Exported from the streets of NYC to the suburbs of CT: I work in fashion. I love to run. I have long hair. I laugh a lot. My personality is my strongest suit. And I've been called nuts on numerous occasions.

Boston 2014 - Part 2 of 2

The Race (aka, the good stuff, in case you’ve opted to bypass Part 1. Click HERE for Part 1.)

I didn’t realize that I totally missed the start of my wave by going to the bathroom for a second time. By the time I got to the starting line, runners were literally just trotting into the starting chute and starting to run. I had missed the pop and circumstance and the national anthem…but I didn’t have time to worry about that. I took a deep breath and slowly jogged through the starting mats. It all seemed very anticlimactic. 


I ran down the opening hill and wasted no time slapping hands with spectators. I didn’t realize there would be so many people in Hopkinton! And everyone was so excited to be there! High fives for everyone! They’re cheering for me! Yahoo!

Miles 1-5: 7:25, 7:21, 7:21, 7:22, 7:22
I didn’t warm up for the race. The “easy” pace I naturally run at home is between a 7:20-7:30. Since the plan was to stay right in that range for the first 5 miles, I thought I’d be okay just using the start of the marathon as a warmup. And I was right: the first 2 miles felt sluggish, but doable. I reminded myself that this was just a warmup, and sometimes I don’t truly feel “on” until mile 6+ in some of my runs.

I also faced the challenge of being a bit faster than the wave I was in. My qualifying time for Boston was a 3:22, putting me in the 4th corral of wave 2. Since I also insisted on that second bathroom trip, I essentially found myself starting with people from the 7th and 8th corrals from wave 2. I didn’t stress, though, and avoided slower runners by picking a straight route on the far right side of the course that allowed me to sneak by most everyone without wasting too much energy.

                            literally sneaking along the edge of the road.

I noticed that tons of families were offering orange slices on the side of the road. I had never eaten solid food or fruit during a run before, but since it was a bit warm, I decided to see how it’d go. I grabbed my first slice around mile 3…and it did not disappoint. It tasted GOOD and I felt a little burst of quick energy. The juice from the orange was cool and refreshing against the quickly rising temperature.

As good as the orange tasted, it couldn’t mask the fact that I had to really pee. Again. In Part 1, I discussed my peeing issue and inability to pee my pants while running. (Because if you’re running and you REALLY want to PR, you just go in your pants. NBD. At that point, it’s mostly water anyway.)

And then something magical happened at mile 3.

I BEGAN PEEING MY PANTS. There were so many people and so much commotion…I just gave it a try…AND I PEED A LITTLE. I smiled to myself and thought how clever and sneaky I was.

And then that something magical happened again at mile 4.

“Hehehehehee! I can’t wait to see Josh and tell him I peed my pants!”

I couldn’t believe I hadn’t figured out how to do it before then. Let it be known that this Boston Marathon was VERY important for me, not just because I ran a huge PR. –but because I peed my pants while running for the first time ever. I also peed my pants at mile 6, and then again at mile 8. Simply put: it was incredible.

Miles 6-13: 7:14, 7:13, 7:14, 7:13, 7:21, 7:15, 7:13, 7:15, 7:13, 7:15
Like I said: I’m a metronome. I think it has something to do with my rowing background. During this section, I repeated, “lock it in,” to myself over and over, and I tried not to think about anything except running an even pace. “Remember. This is what you’re good at.” Needless to say, I was anxious to get to the part where I’d need to push myself. I tried to not look at my watch so I wouldn’t count down the miles.

image^^deep breaths. locking it in. feeling fresh as i iz.

I took my first two gels at miles 6 and 11. I felt encouraged that my legs felt great and zippier than normal. I also kept eating orange slices whenever the opportunity presented itself to me. And since I was running on the far right side of the road, I was hitting the water and Gatorade stops pretty frequently and making a point to take more than just one sip of the liquid. I also passed several Oiselle teammates, which was really exciting, and chatting with them was a nice break from thinking about the course.

Josh had told me to add in 1-minute surges every few miles along this flat portion. He didn’t want my legs to fall flat once they needed to really WORK later on in the race. I tried my first surge around mile 3 or 4, but I didn’t like how it felt. It actually made me tired, which concerned me a little bit. I tried another surge around mile 6 or 7, and I just didn’t love how I felt again. I felt like I was wasting energy and my legs didn’t feel particularly great…so I stopped. After some of the ridiculously hard workouts I did during training (HELLOOO 20 milers embedded with a tempo AND a fartlek in the middle) I trusted that I would be ready to work and climb up the hills later on in the race.

At mile 10, I passed Team Hoyt—the dynamic father and son duo where Dick Hoyt pushes his son, Rick, in his wheelchair for all 26.2 miles of the marathon. I burst into tears and thought about how amazing the sport of running is, and how incredible it was that I was part of such a huge event.

The Wellesley Scream Tunnel made the final mile of the first half go by quickly. As we approached the girls, several people around me said, “I hear them!!” –and so did I. There was a dull roar of screams that floated above our heads as we got closer and closer to the girls. And when we got there…it was insane. The men running around me literally just stopped. Many trotted over to the Wellesley girls and started kissing them. It was such a spectacle; I was just hysterically laughing the entire time. I was scared to give them high fives. I thought they’d be mad that I didn’t want to kiss them….so I stayed to the left and let the dudes get their jollies in.

First Half – 1:36:04

I smiled. The plan was being executed perfectly. And then I said out loud to myself, “alright Mary, let’s get to work.” 

Miles 14-16: 7:04, 7:05, 6:57
I was only planning on being around a 7:10 in here, but 7:05s felt SOLID, and the course was just getting exciting! My legs started to hurt and feel tired just before the halfway mark, so I embraced the pain at the half and welcomed the shift of focus from an even/steady pace to a slightly faster pace. I like going faster and pushing myself.

I took my third gel at mile 16. The gels were settling really well in my stomach and I was making a special effort to keep drinking at every water stop. Since it was getting hotter, I also made sure to dump a cup over my head. I also kept snacking on oranges and an occasional watermelon slice, which I think made a huge difference. I’ve definitely never eaten so much during a run before, and I think it worked to my advantage here.

Somewhere in this bit, I also ran into Stacey, one of my Oiselle teammates. I met Stacey last year at the New Jersey Marathon—and our paths seem to keep crossing! I asked how she was feeling, and she commented about the heat, and she wasn’t doing as well as she had hoped. I told her I was feeling strong, and I got a huge burst of motivation as I pulled away with her yelling, “go chase down that time, girl!!!!!”


