Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Race Report: Boston 2019

Going into Boston, my main goal was to negative split. Starting too fast at Boston bites you harder than on other courses, because the hills in the second half will make any slowing exponentially worse. The last two times I’ve run Boston (2013 and 2014), I fell apart around mile 15 and I didn’t want to repeat those performances. Even though it’s mentally hard to wrap your mind around trying to run faster on the part that’s more uphill, I knew that was the way to do it and was reassured by countless others.

But I also figured I needed some time goals as well, to keep me pushing when things got rough. Common advice is to have three goals: an A goal if it’s a perfect day, a B goal that’s more safe and realistic, and a C goal for when things gone wrong and you need something to keep you from throwing in the towel.

My training this season was frustrating and disappointing; I never hit the paces I wanted and knew a PR was not in the cards. My marathon pace workouts predicted a 2:42 marathon (6:12 pace) but based on results from other workouts, a half, and that I often did those marathon pace runs in less than ideal conditions (one in hail/snow, another when I was battling a cold), I knew I was in far better shape than when I actually ran 2:42 in 2014. I set 2:42 as my B goal and figured starting in the 6:10-6:15 range would be smart. Some of the workouts in the final weeks were faster than when I set my current PR of 2:39:08 at CIM and I thought on a great day I could squeeze under 2:40. Finally, my C goal was a 2:45, for no reason other than I needed a C goal that was more than just finish. I didn’t even really think about it. Surely I would get the C goal, which would be a big course PR. (My previous best at Boston was 2:52.)

Running in the elite women’s start—an opportunity I’ve never had before—was one of the things that made me most eager to run Boston again, despite the poor buildup. (I was frustrated with the lack of information about the elite women’s start so I've written a little bit about the minutia for anyone interested in running it in the future.) To some, there is an obvious downside to a women’s-only start, which takes off about thirty minutes before the masses: with only about sixty women and obviously no men, you may find yourself alone pretty early. But interestingly, it seems (to me) that it’s overwhelmingly men that mention that downside of women-only starts. (I also raced the women’s-only start at Cherry Blossom last spring and first noticed this phenomenon then.) One of my friends debated doing the elite start for that reason, but every other woman I talked to was either psyched to do it themselves or psyched for me. Personally, I mostly ignore the men I’m running near. Sometimes they are a helpful distraction (like at CIM), but I’m focused on keying off the women. I’m not sure if it’s because I subconsciously (a) don’t trust their pacing (there have been studies on this), (b) I feel both more camaraderie and competition with the women, or (c) I make excuses for myself and think they aren’t working as hard as I am. (I'm not alone in this.) At Pittsburgh and Richmond I ran alone for most of the way; I wasn’t scared to run alone at Boston. If anything, I told myself if I was alone the whole crowd would be cheering for me.

The elite experience started with getting on a bus around 7 am for the drive from downtown to Hopkinton. It was POURING rain when we left. People were reassuring each other that the forecast said it was going to stop, but I personally was telling myself I’d rather have rain than the predicted warmer conditions. We were dropped off by a church near the starting line and all hung out in the church’s gymnasium. The pros were given mats and prime spaces along the walls; they put their feet up (Lindsay Flanagan), listened to music (Desi), stretched. There was also some space upstairs to hide away or do drills (Jordan). The rest of us sat in folding chairs in the middle (and were also offered yoga mats to stretch on).

Behind the church was an alley about a hundred meters long we could warm up on, out and back, over and over. My usual warmup (taken straight out of Advanced Marathoning) is five minutes of jogging, a couple minutes of drills and stretching, and then another five minutes ending with thirty seconds at goal pace. I’m not sure I did that as I felt ridiculous trying to fly by Jordan, Sara Hall (and her husband Ryan), and the other pros who were jogging (slower than me and for longer). The turning around also made it hard to get in a rhythm, but I felt whatever I did was fine.

About 15 minutes before the start they lined us up by number. We walked outside and it was… sunny?!? A couple women ahead of me asked the volunteers for their bags to get sunglasses, I just ducked back in the church and grabbed mine. Some people mentioned how warm it was (I was totally comfortable in what is roughly the size of a bikini) but I tried, pretty successfully, to ignore them. (This is strikingly similar to my thoughts at the start of my last Boston.)

We did a few strides off the line (don’t run into Des!) and then they did the introductions, told us we had maybe 30 seconds left, and then bang! No “ready, set, go.” Just the gun. Which surprised me into laughing, leading to a big smile right off the line.

All smiles at the start. Photo credit: @bostonmarathon
When I’ve watched the elite women’s start in the past, I’ve often been shocked at how slowly the leaders go out, shouting, “6:15 pace! I could do that!” at my TV. I’d hoped they’d start slowly again so I could enjoy an unbelievable moment in the lead pack, but they seemed to take off right away. (Post-race editor’s note: they ran a 5:47, not that fast for them, but too fast for me.) I let them go, along with seemingly everyone else. I wasn’t trying to start fast, I was trying to run smart. I hit the mile in 6:12: Perfect.

When I mentioned my goal of starting at 6:10-6:15 to one of my Oiselle teammates, she mentioned her friend (“a solid pacer”) was doing the same. I immediately forgot the woman’s name, but remembered she had red hair. After a couple miles, I was in a pack of four women knocking off 6:10 miles and realized I was right behind a redhead and she was pacing solidly. She also sort of reminded me of my friend Kate. Honestly, I have no idea why exactly (her strength and positivity, the encouragement she was sharing?) but as soon as I had the thought, I grabbed onto it: Just out for a long run with Kate! Then I decided the tall blonde on the other side reminded me of my friend Lindsay, for no reason other than that Lindsay is also tall and blonde and the three of us running together (Kate, Lindsay and me) would be perfectly logical in another time and place. It was a serious stretch by even a mid-race marathoner’s imagination, but it gave me something to think about. (Maybe that’s a creepy thing to do, to compare strangers to your running friends, but I say do whatever makes running marathons easier.)

