3

2017 Reykjavik Half Marathon – 1:40:01

I’m still working on a series of blog posts about my recent trip to Europe, but I wanted to do a separate race recap for the Reykjavik half marathon, soooooo here we go!

This race entered my world when I was planning my Europe trip and it fell within the dates I was traveling. I knew I wanted to do a half marathon while abroad, but wasn’t sure which city I’d end up doing it in. In the end, it came down to Reykjavik or Berlin. Since I hope to eventually get into the Berlin Marathon lottery, I figured I should opt for a city with fewer chances for me to race in.

Somehow, this was also my first ever international race which added a nice extra bit of excitement.

Pre-race

The race started Saturday morning at 8:40am and I landed in Iceland at nearly midnight on Thursday night. By the time I got to my Airbnb and to bed, it was just about 2am. This was on top of having been traveling for a week and a half at this point and logging between 15-25 miles on my feet every day between running and sightseeing. My legs were going to be exhausted and there wasn’t anything I could do about it, but I knew what I was getting myself into when I registered for the race.

After doing a couple of stops on my sightseeing list for Reykjavik city on Friday, I made my way over to the race expo. The expo was like pretty much any other race expo; a lot of people and a bunch of brands giving out the same kind of stuff as any other expo. The only difference was it was mostly different brands than I’m used to.

I got my bib and timing chip (yes, a separate timing chip to tie on your shoe), grabbed my shirt, and then did a lap around. I took a bunch of the beverage samples and then made my way for the exit. I’m not a big race expo person. I like to do a lap and see what’s there, but I don’t typically buy things or like to stay long.

The timing chip was one of the plastic reusable ones you tie onto you shoe like we used to use in the US before B-tags became the standard.

I threw my stuff in my backpack and then continued with my sightseeing. I also had booked a beer tasting for that night. 🙃 I wanted to do it after the race, rather than the night before, but the scheduling didn’t really work out with some of the other things I wanted to do. So, yeah, I did a đŸș tasting the night before.

The tasting was at ÖlgerĂ°in Egils SkallagrĂ­msson, Iceland’s oldest brewery. I expected it to be like normal tastings where you get little samples of a few beers and that’s it. No, this was different. As soon as you walk in, they hand you a pint and that glass is never empty, they just keep refilling it every time you get to the bottom. And then you get to try a ton of their other beers. This was the most beer I’ve ever had on a “beer tasting” / “brewery tour” before. It was good, but not ideal the night before a half marathon

After the tasting, I got a couple of Iceland’s famous hot dogs from BĂŠjarins Beztu Pylsu and hit the bed. I didn’t even set anything out before going to bed. I just crashed.

In the morning, I woke up, threw on my running clothes and made for the door as quickly as possible. I didn’t have to worry about not setting out my clothes the night before because I really didn’t have a lot of options with me.

I had 17 miles on my schedule for the day so I did an easy 4-mile warmup along the water and part of the course and then ended right at the start.

The race

The race started right on time and without a lot of fanfare. The 10k, half marathon, and marathon all started at the same time which made for some crowding, but it wasn’t too bad. There were people standing on the corrals holding up pace signs, but they were in minutes/kilometers and none of the Americans knew how to translate that. Luckily, I have an app on my phone that does all kinds of pace related calculations so it was easy for me to find where to be.

There was no national anthem before the race which made the start all the more unassuming for those of us used to it. They frequently gave warnings for how much time was left, but when the start gun went off, there was no immediate countdown or anything. Not that it matters for anyone not right in the front.

I had lined up to run around a 1:50 finish. I knew I had tired legs and I’d be doing a glacier hike the next day so I didn’t want to push myself. The start was crowded, but I stayed with the pacers for about a mile.

Then, I got antsy.

My legs wanted to gooooooooooo. I started weaving my way up through the crowd. My first mile was an 8:25, but it was my only one over 8 minutes. I was surprised how much my legs were wanting to go, I was feeling good.

Through the first few miles, I just tried not to get too ahead of myself and to enjoy the scenery of such a beautiful city. For the most part, each mile was quicker than the last, but still comfortable.

The weather was cool, about 47Âș, and sunny with a light breeze, great running weather. I was sweating, but not dripping. I know my body well enough to know I didn’t need to take any water during the race under those conditions. So, I didn’t bother with any of the stops.

The course was pretty flat until the final third of the race. By this point, I had let my body go with whatever pace felt right and I started dropping into the 7:30s for the middle third. By the last third, I was even faster. I was surprised I had it in me, but I went with it.

The hills in the last third were of no concern for my legs. If anything, I sped up on them. Mile 11 was a 7:15 and then 12 and 13 dropped into the 6:50s. I hadn’t run miles that fast in…I don’t even know. That’s nearly PR 5k for me these days, but these miles felt great on my legs. I wasn’t even breathing hard until the final 2/3 of a mile.

From my run the day before and my warm up, I had a pretty good idea of the course in second half so I was able to mentally keep my game on for them and know what was coming up.

As we got to the final few turns, I was finally feeling it. I knew 6:50s weren’t really a sustainable pace for me late in a half marathon, but I did know my legs would just about be able to outlast the course so decided to hang on instead of easing back off a little.

Finally, I came around the final turn and saw the finish. I out-kicked a woman on my left and then a man just in front of her saw me coming and kicked much harder than I had left in me. I cruised across the finish line at 1:40:01. Very happy with my time, but annoyed I didn’t sneak in under 1:40. Still, this was only 21 seconds slower than my PR and it was sort of…easy? I can’t complain!

Post race

I grabbed my medal and smiled at my first international medal. It was a small and unassuming medal, which I actually like. I don’t need big giant medals. I grabbed some Powerade and water and then looked for food and heat sheets. There were neither. This was a bit surprising to me. By now, the temperature was still only 54Âș so heat sheets were necessary, but there were non. Boo! There was also no food to be had which seemed to be not a good idea considering there was also a marathon running as well. But, the finish is down a main street in downtown Reykjavik so it was easy to pop into a place and get some food.

I love this little medal for the Reykjavik Half Marathon! I'm a fan of smaller medals.

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My fresh danish was probably better than anything they would have given out anyway.

I didn’t hang around long because I needed to go shower, rent a car, and get on with my day. I had booked time at the Secret Lagoon, one of Iceland’s hot springs. It was just the thing for after 17 total miles of running!

All-in-all, I really enjoyed this race! It was fun and the city is beautiful. I’m hoping to go back for the marathon some time in the next few years.

2

2017 Grandma’s Marathon – 3:38:55

Two years ago, Grandma’s Marathon, a point-to-point race along Lake Superior ending in Duluth, MN was a goal race for me. I worked my ass off in training and was feeling confident for a good race. Then three weeks before the race, everything started to fall apart. Long story short, I did not end up running race
despite going out there to cheer anyway.

This year, Grandma’s Marathon again became a goal race for me. I put together a training plan I was very excited about that included many half marathons incorporated into my long runs. Unfortunately, little went according to plan. I still ran five half marathons, three 10ks, and a 5-mile race, but I spent much of the last three months dealing with a really frustrating hip injury. Thanks to that injury, I ended up with hardly any training—as seen below in those screenshots that are sized way too small to actually read đŸ€·â€â™€ïž.

I knew going into the weekend I should have the ability to get to the finish line. I expected it to be a shitshow, but this isn’t my first rodeo and I’ve been unprepared for marathons before—hello, almost every time I run Goofy/Dopey Challenge.

Pre-race

Grandma’s is a Saturday race so I flew out on Thursday to give myself a little time to not rush before the race. I flew into Minneapolis-St Paul which left me a two and a half hour drive to get to Duluth. Everything for my travel was entirely uneventful and I showed up at the hotel with plenty of time to check in, relax for a bit, and then walk over to the expo. The expo was pretty dead when I got there and I was able to get my stuff right away, do a quick lap, and get out.

Unfortunately, I’m two for two at crying at the Grandma’s expo now. Two years ago, I was crying over my DNS, this year I was crying over being laid off literally the day before. Oh well, shit happens. I’m fine (for real).

Amelia Gapin at Grandma's Marathon race expo

Ready? Ready.

Friday was an easy chill day. I hung out at a coffee shop for a bit to get some stuff done, walked around downtown and the finish area, did a shakeout run with my friend Sophie, watched Kara Goucher speak, and then grabbed dinner with my friend Kimmie. It was a nice day and just what I needed to get my spirits back up and accept my layoff. I spent most of the day with a big smile on my face.

There is stuff like this all over the city.

I did what I could to fix this photo, but the light was really hard to work with.

Race morning

Since Sophie’s hotel was still back in Minneapolis, I offered to let her crash in my room the night before. We woke up around 5am, threw our clothes on, and walked over to the buses to the start. We had hoped to make the train, but it seemed as though we ended up being a few minutes too late for that so we hopped on one of the school buses.

The ride over was relaxed and Sophie got to experience pre-marathon Amelia who doesn’t like marathons. Like, let me tell you, in the week before marathons leading right up to the starting gun, I hate the marathon. Hate it. Hate it. Hate it. And I’m miserable to be around because all I do is complain about it.

Flat Amy.

We got to the starting area very early. The temperature was cool, but with some humidity. At points, there were sprinkles, but not much. The forecast called for rain around noon, but clear skies during most of the race.