Miles 17-20: 7:05, 7:07, 6:56, 7:05

I was [literally] peeing my pants in excitement when I finally got to the Newton Hills. In all honesty: I had approached the race as a 16-mile warmup to the final 10 miles. It was finally time for me to let it rip!!

Mile 16 ended on a steep decline, so the incline of mile 17 hit me like a ton of bricks. That first incline was ROUGH. Like, really rough. And that’s when I got mad. “This is just fucking stupid,” I thought. “There’s no way that I’m letting this get away from me. I trained all winter for THIS very moment. I canNOT fuck up now.”

As I climbed each hill, I reminded myself to work the hill and not let let it work me. And I thought about how much hill training and work I had put in this winter. The hills were MINE. I was hitting them perfectly on pace, and I was ecstatic. They didn’t feel nearly as bad as some of the Connecticut hills I ran this winter. Could it be that I’m actually starting to be a decent hill runner?!?! …Preposterous.

At mile 19, I was excited to unexpectedly see Josh. He had told me he’d be on the course just after Heartbreak (“so you better get your shit together for when your run by”) so I didn’t expect him so soon, at mile 19. Sadly, I had to wait to tell him about my peeing extravaganza until after the race. 


I also saw
Lindsey and Ashley on mile 18 and I was THRILLED. We exchanged a few words and I was happy to hear they were feeling okay.

Mile 20 was where I learned that Meb had just won. Someone had written on a big sign, “KEEP GOING! MEB JUST WON!! 2:08!” All the runners around me cheered out “MEB!!! YES!” and the news seemed to bring a little spring back into everyone’s step. At that moment, I didn’t realize just how huge it was that Meb had won…but looking back, I’m thankful that the spectators told us. I wondered how Shalane did, but knew I’d find out soon enough.

Mile 21: 7:19
And just like that…I hit Heartbreak Hill. And it was as bad as everyone says it’s going to be. It was just terrible. It kept going and going and going. But I knew that I’d be home free one I got over it!! Thank goodness there was a lot of commotion around me, because I was definitely doing some out-loud pep talking to myself.

^^justtttt running up a hill, talking to myself. NBD.

Josh had told me to take note of how many people around me would just wilt away on the hills…and he was totally right. As I gained power and momentum through each uphill, most everyone around me couldn’t keep up. I plowed my way up heartbreak hill, and when I crested the top, I smiled from ear to ear 

I was ready to rock and roll.

Miles 22-26.2: 6:52, 6:50, 6:48, 6:48, 6:50, last .47 @ 6:22 avg
I took a deep breath and barreled down the backside of Heartbreak. I had my fourth gel at mile 21, and my stomach was surprisingly still okay. My feet, on the other hand, were on fire and I felt like I was floating above the crowds. I couldn’t feel my legs anymore. At that point, I was just ready to work the final few miles. I knew I’d be under 3:10 if I just finished smart.

“Chill out, Mary. You still have to finish this thing.”

Passing by BC was a complete blur, as was seeing Robin and Gabe at mile 24. At some point, someone was handing out banana halves, and I actually stomached most of one, which I was really excited about. I only looked at my Garmin 1-2 times, but I was running consistently between a 6:45-50, so I knew how important fuel was. I had an extra gel in my bra from mile 19, so I ripped it open and slowly sipped on it for a mile or so at mile 23. I figured as long as I could keep food down, I might as well keep eating it. I did NOT want my legs to seize up.

At one point, there was a guy in front of me who dramatically slowed down at the water stop. I, too, had to put the breaks on, and I felt my quads locking up as I did. “No no no no,” I thought, “Must. Keep. Running.” I knew that if I stopped running, I wouldn’t be able to start again. So I pushed on. I kept thinking, “holy crap, how am I seriously running 6:50s in the last 5 miles of a marathon??? wtf is happening??” …but I went with it because that pace, somehow, felt sustainable.

Another memorable moment was when I went for the same water cup as a girl running next to me. It was the last water cup in the row, and I got to it before her, and I saw that she was upset. I took a quick sip and gave the rest of the cup to her…I felt bad that I had grabbed it right in front of her. At that point in a marathon, you really just need to work with the people around you to get the job done.

The last 2 miles seemed like an eternity. I was so ready to stop running. My vision was starting to get a little blurry and I was hardcore riding the pain train. At mile 25, I saw Jenny in front of me. I knew something must have been wrong because she had started quite a ways in front of me. I said hi to her, and she gave me a look of dissatisfaction back. As I inched away from her, I looked back and saw her walking. I tried to encourage her to keep going, but I don’t think there was much I could say at that point to make her feel any better, unfortunately.

I pushed onward in the final mile. I saw the Citgo sign, but my brain was so fuzzy, I barely thought twice about it. The crowds were out of control, and before I knew it, we were taking our right on Hereford, left on Boylston.image^^after the right on Hereford and MAJOR pain face. WTF. no one told me Hereford was an effing hill.

And then I saw the finish line.

I started crying and I felt like I was stumbling through the street. I said out loud to myself, “NO. Not now. Get your shit together you idiot,” and I made myself stop because crying = not being able to breathe. I gave everything I had in the final stretch, and crossed the line with the biggest shit-eating grin of my life.

image^^looking like a huge dork. long hair don’t care.

image^^reaching for the watch. standard.

I crossed the line, looked at my watch, and started hysterically laughing.



I DID IT. Finally. The goal that had been hanging over my head for months…shattered. Crushed. Demolished. Holy fucking shit I did it!!! I BROKE 3:10.

I quickly did the math and realized it was another 14 minute PR. In just a year.

I stumbled to the curb and sat down and started hysterically crying. A medic came over to me and asked if I was okay. I blubbered, “Yes…I’m okay…I just PRed by 14 minutes…AND TOMORROW’S MY BIRTHDAY.” Completely overwhelmed with emotion, I buried my head with my hands and just sat there crying. She responded with, “I see. So these are happy tears??” And I slowly nodded a pitiful, “yes,” in response. 

