The One and Only Boston Marathon

I haven’t been the best blogger lately. I have had things to post about (a new half PR at the Carlsbad Half Marathon in January, two new PRs in the 10k – first in February at the Super Bowl 10k and then at She.Is.Beautiful in March – maybe I’ll post about those some day). But my focus has been with other things – namely trying get work done on the dissertation. But I HAVE to post about Boston. Yesterday felt like a dream and I can’t stop thinking about it. (PS lots of photos and long post today… I think that’s ok!)

My parents were nice enough to come up Wednesday evening and stay through Monday to watch our pups for us (our friend and SCE teammate, Selena, is helping out the rest of the trip) – thanks!!! Thursday we got to spend a little time with them and then finish up packing. That evening I was participating in a Civil War forum, which was awesome! But made for little sleep because Friday morning, Kevin and I left the house at 3:30am(!) to catch our 6:50am flight out of SFO. One of the nice things about getting to the airport that early is that there are no lines – not to check baggage, not security, not at the one place open at 5:30am in Jet Blue’s terminal. The flights were easy, we had a short lay over at JFK (hi for a hot second New York!). But my stomach was all twisted from gross airport food and I think the air pressure of the planes just gets to me.

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After a bit of confusion trying to get an Uber at the Logan Airport – you can’t – we were on our way to our Air B&B, just steps away from the Bunker Hill Monument – so cool! It was nice to stay in Charlestown rather than downtown because I tend to get caught up with all the stuff, and that can have a negative impact on my race. So instead we were in our little world and it didn’t feel like the most amazing race was happening in just a few days. Our host gave us some tips for dinner, we got some delicious food at Figs, and then were fast asleep after a long day.

Bunker Hill Monument

Bunker Hill Monument

Our home street while in Boston

Our home street while in Boston

Saturday I had planned to hit up the expo but we just didn’t get moving early enough. I did a quick run-seeing tour of the neighborhood we’re staying in and then Kevin and I met up with Chris at Cask n Flagon for a beer, a few steps from Fenway. We had to see a Red Sox game while we were in town! It was beautiful weather (I couldn’t believe the forecast was calling for showers just two days later) and the game was fun, even though the Sox lost. After the game, we met back up with Chris, as well Susan, and a couple other friends. We walked to Cambridge, across the Charles River, for some local beer and dinner at Meadhall. Then we headed back to our little place.

Fenway!

Fenway!

Go Red Sox!

Go Red Sox!

Charles River

Charles River

Sunday morning I did my shakeout run and felt really good. I couldn’t believe how good my legs were still feeling after training and traveling. Many times before a marathon I can feel myself starting to get tired, so this was good news! After the run, Kevin and I headed out to the expo. The are so efficient at getting out the bibs, kudos! We quickly went through the expo (Kevin wanted some new Nike Frees… I forgot that Niketown was across the street and after realizing when we got back, said we could go after the race… yeah that didn’t happen). Then we walked down Boylston for some coffee and to see the finish line. We didn’t stay too long as we both wanted to get some work done and I wanted to lay low before the race. One of the nice things about staying at a place with a kitchen is that I could make dinner instead of eating out and not knowing if I would find what I wanted.

It's official - I got my bib!

It’s official – I got my bib!

The Continental Army wanted to wish me luck at my marathon! ;)

The Continental Army wanted to wish me luck at my marathon! 😉

Monday! Race Day! I woke up a little after 6am to make breakfast and get all my stuff situated. It wasn’t raining but was a little chilly. No problem. After eating my oatmeal, I got an Uber to take me to Boston Common. He was a funny guy and when the traffic got real bad and he knew that he couldn’t get me any closer, he asked “you’re running the marathon, you can walk 4 blocks, right?” Yep. So I followed the crowd to the Common where I didn’t wait to long before boarding a school bus on the long drive to Hopkinton. I dozed off here and there on the ride, ate a Picky bar, and watched the scenery. It rained a little on our way but didn’t seem too bad. And it wasn’t raining when we stopped. We got to Athlete’s Village and it was cold, wet, muddy, and amazing. So many runners! I had layered well, so didn’t mind the cold too much. I grabbed half a bagel, some water, and a coffee and just wondered around a bit to keep warm. I jogged a little warm up, about a mile, around in Athlete’s Village. Then I packed up my pockets with my gels, phone, and inhaler. I brought more gels with me than I usually do in a marathon, so it looked pretty silly. But I’m glad I did because I used all but one during the race. Finally, they called Wave 3 to start moving toward the corrals.

