Boston Marathon 2018 Race Recap

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I flew into Boston the Wednesday night before race day with my husband, kids, mother-in-law, and grandmother-in-law. We spent Thursday through Saturday doing some slow-paced sightseeing and then I spent Sunday sitting around watching movies and resting up.

On Monday morning, my husband took the T with me to the start line and stayed with me while I got oriented, checked my gear, and found the busses.

We said goodbye and then I was on my own with 30,000 other excited Boston runners. We were all already drenched, but the mood was positive. The most common expression was “this will be a great one to look back on.” The forecast called for rain all day and a constant headwind of 25 mph.

My original time goal was to finish under 3:35, my secondary, to set a PR (under 3:39:55) but with the weather I decided to focus on my third goal: to run a smart and grateful race. I wanted to pace as evenly as possible (not too fast on the downhill and not too slow on the uphill) so that I had enough energy to soak up this amazing experience and be constantly aware of what a privilege I had to be here.

Athlete’s village looked like the apocalypse. Everyone was huddled in tents, sitting on cardboard and trying to keep as warm as possible. I had time to go to the porta potty, eat the pb&j sandwich I’d brought, and down a complimentary cup of coffee before my wave was called and it was time to head up to the start line.

The walk to the start line is surprisingly long and I wished I’d dropped my extra sweatshirt and garbage bag later than I did. My teeth were chattering and I was shaking from the cold as I waited. I started my music playlist and jogged in place to try to warm up.

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START

Then we’re off! I’m grinning like an idiot. I feel like I could start crying at any minute. I am running the actual Boston Marathon!

I’ve never run a marathon this big and my first impression is that I have no idea how anyone goes out too fast. It’s so crowded! I try to run my own pace without swerving too much around other people, but also staying as much in the middle of the road as possible to let other’s take the brunt of the wind. It’s a struggle I’ll deal with the entire race.

5k split – 25:26, pace 8:11/mile

My headphones quit on me around mile 6 so I take them off and tucked them in my bra strap. I spent he rest of the race listening to the crowds of hero spectators cheering us on.

10k split – 25:05, pace 8:05 min/mile

My mantra for the first 16 miles of the race is”cruise.” I made a deal with myself that I was going run comfortably fast until the Newton hills and that’s when I’d start working. I had no expectation that I’d actually be comfortable, but that’s what I’m going to tell myself.

15k split – 25:11, pace 8:06 min/mile

A wardrobe malfunction that I know is going to cause serious chaffing if left unchecked has me veering off to the porta potties, but I fix it without actually going inside one and head back out on the course.

20k split – 25:28, pace 8:12 min/mile

The Wellesley girls! Those champions are out and screaming their heads off. Even in these conditions I can hear them at least a quarter mile in the distance. The runner next to me says “here they come” and I agree. “So it’s true!”

I don’t stop to kiss one, but I do kiss the sock on my hand and give a few high fives.

Right before the halfway point I see a sign saying DESI WON! I’m freaking out. I’m so happy for her!!

HALF – 1:46:41 – average pace so far 8:09

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I spend the next couple of miles psyching myself up. The infamous Newton hills are coming and this is where I really get to put my training to the test.

25k split – 25:22, pace 8:10 min/mile

Somewhere in these hills I’m going to see my husband and kids. I’m not sure where, but I’ve been looking forward to this the whole time. I need to see them. I focus on the crowd and I’m surprised when the first hill passes by pretty easily.

At least, I think that’s the first hill. I’m trying to count the hills but it’s hard to tell where one stops and the next one starts.

Finally, right before 30k, I see them! I yell out “That’s my family!” to warn the other runners and swerve over to the side of the road. I give my husband a kiss and high five the kids. Later, Russell will comment that I could’ve finished faster if I hadn’t slowed down here, but I tell him I was here to have the best race possible, and seeing them is a big part of what makes it the best.

30k split – 25:38, pace 8:15 min/mile

Here comes Heartbreak Hill. There really is a guy offering beer at the bottom of it. I’m in a lot of pain by now, but I know if I can power up this one I’ll be in the homestretch. My split from mile 20-21 is 9:10, and this ends up being the slowest 5k of the race overall.