We sat there without speaking and I appreciated the silence. I wondered to myself if she had been there last year during the bombings. I wondered if she was thinking about them too. I thought about how wonderful the day was, and my heart broke when I thought about last year…how all of that happiness vanished in a matter of seconds. I thought about how lucky I was to be part of such a huge event and I felt so much happiness to be at the finishing line of a race that I’ve admired for so many years. After a few minutes of silence, we both got up. I thanked her for volunteering and proceeded to full on ugly girl cry as a friendly man put the medal around my neck. THE medal. THE Boston Marathon medal that I spent countless hours of training and effort towards. It was mine. I was finally a Boston Marathoner. I was finally a part of this prestigious event that was so much bigger than me, and I was so so proud.

I stumbled through the rest of the finishers’ chute in a complete haze, hoping that the medics wouldn’t plop me into a wheelchair and claim that I needed to lie down. I had priorities. I needed to get to Gabe and give him a kiss and tell him that I DID IT!

A year ago, all I wanted to do was qualify for the Boston Marathon. And I did. And I started this unpredictable running journey that brought me where I am today. And after so many miles, workouts, and hard work, it’s just totally surreal to me that I am a Boston Marathoner. I am unbelievably happy.

image^^Post-race, after an unexpected meetup with Ashley, Lindsey, and Laura. SO happy I was able to meet all of them this weekend.

Boston 2014 - part 1 of 2

It was January when Josh told me I wouldn’t run a sub-3:10 marathon this time around. I was fairly certain a sub-3:10 was in the cards, but I also trust him and his coaching, and I like to be realistic. If he didn’t think I’d go sub-3:10 in Boston, then I guessed he was right.  I was really upset that day he told me no; I didn’t go running and decided to drink wine with friends instead.

But then I got pissed. I thought it was BS that he didn’t believe in me. The next day, I did my scheduled run, and I also made it a private mission to break that 3:10 barrier. I only told a few people about my goal, and I never brought it back up to Josh.

As training went along, I obsessed less about breaking 3:10 and more about enjoying the experience of my first Boston Marathon. By the end of training, I had become a bit more rational. I thought that I’d love to break it; but at the same time, if I was running along and it just wasn’t happening, I wasn’t going to push the issue. I just wanted to enjoy BOSTON.

The night before the race, Josh called to discuss the race plan. (Notice: I said THE NIGHT BEFORE THE RACE. He gave me no race plan until less than 24 hours to the race. Cue all the panic.) During our chat, he asked what I thought I would run, and I said I truly thought I’d run under 3:10. I said I knew it’d be a close one, but I believed I could do it based on my training data. I said if I just wasn’t feeling it in the legs, I’d settle for a 3:11-12. But I knew deep down in my heart I could do it.

Then he gave me his number that he thought I’d run. It was 3:09:35. He said this to me, which became my mantra throughout Monday’s run: 

"Tomorrow isn’t the day to play it safe. Tomorrow is the day to go for it and get it. You’ve worked way too hard not to."

The Plan
The plan was to be conservative for miles 1-5 and stick between a 7:20-30. Then for miles 6 through the halfway point, I needed to “lock it in” between 7:15-20. One of my biggest strengths as a runner is my ability to zone out, and literally just lock into a pace like a metronome. –So I had a lot of confidence going into this middle section.  I was to hit the half between 1:35-37. And then I was to attack.

Attacking at the half meant that I needed to drop the pace 10-15 seconds per mile. I planned on hitting the hills (starting at mile 16) in the 7:10 range. And I was not to waste any energy putting the breaks on my quads running downhill. I was told to let the legs carry me downhill, but never push the pace. If I started running sub-7s, I needed to eat and drink more.

The Morning
I’ve never bonked so many times during training runs as I have this training cycle, so leading into Monday’s race, nutrition was really important to me. I started the morning off with a cup of black coffee, which felt GLORIOUS after cutting it out all week. I ate one mini bagel with peanut butter and jelly and packed another one for the road. I also packed a Picky Bar, a banana, and a myriad of gels.

As much as I tried to preplan my bags and other things, the morning was inevitably rushed. We had used FlipKey to rent an apartment in Jamaica Plain, so we planned on leaving around 6:30 to catch the bus that would take us downtown. Jackie and I were both in Wave 2, so we hurriedly got out the door around 6:40, leaving behind our significant others and Robin, who sadly couldn’t run because of injury.

Once on the bus, it hit me. “Oh my God,” I thought, “I’m actually doing this. I’m actually going to run the Boston Marathon.”


Despite being rushed and semi-late, we checked our bags and boarded the bus to Hopkinton with plenty of time. The ride was LONG and I felt as though my stomach was in my throat the entire ride. I was ridiculously nervous and excited. I somehow was able to eat my second mini bagel, and I drank a large bottle of Powerade Zero and Nuun.

Once we arrived to the Athlete’s Village, Jackie and I bee-lined to the porta-potties. The line was LONG and seemed to not be moving. I was too nervous to be hungry, but I forced myself to eat my Picky Bar and banana. Someone passed sunscreen down the line of bathroom-goers, and I slathered it on my shoulders and some on my nose.

And then we waited. It seemed to take forever, but I let out a sigh of relief when they got to our wave. YES.

But wait. I think…I…omg. I think I have to pee again.

There were three main takeaways from my NJ Marathon recap from last year:

  1. I qualified for Boston
  2. I PRed by 14 minutes
  3. I needed to pee the entire race but for some ungodly reason could not pee my pants

I quickly thought about my inability to pee my pants, so I turned and lined up for the bathroom again. And I missed my corral. But it didn’t matter, because I was NOT running another marathon needing to pee again.

Spoiler alert: I had to pee AGAIN as soon as I lined up in my corral. Stay tuned for what happens next.

2014 NYC Half

“I just want to be somewhere around where I was in the fall. Maybe, like, a 1:29.”

That’s what I said to Josh when he asked what I thought I’d run at the NYC Half. Then he gave me an obscure number, as he always does before races. That number was 1:28:15, which would be a 19-second PR for me.

The number didn’t scare me, but I really didn’t think I’d be able to PR for the race. I thought I’d be lucky to break 1:30. It’s not that my training for Boston hasn’t been good. My Boston training has been great, and I do feel myself getting stronger. But I felt so FAST and zippy in the fall. I just really doubted my ability to run the same kind of race here that I did then.

Oh boy. Was I was dead wrong.

I not only ran what I ran in the fall…but the way I FELT was drastically different. From beginning to end, I had an absolute blast. I felt strong and controlled the entire time, and I barely looked at my watch and pace. I was in total cruise control the entire time…I SMILED…I loved the run. I pushed myself but felt comfortable and happy. It was AWESOME!

