NYC Half-Marathon 2015 | Race Recap

The NYC half-marathon is one my favorite races of the year. Not only is the half-marathon my favorite distance, but this is my PR course from 2014! It’s relatively flat, draws a really decent crowd, and if you haven’t run straight through the middle of Time’s Square while traffic is completely blocked off, you haven’t lived! It is definitely at the top of my list for best NYC experiences. For both the 2014 and 2015 races, I entered the lottery to gain entrance. The entry fee is pretty steep as far as half-marathons go, but the tee-shirts are among the coolest I’ve received, and there is an insane amount of race-day support (water stops, PowerBar endurance gel, Gatorade, etc). Plus it’s NYC. These streets will make you feel brand new.

ready to race!

ready to race!

I headed up to the expo on the Friday before the race around 5pm. It was a quick in-and-out, and the lines weren’t bad at all. Since United Airlines was the sponsor this year, they had some really cool installations at the expo. If I wasn’t trying to get a train home for the weekend, I might have browsed the booths a bit longer, too. Lots of good stuff!

Sunday morning I headed in on the 5:45am train from Manhasset. I got into the city and found a Starbucks just off of Columbus Circle to hang out in while I hydrated and had a banana. I was checking a bag (which I rarely do, but I wanted to have some dry clothes so I could grab a beer/food after the race) so I had to make sure I got to the trucks by 7am. I met my friend Meghan just at the bottom end of the park, and we walked through security together and into the corrals. The line to get INTO the park was long. Leave plenty of time to get through, because they definitely have hyped up security.

While I love this race so much, I can totally understand why people don’t love big-city races. The starting corrals are insane, even though they are well-organized. There is a lot of standing around before you start shuffling towards the starting line, so definitely wear some throw-away clothes (and gloves, if you’re me).

Mile 1-6 are through Central Park, running counter-clockwise. Unlike last year when I went out way too fast, I kept my pace controlled for the first 6, including those hills on the UWS, so that I could come out of the bottom of the park and through Time’s Square and really pick it up. There is this adreneline rush that just happens when you get to 6th Avenue, and it is one of the main reasons I love this race. I took the right onto 42nd St, and headed to the West Side Highway still feeling pretty good. The wind definitely picks up on the WSH, and I think my paced slowed a little between 9-12 miles. At mile 12, we head under the tunnel, which spits you back out on the FDR. I remembered from last year that the tunnel slopes up at the end, so definitely don’t go all-out until you crest that hill. From there, its a few quick turns before you hit the finish line, and the crowd was really loud!

I was pleasanlty surprised to cross the finish line in 2:04.18, without training very much. The snow and the cold really held me back, so knowing I could knock out an almost-2-hour half makes me feel confident in my base so I can turn things up training-wise for the AirBNB Brooklyn Half on May 16.

second 13.1 or 2015

second 13.1 or 2015

Meghan and I celebrated our 13.1 finishes over some beers and pretzels!

yay for us

yay for us

Team MR8 Team Dinner | Pre-NYC Marathon

I’ve never run a marathon NOT as part of a charity team. When I ran Chicago in 2006, I ran as an Honored Teammate for Team In Training and raised over $6,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, 6 months after my last chemotherapy treatment. This past April for the Boston Marathon, I represented the amazing Pediatric Hem-Onc department at Mass General Hospital and raised a combined $12,000 along with my sister. When I received the phone call this past July that my application had been accepted to be part of Team MR8 for the 2014 NYC Marathon, I was so proud that I could represent the amazingly strong Martin family, and raise money in honor of such a true “Boston” kid.

Bronx 10 Miler for a Boston kid

Bronx 10 Miler for a Boston kid

Between July and November, TeamMR8 mostly stayed in touch over Facebook, and weekly emails from our charity team leader, Susan. Susan’s Friday emails were a highlight of my week; she covered training tips, fundraising successes, and made sure we all had our eyes on the prize- we were running for TeamMR8. In August, I received a whole box of TeamMR8 gear and a personal note from Debbie and Bill, Martin’s parents. I proudly rocked my MR8 gear during my training races, and keep a photo of Martin in my planner, to remind me why I was again asking my friends and family to donate, and why I was putting in the time and miles to train each week.

