NYC Marathon Recap!

So, sure, I want to get married someday. But I feel really bad for my future husband, because I’m pretty sure that I will always remember November 6, 2011 as the best day of my life, not my future wedding day.

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The night before, Ashley and Bo had me and Tina over for our last carb-loading meal. I feel bad for him and my mom having to deal with the three of us obsessing over the race. He made some delicious fresh pasta from Eataly with homemade sauce and chicken. Even my picky Italian mom liked his sauce, and she wasn’t even just saying that to be nice.

My mom and I came back to my apartment, where I laid out all my stuff and painted my nails marathon orange and blue.

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Priorities.

I actually slept really well until about 3am. After that, I was up every hour until 5am, when I finally gave up and just woke up and started watching inspirational marathon YouTube videos and crying in bed.

With all my clothes laid out, I actually got ready pretty quickly and was just busy putting Vaseline everywhere when Bailey started barking at the door. I thought he heard something in the hall, but it turns out there was a Tina at the door, incredibly early.

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Someone didn’t want me to leave.

Melissa Z lives a few blocks from me, so she picked us up in a cab at 7:20 and we all headed down to the ferry.

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As we got out of the cab, we all looked at each other and said, “This is really happening.” Hundreds of other runners were pouring into the ferry terminal, each setting out to do the same thing we were about to do.

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Oh hey Lady Liberty.

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We took the ferry to a bus, which finally brought us to Athlete’s Village. There was a group of about six of us, but I started chatting with Emily and looked up and the rest of our group was gone.

Luckily, we ended up finding them.

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Dori and Melissa

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Thank god we found them, because Tina and I had plans to start together and run together as long as possible.

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We squeezed our way into my corral (I was in the higher-number corral, so she came back to mine) and were slowly fed to the start just before the Verrazano Bridge.

I’d heard they played New York, New York just before the start, but I still started crying (and singing) the second I heard it. If you can make it here, you really can make it anywhere. Most of yesterday was pretty surreal, but I will never forget that moment standing there, thinking about how far I’d come and knowing that, yes, I’d run 26.2 miles before, but that anything could happen in the next 4+ hours.

We ran up that bitch of a hill, and I noticed our pace was around 9:15. “Tina, we really need to slow down–we have a long way to go,” I told her. We hit mile one and thought, oh good, only 25 miles to go. Once we hit Brooklyn, the orange and blue groups were split from the green group.

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At mile 3, I was lucky enough to see my lovely book club ladies. They screamed so loudly that some of the runners running near me and Tina were incredibly amused. I’d started with arm warmers, and I remember taking them off right after seeing my ladies. I’m glad I bought the cheaper ones at the expo, because I ended up losing them shortly thereafter. I tucked them into my Spibelt, and they quickly bounced out.

Tina and I had run the last 20 miles of the course a few weeks earlier, so we were excited to get back into familiar territory at mile 6. We were feeling great in these first few miles, and I was really nervous we wouldn’t be able to hold on to our pace. It seemed that every time I looked at my watch, we were doing a 9:45 pace, but we were actually running closer to 9:55-9:57.

nyc marathon 420 pace band NYC Marathon Recap!

I’d taken this 4:20 pace band, and it said we needed to be hitting 9:55 miles to hit our goal of 4:20. Being right on the mark so early on could mean one of two things: either we crashed and burned or since we were feeling good, perhaps we’d be able to pick it up in the second half. Obviously, I was hoping for the latter.

We continued running through Brooklyn, sometimes chatting a bit but mostly just grinning our faces off at the crowds. I’m so happy I had my name on my shirt, but every time someone called my name, I turned and wondered if I knew them or if they were just reading my name off my shirt. Either way, I waved or smiled as much as I could when someone yelled my name. I was absolutely beaming with happiness at this point.

mile 8 NYC Marathon Recap!

My family and friends were aiming for being at mile 8, but I figured with the crazy crowds, they could be anywhere between mile 7 and 9. Well, they were exactly at mile 8! Can you see the joy in my face? (My mom says I even jumped in the air.) I was so happy to see my parents and some of my closest friends. I also have to thank my friends for being amazing and letting my parents tag along with them around the city, being patient with them on the subway and even walking them over to the grandstand to watch me finish.