^^So enthusiastic. Always.

The one fall race that I didn’t recap on this little blog was the half at Rehoboth Beach, DE. It was more or less a redemption run for me since I was so disappointed at the way I had run at Philly. The Rehoboth race went well and I achieved my two main goals of running a strong, confident race, and PRing. But despite hitting my goals, the run was pretty hard. I worked my butt off the entire race and was gassed by the end. Yes, I negative split, and yes, I had an awesome final 5k. BUT I remember feeling as though I was really WORKING starting mile 3-4. I looked back on my splits from that day, and they were consistently in the mid-6:40s…but I remember that pace feeling HARD.

Well the NYC Half was SO different.

I met up with the group at 6:30 in Columbus Circle. Unlike last year, I was prepared this year with throwaway clothes and pants. We chatted and slowly walked into the park around 7, but because of the masses of people, I ended up losing everyone in the GCR group and found myself alone.  I was eerily calm about it, though, so I quietly walked into the park alone. I took a quick porta potty break (WITH NO LINE. THERE WAS NO PORTA POTTY LINE, PEOPLE. NYRR, YOU WIN AT LIFE.)

There were so many people in the park, but I tried my best to get a little pre-race jog in. As I was trotting along, I came across Jenny, which was awesome, because we had been trying to meet up all weekend! Soon after that, I saw Alex and Matt in their starting corral, and then somehow ran into Kelsey, whom I was really excited to be reunited with. Kels and I made our way up to the corrals. Originally I was super intimidated by my corral (corral 1, wave 1), but after seeing SO MANY PEOPLE, I decided to just go for it, and I hugged goodbye and good luck to Kelsey, who was back 1 or 2 waves.

As I pushed my way to the front, I saw and introduced myself to Meg (Twitter pals FTW!) and positioned myself towards the back of my wave. Despite not really having a warmup, I felt good and calm.

The run

Mile 1 – 6:41

Mile 1 is always a little awkward, and I kept hearing people around me saying that we were slow, but when it ticked by in a 6:41, I smiled to myself because it had felt effortless. I was ready to FLY.

Mile 2 – 6:24

I wasn’t really intimidated by the speedy second mile because it was mostly downhill.

Mile 3 – 6:40

My absolute favorite mile of the race was mile 3. Weird, right?? Most people talk about how wonderful Times Square is. But I LOVED this new revision to the course, which was a short out-and-back in Harlem. I was close enough to the front to see the packs of elites come pounding down the road, and my jaw dropped along with other nearby exclamations of, “wow,” and, “holy shit.” Watching elite runners run is just…really freaking cool. 

I also watched the local fasties whiz by me. I cheered for GCR teammates and also saw Josh, who gave me an approving nod. Then, after reaching the tip of the hairpin turn myself, I turned the corner to just see PEOPLE everywhere. So many people. So many runners.  I loved people-watching as they passed by me, so mile 3 went by really quickly.

Miles 4-6 – 6:48, 6:44, 6:39

Full disclosure: hills terrify me. So I’ve been running a lot of them this winter. If there’s one thing I’ve noticed about Connecticut, it’s ridiculously hilly. Everywhere. And the Boston Buildup Series (a series of HILLY local races that start at 10k and go up to 25k over the course of a few months) has really taught me how to climb hills and just work the hill instead of letting it work you.

So when I got to Harlem Hill, it was no sweat. I focused on staying on my toes and pumping my arms. Even still—reaching the top was a huge relief, and I didn’t let a 6:48 mile 4 faze me. “Keep it going,” I told myself.

The West Side Rollers felt like ski bumps compared to the mountains we’ve been facing in the Buildup Series. But by the final hill, I was definitely excited to get out of the park and onto the flat street. Flat roads are my jam!

Mile 7 – 6:35

Well, duh. I’m running in Times Square! Awesome!

Seeing Jocelyn and Beth was great; I was looking forward to seeing them the entire time I was in the park. Thanks for standing out in the cold and cheering, gals!

Mile 8 – 6:45

The windy mile. Started feeling a little tired, but I chalked it up to being fatigued from the wind resistance. (Fun fact: this where, during the 2013 NYC Half, I first felt my hip—now a torn labrum—really start hurting. Awesome, no?)

This was the point where one of the 1:30 pace groups caught up with me, which REALLY confused me. When I run, I don’t really think straight, so it took quite some time to realize that they had started before me. So their net time was going to be a 1:30, while I was pacing to be about a minute faster than them. Duh. Once I figured this out, I stayed with them until the tunnel. Running with the 1:30 group was great, because I knew that if I stuck with them I’d definitely be under 1:30 no matter what. I’ve always been wary of pace groups, but this is the second race where I’ve really enjoyed running with them (the first was during NJM, where I clung to the 3:25 pace group for dear life a majority of the run.)

Miles 9 and 10 – 6:43, 6:43

I told you flat roads are my jam. Once I get into the zone, I’m pretty much like a metronome. Saw the GCR cheer squad in here, which was AWESOME, and definitely gave me a boost. Also slowly took a gel for some extra energy. It’s probably mental, but I felt much stronger in mile 10 (after the gel) than I did during mile 9.


6:44, 6:56, ??? (tunnel)

Doops. So the final 5k wasn’t my best. It’s ok. I’m hitting myself now, but I remember thinking that I wanted to be conservative, and make sure I held my pace steady through to the end. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. 

The wind picked up again in mile 12. That sucked. But once in the tunnel it was time to rock and roll. The temperature was a bit higher than outside and the wind was subdued. It felt GREAT. Even thought my Garmin lost connectivity, I felt my turnover speed up, and I felt my pace speed up.

The small hill outside the tunnel wasn’t nearly as bad as I remembered it being last year, and I hammered out the final bit of the race with gusto. For a brief second, I thought I might break 1:28 (doing math while running = never a good idea) but after crossing the finish line, all I wanted to do was smile. IT HAD FELT AMAZING, and I was pretty sure I had PRed by a few seconds.


I was in complete shock. I haven’t finished a race feeling that great in so long. And I had a new PR to go along with it! I completely exceeded my expectations and had and amazing run. It was such a confidence booster that I REALLY needed. As I mentioned in the beginning of this post: my Boston training has been going well, but I really didn’t think it was going THIS well. Eeep! I can’t wait for 4/21!!!