It was a bit rainy - thanks Bob & Jaime for the radar screenshot :)

It was a bit rainy – thanks Bob & Jaime for the radar screenshot 🙂

Many of my friends had told me about Athlete’s Village and the walk to the start. That’s how I knew to bring clothes that I was ok with tossing but would keep me warm while I waited, which wasn’t super long. But I didn’t realize how cool the walk from Athlete’s Village to the start would be. Families cheer for you like you’re a celebrity. You feel like you’re in a parade. It was rad. Before going to my corral, I made a final stop at the Port-o-potty. I kept my warm clothes for as long as possible. I ditched the pants on the way to the start because as I thought it might be a pain to take them off there – I think I was right. But I kept my two extra long sleeves on until minutes before we started. I chatted with some other runners, a couple first timers like me. It started to sprinkle but who cares at that point! And then we were off!

Hopkinton from Runner's World

Hopkinton from Runner’s World

I had a goal in mind for my race. I had a great training cycle and knew I could pull off a PR at Boston. But I also knew it was a hard course and I wanted to enjoy the marathon as much as possible. So I balanced those two things, mostly for the first 16 miles or so. After that it was less of a choice. I knew that the first mile was downhill and it is easy to go too fast and that can destroy a race. But I didn’t have to worry, it was so crowded that I couldn’t have gone faster than my 8:19 first mile if I had wanted to. After that I got into a grove, hanging around a 7:45 pace for the first 13 miles – just what I wanted to do.

What are you looking at?

What are you looking at?

It was a little cold and rainy, but not terrible. Once you’re in the rain, it’s not bad and I was just happy it wasn’t hot! Apparently there were not quite as many spectators because of the weather but they were still awesome! Great signs – too many to remember. But I love that Boston accent – with crowds telling me to “Run Fastah!” and “Go hahd!” The guy singing the old lounge music was awesome and the group playing some New Kids of the Block made me smile. The course was good for me, as it rolls through its negative downhill first 16 miles. I loved seeing the mile markers with the town names and the miles painted onto the road. I didn’t know what the 6 Mile Moment was but I loved the signs anyway. I loved seeing the kids on the porches cheering for us, the Boston Strong signs and flags, the genuine excitement from the runners and spectators. So cool! We got to Wellesley and I knew we were near half way. Those college girls do not disappoint they were the best part so far! Everything was going so perfect.

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The next three miles flew by and then we were entering the Newton Hills. But I had this. I was good. I kept reminding myself of all the Wilder runs, the hill we pounded up in Los Gatos, that I had this. I passed some people heading up the first hill. Still I slowed down here more than I had planned. The winds had kicked in at this point. I tried to tuck behind people to get out of the wind but it was hard. Either I was too far from someone and I wasn’t going to sprint to save energy… that seems counter productive or I tucked behind someone but it didn’t make much of a difference. It was also the coldest to me during miles 16-21. My hands were cold and it took a lot of work to get the gel out of my pocket, zip the pocket back up, and open the packet. They just weren’t cooperating in the cold. I had an idea where Heartbreak Hill was but didn’t realize I was finally on it until some guy yelled “You conquered Heartbreak Hill!” I had? Then why was I still running up it? A few minutes later I saw the official end of the hill. I knew I could do this! 5 miles left! I thought of my 5am 5 mile runs with Kim and told myself that’s all this was. Miles 16-21 were my slowest, all in the 8 minute range with Heartbreak Hill at 8:34.

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Once we were in the 20s, there were huge crowds. Brookline crowds kept me moving and helped me get to the 7:50ish pace that I maintained for the rest of the race. I heard several spectators yell and cheer. They would pick a runner, myself included, and point to someone ahead of you “You can get him! You’re fastah than him! Go get him!” It made me laugh and I’m sure it also made me run faster.

Kevin's view before I came into the finish

Kevin’s view before I came into the finish

Then I saw the Citgo sign… away in the distance but I knew once I got to it, I only had a mile left. Some miles flew by, others dragged on. Mile 22-23, slow – I felt like I was there forever. But 25 and 26, whizzed by.

1 mile to go!

1 mile to go!

