Sunday, May 26, 2013

The Buffalo Marathon Recap

I AM OFFICIALLY A MEMBER OF THE 26.2 MILE CLUB!!!!! I completed the Buffalo Marathon today in 5:05:30, which is an 11:39 min/mi pace. I have already had several people asking about how the race went today so here's a recap of my marathon experience.

The Night Before the Race
I was feeling pretty good about this race because I worked really hard and I was definitely physically prepared to run a marathon. Over the past few weeks, I really had to mentally prepare myself for such a huge task. I was surprisingly only a little nervous last night because I knew that there was nothing else that I could do at this point. I did everything that I needed to do to prepare for the race today. I made sure that I had plenty of water and gatorade all day and loaded up on carbs. I also had all of my running "gear" ready last night. I tried to go to bed early last night, but I was too excited and nervous to fall asleep early. After much tossing and turning all night, I eventually fell asleep last night.

The Morning of the Race
I woke up at 3:30am this morning and was extremely happy when I realized that I could get 2 more hours of sleep. I woke up at 5:30am and got ready for the big race. I had my bowl of oatmeal and banana, put my running clothes on, got my hydration belt ready, put my timing chip on my shoe and put my race bib on my shirt. We left around 6:10am and my dad dropped me off near the start line.

The Moments Before the Race
The race did not start until 7am, but I arrived at the start line around 6:30am. I had debated wearing short spandex or capri's and was extremely happy that I chose capri's. It was only around 45 degrees outside when we were waiting for the race to start and it was COLD! I knew that once the race started that these cool temperatures would make for a great race. I got a ton of compliments on my wonderful pink race tank that Brian made for me. People either asked me if I was a math teacher or told me that they did not understand the front of my shirt until they saw the 26.2 on the back.

I entered the race corral when there was about 10 minutes left to the start. I lined up with the 4:40 marathon pacer and was hoping to stay with the pacer for most of the race. I can comfortably run a half marathon in about 2:15 so I figured that I would do okay starting with the 4:40 pacer. I knew that I would slow down eventually, but I was worried that if I started with a slower pacer I would slow down way too much. I met a lady who came from Syracuse and was also running her first marathon. We decided to run together since neither of us had anyone else to run with and would be able to help each other push through. Neither one of us had a set goal, but we were both hoping to finish in under 5 hours. My real goal was just to be able to finish the race, but a time goal really helped me to pace myself and stick with the crowd.

Miles 1-6.2 (The 10K)
I decided not to wear a watch for this race because I did not want to be disappointed in my time if I ended up being slower than expected. There were clocks at the relay points so it was good to see my time every 6.2 miles instead of every mile. When the race started off, we were maintaining a pretty good pace. We did not set out too quickly because we knew that it would be a long 26.2 miles. The first 10K of the race felt great. I was happy and comfortable with the pace that we were maintaining. The course was also relatively flat, which is a nice change from what I am used to running. The first 3 miles were through downtown Buffalo and there was just so much excitement and energy all around. We were stuck in a pretty big crowd for the beginning of the race because there were way more people in the half marathon and the relay than the actual marathon. Miles 3-6 were so beautiful to run through because we were running right along Lake Erie and the Erie Basin Marina. I also love that when you loop around the Marina you get to see people running in the other direction. The Marina loop is from miles 5-6 so I was able to see a few people that I know running by, including Molly who was also running her first full marathon. Once we were out of the Marina, we were at the 10K mark and we were holding a steady 10:40 min/mi pace.

Miles 6.2-12.4 (The 20K)
The 10K mark was the first exchange of the marathon relay so naturally tons of runners began to pass us since they were just beginning their leg of the race. I have run the half marathon twice before, but I forgot how long it feels to run from the 10K mark to the 20K mark. We ran all the way down Ohio St. for more than 2 miles before we reached the Harbor. The 10K to the 20K is a giant loop so you run past the 12 mile mark and then realize that you are actually only approaching mile 7. I had my first Gu packet around mile 7 and was only drinking water every 2 miles at this point. When you pass the 11 mile mark and go over the open gate bridge that I hate, you are really only at mile 8. We ran almost a mile down the Harbor and had another beautiful view of Lake Erie before turning around and running back the same way that we had just come. I also like this part of the course because you get to pass by all of the people that are ahead of you on the other side of the street or behind you on the way back. After mile 10, we began looking at all of the people still making their way down to the Harbor. It was incredible to see all different kinds of people out attempting a half marathon or marathon and you could tell that some people had worked really hard to get there. We noticed that there were many red bibs behind us still, but not too many blue bibs. The red bibs were for the half marathon, the green bibs were for the relay and the blue bibs were for the marathon. This was to be expected because there were way more people running the half marathon and first time marathoners are slow anyways.

