The marathon that didn’t happen…

An oldie but a goodie of Santa Monica

Be prepared, this will be a brain dump, from the heart blog post (not that my other ones aren’t, but this one especially) without very many pictures. As you know, I signed up to run the Los Angeles Marathon back in October. It was supposed to my “comeback” marathon so-to-speak. The marathon I would use as an excuse to get back into distance running shape post-baby. The Los Angeles Marathon was this past weekend and I wasn’t there. Unfortunately, due to a death in the family we were at a funeral instead.

Emotions were all over the place last week and still are for many reasons as you can imagine. But let’s specifically try to talk about the emotions as it relates to the race. I realize that it may seem selfish to think about the race at a time like this but it’s hard to separate all the different feelings and the events are obviously related. Back when I signed up for the marathon, I really needed a goal race to force myself to fall into a workout routine. I was struggling with exercising consistently and finding the time to do it. I was down on myself for not working out and didn’t feel healthy. I realize that I was just 3 months postpartum but it was tough especially with the hormones, post-baby blues, and lack of sleep.

When training started at the end of November, I knew it was going to be much tougher to train for this race than I once thought. I underestimated how difficult it would be to routinely get up at 4AM to pump and workout before Josh went to work. I didn’t realize how tough mom guilt was to battle and how training through the winter really just sucks. Despite being out of commission for almost two weeks with a cold over the holidays, snowstorms, and normal bad sleep nights as a result of being a mom, I somehow managed to build my long run mileage up to 19 miles two weeks out from the race. Leading up to that run, I had three weekends of solid 15+ mile runs. While my weekday runs sorely lacked any distance greater than three miles and my total weekly mileage only surpassed 26.2 once, I was feeling confident enough that I could finish the race in one piece. I had accepted that there were probably points that I’d have to walk but it was okay as long as I finished.

The goal was to get in shape and run a marathon with my family, Josh and Charlotte cheering me on and to experience the marathon finish euphoria with my baby girl. Missing the race was disappointing but the event causing the missed race was by far worst. I’m now in the week I was excited for, the week where I would have as much time off from running as needed and then slowly ease back into it without structure. However, I am at this point without structure as it has been hard to find motivation, time, and consistency when there is no longer a specific goal.

Over the last week I have toyed around with immediately signing up for another marathon for this upcoming weekend or the one after, even for a month out from now but I think I’m finally at the point that I may have accepted that I might not be running my first postpartum marathon until the fall. The idea of traveling to another city to just run a race doesn’t excite me. It’s no longer as easy to up and travel as it once was. There are a some local ones but the thought of driving by myself to a race in the cold doesn’t seem fun. And finally, I don’t think I have it in me to keep up with the long runs for another month if I waited for another race.

After talking with a number of friends about it, I am slowly accepting that while a marathon was my goal distance, it is okay to not force one now. I wasn’t well-trained and while it would have been nice to say that I completed 26.2 miles, it was more important that I found a way to get back into some sort of routine and shape. The thought of trying to rearrange travel or logistically trying to find a way to make a marathon work into our schedules was too much. I have already have a number of half marathons and shorter distance races on the calendar to look forward to for the spring and hopefully they will help keep my base mileage up in preparation for fall marathon season.

I still look forward to hopefully running the Los Angeles Marathon one day. We really enjoyed our trip there and hopefully I’ll be able to explore it on foot in the upcoming years.

NYCRUNS Central Park Half Marathon Recap

I haven’t been very good about blogging lately (as well as taking non-baby pictures, so please excuse the lack of pictures in this post). My training for the LA Marathon isn’t stellar, that’s okay though. I’ve accepted that the race will just be a fun-do-not-get-injured-really-really-long run. I’m so exhausted most days and in my down time, I am either trying to sneak in a couple of hours (or in most cases 30 minutes) of work or watching mindless television. There are still a number of posts that I’d like to share and some that I have promised to share for a while but haven’t gotten around to it yet — i.e. my review on the Plantronics BackBeat Fit Bluetooth Headphones. And now to add to that list, I am wearing a Garmin Forerunner 35 all the time even when I am not running. Wonder what happened to my Apple Watch or the Garmin Forerunner 220? Well, I guess you’ll have to wait patiently for me to write up that post!

