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Newport Liberty Half Marathon Race Report

Sunday I ran the Newport Liberty Half Marathon.

I didn’t win. If you’re still interested in reading, there’ll be a few “oh!”, “ah”, “wow” and “what?” in store. Obviously, let me backtrack first.

BEFORE

These past 3 weeks have been insane. Like, so busy, I have been barely able to shut my brain down to get some rest. I’ll share a lot of it soon, but it’s basically like having 4 full time jobs, and add the couple of health hicccups I have going on (my stomach is a problem, my gastroenterologist has me in a no-dairy, no-gluten diet and it hasn’t helped, plus the IDU is still giving me daily cramps and stuff) and you’d be exhausted. It’d take a week to tell you all that’s happened in the last 3! soon!

Anyway, to recap: I was exhausted, I overdid it on my mileage this past week (I also started coaching for NYRR a few nights a week and didn’t pay attention… it all adds up really quickly!!!), I barely had time to sleep and I couldn’t remember this week I had MY GOAL RACE.

OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOPS.

RACE MORNING

Up at 5:30, leave the apt at 6:15 with Juan, my hot husband and Race Partner Extraordinaire, and meet Courtney by the 86th Street 4-5-6 train stop. ]

We saw a lot of Tune Up runners getting off the train. So funny to be going in the opposite direction.

Funnier, to see some people getting off the train at 86th and get on a cab to the start… when they’re about to run 18 miles. Early in the morning, everything is funny to me. Yes, I am one of those annoying people that don’t need coffee (but I do pass out at 8 pm!). Took the 4 (or 5) to Fulton, then the Path into NJ for two stops. We were there in no time. Too easy. Plus we got to walk through the Oculus, which is EMPTY on a Sunday at 6:45 am.

RACE START

The path is about 1.5 blocks from the start and also race bib pick up. And there’s portapotties right in the middle, wohoooo! So in about 20 minutes we had peed, picked up our bibs, pinned them, peed again, and dropped our bag.

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Don’t we look so friendly in the morning?

Soon we caught up with Hannah (another team mate) and JJ, and we headed for the start. We peed again, that’s THREE TIMES. Such a luxury. There was something special about those portapotties that didn’t smell bad (though they were SO dark!!!).

Juan left us, he had about an hour and half to run so he took of early, in the north direction, towards Hoboken, so I never saw him on his run! We had a little pow wow at the start, a guitar version of the Start Spangled Banner and we were off.

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A note of the weather because everybody said it was really hot. I only remember that humidity was 84 or 85% but the weather wasn’t my biggest concern. Don’t ask me why.

7:20 was a PR pace for me. And I was going to try. Why NOT? So I told Courtney I’d start slower (Mile 1 was 7:30) Courtney was behind me for a bit but by the half mile we were running together. So happy about it.  The first few miles we had people around, and most of them kept passing me, actually. I made a mental note of most of them, because I know how this works…

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Mile 2 or 3, where I saw Elaine Acosta and she snapped this one! Thanks Elaine. I see the clock behind us, that’s mile 2!! (no way I can run 3 miles in 14:58!)

The miles kept clicking and by mile 3 or 4, I had lost Courtney and my pace was back in the 7:20s. The crowds had also dissapeared. I’d have people here and there but we were all mostly in packs of 2 or 3 runners. By Mile 6 or 7 I felt like I needed a sugar pick me up so I took out m Gu and that didn’t work out well. My stomach became all knots and it wasn’t happy. I was having some weird cramping. Mile 7 and 8s were in the 8s, I felt myself slowing down and eventually my stomach stopped hurting. And of course, I then felt like I needed more energy. I decided I wasn’t going to have another gels as my stomach was not having them. I pulled out my caffeine kicker (two chocolate-covered espresso beans) thinking that’d be better than nothing, because you can’t really swallow those, so it wouldn’t upset my stomach more. Oh well. Not a good idea either.

My stomach was not having it. Even water was upsetting it. UGH.