Tina and I were still feeling strong here, but at this point, I really had to pee. I kept hoping the feeling would go away, that I would sweat it out, but I never did. I started scouting the port-a-potty lines as we passed, hoping for a short line.

The next thing I remember is hitting mile 10. I was really happy that we were finally into double-digit miles. At mile 11, my left leg started feeling really tight in a way it had never felt before. I’ve certainly felt my leg feel stiff before, but my muscle felt like it was shrinking here, and I was afraid that I was limping or that I wouldn’t be able to run on it anymore. I usually fuel about every six miles, so I took a Gu Chomp at mile 11.5 and hoped that some extra energy would help my leg. If you’re keeping track–I had a tight muscle and I really had to pee. This was clearly not my favorite stretch of the race by any means.

Just before mile 13, I saw a big line of Port-a-Potties with short lines. I told Tina I needed to stop and that she could just keep going. “We’re not splitting up this early!” she said, and I wanted to give her a big, sweaty hug. I got in and out within 90 seconds and we were back on our way. This was right before the Pulaski Bridge, and I was nervous about my knee heading up and down this bridge. At every single bridge we hit, Tina said “I’m going to make this bridge my bitch!” and so make this one our bitch we did. By the other side, my knee was already feeling better, and I have never been more happy to be in Queens. The energy in Brooklyn was absolutely tremendous, but I just wanted to get out of Brooklyn and closer to the finish.

Miles 13-15 are a huge blur for me, other than some stomach discomfort. My first Gu was a vanilla bean Gu, which I always take and never bothers my stomach. My second Gu was a Sweet Tea Gu Chomp, which I thought I’d had before, but once I looked the package, I realized I hadn’t. THESE GUS HAVE DOUBLE THE CAFFEINE. I barely drink caffeine any more. From miles 12-20, my stomach felt like it had a balloon in it that kept inflating and deflating. I tried to suck my core in as much as possible, in hopes of popping the bubble. I also tried to take as much water as I could at this point. Previously, I’d been doing water every two miles, but I took water every mile at this point.

Finally, we were upon the Queensboro Bridge! Once again, Tina said she was going to make it her bitch. I’d heard from many people that this was the worst part of the course, but we were still feeling strong, and it really didn’t feel like a big deal. It was, however, really long. Towards the end, I started telling Tina a story to distract us both from the monotony of the bridge. As we approached the end, I heard that legendary wall of sound coming from First Ave. I knew some of my friends would be out here, and that it’s the area where a lot of young people are, so I figured I might know some other people, too.

We’d heard it’s hard to maintain a steady, slow pace coming up First Ave, and this was true. We looked at our watches and saw we were running sub-9:00 miles. “Tina! We need to slow down!” She started yelling out our pace until it was back above 9:15-9:30 again. I didn’t mind if we picked up our pace a little more, but I didn’t want to be running any faster than that.

Once we got above 100th Street, the crowds thinned significantly. I remember at this point just wanting to get out of Manhattan and get to the Bronx, but I tried my best to take it all in. Yeah. The First Ave portion of the race is really long. Once we were up here, the incline felt like it had evened out some. I took the few remaining Gu Chomps at this point and hoped for the best. Finally, we were in the Bronx and hitting 20 miles! During Chicago last year, I hit the wall around 18-20, so I was so happy to have gotten to this point still feeling okay. Obviously, my legs were tired, but they didn’t feel hellacious, just like I had just run 20 miles.

Finally, we crossed our last bridge, the Madison Ave. Bridge into Manhattan. Other people seemed really happy to have crossed this last bridge, but I knew this meant no more downhills until the park.

At mile 21, I SAW A SIGN FOR BANANAS. I basically ran clear across the course (sorry, guys) to grab my half a banana. Obviously I really love my bananas, but I knew my body couldn’t handle any more Gu–but I still wanted some fuel. Also, it just made me happy. The happiness inside that banana got me through until Mile 22, where Caitlin and the Lululemon girls were cheering. I noticed the Lululemon cheer squad, and then I noticed Caitlin and wanted to give her a big hug! The next things I were looking forward to were seeing Jess and her sign somewhere around mile 23-24.