Anyway, after hitting the porta-potties and checking our bags, we split up. Sophie was going for a BQ so she seeded herself a bit ahead of where I did since I was planning on taking it nice and easy. I was surprised the start corral was entirely self-seeded. It’s not a massive race, but it’s still 8,700 runners. I expected there to be some sort of predefined corrals. For the most part, everyone seeded themselves according to the pacers in the corrals. I lined up right next to the 3:45 pacers. I had planned to run a 3:50, but there was no pacer that and I was confident I could hang at 3:45 even without much training. But as the corrals filled and we got walked up, I ended up quite a bit in front of the pacers before the race started. Honestly, I don’t know why I even bother. I haven’t actually run with a pace group for a marathon in nearly four years.

The wait in the corral seemed like it was ages and I was antsy to get the shitshow on the road. Eventually, with little fanfare, we were off!

Miles 0-13.1

I didn’t have a solid race plan other than to just keep it steady and easy early on. I started off extra slow trying to let the 3:45 pace group catch up to me. It took a while, but they finally did
only to have me drop them again pretty quickly after that. As I fell into my natural rhythm, I noticed I was running quite a bit faster than planned, but my effort was really easy. Because I run by effort, I trusted the feel over any numbers. Though, I had my watch switched to manual lapping so my mile splits were exact to the mile markers instead of whatever GPS approximation I was going to get from my Garmin. This at least allowed me to keep a read on what my feel was translating to. I only ever check my watch on the mile, never in between.

Even though my effort was very low, my legs didn’t feel great. It wasn’t a feeling of them being worked, but more just them not wanting to be running at all. I know my body well enough to know not to worry about that feeling so I did my best to ignore it. However, I did check in on my heart rate regularly. Even though I was running by feel, I wanted that information available to me. Through the first half of the race, I was 147-151 which is nice and low.

While it was cool before the race, the sun was now out and it was warming up quickly. The temperature was much higher than I’d prefer for a marathon. When I could, I favored the left side of the road which had off-and-on shade, only breaking from that to hit the tangents around right turns. The race has very few turns, but there are a lot of curves in the road.

Crowd support was rather light. There would be some groups of people cheering when we’d pass by a lodge or something on the side of the road, but mostly it was a very quiet first half.

The few times I had looked at the elevation chart, it looked like it was relatively flat race with a 100ft net downhill. I guess I didn’t look close enough at the scale, though, because I was surprised to find the course is pretty much rolling hills the entire time. There aren’t really any big climbs, but you’re rarely running flat. Some runners enjoy this variation, but most of my miles are logged on very flat routes so I’m not in the kind of hill shape I used to be. I was glad I had run the hills in Central Park the last three weekends before the race. At least that was something.

Anyway, I kept my effort very even though the first half of the race, but if you look at my splits, there is a lot variation from the hills. I didn’t increase or decrease my effort while going up or down, I just kept doing what I was doing.

As we approached the halfway mark, there were more and more people cheering. Because there is also a half marathon that starts at the 13.1 point, the set up was still there and I guess people hung around to cheer. This was a nice little boost.

I crossed the half at 1:49:42.

What is going on with these splits.

Miles 13.1 to 26.2

Checking in with my body at the halfway point, I was liking how I was feeling. I felt like I should have a negative split in the cards if I kept up what I was doing. However, it was getting quite warm. I had been sweating pretty heavily for most of the race already and while I was taking water at most stops, I wasn’t getting that much down.

The next few miles ticked off like nothing while I kept things steady. My heart rate eventually started creeping into the upper 150s, but nothing I was worried about.

By mile 17, I was in the best of moods. I had a big smile on my face and just couldn’t stop thinking about how much I love the marathon. This kept up through most of mile 19. That mile was a pretty big downhill and my second fastest mile of the race. By this point I had stopped worrying too much about my effort level and let it creep up a little when it felt right.

The reason why I say “most of mile 19” up there is because things changed pretty quickly for me. Before I even got to the mile marker, I went from “aw haww” to “oooohhhhh noooooo.” Things started feeling harder and I was no longer having such an easy time. I was still okay, but I knew it wouldn’t be a fun seven miles to the finish. My biggest problem was the dehydration must have started setting in because I started getting nauseous. I would end up dealing with this nausea to different degrees for the remainder of the race.

The one plus side here, though, was that we had started to make it into town and there were people out cheering and playing music. As I crossed the 20th mile marker, I knew I was good to make it to the finish, but that I wouldn’t be enjoying the last 10k. I just said to myself “it’s basically just one lap around Central Park…without Harlem Hill.”

Miles 21 and 22 felt fooooorever long. I was still keeping a pretty reasonable pace, but I felt like I was going slower. The 22nd mile marker was at the base of basically the last climb of any decent length. When I saw the hill coming, I knew I was going to be struggling to get up it so, as soon as I hit it, I switched into a strong arm swing to power myself up. I think it was about 80% my arms that got me up there. That and seeing Kimmie cheering and screaming in my face.

Crossing the 23rd mile marker, I slightly lied to myself and said “okay, just a 5k to go.” I didn’t worry too much about that other .1. We were starting to get closer to downtown Duluth, where I had cheered two years ago. This was the part I knew I needed to get to. I knew the energy there would bring me in. By now, I was starting to actually slow down. My legs were tired and my nausea was
not great. There were a couple points where I thought I was going to have to stop and puke. I tried not to think about it too much.

Amelia Gapin running in downtown Duluth during Grandma's Marathon.

In downtown!

As we made our way down Superior in downtown, I stuck as far left as I could to stay in what remaining shade I could find. The crowd was very loud and the buildings helped to really echo the sound. It was extremely encouraging. When I finally saw the 25th marker coming up, I knew I was getting close. I knew didn’t have to dig in for much longer.

I also knew at that marker, there was a left turn and the last tiny hill up an overpass. Once we were over that, it was flat to the finish. I had nothing left to push with because of my nausea, but I also knew my time was good and I was probably going to pull off a negative split and a sub-3:40 finish. I was pretty stoked about that, but more stoked by the idea of being done.

We hooked around the convention center and along the harbor and finally made our last turn. As I saw the finish line come into view, I was so happy to be there, but it felt so far away.

After what felt like years, I finally crossed the finish looking better than I felt, at least according to my finish video.

A 3:38:55 was good enough for a negative split and my second fastest marathon time since transitioning.

This half was a least a little more even…ish.

My legs felt completely trashed and all I wanted was to drink everything in sight. I think I looked like I had fallen in a pool, I was so sweaty. I walked around to try to keep my legs moving and grabbed my free beer. I ended up gulping it down pretty quickly so I could start walking back to the hotel. I made sure to walk along the course as much as possible so I could cheer while walking. As I walked more, my legs started to loosen back up a bit at least.

Final thoughts

I’m really glad to have actually run the race after my DNS two years ago. I ran a pretty solid race even though I was struggling the last few miles. I think this makes five straight marathons I’ve negative split which is pretty rad. Though, that said, my splits this race were super duper erratic. I don’t think I’ve ever had such erratic splits during a race before
or even in a training run. I tend to be steady with an overall negative trend. In this race, I was all over the place, up and down. It’s not a thing I was worrying much about during the race or am worried about now. I know my effort was pretty even through the first 18-19 miles and the variations were due to the hills each mile. It’s just strange.

2017 Grandma's Marathon medal

Nice medal!

I really like Duluth as a city. It’s charming and quaint and everyone is very friendly. It feels like it could be the 8th town in Nightmare Before Christmas, Marathon Town. It feels like this is something they’re preparing for all year and the people really love the event. The race is well organized while maintaining a very personal and small-town feel. It’s a good vibe. The crowd support for the first 3/4 of the race is light, but there was plenty later on when it mattered.

I’m happy to have marathon number 11 in the books and I’m grateful to have had a decent race considering the last three months. And that brings me to my hip… Notice how I didn’t mention it during the race? Yeah, it wasn’t a thing, really. I’d say there were maybe five to ten total minutes added up through the race when I even felt it at all. I was staying very focused on my breathing and that was doing the trick. Those little bits when I did feel something, and we’re talking like a 1 out of 10, were when I had stopped breathing properly.

2

2017 Airbnb Brooklyn Half Marathon – 1:47:01

If you’ve been following along on this blog for a while or follow me on Twitter, you know my hip has been all janked up for a little while now. So you might be surprised to see a half marathon recap coming at ya, but here we are.

This was my fifth half marathon this spring and sixth (sorta…depends on if you count the whole runDisney debacle) for the year. It was also, somehow, my first New York Road Runners race even though I’ve lived in Jersey City for two and a half years and have been an NYRR member for over a year. And still, to this day, I haven’t run a race in Manhattan. Of course, this is only true because I DNSed the Shape Women’s Half a few weeks ago because of the very same hip mentioned above.

Pre-race hip stuff

So yeah, let’s talk about my hip for a second and get that out of the way. It’s been bothering me for about two months now and, in the last few weeks, has caused me to barely run at all. I’ve been going to my normal physical therapist at Finish Line PT and started also going to a pelvic floor physical therapist, my friend Abby over at Spear. It’s been helping and I think we’ve started making progress between the breathing and strengthening stuff I’ve been doing at Finish Line and the soft tissue sorcery that Abby has been doing. The second half of last week was starting to feel promising that I was going in the right direction.

I also got an MRI last week which showed absolutely nothing. My orthopedist wasn’t able to find anything diagnosable to worry about which is good because at least there’s no real medical problem (I guess?), but frustrating because I don’t have a diagnosis to work from for treatment. Basically, his advice is to continue doing what I’m doing with physical therapy and keep my running mileage a bit lower. He also said I could run this race if I wanted to.

That all left me super on the fence about the race, but I figured I’d start it and see what happens with the plan to just drop out and hop on the subway to meet Danielle at the finish line if I was in pain.