The second half of the race (actually, miles 5 thru 9) goes through Liberty State Park, and at about 6.5 we turn a corner and the Statue of Liberty was right there!!! Like, so close I could touch it. Mile 11 and a half all the way to the finish are right on the water, with amazing views of Downtown Manhattan. The sights are incredible.

I kept trucking, I made a friend on the road who decided to keep me company (or pace me!?!?!?) for the last 5 miles. Anton (who I had never met before) and I run the whole last portion together, which I think saved me. It was very lonely at times, and it gets hard to keep the pace honest when you’re hurting. By mile 9 I knew I wasn’t going to PR but decided it’d be a good workout anyway, so why not fight hard til the end?

I was suffering and it wasn’t pretty but, did we really expect it not to hurt?

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My new friend Anton and I on the last two miles. Thanks Elaine for cheering and the pics!

On the last half mile, Anton left, I saw Juan, and I knew I had to book it!

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I don’t remember passing this fella at all. See how how spread out it was? Hi Juan! 300 meters to go!

We go around the bend, I see the finish line, 1:37 something, I cross the finish line, and I knew I needed water asap!

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I am DONE for today! WHERE are my eggs????

I looked around for Courtney. No luck. I saw Juan, he snapped the pic above, we walk about 50 meters back to grab my bag while we keep an eye on the finish line for Courtney. I see her coming around the bend, Juan and I start cheering for her and she looks at me and goes “did you PR??”….!!!…!!!! WHAT! Girl is running her last 100 meters and asking ME if I PRed!??!? OMG< TOO CUTE!

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Whippets Finish Line Reunion! From left, me, Courtney, Hannah, and Stephen! At least Stephen had a great race!

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Stats Time!

Finish time: 1:37:49 Average Pace: 7:27

Previous PR: 1:36:03. From: March 2016

Age Grading:69.42%

Overall Place: 163 of 2548

Gender Place: 23 of 1149

Age Place: 5 of 146

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Meanwhile, Juan had gone north to run his 12 miles

The post race spread was fantastic. they had these square bagels (are those really bagels????) and I NEVER touch a bagel but I ended up eating a whole one. They were delicious. Or I was ravenous. Or delirious. Who knows. I don’t even remember. I know I had about 5 cups of Gatorade (even though I also can’t stomach Gatorade) and chips. And a banana. They really had lots of delicious options.

newport10K newport jersey city 10K (10)Views by the finish line… not bad huh?
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oh, we went back through the Oculus again. It’s actually REALLY NICE, if this shaded NYorker can say so…

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—–  the GUESS MY FINISH TIME WINNER IS….

winner

rdr, email me and pick a gift from that post!!!

Who raced this weekend???? Can’t wait to hear from you all!!!

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Newport 10K (New Jersey)

So this past Saturday I “participated” in the Newport 10K. Do you know this race? I didn’t. I actually had never been in Newport though it’s super close (and easier to get than Brooklyn apparently, though it’s in NEW JERSEY!). Wow that’s two races in a row in the Garden State! Newport is right by Hoboken (about a mile South) in Jersey City (that’s all I know and I am not even sure it’s 100% right) but it’s on the waterfront and there’s a Path station about 20 feet from the Finish and Race Central so I wasn’t scared.

It took me about an hour from the Upper East Side (the most unreachable place on earth, unless you’re going to Central Park or Gracie Mansion) on the 4, L, then the Path. It’s so fun to leave the city even mostly if it’s for just a few hours. Let’s do it. Juan and I met Francesca in the train and we got there super easily.

Well, we got to the race start, they had a few booths in super nice square, where we got bibbed and shirted in no time. I ended up with about half an hour to walk to the start, which took about 2 minutes, so I used to portapotties (all GENDER NEUTRAL, people!) twice cause I had nothing to do. But sweat, actually. I was hot, SO SO HOT, even before the race. This was going to hurt.

Soon enough we get moving, and given the race course map is almost like a big square with a few turnarounds I was going to see Juan 4 times in the course. Jackpot! I love it when it’s so easy for spectators!!