35k split – 26:40, pace 8:34 min/mile

I stop for a few seconds to fish my last gu out of my flip belt which I’m having trouble finding the opening to. I figure stopping for a bit is smarter than being distracted and tripping on another runner.

My mother-in-law and her mom are waiting for me around mile 22 because it’s right outside where we rented an apartment for our stay in Boston. They wave and cheer for me from the far side of the street. Gloria (grandmother-in-law) once jumped into the Boston marathon in the 50s and made it about 3 blocks before being pulled off the course by police. This is her first trip back to Boston since then. Seeing them at this point gives me extra motivation to keep pushing.

40k split – 25:46, pace 8:18 min/mile

The last few miles are a mental game as well as a physical one. The headwinds going into Boston are worse than they’ve been the entire race and I’m so tired. Three more miles is close, but it’s still 25-ish minutes away. I struggle so much at the end of marathons but I’m determined to finish as strong as I can.

Then the Citgo sign appears.

Then there’s a mark on the road saying one mile to go.

Right on Hereford. Left on Boyleston.

The finish line is ahead and I think I’m going to cry. I’m so happy and proud of myself. I’ve run the freaking Boston Marathon!

FINISH – 3:36:11, overall pace 8:15 min/mile

It feels like it takes forever to get my checked gear, find my family, and then finally take the T all the way back to our Boston College apartment, but the shower is the best I’ve ever had.

This was a truly incredible experience and I feel really lucky to have had it. I feel overwhelmed with gratitude for the volunteers and spectators that came out to support all of the runners and even more so for my family members who came with me and my family and friends who supported me from wherever they were.

The most amazing thing about this experience is the feeling of being part of something historic and big and truly wholesome. Maybe it’s still the runner’s high, but days later I still just feel so positive about the strength of large groups of people rooting for each other to succeed.

I don’t know if I’ll be back next year, but this is a race I’ll definitely try to get to again.

 

Boston Marathon Training: Week 17

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I didn’t take any pictures this week (bad blogger) so here’s another one from the 5 mile race I did a week ago! This might be the first race picture I’ve ever had where it looks like I’m actually running.

Weekly Mileage: 31.25

Taper week 2! One more week until the Boston Marathon. I loved having 3 rest days this week. It turned out to be especially helpful as my team at work is coming up to a deadline and the hours are getting more unpredictable and longer. Despite work stress, I feel pretty relaxed about the race. Probably because it still doesn’t totally feel real.

When I was training to BQ I was constantly freaked out about my plan and my performance. I had nightmares about the race where the course had been changed or now it was an obstacle course, or something totally out of my control was going on.

This cycle, I’ve thought of as two phases. Phase 1 has been the training. I was curious to see if I could take on an aggressive (for me) training plan. Turns out I could. The marathon itself was always present as the end goal, but a big part of my daily workouts was just seeing if I could accomplish that workout.

The marathon itself is Phase 2. I’d really like to PR at Boston, but there’s a lot out of my control (weather, gut issues, nerves, being in a new place) so it’s hard to say what will happen. I don’t know if I’ll ever run the Boston Marathon again so my biggest goal is to soak it in and be grateful that I get to be part of something so special. And to finish strong. That would be nice. I tend to pace really poorly and struggle at the end  of races.

Monday: Rest Day

Tuesday: 7 miles with 5×100 sprints

This run felt hard even though the pace was really conservative. I should’ve known better because my Tuesday runs often feel difficult, but I had it in my head that now that I’m in taper these things should be easy. Hahaha. Running is hard.

Wednesday: Rest Day

Thursday: 8 miles with 3×1 mile at 5k race pace

I crushed this run. I did my miles at a 7:08 pace (8.4 on the treadmill). I tried to play mind games on myself by telling myself it wouldn’t feel hard until .75 mile and then when I got there I just had .25 to go so may as well finish it.

Friday: Rest Day

Saturday: 4 miles easy

I was supposed to do this run Friday and it was supposed to be 5 miles with sprints, but things didn’t work out on Friday. Saturday we were in a hotel 250 miles away from home for one of my kids’ band performances so I didn’t feel like running outside by myself in a strange place.

The hotel treadmill was ancient and bad. It started counting up from the end of the workout of the person before me which was super annoying and the buttons were really hard to push and the ledge where you rest your phone was super low. These are all dumb excuses, but I wasn’t enjoying this and didn’t feel like it was necessary to torture myself so I hopped off at 4 miles.