all geared up for TeamMR8

all geared up for TeamMR8

The day before the marathon, the whole team got together for a carb-loading pre-race meal at Carmine’s in Times Square. It was my first time meeting any team members, even though we felt like old friends since we had emailed so much over the course of the past few months. The dinner was perfect – enough food to keep us all fueled up, and so many smiling faces. At the conclusion of dinner, Bill Martin spoke to the whole team. It was one of the most motivating pep talks I’ve ever received (and I’ve been privy to MANY a pre-game speech). Bill kept thanking us for being part of the team, and raising almost $90,000 for TeamMR8. He spoke about the various programs that the Martin Richard’s Charitable Foundation is able to participate in because of these funds. Perhaps the biggest program at the moment is through the Dorcester YMCA, which was started to allow kids with any type of physical or mental handicap the opportunity to participate in a variety of sports. With the funds that TeamMR8 raises, the foundation is able to roll this program out to YMCA’s and communities across the US to give more children the opportunity to play sports, and be part of their community. It is something that Martin would be so proud of.

me and my date for the team pasta dinner

me and my date for the team pasta dinner

Needless to say, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house when Bill was finished speaking. I thought about Martin when they played New York, New York as I crossed the start line. I thought about Martin when I saw the kids dancing in front of a band on Bedford Avenue in Brooklyn. I thought of Martin when I wanted to stop running at Mile 20. I thought of him almost exclusively for the last mile, with tears in my eyes, feeling a true mix of pride and relief. Like I said at the beginning, I’ve never NOT run for a charity team, but I couldn’t imagine running a race like this with any other purpose.

TeamMR8 NYC Marathon Team 2014

TeamMR8 NYC Marathon Team 2014

New York, New York // Team MR8

After the tragedy in Boston in 2013, I wanted to represent my hometown (and my hospital), and pledged to raise $5,000 as part of Mass General Hem/Onc Pediatric Cancer Center. While running the 26.2 miles this past April, I couldn’t help but notice the sea of Team MR8 jerseys, which is the charity that was set up in remembrance of Martin W. Richards, the youngest victim of the Boston Bombings. Team MR8 had over a hundred runners in the Boston Marathon this year, and when I heard that they were looking to build a team to represent the charity for the NYC Marathon this year, I jumped at the opportunity to apply for one of the eight spots.

Screen Shot 2014-08-05 at 10.08.09 AM

There are lots of people in the world who want to run (whether its one mile, or 26.2) but can’t for many different reasons.

I run for those people.

Martin Richards was one of those people.

Screen Shot 2014-08-05 at 10.08.25 AM

 

I am SO excited to announce that my application was chosen, and I’ll be running the NYC Marathon on November 2 as a proud (and honored) member of Team MR8.

If you are so inclined, please donate here.

The Martin W. Richard Charitable Foundation
honors Martin’s message of
No more hurting people. Peace
by investing in education, athletics and community.

Follow along the blogging adventures of marathon training! Always #HudsonStrong!

Screen Shot 2014-08-05 at 10.08.16 AM

I Should Probably Get Back In Running Shape.

This past week I applied to run as part of Team MR8 in the New York City Marathon. The team was created in remembrance of Martin Richard, the youngest victim of the Boston Marathon Bombings. The charity honors Martin’s message of peace by investing in education, athletics and community. When I didn’t gain entrance to the New York City Marathon by the lottery system, there were (and still are) a few other charities I could have joined to get a number. Nothing felt personal to me though, and I didn’t want to raise money solely because I want to run 26.2 miles. It didn’t seem genuine. When I heard the news that Team MR8 (who had a HUGE prescence at Boston this year) was still looking for 8 runners to represent, I jumped at the opportunity to apply. It would be an honor to be part of a Boston-based team, and wear the MR8 jersey on November 2nd, and carry on Martin’s name. I find out in two weeks if I am one of the eight, which doesn’t give me much time to seriously get into training!

Since I MIGHT be running 26.2 in November, I should probably start my next training cycle. May, June and July — you guys were good to me. It’s time to get to work again though. Today I hit 4.5 miles and felt pretty good, despite the heat. It definitely felt cooler at the onset of the run, and when I finished I think it was almost 80 degrees. I don’t do well in the heat. Straight into the kiddie pool! PS – those Lululemon shorts are my FAVORITE running shorts.

 

Johnston Country Club

Johnston Country Club

Today I also finished a little project that I’ve had on the backburner since Boston. I framed our bibs, and the background is made from the heat cape that is handed out at the finish line. I have one that I made from the Chicago Marathon in 2006, too.

FInishers!

FInishers!

Week 1 of Marathon Training, let’s go!

Marathon Monday, from Mer

It has taken me longer that I hoped to actually get the time to sit down and type out my experience from Monday. I am just going to take it slowly, and try to put into words what 4.21.14 meant to me.