With a small pack at the 10K.
After 10K our group split up a bit, but I tried to stick with Fake Kate. (Editor’s note: her real name is Cait.) By 15K (9.3 miles) I had fallen back and Fake Kate had caught another woman (who reminded me of Deena Kastor; again, please excuse my delusional mid-race impressions) and the two of them were working together. My mile 10 was a hair slower than we’d been running (6:15), so I knew they weren’t dropping the pace, I had just slowed. It wasn’t hard yet, I just lost contact at a water stop and needed to focus a bit more. But I also told myself to reel them in slowly. It was slow progress, but by the time we hit the Wellesley scream tunnel (mile 12.5) I was nearly back on them. The twelfth mile was too fast (6 flat), though it has some downhill and I don’t remember thinking much about it at the time. Either I didn’t notice the split or I just didn’t dwell on it. I thought I hit the half a hair ahead of 6:10 pace, which surprised me as I had been sure my slowing around miles 9 and 10 had been costlier. (Editor’s note: I was actually exactly on 6:10 pace, so not sure why I thought we were ahead. The clocks had switched to the men’s time at mile 8, so I was looking at my watch from then on and apparently got confused.)

Just after Wellesley (mile 12.5) (Thanks for the photo, Ashley Fizzarotti!) 
It’s okay, I’m still on it! It’s going exactly according to my plan. I always have patches of wanting to drop out and these thoughts came and went from about mile 9 on. Was I going to make it? But I told myself it was just unwarranted fear, it was going to get hard. But it wasn’t hard yet. I wasn’t even tired. If I drop out now, it will be a waste of all this energy I still have to give. Halfway done and still perfectly fine.

My plan had been to pick it up at the half and I expected that was Fake Deena and Fake Kate’s plan too, based on something I overheard just before I joined them back in the early miles. Sure enough, even though I picked it up, I dropped back further. I hoped to get back alongside them before the hills started, but it wasn’t happening.

Mile 15 was slow (6:20) for no reason I can remember, mile 16—with lots of downhill—was fast (5:59). I don’t remember seeing either of those times on my watch, I guess I just let those miles roll off my back. But I did stop looking at my watch entirely soon after mile 17. One of my pre-race plans was to ignore the watch in the later stages since a slow time would be discouraging and a fast one might scare me into slowing down (something that I think happened at Rock n Roll DC). The 17th mile (6:23) actually seems not so bad for going uphill (the first of the infamous four Newton hills), but I decided it was time to stop looking at my watch.

[Editor's note/post-race analysis: Whether ignoring my watch was smart or not, I’m not sure. I wanted to run more by feel, not berating myself, but I’ve never done this before for a reason. A slow mile can make you feel like it’s all unraveling and there’s no hope left… or it can keep you honest and be a kick in the briefs when you need it.

When I stopped looking at my watch it seemed like I was abandoning all my goals, but actually I feel like I had already given up on them. I’m not sure why, I was running pretty much according to plan. Even if I didn’t pick it up enough to achieve my A goal, I was still on pace for my B goal through at least 30K (18.6 miles). But maybe I didn’t really care much about my B goal; maybe when the A goal seemed out of reach I gave up. Maybe when the gap to Fake Deena and Fake Kate seemed unsurmountable (early in the hills) I gave up. Looking back now, it seems like what I've written before applied: it’s only after you tell yourself you can’t that it becomes true. I told myself I couldn't do it, and although I was still on pace at that point, suddenly I couldn't keep it up anymore. Nothing was actually wrong, I just didn’t have the fight. When is it accepting it’s not your day and when is it plain giving up?]

One thing that always keeps me going is my family. I felt bad that I was giving up: They came all this way to cheer just to watch me run poorly? I wanted to give them something more to celebrate. But the ready-to-give-up, apathetic part of me tried to take the pressure off with the popular reminder: No one cares as much about your running as you. As my family would reassure me later, they had a blast cheering me on as part of the elite field, a new experience for them as well. In the moment, I told myself that I would at least finish for them. (Editor’s note: That seemed good enough then, but of course it doesn’t now. Jasyoga has a race day meditation that says, “Don’t bargain with yourself.” I definitely bargained. Finishing was fine.)

Blowing kisses to mile family, around mile 17.
On my way to the finish, I’d enjoy the elite experience. The crowds were amazing. As predicted, being all alone—while not ideal—meant everyone was cheering for me, yelling Burrell when they saw my bib or “head up, wings out!” when they saw my Oiselle kit. Whenever someone yelled for Teal, it was extra special because I knew that person actually knew me, and I tried to give them a small wave. (As the race progressed, these waves got smaller and smaller until they were nonexistent on Beacon St. Sorry to everyone in the last 10K! You guys were truly amazing!)

Mile 19.5 (Thanks @perfectine!)

Through the hills, I tried to keep my eyes on whoever was in front of me. I told myself I’m good on hills and there’s lots of flats in this section. I was trying to count the hills, but I couldn’t tell if I had hit the third one yet (Did that little uphill count as hill #3 or was it just a blip?) which seems dumb now given the elevation chart. But I felt like the first three hills came bang bang bang and then I was just waiting for Heartbreak. Is there another one before it?? (Whether or not abandoning my watch was smart, I’m glad I didn’t look at my Heartbreak split because it was incredibly slow, 6:56!! Again, it makes me wonder now how much I was really trying at that point.) I think I caught a couple people here and was surprised no one caught me, until…

The lead men did. And… OMG SCOTT FAUBLE IS LEADING!! I freaked out. I’ve been a big fan of Fauble’s since reading Inside a Marathon. (If you are a running nerd who likes the nitty gritty of training for a marathon—and if you’re reading this tome of a race report I assume you are—definitely check it out.) I was so pumped he was leading, I nearly tripped myself. I screamed for him, though we were coming through Boston College at the time and OMG AN AMERICAN IS LEADING and it was SO LOUD that I was sure he couldn’t hear me. People later told me I made it on the TV broadcast (I assume the WBZ one; I watched the NBC one and they cut away) and I would love to see what my freak out looked like, because it was genuine excitement in the middle of pure exhaustion. Honestly, this was probably my favorite part of the race. I couldn’t believe it. (Fauble would finish in 7th in a huge PR.)


What seemed like a little while later (but probably wasn’t), Jared Ward and another male passed me. We were in a much quieter section (nicknamed Cemetery Mile) so when I screamed “Go Jared” he actually heard me and gave me a thumbs up. (He would finish 8th, 16 seconds behind Fauble.)

