Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Blue Ridge Marathon Giveaway!!!

Do you want to run "America's Toughest Road Marathon??"  If yes, then the Blue Ridge Marathon is for you!  Boasting over 7000 feet of elevation across 3 mountains in Roanoke Virginia, not only tough but I would say one of America's most beautiful as well.

I ran this race with my husband last year after he won entry from a blogger.  We were on a complete high for weeks after this race.  Blue Ridge changed how we viewed marathons, mountains and running.  We really felt it helped shaped our running this past year.  You can read about our experience here  
and here.

Enter my contest!!! See where it might lead you!!  
And if you aren't up for a full marathon yet, if you win entry you can choose to run the marathon, half or new this year 10K. Something for everyone! a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, December 23, 2013

3 shoes, 3 Reviews

Recently I had the opportunity to test out 3 new pairs of road shoes that are coming out in 2014, Puma Faas, Saucony Mirage IV and Nike Free Flyknit. Here's what I thought!

Puma Faas 500v3

Puma Faas 500v3

The Puma Faas 500v3 is a neutral minimal training shoe.  It has a 4mm heel to toe ratio.  It has a lot of cushioning.  There is plenty of room in the toebox which is nice however there was also a lot of room in the heel.  I felt the heel cup was too big, my feet did not feel secure in the back.  Often times I felt that my heels were sliding up and down while I was running. The shoes felt comfortable when I put them on and I could feel the thick cushioning under my feet.  However, once I ran a few miles in them I began having pain in my feet, knees and hips.  In total I ended up only running about 20 miles in these which were short runs of 4-5 miles because of the pain I was having.  These shoes while very cushioned, were not giving me support in the arch of my foot and they caused me to overpronate.  Another reason I think they gave pain was due to the lack of flexibility and responsiveness in the sole, they felt stiff while I ran.  I also felt these shoes in general felt a bit bulky.  They were not overly heavy especially considering the amount of cushion however I prefer a lighter minimalist shoe.  Overall it's a sturdy, well cushioned shoe with plenty of room that came in a nice color, just not the right shoe for me. 
Pumas for mom and Una

Saucony Mirage 4
Saucony Mirage 4
The Saucony Mirage 4 is in Saucony line of "natural running" shoes.  It is pretty lightweight at about 7.6 oz (women's).  It has a 4mm heel to toe ratio, plenty of cushioning and a nice fit.  I found the toebox and the heel to be perfect in size.  Despite the significant amount of cushion, the shoe is very responsive and flexible.  The shoe did not feel bulky or heavy.  I felt supported in all the right places.  I never experienced any pain during the 20 or so miles I put into these shoes so far.   As much as I love a lightweight, 0mm shoe, I did enjoy running in these a lot.  They aren't quite as light as the kinvara or the virrata however these are a nice smooth, comfortable ride. While I won't race in these, I will definitely keep these around to train in.  And the colors are nice too!

Nike Free Flyknit

Nike Free Flyknit
 The Nike Free Flyknit is a hybrid of two of their running shoes.  It combines the sock-like second skin of the Flyknit and the great flexibility of the Free.   It has a 9mm heel to toe ratio.  When I opened these shoes, I was in shock.  I have never seen a pair of running shoes like these but then again I don't have a TON of experience either.  At first I was worried they were a bit too tight however I was so intrigued by them that I had slapped them on as soon as they came which happened to be the day after my 2nd marathon in two weeks so I'm pretty sure my feet/ankles were a bit swollen ;-)  The next time I put them on to actually go for a run, they felt WONDERFUL.  The fit is very snug around the ankle and foot which takes a little getting used to but it was never uncomfortable.  Due to this "second skin" technology, you can actually run in these without socks which I did for two short training runs.  I had no issues whatsoever but then again I had no issues with socks either ;-)  Additionally, these were designed so that you could also run without the laces.  One less worry during a race, laces coming untied!  I did not try it without the laces yet but may give it a shot.  The actual toebox and heel are good size.  I ended up wearing these for the Rocky 50K so I could get my testing miles in and I did not have a single blister nor did they bother my perpetually black toe.  I love the way these shoes are extremely flexible.  The sole literally wraps around the bottom of your foot.  These are super light (7.6 oz Men) yet very supportive and comfortable.  I was very surprised by this since it is such a light, thin shoe.  I was sure that I would feel every little bump and rock on the road but this was not the case at all.  I really have nothing negative to say about these shoes.  I was convinced that I would not find a another minimalist shoe that I would feel as fast and as good in as the Saucony virratas and that I certainly wouldn't like anything with such a large heel to toe drop not to mention something so close to a barefoot shoe.  Turns out I was wrong! 