However, in other news, I ran my first official half marathon postpartum on Sunday. This was also my first NYCRUNS race ever. So on Sunday, I ran the Central Park Half Marathon. The course was slightly different from that of other Central Park half marathons that I have run. Instead of two full loops of the park, this one was two loops from Harlem Hill to the 72nd Street transverse and a partial third loop ending at 102nd Street on the East Side.

In my one race experience with NYCRUNS, they are very different from NYRR. The races are not nearly as crowded even when they sell out. Also, the races do not sell out far in advance. In the example of this one, the race didn’t sell out until the day before and the field was less than 2,000 people where in the case of a comparable NYRR half marathon, the race would have been sold out further in advance and there would be likely nearly double the amount of people and in some cases way more. As a result, bib pickup and the logistics are not nearly as elaborate.

The bib pickup for this race was at Paragon Sports the day before and available morning of the race up to 30 minutes before the start. I opted for morning pickup and the process was smooth. There were barely any lines and while the pickup didn’t use any fancy technology like NYRR uses now with the QR codes, it was still efficient. After bib pickup, I waited on line for the port-a-potties which were not available near the start area (96th Street and West Side) instead were all at the finish area (102nd Street transverse). From there I picked up my race t-shirt and dropped off my bag. I jogged over to the start area (since when I did become one of those obnoxious runners that I used to make fun of who ran before races?) and had over 20 minutes to spare before the start. There were no corrals and everyone just hung out while waiting for the start of the race.

As I was starting the race (about 3 minutes after the gun went off), I was thinking about how if you’re someone who truly appreciates the corralling system — meaning you put down your actual anticipated pace and start in the assigned corral — then you wouldn’t enjoy the type of start at the Central Park Half Marathon. Without corrals, you’re next to people of all different paces and if you rely on the person next to you or the crowds to help pace you to a more conservative start, well this would be tougher to gauge. Sometimes I’m that person and in the case of the race on Sunday, I was really concerned that I went out too fast and I might have a bit since my fastest mile was mile 4.

Anyway, I ran a consistent race. My pacing was a little slower going up the tougher hills in Central Park – Cat Hill and Harlem Hill. It’s great knowing the course so well that you can expect the hills and adjust your pacing accordingly leading up to them. The course was not crowded so I really ran the race in my head, mentally free and did not have to worry about dodging people. The water stations were roughly every 2 miles, so that threw me a bit when I really wanted some water around the same time as a gel (by the way, the Honey Stinger Chocolate Energy Gels taste incredible especially if you love chocolate and when they’re cold – tastes like fudge!) towards the end and couldn’t remember when the next one was. As for the signage, I always run with a watch (for good or bad) so the mile markers and elapsed time clocks are a little less important to me but I usually prefer to look at them than down on my watch if I can help it. There were no elapsed time clocks in this race but there were mile markers.

I saved a little gas for the last stretch as my second fastest mile was mile 13. Overall, I’m incredibly pleased on the outcome – 2:03:59. This is over 7 minutes off PR time but I wasn’t expecting that due to the lack of training and speed work but this time is faster than my first half marathon time and back then I was in the peak of marathon training. Now, if the LA Marathon was a half instead of a full, I might actually feel a little more confident!

Post-race, NYCRUNS did a great job. There were heat sheets and medals and you can quickly navigate through all that. There were no bottlenecks between you and the food. I was able grab to a cup of Gatorade, bagel and my bag really quickly. I didn’t stop to enjoy but did notice a station with cream cheese for the bagels, hot chocolate, strawberries, and energy gels. All in all, I was pleased with the race experience and while it lacked the excitement of being able to run into so many people you know from the running community, it was low-key and easy.

Tell me about your non-NYRR race experiences in the NYC-area.