I never ended up seeing her, but I did see Lacey and Jen again at 95th and 5th with these fab signs:

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I remarked to Tina, “I hope someone’s saving me a beer!” and then realized “WAIT! THOSE ARE MY FRIENDS! They better be saving me a beer!”

FINALLY! FINALLY! We made it into the park at 90th Street and hit mile 24 soon after at 4:00:14. It was at this point, I realized that I could definitely make 4:20 if I kept the same pace. Somewhere between 110th Street and entering the park, Tina started lagging a bit behind me. I kept turning around and trying to encourage her, and we stayed together until almost mile 24. Again, she fell a bit behind, and I said “come on!” and she told me to just go. I turned to leave her, and realized how thankful I was that she’d stayed with me at my bathroom stop, and I turned around to keep running with her. The park was absolutely packed, and my legs were just itching to run it out to the end, and by mile 24.5, I had no idea where she was.

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And go.

Here’s where I turned it up.

The quicker I run, I reasoned, the quicker I could finish. The course got pretty narrow with all the fans at this point, but everyone was screaming my name, and I was smiling from ear to ear. Once I hit mile 25 at 4:09, I knew I could finish with a 4:1x in front of my name. WITH A 4:1X IN FRONT OF MY NAME. I ran Chicago in 4:59. That would be a 40-minute PR. At this point, I ran with absolutely everything I had left. A few times I looked at my watch and saw an 8:30 pace or even a 7:50 pace, but I ran those last two miles in 9:59 and 9:56, so I clearly didn’t keep that pace up for an entire mile, just a portion of it.

I exited the park just after mile 25 and ran onto Central Park South. LESS THAN ONE MILE TO GO! I ran across and remember alternating between thinking “Just three avenues!” and “OMG, three avenues?!” At this point, my legs were fully exhausted but I just kept muttering to myself “You’re almost there! Don’t walk! You can do this! Don’t walk. Don’t walk.” I took in the energy of the crowd and was smiling so hard my face hurt. I remember a spectator yelling “Keep smiling!” I could do that!

Finally, finally, I entered the park again. I knew I had just about 7 blocks to go and kept thinking, “I can do anything for 5 more minutes.”

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I spied the grandstands, and started looking for my parents. (Nissan gave me special grandstand tickets that I passed along to them.) I didn’t look too hard, though, because I had a goal to meet! I was just at 4:19 hitting the grandstand, and knew that I had just under 4:20 in me if I ran my heart out for the last few feet.

I RAN LIKE HELL FOR THAT FINISH LINE, and 4 hours, 19 minutes and 56 seconds after I started this race in Staten Island, I finished it in Manhattan with tears in my eyes, a smile on my face, and a tremendously full heart. Full with thoughts of my amazing friends and family, of all of you reading and cheering along for me, for the random people who cheered for me on the sidelines. I got my medal and definitely hugged the lady who gave it to me after she congratulated me. I got my heat sheet and began the long trudge out of the park when I felt a tap on my shoulder. IT WAS RUSTY! He was volunteering, and I hugged him twice, thanked him for volunteering and told him I shattered my goal.

The worst part of this race? Getting out of Central Park. It took forever! We had to walk probably almost a mile to get out, and at that point, it felt never-ending.

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I just wanted to curl up on the side of the road, but I knew I’d never get back if I did.

I made my way to JackRabbit to meet up with my family. Those five blocks from 77th down to 72nd felt longer than the entire marathon, and I really used the same techniques to keep me walking. “Just three more blocks! You’re almost there!”

I’m still in shock that I actually beat my goal of 4:20 and with such an even pace!

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I’m also still in shock that, other than my bathroom break, I ran the entire time! When I started running a few years ago, I thought only professional runners could run an entire marathon without stopping to walk.

So Kara Goucher, watch out.

Congratulations to everyone else who ran and a big thank you to my coach, Marc, for pushing me to get here and to my parents and friends (and you!) for putting up with all my marathon obsession the past few months.

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152 comments on “NYC Marathon Recap!

  1. Lizzy

    I am so INSANELY PROUD OF YOU!!!!! Running even splits is absolutely amazing and I’m so happy for you! You are my hero. Marathon 2012 after baby?!?! Sub 4?