sportin the Nike Free Flyknits at the Rocky 50K

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

My experience with EnergyBits

I am always seeing EnergyBits all over Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.  At one point I did google them to see what they were. The website says "Made from 100% organicallly grown spirulina algae and loaded with 40 nutrients, ENERGYbits® algae tabs have the highest concentration of protein in the world (64%) all for just one calorie per tab. They will improve your energy and endurance. Also take whenever you are tired, hungry or don't have time to eat or cook. They are a terrific high protein, low calorie snack or meal on the go."  Since I see posts about them all the time, I was curious how they would work.  Lucky for me @energybits contacted me during a #healthywaymag chat which occur every Monday at 8PM ET.  I mentioned I had never tried them before and next thing I knew I had a tin in my mailbox to try.
My First Bits!
Coming off of two marathons in two weeks I really didn't have any plans for a long training run in the near future however I did have the Rocky 50k.  After asking Jonathan from EnergyBits a few questions I decided to give them a try for the 50k.  I wouldn't normally try something new for a race but since the Rocky 50k was all just for fun, I figured why not?

The instructions for EnergyBits are to take 20-30 pills about 15 minutes before the activity.  Jonathan recommended taking another 20-30 every 45-50 minutes.  Since my tin only had 64, I decided to take 32 before I started and then the other 32 around 45-60 minutes into the run.  That way I would feel what it was like to fuel on EnergyBits alone before having to switch back to something else.  And I was able to stick to this plan.

So what did I think if the bits?  I went into it a bit skeptical.  1. Because I would have to swallow pills while running.  2. Because 30 pills is only 30 calories.  Other fuels that I use are usually around 100 calories a pop so I wasn't sure these would be enough.  Surprisingly, I found that it was enough, at least for the first two hours that I was solely #poweredbybits.  I actually went a bit longer than I typically do as far as fueling.  I ran about an hour off of each serving of bits versus the 45 minutes I usually re-fuel at.  I was feeling good so I didn't feel a need to sooner.  I noticed that I did not get as thirsty as I typically do with other fuels such as gels.  I also think the bits left me more hydrated.  In the end I did drink as much water as I normally would however I feel this was due to switching to gels which make me feel more thirsty.  However, normally, I would not have had to use the bathroom more than once during a 50K.  During the Rocky 50K, I went twice and really had to go again at the finish.  This leads me to believe I was very well/more hydrated despite drinking the same amount of water.  I would be very interested in running a marathon or more solely on bits to see if that would help me not only improve my energy/decrease the amount of times I need to fuel but also decrease my water intake as I always end up drinking SO MUCH.
Rocky 50K

So take home message is Energybits really do seem to give at least the same if not more energy than say gels for less calories.  For those concerned about fueling with non-sugary, more natural substances, bits are definitely perfect.  There's not really a taste issue since the bits are just swallowed and they are easy enough to transport.  The only issue that I'm sure some people would have would be the fact that they are pills that you have to swallow.  It's not a big deal before you start your run however I can see how some people would not want to have to swallow 30 or so pills while on the run every hour or so.  I, however, did not really find this to be a hindrance.

Enter my giveaway below to win a free tin of your own EnergyBits to try!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, December 16, 2013

It's my Blogaversary, I can blog if I want to

snow running
Rocky Running
Mountain Running
It's been a whole year since I started my blog.  It's definitely been a much different experience than I anticipated.  When Emir convinced me to start a blog, I really thought it would be me writing entries that no one would read.  That it would be more of just my record/memories of things I did, the kids did or we did as a family so I could go back and read it whenever I want.  I love writing so I was totally fine with that.  And in the beginning that's pretty much what it was.  I'm not sure when exactly that changed or what exactly happened.  I do know that Emir (of course) got me into using twitter as a way to connect with other runners, specifically ultra runners which is probably a big part of it.  We chat weekly with our #ultrachat buddies, tweet our running friends questions or jabs and all read each others blogs.  As someone who was not a Tweep and didn't really see the point in it, now I'm total Twerp.  I mostly have to do alot of my running alone so to have all these "running buddies" is great.  I feel like I'm on a team, part of a group.  We all keep each other motivated and "run together."