Alarms rang at 4:20AM, but I had been up for 10 minutes. Roo and I drove into Boston from Beverly, with one quick stop at Dunks, to meet our team bus. We had booked a room at The Liberty, but we weren’t sure they were going to be able to check us in so early, given that this was the busiest weekend in Boston. Turns out we arrived JUST in time to get the LAST room, which was way easier logistically-speaking than leaving our bags with the bellhop. Also, just our luck…the only room left to give us was on the original jail side of the hotel, which means we had beautiful exposed brick overlooking Alibi. Score! Things were already looking up!

We boarded our team bus at MGH (next door to The Liberty) and it finally started to sink in. We were going to run the Boston Marathon. The bus ride out was long. How long can 26.2 miles be!? It was slightly delayed due to a last-minute security change, but we were at our MGH Team Tent in Hopkinton by 7:30am. All of that to just hurry up and wait! We had an amazing DJ who kept us pumped up, and we had lots of stuff to eat and drink. I didn’t know that my friend from college Anna and her sister were also on the MGH team, so we had lots to catch up on in the tent. Great job, Lebowski sisters!!

Around 11:00am, we started the short walk to the starting line, discarding outer layers as we walked. It was HOT. Hotter than the weather prediction. From here on out, thoughts and memories get sort of blurry, but I will never forget…

– The crowd at the starting line. We hadn’t run a single mile yet, but there were SPECTATORS and they were CHEERING. If that didn’t get you pumped to run 26.2, nothing will.
– The TV camera panning the crowd at the start. I THREW my arms up and expended a ton of energy but I didn’t care. Look, Ma! I’m on TV!
– Starting to run. We immediately run into one of Roo’s friend’s from Danvers and score a quick hug before she dodged the crowd.
– For all those moms out there who are germ freaks, you will love this. There was a mom on the side of the road, holding her 3-4 month old daughter, stretching out her daughter’s hand to high five runners. THAT is BOSTONSTRONG!
– Margaret (PLUS ONE) passing me with a baby on board. You go, girl.
– Running behind a guy who had written on his shirt “Running On A Heart Transplant”. So inspiring!
– Sign that said “The only marathons I do are on NetFlix”
– There were HUGE banners every time you crossed into a new town, and I loved the WELCOME TO NATICK signs, and the band and crowd at TJs bar
– On the same note, every time you crossed into a new town, the crowd’s would yell “WELCOME TO ___”. I would shout back “THANKS FOR HAVING ME ___” [Side note: may have expended waaay too much energy yelling at ppl]
– The wall of screaming Wellesley girls was amazing. They all held signs that said “KISS ME, I’M A REDHEAD!” or “KISS ME, I’M A HISTORY MAJOR” or “KISS ME, TO MAKE HER JEALOUS!” or better yet “KISS ME TO MAKE MY HUSBAND JEALOUS!” I was LOVING them.
– I still felt like I was floating on air at the half-way point. No pain. Just pure smiles. Roo and I got some pretty sweet pics crossing the half-way point, still running together.
Mile 18: I saw Blair and Nicole and stopped to chat. Such a boost for me to get me through to MILE 20!
– Seeing my family at mile 20! Ellie said “are you done yet?” SORRY SISTA!
– Running (ok, walking) up Heartbreak Hill. Hey, everyone needs a little rest during 26.2, especially when its SO DAMN STEEP!
– Cresting Heartbreak Hill and telling two little girls that I was going to start running now. They cheered for me!
Boston College! Seeing Heather, and getting a big hug, and screaming to all the college kids “I MARRIED AN EAGLE!” They went nuts.
– The downhill through Cleveland Circle past Mary Ann’s was WAY rougher on my legs that I expected. I took little baby steps but cruised that corner high fiving lots of spectators.
– Miles 22-23 were sort of rough. Chewed ice. Ate popsicle.
– Grabbing from a guy a Bud Light at Mile 24 and LOVING it (and I HATE cheap beer). It was so ice cold.
– Probably buzzed off of Bud Light, but Mile 24 and 25 were sort of a blur. I saw Rachel H and Jorge, and finally saw that elusive Citgo sign pointing me home.
Kenmore Square was THUNDERING, and I think that spectators were literally scaling the barricades to get high fives.
– I saw the Mass Ave tunnel. I went through the tunnel. I walked up the little incline…then RAN.
RAN RIGHT ON HEREFORD. RAN LEFT ON BOYLSTON.
SCREAMING.
FIST PUMPING.
HOLLERING.
HOOTING.
I was in my own zone where nothing hurt, and everything felt amazing. I could run that last 1/2 mile over and over for the rest of my life and never get tired of it. I choked up when I saw the finish line, and fought back tears when I passed the fire house, McGreeveys, and The Forum. I crossed the line. I crossed it for all of those who couldn’t that day, and I crossed it for the whole city of Boston. I crossed it for all the kids in the MGH pediatric cancer center, and I crossed it for all of my generous friends and family who donated to this cause. I crossed for everyone along the route that day, and for all of the amazing volunteers.