Not long after, we turned onto Beacon St. My family was there cheering and, as predicted, the crowds were absolutely insane from the turn onto Beacon to the finish. I was still avoiding my watch, telling myself to run as fast as possible to the finish, but it was really more like: Just get to the finish. I caught a few more women and again was surprised no women passed me (I think?). By mile 24 I felt like I was going to throw up, which was karma because earlier in the race I had almost wished I was sick; If I have to pull over to puke at least it will be an excuse for why I’m running crappy. Now I was so close I just wanted to finish. I did throw up a bit in my mouth (TMI? This whole post is TMI…) but managed to avoid anything worse. (Editor’s note: My stomach was messed up for about 36 hours after this race and I couldn’t eat my typical post-race burger and beer, something that’s never happened to me before.) The last elite water stop was at 40K (1.25 miles to go) and I almost got my bottle just to wash the taste out of my mouth, then I thought, Screw it I am so close. Just finish this thing.

Turning onto Beacon St. (Mile 22.5)
At a mile to go, I finally looked at my watch and tried to calculate if a sub-2:45 (my C goal) was still possible. I had assumed it was, but had zero evidence. Turns out I was cutting it pretty close but it seemed doable, so I kept trying to push to the finish. Yuki (last year’s men’s winner) flying by took me by surprise and nearly knocked me over, I had no idea he was coming. Ritz followed, clearly struggling as he didn’t immediately leave me in the dust. (I mean he did, but it wasn’t as ridiculously fast as expected.) Finally, finally, finally, I made the right on Hereford and left on Boylston, checking my watch to be sure sub-2:45 would still happen. I wish I had thought to try to beat my Pittsburgh time, but finished about ten seconds slower in 2:44:45.

Finishing. (Photo credit: Michael Scott)
The final perk of the elite start: a finish line tent just for us. (Though the pros went straight to the host hotel for press conferences and pee checks.) I caught up with teammates and sat around trying to get my stomach to calm down, while watching the sweat continue to pour off. I wasn’t distraught, as I have been the last two times I’ve finished Boston way off my goal. In fact, the only other time I didn’t cry after a non-PR marathon (with the exception of my post-partum return) was the 2016 Trials. The Trials are a good comparison; they were miserably hot and I gave up on any hopes of a decent time early on, instead trying to enjoy the privilege of being there. In Boston, I experienced a similar apathy towards my poor showing, while the prestige of the elite start and constant cheers carried me through. It’s not my day, but I’m going to enjoy the fact I get to be here and how far I’ve come.

Another perk of Boston: getting to see, meet,
and run with so many Volée and Haute Volée teammates! 
Also, while the day was nowhere near 2016 Trials hot, it was warm and humid, not my favorite conditions to run in. (In fact, close to my least favorite. I would have preferred rain.) Many people struggled with the conditions and as I said a million times before the race to the annoyance of probably everyone around me, temperatures in the 60s feel a lot worse in April, after training in freezing temperatures, than in October when you’re acclimated. Add in the fact that the race starts later than most and conditions that don’t look that bad on paper become a lot worse. I didn’t initially blame the conditions, but I felt better when other people noted they were far from ideal. (Though I did benefit from starting earlier and getting my own water bottles, so I could, and did, drink to my heart and stomach’s content. Well, possibly more than my stomach's content...) I was sweatier and more salt-encrusted than I've been in a long time. Maybe I can just blame the warmth and humidity! But no, I think it was me mentally giving up more than anything else. I went out at a pace that seemed like negative splitting was possible. But I gave up on myself way too easily, on the race and on the whole frustrating season, just wanting to get through it and put it behind me.

Writing this a week later has brought up some of those emotions that the amazing Boston crowds managed to suppress. Every marathon is an opportunity to do something special and I feel like I wasted this one. I tell myself I’m tougher than what I showed on Monday, and this performance gives the doubts a little more ammo: “Yea, well maybe you’re not that tough.” On the other hand, I put a lot into my training and something just wasn’t there this time around. While I don’t think this race represented even the work I was able to put in, at least now I can take the time to assess why training didn’t go that well and learn from any mistakes I made. (Starting with getting my iron levels checked and taking a more significant break than after CIM.) Also, I know from past experience that the races that leave me the most disappointed and frustrated are also the ones that lead to the biggest breakthroughs. So watch out, Atlanta.

Like the 2016 Trials, I can’t say I enjoyed every moment. It was demoralizing and, yes, heartbreaking. But it was also truly special to be part of the elite start, to have the crowds screaming wildly, to be part of the Oiselle team, to finish what I still refer to (no matter how many times it breaks my heart; the count is now 3 out of 5) as my favorite marathon. So while I can’t say I enjoyed every minute, I did—and will—treasure it.

Dream big,
Teal

Elite Women's Start at Boston

In the past, the elite women’s start at Boston has been a little shrouded in mystery; it seemed like you needed to know someone who knew someone to get in. After the 2018 debacle where women in the mass start beat women in the elite start, Boston tried to make it a little more obvious about how to get in (so they could put their foot down on the rule that only those in the elite start can win prize money). I still found information a little lacking, so here’s a bit more about my experience for those interested in running it in the future, especially the Type A folks like myself who need all the info upfront. Though perhaps next year things will run more smoothly!

The 2019 Elite Start.
Photo credit: @bostonmarathon

First and foremost: if you qualify, DO IT. (Read my race report for more about what a special experience it is.)

GETTING IN
I signed up in September and paid my registration. Later (in December) a friend of mine was given free entry for running under 2:42. I didn’t know about that possibility in September and was worried if I didn’t sign up with everyone else I would have no way in, so I went ahead and paid. (Sarah Sellers also famously paid her entry to the 2018 race, where she finished 2nd and won $75,000.) I would probably pay the $200 again just for the assurance of being able to run, no matter whether the rules changed down the line.

HEARING BACK
Within a few days of registering, I emailed the address listed on the site (which said to contact to express interest and get more info). I emailed again when I ran a new PR in December and again when a new email address appeared on the site over the winter. Friends assured me my time would be good enough, but I didn’t hear anything until I took to Twitter in March after Women’s Running posted an article saying Boston was letting all OTQs in. I found it frustrating they were advertising that but not telling the athletes if we were in or not. We were officially notified on April 2.

So don't freak out if you don't hear back for a long time, but--although I realize I seem crazy for emailing so much--I definitely suggest you tell them your interest early on. Another friend waited to email until March and wasn’t initially accepted (despite an OTQ) until some women dropped out.

WATER BOTTLES
This year, Boston offered elite fluids to the top 40 women and top 40 men. (There were about 60-70 in each field.) You won’t know if you are in that group until the email in early April, so if you think you are borderline, I’d suggest training with what’s on the course (Gatorade Endurance).