Expo stuff

The expo for the race was much less an expo and much more a party. It was in Brooklyn Bridge Park, out where some of my Women’s Running photoshoot was. Danielle and I decided to meet up by City Hall on Thursday after work and walk over the Brooklyn Bridge to get there. Despite all the tourists, I think walking the Brooklyn Bridge is something everyone here should do at least once a year.

At the #airbnbbkhalf pre-party

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While there were tons of runners there, it wasn’t overly crowded at all and we were able to get our bibs right away. Unfortunately, they were out of pint glasses, but we probably don’t need any more pint glasses in our house anyway so whatevs.

We likely would have stayed a little longer, but the live music was SO DAMN LOUD. Or maybe we’re just too old now? I don’t know. Either way, it was too loud for our ears…and also we wanted dinner.

There’s my name on the sign thingy!

Race morning stuff

The race starts at 7am in Prospect Park in Brooklyn. If you’re like us and live in Jersey City, that’s tough. You gotta cross two rivers on a Saturday morning using two different subway systems that are both running annoying weekend schedules. But since our friend and neighbor Allison was heading to the race with us, we decided to be lazy and take a Lyft. Still, we had to get up at 4:30am and be out the door by 5:10am to get there with enough time to not worry.

We had the driver drop us off a few blocks away so we wouldn’t risk running into any road closures or traffic. After walking to the starting area, we immediately hit up bag check so Allison could drop off her bag (which had our stuff in it too) and then went through the security line. To our surprise, we didn’t have to wait for either, both were moving along quickly.

We hit some porta potties and then hid under some trees to avoid the cold drizzle. It wasn’t cold out, but the rain that was coming down was. Other than that, it was upper 50s and low humidity, so not bad.

Eventually, Danielle and I made our way to our corral and got in line for the porta potties again. This line might have been the worst part of the day. It was really long and snaking inside the corral—each corral had its own bank of porta potties. Because we were already in our corral, we didn’t have to worry that the start time was getting close while we were still in line.

Waiting.

The race

Unlike any other race I’ve been in, the corrals didn’t separate out the start of the race. Instead, they merely were used for seeding people and then the barriers between them were removed before the race even started. So you could have moved up anywhere you wanted after that. On one hand, this was nice because it kept things moving at the start and it was sort of like a smooth, but organized—albeit crowded—progression of things. On the other hand, it meant there was no escape from the crowding. The really odd thing about the start, though, is that it’s just around a 90Âș turn out of corrals.

While the corrals were pretty tightly packed, things broke up quickly after the starting line. There were a lot of people around, but plenty of space to still be able to run without being on top of someone. Though, that didn’t stop some douchedude from literally pushing me out of his way to get by.

Shortly after the start, we saw our friends Michele and Ashley go zooming by together. Michele was helping pace Ashley to a sub-1:40 finish (spoiler: Ashley finished with a 1:39:05!).

Danielle and I had planned to run the whole race together so we were mostly just trying to stick to our race plan of going nice and slow since we’ve both been dealing with all kinds of injury shit lately. That said, our 8:45-9:00 planned pace was nowhere to be found. Our first first miles were around 8:25 and we sped up from there.

The miles ticked by pretty quickly early on. Danielle and I just had fun and, before we knew it, we were at 5k and getting ready to actually run inside of Prospect Park instead of just outside of it.

The park was nice and scenic, but slightly hilly. Not even bad hills, but we don’t have any hills at all in Jersey City. I just tried to keep my effort even while going up or down. The water stop in the middle of the park was the only water I ended up taking the whole race—typically, I don’t take much water for non-marathon races. Of course, it went right up my nose.

While we were running much faster than we had planned to, things felt pretty good. I felt relaxed and comfortable. As we crossed the 10k mat, I remarked about that being the farthest I’d run in the month since the Star Wars Half. My legs didn’t seem phased by it, though. For me, the most important thing was focusing on my breathing like I had worked on in physical therapy. From the start, I had been consciously making sure I was breathing in deep with my diaphragm and exhaling fully (it’s the exhaling part that I’m particularly bad at). This seemed to be working well to keep my core engaged and offload the parts of my hip that’ve been bothering me. Through the 10k I had been 95% pain-free. When there was pain, it would be like a quick sorta sharpish thing that would come on and then I’d realize I’d stopped focusing on my breathing. After a few seconds of breathing properly again, the pain would go right away.

When we came out of the park at mile 7, Danielle said she thought the race was flying by. I agreed, but reminded her that we were just starting the less scenic part of the course that’s like a six mile straight shot down the highway.

However, to my surprise, the highway miles also ticked right off like nothing too! Somewhere around here, we passed Mary Wittenberg, former President/CEO of NYRR, and our friend Samantha, who was cheering.

The highway miles were very uneventful and it seemed like we had just turned onto the highway when we were approaching Coney Island. As we passed the 800M to go sign, I was feeling good and relaxed. My legs had plenty in the tank for miles still. Danielle’s IT band was starting to bother her, though, so we made no push to the finish.

With 400M to go, we had to all crowd in to go up a ramp to the boardwalk. It got a little tight, but it was manageable. And then once we got up on to the boardwalk, the finish line was in sight. Danielle and I cruised across at 1:47:01.

That damn guy’s head behind us!

Post race stuff

After crossing the finish line, we grabbed our medals and then walked for seemingly a million miles until there was water. When we finally got to the water tables, the were crowded and there were only half-filled cups of water. While it wasn’t super hot out, it was still warm enough that most people needed some hydration in their lives and those hard-to-get-to cups of water weren’t going to cut it. Then, like 20 feet past the tables with the cups, they were giving out the food bags which had Gatorade and bottles of water in them. It seemed unnecessary to have the cups of water when they could have just moved the food bags up like 20 feet instead. It would have been much smoother.

#AirbnbBKHalf done! Hip was mostly okay, can't complain.

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After grabbing feed food bags, we tried to take a quick photo in front of the old parachute drop, but some volunteer yelled at us to keep moving. WHATEVER DUDE!

After moving through a bit more, we saw Ashely and Michele again and found out about Ashley’s amazing finish time. Then we made our way over to the beer garden for some beers and to meet up with Danielle’s Gotham City Runners teammates.

Like a couple of fools, Danielle and I each ordered a liter of Flower Power IPA (7.5%) and guzzled them down at 9:30 in the morning on empty stomachs after a half marathon. We both were, uh, quite drunk by the time we left.

That’s not a 16oz cup, that’s a full liter!

Final thoughts

I really liked this race! It was fun and organized well for such a big race. And ending at Coney Island is really nice. If the weather wasn’t on-and-off drizzling, we could have hung out there much longer. I would definitely like to do it again!

I’m glad I was able to run. I was really unsure if I should or not. Less than a week before the race, I told Danielle I wasn’t going to run it because I thought it was going to be a bad idea. But it ended up being fine. My hip was okay through the race and then all day yesterday when we were out and about and walking for like a thousand miles. Like the kind of fine where I completely forgot about it.

2

2017 runDisney Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon – 2:07:40

Alright, moving on to the runDisney Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon from yesterday’s 10k recap

Pre-race crap

After spending the day walking around the parks post-10k, I was really struggling to get a good read on my hip. It would feel okay while walking, but then hurt a bit while sitting. I knew I’d want to take the half smart and be willing to walk if I had to. I had an invitation to run/walk the race with my friend Jen, but she said I’d probably lose my mind going at the pace she was planning. While I was pretty sure I was going to just do my own thing, I didn’t fully decide until I was getting walking to the corrals.

Anyway, backing up a little bit… I got in bed and asleep around 9:15 and woke up at 3:15, netting me around 6 hours of sleep—a bit better than for the 10k. I’d’ve loved to have stayed in bed longer, but I had a race to go do.

(Yes, double contraction back there. I’m a fan of multi-contractions!)

Darth Vader Flat Amy for tomorrow's #StarWarsHalf! First time ever running in anything close to a costume.

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I was excited to put on my Darth Vader costume. It was my first race costume ever and I had only thrown it together literally the night before we left for the trip and hadn’t actually put it on yet so I wasn’t 100% sure it was going to look good. I Amazon Primed a very cheap Darth Vader costume at the last minute and then cut out the belt and chest control panel and cut the cape off. I pinned the belt to my shorts and the control panel to my sports bra and threw the cape around my neck. The costume also came with a lightsaber so I had that as a prop too! After everything was put on and ready, I thought I looked pretty decent. Much better than I expected, to be honest!

If I was uncomfortable with my stomach in a sports bra for the 10k, I was triply uncomfortable for the half. I’d been, uh, backed up literally all week and was looking super bloated from it. Plus, đŸƒâ€â™€ïž + (đŸšœ - đŸ’©) = 😧. But it was either stick with the sports bra or ditch the costume altogether since I didn’t have a black tank top with me. I sucked it in up and just went with it. Whatever.

I did this again.

Not bad for a costume I put together the night before our trip! #StarWarsHalf

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When I got to the staging area, I checked my bag right away and went to the designated meetup spot. My friend Jeff was already there, but Patrick was waiting in line for photos and…I don’t know where anyone else was. ÂŻ\_(ツ)_/ÂŻ Jeff and I chatted for a while to kill time before hitting up porta potties and heading to our respective corrals. While in line for the porta potties, I joked that it was the kind of humidity where you sweat enough that you can just pee your shorts while running if you have to and it doesn’t even matter. Jeff and the guy waiting behind us looked at me like I was the grossest person they’ve ever met, but HEY WHATEVER IT DOESN’T EVEN MATTER WHEN YOU’RE SO SWEATY YOU LOOKED LIKE FELL IN A POOL!

By the way, autocorrect changed that to “porta parties” which sounds like a totally different kinda thing.

But, yeah, anyway, it was humid as hell.