Philly & NYCM
This first year of blogging went from random running/life entries that probably only Emir read to actual race reports that lead to being asked to be an official Blue Ridge Marathon Blogger, to a few offers to test gear and write about it and now coming soon I will get to host a couple giveaways.  
Bear MTN
Blues Cruise
 Now I feel like my blog isn't just for me and turns out it is mostly about running ;-)  In the beginning it was going to be about life with a little running.  But as my life has turned into a lot of running, so has my blog.  I actually have a number of people that read it :-0  And people actually write responses, give me feedback and like to read what I thought about a race or a piece of running gear, weird right?! I'm completely blown away how interactive all of this has become but I'm loving every minute of it.  Just as never in a million years did I envision becoming an ultra runner, I also never envisioned people wanting to read what I write about running.  I'm looking forward to heading into my 2nd year of blogging.  I can't wait to see what's in store for this year!!
International Running

Ps I will be giving away a free entry to the Blue Ridge Marathon the week of Dec 30th!!!!!!!  Blue Ridge is "America's Toughest Road Marathon" (7430 feet of elevation change) but it's also the best!!!  Check out my race report. 

Pss As soon as I get my butt in gear and finish writing my review on Energy Bits, I will be hosting an Energy Bits giveaway!! 
Most Importantly, MY LOVES!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Yo People Read This! -- Rocky 50K

In South Philly ready to start the Rocky 50K

Yo!  That was the best freakin run I've ever done!  When can we do it again?!

I just can't stop smiling and feeling so happy thinking about this past Saturday.  And then looking at everyone's posts, pics and videos, I know they all feel the same way too.  We were all part of something special.  Something that we all know is going to become a tradition and only get bigger every year.  We were the first ones, we paved the way for this crazy, awesome event.  And we loved every mile, all 31 something of them. 
some creepy dude kept chasing me for 31 miles all around Philly

For those who may not know the background for this run.  I will give a brief explanation.  This guy Dan McQuade wrote an article outlining the course that Rocky would have had to run in order to make sense of the running montage in Rocky II.  It's pretty illogical and ridiculous when you look at it on the map plus when all totaled it was 31 or so miles.  As Dan wrote in his article "I don’t recommend anyone try it."  Emir had sent me this article the morning it posted and was all fired up about how cool it was.  I supported his excitement and found it interesting however I have never actually watched any Rocky movie, EVER.  Yes, I know what kind of Philadelphian am I?!?!  I've lived here my whole life well just outside the city my whole life.  However, my parents were not the city going type.  I actually never saw city hall or the liberty bell until college when Emir's family was visiting from Bosnia and we took them downtown to see the sights, hehe.  I did however drive past center city countless times on I-95 growing up going to/from Phillies games, that counts right?!?!  ;-)  I've seen enough pictures, clips, etc of Rocky to appreciate the importance to Philly  so that's the most important part.  Next thing I know, I'm getting tweeted by our #Ultrachat buddy who also lives in Philly, Rebecca Schaefer.  She's asking if Emir and I would be interested in running this 31 mile route that "Rocky ran".  Ummm duh, what kind of question is that Rebecca?!?!  She said she was going to try to organize a "fatass style" run for sometime in December since we were all doing the Philly Marathon and most other runners also had big races in October and November.  And that she did!!!!
Geno's. mmmmmm

Over the next few months, Rebecca created the Facebook group and website for the run.  If you aren't familiar with the term "fatass," it refers to a race that has no fees, no aide stations, no official timing and no frills. So really not a race, just a fun run. Lots of people joined the facebook group and the excitement was off the charts.  As it grew closer to time for the run, there were various articles written about it including one from the Philadelphia Inquirer last week that even Emir and I were mentioned in and the run was even mentioned on the local news.  We were pretty pumped. 
City Hall
 My sister had agreed to stay over Friday night and watch the kids.  We left our house a little after 5, hit up DD, parked at my work (used the potty there) and hopped on the subway to South Philly.  We might have looked a little strange riding the Broad Street Line at 6 AM.  Me dressed in running pants, gray hoodie with "Yo Philly" taped across my chest, orange sweat band, orange gloves and my hydration pack.  Emir didn't go for the sweats but he had a orange headband, total pedophile mustache, hydration pack and a sign across his chest reading "Women weaken legs."  Probably not something the fine folks of North Philly are accustomed to seeing on the subway.  Eventually as we got into center city a few other "Rockys" entered the subway which made us really excited.  There was hundreds of people in the Facebook group, but really this being a sort of all of the sudden event and a 50k fun run, we really had no idea what to expect as far as number of people who would show up for the run.  In our eyes it was a no brainer to run but we were thinking with only a couple months notice there would be a lot of people who were interested but felt like they didn't have time to prepare to be able to complete 31 miles.
150 runners ready