As I got close to the finish I worried I wouldn’t see Kevin in the crowds. We had talked about where he might be and we knew I might not see him because of all the people. But just as I turned on to Boylston I heard him yell for me. I was so happy to see him! I was so happy to be on Boylston. I picked it up and fought hard to run the last .2 at a 7 minute pace. I was happy but also almost felt like I would cry .. coming across that finish line that I had dreamed about, that I had seen in smoke on tv just two years ago, it was emotional and amazing. And I knew I had a PR and another BQ. I thought it was 3:28:XX but was stoked to find out it was a little quicker – 3:27:45! A 6 minute PR! At Boston!

Looking for Kevin

Looking for Kevin

Kevin got a couple photos as I passed him!

Kevin got a couple photos as I passed him!

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Grimace/smile coming up to the finish

Grimace/smile coming up to the finish

I went into the shoot and very quickly realized how cold I was. I took off the arm warmers, which were now wet and cold and doing me no favors. I texted my mom and dad to let them know I finished. And glanced at the text messages from friends – thanks! I wanted my medal and my space blanket. The volunteers were amazing. They knew we were all cold. They opened our water bottles and our protein shakes, I downed mine immediately, they helped up put on the blankets. As I got toward the end of the finisher’s area, there was a med tent with heating buses. I was really cold, shaking, and my right hand was so cold it felt hot – weird I know. I clearly looked as cold as I felt as one of the volunteers asked how I was. I told her my hand was cold and she directed me toward a heating bus. But it was full. So one of the other medical volunteers took me and a few others to a restaurant on the corner to get warm. He asked the people waiting for a table if we could have their seats, which they graciously gave us. Seriously, the Boston Marathon volunteers are the BEST! I texted Kevin to let him know I had to warm up a bit first before finding him. Finally I ventured back out and it took us a little while to connect. We were basically at opposite ends of the spectator/runners area. But yay we found each other! Kevin gave me his jacket and we headed back to our place.

All bundled up!

All bundled up!

IMG_7370We’re here for a few more days and will be doing some historical sight seeing. But I have to end with this: Boston was a dream… it almost feels like it didn’t happen! It was the most amazing, magical, unicorn-filled race of my life. Thanks to all who supported me and cheered me on! 😀

Thanks Boston!

Thanks Boston!

Doing the Tourist Thing in Santa Cruz

On Monday, my best friend and Maid of Honor in my wedding, drove down with her family to spend a few days visiting us in the Cruz. I have known Monica since I was 14 years old and even though we only live 2 1/2 hours apart, it had been forever since we had last hung out and this was the first time she and her fam had made it to Santa Cruz. And we had jam-packed activities, including things I rarely do in my town.

On Monday we took the Santa Cruz Trolley from downtown to the Boardwalk. (Have you ridden it yet? It’s only a quarter and takes you from downtown to the Boardwalk and vice versa. It runs every 15 minutes on the weekends and 20 minutes on weekdays. Four year old Andrew said it was his favorite ride!)

Selfie on the Trolley with the Davis fam

Selfie on the Trolley with the Davis fam

After we got to the Boardwalk, we alternated adult riding duties for a variety of rides including the Giant Dipper, the Looff Carousel, Undertow, the ferris wheel and some kiddie rides (including the super weird Cave Train Adventure…). The kids had some good Boardwalk food and ice cream. The Boardwalk has lots of $1 options on Mondays and Tuesdays, so you can be pretty frugal even with 3 kids in tow. Then we dragged some super tired kids back downtown to meet my hubs for dinner at Betty’s.

Selfie on the Cave Train ... before entering the Cave

Selfie on the Cave Train … before entering the Cave

Tuesday we had another full day. This time we drove down to the Boardwalk to hop on the Roaring Camp Railroad. Even though I live along the train route and have been in Santa Cruz for nearly 5 years, this was the first time I had ridden the train. It takes about an hour to get from the beach to Roaring Camp (just outside Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park). And the hubs even came out with the pups to wave as we passed our house. That was pretty awesome of him to do! At the Camp, we got some lunch and toured the shop, blacksmith spot, the printing press (with some questionable “history” given to the kids…), and then walked across the tracks to take the small redwoods loop in Henry Cowells. I thought this was way more fun than the actual Camp since the kids could run around a bit more and it’s just so pretty.

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Looking up at the redwoods

Looking up at the redwoods

After we rode the train back, we changed into our swimsuits and headed to the beach. Sadly, I think this was the first time I’d actually hung out at the beach this year (except for taking the pups down for a walk). It was great weather and we hung out for a few hours to wear out the kiddos and catch up with each other. Then it was back to the house.