Since I didn’t have to sprint to make the corral before closing, I had plenty of time to just hang around and listen to Rudy and Carissa do their thing on stage. Though, the people checking bibs at the corral entrance gave me a hard time because my A corral letter was covered by my costume and they had to see it. My “I assure you, I’m in this corral” didn’t get me very far. I mean, I was bib 20,178 (Dark Side Challenge bibs started at 20,000), of course I was in the A corral! Oh well.

Eventually, the stormtroopers showed up again to send us off!


 

 

The race

My hip was a concern, but there wasn’t much I could do about it except take things easy and see what happened. I started off at a very easy effort and hit a 10:39 first mile including a photo stop with R2D2. My second mile got down closer to an 8:30 which is an easy effort for me, but I knew I should be going even slower than that and tried to slow myself a little. For mile three, I had to stop for a photo with some Ewoks so that gave my hip a minute to just chill.

Amelia with R2D2 at runDisney Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon

R2D2!

At this point, I was honestly surprised I was still wearing the cape. I figured I’d want to ditch it just after starting. It was that cheap costume material that just soaks up sweat like a sponge and sticks to you. And it was shaped to go over your shoulders and cover them, not just hang behind. Once I started running, I obviously got it off my shoulders and threw the whole thing behind me, but it didn’t want to stay, it kept swinging around to my right side. As much as I hated it, though, I liked having it for my photos so I just kept dealing with it. And, of course, I was also running with a lightsaber in my hand—and my phone in my other hand since an iPhone 7 Plus is too big to put in any of my running short pockets. The lightsaber was a real piece of junk. Like, accessory that came with a $25 costume kind of junk. It kept falling apart on me so I had to keep putting it back together while running over and over again. I think I had to pick up parts of it from the ground and reassemble it close to 15 times. It was the bane of my existence. I dreamed of finishing the race just so I could emphatically throw the cape and lightsaber in the trash.

Amelia with ewoks at runDisney Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon

A couple Ewoks!

Somewhere just after the Eworks, I ended up catching up to Jeff and started running with him for a bit. We chatted and I said I’d probably stick with him for a while, as that was a good pace for me to be running with ol’ hurty mcstupid hip. My hip had been starting to hurt, but slowing my running pace to 9:35ish seemed to help a lot really quickly. Jeff was super worried about the humidity so he wasn’t trying to go too fast either.

That humidity suuuuuucked. It was sticky and sweaty and swampy and gross. Being from New Jersey, humidity is a concept I’m very used to, but it hasn’t quite settled in yet this year so I wasn’t ready for it.

As we entered Animal Kingdom via the back of park, I took a moment to appreciate that this was the only time I’d be there this trip—I’m a huge Animal Kingdom fan, bee tee dubs. We quickly made our way around through Asia and DinoLand USA and I had some fun passing the photographers.

Really happy with how my #StarWarsHalf costume came out! #DarthAmy

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Coming out the back of Animal Kingdom there were some stormtroopers, tie fighter pilots, and other characters out. I stopped for photos with the stormtroopers and then took some selfies with the others. I was too sweaty to operate my phone, though, so it took a while to open the camera app. Jeff kept on going so I was back to pacing myself again.

Amelia with stormtroopers at runDisney Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon

My troops.

Amelia selfie with jawa at runDisney Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon

A selfie with some jawas.

Amelia at runDisney Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon

A selfie with some of my men.

Amelia selfie runDisney Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon

More of my men.

At this point, the sun still hadn’t really come up yet and I was trying to get as far as I could before it did. I knew it’d burn off some of the humidity, but I didn’t want to be dealing with the sun blasting on me on a day that was going to get up to 90Âș.

After Jeff and I split, my pace started creeping faster again and there was a big break in photo stops. By mile 5.5, my hip was starting to hurt again—really getting close to that 5 out of 10 threshold. At 6.5, I started thinking I’d need to walk soon, but I wanted to try to make it to 8 before I did. I just kept trucking. This section from 5.5 until 10 was the section between Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios. This included the trek down Osceola Parkway, similar to the marathon if you removed the Wide World of Sports part. This section is always my least favorite part of the marathon and it wasn’t much different for this race either. It’s just kinda boring.

Just as I was starting to think about switching to walking for a bit, I spotted Jeff up ahead again. I kept my pace so I’d catch him just a little before the 8th mile marker and then stuck with him again. The humidity was taking its toll on him, but we ran together for the rest of the race and chatted it up about all kinds of things. After running with Jeff for a little bit, my hip started feeling better. By mile 9, I think it was just about 100% pain free. I was thankful for this and knew it would be best to just lock it in around that pace.

My cape was still driving me nuts and my lightsaber was still falling apart. I considered ditching them, but I’d come so far already, I knew I needed to just stick it out.

Once we made the turn into Hollywood Studios, I knew it was runtime-funtime from there to the finish. I grabbed some photos coming down Sunset Boulevard and was all smiles while posing for photographer after photographer.

Amelia with stormtroopers at runDisney Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon

More of my troopers.

Coming out of Hollywood Studios, Jeff was starting to struggle. Being from Pittsburgh, this was not his weather at all. I tried to keep the conversation light and he kept doing some math for what his finish would be, wondering if it’d be under 2:10. I assured him he had plenty of time to work with to make that happen.

Amelia at runDisney Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon

Having a blast coming around Crescent Lake!

This time, instead of running on the Beach and Yacht Club side of Crescent Lake, we ran around the Boardwalk side while Jeff told me about the time our friend Lauren got yelled at for cheering too loudly during a race. Classic Lauren! I stopped for a few selfies with some characters and sprinted to catch back up to Jeff. We had been running in the 9:30-9:45 range so my legs were pretty fresh for bursting my way back up to him.

Whoever this guy is.

Amelia with tie fighter pilot at runDisney Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon

A selfie with one of my pilots.

I couldn’t remember what the course was from there and whether we’d be going the long way around the World Showcase in Epcot or not. I was trying to map it out in my head based on how much distance was left and was still a bit unsure. To my pleasant surprise, we did take the scenic route around the World Showcase. From here, I tried to be as encouraging as I could to Jeff and keep the pace steady. My hip was still feeling good so I was thankful for that.

Amelia in World Showcase at runDisney Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon

Coming around the World Showcase.

We hooked right into Futurewold, under Spaceship Earth, and then out the side of the park towards the parking lot. I fist-bumped a stormtrooper because I couldn’t high-five with my lightsaber in my hand and he accidentally lapped my Garmin. Hah!

Sadly, most of the photos cropped Jeff out so this is the only one I have of us running together.

As we approached the finish, I asked if he had a finish line jump in him like he did for the 5k and he sorta just groaned at me. I went for it, though, and leapt into the air for the finish.

Amelia leaping in the at the finish at runDisney Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon

So serious.

I finished in 2:07 and Jeff was 2:05, well under 2:10. He thanked me for keeping him on pace and said he’d have slowed a lot if he was running alone.

We grabbed some photos with the photographers and then went over to get some Dark Side photos. We waited in the line for Darth Vader and then moved over to Kylo Ren. When I got up to Kylo Ren, I looked at him and said “grandson!” He did not appreciate my humor.

My wonderful running parter for the day, Jeff!

My grandson #StarWarsHalf

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Amelia with Darth Vader at runDisney Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon

We’re practically twins.

After watching the awards, I walked over to the nearest trashcan and threw my lightsaber and cape right in it. I mean, like I really slammed it in there. I was so happy to be rid of them! Oof!

This race was a lot of fun and my first time running in a costume was interesting. I’ll never run with a cape again, that’s for sure. I don’t know how superheroes do it. Capes are the worst for running! I’ll also never do another prop I have to hold again. Other than that, my costume was great and not a problem at all.

runDisney Star Wars Dark Side Challenge Medals

The Dark Side Challenge Medal Collection.

Hanging around Epcot.

1

2017 runDisney Star Wars Dark Side 10k – 1:08:15

Star Wars! Disney! Running! YEAH!

I grew up a pretty big Star Wars fan so I’ve been wanting to do the runDisney Star Wars races since they first became a thing a couple years ago, but this was the first one to actually worked out for me. And, of course, I’m going to do the “challenge” if the have it! Besides, a 10k and half marathon on back-to-back days isn’t outside of the how I run on a normal weekend.

Pre-race stuff

If you recall my state of running post from last week, things haven’t exactly been great for me in the running department. In in the eight days before the weekend, I only had done a 3.5-miler and a 4-miler because of my hip. And I knew going into the weekend my hip was going to be questionable. The plan with my physical therapist was to do the race, but be willing to take a DNF if the pain got worse than a 5 out of 10.

Because we just did our annual week-long trip for Marathon Weekend in January and were also in Disney in October, we decided to just make it a quick weekend trip and stay at a value resort—Pop Century. We flew down Friday morning and came back Monday afternoon. Using points for our flights, the refund gift cards from the canceled Disney Half Marathon in January, and only doing a few days, the entire trip cost us less than $600 out of pocket for hotel, flight, food, and race fees.

Leaving the expo.

When we got down on Friday, we hopped right on a bus for the expo without wasting any time. To our surprise, the expo was empty. We’re used to it being a zoo, but we walked right in and got our bibs and shirts without waiting. We also were able to walk right into the official merchandise section, though, we didn’t buy anything. Even though the expo was pretty empty and not stressful at all, we didn’t stay long before going back to the resort and dropping our stuff off. We had Chefs de France for dinner in Epcot and eventually got back to the room to go to bed by 10:15. Much later than I normally go to bed for runDisney races, but I was less concerned about sleep for a 10k / half marathon challenge than I am when there’s also a 5k and marathon on top of that.

Flat Amy.