10 minutes before the start there was still street traffic. HA. Then we had some announcements, two girls sang the national anthem, and we were on our way. My heart rate skyrocketed to over 200 (oops) as soon as I started. CRAP.

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about 100 meters into the race, Hey Juan!

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I had been having a rough rough week with my heart rate, because of some medication I was just started taking. My easy run the Saturday before was at 180 bpms (bits per minute) and it was super hard to breathe and keep going. My easy runs are usually in the 130s. I got off the medication, went to the cardiologist on Monday, and just had to wait for it to get normal again. I was a bit scared of racing, I am not gonna lie. I had done a mile on Thursday, to see how my HR was and it was sorta back to normal. But that first mile was awfully scary with the high heart rate and the heat. I seriously contemplated walking back to meet Juan. Mile 1: 6:58

I decided to keep trying “don’t give up in your head because then your body gives up”.  This really does seem like a stooopid thing to do when your heart is involved. But I had to get that out of my head somehow. It’s so hard to run hard when you’re scared… Soon enough, I saw Juan again, phew.

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Mile 2: 6:52. Somehow I am keeping pace… Or so I thought. That’s when I started  pouring water in my head… I was SO hot! My 10K PR was 44:32 which is about 7:11 pace. I should have been able to do that, given I just did two halfs in 7:20 pace… I really wanted to PR. That stooopid PR is 3 years old… Mile 2 is also when I climbed the only bump I saw in the race, it was like a 80 meters with a tiny grade which you gained back at the end of it. Seriously not even worth worrying about it.

I soon got myself in a pacing friendship with this woman in a white singlet that said Clifton runners. She was doing amazing and told myself to keep her ahead until 4.5 Of course, every time I decide to pace off someone, I pass them without even noticing. I HAVE NO IDEA why I always end up doing this. About a mile later she passed me again. And I told myself “STAY HERE”.

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Juan was just everywhere! this was the 3rd time i saw him on the course 😉

Mile 3: 7:19. Oh Oh. We were all falling apart left and right. I saw a few men that had passed me earlier on come back and fade off. It was awful. I wondered what was ahead… Would I fall apart too or would I be able to pick it up. By now, I had considered quitting about 44 times. Mile 4: 7:25. oops.

The course was super nice actually. It had amazing views of the city, quite wide streets, not crowded to run on. There were very few people cheering but whatever. It’s nice to see something so different. This area is so new in some streets and so quaint in others. I love the contrast. I really got myself distracted that I had no idea what was happening with my pace. Mile 5: 7:26. Well, that’s what’s happening. I am falling apart. I told myself there was still time to pick it up on the last mile. Didn’t know what I’d pick it up with (taxiiiii!!!) but at this point I was just going to keep going. We got close to the the water and run there for a while. It was a great view but it seemed like forever, like 4 miles, but that’s only because I was a HOT MESS. Mile 6: 8:03. Well, that escalated quickly. Bye Bye PR.

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Luckily, there was Juan again to push me in the last quarter mile. AWWWWWW. A few more grrrrrrs and I was done. the last .02 was done in 9 pace. ooooooooppppps. Finish, dry heave, water cup, more water, more water and DONE. OMG that was brutal. I chatted with a few people who complained about the heat and the potholes. The heat sucked the life out of me so bad I didn’t notice the potholes. Now looking back at the pictures, I get it.

The post race spread was fantastic. they had these square bagels (are those really bagels????) and I NEVER touch a bagel but I ended up eating a whole one. They were delicious. Or I was ravenous. Or delirious. Who knows. I don’t even remember. I know I had a whole Gatorade (even though I also hate Gatorade) and a fruit bar. And a banana. They really had lots of delicious options.

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We hung out at the race area for a bit because it was just so nice. Check out the view!

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Ah, we also fed some wild life. Shhhh, don’t tell anyone.

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Stats Time:

Finish time: 45:39 Average Pace: 7:20 (hmmm same as the half two weeks before?!?!!!!!!)