Last week, my parents surprised the hubs and I by getting us an early anniversary gift: a Weber grill! And it was perfect timing since Monica was coming up and we got to grill up some salmon and burgers. Monica made some good sides and it was a perfect dinner. Add in some good beers and it was a perfect end to the day.

Grilling up!

Grilling up!

Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing is always a good choice!

Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing is always a good choice!

Wednesday morning Monica’s family packed up and headed out. I was sad to see them go, but I think they’ll be back in Santa Cruz again soon!

This weekend I’ll be missing out on another Santa Cruz local treasure: the annual Wharf to Wharf race. (I’m running the San Francisco Marathon, which sadly falls on the same day). But you can keep up with the race and get a great recap from my friend’s brand new blog: laps.lunges.leather.  (I’m so excited for Leslie to be joining the blogging community!) Check out her first post on her expectations and history with Wharf to Wharf.

What’s your favorite “tourist” activity in your town? Are you racing Wharf to Wharf or SFM this weekend?

A Little Trip to the City

When I was in fourth grade, my parents took me to San Francisco. I remember driving over the Golden Gate Bridge, visiting Pier 39, eating chocolate at Ghirardelli Square, and getting a souvenir from China Town. But what I remember most is falling in love with the city. Ever since that trip, I’ve loved San Francisco. Back in southern California I cheered for SF teams (the hubs is still frustrated when I say I’m a Giants and a Padres fan), including cheering for the 49ers at the preseason San Diego game following their defeat of the Chargers in 1995. When we moved to Santa Cruz, I was so excited to be just 90 minutes away from SF. For a brief time, we considered moving to the city but we decided to stay put in Santa Cruz (good decision, love our town and its fun to have SF as a place to visit still). Anytime I have an excuse to make it up the city, I take it. So for the second year in a row, I joined the hubs for part of his time in the city attending WWDC. Last year, I came up for 2 1/2 days, this year it was just a day and a half. But still, so much fun!

My little vacay included good food (Tropisueno, GhirardelliSuper Duper Burger, 21st Amendment Brewery, and The Grove), window shopping (ok a little real shopping too), and some runseeing (my word for sight-seeing during a run, perhaps I could start a business doing this…). On Sunday night we had to enjoy margaritas and Mexican food since we were so close to Tropisueno. But then we were super bad and indulged in a sea salt caramel sundae from Ghirardelli. On Monday, we headed to 21st Amendment Brewery and restaurant. I am a big fan of their beer so I was excited to it out. I decided to try a blonde ale, since its not available outside of the brewery. The Conventional, name of the blonde ale, was really good. I don’t normally seek out blonde ales, so that was a nice surprise. Our table enjoyed several different beers (several of the hubs’ co-workers joined us) and we agreed that the Conventional was good, the IPA fans liked Gigantes IPA, but we did not care for Saison de Voile.

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Danger!

Danger!

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So many choices!

So many choices!

I only had a 6 mile run on my schedule for the time I was in the city. It was an easy run, so I decided to make it fun and take photos along the way. If you follow me on instagram you saw them all but here are some of my faves.

Always a good route for a run

Always a good route for a run

Saving the run over the bridge for the SF Marathon

Saving the run over the bridge for the SF Marathon

Not everyday I see a gold dude walking down the street

Not everyday I see a gold dude walking down the street

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This was my fave photo of the run

Ferry Building

Ferry Building

Cupid's Arrow

Cupid’s Arrow

The hubs did the Apple thing, getting up SUPER early (this is the one time of the year that he’s getting up before 5am and not the other way around) to get into the keynote. (Side note, the Apple fangirl in me is really excited about the new OS, Yosemite, and some of the cool things that will be connecting between Apple devices, and of course the Health integration, let’s hope Strava gets in on that!) For the rest of the week, he’ll be busy learning all the new stuff about iOS 8 and learning a new programming language (that sounds hard!).

But my little trip to the city is over and I made it back in time to vote!

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Don’t forget, today  June 4, is National Running Day! If you are in the Central Coast, join Santa Cruz Endurance and Santa Cruz Running Company for a 6 mile fun run (all paces welcome!). We start at SCRC at 6pm and then will head to Discretion Brewery for some beer to celebrate.