The 10k

I hopped rolled out of bed at 3:25am and quickly threw my pre-laid out running clothes on. Having overeaten at dinner the night before, I wasn’t too thrilled with how my stomach was looking in just a sports bra, but it was humid and I wasn’t in the mood to be messing around with no shirt.

Just me being silly after getting dressed.

The bus ride over was short and was at starting area, outside of Magic Kingdom, in no time and the security checkpoint was a breeze. The lines for photos with members of the Dark Side were ridiculously long so I didn’t even think about it. Unfortunately, I had trouble finding any of my friends that I was hoping to see so I yanked my shirt off, checked my bag, and walked over to the corral. It was really nice having the start and staging areas be together, without the 20 minute walk between the two like there is for Marathon Weekend.

I found a porta potty line that only had a few people in it and when I came out, my friend Alison was right there. We talked for like 30 seconds before I got a tweet from my friend Jeff saying they were closing the A corral. As soon as I saw that, I took off sprinting to the corral while yelling back to Alison to have a good race. I got into the corral with time to spare and then ended up meeting up with Patrick and Karen. Patrick and Karen were Garth Vader and Obi-Wayne Kenobi for an amazing Wayne’s World / Star Wars mashup. They both ran in wigs and jeans. Not jean shorts, jeans. Not running pants that looked like jeans, jeans. A hilariously bad idea.

I mean, they looked great, but…those jeans.

The pre-start stuff included some old Star Wars trailers, as well as the trailer for The Last Jedi. And, of course, the usual antics of Carissa and Rudy. And then the stormtroopers rolled in to remind us that Captain Phasma would be watching us and send us on our way.

runDisney Star Wars Dark Side 10k fireworks start

The standard runDisney fireworks.

I wanted to start off conservatively and being with Patrick and Karen—who were, again, in friggin’ jeans—helped with that. It seemed like they immediately regretted those jeans. Though, they are the kinds of people who stop at every photo stop in Disney, so I ended up ditching them at the first stop.

I was worried about my hip so I wanted to try to take it as easy as possible. My first mile was a 9:20, right about where I should have been. And then I hit my first photo stop in mile two. Overall, I hit about half of the photo stops through the race. For the most part, the lines weren’t ridiculous, but most weren’t super short either.

I actually don’t know the Star Wars Rebels characters names :/

My hip felt okay for the first couple of miles, but started to hurt after that. The pain level was getting to around a 3 or 4, maybe, but when I’d stop and wait for a photo, it’d stop hurting and feel fine for a couple minutes after I started running.

It was a little more than half the race before we finally got into a park, which might be why I don’t really remember enough of the first half of the race to actually write anything interesting here. It’s like my brain just stopped recording for a while.

Darth Maul is more popular than I expected, tbh.

A little past the 5k mark, we rounded into Hollywood Studios and ran by Fantasmic and Tower of Terror and then down Sunset and Hollywood Boulevards. I stopped for some stormtrooper photos because obviously. From here, we continued down the same way the marathon does and followed along the water to Crescent Lake, past Beach and Yacht Club to Epcot. I’m not sure what happened on the boardwalk, but I passed a woman who was on her hands and knees and being helped up by two men. She seemed real slow to get up and looked like she might have tripped pretty hard. That boardwalk area can always be a little treacherous. It’s slippery if it’s wet and the boards are easy to trip over.

Hollywood Studios stormtroopers

Standard Amelia.

Right before turned into the service entrance to the World Showcase, I stopped for a photo with Chewie. He was quite sweaty. Not his sweat. He was putting his arm around sweaty ass runners and it was a serious yuck situation.

He was SO gross from runner sweat!

Coming through the UK and Canada and then into Futureworld, I wanted the race to be over. It was just 10k, but I was worried about my hip for the half. It was still under my pain cutoff, but it wasn’t feeling good and it wasn’t promising for the half.

More stormtroopers.

What is this rebel doing with these guys here?

As I approached the finish line, there were stormtroopers on either side and I went for a high-five with the one on the left. I got nothing. Nothing at all. I hung my head in shame as I finished.

After the race, my hip felt pretty much fine. I waited for photos with Kylo Ren and Captain Phasma and ended up seeing Jeff in line for Kylo Ren before I hopped back on a bus to the resort.

I don’t know what I’m smiling about, but let’s just say I was laughing at this guy.

I’m learning the dark side of the Force from Kylo Ren.

Jeff and I with Captain Phasma!

I had a lot of fun with the 10k and couldn’t wait for more fun with the half. That recap is coming tomorrow!

The photographer made me hold this damn sign. I was not amused.

Magic Kingdom for the day!

5

Current state of running and mid marathon training check-in

Honestly, I could make this my shortest post of all time and just say “ugh.” That would be accurate and all-encompassing. Okay, maybe frustrating too, but mostly ugh. Sigh.

Things have kinda been garbage since Chicago Marathon. Not entirely garbage, but sorta like an overly full trash can that you keep stuffing down instead of emptying. Everything seems fine for a hot minute, but only for a minute.

As you may recall, I had some IT band related pain during taper for Chicago. For the most part, this was just some residual soreness from the Newport Half Marathon that I PRed three weeks before Chicago. Though, that’s what got me started going to physical therapy.

Chicago went great and the month after were great. I signed up for the Philly Half Marathon and Marathon, but going into those races my posterior tibial tendinitis flared up. This is something I’ve dealt with a few times in the past. In retrospect, I could have run the races, but I DNSed them to be safe. This was really frustrating as I had just signed up for them last minute, but with Dopey Challenge six weeks later, I made the smart decision.

My milage between Philly and Disney was, of course, lower than planned because of my foot, but Dopey itself went fantastically! That whole week was a great week of running. It started with PRing a 5k on New Year’s Day and then ended with a 3:43 marathon for finish out the Dopey Challenge. This was a big up!

Two weeks easy recovery after the marathon, but then things really didn’t get going again.

With that, I decided to get more serious with my spring racing plans. I decided for sure on Grandma’s Marathon being my goal race and then picked out five (which later became six) half marathons as well. I wanted one of them to be a goal race and the others to simply exist as a way to change up my marathon training.

Things were looking good there. My foot was still not 100%, but it was feeling like I was starting to get it back under control.

Then there was the stress fracture scare in my other foot. With the help of my physical therapist and a great podiatrist, we determined it was bursitis due to my big toe being out of alignment. I was on track for needing surgery if things didn’t change. So I changed my shoes. Upon the recommendation decree of my surgeon and backed up by my physical therapist, I hung up the New Balance 1600s that had been my go-to shoe for nearly five years and laced up some Saucony Kinvaras with some off-the-shelf insoles.

Almost immediately, my posterior tibial tendinitis was 100% gone. My bursitis started getting better, quickly. It took me some time to get used to the extra cushioning of the Kinvaras, but I found I was running well in them.

I was starting to feel optimistic again. And then the murders began…

Wait, no, sorry, there were no murders.

My quads started getting tight again, like they had back around Chicago. And glute/hip tendinitis on my right side that I always have to work on started flaring up again. Yes, I am a mess of tendinitis.

Yuck.

So back down my optimism went as I approached the first of my six spring half marathons. First up was Philly Love Run. I ended up having a solid race. I was supposed to go easy, but I didn’t. I ran 7 seconds slower than my PR and at less than race effort. Back up I went!

But only for a hot minute as the tightness in my quads moved towards my my hips. Ugh.

I should mention, this entire time, I’d been working with my physical therapist on core, hip, and glute strength and mobility. With the switch to the Kinvaras, we also started adding some focus to my form. I’ve always been a very quad dominant runner. To the point where I don’t think my glutes or hamstrings do anything. Even after PR marathons they aren’t sore at all. We wanted to change that. With the switch to the Kinvara and insoles, we looked at how my foot was striking the ground now vs in the 1600s. My PT suggested consciously trying to pronate slightly and make sure the inside of my foot is coming down all the way like it should—something it stopped doing after the shoe change. As soon as I started doing this, it was like a whole new ballgame! All of a sudden my hamstrings and glutes were in play! I could feel the difference while running.

The week after Philly was the Ladies First Half Marathon where I PRed, took first in my age group, and was the ninth woman overall. Not too shabby. This was, again, supposed to be an easier effort, but I ended up falling right into a race effort. Best of all, my hamstrings and glutes were engaging! Honestly, this is probably want propelled me to a new PR without a taper and without really being anywhere near peak fitness level.

That was great, but my hips were still tight and I took an extra rest day in the week following.

Enter half marathon number three. This was originally supposed to be my goal half, but I knew I couldn’t put a hard effort into half marathons three weeks in a row. I tucked back with a pace group that kept me at a moderate effort and stopped me from going out too fast.

Since that race, two weeks ago, my right hip has been less than stellar. I’ve been missing runs and getting depressed. The tightness has become pain on the inside of my hip—what feels like my psoas. My PT wants me to be very careful and take some rest.

Of course, this weekend, I have the runDisney Star Wars Dark Side Challenge with a 10k and a half marathon. My only run this week was four very slow miles on Monday. I’m a bit worried about things for this weekend. The plan agreed upon with my physical therapist was to run, but go slow and absolutely take a DNF if the pain gets about a 4-5 out of 10. I’ve never gone into a race quite with that mindset before. Luckily, Disney is never a place I race. I’m always just there for fun and photo ops.

This weekend also puts me eight weeks out from Grandma’s Marathon, halfway through my training. I feel like a mess. I feel like training has been a mess. I’ve been missing runs. I’ve been bouncing from one injury or near-injury to the next. I’m completely failing at staying healthy. Even when I do things right, I’m not avoiding injury. I foam roll almost every day. I do it so much now that I’ve developed complete Stockholm syndrome with my foam roller.