Sunday: 12.25 miles easy

We drove home this morning and I started running about 30 minutes after we parked in the driveway. The actual forecast on the radio for today was “starts with showers and then moves on to rain for the rest of the day.” Uh….that’s just rain all day.

Fortunately I got out of the house for a dry patch. I did a couple of loops around my usual route. It felt ok, but my legs definitely feel heavy and I’m glad I didn’t have to run a marathon today.

Next week I’ll be writing to you from the actual city of Boston the day before the race. Traveling will present some unique challenges this week, and I’m honestly not sure how I’m going to get in sightseeing without walking too much, but I’ll figure it out. I’m so close!

Linking up with HoHo and Wendy for the Weekly Wrap.

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Boston Marathon Training – Week 16

Miles this week: 41.75

First week of taper and my first race of 2018! Let me tell you, it was fantastic to not have any double digit treadmill runs this week. I’ve started obsessing about the race and watching YouTube videos about racing strategies, so I’d say everything is about normal.

Monday: Rest Day

Feeling sore from Sunday’s 20 miler. I’d hoped to make it to yoga in the middle of the work day, but got busy and couldn’t leave my desk all day. My band performed at a new venue Monday night which got a good turnout and was a ton of fun. Plus, we were done by 8 which I love for a weeknight gig.

Tuesday: 8 miles with 5×600 at 5k pace

Treadmill run felt challenging but fine. I did my 5k intervals at a 7:03 pace for .4 miles and then jogged .3 miles in between

Wednesday: Rest Day

I’d planned on a 6 mile recovery run during my lunch break, but once again, work got cray. I’d been really looking forward to this week as the week I wouldn’t have to get up extra early to get my runs in, but this day I realized that dream was dead.

Thursday: Recovery 6 miles

Got up early. Got on the treadmill. Got these miles in.

Friday: 4 miles with 6×100 springs

Got up early for this one too and I’m glad I did. I’ve decided to just hang on for the next couple of weeks and keep getting up early. I’m almost there.

Saturday: Spring Run for Fun 5 mile race +2.5 mile jogging cool down

39:07 and 2nd place overall female! It was a gorgeous day for running around in the woods. I even won a pretty sweet mug!

My training plan calls for 3 tune-up races. For the last two I’ve just done tempo runs on the treadmill because I can’t find anything close by that’s long enough and fits my schedule and also races are expensive. I felt like I should do at least one though and I’m glad I did.

Sunday: 16.25 miles

For my last outdoor long run I thought it would be fun to try a new route. Then I thought it would be fun to kind of make it up as I went. At about 6 miles I was at a dead end that looked like it had a trail at the end of it. Since Saturday’s trail run was so fun I figured why not?

When is a trail not a trail? When it looks like this.

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Shortly after I took this picture the trail completely disappeared. I thought I could see the road ahead of me so I decided to forge through and ended up tromping through a field of stinging nettle which I can still feel right now as I type this. If only I’d worn tights instead of capris. 😦

About 20 minutes after I got back on the road, the rain started coming down really hard. It was freezing and I was only about halfway done!

The podcasts on my playlist today both interviewed Alex Hutchinson who recently wrote a book about Endurance and how your mind affects your ability to perform. Great timing! This run today was definitely all about accepting the discomfort and unpredictability of the day and finding a way to enjoy it anyway.

It also inspired me to spend some time thinking about how I talk to myself about my running. I’ve got runner imposter syndrome, big time. Part of me honestly feels like my BQ is a fluke. But when I look back on the past year and a half that I’ve been training, I have to admit that I’ve worked really hard and run some fast times. I have goals for the Boston Marathon, but as far as my goals for training…I’ve pretty much nailed them. That’s not a fluke. That’s a result of deciding every day to put in the miles.

So over the next couple of weeks I’m going to work on my positivity about my running. I have a lot to be proud of even before I get to the start line on April 16th. Running really is about the journey.

Linking up with HoHo and Wendy for the Weekly Wrap.