Miles 12.4-18.6 (The 30K)
I lost my new running friend around the 20K mark because this was where I was beginning to struggle. We parted ways and I decided that it was time to slow down my pace, while she kept up the 10:40 min/mi pace. I knew that if I kept running so fast that I was never going to make it to the finish line. You could see the finish line around 13 miles, but this was the point where the half marathoners ran straight to the finish and the marathoners turned off to the right to continue the second half of their journey. The minute that I turned the corner it was like a ghost town compared to what we had just run in for the first half of the course. There were a lot less people running the marathon and the people running the marathon were at all different ability levels. The nice thing about this was that you had plenty of room to run with very few people around you. I was extremely happy to see bananas at the 13 mile mark because I have recently discovered that bananas are great to eat before or during a run if you have stomach problems. I was still drinking water and/or gatorade every 2 miles at this point. I had my hydration belt on in case I needed it, but luckily it was cool enough out that drinking at every 2 miles worked pretty well for me. I learned my lesson during my 22 miler about drinking too much during a run.

Miles 13 to 16 felt extremely long because it was a straight stretch down Franklin St/Linwood Avenue. I was beginning to lose motivation and energy at this point, but luckily there were a lot of motivating people along the way that helped. I talked to many people along the way and most had run a marathon before and gave me some good tips to keep moving along. We entered Forest Lawn Cemetery around Mile 16 and this was the point when the 4:40 marathon pacer passed me. I walked through every water station, but this was the point when I had to start alternating in some more walking. I really did not want to do any walking during the race, but it was necessary to help me keep running the majority of the race. We entered Delaware Park around mile 17 and miles 17-18 were where I just wanted to quit the race. I did not think that I was going to make it another 9 miles and I was getting really discouraged. It was right around mile 18 that I realized that I had not had a Gu packet since mile 18 and probably just needed a burst of energy. The fuel certainly made a difference and I quickly got rid of my negative attitude. As physically tough as this race was, it was actually way more mentally tough. When you are running for so long, it is easy to lose focus and forget about keeping your mind on the finish line. I knew that my time was getting slower, but I was going to get to that finish line no matter what.

Miles 18.6-24.8 (The 40K)
The last leg of the relay was right outside of Delaware Park and it was a bit frustrating to see the relay runners just breezing by. Luckily, the relay runners were very encouraging and kept telling us how they could never do what we were doing. Running from the 30K to the 40K was certainly not easy at all, but I was feeling much more confident than I had been before I reached the 30K point. It was beginning to warm up a bit so I began drinking water and/or gatorade at every mile, but the temperature was still comfortable for such a long run. We ran through the neighborhood around Delaware Park and there were still a ton of spectators out cheering us on. The people volunteering at the aid stations were the best and I was extremely grateful for everything that they had at the aid stations. I really enjoyed the oranges at one of the aid stations, which just fell right around the time that I needed a little kick of energy. The Buffalo Marathon does not mess around when it comes to aid stations. They did not have everything at every aid station, but they had everything ranging from water and gatorade to oranges and bananas to Gu and candy to vaseline and tylenol.

There were also water/aid stations at every mile after mile 21, which was perfect at this point in the race. This forced me to stop to walk at every mile and rehydrate. I would walk for about 1 minute and then run to the next aid station at the next mile. There were a couple of times that I had to stop to walk for a minute in the middle of a mile, but I was able to run most of the stretch from the 30K to the 40K. I am sure that I looked pretty funny every time that I started running again after a stretch of walking. It was hard to lift my legs too far off of the ground at this point so I sort of waddled a little bit until my legs began running again. We ran out of Delaware Park around mile 21, but passed through it again at mile 22. This was the point in the race that I was the most nervous for because I had never run more than 22 miles before. After the awful time that I had at mile 17, I knew that this would not be too bad. I only had 4.2 miles left to run at this point and I would have walked all 4.2 miles if I had to. Luckily, my body was willing to run most of the rest of the race very slowly. Miles 22-24 were a straight stretch down Bidwell Parkway and Richmond Avenue. The straight stretches are always the worst because they look short, but actually take forever to get through.