GETTING TO THE START
The elite field gets special busses that leave from downtown. In the past I’ve stayed farther out and driven to the busses at Hopkinton State Park, but wasn’t sure if I would be able to access the elite holding area if I didn’t come on the elite bus. It turns out you don’t need to take the elite busses, but as a friend learned, the other busses don’t have the same time constraints (after all, everyone else on those busses has an extra 30 minutes) and making the early start can be tight.

WHERE TO STAY
The elite host hotel is the Fairmont Copley Plaza. If you can find/can afford a room there, take it. Bib pickup, water bottle drop off, the mandatory technical meeting (on Sunday afternoon), and the busses to the start are all at that hotel so it will help immensely. (I stayed super close by but was still concerned about all the walking back and forth I was doing.)

If you have any other questions, let me know in the comments and I’ll try to answer!

Friday, March 15, 2019

Race Report: Rock-n-Roll DC 2019

The main problem with the Road to Gold race being a confidence buster was that the very next weekend I had the Rock-n-Roll DC half marathon on tap, which I originally hoped would be a PR attempt. It came a little earlier in the season than last fall’s half PR but in January, in my optimistic, goal-writing state, that didn’t matter. Road to Gold would be a stepping stone to tell me I could handle that pace at the half.

But when that race went south, I wasn’t left with much to go on. The first part of Road to Gold was the only time I held sub-6 minute pace for longer than a mile all season, and after that I completely fell apart. So going out faster than 6-minute pace for the half seemed dumb. I figured a decent plan was to start around 6:00 until the big hill just after mile 6, then try to cut it down or do whatever I could at that point. With that kind of start I’d need to run sub-5:50 from halfway to the finish to PR, and I couldn’t convince myself that was possible. (My PR is 1:17:26, 5:54 pace.) So “whatever I can do”  became the vague goal that let me off the hook a little. It was a telling sign my confidence was shot.

The trouble is, when I’m not going for a PR, my mental game suffers. I’m in this nebulous zone where I don’t know what would be a good effort on the day or whether I’m giving myself excuses from the start and cutting myself too much slack. And in the final miles of a race, it’s really hard not to have a tangible goal to grasp on to/to pull you forward. But without any real idea of where I was, I had no better plan.

The weather was basically perfect. Once again, a bunch of ladies passed me in the first mile. I tried to not care and let them go—do NOT start too fast—but still hit the mile in 5:52. I had thought top three was possible, but I was in maybe seventh or eighth place at that point. Let them go, maybe they’ll come back to me on or after the hill. A guy nearby asked his friend if a pack of ladies just ahead of me was going for the Trials standard. No way, I thought. But then my stupid doubts came up: could they be? (The standard is sub-1:13 and if they were I would definitely eat my Twitter words.) I definitely can’t stay with them then. Am I in over my head at this pace? (But no, they definitely were not. Rock-n-Roll DC has never had those kind of times.)

But I found a pack of two women I knew and we started hitting 6 flats, so I was running according to plan. I was still mentally questioning myself way too much for so early in a race, but I told myself to stay with the women and work with them. It’s early still. I’m not hurting, I’m just letting doubts and fear in for no reason.

I tried to relax until we got to the hill, which I felt like we crawled up: are my legs even moving?? But the two women I was with dropped back a bit so maybe I survived it slightly better. I passed another woman before the next mile marker and was starting to feel more positive. My split for the hill mile was 6:23, but I knew from the past that although I often lose 20-30 seconds in that mile, I make it up on the downhills later on.

The next section rolls a bit and I tried to embrace the hills. (I’m a strength runner! Hills are my jam!) I felt strong and saw my sister who told me in was in fifth. I saw a ponytail ahead and thought I could surely reel her in.

Around mile 10. Photo by Caitlyn Tateishi.
Just after mile 8, Shauneen, one of the women I had been running with earlier, caught me. We had run together on GRC so I knew how tough she is. I tried to stay with her and was shocked when I actually could. I was telling myself the hills were helping me more (not sure why I thought this, maybe because I originally dropped her on the biggest hill) and that bold assertion helped me stay with her. We dropped a 5:50 on a rolling ninth mile and were back on 6-flat pace. But just before the tenth mile marker and the biggest downhill, I let her go. I think I got scared of the pace or gave myself the excuse that the downhill would help her more. This is my biggest regret of the race, because I had been surprised when I didn’t immediately let her go at mile 8, that I was capable of staying with her and it wasn’t killing me. But eventually I let fear get the better of me. Mile 10 was a 5:42. (That mile has the most downhill, but that’s probably the fastest split I’ve run in any race ever.) I watched Shauneen reel in the woman in front of her and was confident I could get her too.

The countdown began: just get to the spot where Husband and Daughter are cheering (mile 10.5). Ok, big cheer, lots of love, check. Now get to Cowbell Corner (mile 11.5). Lots more love, lots more cheering (the Oiselle team is LOUD y’all), check. There’s a slight uphill there, as my Oiselle teammate Courtney had reminded me, and while I definitely felt it, I still felt strong. Until all of a sudden, I didn’t. I was tying up left and right and struggling to keep it together. My split for mile 12 (after four solid miles) was a 6:09, the second slowest of the day.

Mile 11.5. Photo by Caitlin Kovalkoski

I could hear cheers for Jenny, the other woman I had supposedly vanquished back on that big hill and knew she was close. She caught me but once again I surprised myself by not immediately letting her go. The tying up from the last mile eased a little bit and, while I can’t remember what exactly I was thinking during this section, it was basically just: don’t let Jenny go. Stay with her. We ran basically side by side for the last mile, until the final curve up a hill when I started sprinting and was surprised I could actually manage it. I held off Jenny, but didn’t catch the woman ahead. She seemed too far gone, but she was actually just 2 seconds ahead, the same distance I put on Jenny. My other regret: I should have started sprinting earlier. (My last 1.1 was 5:46 pace.)

I finished in 1:18:13 and sixth place. It’s my second fastest half and a course PR, but it felt… just okay. It was certainly better than the previous week’s race (I ran a faster pace for 5 miles longer) but it was far from where I wanted to be at this point. I had hoped to run the full marathon at close to that pace in just five weeks. That doesn’t seem possible now. Is a PR even possible? I’m not sure. Like I said above, I really struggle in the no-man’s-land of not going for a PR. I just have no desire to go into a marathon, having done all this work, without the intention of going for it. So the realization starting to dawn on me really began to bum me out.