We got off the subway in South Philly and started following the other "Rockys" I really had to use the bathroom as I was unsuccessful at my work, of course.  This was the only part that made us nervous about this run was the fact that there would be no pottys.  No water, no food, no fuel no problem. As ultra runners, we are used to training really long runs without support.  We just carry it all in our hydration packs.  However these runs usually end up at some point in wooded areas, nature's potty ;-). We came across a diner.  I decided to give it a shot.  The people who worked there were staring at me and I assumed I was about to get told to get lost as I wasn't there to eat.  However they broke into huge grins and said "bathroom is over there."  That really set the tone for the day.  Not everyone we encountered knew what we were doing but a lot did and were so happy to see us and offer support.  Those that didn't, would ask what we were doing and once they found out, encouraged us on.  After the diner we headed towards the start.  At first we didn't see anyone then we went around this bend and there were tons of people!!  Wow!  And so many in gray sweats or headbands or both! We were so excited!  Reports are that 150 people started the run.  Another great advantage to a fatass run is that people can do as much or as little as they want which allows for more people to be able to participate.
Emir's "women weaken legs" sign

Our fearless leader Rebecca gave us a brief safety talk, thanked everyone, gave a few words of encouragement and off we went.  
Rebecca addressing the Rockys

The first couple of miles just looked like a sea of runners taking over South Philly.  Everyone was kind of sticking together and didn't seem like they wanted to get left behind which caused a few issues at traffic lights but overall no big deal since it was 7AM.  After that people started settling into their own sort of pace groups.  Runners also started making stops to take pictures at some of the sights from the movies, at coffee shops, stores and even the casino to get drinks, food or use the facilities.
South Philly
 It really was just a fun run.  No one was concerned about their time.  Everyone was super relaxed and just taking in the sights and sounds of Philadelphia.  I actually felt so relaxed about the whole thing that not only was I wearing a sweatshirt to run in but I was wearing my brand new Nike free fly knit shoes that I am testing and I used energybits during the run for the first time ever.  Not things I would typically do for a 50K! I will review these in separate entries coming soon. The highlights of the run included South Philly of course especially the Italian Market with flaming barrels, different sections of center city especially by city hall and of course the finish up the Art Museum steps.  I'm not going to lie there were plenty of less desirable neighborhoods but hey Rocky didn't discriminate and some of those areas and people proved just as interesting and entertaining.
Delaware Ave

Center City

City Hall

Italian Market with flaming barrels

Emir and Rebecca are so fast you can barely see them blur by!
Running a "fatass style" 50k that was not a multiple loop course through a major city certainly proved to be a very interesting time.  Most of the time in fatass races there are multiple loops so you can either stop at your car or meet your support team each loop.  This run was perfect in terms of being able to buy extra water or food that you needed along the way.  Also surprisingly restaurants and stores did not seem to care about runners using the bathroom so that was never an issue.  The thing that turned out to be the most challenging about this fatass race which you wouldn't normally encounter in other races was the traffic lights especially the last 5-6 miles that took place through the heart of Center City.  There are traffic lights pretty much every block and yes we hit almost every red light.  Every intersection that we stopped our legs would start killing us, we just wanted to keep going!  As frustrating as it was at times, definitely an added challenge that you wouldn't normally encounter in a 50k  so in the end I liked trying to overcome my legs screaming in agony ;-)
Rebecca jumping the bench like Rocky


Thanks for the water!

Kelly Drive by Boathouse Row

Making my way up the steps
I want to thank Rebecca.  Even though she did not come up with the course itself, she is the reason this event took place and was so amazing.  I don't know anyone who could have put together something like this in such a short period of time. Her idea of making it a "fatass" event so no one had to pay anything was perfect and just adds to the "this is just for fun" vibe.  Her crazy enthusiasm and excitement for this event is why so many people came out, got dressed up like Rocky and ran 31 miles for fun.  I know that she's also the reason that some people who weren't running came out and had a few makeshift aide stations and why these people in a van with a disco ball wearing Rocky outfits kept randomly popping up throughout the course blasting the Rocky theme and "eye of the tiger."  And she's the reason this run had the best finish I've ever seen.  No matter how bad your legs were hurting, every single runner booked it up the Art Museum steps and jumped up and down at the top to the Rocky theme and everyone on the steps was cheering.  I can't wait for next year!

Here's to many more runs with these two!

