It’s Monday, November 13. That means this is my final full week of actual running for a while. Sure, my half marathon is actually on Sunday – but most runners will tell you their weeks go Monday-Sunday anyway – and I’m doing a Turkey Trot with my dad on Thanksgiving (at his pace, whatever that may be), but this is the final week of half marathon training and any sort of prescribed runs.
Saturday’s long run was…not great. I was so grateful for Meghan getting me out of the house and to Heartbreak Hill Running Company for their group run. I had walked Chip around 7:30am in what I planned to wear on my run, plus my down parka, and was sweating bullets halfway through. I knew I was going to be overdressed, so I decided to skip the long johns under my running tights as well as the fleece neck gaiter. Instead, I wore unlined tights, a tank top, a long-sleeve thermal/base layer, my DFMC running jacket (that converts into a vest if needed), my running gloves, and a thin but wide headband that covers my ears and a good chunk of my head. I also wore sunglasses for the first time on a run in months – it may have been 17 degrees with the wind chill, but there wasn’t a cloud in the sky!
We met up at the store where no one said hi to us or even acknowledged our presence, except for the HHRC employee. There were maybe 20-25 people, all of whom were gone from our sight line within the first half-mile except for one older woman behind us who seemed to disappear pretty early on. Most of these runners are on the Heartbreakers team, and are Boston qualifiers. We were reassured this group run was for all levels, but that our pace was on the slower end, and that was indeed accurate.
I was only cold for maybe the first 3 minutes. The front of my thighs eventually went numb from being cold – an issue I had all during marathon training, hence investing in a base layer recently – but I ditched the gloves after about 2 miles.
We started at the store, which is at Mile 21 of the Boston Marathon course and at the base of Heartbreak Hill. It was nice to get this over with at the very beginning, but we know lots of other hills awaited us. We ran the carriage road all the way to the BC campus, where we crossed Comm Ave., ran through the eastern edge of campus to the Chestnut Hill Reservoir, then turned left onto Beacon. I’ve only run up Beacon here maybe once, and it sure did suck. Based on the last few months of running, I have been slightly faster than Meghan but she was mentally pushing me through this ENTIRE run. I felt slow and cold and just generally awful. I got a Charley horse just as we were leaving the BC campus – the first one I think I’ve ever experienced on a run. My left calf just suddenly exploded in pain and I cried out. We had to stop for a second, but just as soon as it came on, it was gone. Thank goodness.
Once we reached Newton Centre, it had been almost 4 miles and I thought maybe my caffeine-laced GU would help. We tried to pop into Starbucks to grab a literal sip of water so I could wash it down, but the barista informed us two sweaty, out-of-breath runners that we needed to wait in the 10-person line in order to request a free cup of tap water. Yet another reason I hate Starbucks. Poor Meghan didn’t even need water and had to follow me as I stormed out of the stupid store, without water.
I took my GU dry, and I was officially running on a route I’d never run before – Beacon Street west of Newton Centre. We followed this the entire way to Washington St/Route 16/Newton-Wellesley Hospital/the marathon course. This is where, during the marathon, the 4 Newton hills begin. The first one felt like no big deal this time. We had already run 6.5 miles, I had been complaining the entire time, and I knew there were only 2 more hills after this one (since we’d already covered the 4th and final one – Heartbreak). Once we reached the top, we were at the Newton Firehouse where the course makes a right-hand turn. We stopped at the firehouse so I could pee and grab a sip of water. When I pulled down my pants, I saw how bright red my thighs were. They were numb but stung to the touch. I really need to buy tights with the wind panel on the front, because my legs didn’t feel cold but the wind was clearly chapping the heck out of them.
After we both used the bathroom, I never really warmed up again. The headwind on the next 2 hills was intense, and I had to put my gloves back on for the rest of the run. I have never been so happy to run these hills, because I knew they meant we were almost done. And finally, we were.
There were only 3 people at the store. Everyone else had long since finished and gone home. Those 3 people – all women – again did not acknowledge either of us. We got our pictures taken, Polaroid style, and they’ll be up on the wall inside the store where all the other finishers of the official HHRC Firehouse 10-mile run have their photos displayed, but otherwise this was not a thing I intend to do again. Sure the route was great and having a bathroom and a warm place to start/finish was nice, but the group was not at all welcoming and clearly it is not actually meant for runners of all abilities/paces like it claims to be. Oh well. I don’t shop there anyway (I am a Marathon Sports loyalist), so nothing gained, nothing lost. And I tried something new and now know that I’m not missing out on anything on Saturday mornings.
Afterward, I took a long, hot bath with my new pre/post workout Epsom salts, following by an equally long, equally hot shower. I did my PT homework while I was still feeling loose, but I was really tired. I turned on the Florida game in time to see a few minutes of the 2nd quarter. I walked Chip then walked to Whole Foods to pick up a few things for lunch as well as our bibs and swag bags for the 5K the next day. Otherwise, I was a couch potato the rest of the night. I even ordered pizza because I could not be bothered to cook or buy actual groceries. For some reason, I just had no energy at all.
I woke up around 4am on Sunday and knew exactly why my energy level was so low on Saturday – female problems! I took a handful of ibuprofen, got back under the covers with my heating pad on as high as it goes, and reset my alarm for 7:30 instead of 7am. When it went off, I was honestly debating telling Juls I couldn’t do the 5K – I felt THAT bad. But, this was her 2nd 5K ever and we had signed up 2 months earlier, and I had committed to run the whole thing with her. So I put on my big girl panties (actually granny panties), and got myself going.