But the weekend’s activities were far from over: there was brunch with the Oiselle team, dinner and drinks with GRC friends and babies, and on Sunday morning I got to go to an event at Summit to Soul, a woman-owned specialty store in DC. They recently launched a partnership with Oiselle which means you can now buy more #flystyle there than anywhere in the country, besides Oiselle’s flagship store in Seattle. (So if you’re in DC, I highly recommend you check it out. And if you live in DC, join them for their weekly Wednesday night runs!) I gave a talk about my running journey and how big I dared to dream, how much I had to believe in myself and how far I’ve come because of that dreamy ambition. I tried to stress that God has given all of us so more much potential than we know, because I truly believe that.

Talking at Summit to Soul. Photo by Samantha Giordano Kim.
… Maybe it was a talk I needed to hear myself. Maybe my early season goals were a little far-fetched (shocker, I know), maybe the odds are long, but all I can do is my best in the remaining workouts and then spend the taper as I always do: trying to shore up belief in myself, my training, and that it will all come together on April 15.

Dream big,
Teal

Friday, March 8, 2019

Race Report/Scouting Mission: Road to Gold

This past weekend I got to go to Atlanta to run Road to Gold, a test race on the 2020 Olympic Trials course. The Trials course will be four laps: a 6-mile loop run three times and a final lap covering most of that loop before heading south for the final 2.2 miles. Atlanta Track Club invited all qualified athletes to come run most of the last lap (an 8-mile race) to get a feel for what the course will be like. It was both a scouting mission and an opportunity for a tune-up race/hard workout.


First, the scouting mission. Here’s what we learned about the Trials.
1. The course is HILLY.
That’s been the main theme of the press since the route was revealed, but I was hoping it might be over exaggerated. IT IS NOT. Even the flat sections (the first out and back we’ll hit on every loop) don’t feel all that flat: it felt like we were always going slightly up (which is annoyingly grating) or slightly down (which is either imperceptible or not that satisfying). It turns out the best downhill is in this section (heading north from mile 1-2) but I didn’t really notice it. The locals kept saying it’s “Atlanta-flat” (they did remove sections of Piedmont Park to make it flatter), but I was comforted when other athletes agreed "Atlanta-flat" is actually crazy hilly. 

Men's winner Brogan Austin and
a photo that gives a good sense of the hills.
[Credit: Michael Scott]
In my opinion, the worst hill that we’ll hit on all four loops comes just after mile 4. The hardest hills of all though will be in that extra 2.2 we tack on the last loop; these were tough in an 8-mile race, they will be a serious challenge after 23 or 24 miles. The last section also has quite a few turns; even in an 8 mile race it felt like a lot. (Although I think two of these turns were added to circumvent current construction. The Trials course is slightly more straightforward.) But as others have speculated, this will make for an exciting finish as a lot could change in those final miles. And good luck to anyone who doesn’t take the warnings seriously and goes out too hard!

2. It will be an afternoon race.
The other news of the weekend was the men’s race is likely to start at noon, with the women starting a bit later. This is determined by NBC (not Atlanta Track Club) based on when they think they’ll get the most viewers. (This lines up with 2016, when the Trials were on the west coast and started at 10 am.) It will be tough on the athletes, as even in February it could be warm and sunny in the afternoon (it was in the 60s this weekend) and athletes training in much colder conditions won’t be acclimated to that. (Think of when Boston is on the warmer side: with the late start and lack of shade, even just slightly warm temperatures can catch people off guard at Boston. The last few miles of the Atlanta course are pretty exposed, so a sunny day could be tough.)

3. Atlanta Track Club is going above and beyond.
And finally, although we got a hint of Atlanta Track Club’s commitment to the race and the athletes by the shear fact they put this preview race on, the weekend provided more proof of what a phenomenal job they are doing. They took surveys of all the athletes to ask what we’d like to see at the Trials, what LA did well--and not so well--at the 2016 Trials, and took the time after the race to talk to everyone and get our thoughts. Lots of people (myself included) were disappointed with how LA treated the athletes; it’s clear that Atlanta is going above and beyond to make all of us feel special and on a level playing field. (For instance, they will be helping pay travel/hotel fees for ALL the qualified athletes—not just faster, A-standard ones—even though there will be more of us than ever.) 

Now for my race: it didn’t go so well. (Although it did serve the purpose of learning everything I wrote above!) I consider myself to be a strength runner, usually good on hills (e.g. Charlottesville, Pittsburgh) but even though I’m in the middle of Boston training (supposedly focusing on hills) they crushed me.

But of course, I am in the middle of training. I took this race as a workout (at the end of a week with two other hard workouts). I felt like things were shifting and starting to come together, and hoped running this as a hard tempo run would continue to point things in that direction.

I tried not to stress about it too much (It’s just a normal workout!), but possibly that just meant I wasn’t as mentally prepared as I should have been. I went out around 5:55 pace (I think? I missed the first mile marker) with the intention to pick it up in the second half. I lost my group by mile 3 and started to struggle a bit, but was surprised mile 4 was decent (turns out it’s downhill). As soon as we hit that marker, a group of Hanson Brooks athletes passed me (they were behind me??), clearly with orders to pick it up after four easy miles. Or that’s what I told myself, but truthfully I just totally crumbled from this point on. I never recovered from the hill after mile 4 (above, I call it the worst on the main loop for this reason); it was like a switch flipped that I couldn’t ever flip back. I averaged 5:56 for the first four miles and 6:12 for the second four. I don’t know if mentally I just didn’t recover, if I gave up a bit too much when I realized how far off my goal I was, or what, but I couldn’t get it together and was just surviving until the finish from here on out.

[Credit: Michael Scott]

The final out and back under the Olympic rings was cool (although when we hit this stretch at mile 24 next year, there may be a sense of "yea yea yea, who cares”), but after that I couldn’t tell where I was going since I had fallen just far enough back I couldn’t see anyone ahead. (Not being able to see anyone also didn’t help my mental fight.) The turns slowed me more than usual as I had to repeatedly ask volunteers, “which way?” (This won’t be a problem at the Trials because of more signage, more participants, and a heck of a lot more spectators lining the roads). One volunteer told me to “Swing, swing, swing” which apparently meant turn right (in my addled mind, I was thinking it was a baseball reference: "Swing harder to drive this home???"). Fortunately she told me to turn before I idiotically almost missed it.