From John, the Running Joke Cartoon artist & SCE member

From John, the Running Joke Cartoon artist & SCE member

What’s your favorite big city? How are you participating in National Running Day?

A Little Tahoe Escape

If you follow me on Twitter (@megatha), you know I did something crazy this weekend: I didn’t run. Not one step. I think the last time I had a run free weekend was following a marathon (after LA try to take about a week off of running to recover post marathon). Don’t fret, I still got in all my miles (I ran 40 miles in 5 days so I could enjoy the weekend). Why did I shove all my runs together and not run this weekend you ask? Well, for a fun mini-vacay in Tahoe of course!

The hubs and I drove up to Tahoe late-ish on Friday night (we both had work and didn’t leave until around 6pm). After piling in our bags and pups (who I believe had more things coming with them for the weekend than we did), we enjoyed a romantic dinner from In N Out on the way (seriously, this was what I wanted to eat more than anything and the strawberry shake kept me happy through the crummy traffic – not like I could complain, I didn’t drive…).

Saturday morning temps

Saturday morning temps

Our weekend was quick, but it was fun. We laid around our condo on the lake, I read pretty much all of this month’s book club choice (Let’s Pretend it Never Happened by The Bloggess is my new favorite book – I hope our discussion of it goes something like this: Wasn’t this funniest read ever? Yes! Let’s just read our favorite passages and drink wine! Yes!). We played some slots at Harrah’s on the Nevada side (another important piece of information: I find slot machines entertaining, I find slot machines with a Wizard of Oz motif way more entertaining). And we ate delicious Italian food on Saturday night at Scusa. I even came home with a fun bear mug from the place we had breakfast on Sunday.And while it wasn’t as cold as the last time we went to Tahoe, it did lightly snow late Saturday night/early Sunday morning.

Manhattan in the casino

Manhattan in the casino

Newest addition to the mug collection.

Newest addition to the mug collection.

And now it’s Monday, President’s Day. No work! Ok let’s be real – I don’t have to teach but I have a huge stack of papers to grade. And some mile repeats to run later today.

Did you take a mini-vacay over this long weekend? Do you ever take a weekend vacay from running?

Hanging in Boulder

This past weekend, the hubs and I ventured out to Boulder, Co. (if you read my last Fit Friday post, you already knew this). We visited Boulder partially because I had the opportunity to present at the Rocky Mountain Interdisciplinary History Conference at the University of Colorado. But we also have several friends in Boulder and were excited to visit them. In fact, we saw one of them as we were boarding the plane from San Jose (he had been in town briefly for work). This meant we had a buddy in our row on the flight (and I shared one of my Southwest drink coupons with him and Kevin).

Standard travel gear.

Standard travel gear.

Uh, Denver Airport has some interesting murals...

Uh, Denver Airport has some interesting murals…

... and saw this guy when we were leaving the airport.

… and saw this guy when we were leaving the airport.

Once we landed, our good friend Pat picked us up and we had an uneventful night since it was pretty late. But the rest of our weekend was all about good friends, good beer, good runs, and a good presentation (and excellent panel on engaging students) at the conference. I was able to see several, but not all of my friends, in the area. We visited the Aquarium in Denver and hiked a couple miles of the Chautauqua trails near the flatirons (much of the trails were closed due to the recent floods but we did get in a little exploring). We saw the Boulder History Museum and the Google offices. And we enjoyed some good BBQ and homemade pizza.

Yum!

Yum!

Our friend Ryan & his family have a great view!

Our friend Ryan & his family have a great view!

I had been a little worried about my presentation. My paper had gotten some tough critiques that I received the day we left and I wasn’t super excited about presenting it anymore. But it ended up going really well. The commenter provided some excellent feedback with some questions I hadn’t yet explored and that I think will really strengthen the essay. My co-panelist had a really interesting topic and helped me think of some new ideas for a lecture I need to give later in the semester.

Great running views

Great running views

Hiking in Boulder

Hiking in Boulder

I got in some excellent runs. While the elevation definitely made its impact, the runs were beautiful and varied. I joined one of Pat’s friends for the first one, explored an out and back route solo on Saturday, and got Pat’s girlfriend to show me a different loop on Sunday. Finding people to run with while traveling definitely makes the runs more fun!

Was happy to be reunited with this sweet little lady :)

Was happy to be reunited with this sweet little lady 🙂

Kevin and I had a great time in Boulder and for the friends we didn’t get to see, we will definitely be back!