2013: a year in photos and memories.

What an amazing year!!! Farewell, 2013. I’ll look back on you fondly.

Slow miles and running in the cold – my first time running through the winter. When I told Josh I wanted to break 3:30 in the marathon, he told me this, which is still a mantra for me today: “Have the hopes. Aspire. But have the grit to fight for it when the time comes.”image

Went with friends on a ski trip to Vermont…

And then Winter Storm NEMO. Holy bananas. Being from Syracuse, NY, I thought I knew what a winter storm was. Boy, was I wrong. Nemo was unlike anything I had ever been through upstate. The town where I live in CT, Hamden, received the most snow during the storm—a whopping 40”. Needless to say: we were stuck for days. image

NYC Half – the first half marathon I had ever legitimately trained for…and I broke 1:40!image

Gabe and I got out of the cold by visiting Sacramento and San Francisco.


May was probably the best month of the year. It started with the New Jersey Marathon, where I scored a 14-minute PR and finally qualified for the Boston Marathon alongside Robin.imageThen we drove to North Carolina to watch my brother-in-law graduate with a nursing degree from UNC.imageAND THEN WE BOUGHT A HOUSE!!!!!! :)image

After NJM, I made the conscious decision to not stop running/training, even though I had been toying with the idea to stop running and get back to rowing. I decided to try to PR at the Fairfield Half Marathon and dedicate the month of July to rest and recovery. Fairfield was MISERABLE, but I broke 1:35!imageAnd then I won Hamden’s first annual Road Race 5k—my first time ever placing in the top of a running race. Wahoo!image

Summer is the best time of the year. We kicked it off by celebrating Breanna and Dan’s nuptials in my hometown of Skaneateles, NY.imageFredrick Nelson Johnson entered into my life.imageAnd my face blew up and I hung out in Yale Hospital’s ICU.image

I got lost in the middle of a 5k…but at least I had my friends by my side.image

I found out I was accepted as an ambassador for Oiselle!

We had JJ’s bachelorette party in Sonoma and I finally wore my leather dress.imageI got second in the Gulf Beach Half Marathon and broke the 1:30 barrier!!!!!!image

And September 22, 2013 was our first anniversary. :)


We celebrated JJ and AC’s nuptials in Charleston, SC.image

Ballbusters won another kickball championship to keep the 6-year winning streak alive.imageAnd I got a new job as a Retail Marketing Manager at Vineyard Vines! image

I wanted to end my year of hard training and running with a bang. I had my sights set on the half at the Philly Marathon. It wasn’t the best race, but I tried my best and managed a small PR. image

While I was feeling speedy, I also won a 10k Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving and scored a 5-minute PR with 40:58! Woohooo.image

Not being satisfied with my half marathon performance at Philly, I impulsively decided to run the half at the Rehoboth Beach Marathon in Delaware. I came out with a PR, third place finish, and the strong run I was looking for.image

And why not just throw in another 5k PR and first sub-20 5k the day after Rehoboth?image

It’s been an incredible year. I regained my health and fitness while making Connecticut my home after REALLY missing NYC at first. I’ve made incredible friendships while settling into a new lifestyle. I’ve kickstarted my career again. I’m a very lucky girl. Here’s to another healthy and happy 2014!

Philly Half Marathon Recap

This fall, I was pretty wishy-washy about signing up for races. I signed up for the half at Milford because I told my friend I’d do it with her. I signed up for the New Haven 20k because it’d be a fun training run, and it’s not every day that there are such big races close to home. And that was the extent of my racing “schedule.” I decided not to sign up for another marathon because…well…I just didn’t feel like doing the long runs.

Let me just preface the rest of this post by explaining that I am NOT a half marathon runner. I hate the distance. It’s one of those distances where you’re uncomfortable for an hour, and then you feel REALLY uncomfortable for the last thirty minutes. And then you finish and you want to die. And if you bonk…well, you’re pretty much fucked. It’s not like a marathon, where there’s a sliver of hope (and time) for you to regain momentum after a bonk. No. The half marathon distance is just short enough so that if you bonk, you better just hold on tight until you’re done.  Or DNF.

While training for Milford, I really didn’t think I’d break 1:30; so throughout the entire training cycle, I kept the idea of running the half at the Philly Marathon in my back pocket. I didn’t sign up for Philly until after Milford, and I projected a 1:26 as my finish time.

Maybe I got too greedy. But here’s the thing: after Milford, my running changed dramatically. My long run pace went from the 7:40s to the 7:20s. My tempos were constantly in the 6:40s. My track workouts were fast and zippy. Hell…I’d go out there and do short runs at 7:00 flat. I felt like I was on fire.

The other thing to consider is that my 1:29 in Milford was actually not difficult. I felt strong and powerful the entire time, and I truly think I might have been able to run a 1:28 if it wasn’t for the final .1 of the race being through sand.

So when Josh told me I’d run a 1:26:30, I believed him—not only because he’s ALWAYS RIGHT and always accurately predicts my times…but because I had finally started believing in myself and my ability to run that speed on race day, just like I had done for Milford.

Well, I failed. I didn’t do it, and I crashed and burned. I bonked. It sucked. I cried. And the race hurt—badly. I gave up at certain points along the course, when I normally take great pride on my mental ferociousness. When I finished, I was disappointed in myself and how I attacked the run. Sure, I had PRed by 30 seconds…but that was bullshit in comparison to how much faster I had trained to be. It’s difficult to pinpoint one specific reason as to what happened, so I haven’t tried to do that. I can only recount what happened leading up to and during the run.

Before Sunday’s race, I had a work trip to Chicago from Tuesday-Thursday. I tried my best to recoup, and I thought I was well rested going into the weekend. On Saturday night, Gabe and I spent the night at a friend of a friend’s apartment, so it was a nice change from a “normal” hotel stay. Being around other runners helped keep my nerves down, too, which were extremely high, especially after a slight debacle over my starting corral. (Long story short: I was terrified of the crowds and of starting among other marathoners, and Josh had told me to try to get into the first corral. After a small temper tantrum…followed by a sincere apology…I did get to start in the first [elite] corral. In the end, the entire ordeal was totally unnecessary. I was completely out of my league and didn’t need to be up there. But it was just another example of how hyper and psyched out I was prior to the run.)

I should’ve taken the hint from my manic attitude that the race wasn’t going to be perfect. And most worrisome was the fact that I just wanted the run to be over. I wasn’t craving the speed…I wasn’t craving the run…and I wasn’t really ready to throw down the hammer.