Even in the final mile I had nothing left and couldn’t summon a kick. My stomach was beginning to revolt, but “C’mon I’m almost done, who cares?!” That’s possibly what’s most frustrating: I was trying to try, but it wasn’t working. I’m not entirely sure what went wrong, which is making it hard for me to get over this race. Things were starting to turn around and this feels like six steps backwards. I had hoped being in a race environment would help me run this workout faster than I could alone at home, but that turned out not to be the case. I know it’s just one workout, but as I head into the Rock-n-Roll Half Marathon this weekend, I wanted to have a good one to build confidence going forward.

And at the moment, I can’t imagine running this course four times. Fortunately, I have a whole year to wrap my mind around it.

Dream big,
Teal

Monday, December 10, 2018

Race Report: CIM 2018

Like this season's half marathon goals, my early season goals for the marathon needed some adjustment. My A++/pie in the sky goal was a sub-2:37, the Olympic Trials A standard (which comes with a free trip to the Trials). Even when I made it, full of early season optimism, I knew it was bold and probably unrealistic. It would require a PR of over five minutes and running nearly eight minutes faster than I have recently. My more realistic (hopefully!?) B goal was to break 2:40.

The training never stacked up to 2:37 and try as my dreaming-big brain might it could not rationalize going for that. It wasn’t until November that even sub-2:40 seemed possible, but by then sub-2:40 just didn’t seem exciting enough. I’ve wanted to break 2:40 for years (basically since the day after I ran 2:42) but now that it was (possibly) in my sights, I got greedy and wanted more. Could I break 2:39? My best workout, 16 miles at marathon effort, averaged 6:08 pace. But I told myself that I often run four seconds/mile faster on race day (a fact I relied on heavily before last season’s Pittsburgh) so maybe I could run 6:04 pace, which is a measly hair over 2:39. My other best “workout” was the Richmond half, which I ran two minutes faster than my tune-up half before CIM in 2014 (where I ran 2:42). Two minutes faster in a half equates to four minutes faster in a marathon, right?? That would put me at low 2:38 (6:02 pace). For some reason, the possibility of running 2:38:XX got me disproportionately more excited than 2:39:XX.

And so I convinced myself to go for 2:38:XX, despite the fact, that uhhh yeah... pulling off the four-seconds-faster-on-race-day trick seemed like a minor miracle at Pittsburgh. (Also, to break 2:39, I’d have to go five seconds faster.) There’s a line in Clueless where Josh (Paul Rudd in his breakout role!) asks Cher (Alicia Silverstone), “What makes you think you can get teachers to change your grades?”

Cher responds, “Only the fact that I’ve done it every other semester.”

Random and weird as it sounds, that quote always comes to mind when my inner monologue asks what makes me think I can run both faster and farther in a race than a workout. I respond back, “Only the fact that I’ve done it every other semester.” [Insert confident gum twirl.] (Even though I haven’t really and have had flops and disappointing races.) I’ve done it before; surely I can do it again. And my pace at Richmond and half-to-marathon conversion was considerably more comforting. All those other races/workouts that were nowhere near these paces? Ignore those.

My race plan was to go out in 6:04s (a hair over 2:39 pace), then cut down to 6:00 at half way, hoping to average 6:02 (and finish around 2:38:11). Again, the logic here is bold to say the least, but the confidence I gained from the Richmond half made me think it wasn’t absurd. I’d start at a pace equivalent to what I've done "every other semester" and even if I only managed to pick it up a tiny bit, I could squeeze under 2:39. No matter what, I’d give all I had in the last 10K and fight for every last second there. I really wanted to push myself and finish knowing I couldn't have given any more.

We made it to Sacramento without any trouble (unlike last CIM), Baby was in an amazingly good mood (unlike Pittsburgh) and watching her run around excitedly was distracting, keeping me surprisingly calm. The weather was perfect, the course was fast, I had no excuses, just like I told myself before the Richmond Half. It didn’t seem quite as reassuring (you know, given that the marathon is twice as far...) but I wasn’t as big a bundle of nerves as usual.

Even on race morning, I remained strangely calm. It was such a contrast to Pittsburgh where I was so nervous I could barely eat. I felt like I was in denial, like I would get to mile 20 and wonder how the heck I got there. Am I mentally prepared for what is about to happen? It seemed like maybe I wasn't. I kept ignoring it, even when we arrived at the start and waited in a tent with 200 other fidgeting, overly-hydrated elite athletes. And then we were in the corral and the gun went off…

Ok, this is happening. Stay calm in these early miles. Don’t get wrapped up in the excitement, slower is better. The first and second miles were right around my goal of 6:04s. I found myself just behind a group of four or so talkative guys and Rachel Hyland, who I recognized from the Jacksonville Half and Olympic trials. (Also, she finished fourth at this year’s Boston.) But the third mile was too fast (5:57) so I tried to let the group go. The fourth mile was still too quick (5:59); just relax. The biggest down hills were in this first section, so maybe they were helping. Don’t beat yourself up over too fast or too slow, just get back on it.

The next few miles I congratulated myself on backing off just a bit and hitting a few miles a second or two over pace, so it seemed I was back to averaging 6:04s. I tried to stay a little ways back from the guys and Rachel, thinking they were a hair fast so if I stayed a bit behind them I’d be good. But I kept drifting back to them. At one point I heard one of them say we were on 6:02 pace. No, we’re not, we’re doing 6:04s. (Hindsight: They were right. I was just clinging to the hope I was correctly executing my race plan.)

An early race smile and wave. Feeling good.
Around mile 6, as I again tried to let a gap grow between Rachel’s pack and me, another woman I was running near asked my race plan. I said 6:04-6:05 (I really should slow down to 6:05 for a few miles…) and it seemed like we could work together, but I immediately lost her at a water stop. (Hindsight: Probably because I was still averaging under 6:02 pace, which I didn’t admit to myself. I told myself I was back on my planned 6:04s.)

The miles clicked by. As always, my family was out in full force cheering, so I focused on the next time I’d see them or have to grab a water bottle. If I felt bad for a mile, I told myself it was just a bad patch, it was too early to truly be tired. If I felt good, I told myself it was too early for that too and not to get ahead of myself.

By mile 9, I was pretty much "bang on" (for some inexplicable reason, my inner voice favors British turns of phrase mid-race). I was feeling good, but suddenly found myself at the front of Rachel’s pack. This isn’t right. Mile ten was just under 6 flat. And the next mile was 6 flat. Too fast.