Here's the Wall Street Journal article covering the run and some of the best pics posted:




Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Philly Marathon--Two Marathons, Two Weeks, Too Much?

So you might be wondering, why?  Why would I run two marathons in a span of two weeks?  That is a good question!  One that I was asking myself a lot in the first few days following NYCM.  I laid everything on the line at that race to PR.  And not only that but just two weeks before that I busted my butt at Runner's World to PR in the 10K and half marathon.  That was a lot of fast running for my legs in a short period of time.  I was definitely sore and questioning myself a bit about what I got myself into.  But then by that Wednesday I woke up and my legs weren't sore anymore.  I went on a short run after work and felt pretty good actually.  I did another solo run that week followed by 6 miles with Emir and the kids in the stroller over the weekend. 
Emir and Niko running after our 6 miler on the trail
The week leading up to the marathon I did an easy 4 miler and 3 miler.  Every run felt pretty good leg wise.  My problem actually was a cold, actually all 4 of us had this problem.  There was lots of coughing, sneezing and snots all over this house, ugh.  The weekend between the two marathons was the worst.  No one felt very good which equals kids not sleeping well which equals no one sleeping well.  We all medicated ourselves and by Friday of Philly marathon weekend just minor phlegm issues remained thankfully. 

My NYCM medal and Giant 20th anniversary Philly medal
So back to why Emir and I were running two marathons in two weeks.  We signed up for the Philly Marathon a long time ago after we filled out the survey from last year's race.  They gave us a discount and because it was early registration, the race ended up being fairly inexpensive.  We figured that this would be our fall marathon and of course logistically it is an easy race for us.  Plus this year was the 20th Anniversary so we figured it would be great to run an anniversary race.  We were not disappointed as this year's shirts and medals were awesome!  Running NYCM had never entered our heads until our sister-in-law convinced us to enter the lottery (read my NYCM race report).  Once we found out we had spots in NYCM, we couldn't get a refund or defer Philly so the only answer was to run both races.  And yes you would be correct that even if those options existed, we still would have run both anyway ;-) 

Now here we were Friday of Marathon weekend.  Emir's foot was feeling a lot better thankfully so he was going to give it a go.  One nice thing about Philly is that even if you are signed up for the full, you can just finish at the half and get a half marathon medal, food, etc.  Everyone runs together until right around 13 miles where the halfers turn to finish at the Art Museum and fullers continue on for the second half.  So Emir had that as a back up in case his foot was too painful.  We took the kids to the expo after work on Friday.  Very typical big marathon expo with a couple of features that I think make it a little nicer than some.  Not that we could take advantage but one nice bonus is a variety of lectures/talks on running that are free for anyone to attend.  The second thing that I think is great is the Kid's Zone at the expo.  Not only is there a kids race over the weekend but at the expo there is a whole section for kids.  The have a huge blow-up bouncy thing for kids to play on, face painting, balloon making man and kids crafts, ALL FREE.  Niko and Una had a blast.  After that we went out to dinner, put the kids to bed and we stayed up a bit too late watching Breaking Bad. 

My sister Cindy and I at the expo

Niko and Una


Bib #4676
Of course Niko woke up at 4 with a bad dream.  Then Una woke up a bit before 6.  We managed to get everyone back to sleep but then everyone was up for the day before 7.  We went to the small zoo near us since the Berenstein Bears were going to be there (one of Niko's favorites).  It was a great time but several hours on our feet. 

Then in the afternoon Niko had a birthday party for one of his classmates.  More time on our feet chasing the kids around.  Then we took them to my parent's house, which would have been fine if we could have just dropped them off and left.  However, unfortunately my parents had a wedding.  So we put the kids to bed and had to wait for them to get home.  I went to sleep around 8.  I was sooooooo tired from being up late, running around all day and just still feeling a bit under the weather with congestion.  My parents finally arrived around 11:00.  I got up and we made a beeline for my sister's house in the city.  Cindy was running the half marathon and had invited us to stay over since it is literally a 5 minute walk from her place to the start line.  With road closures and then trying to find parking, it would have been way more difficult to go to the city in the morning.  A block from her house is an amazing parking garage that charges $5 for 24 hours so we took advantage.  By the time we got down there, parked and settled in to sleep it was easily 12:30.  Not great for a 5 AM wakeup :-(  But we are parents first so as I have said before "Life happens but so does running"  So despite an exhausting couple of days, I knew we would give it all we had in the morning.