Mile 1 - 6:37

Woah. That was fast. Too fast. Calm down, Mary. You still need 12 miles where that came from. 

Mile 2 - 6:42
Mile 3 - 6:43

These miles clumped together for me.  Running in the low 6:40s felt fast but uncomfortable. It felt like a pace I wouldn’t be able to sustain. But the plan was to hit low-6:40s until 10k, so I had to go with it. My mind was still clear and optimistic: I trusted myself and I trusted my training—even though my legs were begging to differ.

These miles are also on a quiet straightaway past the Delaware River, which was nice. I’ve learned that I’m the kind of runner who just enjoys to zone out—and this straightaway allowed me to do this.

Mile 4 – 6:45

It’s funny: when I did the entire Philly Marathon in the past, I was always SO JEALOUS of the half marathoners and how little they had to run. This time, however, I envied the marathoners and found myself hating running amongst them. I hated that I was in so much pain (already) and the marathoners were casually chatting with each other. They were enjoying the run and the atmosphere—something I wasn’t able to do. I overheard two guys discussing how they just wanted to run 6:45s until mile 18 or 20. Ugh.

Mile 5 - 6:45
Mile 6 - 6:38

One of the largest cheering sections in Philly is during miles 5 and 6, so I was looking forward to this bit. Gabe was also there, and managed to capture this gem:

You obviously can’t tell, but I’m internally freaking out in this video. Gable told me after the race that he knew I wasn’t feeling great because I didn’t act like myself when I saw him. Honestly, the only thing getting me through those couple of miles was the fact that I’d see Gabe and…the sacred 10k mark.

Mile 6.3 was the commencement of my demise. I had been telling myself to just hold on until the first 10k—and I did—but then I totally fell flat until the end of the run.imageHAY GABE, NICE TO SEE YOU, BUT I’M ABOUT TO SELF-DESTRUCT.

Mile 7 – 6:50

I was toast. Cooked. Done. But I still had 6 more miles to run!! And I was supposed to increase my pace 5-10 seconds faster than what I had been running (negative splitting = my main squeeze…normally.) FUCK. Did I think I’d magically grow a pair of wings and fly into 1:26 PR la la land?!?! Like wtf, Mary. This PR isn’t going to happen.

Mile 7 is also where the first uphill is introduced, as we ran through University City and encountered a sea of drunken Drexel frat boys. True life: I didn’t high-five one of the guys, and he smacked me HARD on my upper arm in rage (cue the expletives…)

When I looked at my watch and saw that my pace for this mile was a 6:50, I was actually okay with it, considering the incline. But I think it must’ve been a syncing issue because then I ran…

Mile 8 - 7:03

My legs were absolutely shot at this point. And even though I had been monitoring my pace, I don’t think I realized how far behind my goal I was (which I guess is a good thing, because I’m sure I would’ve freaked out.)

Mile 9 - 6:39

Well…mile 9 was an improvement at least. I tried to get my shit together for the small downhill portion past the zoo, because I knew I had one more hill to climb on the way to the Touch Museum.

Mile 10 - 7:10

I hit my all-time low during mile 10. I gave up. I didn’t care about the run anymore. I actually started having flashbacks to Fairfield, where I just felt miserable. I wanted the race to be over.

As I bear-crawled up the hill to the museum, I was passed by a couple of sub-elite marathoners. Since I was already feeling emotional, I teared up when one girl ran alongside with me for a few strides, and gave me some words of encouragement: talk about a humble moment.

Mile 11 - 6:34

Only 5k left, but I still didn’t realize how far off my goal I was, so I pushed on. I was so exhausted; I didn’t really care about anything else but finishing. I tried to take advantage of the downhill here at mile 11, but my legs had nothing left. I also put in my iPod, which is a terrible habit, but I do enjoy music for the final few miles of a race. –Never again.

Somewhere in between miles 11 and 12, there was a water station SMACK DAB in the middle of the road (or at least that’s what my distorted mind remembers.) And to ensure that people didn’t run into the water station, there was a man SMACK DAB in the middle of the road directing runners to either side of the table. Thinking that the man was saying something important, I quickly ripped my left ear bud out of my ear so I could hear him.

But something didn’t feel right when I ripped the ear bud out. –And then I realized. THE RUBBER PART OF MY EAR BUD WAS STILL LODGED IN MY EAR.

Seriously. Is this real life?!

I honestly wouldn’t have been surprised if I started bleeding from the ear, because I did EVERYTHING to try to get that thing out. But no matter what I did, the damn ear bud would not come out.

Mile 12 - 6:47

I wonder if there’s a world record mile time for simultaneously running whilst digging for treasures in your ear? 

Mile 13 - 6:42
Right there, my friends, is a face of misery.^

I tried to hone it in for as much as I could here with an ear bud stuck in my ear. We traversed up another hill and I nearly had a Pukeapalooza Fest in front of 30-40 people. I stumbled sideways in the street as I dry heaved/ran. The marathoners looked at me like I was insane.

.17 in :59, or 5:49 pace


Lucky for me, I didn’t have enough food or water to barf up, so I finished as fast as I could and totally missed high-fiving the mayor of Philadelphia at the finish line. Whoops.
Yep. About to reach for my watch in angst and pain. Sounds about right.

Before the run, Josh had told me that he wanted me to run so hard that I’d have absolutely nothing left. He approved the concept of collapsing at the finish…having the medics cart me away…going to the med tent…etc. Well. I didn’t collapse, nor did anyone have to dramatically peel my limp body from the pavement. I did, however, finish…catch my breath…and quickly found someone who could direct me to the med tent so someone could dislodge the ear bud from my skull.

Everyone in the med tent looked at me like I had 6 heads when I told them I had an ear bud in my ear. Then they told me that I’d need to go to the hospital to get it removed because they didn’t have anything in the tent that could get it out. Uh…no. I said, “I’m pretty sure I can walk to CVS right now and buy a tweezers to remove it…I am not going to the hospital,” and as I stood up to leave, they magically found a pair of clampers to insert into my ear and extract the rubber ear bud.

As I walked out of the tent, they said, “Have a nice run!”


As I hobbled out of the tent, I remembered my crappy run. I asked someone for a medal and a space blanket as I whimpered to myself and grabbed a banana and my checked bag. It wasn’t until I saw Gabe that the floodgates were unleashed, and I burst into tears.