I was enjoying the guys talking, though. It reminded me of Chris Mocko, the pacer from 2014’s CIM. At one point they mentioned singing during a previous race and I secretly wanted them to go ahead and sing again. I’ll take any distractions possible, please and thank you. But I needed to slow down.

Relax, stay behind this pack until the half.

Or… maybe I’m having an incredible, truly special race! Maybe I’ll hit the half ahead of pace and have an even better day than expected!

No, it’s too early for that. Just relax.

At some point, I thought I overheard Rachel tell the guys that her plan was to pick it up at the half. That’s my plan too! Perfect! At this point I finally accepted I was running with this group and not just behind them. I realized how lucky I was to have them; even if it meant going out a hair fast, it was worth it to have people to run with. And I didn’t want to lose them.

We hit the half just ahead of my goal, in 1:19:18 (6:04 pace would have been 1:19:32). Step one: check. Now: pick it up. Rachel and I (and I think one other woman) dropped the pace and lost the guys in this section. I repeatedly assured myself that I felt good. I can do this, I am doing this. One mile at a time. These can be the trickiest miles mentally because the finish is still so far but you’re starting to feel the effort. I remembered what Mocko said last time: these were the miles to focus. We were successfully hitting them around 6:00 pace, exactly according to plan.

By mile 18, we were a group of three women: Rachel, Bria Wetsch, and myself. Bria said something encouraging about the power of our little pack and Rachel responded back about how we’re coming in strong. I wanted to say something, but couldn’t find the energy or the words. Bria mentioned the hills we ending soon, which was a relief. Everyone talks about CIM as a fast course, but it does roll quite a bit and I was glad it was ending. But still: I have handled the hills according to plan, everything is going perfectly, I have women to work with, I am doing this!

Trying to stay with Bria (left, in black)
and Rachel (front, in blue and yellow).
Mile 19 was a blazing 5:56, which was simultaneously awesome (Oh man, we are really crushing it!) and terrifying (Actually, if we could all please slow down that’d be great.) A little while later (things start to get hazy) another woman caught us and zoomed by. Rachel went with her. There was no way I could. Fortunately Bria hung back a bit too. Oh thank goodness, I can stay with her. I need to stay with her.

But soon enough Bria gapped me too. I tried to not let the gap grow, playing the often futile game of telling myself to keep the distance between us the same. I knew I’d slow alone. Just get to the next mile marker. Don’t think about what’s left. One mile at a time. I'd been praying the whole time, but now the tone got desperate.

In the past, I’ve thought of the last 10K as my place to shine. But here I was slowing. Miles 20-22 were about 6:04 pace, but when I glanced at my watch between the mile markers the pace seemed dangerously slower. Am I going to make it? C’mon, God. Help.

My power pack was long gone, the gap insurmountable. I honestly wasn’t sure if I had another mile in me, but I kept putting one foot in front of the other, trying to make it to the next mile marker. I can’t drop out when I’m this close to getting a PR.

Oiselle’s Cowbell Corner was around 23.5 and getting there became my sole purpose. And holy cow, what a boost. It was so loud I felt like Desi coming down Boylston or Shalane cursing through Central Park. I couldn’t help but smile (hindsight: probably more of a strained grimace) which reminded me of the advice to smile when it hurts, Eliud Kipchoge style. I tried to smile more once past the team, but I’m not sure it helped much. In my focus to get to Cowbell Corner, I missed mile marker 23, which was possibly for the best. Miles 23 and 24 averaged 6:12 pace.

As I made the turn after mile 24 I heard my Mom screaming wildly. I hadn’t expected her to be there, which reminded me of 2014 when I hadn’t expected her cheers at the end then either. In that race, this was the place I started to pick it up. C’mon, Teal. Almost there. Two tiny little miles to go. But I wasn’t picking it up. Everything ached and hurt and I couldn’t get my legs to go.

Last mile.
I worried I was slowing too much, giving up too much at the end. 2:38 seemed out of the picture, would I miss sub-2:40? I knew I had been pretty on pace through 20 miles, but what was this dramatic slow down costing me? As always, I had the mile 25 split memorized. My original goal was to hit it in 2:30:50. As I got close I realized I was nearly a minute off (actually 2:31:37).  And suddenly I couldn’t remember which goal 2:30:50 corresponded to: 2:38 low (6:02 pace) or 2:38:59?? If I’m nearly a minute off 2:38:59, I might miss sub-2:40. Oh crap oh crap oh crap. C’mon, God, help me at least break 2:40. (Note: my memory, logic, and math skills get as wobbly as my legs do.)

I was just doing anything and everything I could to get to that final turn (8th street, c’mon 8th street) and felt like I was giving a valiant effort, but I continued to slow. I hit mile 26 at about 2:38 (I think? Everything is questionable at this point…) and once again I had two minutes to run about a quarter of a mile. I can make it: I’m going to break 2:40, thank God. Past my screaming family, turn to the finish line and actually (unlike many races where you make the final turn and it still seems like forever to the line) the finish was right there. Oh thank God.

I finished in 2:39:11 (2:39:08 chip time, 6:04 pace) and was just So. Incredibly. Relieved. To. Finally. Be. Done.

Done.
I was thrilled with the PR (over three minutes and four years in the making), but also a little salty about how close I got to my totally-made-up, no-one-cares-but-me goal of 2:38:XX. I wondered if I had known (or calculated accurately) how close I was to breaking 2:39 if I could have pulled anything more out of me. It turns out at mile 25 I was actually on 2:39:00 pace. Maybe my tradition of memorizing the mile 25 marker (and more crucially not remembering what time it corresponded to) backfired. Instead I think it helped scare me a bit, thinking (wrongly or not) that sub-2:40 might be in jeopardy.

2:40 is certainly a nice barrier to break, but I spent so long talking myself up that sub-2:40 no longer seems like that big a deal; I’m on to dreaming of other things. Not that I’m not happy with it, because of course I am. But mostly I’m excited I’m three minutes closer to that A++, pie in the sky goal of 2:37. It doesn't seem so outlandish anymore.

I wished I had more to give at the end, but I’m proud of how bold I was. Maybe I should have been more intimidated by taking such a large chunk of time off my PR (and more than 5 minutes off my time from the spring). Maybe reading this makes it seem like I should have gone out a hair slower. But really I’m incredibly grateful to have had the pack I did for nearly 20 miles, who made running PR pace seem not so impossible. I’ll certainly work on re-mastering that last 10K, but for now, I wouldn’t change a thing about how I raced.