Miles 24.8-26.2 (The Marathon)
We turned back onto Delaware Avenue right around the 40K mark and I was happy to be so close to the finish. I got the worst cramp right below my ribs right around mile 25. I am not going to lie about the fact that I had to walk a good chunk of mile 25. I would run about 1/4 mile and then stop to walk for a minute or two. I had been doing so well around the 40K mark, even if it was slow so I was a bit annoyed. I was also a bit annoyed because I could see the fountain in Niagara Square for about 1 mile and it felt like it took forever to get there. During one of my walking stretches, I was fixing my headband and some girl ran past me and asked me if I was trying to look good for the finish instead of keeping running. I told her yes I am going to look good when I RUN past the finish line. The 26 mile mark was right in Niagara Square and that is when I got the biggest adrenaline rush of the entire race. I was going to run right across that finish line and I was going to look good doing it. I came around the corner running as fast as my body would allow at that point and I saw my parents, my brothers, my sister-in-laws and my best friends all waiting for me near the finish. I was so happy to see all of them and have such a big crowd to cheer me on at the finish. I crossed the finish around 5:08, but my chip time ended up being 5:05:30. I was expecting a 5 hour finish so I am still pretty happy with my finish, especially since running 26.2 miles is such a huge accomplishment in the first place.

After the Race
I was so incredibly proud of myself when I crossed the finish line. When I had turned the corner and saw the finish line, I just wanted to cry because I was so excited that I had made it so far. It was tough, but I made it to 26.2 miles with very few problems. It was an incredible feeling to have that marathon medal placed around my neck and realize that I have just accomplished something that I have worked so hard for the better part of 30 weeks. If you set a goal, work hard and believe in yourself, then you can achieve anything that you set your mind to! If you had told me 5 years ago that I would successfully complete a marathon, then I probably would have laughed in your face. Running a marathon was physically the most difficult thing that I have ever done, but hard work really does pay off. Thank you to all of you who joined me on this journey to 26.2 miles. Today I am especially thankful for all of the people who cheered me on and helped me get to the finish line. I am glad that my family and friends were there to see me finish, but I am also grateful for all of the other runners and the complete strangers who helped push me along today. I was definitely sore and tired when I was done, but I felt so much better than I did after I completed 22 miles. Stairs were no easy task, but I was actually able to walk/waddle and eat when I was done! I am now officially a member of the 26.2 mile club and I could not be more proud of myself for such a huge accomplishment.

What's Next
I am going to take about a week off from running now that the marathon is over to give my body some time to recover. I would like to do more cross training this summer, but I still plan to continue running. I am going to cut back on my mileage for awhile. I plan to run shorter distances and spend more time focusing on speed over the summer. I have several races planned over the next few months including the Corporate Challenge, the Boilermaker, the Color Run, the Tops/Roswell 10K and the Dirty Girl Mud Run just to name a few. I like to do longer races during the spring when the training and race weather is much cooler. At this point, I am not sure if I would ever run another marathon. It's way to soon to even think about that, but it could be a possibility one day. 

The first thing that I said to my family after the race was I am never running a marathon ever again. I am not going to say that it is going to be out of the question, but I am already beginning to think about my 2014 workout/race goal. 2008 was my first road race ever. 2009 was my first half marathon. From 2009-2011, I entered a ton of local road races and worked on improving my race speed. In 2012, I entered 3 half marathons and worked on improving my half marathon time. 2013 was the year that I ran 2 half marathons before I ran my first full marathon. I do not know what is in store for 2014 yet, but I am potentially thinking of something involving biking. I would really love to enter a duathlon, but I need to begin biking first. I think that this summer will be the perfect time to work on cross training and other workouts in addition to running. I am going to take a break from blogging for a little while. I will probably continue blogging after running races, but since I am not training for anything there will be no need for me to blog on a regular basis. So thank you for joining me on my running journey and stay tuned for whatever comes next!