    Reply
  2. Jordan @ food, sweat, and beers

    THEODORA!! You’re a rockstar!! I’ll admit, you were the one runner that I tried to see in the sea of the masses!! Though I didn’t, rest assured that I would’ve shouted loudly (from both reading your shirt and recognizing you!) This was an excellent recap, felt like I was right there! Congratulations.

    Reply
  3. Christine

    <3333333333333333333
    this is amazing theodora! YOU are amazing! i'm inspired by every word. what an incredible race you had! you earned it!

    hope you got lots of beer and bananas yesterday!

    Reply
  4. Devon

    AMAZING race, Theodora!!! I teared up at the end when you described sprinting toward the finish line. So freaking fantastic that you ran the whole time and shattered your goal! All your hard work paid off big time — congratulations.

    Reply
  5. Dorry

    I am such a sucker for marathon recaps, but sitting here with tears in my eyes! SO PROUD OF YOU! Seriously – what an amazing accomplishment to beat your PR by that much. You’re an inspiration, Theodora! You make me want to train and run a marathon. Enjoy basking in your achievement! xo

    Reply
  6. Ada

    Yay, congratulations on a great time! I ran NYC yesterday too and had such a blast. Can’t believe you guys didn’t get to the ferry until 7:20am, my ferry LEFT at 5:30am lol. Glad you had a good experience and hope you get to rest up today!

    Reply
  7. Meghann

    WOO HOO!!! Congrats! You’ve come so far girl and you should be proud! You are proof that with proper training and determination, any runner can meet any goal they set their mind to. I am so proud of you!!!!!!!! CONGRATS!!!

    Reply
  8. Kimra

    Hooray! How freaking awesome! And does Bart Yasso know how to call it or what??

    I think my favorite part of this recap is where you ran across the entire race course for a banana.

    Reply
  9. Cait @ Beyond Bananas

    Incredible Recap! I was totally smiling the entire time rooting for you (although I knew the results from your tweets).. but I was so emotional reading this. Congrats on the amazing PR.. amazing time.. and just being amazing in general!!

    Reply
  10. esther

    I’ve been looking forward to your recap all day!
    Congrats!
    I plan to be out there in 2013!
    Thanks for inspiring me.

    Reply
  11. Ericka @ The Sweet Life

    Loves it! I felt like I was running this through you yesterday so thanks for putting up with my comments and tweets :) Such a great recap, I read every word — amazing! That’s why we do it! I SO want to run New York now!

    Reply
  12. Sugarpopnyc

    I am so proud of you!!!!!!!! You did so awesome!! It really was my loss not meeting up with you in the am–maybe you could have dragged my arse in a little faster ;)

    Reply
  13. Lindsay

    Congrats on an amazing race! I ran my first marathon this year, and I am eager to know what you think helped you shave so many minutes off of your time. I can get the speed for the 10k races, but going up to keeping the faster pace for the 26.2 is still a challenge for me. Any advice?

    Reply
  14. Cameo

    What a fantastic experience! I loved reading this re-cap! I saw you at the Daily Mile meet-up but didn’t get a chance to introduce myself (I didn’t run the marathon, just went to the meet-up:)

    Reply
  15. Kelly

    Total chills reading your recap (in a good way of course!) It was so amazing to read..I felt like I was there with you while I was reading it :)

    Oh and by the way, I’d consider this goal at A++++

    Reply
  16. Cristina

    I started reading your blog as you started training for this marathon. It has been so cool to follow your training and now you are DONE!!! Congratulations!!!!!!!!!!!! What an amazing acomplishment.

    Reply
  17. Martha M. @ runninginmommyland.wordpress.com

    I only discovered your blog a week ago, but I thought of you yesterday, many many times! You are an inspiration! Thanks for the great recap! Just amazing!

    Reply
  18. Lexy @FireLitesFire

    Loved reading your race recap! I haven’t done a full marathon since 2009 and I thoroughly enjoyed reading about your experience! Awesome job!!!! :) Marathon recaps always make me cry! :) Congratulations on beating your goal!!!

    Reply
  19. Alison @ The Peacock Diaries

    Amazing!!! So excited for you, I’ve loved following your training and I love this happy ending! It is just like a movie…but a really good movie, not a cheesy one! Seriously, you should write a screenplay. Reese Witherspoon could play you!