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Boston Marathon Training: Week 15

Total Miles this week: 52.35

Today is the last day of my the “Race Preparation” phase of my training plan, which means I’m officially tapering! This last phase has done a lot to increase my confidence. I feel pretty comfortable with mileage in the low 50s. The 5k paced intervals have been (dare I say) fun.

This week I got my Boston participant packet in the mail. You guys, this is so unreal. I think I say this all the time, but I NEVER thought I’d be running the Boston Marathon. I’m an extremely medium runner. This whole thing is amazing.

Monday – Cross Training

I got bold on Monday and joined two friends for Flywheel after work. I told myself I was going to be moderate because I’d only have about 13 hours to recover from this before my morning run and I’d just run 17 miles the day before. However, this is one of those places where you can opt to have your score projected on the tvs in the front of the room and I tend to get competitive. It was fun. No regrets.

Tuesday – 7 miles recover + 6x100m strides

Treadmill before work. Now I’m onto Better Call Saul on Netflix. This is the sequel to Breaking Bad and I absolutely love it. Highly recommend. There are so many great characters in this and it’s so absurd but also realistic.

During my lunch break I went and got a haircut (see above). I told the guy I wanted a basic trim, not too many layers, and don’t style it too much because I had to go back to work. I got the opposite of what I asked for but I really like it so I guess I got the haircut I needed, not the haircut I wanted.

Wednesday – VO2 Max 10 miles with 4x1200m@5k pace, jog 50-09% in between

This was hard. Treadmill before work again. I did my intervals at 7:13 pace for .75 miles and jogged .5 miles in between. I felt like I had to dig deep to finish this workout.

Thursday – Rest Day

Hallelujah!

Friday – 11 miles

Treadmill and you know what? This was pleasant. I kind of liked it. I started off at about a 9:13 pace and progressed every few miles until I did the last mile at 8:30. This officially marks the very last double digit treadmill run I’ll have to do for this training cycle.

Saturday – Recovery 4.1 miles

My legs were feeling heavy from Friday’s run and I did this outside by my house which means hills, so I had no problems keeping the pace moderate.

This was my first run in the shoes I’ll wear in Boston. My last pair reached 414 miles and I try to be conscientious about replacing them because I got injured on a super old pair of shoes about a decade ago.

New shoes are the best.

Sunday – 20.25 miles

My husband and two of our friends went out to a paved trail about 20 minutes from our house and I knocked this one out like it was no big deal. The two guys rode bikes and the girl roller-skated while I ran. It was so nice having company and a change of scenery for my final 20-miler.

This is the absolute best I’ve felt at the end of a 20 mile run ever. I even tacked on a fast .25 at the end. Don’t get me wrong, this was definitely hard, but it was a manageable hard and didn’t knock me out for the rest of the day.

The next time I tackle 20 miles it will be on the way to 26.2! Three weeks to go!

Linking up with Hoho and Wendy for the weekly wrap.

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Boston Marathon Training: Week 14

My Boston Celebration jacket arrived in the mail on Tuesday and I’ve been wearing it around the house non-stop ever since. It feels weird to wear it out…is it too braggy? Is it bad luck to wear the jacket before I actually do the race?

Saturday, after a 4 mile shake out, I wore it to the grocery store and the nicest lady stopped to ask me about it. She says she runs the Boston 5k with her son every year and then he does the marathon the next day. She wanted to let me know what a great time I’m going to have. Super sweet!

This week’s total: 49.75

Monday: Yoga

This yoga workout was heavy on the lunging. That was really tough considering my fast 18-miler the day before. I was sore through Wednesday and I honestly don’t know if it was from yoga or running. Still, it always feels amazing to have at least one day a week where I’m twisting and stretching.

Tuesday: VO2 max 8 miles with 6x600m at 5k pace

I really love that this phase of my training plan has this fast intervals in it. I chose 8.5 on the treadmill (7:04 pace) for the speedwork for .4 miles and recovered with a .2 mile jog in between.

Wednesday: 11 miles

This run was so hard. I kept expecting it to get easier and it never did. I think the plan had a recovery day here but I had to do some shuffling around because of my actual life, so I’ll blame the sluggishness on doing two hard workouts in a row.

In other news, I finished Breaking Bad during the first 25 minutes of this run. I spent the next 10-15 minutes trying to figure out what to watch next and then I settled on Better Call Saul which, in my opinion, does not have an engaging first episode. Episodes 2 and 3 are way better and definitely worth getting through the first one.