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Final Countdown

Over the past 30 weeks, I have run a total of 527.1 miles over the course of 85 hours, 9 minutes and 44 seconds. I cannot believe that I have run for a total of 3 days, 13 hours, 9 minutes and 44 seconds. I have run enough miles since the end of October to be able to run from my apartment to my parent’s house and back almost 3 times! I am now proud to say that ….. MARATHON TRAINING IS OFFICIALLY OVER!!!!! My body was extremely grateful for the tapering over the past couple of weeks, especially since “travel” season has started back up. I have reached the point in the year where I spend a lot more time making trips home or elsewhere. It can be tricky to get all of your runs in when you’re traveling, work is busy and the weather is nicer. I have had to be pretty flexible with my running these past couple of weeks, especially when it has been so hot out.  However, I completed my last training run today and now the only thing left on my training schedule is REST! I never miss a rest day in my training schedule so thank you Hal Higdon for giving me two rest days before the race. I actually will end up getting three rest days because I ended up being a day ahead on my schedule. I am extremely grateful for the rest days and the fact that the marathon is right in the middle of a 4 day weekend. I am going to drive home right after work tomorrow and spend Friday and Saturday mentally preparing for the big day.

I think that I am physically ready for this race, but I am not completely mentally prepared for this race yet. I have recently discovered a few things about my body that have made me physically prepared for this race. It’s no secret that my 22 mile run was pretty rough, but a huge part of the problem was the heat. I recently read an article that it’s possible to drink too much water while you are running. I guess I should not have drunk water every half mile or chugged half of a bottle of water when my dad came to refill my water bottles that day. I will make sure to be extra conscious of how much I drink on Sunday. I was really happy when I saw that the weather forecast for Sunday was going to be a high of 63 degrees. It won’t be too hot early in the morning and it will be much easier to stay hydrated. I have also recently discovered that eating a banana before a run really helps your stomach during a run, especially if you already have stomach issues. I have also used Gu during several of my long runs so I already have my Gu packets ready for every 5-6 miles on Sunday. I have also tested out the running clothes that I plan to wear on Sunday because nobody enjoys chaffing!

I know that I am physically prepared for this race, especially after 30 weeks of training. However, I have a total mix of emotions and feelings about this race on Sunday. I am very proud of how far I have come as a runner, especially over this past year. I never thought that I would ever run a half marathon and now I am about to run my first marathon. I am excited for this race because I have already run the half marathon course twice, which is the first half of the marathon. I love running through the marina, the harbor and along Lake Erie. I am glad that I am familiar with the first part of the course and I am glad that I am not familiar with the second part of the course. I do not think that running through Delaware Park will be too bad, especially because this part of the race will be a new running atmosphere for me. I think that this will help the time pass and not make the last few miles seem so long. The only goal that I have for Sunday is to be able to finish the race. I do not care how long it takes me to run and I do not even care if I have to alternate running and walking a little bit towards the end. I think that the marathon will probably take me about 5 hours based on how my long runs went. I can usually run a half marathon in about 2 hours and 15 minutes so I think that 5 hours is a pretty good judge of around how long it will take. While I am excited for this challenge, I am still extremely nervous and scared about my ability to be able to run so far. I just need to head into Sunday with a positive attitude and remind myself of how hard I have worked to get here over these past 30 weeks.

I am not sure that I would ever run a marathon ever again because it is such a huge time commitment to train for, but who knows what my running future might hold. I am excited to be able to begin running for fun again and to not have to stick to such a strict running schedule for a while. I am also excited to be able to start varying up my workouts again. My speed has improved greatly over the past year, especially since cross country season, but I would like to spend some more time focusing on speed this summer. I would like to do some more trail running or hiking or biking or swimming. I really want to complete a duathlon one day since I stink at swimming. So I would like to get into biking and maybe that will be my big race and focus for next year. I just need to get through this race on Sunday and take a short break from running before I start something new. I am sure that I will have plenty of time to think about all of these things during the 5 hours that I spend running on Sunday morning. 