We finished!

Sisters. Finishers.

Sisters. Finishers.

Trip Down Memory Lane

Marathon Weekend is HERE!

I took a little trip down memory lane today. Starting with this email:

IN

IN

Then we ran. A lot.

Sisters

Sisters

COMM AVE... We are comin' for ya!

COMM AVE… We are comin’ for ya!

nyc half official pic

nyc half official pic

Team HudsonStrong

Team HudsonStrong

We also lifted heavy things.

Mer lookin' strong

Mer lookin’ strong

Me getting ready for a set of 8!

Me getting ready for a set of 8!

Rack It

Rack It

Hanging Around

Hanging Around

And even rowed.

Representing CrossFit516

Representing CrossFit516

But it all lead us here to this.

Marathon Weekend.

Marathon Weekend.

Last “Long” Run – 2 Weeks of Training Left.

I never thought I’d be thinking of a 9 mile run as an “easy” one, but here we are, five months of marathon training behind us, and the last “long” run before Boston. I headed out to do 10 miles, but my Nike app failed me halfway through. It was actually very liberating to pace myself by how I felt, not worry about what how far or how long I went, just focus on feeling strong. I did a lot of good hills (and visualized Heartbreak), so when I got home after the run and mapped it out, I was totally fine with coming in under the 10 mile mark.

9 lovely miles

9 lovely miles

Running feels different to me after five months of training. I feel lighter on my feet, like I could run 20 miles on any given Saturday. My head is clear, and my breathing is much quieter. I don’t look at the top of hills when I am running, but just ahead of me and focus on moving my feet quickly, and lean into the hill. I finally run just because I love it, and that’s the best feeling in the world.

As we move into April, the press coverage of the Boston Marathon is plentiful. I pick up Runner’s World magazine every once in a while, and the May issue is a tear-jerker. I also really loved this Dan Shaughnessy article in the Globe. Boston is ready for April 21. And so are we.

Next stop, Hopkinton.

Next stop, Hopkinton.

Welcome to Tapertown! – 20 Mile Run Re-cap

The day started early with a 6am wake up and a 7:00am departure from Beverly. Our whole team was meet at Dr. Howard Weinstein‘s house in Newton to run our LAST long run of the season before Marathon Monday. When we arrived at his house, it was packed with other MGH team members. Perhaps the BEST part of the whole morning was meeting the fabulous Kelly Sarno, my IG bestie. It was like we were long lost friends! We picked up our SWEET MGH team tee-shirts, too. This isn’t what we’ll be running 26.2 in, but our whole fan club will be sporting them at the Mile 20 Party. We munched on some last minute fuel, and boarded the buses for the drive out to the marathon starting line in Hopkinton. Once we were boarded and moving, there was no turning back. Our only option was to JUST RUN the 20 miles back to Howard’s house.

Ready at the starting line

Ready at the starting line

When we arrived in Hopkinton, there were so many runners. I recognized all the Team in Training shirts right away (gotta love that PURPLE), and most people had crowded around the “start” line. I really didn’t know this was such a well organized training run. I thought it was just going to be our group!  I have seriously run real races that had less spectators than this run. The Boston Marathon is a celebration of the entire city, and the volunteers, and people along the route were SO proud to be out helping the marathoners-to-be. We high-fived kids in their front yards in Ashland. We were pumped up by a front-stoop DJ at Mile 10. Shops along the route in Wellesley left out buckets of water and Gatorade so that we could grab them if we needed them. Every single fire station offered a pit stop, complete with music, bathrooms, and candy. And after a week of tragedy, they were still out there, putting a smile on our faces, and offering encouragement. Boston Police held up traffic at every intersection for the runners so that we could cross safely. It was all so overwhelmingly generous.

Signs were placed the entire 20 mile route for our safety

Signs were placed the entire 20 mile route for our safety

Miles 1-3: We were off in Hopkinton We starting our run with Kelly, MJ and Jess and I think you could probably hear us before you could see us coming. Chatting, laughing and stopping for a few key photo ops made the first few miles fly by. At the first mile marker, there was a tree of running sneakers in honor of Meg Menzies who was struck and killed by a drunk driver while out on a morning run in Virginia, #megsmiles.

Tree for #megsmiles

Tree for #megsmiles

Miles 3-5: We hit Ashland at a pretty good clip. Marissa and I separated from the group and plugged in to our music.