Thursday: Rest Day

Especially after my cruddy early-morning 11-miler, I’ve been thinking about life after marathon training and all the variety of activities I’m going to do that I can’t do now.

Thursday afternoon a friend emailed and asked if I wanted to do Flywheel and my first thought was ‘no’ because these are my peak training weeks and I need to save my legs for running.

Then I realized that’s no way to live. I couldn’t go Thursday night because of a high school choir concert but suggested next Monday. We’re signed up and I can’t wait!

Friday: 9 miles, 5 at 10k race pace

Today’s training run was supposed to be the 2nd of 3 tune-up races in my training plan. I guess I could’ve done one of the St Patty’s day races around here, but the plan says 8k-15k and I couldn’t find anything that wasn’t a 5k. Plus, the two sort-of close to me were over $40.

Anywho, I did this on the treadmill and it went great. Two miles warm up and cool down with a 5 mile progression starting off around 7:45 and ending just under 7:30 for the last mile. Such a difference from the beginning of this plan when I struggled to do my tempos without stopping to rest.

I have one more tune-up race on the plan in a couple of weeks and decided to actually sign up for a real race. It’s a trail 5 miler which should be interesting. I’m going to want to race it, but the last trail race I did was single track for quite a bit of it so I was pretty much stuck at the pace of the people in front of me. This looks like it’s a wider trail so hopefully I’ll be able to go all out.

Saturday: 4.5 mile with 6×100 meter strides

This was supposed to be just 4 miles but I misjudged my loop. We’re starting to get some sunshine (for now) and being outside felt so good. For my strides I sprint while I count to 20 and then jog while I count to 20 and repeat.

Sunday: 17.25

The sun was still out (see above pictures) and this run felt great. It’s weird to be at the point where I see 17 miles on the calendar with no fast miles and think it’s going to be nice and easy. I picked a route with a few hills including a gigantic two mile hill at the beginning that I took at about a 10 min pace. The rest was rolling hills/flat with an overall downhill for the last mile. My last 5 miles were in the 8:30 range.

4 weeks to go!

I’m linking up with HoHo and Wendy for the weekly wrap.

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Show Us Your Books March 2018

I’ve only joined the Show Us Your Books linkup a couple of times, but I have gotten some GREAT recommendations so far. Thank you Jana and Steph and all the other contributers! Two of the three books on my list this month were checked out of the library the week after the January linkup. I’m in line for a few more and I’m planning on restocking my backlog after reading through other people’s blogs this month.

Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan

This one I already had picked out before I went trolling for recommendations. I picked it because I’ve seen it on “Best of 2017” lists and because I used to live in Manhattan Beach California so maybe I’d recognize some of the landscape.

Haha no. The setting is Manhattan Beach in New York during WWII. For the first 80 pages or so I was really into the luxurious prose, but soon I realized I didn’t care about any of the characters and I wasn’t sure what they were trying to accomplish. It took me all of January to finish this book.

I like the idea of this book. The heroine is a woman who wants to be a scuba diver. Her dad is missing due to some mysterious shakedown involving gangsters. She’s drawn to a lead gangster, not realizing his part in her dad’s disappearance and the gangster doesn’t realize who she is. There’s adventure and mystery and intrigue. I just didn’t personally find it that compelling. And yet, I finished it for the prose.

All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood

I loved this book. It’s so strange. It’s hard to figure out how to describe the plot or characters without making it sound horrible. The protagonist is a child named Wavonna who’s mother is mentally ill and who’s father is a drug dealer. Wavy falls in love with a man in his 20s who looks after her. The love story is heartbreaking and tender and somehow realistic despite it being between two people with such an age gap. I zoomed through this and was completely satisfied by the end.

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Read this book. This was my favorite. It starts in the late 18th century in Ghana with two sisters who share a mother, but never meet each other. One becomes a slave and is shipped to America and the other stays in Africa.

The story follows their descendants through generations on both continents. It was so beautiful how each child was a continuation of the family story, but also a unique individual affected by their specific place in time and space.