Previous PR: 44:32 From: May, 2013 

Age Grading: 68.86%

Overall Place: 210 of 1862

Gender Place: 42 of 895

Age Place: 4 of 106 (I was also 4th in the last two races before this, NJ Half and Run for the Parks 4 Miler, coincidence…?)

well, you know it’s a MESS when I did the same pace as the last two halfs I did and I am under 70%. I used to do so well in the heat… and now I fall apart. I am seeing another doctor soon to figure this out. My cardiologist this morning says we’re in the usual shape so at least I don’t have to be scared about my heart rate jumping up for no reason, but we’re still looking into it. We’ll see!

laps

Brooklyn Half is this weekend (don’t forget to guess my finish time or read the race strategy and tips here if you are running it) and I still haven’t decided what I want to do… My Enabler Cardiologist said to take it easy, but we’ll see. Juan will be jogging it as his new coach is meaner nicer than I was so he has to jog 10 miles then do 800 repeats… we’ll see. If it’s hottish it might not even be worth the effort to race, and I’d just jog it with him (obviously, his jogging pace is NOT my jogging pace…) but I am going to test myself out with 400s in the morning and take it from there. One day at a time.

Remember when I used to be sooooo much faster in the heat? Those days are gone. Getting older sucks.

New Jersey Half Marathon – nothing is earned, but fought for

hey hey, so I did the NJ Half this weekend! I had never done it before so it was a brand new race experience for me, given 90% of my races are NYRR races. I mostly signed up because Kettia, Khris and Tracey were going, and because it’s a flat flat flat course. I don’t think I’ve ever done a flat half. So, maybe I could turn my 1:36:04 into a sub 1:36 in NJ…?? I signed up, assuming that was a given. NYC is just so much harder and I’d have two more months of training, all that, plus fun weekend (more like 24 hours!).

All 4 of us packed in a car, and drove Saturday noonish to NJ, we went straight to the expo!

Novo Nordisk New Jersey Marathon & Half Marathon review race photos results (1) Novo Nordisk New Jersey Marathon & Half Marathon review race photos results (2)

Did I tell you Kettia wasn’t running? She had just done Boston 10 days before so we excused her. She’d be moral support, cheerleader and the hungriest of all of us, for some strange reason.

Expo was ok, obviously smaller than the expos I am used to but enough stuff to look at. We took some pictures, tried some new products, said hello to a few friends and set to the hotel to check in. MMM, we were at the LUXURIOUS Holiday Inn Express, which at a $250 a night for each single room (just one double bed!) plus taxes was the only choice. Apparently, everything else was sold out. I’d describe it as SAD (mostly for that price) but whatever.

We went to the shore and had a lovely dinner at Sirena. Pasta and bread and pasta. You’d think we were all doing a marathon!!! The place was great actuall. We were so full after, we had to skip dessert and be happy with some Reese’s cups later in the hotel. Wild times at the Holiday Inn.

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After a stooopid Erin Andrews type nightmare, I was up at 5:20 on Sunday morning. We all were. In different rooms but texting about the weather and coffee in the lobby. it was going to start raining midway through the race and picking an outfit was impossible. Which is why I packed EVERY SINGLE RUNNING GEAR I HAD. Of course, as usual, I picked the tiniest option. Rain makes clothes heavy and I’d rather have less of that. I decided to bring a hat. I hate running with a hat and if it didn’t rain I was to be upset BUT if it’d rain I’ve be even MORE UPSET. Hat it is. the trickiest part is the shoes. I had brought my solid option #1 for halfs: Under Armour Geminis, which I love (not sure I love the new Geminis 2 thought!) but they’d get soooo soggy in the rain…. I’d also brought my super light Saucony Type A5, the upper is super thin and the bottom has draining holes, perfect for rain! But… I am not sure my legs can handle 13 miles in those… 13 miles is a long way to run in such thin shoes… it was tricky. I just went with the Geminis and hoped it all would hold. Of course I had a tube of bodyglide on me (but hey, zero chafing!).