Miles 5-9: Framingham. We passed our MGH team pit stop at Mile 5, but didn’t stop for too long. We had 15 more miles to run! We stopped briefly at the TNT table around mile 8 to grab some water.

Mile 10: HALFWAY! As we closed in on Natick Town Common, we saw the best sign of the day: 10 MILES TIL TAPERTOWN! That fired me up! MGH had a table set up, and we stopped for a second to stretch and grab some snacks. I have to say, Swedish Fish never tasted so good.

Miles 11-12: The road got residential, and we had to switch sides of the street as we climbed up a hill to reach Wellesley College.

Mile 13: The small town of Wellesley rolled out the red carpet for marathon runners. Stores had buckets of water and Gatorade sitting out for us, and fans were cheering us along with cow-bells. I had to keep reminding myself that this was just a training run. I pictured us crossing this point on Marathon Monday, and we could say that we were halfway to home!

Mile 14-16: Heading down Washington St in Wellesley, we knew we were getting close to the turn onto Comm Ave. A father/daughter combo was handing out lemonade and water from their driveway, and we happily took them up on it. Pretty much as this point, we were taking food and drinks from every stranger we met.

Mile 17-20: At Mile 17, runners turn right onto Comm Ave, which is a crucial part of the race. The crowds (if they aren’t already dense) get thicker as the route turns towards Boston. The Newton Fire Station was amazing. The guys had a whole spread of goodies, water and refreshments and even opened up their bathrooms to a bunch of weary runners. The last few miles were definitely the toughest. We took some short walking breaks to stretch our legs out, and switch up our cadence. At mile 19 we met a woman who was shuffling along with a TNT shirt on, so we started chatting. She beat cervical cancer THREE TIMES and is running her first marathon. Meeting her and chatting passed the time, and before we knew it (or, in what felt like an eternity) we finally hit the Heartbreak Hill Running Company at Mile 20. We did it!!

Tapertown, here we are! We have some light runs the next few weeks, but we’re ready for the Big Show. 21 days…

Team HudsonStrong

Team HudsonStrong

18 Miles- Donezo

*Meredith has reached her fundraising goal of $5,000 but I am still working towards my goal! Please consider donating to my Boston Marathon fundraiser by clicking HERE! Thank you to all who have already donated! We really appreciate your support!*

On Saturday I woke up at 7am and set out for my longest run yet… 18 miles.  I had no idea what to expect because I would be running the whole thing by myself and had nobody to push me or talk to me along the way.  I made sure to make a good spotify play list for this one…

Miles 1-3: I felt really good.  It was not too cold and I felt like I dressed perfectly.  Two long sleeves, a vest and our standard pashmina.  I started out my usual 7 mile loop towards Wenham.

3-6 : I still felt pretty good and was heading through Wenham when I took a left instead of my usual right and ran into Hamilton until I hit a gas station so I could grab a Gatorade and eat my GU chomps!  This took probably 2 minutes but I stopped my timer and made sure to eat and drink enough that I had the energy to start up again.

Hamilton

Hamilton!

 

6-10:  These miles were slow and I felt overwhelmed that I was only getting to the halfway point.  I was still running through Wenham and I stopped to stretch out my hamstrings and drink a little more Gatorade.  I decided to run back into Danvers.

10-14:  I headed back into Danvers and started to feel a little better.  Ditched the Gatorade and started to feel like I was getting close to the end!

14-18: I was definitely tired at this point and headed back to Beverly.  I was going at probably 10:30 mile pace.  I was really bored and my play list had looped through a few times but I also was proud I had gone so far.

 

Trail!

18 miles done

I finished after 3 hours and 20 minutes of running.  It was a nice slow run and I hope that it will feel a little easier when I am running with Mer and have the energy of the other marathoners around me!

Last long run this weekend- 2o miles! Then Mer and I are headed to Portland, ME to see Darius Rucker! Happy Belated Birthdays to us!!

 

5 Week Countdown – Weekly Training Plan

Monday – REST & recover from NYC Half

TuesdayCrossFit Endurance workout: 4x400s (uphill, recover on descent): I ended up doing this workout with my whole 6am WOD, and took about 2-3 minutes rest each 400. Legs still felt really heavy from Sunday’s race.

Love my Milky Way WUCs

Love my Milky Way WUCs

WednesdayCrossFit516

Thursday – CrossFit Endurance workout: 4 min on, 3 min off, 2 min on, 30 sec off, 1 min on,3 min off, 2 min on, 30 sec off, 4 min on.

Friday – REST.

Saturday – Birthday WOD! CrossFit Endurance workout: 4 x 5K with 5 mins rest, then my favorite Long Island Vineyards!

Sunday – 30 min run/30 min yoga