    Again, congrats. You’re a total rockstar! Though, I noticed Christy Turlington finished with almost the same exact time (4:20), so maybe it would be more accurate to say…you’re a total supermodel! You’re BETTER than a supermodel! A supermodel ate your dust!

    Reply
  20. Dad

    I am so proud of your focus and determination preparing for and running the NY Marathon! This was the “big one” and something you and your parents will remember forever. Great job!

    Reply
  21. Katherine

    I LOVE this race recap and the line “I will always remember November 6, 2011 as the best day of my life, not my future wedding day.” — haha totally can understand that

    Congrats on your HUGE accomplishment!!!! PR’ing my 40mins is unheard of/amazing!!! You’ve given me hope that I can reach my marathon goal if I prepare as well as you did :-)

    Reply
  22. Carol Blanchfield

    You were special and loved from the moment I looked at you, and held you in my arms, never dreamed I would have so much more to look forward too watching you grow into such a beautiful young lady and NOW a Marathon Runner, you have accomplished more in these last two years and have made us proud beyond anything I could imagine,
    Keep on going and never give up!!!!! You have what it takes and more

    Love YOU
    your Mother

    Reply
  23. janet scudieri

    I never watched a marathon in my life, but I learned so much from following your blog, that I was glued to the TV. You made your parents so proud of you, but most of all you should be proud of yourself, you worked so hard for this, and did so well, After this you know you can do anything you set your mind to. Congradulations!!!!!!!!

    Reply
  24. supergenericgirl

    I loved reading this so much – you’re such an inspiration! Massive congratulations on what surely must have been one of the most epic days ever. I can only hope one day I can have a similar experience.

    And I just need to add a word of congratulations to your friends for the awesome signs too! ;)

    Reply
  25. Jess

    You KILLED it out there yesterday! You really had a great training season. You felt great at the end and I love how you were able to pick up the pace and shatter your time!

    btw, I can’t believe how close Bart was to predicting your time. Please say you’ll run this race again next year with me?!

    Reply
    1. Theodora Post author

      Like with you with you or just also run this race? I ain’t fast like you, so I hope you just mean “also run this race.” I had previously been thinking of doing Marine Corps, but doing NYC again is sounding pretty damn good.

      Reply
  26. Dana @ the Big Fat Skinny

    I’ve never read your blog before, but happened upon it by googling “NYC Marathon Recap”. I’m so glad I did. I love to read a good race recap, and yours was no exception. Congratulations on running the most important marathon out there and beating your PB!! You should be super proud of yourself – sounds like you had a great time AND you did well!!

    Reply
  27. Lauren

    Congratulations! I was stalking your pace on the Internets like a creeper and was totally amazed at your even pace! You rock!

    P.S. I love the your friends’ signs! Pain and Fatigues are too cute. :)

    Reply
  28. Stephanie @ Food and Fitness 4 Real

    Wow! I loved reading every word of this post, you were so enthusiastic and excited the entire time. I have always felt like running a marathon should be a life goal if you are a runner, but I have always dreaded the thought of it. Your post made me rethink the possibility of running a marathon in the future. Way to go for kicking butt on your pace and crushing your previous marathon time. CONGRATULATIONS!

    Reply
  29. natalie

    Congratulations on your accomplishment! Your recap brought me to tears. You are so inspiring! I hope you are very proud of yourself, because you should be! I also hope you got to have a beer and celebrate with your friends and family!

    Reply
  30. Pet

    This is amazing! Congratulations on finishing and finishing with such an awesome time. Reading this made me tear up and really want to run NY one day. Well done!

    Hope you did end up getting that beer.

    Reply
  31. AliCat

    You are an absolute inspiration. It’s been a privilege to follow your training towards this amazing achievement through your blog. Congratulations!

    Reply
  32. Evan

    Once again, congratulations! Great job keeping your pace. I saw online that you and Tina were running together; how good to have support through the whole thing and lend support to a friend.

    Reply
  33. Erica Sara

    Congrats on a killer race T!!! I love that you stayed with Tina when she needed you most- it shows the kind of woman, runner & marathoner that you are. Yay you!!!

    Reply
  34. Jessica

    Amazing recap, and CONGRATULATIONS!!! I really wish I was next to you on the Queensboro because I could have used a story to distract myself from that monotony and steady incline of a hill. Enjoy the glee – such a great achievement!

