). We all just kept cruising, and fortunately the temperatures remained pretty comfortable for those no-man’s-land miles between 18-20.  

At the 20 mile/10k to go mark, we hopped back onto the SRRT, and we also began to run into the crowds of half marathoners who had started their race at 7:30, an hour after we did. I remember this being problematic in ‘14, but this time around, it didn’t seem to be that big a deal. Runners and walkers were all being courteous to each other, and a simple “good morning” or “on your left” or “runners coming through” from me, on behalf of everyone around me, seemed to pretty easily warn slower-moving runners and walkers to yield for the upcoming foot traffic. As you return to downtown on the SRRT, the very slight downhills you ran on going out can feel completely monstrous coming back, and I warned my racers of that early in our run together. Realistically, when you’re racing a marathon, anything inconsequential can feel earth-shattering in that final 10k, so I tried to do what I could for my racers around me by opening up the trail a bit to accommodate for passing traffic. I figured that while I couldn’t run the race for them, the least I could do was run my mouth. (Fun story: one guy was incredulous that I could have so much energy to so frequently and so vociferously shout at all the other participants to get them to yield. Again: that’s what pacers are for!).  

about 10k to go and back on the SRRT. the guy turning around was one of the guys who was seemingly astounded that I could run my mouth so much so late in the race, ha!

I didn’t start to really feel the heat of the sun until about mile 24 or 25, but I imagine if I were racing, I’d feel the effects much earlier on, like Anil or so many others did. Throughout the entire course, the aid stations really orchestrated their efforts well, with tons of adults and children giving out water, Gatorade, gels, bananas, and oranges. I didn’t recall seeing any kiddie pools or misting stations anywhere, but I could have missed them. By the very end of the race, my GPS was off by about .11, but even with the discrepancy, I knew that I/others around me would definitely finish in 3:33, if not a low 3:32. I began to hold up a bit, waiting for Simon to close the gap between us, and somewhere around mile 25 or so, I came up on Meg, who was in a great mood despite not hitting her A goal for the day.

right before exiting the SRRT, around mile almost-26

Meg, Simon, and I exited the SRRT together right at mile 26, and with a couple left turns back into downtown and Old Courthouse Square, and after some holding up on our part so Simon and I wouldn’t finish too egregiously under 3:33, Simon and I both noticed Denver still ahead of us, obviously busting her ass to get in under 3:33 and to beat what she had posted in ‘15. With about .05 to go, Simon and I both yelled at her with our everything — go! Go! You’re so close! Finish the thing! You can do it! — any embarrassing or empowering bit of encouragement you have ever heard parents scream at their young children — replete with fist pumping, flailing arms, the whole bit. It was awesome. You’d think we were yelling for our own progeny.

worth repeating because it’s just that awesome. girl, you killed it. she destroyed her ’15 time. (see us?)

Moments later, Simon and I finished the race together in 3:32:26 — a little fast for our prescribed 3:33, sure, but just like The Price is Right, under is better than over.  Seconds after us, Meg finished as well, netting herself a solid race, her B goal, her first marathon postpartum, and a pretty and shiny BQ.   


Right around 26.1 (PC: Connie)


Meg right after us (PC: Connie)


everybody hands go up …. and they stay there


team 3:33 (his 54th marathon, NBD)

As I got through the finisher’s chute area, Denver — Megan — found me and in near tears, thanked me endlessly. I was so happy for her and so proud of her! She said something along the lines of her performance being wholly attributable to me, and I quickly threw social norms to the wayside to furiously interrupt her and remind her that nope, actually, her legs did the work; she was the one who did the heavy lifting; she was the badass. I was and am so thrilled for her though and for the many other people who notched great performances in conditions that became pretty challenging. A PR and a BQ — hell, even trying — on a warm August day is something to be really, really proud of. #kudos

After chatting with Megan, I inhaled a couple freezing cold pieces of watermelon, chugged water like it was my last opportunity on earth to do so, and eventually reconnected with Meg and Connie. On course, I was taken aback around mile 26.1 because I saw Connie and her husband and son all on the sidelines cheering, and while I wasn’t totally surprised to see Connie there — figuring she would have been finished for a while by the time we brought in our pace group — seeing her family was a big surprise. It wasn’t until Connie and her family, Meg, and Gene and I connected that I learned the amazing news that not only did Connie net a gigantic PR (14 minutes), she finished second woman overall to my teammate, Sarah, and SHE BROKE 3 HOURS (and her family was there to see her do it). Talk about inspiration.

the shit-eating grin in front of the shit-collecting receptacles. SO PROUD of this group! so happy! D is having a blast, too! (PC: Connie’s husband)

2017’s iteration of SRM was excellent. The new/modified course went off without a hitch, and while the weather was certainly not picture perfect, it’s also literally the only thing you can’t control on race day. (See also: an August marathon in inland California. It’s a gamble). The aid stations were plentiful, about every two miles, and the congestion that I remember from running into the slower half marathon runners and walkers at mile 20 wasn’t as intense this time around like it was in 2014. The race kept many of its premiums: gigantic medals, a nice zip-up (this year, made out of wicking material with Peanuts characters adorning the backside), and a bottle of Runner’s Red wine for every marathoner. Even the pace groups were modified in the past few years to better align with Boston standards and the likelihood of securing a Boston spot; in ‘14, this spot was 3:35, and the race had since dropped it down to 3:33. Starting and finishing in the square instead of at the park seemed to make things flow really easily, too, and at least for my group of friends, we didn’t have any problems getting to the downtown area an hour ahead of the start time and securing really convenient (and free) parking. This was the 9th year of the SRM, and I honestly think that it’ll just keep improving.

I couldn’t be happier for my friends, for strangers I helped pace to personal victories, and to the countless other participants who decided to give themselves a chance to chase down big goals. I would have never imagined that I’d run 30 marathons in ten years of doing this stuff, and being able to pace for this milestone, and at a pace that a) I never thought I’d be able to do comfortably ten years ago and b) one that means so much to so many people (particularly women my age), was like the best icing ever on the best cake ever. If I wanted marathon #30 to be memorable, I nailed it. 

Sincerest and heartfelt congrats to all of Sunday’s racers. You all are rockstars in my book.