The start is close to the track, so before the track you can hang out indoors, as soon as we got there, about 7 am (race starts at 7:30) we lined up for the bathrooms. 7:17 we were still in the line, with about 60 meters to go. A MESS. We managed to find some other bathrooms but it wasn’t easy…

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We all looked crazy

I got to the start right at 7:30, with barely any time to take my layers off. Luckily, the race is super chill and you can just walk into your corall at the (literally!) last minute or any corral after that. They also release one corral at a time, which I love!

And just like that, I get GPS signal and we’re off. SO QUICK.

About 1 minute in I see Tommy leading the 3 something marathon pace group, I saw it was 7:26 pace. I chit chat with him for a bit, but that pace was a bit too quick for me. My goal was to do beat my 1:36:04 NYC half PR, so I was shooting for 1:35:59 at least! Given this was a flatter course, I was 100% sure I could PR… so the goal was an average 7:18 pace (NYC Half was 7:20 pace). I wanted to start with some 7:35s for at least 3 miles, the drop it to 7:20 and then more if I could. At least, that was the plan.

Mile 1: 7:39 Soon, I found myself at the back of the 1:40 group. It was too crowded and chatty. I dropped them. Mile 2: 7:31. Then I was running with a Brian I had just met for about a mile or two. Mile 3: 7:29. I saw a Whippet and I went up to him, his name was Louis and was doing the full. Then I spotted Keith up ahead, he wasn’t doing so well, so we said goodbye and I kept going. Mile 4: 7:13

About here is when I started feeling a bit better. I have been experimenting with drinking coffee before a race and I’ve had cases where I’ve overdone it. Like, Staten Island Half back in October for example. I start and I am SO HYPER that I can’t control my pace. In this race, I hadn’t had that much (just a cup and a half) but I did feel my heart beat jumping like crazy as soon as I started. It was hard to manage and though I was able to control the pace, it was a struggle and I felt I was wasting SO much energy. Check my heart rate in the first 2 miles:

Novo Nordisk New Jersey Marathon & Half Marathon review race photos results (5) mile 1 to 4

By Mile 4 (which is 5 up there because the first mile marker was a bit off and had to manually lap it) things were getting under control but I already felt exhausted. My legs were fine but I felt like I needed to sit down, have a lot of water and calm down.

Problem was, I was racing a half marathon, I wanted to PR and… what else could I do? Get it under control and chop at it!

From mile 4 on, I was basically running with the same group for the rest of the race, we’d pass each other at times, but it was basically the same 10 people.

The Course was great, very very flat. Just one tiny little bridge and a cute overpass. That’s it. No hills, no climbs, nothing to slow you down. Well, the rain. It started drizzling about 2 miles in and raining about 5 miles in. It was fine. I actually liked it. It kept me cool and I was happy I wasn’t wearing any more layers. But I was definitely under-dressed compared to EVERYONE else. There were some spectators in some areas but not a lot. I am sure it was the weather though. There were enough turns (32?) to keep it interesting.

Mile 5 I decided to get going, as I was feeling well, Mile 5: 7:17. I wanted to have a gel early but the water stations were spread out about 1.5 miles away and I missed one because I couldn’t open the gel on time, crap. I did manage to grab water and drink without stopping, though sometimes I missed my mouth or face entirely, but it’s a good start! Mile 6: 7:28, the heaviness of the shoes was getting to me… this was a rough patch. Around here, or at some point, there were these awesome signs on the road, with great quotes, stole this picture from Instagram:

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There was one that stuck with me:

You’re faster than this. Don’t think you are, know you are.- Morpheus, the Matrix

I’ve watched the Matrix so many times (two times alone in the last month) and I could hear Morpheus in my head saying it. I repeated that over and over for a bit.