My favorite vignette was near the end. I don’t want to give away too much because I really think everyone should read this, but there’s a part where a mother in Ghana hurt her son while being entranced by visions of her family’s past cruelty. Their reunification scene was the heart of this book for me. As a species we’re capable of hurting each other so much, but it’s possible to unite by recognizing our damage and shortcomings and what we have in common. That sounds trite, but it’s so lovely in this book. I think the ending is perfect.

Life According to Steph
 

Boston Marathon Training: Week 13

Total Miles: 50

I’m so happy with how this week went. I’ve been training for this race almost non-stop for a year and a half, first to qualify for it and then to run it. At the beginning of the week I was feeling so tired. I was fantasizing about the things I’ll get to add back into my life when it’s over in 5 weeks. Now that the week’s over I’m feeling really grateful for all the fun things I have in my life right now including running.

Monday: Rest Day

I got myself to a yoga class finally!

The past several weeks have thrown me off my yoga game because of getting sick and the unexpected trip to Utah, but this week I was able to start off right with yoga.

The theme of the class was identifying what yoga is for you right now. The reason for yoga changes over time…sometimes for flexibility, or for escape, or for strength. For me right now yoga is partly for injury prevention, but I realized during class today that it’s also just for me to be doing something that isn’t running.

Tuesday: VO2 Max 9 miles with 5x1000m @5k pace, jog 50% recovery in between

I don’t mind interval workouts on the treadmill because it’s so easy to keep the pace even. I did .65 miles at a 7:09 pace and then followed it up with .35 jogging before the next interval.

Tuesday night my band had our first Seattle show ever. I was in a state of high anxiety literally from before I woke up at 5am. I woke up in the middle of a nightmare about the performance. I was nervous all day long. We played from 8-9:30 and I finally got to bed around midnight where I was too wired to sleep until 1am.

The show went pretty well. We have some things to work on for sure and it took me a good 20 minutes on stage before I stopped shaking. The best part was how many of my friends and coworkers showed up! I felt so loved and so grateful.

One of the people who came was my best running friend who I haven’t seen in years. We used to work together and would run during our lunch breaks and talk about our lives. We lost touch when I got a new job and our lives just got really busy. It was amazing to see her again and I’m determined to reach out to her again for happy hour soon.

Wednesday: 3 miles recovery

Being freaked out for a full day on Tuesday took it’s toll. I was wrecked on Wednesday. I had 5 miles scheduled. It took all my willpower to get 3 miles in during my lunch break. I decided cutting it short and taking a shower would make my life better than pushing through and I have no regrets.

Thursday: 12 miles

Another early morning treadmill run. I was still really tired and considered early on cutting this run short and finishing it up later in the day, but I’m glad I powered through. Later on I reviewed my schedule and realized that this is the last 12 mile midweek run of this cycle!!!

That’s crazy that I’m getting to the point where I’m starting to tick off the last time I’m doing this or that type of run. I’m not starting to taper yet (I still have a couple of 11 mile midweek runs) but it feels like there’s a light at the end of this tunnel.

Friday: 8 mile GA

Early morning treadmill, at it again. This one felt just fine.

Saturday: Rest Day

I spent Saturday at a recording studio for the first time ever. My band is putting together an album and today was vocal recording day. The studio is next to a nature conservation area in the woods and is completely gorgeous. I felt like a total rock star.

Sunday: 18 miles with 14 at Marathon Pace

This is my last marathon pace long run and it’s over!!!! The sun came out today so I had perfect 60 degree weather. I had some trouble around mile 14 where I was getting really warm and had to stop for water. Otherwise, I’m really happy with how consistent I’m getting with pacing. This isn’t something I’ve been confident about before. All of the marathon pace workouts in this plan have definitely given me a 6th sense for 8 min/mile pace.

Marathon Pace splits: 7:47, 7:55, 7:59, 7:51, 8:03, 7:55, 8:05, 8:03, 8:01, 7:56, 8:01, 8:11, 7:59, 7:53

Around mile 12 some teenagers across the street started yelling at me and waving their arms. I almost ignored them but the realized it was my oldest son and his friends out walking around. Other than that, this run was about locking in on my hard (but not too hard) pace and just zoning out and not thinking about how much time was left.

Five more weeks to go!

I’m liking up with HoHo and Wendy again this week.

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