Right now, I am thinking about how extremely grateful I am for everyone who has helped get to the start line. I am thankful for my wonderful parents and family who supported me during all of this training. At least one of my parents always shows up for my races and they even stay overnight somewhere with me when I go out of town for a race. They had also put up with my crazy running schedule during all of the weekends that I was at home or they came to visit me. They even came to my rescue when I ran out of water during a long run or needed help doing something as simple as untying my shoes after a long run. I am also grateful for all of my wonderful running buddies who helped me get through these 30 weeks of training. I had many days where I ended up running on my own, but I also had many days where my co-workers or friends joined me. I was extremely happy to have company when I was running whether it was a 3 mile or run or a 19 mile run. I never had anyone run the full distance with me once I got past 13, but I usually had company for the first half of most of my long runs. I had friends run with me in some of the best and worst running conditions and they totally understood how tough some of these runs could get.

I am also thankful for all of the friends who supported me during these past 30 weeks, even if they were not actually running besides me. I had so many people checking in on my training all of the time and they were genuinely interested in how my training was going. Believe me when I say that every little compliment or word of encouragement helped push me through some of my toughest runs. I was glad to be able to share my running statistics and my blog with everyone so that they could keep track of my progress. I even have people who ask me for tips or running advice now. It is so incredible to reflect back on how far I have come as a runner and to think about how I used to be the one asking for running tips. This was not the easiest journey to complete, but you all helped me take on such a big challenge. So thank you to all of you who have helped carry me through my training and to the starting line of the Buffalo Marathon. I will be thinking about all of the people who helped get me to the start line on Sunday and I am as ready as I am ever going to be conquer 26.2 miles. Be sure to check back next week for a detailed report of my marathon experience. 

Week 29
5/14/13 – 6 miles in 54:12 (9:02 min/mi pace)
5/15/13 – 3 miles in 26:55 (8:59 min/mi pace)
5/17/13 – 8 miles in 1:21:20 (10:10 min/mi pace)

Week 30
5/20/13 – 3 miles in 27:38 (9:13 min/mi pace)
5/21/13 – 4 miles in 41:18 (10:20 min/mi pace)
5/22/13 – 2 miles in 18:30 (9:15 min/mi pace)

527.1 miles complete in 85:9:44 and only 4 days until conquering 26.2 miles!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

My Top 10 Funniest or Most Embarrassing Running Moments

Since marathon training is quickly coming to an end and my mileage is decreasing, I have decided that I am going to bring some humor back into my blog posts. Before I get into the details of week 28, I am going to share my top 10 funniest or most embarrassing running moments. These are probably not the only funny or embarrassing moments that I have ever had running, but these ones are the most vivid in my memory. Some of these moments have happened during marathon training and some have been from my past few years as a runner. As I came up with this list, I have realized that many of these stories involve being chased by dogs or getting injured. (Perhaps I need to live in a “bubble” for the last two weeks of training to avoid either of these situations.) Anyways, here are my top 10 funniest or most embarrassing running moments for your viewing pleasure:

1.) The time that I fell off of the treadmill and tried to crawl back up the treadmill to turn it off before I let myself fall off instead. (See my October blog post “The Tale of the Treadmill” for the full story.)

2.) The time that I went snow tubing, landed on my face, got a concussion and missed 3 weeks of marathon training.

3.) The time that I entered an open cross country race in college and came in last place by 2 minutes.

4.) The time that I ran screaming through the hills of my neighborhood because I thought that two wiener dogs were chasing me and they were really in a yard with an electric fence. (See my January blog post “Who Let the Dogs Out” for the full story.)

5.) The time that I ran the Bridge Run half marathon for the first time in Vibram Five Fingers and sprained my ankle at mile 10 and finished the race anyways. (I will never go back to Vibram’s after an excellent year of running in Mizuno’s!)

6.) The time that I ran in the middle of the street during rush hour traffic because two dogs knocked down their fence and chased me across the street. (I avoided getting hit by a car, but I now cross the street whenever I have to run by this house.)

7.) The time in college that Katelyn and I thought that it would be fun to run from campus to the Pittsford end of the canal to the Fairport end of the canal and back to campus on an extremely hot and sunny day. (We did not end up running the entire time, but it took us 3 hours to accomplish this and we came back looking like lobsters.)

8.) The time that Sandy and I went trail running, followed by some hiking where I tripped up a hill and cut my knee open.

9.) The time that I tripped over a pop can during a run and twisted my ankle.