I woke up at 5 with a headache and feeling EXHAUSTED.  I went to use the bathroom and Cindy's roommate had left us a sign that said "You are awesome, Run Fast"  I couldn't help but smile and start to get out of my "early morning, not feeling it" funk. 
Emir and I started getting ready in the dark as Cindy was still in bed.  My head was feeling worse so I finally asked her if she had something.  She did, however I had to dig through her purse for some loose pills.  I found a couple different types.  Cindy sorted through them and gave me what "she thought was Tylenol".  I crossed my fingers and down they went.  We made coffee and bagels.  We had to drink our coffee with just some milk as apparently there was no sugar in the house. Around 6:15 we left for the start line.  There were tons of runners making their way as well.  It's a great sight.  Still slightly dark, runners coming from all directions, exuding energy, converging on the start area.  I just love it!  It only takes probably 6-7 minutes to walk to the start, after about 5 minutes, Emir realized he forgot his "nipple covers" (his little circle band aids to prevent nipple bleeding).  He said he had to go back.  We started walking back with him but then he said that he could just go on his own and meet us at the start.  Cindy and I continued on.  Security was very easy, no lines.  I saw a couple people I knew, always fun then I realized I definitely needed to go #1 & #2 before this race starts.  It was a little after 6:30 so Cindy and I hopped in line for a porta-potty.  The line ended up moving slower than I had thought.  I knew we didn't have to be in our corral AT 7 because the wheeled people go first followed by elites followed by two corrals before ours.  After a little difficulty Emir found us.  There may have been a minor disagreement about what we "should have done" as apparently there were other pottys that were less crowded.  Anyway then we realized there was no one in line at a nearby potty so we ran over and did our business. 

I work for MossRehab as an acute care PT at Einstein Hospital in Phlly

Perfect Motto for my 2nd marathon in 2 weeks" Challege Accepted!"

We then jogged for the corrals.  The first one we hit was black which is the first one after the elites who had already started.  There was a huge opening to get in so we just hopped right in there.  Literally a minute later they started us.  Let me tell you despite Emir's initial "disagreement" with us about waiting in line too long, that was the best timed pottying I've ever done for a race to date!  I didn't feel like I had to pee at all until the last few miles.  They had announced that Mayor Nutter was on the right giving out high fives so I stayed over to that side on purpose.  I am NOT into politics whatsoever so I have no idea if I agree with the Mayor's policies etc but what I DO know is that he comes out every year for the whole Marathon weekend, Broad Street Run and Susan G. Komen race for the cure to encourage everyone and give out high fives.  And those are just the events I know of.  For such a large city, I think it's pretty awesome and I give him a lot of credit for that.  Anyway I stayed to the right got my high five from Mayor Nutter and off we went!

Sisters waiting for the potty
Emir and I had signed up for the 4 hour pace group a long time ago.  Since we had hopped up a couple corrals, we were starting at least a few minutes ahead of that 4:00 group.  At the expo we had grabbed the 4:00 pace bracelets so luckily we had decided to wear those.  I knew Emir really wanted to do 4:00 since he felt that his foot was feeling better.  I was encouraging him however I knew with having a foot injury for over a month now, even if it wasn't hurting too bad during this race, it had taken a toll.  Even when you start feeling better it takes time to get back to your "healthy" self and pace.  But you never know in the race with adrenaline and all the people cheering, he could do it.  I on the other hand, I really had mixed feelings over the two weeks in between NYC and Philly.  The first couple days were "How am I going to run another marathon in two weeks?!?!"  Then it was "Ok I can do this, I will be able to finish"  Then finally a few days before the race "Hmmm legs are feeling pretty good on these short runs...."  But even though my legs felt good on those runs, they were just short runs.  I had no idea what my legs would feel like over the course of a 2nd 26.2 in the span of 14 days, this was a first for me.  I was having battles in my brain the days leading up to the race "you'll be able to go fast the whole time, no problem" vs "your legs are going to be hurting the second half!"  obviously as for any normal person the thought of doing another PR crossed my mind but I knew that was a far reach.  But still it would be pretty sweet, right?  ;-)  So anyway I had no idea what to expect as we started off on our 26.2 through our city. 