I arrived right around 7:30, and she had been sitting in her car since about 7:15. She drove from 45 minutes away, and I was surprised at how dead the parking lot was. The last time I ran this race, I had to park several blocks away. I got in her car so we could wait together until it got closer to 8am. We decided that the cold weather (it was 26 degrees and completely cloudy, so it actually felt a lot colder than the previous morning) kept a lot of people away. We finally got out of the car around 7:50 and headed to the start line, where there was almost nobody. What the heck?
8am rolled around, and then 8:03. At 8:05 I was starting to think we might win this thing, because no one else was lining up and the race wasn’t looking like it was about to begin. I suddenly had a sneaking suspicion so I whipped out my phone to check the event website, and sure enough – the race started at 9am, not 8am.
Oh. My. God. I feel so stupid. And bad for Juls. She had a cold and yet had left her house at 6:30am for a 9am race because I said it started at 8am. I apologized about a million times and she reassured me it was fine, she was awake that early anyway, and that she also thought it said 9am but should have double-checked instead of relying on me. Ha. Oh well!
We got back in her car for another 45 minutes, killing time by chatting and looking at her family photo shoot from earlier in the week. Finally it was time to line up.
I was really struggling to get warm. I think the lack of sun was really making me a lot colder than Saturday. I had on basically the same outfit, but what I really needed was a warmer outer layer instead of a windbreaker, since there wasn’t any wind. I remained cold for the rest of the run and never did take off my gloves.
We started slow, which I have become accustomed to doing on most of my runs. Sure, this was a “race,” but Juls wasn’t racing and therefore, neither was I. I let her determine our pace. When we got to the Mile 1 marker, she said, “That’s it?” but I was like, “Girl! You just ran for a mile without stopping! I couldn’t do that when I first started running!” She didn’t train for this race, wasn’t feeling well, and had also been sick in October. Running for a mile without stopping is pretty dang impressive!
We walked a few times, for longer than we probably should have given how cold we were, but her hips were really bothering her. Funny, that is what used to hurt me so much when I first started running, too. And she’s been carrying around a human for the last 2 years, so her hips are always bothering her.
I really needed to pee after the first 2 miles, so I took a detour to the unofficial portapotty that I only knew about from running 5Ks along a similar route in the summer. This actually added about 1/10th of a mile to my run, but it was totally worth it. I felt so much better afterward, and it gave Juls a few minutes to run at her own pace without worrying about me. I sprinted to catch up with her, but even that only made me sweat and didn’t actually warm up my body.
We finished in 39:03 (official), and I am so dang proud of her! Cold weather running is not easy, especially untrained. We took a selfie and then I unfortunately had to dash off to my 10am barre class, which I only signed up for because I thought the 5K was at 8am. Oops!
I got to the New Balance store with 90 seconds to spare. I changed into yoga pants and a tank top, and was on my mat just as class was getting underway. My running bestie Jess was there and had saved me a spot next to her, and was a really good sport about the class – which is not her cup of tea. She boxes as her cross training, something I probably could never do. It’s so hard! But this class was, too. It was way harder than the barre3 classes I’ve taken, but that might also be because A. I had just started my period, B. I had just run a 5K in the cold, C. I had run 10 miles less than 24 hours earlier, or D. all of the above! It felt like a 5-hour class and while I know it was a good workout, I was so happy when it was over.
The class was actually called Barre & Bagels so I enjoyed half of an egg bagel with cream cheese, then Jess and I went in search of coffee. We decided to try the place directly next-door to New Balance, called Kohi Coffee. Big mistake. It was a really pretentious cafe. I ordered a macchiato and was informed it was the size of an espresso shot. When asked if I was thinking of a Starbucks-type macchiato, I said, “Yes, that!” The cashier informed me, “That’s more of a latte.” What? No it isn’t. A macchiato is mostly milk and a latte is mostly coffee. Whatever. I ordered the damn latte and then realized my debit card was in the car. Jess was kind enough to pay for my drink, which was wildly overpriced at $5 something. She got a regular large coffee, which came in a cup the size of any other cafe’s small cup. My latte took a legit 10 minutes. Granted, the leaf design was beautiful and Instagram-worthy, but the coffee wasn’t even hot and took way too long.
After saying goodbye to Jess, I went next-door to Stop & Shop to pick up groceries for the week. I spilled about 1/3rd of my latte all over the floor in the produce section, and honestly wasn’t sad about it (but I did ask an employee for paper towels and he refused to let me clean up my mess myself – thanks guy!).
After a nice hot shower, I tried to take a nap. I kept nodding off but would wake up, probably because I was thinking about how much I needed to get done. I still had to meal-prep my lunches for the week and clean the entire apartment. So, instead of napping, I did those things. I ended up on the couch for several hours of Netflix, took Chip on a few walks, and got into bed just as the Patriots game was starting. I was too tired to focus, so I kept it on in the background while I watched old Grey’s episodes on my iPad until sleep finally came.
This morning, my cramps were even worse than they were yesterday. I woke up at 6 but went back to sleep for another 30 minutes, trying to will the pain away. I finally got up and walked Chip, but felt so truly awful on the walk – the cramps were radiating up my back and down my legs, and I actually felt nauseated and really fever-ish – that I emailed my boss to say I needed to work from home. Like always, she was totally cool about it and said she was working from home as well. I got back under the covers with Chip and my work laptop and my heating pad, and spend most of the day there. I unregistered myself for my 7pm sculpt class (and did the same with last night’s 7pm “heal flow” gentle yoga class), because my body is clearly craving solace and solitude.