Not AWFUL, but too many rest days.

It’s utterly frustrating. Grandma’s was supposed to be a goal race. I wanted to go for a nice big PR. I haven’t shared my goal time with anyone, but I had a specific one in my head. At this point, that seems pretty unattainable. I know I could get up tomorrow and probably have enough fitness to run a sub-4:00 marathon. I’m not weak or entirely out of shape, but I’m flailing and struggling. Increasingly, it’s looking like that will become the plan for Grandma’s. Do the marathon, but not try for anywhere near a PR. Just get through without breaking myself more.

This fall, I have Chicago Marathon (for the third time) and then Dopey again in January, followed by Boston (!!!!!!!!!) in April. Boston is a year out, but it’s very possible to put myself on an injury track that lasts that long. My primary focus has to be not jeopardizing Boston and that’s something that I have to think about now.

So, yeah, this sucks. I really wanted a training cycle where I was pushing it hard. I wanted to werk. When I trained for Chicago last year, it was planned to be a bit of a lighter training cycle as I was coming back from surgery. I didn’t plan any speedwork. I just did what felt right each week. In the end, I had a massive PR and got my BQ with tons of time to spare. It was a dream come true. I wanted different this time, though, but it’s not going to happen this cycle. At no point during the first half of this cycle have I even felt healthy enough to try running hard. Even those half marathons were more of a getting-caught-up-in-the-moment thing than a planned hard effort.

That’s where my running is right now. In the last seven months, I’ve PRed the 5k, half marathon twice, and marathon. I’ve won my age group in a half marathon. I’ve BQed by over 11 minutes. I’ve run two marathons and five half marathons. I’ve run a 3:43 marathon the day after a half marathon the day after a 10k the day after a 5k. The point of re-hashing all of these things is to really drive home to myself how much I have accomplished through all of this. I can’t ignore any of this. But I’ve done so with so many ups and downs. So much stress. I want to know what I can do when I do stay healthy. I want to be healthy enough to 👏 put 👏 the 👏 work 👏 in. And, mostly, I want to stop writing blog posts every six months about how my training and running aren’t what I want them to be and that I’m battling to stay healthy enough to run.

😕

5

2017 Rutgers Unite Half Marathon – 1:44:06

Rutgers Unite Half Marathon post race

This thing was actually really hard to hold up

Three weeks, three half marathons.

This week was the CGI Racing Rutgers Unite Half Marathon. Unite has a special place in my heart. Not only does it run through my old alma mater and where I used to live for over a decade—and partially through a park I often did training runs in before moving to Jersey City—but its inaugural year was also my very first half marathon, back in 2010. Plus, as I mentioned two weeks ago, CGI puts on great races that are well-organized and bridge the gap between rinky-dinky local race and crowded big city race.

Back when I was putting together my spring racing and marathon training plans, this was supposed to be a goal race. I wanted to snag a PR here. However, after running nearly race effort two weeks ago and full race effort with a new PR last week, plans changed. My legs spent last week being mad at me so I “downgraded” this race to a fun training run instead.

I originally didn’t have any extra miles on the schedule for before this race, but after downgrading it, I decided I should work it into what a logical long run would have been for this week, 17 miles.

I woke up nice and early at 5am to get dressed and get my stuff together to drive down to New Brunswick. The drive was nice and quick and I showed up much earlier than planned. I took the extra time to in the warm car and relax for a bit. Eventually, it was time to get on out there. The race is a point-to-point race so I parked at the finish and planned to run four miles beforehand. I threw my running backpack on and set out to run to the start. Because of how the course winds and loops, parking by the finish still only gave me about two miles so I did a little loop in Johnson Park to rack up another two miles in the middle. I’ve done many miles in Johnson Park in my Central Jersey days, so this was a nice little throwback. Anyway, weather was fantastic for running. Low 40s, sunny, zero wind.

I ended up getting to the start nearly twenty minutes earlier than I originally planned, but I just took my time checking my bag and hitting a porta potty. Then I stood around in the sun looking for all the people I knew running. I saw exactly none of them.

When it was time to get into the corral, I lined up with 8:00 mile pacer. The plan was to stick with this group and keep myself in control. The last two weeks made it clear I’m incapable of doing that on my own right now. This would put me at a hair under a 1:45 finish.

The first few miles of the race were pretty uneventful. I stayed glued to the pace group and chatted it up with my fellow runners. We chatted some about Rutgers itself and some trivia and then about upcoming races and PRs and such. The course through Livingston Campus was a little different than the last time I had ran this race, but it wasn’t bad at all. I lived on Livingston for two years and spent nearly nine years of my life at the radio station there so it’s always nice to get extra time to check out how much it’s changed since I graduated. Anyway, these miles ticked off pretty quickly.

After heading back to Busch Campus, where the race had started, I was feeling a little tired. We had been running slightly under our target 8:00 pace, but still well under race effort for me. Mostly, my legs were still tired from the last few weeks of training. After crossing mile 7, I pulled just a little ahead of the pacer. Not much, I could still hear him talking and coaching, but enough that I couldn’t see him anymore. I kept trying to pull back enough to fall back in with the group, but struggled to not keep pulling slightly ahead. My body seemed to find a rhythm it liked and I was okay with letting it do it’s thing at this point.

Looping back around through Busch Campus breezed by and mile 9 showed up before I knew it. From there, the rest of the race was about 90% the same route I did my warmup miles on, just in the opposite direction. We made our way into Johnson Park for an out-and-back and then across the Landing Lane bridge over the Raritan River and into New Brunswick. Coming over the bridge, I reminisced about the hundreds of miles worth of long runs I did on the Delaware-Raritan Canal Tow Path, which I would often pick up at this exact point. Such blissful miles, those were!

I was happy to find that the steep hill in Buccleuch Park was no longer part of the course. This hill used to always hit me right in the legs. It’s not long, but it’s pretty steep and comes at you in the last mile or so of the race. I didn’t miss it! Our route in the park was little more than in and out before making our way down College Ave—the center of College Ave Campus—to the finish line.

I was still slightly ahead of the pacer who had continued running slightly fast all race. I crossed at 1:44:06 and he was only a few seconds behind me. So that was about a 7:56 pace which I think is reasonable for an 8:00 pacer, to be honest. Either way, I was pretty happy with myself for sticking to my plan for the day and taking it on the easier side of things and not going too fast. My legs really didn’t need another hard effort long run.

Overall, I really love this race. Now that I no longer live in the New Brunswick area, it was really nice to come back for a race through areas I spent so much time in. And I also just love what CGI does. They’re races are pretty fantastic.

With this race down, I’m halfway through my half marathons for the season. I’ve got this weekend off and then runDisney Star Wars Dark Side and the NYRR Shape Women’s Half Marathon on back to back weekends after that. Until then, training continues!

4

2017 NYCRUNS Ladies First Half Marathon – 1:39:40

Snagged a (small) new PR today in rough 20mph wind at the Ladies First Half Marathon. #runchat

A post shared by Amelia Gapin (@entirelyamelia) on

Half marathon number two of six this season! Yes, last week, I think I said it was five, but…well, now it’s six. Yeah, I added another one into the mix because I have problems. Many problems. Send help.

This weekend’s race was the NYCRUNS Ladies First Half Marathon along Shore Park in Brooklyn. Not only was this my first time running an NYCRUNS race, but it was also, somehow, the first time I’ve ever raced in NYC. Yes, I know. I’ve lived in Jersey City and worked in Manhattan for two and a half years and haven’t actually raced within NYC before this weekend. Weird.

This race, like many of the half marathons that NYCRUNS does is a simple course along the Hudson River made up of two out-and-backs. The first is a shorter one from the start at American Veterans Memorial Pier to just passed the Verrazano Bridge and back. And the second one goes out a bit further before turning around and heading back.

My morning was not as smooth as I would have liked. I spent Thursday and Friday participating in Hack Day at work. It’s a 24-hour hackathon we do a few times year where people get to work on whatever projects and wacky ideas they want. At the end, we present them for voting and a winner is crowned. Typically, there’s usually much junk food and drinking and very little sleep. I slept for 4.5 hours in a conference room Thursday night. I knew this was going to mess me up a bit for Saturday so I got in bed super early on Friday. We’re talking like 7:50pm. I think I ended up closing my eyes around 9pm.

I had a great plan for the morning that involved taking public transit to the start and running two miles before the race so I could get to my scheduled 15 miles for the day. Unfortunately, the PATH Train decided it wasn’t going to follow its own schedule and I had to take a Lyft to the start. Somehow, this resulted in me getting there a half hour earlier than planned, leaving me with time to kill and destroying my perfectly crafted plan. 🙄

The weather was chilly, in the upper 30s and windyyyyy. We’re talking 20mph winds that made it feel bitterly cold. The forecast had rain in it all week, but luckily that stopped before I left the house so at least I had that going for me. Adding rain into the mix would have suuuuucked a bag of old rusty dicks—look, I don’t know why they’re rusty, they just are, okay?

While waiting for registration to open up so I could get my bib and start de-layering for my warmup, I met up with fellow trans runner Allison who was running her very first race as Allison! Exciting! We chatted for a while as I watched the time tick down. Once there was about 25 minutes before the start, I quickly took off all my layers and threw them in my bag. Allison offered to take my bag over to bag check with hers so I was able to just take off from under the overpass where all the runners were sheltering themselves from the wind.

I did an easy mile out down the course to the first marker and turned around to come back. On the way out, the wind was at my back a booster strapped to me. Unfortunately, it was brutal headwind on the back. Still, I was able to get my two miles in and get warm. I got back to the start with about three minutes to go before race time. Basically perfect.