All 3 of us started off together.  Cindy started pulling away pretty quickly.  I knew her goal for the half was 1:55 so I let her go.  I really didn't want to go that fast for my first half.  Emir and I were together through the first 3 miles.  I was just going a nice, steady pace that didn't feel too strenuous.  I kept finding that Emir was lagging a bit even though I didn't feel that I was going too fast.  He informed me otherwise :-o  He said he just wanted to hover around 9:00/mile pace until the halfway point and that I was not doing that.  As always our agreement is not to get mad if one person wants to go ahead so that's what I did.  I really enjoyed the first half.  I love how it takes us through Old City, down South Street to South Philly, down Chestnut Street, by the Zoo and then the Please Touch Museum.  There was people out cheering throughout the different parts and I saw some great signs too.  I felt like I was cruising that first half even up the mile 9 hill.  I had set my watch to elapsed time since I know pace is usually off due to my watch having a bit more distance than the mile markers of the race.  I also did this because I had worn that 4:00 pace band.  Since overall I was feeling descent and not having too much trouble with the pace, I would check my elapsed time at each mile marker and compare it to the pace band.  By 13.1, I was at 1:58 and on pace for overall 3:56 IF I could even split which still was a big question mark in my mind. 

Unlike last year I didn't mind the few turnaround points or the out and back nature of the second half.  I also didn't mind seeing the half marathon finishers as I headed out to my second half.  Maybe this being my 5th marathon of the year, I'm more conditioned to have no desire to stop until I reach that 26.2 finish?  Who knows!  The turnarounds this year I actually really liked since Emir was behind me somewhere.  So there was 3 or 4 different times that I was able to pass him as he was going by and give each other a reassuring smile.  I was also so grateful that I could check on the status of his foot and make sure he was ok and just to KNOW that he hadn't stopped at the half. 

Right before the finish
So I headed out for my second half.  Somewhere between mile 14 and 15 I had a bit of a coughing fit, I guess brought on by my phlegm issues.  Next thing I knew I had this awful side cramp.  It hurt SO BAD!  I massaged my side, took deep breaths, drank some fluids.  Eventually it did subside but took at least 2 miles.  One positive thing was that it took my mind off my legs and how I could feel them starting to fatigue.  By this time we were at the Falls Bridge.  The course goes over the bridge down MLK drive for a short distance and then we turn around and go back over the bridge.  Slightly annoying but I know they have to get the distance in.  Going back to the bridge is slightly uphill which at this point was really tough on my legs.  Next the course heads in to Manyunk which really is the PARTY of the race however anyone that knows Philly at all knows Manyunk is a hilly place.  Luckily Main Street is probably the least hilly spot of Manyunk however it's enough on tired legs during miles 18-21 to really kill a person's momentum.  This is precisely what happened to me.  It was hard to enjoy my beer and the craziness of the crowd on this stretch when I was really feeling like I was going to die.  My legs all the sudden just felt like lead.  I knew my pace was slowing significantly and no matter what I did, I could not go faster.  By the time I left Manyunk despite my GREAT appreciation for the beer and the fantastic crowds, I have to admit I was feeling down.  I knew going in to this race that it was more than likely that I would not be able to do some amazing time given I just busted a gut two weeks ago.  However being on pace through 30K to sub 4 felt great to me.  I had gotten in my head during the first half that sub 4 would be my goal and how awesome to do 2 races in 2 weeks sub4?!  But as I exited Manyunk I was hovering very close to the cutoff to make it under 4:00 and I just knew based on how I was feeling that it wasn't going to happen.  After sulking to myself for probably 1/2 mile to a mile, I was like "ok focus!  you are still doing something great here!  This is your first time RACING two marathons so close together.  That itself is amazing.  Now get it together and finish this thing!"  I'm not going to lie the last 6 miles were HELL!!!  My legs just kept getting heavier and heavier.  I just felt so spent like I had nothing left in the tank.  However I had perked up my spirits and enjoyed the people encouraging us along that ending stretch of Kelly Drive.  I love that Philly puts your name on your bib.  It was so nice to hear people cheering my name and telling me that I had this thing.  With names on the bibs, spectators are way more apt to cheer for people they don't know.  It's really an awesome feeling to hear your name about a thousand times throughout the course of the marathon when really I only saw maybe 2 or 3 people that I actually knew.  I sped up as much as I could a few times but it would only last a minute or two.  I literally would start to feel like I was going to just collapse.  As much as I wanted to go faster, I just couldn't.  The weather was not helping me at this point either.  At the start it was overcast and probably low-mid 50s, perfect.  At this point it had really warmed up and now the sun was beaming on me, ugh.  I had rolled my arm sleeves down but didn't help too much.  The last two miles felt so long and that I literally thought they must have taken me at least 20 something minutes.  I had stopped looking at my watch the last few miles because of how I felt and just wanted to enjoy (well survive) my last few miles.  I really thought my watch was going to say at least 4:05 when I saw the finish line.  As I crossed I looked down to hit the stop button and it said 4:01.  At the time I wasn't sure if I was happy that it was not 4:05 or that I was disappointed that I was close to going sub 4 but just couldn't pull it off. 