10.) The time that Sandy and I were passed by an elderly gentleman who just breezed by us at the finish line of the Santa Run. (There is a picture of this online and he looks like he’s making very little effort, while we look quite the opposite!)

I will recap week 28 now that you've had a good laugh about my running stories. Week 28 of training was pretty great because it was my second week of tapering. I am now beginning to understand why tapering is so important to running a marathon. My legs and body are beginning to feel well-rested between runs and I haven’t been very sore. The decreased mileage has definitely helped my body and my runs have felt much better this week. I was able to stick to my training plan this week and did not have to skip or shorten any runs. I always feel guilty when I skip out on my training so I am glad that I had a pretty good week. I have been changing up my routes in my neighborhood for my short runs and the change of scenery definitely made a difference too. 

I have a 5 mile loop by my apartment that I usually run, but on Tuesday I decided to change it up for my run. I went out in a different direction and I was still a mile away by the time that I got to mile 5. Since I was only on schedule for 5 miles, I decided to walk the last mile back to my apartment. I was amazed at how much easier it was to walk back up the hill to my apartment after spending a few extra minutes walking. 

On Wednesday, I had the best run that I have had in weeks. I was on schedule for 8 miles and tried to get out before the rain began. I was only 1 mile into my run before it started raining and it was pouring rain for most of my run. I actually felt really good for the entire run and I was maintaining a very comfortable pace. I changed up my route again so I found myself 1 mile away from home when I was supposed to be done. Since it was still pouring rain, I decided to run the extra mile home. Within 1 minute of completing my 9 mile run, the rain stopped and then the sun came out pretty soon after that. However, I will take a run in the rain over a run in the heat any day.

I ran 4 miles on Thursday and tried a new workout for this run. I tried Hal Higdon’s 3/1 workout where you run ¾ of the run at an easy or comfortable pace and the last ¼ of the run fast or at race pace. I ran the first 3 miles between 9:30 min/mi and 10:00 min/mi, which is a pretty comfortable pace for me. I ran the last mile at a 7:30 min/mi pace and hauled it back home. It was a great workout and a nice alternative to a tempo run. I have not really focused on any speed work during training, but I thought that a change in my workout would be nice on an easy day. I definitely want to try different running workouts once the marathon is over and I cut back on my mileage for the summer.

I woke up early this morning to run since I learned my lesson about starting a long run too late in the day during that terrible 22 mile long run. However, Mother Nature had other plans for me. I do not mind running in the rain, but it was pouring rain for a good part of the morning and the weather report said scattered thunderstorms. I spent the morning and the early part of the afternoon debating whether I would go out when the weather cleared up or wait until the morning. I ended up going out to run around 3:30 and I was extremely happy that it was still overcast. It was cloudy until the last few miles, but it was not too hot for most of my run. I ran at a slower pace today since I am trying to get my body ready to run the marathon at a slower pace than my half marathon pace. 

I had a pretty good run today, but my body is extremely happy that there will be no more double digit runs until race day. My long runs are usually not too difficult for me. The hour or two after each long run is usually the tougher part, but a shower, food, water and the couch usually take care of that. I do not foresee having any problems next week because my long run is only 8 miles next week. I cannot believe that there are only 2 weeks left until the big race. I am a total mix of emotions still about this race, but I feel pretty good after this past week of training. I am happy that the mileage is going to be pretty low and I think that this will really help me get ready for the big race. Here’s a quick glance at this past week before I head into the final countdown:

Week 28
5/7/13 – 5 miles in 47:18 (9:27 min/mi pace)
5/8/13 – 9 miles in 1:29:50 (9:58 min/mi pace)
5/9/13 – 4 miles in 38:05 (9:30 min/mi pace)
5/11/13 – 12 miles in 2:08:21 (10:41 min/mi pace)

501.1 miles complete in 80:59:51 and only 15 days until conquering 26.2 miles!

