Lucky Number Seven: Boston Marathon Training Recap, Week 7

Boston Marathon Training (3)This week, Mother Nature clearly showed her disapproval of my marathon training. Like a proper brat, I did my best to get in the miles anyway.

I don’t know if the media coverage was as crazy everywhere as it was in Boston, but in case you missed it, we got a little snow. The news claimed we got about 25 inches here in the city, or roughly 31% of Rob Gronkoswki by height.

I don't make these things up, I just report them. From
I don’t make these things up, I just report them. From

The snow arrived Monday night and continued non-stop through early Wednesday morning. I’m crazy, but not crazy enough to run in an actual blizzard, so I went out Monday afternoon for a 4.5 mile run before the snow started. Ordinarily I like to take a rest day after my long run, but I knew Tuesday was going to be a forced rest. Monday’s run was bitterly cold, but it was very cool to see the few dedicated runners out there trying to squeeze in the last few miles before the storm. I exchanged more waves and smiles on that short run than is typical, even with runners being friendly folks.

Me in the snow, with USPS mailbox for scale.
Me in the snow, with USPS mailbox for scale.

I decided to sign up for a Tuesday Flywheel class just in case, but wasn’t surprised to get the email that the facility would be closed due to the storm. Honestly, it was the right choice for safety reasons. Tuesday’s exercise included a brief walk through the neighborhood during a period of calm, and some biceps workouts as I raised beer and nachos to my lips. I’m so buff.

Please let the marathon finish line look less snowy on April 20!
Please let the marathon finish line look less snowy on April 20!

Wednesday was all about getting back into gear. The sidewalks were still pretty crappy since the snow had only ended that morning, so I decided to focus on cross-training rather than running. I went to a lunchtime yoga class at Back Bay Yoga. I’ve never done this before, since it honestly takes way too much time between getting ready, walking there, doing the class, and walking home, but my work schedule was in good shape thanks to so many rescheduled meetings. I liked the 60 minute class format (I usually go to 90 minute classes) because I felt like the instructor had a greater sense of urgency and kept us moving.

At least my official Marathon jacket arrived to brighten the week. Not to be worn till I cross that finish line.
At least my official Marathon jacket arrived to brighten the week. Not to be worn till I cross that finish line.

Then Wednesday night I did the Flywheel class I’d wanted to do Tuesday. Not much to report there, except it was absolutely mobbed after so many people couldn’t work out Tuesday.

By Thursday, there was no more procrastinating. It was time to strap on my sneakers and hit the road for a 6.7 mile run. Although I logged my slowest time ever on one of my favorite river routes, I had a good time on my run. The path along the river was pretty well plowed, with some snowy patches but nothing deep or too slippery. This is due to Boston-based New Balance, which takes care of us local runners all winter long by funding the snow removal of the pedestrian paths.

Friday I traveled for work and therefore no workouts happened.

Saturday Long Run with DFMC

I’ll get it out right away: I’m really disappointed with myself about this run.

Well, at least the actual weather (bottom) was warmer than the prediction (top)?
Well, at least the actual weather (bottom) was warmer than the prediction (top)?

I had planned to run 14, but with the weather being brutally cold yet again (this time featuring bonus howling winds!), I didn’t meet my goal. I tried to even things out a little by taking a yoga class Saturday afternoon, but I know it doesn’t make up for lost miles.

DFMC relocated our starting point to Boston College after scouting out the planned route and seeing it was too dangerous to run due to snowbanks and ice. Rather than a cozy mini-team meeting indoors before the run, we huddled in the stairwell of a parking garage listening to the most necessary announcements only. I was cheered to realize many of my teammates were reacting to our situation much the way I was, by questioning their own sanity.

Things our carpool decided we’d rather do than run:

  • Go to brunch
  • Go get coffee
  • Bail me out of jail
Cold runners awaiting their leader.
Cold runners awaiting their leader.

We ended up running. The brunch and coffee options would have made us feel like slackers and I didn’t get arrested to need bailing out, thanks to a conveniently located public bathroom that allowed me to avoid illegal behavior of an unspecified variety.

We ran up and down Commonwealth Ave along the Newton hills on the marathon course. The route the team plotted had us going out about 4.5, then coming almost all of the way back to BC. You could then turn around and repeat as much of the run as you wanted to get to your goal mileage. I hate repeating courses under the best of circumstances. In this situation, repeating meant going back down Heartbreak Hill into the wind only to have to climb back up. Instead, I kept going, overshot BC, and did a little bit in Cleveland Circle and the BC campus. My total mileage came to around 10.75; short of my goal, but at least double digits.