Challenge Completed!
After I finished I received my medal, got water and food in less than 5 minutes, YES!  And I was allowed to hang around and wait for Emir to finish.  I chugged 2 full bottles of water in like 2 seconds.  I don't know how I could possibly have been so thirsty.  I drank my whole hydration pack of Tailwind and stopped at numerous water stations.  Maybe running 2 races so close together, my body requirements were much higher than usual?  I did also take 2 gels during the race as I felt hungry a couple times.  I guess something to think about for next time I run 2 marathons in 2 weeks ;-)  I will have to consult our friend Jenny at Tailwind!  Just FYI not only do they sell an awesome product but they are very knowledgeable and always more than happy to help plan fueling for a race.

Emir finished at 4:16.  I know he was and still is disappointed but really I'm so proud of him.  He has many reasons in his head about why he's doubting whether he should run road marathons or not (which I'll let him describe if he wants).  But really he has had a nasty foot injury since mid October.  There was a couple weeks where it hurt him just to stand around for a bit, not walking, not running.  He persevered, rested it and treated it with various remedies.  He gave it his all both in NYC and Philly.  I think it's pretty damn amazing for someone who's marathon PR is 4:07 to run 4:26 and 4:16 in a 2 week span dealing with an injury.  I really hope he will try a road marathon again, I just know he will get his sub 4!

Overall I'm feeling pretty proud of all of us.  Cindy smashed her goal with 1:52.  I've already told you why I'm proud of my husband.  And myself despite my few moments of despair, I have a lot to be proud of.  If it was so easy to PR every race then there would be no challenge and no reason to keep working so hard and it wouldn't be nearly as much fun.  The ups and downs are what keep it interesting.  I've had a great fall.  I had fun and enjoyed every single race we ran, Blues Cruise 50k, Runner's World Half and Festival, NYCM and Philly Marathon.  I set PRs in 10K, half marathon, marathon and 50K.  And now I have a new goal, run 2 marathons in 2 weeks and sub 4 in both ;-)  So I guess I'll just have to do this again! 

I will have to find a different race though since I'm committed to not running NYCM again but would run Philly every year in a heart beat.  I love my city and I love this race (and not just because it is in my city although being less than half of what NYCM costs helps!).  Everything was well organized and runner oriented.  The volunteers knew what was going on and super friendly and wonderful at the aide stations.  If you were a runner, it was easy to get in to the start area and out of the finish area and it was no problem to have a hydration pack.  Unlike in NYC we were back at my sister's house before noon.  I love that even though there are over 30,000 people between the half and the full, everyone is able to start within the first 30 minutes of the race no one has to sit around waiting for hours.  I didn't check a bag myself this year but at the finish I saw the UPS trucks and people were able to easily walk up and get their bag within 2 minutes.  So many people had talked up NYCM to us about how you have never seen anything like it.  So many people, so much cheering, such a fun course that Philly doesn't even compare.  Last year was our first time running Philly and like I had said I did have some residual negative feelings about the 2nd half of the course.  I also was thinking hmmm maybe people are right, I can't remember exactly how Philly was at this point so maybe I just thought it was pretty good since I didn't really have much to compare to.  Now having done the two races so close together, in all honesty, Philly is freakin awesome!  People are out (definitely less than NYC but there are less people that live in Philly!), they are enthusiastic, energized, tons of great signs, people shouting your name, handing you beer, fruit, water.  Despite the out and back nature of the second half, I still think it's a fantastic course showcasing our beautiful city and it's diversity.  Nothing against NYC, it was a great race too (nice course, great crowds) even despite the waiting game in the beginning and an hour walk to the exit at the end.  I will always be glad that I was lucky enough to experience the NYCM.  But I'm still left wondering, why is NYC considered the best marathon?  What exactly is it that makes it SO much better than other races? 
My forever bad toe

Never ending battle with chafage!
Also found more chafage later on my low back

So what's up next?  Why it's the Rocky Run 50K!  It's taking place on Dec 7th and being put on by our #ultrachat pal Rebecca.  We will be following the footsteps of Rocky himself around Philly.  This of course is a Fatass style run so we won't be racing just running all in good fun ;-)  So if you are in the Philly area come join us!! I also am testing 3 new pairs of shoes that will be coming out in the Spring so you can look forward to my reviews of them coming soon!!!!