Monday, May 6, 2013

The Bridge Run

After my difficult 22 mile long run last weekend, I was really lacking the motivation to continue my marathon training this past week. I had to remind myself that the toughest part of training was over and then I was ready to lace my kicks back up. I started my taper a week early because I wanted to run the Bridge Run this past weekend. My body was extremely happy to begin cutting back on my mileage. The weekday mileage is still a little high, but I knew that these would be some of the most important runs left in my training. The weekday runs were a bit tricky this week because the beautiful summer weather has finally arrived. It was cloudy and a bit cooler on Tuesday after school so I was able to get a nice quick run in. On Wednesday, Sandy and I headed to the rail trail even though it was incredibly hot and sunny. She wanted to run 4 miles and I needed to run 8 miles. We ran almost 3 miles before we stopped to walk and then got smoothies instead of continuing. I went back out closer to dusk when it was cooler out and finished my other 5 miles. On Thursday, I met Michelle for a quick run in the early evening. She only needed to run 2 miles before the Bridge Run and I had to run 3 more miles after that since I am still in marathon training. After my 5 miler, I was so happy to have a couple of days off and I was glad that I stuck to my training plan all week. Before I get into a recap of the Bridge Run, here's a look at week 27:

Week 27
4/30/13 - 4 miles in 36:53 (9:13 min/mi pace)
5/1/13 - 8 miles in 1:19:36 (9:57 min/mi pace)
5/2/13 - 5 miles in 50:24 (10:05 min/mi pace)
5/5/13 - BRIDGE RUN HALF MARATHON - 13.1 miles in 2:16:27 (10:24 min/mi pace)

I ended week 27 with my last race before I run the Buffalo Marathon. Two years ago I ran the 5K for the first year of the Bridge Run and last year I ran the half marathon for the Bridge Run. I was really excited to be running the half for the second year in a row. The Bridge Run is a great race and a great event for Binghamton to host. It's amazing that over 2,000 runners come together to run a half marathon or 5K race in Binghamton. I headed into the Bridge Run with the attitude that this was just going to be a long run for me. I had no goal time or pace that I wanted to maintain. My goal was just to finish the 13.1 miles since I am still in training for the Buffalo Marathon. I did everything that I needed to do to prepare for the Bridge Run, but I still woke up feeling nervous like I do before every race. The nervous feeling went away once I made my way to the start line and got ready for the race to begin. I was a bit later than I wanted to be, but luckily I found Michelle and Brian a few minutes before the race began. We started the race off towards the back so that we would be able to pass plenty of people during the race. We ran a slow first mile and then began to slowly pick up the pace after that. It was a beautiful morning, but it was getting hot pretty quickly. We were doing great for the first few miles without any problems. I got a really bad cramp in my side around mile 7 and I just wanted to throw up and/or stop running, but luckily neither happened! By the time that we got to mile 10 and had passed over the hilliest part of the course, I was feeling good again. I probably could have ran faster if I was actually trying for a personal best, but I was happy to just be running for fun during a race for once. The whole race seemed to fly by and was like a blur to me. There were moments when I thought that I might have a personal best, but I was not disappointed when I did not. Michelle got quiet around mile 12, but luckily we all made it to mile 13.1 without any problems. We finished the race in 2:16:27, which was 5 minutes faster than last year for me and 15 minutes faster than last year for Brian and Michelle.

I was pretty happy after the Bridge Run that we had all done so well. It was not my best race ever, but I have definitely improved quite a bit as a runner over the past year. I am now only 20 days away from the Buffalo Marathon and I am beginning to feel a mix of emotions. I am excited, anxious and nervous all at the same time. I do not think that I would have been able to run another 13.1 miles yesterday after the race, but then I remember that's why we taper for a few weeks before the race. I am sure that with the lower mileage and time to rest my legs and body a bit that I will be fully prepared for this race. I have my moments where I doubt my ability to be able to run 26.2 miles, especially after struggling so much with 22 miles last week. I know that the race is going to be a struggle, but I have been preparing for 27 weeks. I have ran almost 500 miles since the end of October and I have put a lot of work into training for this marathon. I think that my body is just about as physically prepared as it is ever going to be to run 26.2 miles. I just need to spend the next 3 weeks mentally preparing myself for this race and building my confidence in my ability to do this. I cannot believe that I am going to attempt to conquer 26.2 miles in just under 3 weeks now. This day seemed like it would never get here and now it is so close to arriving. I hope that the last 3 weeks of training get me motivated enough to be fully prepared for this race both physically and mentally. It's not going to be easy, but I am (almost) ready to conquer 26.2 miles!

471.1 miles complete in 75:56:17 and only 20 days until conquering 26.2 miles!