This race was supposed to be a big contrast from the LOVE Run the weekend before. It was really important for me to take this one slowly since I didn’t in Philly. Just a training run. My plan was to run around a 1:45.

It was a small race, 346 runners, so the start wasn’t wild at all. I was able to find some space to run with no issues. Like the week before, I started off faster than planned. Not as fast this time, but a 7:41 first mile. I thought I was running slower based on the feel, but it would turn out I was, in fact, not

From here, I kept things mostly steady until the first turnaround with 7:46 and 7:45 second and third miles. The small field spread out quickly and there just a handful of people out cheering so things were quiet. The only notable part here was a few puddles where the course narrowed a bit. They took up 80% of the path which meant squeezing in a little so there would be enough room for runners in both directions to get by without running through them—they were deep enough to cause some wet feet if you did go through them. But everyone on the course was extremely mindful and courteous. It seemed to be a non-issue overall. Women!

The back part of the first out-and-back sucked with the wind in our faces. Someone yelled out to the woman running behind me that she was in 22nd place overall. I didn’t realize I was so close to the front, but I really didn’t want that to get in my head.

Unfortunately, it got in my head.

Hitting the second turnaround, I was feeling okay. I felt better than I had in Philly, but I was giving roughly the same effort level. As soon as I looped around the cone for the turn, I was next to a man (there were really only a handful who ran the race at all) who seemed to be running about the same as me. We ran from this point, at roughly 4.75 miles, all the way to mile 9 right next to each other, basically stride for stride. We didn’t say a single word to each other, but there seemed to be an unspoken agreement of us pacing each other. While it worked in terms of keeping me steady, that “steady” was too fast. Through this section, I dropped into a race effort level. I ran 7:23, 7:19, 7, 14, and 7:12 to the last turnaround at mile 9. I really didn’t want to be running this pace for a training run, but I mostly felt good. At this point, it was in my head that this was a small field and I might be able to place in my age group. Dammit, this wasn’t supposed to happen.

I knew I was somewhere around 12, but wasn’t fully sure how many runners were ahead of me. After turning around and starting the final back leg of the race, a woman coming from the other direction yelled “you’re eleven” at me. This really motivated me (dammit). I had slightly dropped the guy I was running with and was on my own here. The wind sucked again, but I didn’t want to increase my effort. I tried to just keep it the same and let my pace suffer however it was going suffer. Miles ten and eleven only lost a few seconds each from where I had been.

I was getting tired in the last 5k. Really tired. The race effort level was catching up to me, especially since it wasn’t planned. Still, I tried to hold strong. I started catching up to the 9th and 10th place women, but didn’t think I’d have it in me to take them both. The tenth place woman seemed to be slowing down a lot and, even though she tried to pick it up to stay with me, I was able to pass her easily. At this point, I was right behind the woman in 9th, but I didn’t think I’d ever be able to get around her. I wasn’t about to fight for it either. If I was truly in 10th place now (assuming the woman who yelled “eleven” was correct), I was pretty happy with that. I didn’t know the ages of these women so I didn’t know if it’d work out for me to place in my age group, but 10th overall was a pretty rad idea!

Somewhere between miles 11 and 12, the 9th place woman started slow a bit. As I made a move to get around her, she started fighting to stay with me, but I was able to hold the pace more than she was. After I passed her, the man I was running with before appeared next to me again. He had briefly passed me somewhere in this section, but couldn’t stay ahead of me. As we came down the last couple of miles, I was ready for the race to be over. My legs were tired and the 20mph wind in my face was not helping at all.

After I got to the last mile, I started watching the pier getting closer and closer and focused on that finish line. I had slowed a bit, but was holding on with what I had. I knew was I was in PR territory now. I didn’t know exactly how much of a PR it’d be, but I knew that was now on the table too.

As we approached the 13th mile marker, I could start to make out the clock and I could see it turn 1:39:00. I knew this was going to be close, but I was running fast enough to just sneak it in under my 1:39:51 PR. I started to kick with what I had left and pulled ahead of the guy next to me and powered across the finish wanting to puke.

I crossed at 1:39:40, an 11-second PR! I was also the 9th woman overall and FIRST IN MY AGE GROUP! It was a small race, but this was the first time I’ve placed in my age group since I transitioned. I would say I was pretty psyched about this, but I didn’t actually know until I was already on my way home from the race. They weren’t announcing placings or doing awards at the race so I hadn’t stuck around for too long afterwards. I changed in a porta-potty and then started heading back to the subway to head home.

Oops.

I’m mad at myself for running a race effort when I wasn’t supposed to, but I’m pretty psyched at my performance. Even the smallest of PRs is still a PR. And while the wind helped me on the out parts, it was brutal on the backs. It probably evened out in the end. This ended up being a good race effort with decent strategy. I slowed in the last two miles, but I kept mostly even splits through the middle of the race and negative split. It feels like my race-day instincts are reasonably decent. This race ended up being a nice confidence boost on top of Philly the week before.

As for NYCRUNS races, I’m a fan! They’re small, which is a nice bonus around here. The medal and shirt for the race are both super cute and the race was only $50. Really can’t complain about that!

5

2017 Philly LOVE Run Half Marathon – 1:39:58

This was like three minutes after finishing. I put warm clothes on right quick!

The last three races I was supposed to run in Philly were all DNSed the morning of—the 2015 Broad Street Run and the 2016 Philadelphia Marathon and Half Marathon. But my Philly DNS streak is over! Yesterday, I did not DNS. I actually ran a race! It was my first race in Philly since the 2011 Philadelphia Marathon.

The Philly LOVE Run first of five half marathons I’m running this spring. Yes, I’m running five half marathons this spring. I’m currently training for Grandma’s Marathon and, for this training cycle, I decided to do something different for my long runs. I wanted to change things up a bit and, instead of doing all my long runs along my normal route, earn a few new race medals in the half marathon. This also goes along with my biggest running goal of 2017, running more races and focusing less on PRs.

Pre-race

We drove down to Philly on Saturday and went right to the expo at the Convention Center. CGI Racing expos aren’t particularly huge, but they are well-organized and stress-free. I had my bib, race shirt, and mug without waiting in a single line for anything. After a quick lap, we were out! We hung around the city for a couple hours and got drinks at BrĂŒ Craft & Wurst, a great craft beer and wurst bar we happened to stumble upon. After that, it was dinner and ice cream with our friend Hollie.

Got my bib!

Hollie was also nice enough to let us crash at her house the night before which helped make it a cheap weekend with few worries! Of course, Hollie is one of the silliest people I know and when I walked into the bedroom, there was a framed copy of my magazine staring at me. Awkward!

After some foam rolling, it was off to bed before 10pm.

Awkward!

I made Hollie take a picture with it and own it!

I got up at 5:15, got dressed, and hopped in the car. It was a 20 minute drive from Hollie’s to where we parked in Fairmount Park, about a mile from the start. I had 15 miles on the schedule for the day so I needed a couple warmup miles before the race. I gave a quick goodbye to the wife and took off for a mile down Ben Franklin Parkway and a mile back. I finished with just enough time to hit a porta-potty and sprint to my starting corral.

The forecast had some light rain in it for race morning, but luckily it held out and race start was 44Âș with 10mph winds and overcast. Great racing conditions!

The race

The race started on time with a nice bit of energy. I was in the first corral and lined up between the 1:30 and 1:35 pacers. I wasn’t trying for a big PR or anything so I knew I wasn’t going to be trying to hang with either of those pace groups, but I felt confident with my placement being reasonable enough anyway.

Through the first mile, I hung tight with most of the runners around me and clocked a 7:19 first mile. Oops! Definitely much faster than the 8:00 I was thinking I should have been running. I tried to pull back slightly, but mostly just went with it. If I had stuck with that pace, I’d have had a massive PR, but I knew that wasn’t realistic as I’m not exactly in my best shape right now.

As we were heading around City Hall, Twitter friend Megan came up from behind to introduce herself. She’s just a few months postpartum, but was looking to run a 1:39. We ran together for a bit with some light conversation before I dropped back. Again, this was really just a training run so I knew it was time to get things under control.

Unfortunately, mile 2 totally threw both my Garmin and Apple Watch off so I didn’t have accurate splits at all to compare to how my legs were feeling. It was back to doing mental math based on the clocks at each mile marker—which, luckily, each mile had—just like the old days!

After looping our way back onto the Parkway and to pass through the start/finish area, I started keeping my eyes open for the wife. She said she’d be around mile 4—we had discussed her being around The Oval, which is roughly mile 4.25. It was a good thing I was looking, though, because she was right at mile 4, ahead of where I was expecting her. We waved and I tossed my arm warmers at her.

Things were quiet for a while after that. We rounded The Oval and made our way down MLK Drive and into Fairmount Park where the crowds were mostly non-existent. I was feeling tired, definitely not how I wanted to be feeling to a training run, but it was very par for the course with my running lately. I wasn’t too worried about slowing down if I needed to, my most important thing was not wanting to leave myself too sore or tired to continue my training this week.

As we approached mile 7, I started watching for the lead runners to be coming down the back portion of the out and back. I was able to see the first three men before we veered off MLK Drive and up an onramp at mile 7.5. This is where things got tough, the next half mile was climbing uphill. It was not fun! We don’t really have hills in Jersey City so my hill game is way off these days. The climbing felt like forever, but things leveled off exactly at the 8th mile marker. A guy who had been running near me for a while told me I was helping motivate him and keep him steady here. I was glad to make myself useful!