Here are some highlights from my brain during the first three miles of this run:

And this is the sad, be-Vaselined face of someone who knows she's spending the next two hours in -7 windchill.
And this is the sad, be-Vaselined face of someone who knows she’s spending the next two hours in -7 windchill.

Wow, it’s really really cold. Could it be colder? Oh yes, that wind blasting in my face definitely makes me colder.

Uh-oh, I can’t feel my fingers. This is bad. This is really bad. Oh crap, I feel phantom fingers. Does this mean I have frostbite?

I guess losing a pinky finger wouldn’t be too terrible. It would look kind of bad-ass . . .ok, it would actually be awful and the asymmetry would drive me nuts and maybe I should knock on the front door of one of these Newton homeowners and ask to warm my hands.

Hm. My left foot seems to have only four toes. Interesting.

This may have been the coldest run I’ve ever done. We were able to run on the carriage road alongside Comm Ave for most of the run, avoiding both the sidewalks and the main street, but there were some portions that were really icy and badly plowed/shoveled. We definitely were not practicing the best runner safety procedures in these areas. Also, my hands weren’t operating well enough to do anything with my watch, so I just didn’t even try.

Dear snow, I hate you.
Dear snow, I hate you.

On the fun side, the run support this week was its most enthusiastic yet, probably because of our shared mutual understanding that we’re all lunatics. The Dana-Farber runners were offered water by other charity groups, given lots of smiles and cheers, and were greeted by a gorilla at one point (I was briefly jealous of how cozy warm it must be inside a gorilla suit).

This weather is garbage.

Bonus Running Event: Super Sunday 5 Mile Race

Race bib and tee. I was a little disappointed to get a cotton tee when this race has previously given a fab tech shirt.
Race bib and tee. I was a little disappointed to get a cotton tee when this race has previously given a fab tech shirt.

One of the factors leading me to be a little soft on myself during the Saturday long run was knowing I was registered to race 5 miles the next morning at the Super Sunday race in Cambridge. You don’t get the same benefit if you break long run mileage into multiple sessions, BUT my total weekend mileage ends up being longer than my planned long run would have been and I should get some credit for that, right? (Welcome to my internal bartering system.)

All I can say about Sunday’s weather is that it was warmer than Saturday, in the way that the inside of a volcano is cooler than the surface of the sun. My hands and feet were becoming painfully numb as I waited for the race to start, and judging from the people around me, I was not alone.

The race itself was quite enjoyable. The course was flat and fast, going between Kendall and Harvard Squares with a tour through Inman. As usual, some drivers were extremely impatient about road closures and tried to cut through the course; I realize it’s annoying to have your drive delayed, but it’s even more annoying how willing some drivers are to jeopardize people’s safety in order to get moving.

There were a 5 mile and a 5 kilometer race going on simultaneously, and at about mile 3, the two routes converged. I understand from a practical standpoint why this was planned, but it was irritating as a runner to suddenly encounter large groups of slower runners so late in the race. More than halfway to the finish, I was back to weaving around other people rather than focusing on my pace.

RACE RESULTSI finished with a total time of 43:44 (8:45 pace), which is not my PR, but is better than I expected mid-marathon training. Cutting my run a little short Saturday probably didn’t hurt in terms of today’s speed, either.

There was a really cool lineup of beers and snacks at the finish, but there is no faster way to get cold than to stand around sweaty in your running gear on a 13 degree day. We had one quick beer just because, then hightailed it to the warmth of a Starbucks.

I would love to include some pictures from this race but one drawback to cold, lifeless hands is that they are not effective to operate a smartphone camera. Picture a bunch of sweaty people in winter running clothes and you’ve got the idea.

2 thoughts on “Lucky Number Seven: Boston Marathon Training Recap, Week 7

  1. Sorry! I may have been one of those slow 5K runners in your way on Sunday. (Although, I was so slow, you probably missed me.)

    One of the reasons I like the Super Sunday course is the re-joining with the 5 milers.

    The drivers can be jack asses, but with more runners on the course, I find less drivers trying to mow us down & I feel safer.

    I skipped the post race party due to being cold. I’m not a beer drinker anyway. 🙂

    1. No, don’t apologize! It’s not your fault at all, and everyone should be able to run at the speed they’re comfortable with. I think it would work better if they had the 5k runners go first, then the 5 milers.

      The driver situation was better than the Cambridge 5k, but not great. I don’t understand people who think they’re going to mow through a crowd!

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