    Reply
  35. Gillian

    You wrote such a great race recap, it’s like I was there. You’re an inspiration for me and give me hope for my first marathon next spring. Well done!

    Reply
  36. Colleen

    What a great race – thanks for sharing the day with us – such an inspiration! I have run NYC 3 times and your post makes me want to get my act together and do it again!

    Congratulations

    Reply
  37. cindylu

    Congrats on killing it out there yesterday. Hope the recovery is a smooth one and you’re back to smashing your current PRs.

    (Also, wanted to thank you for mentioning Marc. I’ve recently hired him since what I was doing on my own worked for a bit, but not for my second marathon.)

    Reply
  38. Lydia

    Look at you!?!?! This was such a great recap. I smiled and laughed and even teared up a bit while reading it. Congratulations on your awesome time. Thank you for sharing it with us.

    Reply
  39. Stephanie

    We were at our house upstate this weekend, so I couldn’t spectate at my usual spot near the (evil) Pulaski. But I added you as one of the people I was tracking using the online app. In the last mile when your little marker started to surge ahead, I was literally screaming at the computer screen, “Finish under 4:20! Finish under 4:20!” Congratulations on training really hard and really smart and making those bridges your bitches.

    Reply
  40. Bobbi McCormick

    Loved LOVED the recap!!!!! You brought tears to my eyes girly! I wish I could have ran it this year, but after reading your post I felt like I got a great piece of it! You rock! LOOK OUT KARA!!!

    Reply
  41. Katie

    CONGRATS on an awesome race Theodora!!
    I’m running my first marathon on Saturday…
    could you tell me how those pace strips work???! I’m dying to know!!
    Thanks!!

    Reply
    1. Theodora Post author

      @Katie: 1. Good luck on your marathon! 2. The pace strips show what time you need to be at to hit your goal time. For example, I had to hit mile 25 at 4:07:54 in order to finish under 4:20. And you go by a watch, not the time clock. Hope that helps!

      Reply
  42. Caitlin

    You are amazing! I am so glad I got to see you – would love to have given you a hug too but you were too busy KILLING it! :) I can’t wait to celebrate with you soon and hear all about it again, in person. I’d love to see a follow up post on how you think your training was different and what you think made the biggest difference from this year to last – that PR is absolutely amazing, and you are inspiring. xoxo

    Reply
  43. Julia

    Just came across your blog via twitter and just wanted to congratulate you on an awesome run! I ran it last year…great city, great course, and great people!

    Reply
  44. Liz (Little Bitty Bakes)

    Niiiice, way to get in under 4:20 – for some reason I had thought you ran a 4:20!! 4:19 is way better. ;) And I love that you painted your nails orange and blue – I almost did the same! Congrats again – sounds like you’re going to need to up your goal for the next one – sub 4?

    Reply
  45. Heather

    GREAT GREAT RECAP!!!! Way to go! Girl, you are a beast.
    I delayed my fam from getting to the airport b/c I was too concerned with painting my nails before we left. Lol.

    Reply
  46. Camels & Chocolate

    I’m just catching up on four months worth of blog reading since I couldn’t log on from the ship and ZOMG!!!!! This is so amazing! You are a Speedy McSpeedster! I want to do my next marathon in 4:15 (that was the goal when I had originally signed up to run Chicago this fall), but now I’m contemplating running Country Music Marathon in April and can’t figure out if that’s a bad idea for two reasons: 1) I haven’t run since July(!!!) and 2) it’s SUPER hilly. Am I shooting myself in the foot for a) wanting to set a PR after not working out for so long and b) doing so on a not-so-flat course? That’s the current debate =)
    Camels & Chocolate recently posted..In 2011…

    Reply
  47. wheel horse

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  48. Kristina @ Love and Zest

    HI! 4 things.
    1. The double caffeine Gu thing happened to me during my last marathon, upset stomach..ick.
    2. I always tell myself “I can do anything for XX more minutes”! What a great motivator, and something that I learned that helps me too :)
    3. Your post really encouraged me, especially your time improvement and finish. How did you shave 40 minutes off? Did you train differently?
    4. I really want to run NYC 2012. Would you run it again?

    Reply

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