After some quick looping, we came back down the same hills and I flew. My legs were tired, but gravity, yo. I got a side-stitch halfway down this section, but I was able to work it out pretty quickly.

Before I knew it, we were at the last turn around—mile 9.75ish—and I knew it was a straight shot back to the Art Museum and finish from there. I was feeling tired, but at this point I wanted to keep it steady to the finish. I had been mostly in the 7:30-7:45 range for my splits, except for hillsville mile 8. Coming down this last 5k, a man and woman whom I had passed in the downhill section and who were standing next to me in the corral passed me. I wanted to use them as my rabbit for the rest of the race, but I didn’t want to push myself more than I had been. I kept it close, but didn’t increase my effort level any. As I crossed mile 11, I started getting a little nauseous so I eased back a little for a couple minutes until that subsided.

Once I passed mile 12, I started using the Art Museum as my beacon for the finish. I was ready to be done, but I decided not to push or kick at all to the finish. It wasn’t a goal race and I wasn’t in it for a PR. I did some math at the mile marker and knew I’d be close to my PR, but I thought I was roughly 30 seconds off.

Looking strong at the end!

As I approached the last curve, I spotted the wife and cruised my way to the to the finish line. My mental math was close, but slightly off and it turned out I was only 7 seconds off my PR! If I had known I was that close in the last couple of miles, I would have kicked a little harder. Oh well! I’m not even the slightest bit disappointed, though. Again, this wasn’t a goal race and I was supposed to be running much slower. I was pretty happy.

After the finish, the woman (of the man and woman combo mentioned above) congratulated me and we chatted a little. She snagged a PR! I ended up finding her on Instagram later in the day and we chatted a bit. After talking to her, the guy from mile 8 came up to tell me he PRed and I was helping keep him going all race! In the past, I’ve always hated knowing people were using me to run faster or hold steady, but I was actually pretty psyched about this. I was really happy for him!

After grabbing my medal and some water, I met up with the wife and we walked over to the Whole Foods near the finish to grab some groceries and coffee. A man in the produce section commented on my medal and we talked about races in the city for a few minutes. And then the cashier also struck up a conversation with me about the race. SO MUCH LOVE IN PHILLY THIS WEEKEND!

Final thoughts

This was a great weekend in Philly and I was really happy with the race! CGI Racing puts on great races that are organized and fun without being massively huge and overwhelming.

My performance was much better than I expected. I’ve been in a bit of a running rut lately, but to get so close to my PR without putting in a race effort was a nice boost. I had a big burger and greasy fries the night before and didn’t do anything to prepare for this as a race. And I went at about 90-95% of a half marathon race effort. So it was nice to find out I still have a lot of the strength I’ve been struggling to find lately.

Lastly, I felt like this run helped me really start to hammer home some of what I’ve been working on in PT lately. I’m a very quad-dominant runner. My quads and calves do all the work and everything else is just along for the ride so I’ve been trying to work on engaging my glutes, hamstrings, and core while running. It seems I’m finally starting to get this as I could feel them working all race. And I could feel the work being spread from just my quads to the rest of my legs as well. I still have some work to do, but this felt like a major contributor to running so well without pushing my effort level.

4

A goodbye to my running shoe

One pair gets ushered out while a new one gets called up to action.

Arguably, the most important possessions for any runner are her running shoes. Sure, we all have our favorite shorts, bras, tanks tops, gels, gloves, etc. But nothing is more important than those slabs of rubber we strap to our feet. They take the biggest brunt of the intensity of our sport. They hit the pavement. The slosh through mud and puddles. They absorb forces equating to multiple times our body weight.

Not only are our shoes the workhorses of our sport, but they’re also our protectors. They protect our feet—which are weak and soft thanks to modern life—from the harshness of the ground, but they also protect us from ourselves. Our shoes can correct our strides and much of our form can be either corrected or hindered by them. Because of this, runners can struggle for years to find the right pair of shoes. Everyone has different needs and preferences. Some need stability and like to feel like they’re running on clouds. Others like less shoe, something that just gets out of the way.

Look at that beautiful fresh green!

When I started running, I didn’t think much about shoes. I just got a pair of Asics and ran in them everyday. Then I became intrigued by Vibram FiveFingers back when they were all the rage. I went through a few pairs of them. I could never take myself seriously in them, but I liked how they felt. I liked feeling the ground. Unfortunately, I developed posterior tibial tendonitis because of them after a couple of years. I tried a few different shoes after that, but returned them all for just not feeling right—shoutout to Road Runner Sports for their Test Run program that lets you try out shoes for up to 90 days and return them if you don’t like them.

That’s when I found the New Balance RC 1600. I was in love! 5.6oz of bliss. These shoes practically feel like nothing. On paper, the 8mm heel-toe drop is more than I’d prefer and they’re a little on the narrow side (I’ve got wide feet so I run in the men’s version), but something about how they felt while running was just perfect. It almost felt like nothing at all.

This was in the summer of 2012. Four and a half years ago. I’m on my 14th pair of them, currently. And I still have two unopened pairs in boxes. I’ve run over 5,000 miles in 1600s. Six of my ten marathons have been in 1600s.

Technically, the 1600 is a racing flat. It’s not meant to be worn day-in and day-out, but I love them for everything. I love them for races. I love them for speedwork and tempo runs. I love them on long runs. I’d wear them for everything except recovery runs.

If you go through every Flat Amy photo I’ve posted before a race, you’ll seem them there ready to go!

Flat Amy 2016 Chicago Marathon

Look them ready to go snag a BQ and PR in Chicago!

A line up of the RC 1600 v1.

Like most runners who find the perfect shoe, I’d buy multiple pairs at a time and lived in constant fear of New Balance discontinuing them. When the v1 got replaced with the v2, I panicked. But luckily, I loved the v2 just as much. Last year, when stock of the v2 dried up everywhere, I freaked and took to Twitter!

A couple of winters ago, I even took an older pair that was about to get retired and screwed a few screws in soles as makeshift Yaktrax for the ice. I wanted nothing else on my feet. Eventually, I was rotating three pairs of RC 1600s and a pair of RC 1400s—another New Balance shoe in the same family, with a bit more to them.

New Balance RC 1600 with screws in the soles

Doesn’t look like much, but it actually made a difference!

But, sadly, this post is a goodbye. This isn’t a happy ending.

A few weeks ago, I started to have some pain in my right foot out of nowhere. It started at the Women’s March and I feared it might be a stress fracture. Not that I know what a stress fracture feels like, but my physical therapist was very cautious when I first talked to her about it and I didn’t know what else it could be.

A trip to a podiatrist with experience dealing with athletes (and he’s an runner himself), ruled out the stress fracture to my relief. However, it wasn’t all good news. It turns out, my feet are a mess. My left foot’s arch collapses a bit which puts stress on my posterior tibial tendon and, in turn, causes the tendinitis I deal with. This I already knew. The surprise was my right foot. What a mess! My big toe is out of alignment. Currently, it’s at the high end of moderate. This is causing me to start to develop a bunion and arthritis. Fun! And the pain I’ve been having is bursitis, also caused by my toe being out of alignment. There’s a lot going on.

While none of this is an injury in the sense that I need to stop running to let it heal, it does mean I could be headed down the road to needing surgery. Blargh. However, my doctor’s treatment for this is rather simple. A change of shoes, some decent over-the-counter insoles, and some physical therapy exercises. This won’t realign my toe, but it could keep it from getting worse.

Cat curled up on running shoes

Even Hattie loves the RC 1600!

I was devastated when he told me I needed to change me shoe. He told me I need more cushioning and less of a heel-toe drop. I was about ready to storm out like a child throwing a tantrum, but…you know, I really don’t want to have to have surgery if I can avoid it.

My doctor’s recommendation? The Saucony Kinvara. Not quite as light as my 1600s, but at 7.7oz, light enough that I couldn’t really tell the difference. And a 4mm drop, which I’m more than okay with. But so much cushioning! At least compared to the 1600.

I left his office and ordered a pair of Kinvara 7s and insoles and waited for them to arrive. Before trying them on my own, I brought them to my next physical therapy appointment and we talked things over. My physical therapist had me put them on and try them out first on the AlterG treadmill and then on a regular treadmill. We wanted to make sure they were the right shoe and doing what we wanted them to do before I dove headfirst into wearing them. After about a mile on the treadmill with the Kinvara, I didn’t hate them. I was willing to give them a try.

I’ve now run nearly 20 miles in the Kinvara and, well, I guess they’re not the worst thing ever. They certainly don’t feel wrong. I can see them becoming my main shoe. I’m not happy about it, but it is what it is. I’ll learn to love them…I guess. 🙄

Up to the sky!

Still, leaving behind my 1600s feels like a breakup. To a non-runner this may sound absurd, but we runners get attached to our shoes. I look over at them sitting by the door and it’s like looking at an ex-girlfriend I’m not over yet. I want to text them in the middle of the night and tell them I miss them. I wonder if we can still be friends. My physical therapist says I can still work them in for speed work and races, but with the possibility of surgery on the line, I’m afraid.

I’ll miss you, 1600s. We had a really good run (pun intended) over the last four and a half years. We spent so much time together and ran thousands of miles. We’ve set new PRs. We’ve qualified for Boston. We’ve done Dopey Challenges. ❀

PS: Something I didn’t mention up above, but don’t want to gloss over is New Balance’s positive stance on Donald Trump. While they tried to walk it back a little, their statement seemed soft. Either you’re explicitly against hate and oppression or you implicitly support it. For this reason, I am actually very happy to move away from New Balance and this was something I was likely going to be looking into doing after my stockpile of 1600s ran dry. As long as I have a choice, I would prefer not to support any company that has made statements in support of Trump.