Mile 7: 23, I managed to find my groove and decided to start pushing. Mile 8: 7:25 finally had the gel, so late! Mile 9: 7:20 okay guys, we need to start the last 5K soon, where throwdown happens, but the truth is, I was getting bored… Mile 10: 7:21 Okay, just 3 miles, I actually hoped I had music by now. By now, I sorta knew there was no way I’d PR. I was already pissed but decided to fight for every single second. Sometimes, like in the Staten Island half, it comes to just 3-4 seconds… I knew it’d be tight so I pushed hard, really hard. Mile 11: 7:06. I am going to insert these sample pictures here because I have no clue what mile this was at. Everything but the last two miles looks pretty much like this:

Novo Nordisk New Jersey Marathon & Half Marathon review race photos results (50) Novo Nordisk New Jersey Marathon & Half Marathon review race photos results (51)

Everyone around me had it and I felt a bit bored. People were scarce, and soon, half the people left me. They made the right turn for the marathon and I saw some of my pack leave. I couldn’t really imagine running 13 more in that rain. I realized why I stopped doing marathon, ugh, I felt really bad for them all. 26.2 seems SO long… Mile 12: 7:25 Just a straightaway to the finish that couldn’t get here soon enough. My head was a constant battle: “don’t loose ONE second” and “who gives a shit?”. It was rough. I finally saw a friendly face! Ben Ko, from the the Whippets was there, and I was just so happy to see him. Other than Ramon Bermo on mile… 5?… 7?? I hadn’t seen anyone on the course that I knew, which is SO strange… I always spend my races just waving at people. This was crazy lonely for me!

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I knew Kettia would be in the last half mile somewhere but this was the slowest/longest mile ever. I felt ok, but was just tired of it, my shoes were soaked and heavy and I just wanted it to stop. I did see Kettia, here’s the pictures!

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Mile 13: 7:07. I really tried my best to not loose it. I knew I wouldn’t PR. Last mile I gave it my all. I was breathing like a maniac. Last Point one: :0:41 (6:49) pace.

the finish line chute

the finish line chute

In this chart you can see my heart rate, pace and even cadence for each mile:

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Anyway, I was quite a bit upset with myself. I finished in an official 1:36:28. Missed a PR by 25 seconds. UGH.

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Well, that’s done. So as “undressed” as I was, I went back the half mile to join Kettia. I hadn’t checked post race gear as Kettia was going to have it, but they didn’t let her cheer with any bag so she had nothing. UGH. Found her, we cheered for Khris and Tracey, and went back to the finish to grab them. I was FREEZING. It was 50 something, I was soaking wet and it was still raining. HOW DO THEY NOT HAVE MYLAR BLANKETS????????????????????????? I was in complete shock, but more frozen and shaking than shock. About 35 minutes after I finished we got to the car. back to the hotel, a boiling shower that was hard to end, and back to the shore to brunch. We were actually at Avenue, on Ocean Avenue and we saw all the runners that finished the marathon from 3:30 to 5:30. It was amazing, they were just running past us, though we were dry, and warm and sitting down and eating. I just felt so bad for them.

Should I have stopped pushing and save my legs for the Brooklyn Half in 3 weeks? Maybe. But I just didn’t want to give up… sometimes things CAN turn around. It didn’t. At least I didn’t crash in the last miles, but I really need to rethink this whole coffee thing because it really kills my early miles and I get to the second half all spent. Hopefully I learn the lesson. And you know, that’s why I started writing this blog 7 years ago, because I kept making the same mistakes; now it’s on paper and I am going to set an alarm on my calendar to remind myself to read this and not be stoopid again. Caffeine is not for me. I need to start with the chillest heart rate and ease into it. Yes, I tend to start way too slow (my half pace used to start in the 9s… I am not even joking) but that’s better than this. Lesson learned? we’ll see!

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and the finish-time winner is….

grit

Congrats!!!!

Please email me your choice of prize (from the post), postal address in the US, and name and will ship it ASAP!! And no worries y’all losers, I will be doing many races in the next weeks (there’s actually one this weekend but not sure there’s enough time to post…!) so you’ll have another go at playing soon!

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what did you race this weekend? how did it go???