I had an unbelievable 6-week training cycle, and I only had a 30-second PR to show for it. I knew I was capable of so much more. And above all, I was mad at myself for how I ran. I was stupid. I didn’t keep tabs on my time. I totally gave up in a few spots. I went out way too aggressively. I GOT MY FUCKING EAR BUD STUCK IN MY EAR. Like. Come on. How much dumber can you get?????

I changed my clothes and cried more to Josh, who was happy with my performance, and reminded me that it was just a bad day. He also reminded me of the overall progress that’s been made, and I later realized that I had shaved 10-minutes off my half marathon time from March—November. Cool.

A race is just another run—I need to always remember that. I had amped myself up too much about this particular run, and it lead to a crappy day. While I’m disappointed that I didn’t hit my marks, I know I’ll get there in the spring. And above all: I recognize the absurdity (and amazingness) of my ability to finish every race this year with a PR. Onward and upwards!image

Gulf Beach Half RECAP

Josh had predicted 1:29, and I said, “no way.” I was 100% convinced it was NEVER going to happen this training cycle. He also told me I’d need to turn off my brain and just run. 

The morning of the Gulf Beach Half I was tired. I felt fat. I thought my training had been stale for at least 3+ weeks. And, to be honest, up until 11:30pm on Thursday, I totally thought that the half marathon was on Sunday, NOT Saturday. Running a 1:29 half marathon was not in my cards.

Prior to this training cycle, I had taken “off” the month of July, and then spent the last weekend of July in the hospital with my anaphylaxis just before training officially began August 1st. Workouts started with a bang because I was super determined of proving all the nurses/doctors wrong, several of whom told me to stop running and “address” my allergy. Idiots. 

As training progressed, I struggled with some of the speeds prescribed in my workouts: why in God’s name did Josh seriously think I could run 15 miles embedded with 8 miles of tempo ranging from 6:35-6:50?? Or how could I really run 2x3 miles at 6:45 in the middle of 12 miles?? I bitched to Josh and he told me to chill. For the first time ever, I started doubting him, and consequently questioning my sanity for even considering the novelty of running a sub-1:30 half.

The biggest issue was that I was terrified of running Gulf Beach. The Fairfield Half left me mentally fucked, and I thought that all half marathons were going to be as miserable as Fairfield. To make matters worse: a couple of my workouts leading up to Gulf Beach channeled the pain and mental despair that I experienced during Farifield. I honestly pegged myself as a person who sucks at half marathons, and strength lies solely with marathons. I thought I could MAYBE run a 1:29 if I signed up for another half in November…certainly not in mid-September.

But when the gun went off at Saturday’s half, I just went for it. I did what Josh told me to do: I turned off my brain, and ran.

I’m on the left-hand side with grey shorts and long black socks. Impatiently waiting for the race director to shut up and let us run.

Mile 1 – 6:47.9
Mile 2 – 6:49.1
Mile 3 – 6:49.3

I actually don’t think I looked at my watch for any of this, because if I did, I’m sure I would’ve freaked out. The plan was to run 6:55s out of the gate—low 6:50s if I felt good—drop the pace to 6:48 at the 10k mark, hold steady until the final 5k…then just GO.

So, essentially, running high 6:40s wasn’t part of the plan.

“Just calm down, Mary. Calm down. Controlled aggression.”

I was quite entertained during these first few miles, though, because I was consistently running in third/fourth place the entire time. I had to keep reminding myself that this race wasn’t about placement: it was my race, and my plan, and I needed to stick to it.

Mile 4 – 6:51.7
Mile 5 – 6:53.9
Mile 6 – 6:52.0

“Ah, yes. Perfect and according to plan.”

I should also mention that in here is when I actually started to believe that I could run sub-1:30.  These miles felt effortless and totally comfortable. I even briefly chatted with runners around me. I consciously took note that my legs felt fresh, even though I had been running sub-7s. –That had never happened before, ESPECIALLY during some of the similarly paced horrific workouts leading up to this half.

At this point, I was solidly running in third place. The first place woman was way gone, but the second place woman was within my line of vision. She and I had been playing cat and mouse until mile 5, where she took the second-place position and held it.

“It’s fine. You’re following your own race plan, which is all that matters.”

Mile 7 – 6:50.0
Mile 8 – 6:51.3
Mile 9 – 6:50.8

I started getting tired around mile 7/8, but at that point, I had less than an hour left to run. I remembered Josh saying, “look: if you can’t run hard for an hour and a half, we’ve got a problem here,” so I sucked it up, and dealt with the pain. Sensei knows best.

The course was an out-and-back, which I really love, because you know what you’re getting yourself into. It was also really cool seeing the rest of the running field behind me after the turnaround, and having them cheer me on. –Lots of “GIRL POWER” cheers, and people telling you loudly that you’re the third woman. At big races, I’m normally part of “the normal running field,” so it was a fun experience having it the other way around. I kept myself occupied looking for my friends who were also running, and looking strong.

The wind was also really squirrely because we were running right against the Long Island Sound. The headwinds were extreme, and during mile 9, I did my best to draft off of one of the male runners ahead of me. I don’t think he appreciated it. 

Mile 10 – 6:50.7

Between miles 10 and 11 was where I almost took a wrong turn, but unlike my most recent 5k, this course had volunteers at the corners! What a novel idea. Thankfully, the volunteers pointed me in the right direction. (Thank GOD)

I also saw our amazing fan club (read: best friends and husband EVER) at mile 10, and I grabbed my iPod from Gabe to listen to during the final 5k, which was such a treat. The ball of my left foot was starting to hurt (I think I do something funny to it when it hits the ground) but I was looking forward to ramping things up for the last 3.1. Unlike Fairfield, where I literally thought I was dying, I was ready to go.


Mile 11 – 6:43.0

“Yes. This is being executed perfectly. You have no choice but to keep going at this rate.”

Mile 12 – 6:43.2

I was a little nervous for mile 12 because I knew we’d be dealing with some hills that we experienced on the way out. We also had a lot of tight turns in here, which reminded me a little bit of the New Jersey Marathon.

I was also gaining on the girl running second. I didn’t want to blow my wad passing her, but I got the ample opportunity to gun it up the final hill—and break free. Finally. I WAS IN SECOND PLACE MOTHAFUCKAS!!!!!!

“Just hold on. And. GO.