Oiselle had a campaign a while back that said, “Be brave, get ugly.” I was brave. It got ugly. But I stuck it out and pulled off a big PR. And I’m proud of that.

Couldn't have done it without my
amazing-as-always cheer squad.
(Not pictured: photographer/spectating planner Dad.)

Dream big, 
Teal 

Friday, November 16, 2018

Race Report: 2018 Richmond Half Marathon

At the beginning of the season I write down my goals. They are always full of dreamy ambition based on the hope of training and life going absolutely flawlessly. Then training begins…. and reality sets in. Workouts don’t go perfectly. Early season races are ridiculously warm and humid. So are midseason races. Slowly over the course of the season, I realign my goals with what might be more possible. This season my pie-in-the-sky A+ goal for the Richmond half marathon was to break 1:17 (5:52 pace). I haven’t raced any distance at that pace ever, so yea, it was a little crazy. And given my September and October performances, it seemed near impossible. An adjustment was necessary.

But I was stubbornly reluctant to back off too much. Despite my race performances, I was running workouts faster than ever. Based solely on one tempo run that went surprisingly well, I thought I could run 5:55 pace, which would put me at about 1:17:30. Race day was going to be perfect weather, so I had no excuses. It would be my last big effort before CIM, my last chance to prove to myself that I truly am in the best shape of my life, and time to finally get that first official PR post baby.

But in typical Teal fashion, after I made this more realistic goal, I thought about how I could twist it into meeting my original goal: I’ll go out conservatively (e.g. 5:55 pace), and maybe I can pick it up in the second half? But going out at 5:55 isn’t exactly conservative. I have only run that pace for a 5K (and not recently). Running that pace would mean I’d run 10K and 10 mile PRs in the middle of a half marathon. I ignored that logic, except to remind myself that I should certainly not go out faster than 5:55.  

Race morning was a bit windy but otherwise perfect as promised. The first two miles were a hair over 5:55, perfect. We were running into the wind and I tried to visualize the course and how this meant we’d have the wind at our backs at the end. Look at me, staying positive! I found myself in a little pack of four or so women and tried to quiet my over analytical mind (Is this too fast? Is this too slow?) by latching onto them. But the third mile was a little fast (5:50) and as we headed towards an out and back, I got dropped. That’s okay, the pace was a little fast for this early. Just keep them in sight.

Photo credit: Cheryl Young
On the out and back, I tried to count the women ahead. The top five would win money and in recent years, 1:17:30 would get fifth. As always, it seemed like a whole mess of women had flown by me at the start, I felt like I must be in twentieth place. But the sun was in my eyes, so it was hard to see who was coming back; I guessed I might be in eleventh. The women who had just dropped me had joined a larger group ahead. Keep that pack in sight and try to reel it in.

While the elevation chart for this race looks flat, it doesn’t seem so flat when you’re running it. The worst of the hills are in a park from mile 5.5-7.5. In Deena Kastor’s book, she wrote that she would mouth, “Charge!” to herself on each uphill. So I tried that and passed two women on the hill at the park entrance. Oh yea, I’m good on hills.

I knew the 10K split would be a PR, but was pleasantly surprised it wasn’t by just a second or two but by over twenty. 10K PR: check. One PR down, two to go.


I tried not to be intimidated by the pace, but to take it one mile at a time. Just get through the park, through these last rolls. I can do it, I am doing it. When I looked at my watch between miles and saw the pace hovering over 6 minutes, I created a new goal: don’t let any mile be over 6. Mile 8 was close with a 5:59, but I was more relieved I had managed another sub-6 than worried my time was inching higher. I caught another woman around mile 9 and then had my sights set on Esther Atkins. Can I catch her?? I thought I could. I’m going to really press from 10 on and catch her. Just get to 10 miles.

Photo credit: Cheryl Young
10 miles was another PR (unofficially, since there was no timing mat) but for some dumb reason I did the math wrong (10 miles is one of the easiest places to calculate splits! C’mon mid-race Teal!) and thought I was over 5:55 pace by 11 seconds. (Actually, at 59:11, I was just one second over.) I needed to press these last few miles, which was my plan all along. Here we go.

Soon after 10, I saw my family. I was still feeling good so tried to give them a big wave to let them know. But as soon as I put my arm up, a flood of exhaustion hit me, like holding up my arm was more than I could handle. Huh, I guess I am more tired than I think. Continuing to put one foot in front of the other seemed easier than waving, so I stuck with that.

But I wasn’t picking it up as much as I needed and I think I finally I accepted that sub-1:17 wasn’t going to happen. Esther had taken off around mile 11 and so my plan to catch her was also failing. But around mile 12 I could see her catching a group of two or three women ahead. I hadn’t seen anyone around me besides Esther for miles, but now they were in my sights. Can I catch them?? I had no idea what place I was in but I guessed one of those women was in fifth. If I could catch the pack I could maybe snag a spot in the money. But I wasn’t going any faster and I was quickly running out of room.

As we made the final turn and hit the steep downhill to the finish, I knew I didn’t have enough space but I tried to finish as strong as I could. (I actually hate this race’s sharp drop at the end: the pounding is magnified on your already aching legs and it’s hard to resist the urge to brake.) I figured I was still running well enough to break 1:18 but wasn’t really sure and had lost track of splits (plus I was thrown off by my erroneous math at mile 10). So when I saw the clock flashing low 1:17s it was a relief.

I finished in 1:17:26, for the third PR of the day. I was psyched I had finally pulled off a big (90 second) PR and had to be satisfied that I wasn’t *that* far off my early season goal. I also ran perfectly even splits, 5:54 pace at 10K and the finish. But the last two miles left a bad taste in my mouth; I didn’t compete well and I feel like there was more left that I didn’t tap into. I wished I had pressed harder to try to catch those women. I wished I had gone when Esther went and dug a little deeper. I finished in eighth, which was disappointing since I really thought top 5 was possible.

But the string of PRs is an obvious sign that I am in the best shape of my life, for the first time in nearly three years. I’ve finally come fully back from having a baby and am running better than ever. The season started badly, with embarrassingly slow races, but I kept my head down, kept plugging away, and trusted things would turn around. It took longer than expected, but it’s clear they have.

Oh yea, and one more (incredibly unofficial) PR while we’re at it. My last 5K (from 10 to 13.1) is a 5K PR by two seconds. So I guess the summer of speed is more like the fall of fast. That’s fine by me.

One more PR to go.

All smiles on a day full of PRs.
Dream big, 
Teal