Mile 13 – 6:32.0 

I couldn’t help but smile ear-to-ear for the final mile. I was in second place. I was going to run a 1:28 or a 1:29. I was enjoying my music. This was one of the best runs of my life. 

.14 in 56.5, 6:49 pace

And then we hit .1 miles OF SAND. I’m not talking, like, packed sand here. I’m talking, like, legitimate beach sand. Smooshy sand. The I-want-to-take-my-shoes-off-and-feel-it-between-my-toes sand. Seriously????????? I didn’t think I signed up for a Tough Mudder. So I floundered my way across the sand for a depressing 56 seconds, and finished as strong as I could.

Final Half Marathon – 1:29:21



It was real. I was second female and twelfth overall. I had run my goal. I had a 5:17 PR. I had qualified for the New York Marathon!!! (And I also had some of the worst thigh chafing I’ve ever experienced; but I digress.)

I won a beer tumbler that said, “2nd Place,” and a gift certificate to my local running store. It was a good day for racing. My friends had met their goal times too, and we left the course with three shiny new PRs.


My First DNF

Alright. There isn’t much to it. On paper, I DNFed. I got lost after mile 2, ran my 3rd mile with uncertainty, realized I was off-course after 3 ½ miles, then trotted to the finish line, screaming expletives, demanding to speak to the race director. 

In reality, I ran a sub-20 5k…I just don’t have the official time to confirm it.

Mile 1 (6:17): Nice and flat, except for one baby hill. Stretched out the legs. Felt confident. Sub-20 was mine.

I wasn’t supposed to go 6:17 in that first mile (the plan was to be around 6:35), so I made a mental note to slow down, just a little bit, after passing the first mile marker. 

Mile 2 (6:41): I was running in 2nd place, but got passed by a girl around my age. I reminded myself that this was my race—not a race for placement—so I let her go, but kept her in sight. Third place was still good. And sub-20 was more important.

I kept my wits about me, and slowed my pace down just a little bit, because I remembered how fast I ran that first mile. After about half a mile, I caught back up to the girl who had passed me, and kept a steady distance of about 10 feet between us. 

Mile 3: The course was very twisty-turny. Mile 3 SHOULD HAVE included a turn leading back to the start/finish line.  But I was running with a pack of people, and we turned in the other direction.

I was hot. I was tired. And I wasn’t thinking straight…so I went with the pack. Obviously. I mean…people don’t get lost during road races, right???????


Whoever was leading the pack in front of us had gone in the wrong direction. And, like herded sheep, we headed back OUT on the course too, instead of heading IN towards the finish line.

I honestly didn’t even think too much about it when we turned in the wrong direction. You see—my sense of direction is H O R R I B L E…so I just kept thinking we were somehow headed towards the finish line through a different route than how we started.

And my running felt really great. I knew I need to pick things up from my 6:40 mile 2, and I definitely felt my legs turn over faster. I reminded myself to save the “balls out” pacing for the last 800. Controlled aggression, as Josh calls it.

My watch ticked to 16 minutes. Still thinking I was on-course (horrible sense of direction, I’m telling you); I started to ramp up the pace even more. Not finishing with a 19-minute 5k was out of the question.

I zoned out and cruised. I felt fast. 18 minutes. 19 minutes. 20 minutes. 


I angrily ripped out my earbuds and screamed, “WHERE THE FUCK IS THE FINISH LINE,” and heard a chorus of 5-8 people around me agree. I had a sinking feeling in my stomach. My watch ticked to 21. It was almost too horrible to be true. Did we seriously take a wrong turn???

When our group eventually met up with the rest of the 5k runners, I knew we had been steered off-course. I stopped, and walked. It took .3 seconds to decide that I would NOT be crossing the finish line. I’d rather take a DNF than to pretend I ran a race that I didn’t.

My expletive of choice at that moment was “fuck.” –I yelled fuck to the policemen. I yelled fuck to the backend 5k runners. I yelled fuck to whoever wasn’t running with music. I didn’t care who heard me. I was pissed.

All of the lead women had gotten lost, so the “first place” woman listed in the results finished with a 21. In fact—there are no results listed between 17:37 and 20:44…because we had all gotten lost. Embarrassing if you ask me.

Yes—the leader of the pack after 17:37 went off course; so technically, he should be the person to blame in this situation. But I also blame the race director, and the fact that there was NO ONE on the course, directing people for this crucial turn. The only course markings were a lightly spray-painted arrow on the ground, and [apparently] a small arrow sign staked into the ground.

Fast-forward approximately 30-minutes, after I had:   

  1. Ripped off my race bib in angst
  2. Thoroughly chewed out the race director
  3. Had a temper tantrum at the finish line
  4. Had a temper tantrum on the phone with Josh
  5. Cried for 15 seconds
  6. Shook the hand of the girl who passed me, and chatted about the ridiculousness of the race
  7. Screamed “fuck” some more
  8. Stomped around the finishing podium, growling at everyone who looked at me

…I found my friends, and calmly muttered, “Well. Maybe I’ll just go run it again.”

Honestly? Thank god for friends who are total enablers. Every single one of them turned to me and said, “ok. You probably should run it again. But go now, so we can leave in 19 minutes.”

So I went. I turned around, slowly jogged to the starting line, slapped on my Garmin, and raced the course again. Alone. I wasn’t 100% certain I’d actually follow through. But after mile 2, I knew I had no choice but to finish, and to finish strong.

Mile 1 – 6:42 (“Ok, you don’t really need to race this again to prove anything. You can stop at any time.”)

Mile 2 – 6:35 (“So sub-20 isn’t going to happen now. Fine. Maybe you can PR. That would be exciting.”)

Mile 3 – 6:29 (“Well, there’s no choice but to finish now. At least you can finish at 3.1 miles exactly and you don’t need to worry about stupid tangents.”)

.1 – :37, 6:10 pace (“Vomit.”)

TOTAL (second) 5k: 20:24 (1-second PR)

I debated running to the race director and shoving the Garmin in his face in triumph; but Gabe stopped me, thankfully.  

I was disappointed that I didn’t have that sacred 19-minute 5k in my name. But I tried to look on the bright side: I had just raced two 5ks—within 30-minutes of each other—and PRed in both. I am getting some speed back into my legs after taking most of the month of July off. I am getting faster and stronger; I just need to keep looking at the big picture…

…And also sign up for another 5k in the near future.