Posted in Life

Snow day!

Work was closed today because of the snowstorm. In Cambridge it looks like we had about a foot of snow and it’s still coming down. I walked to Harvard Square in the afternoon and here’s what I saw.

Posted in Half-marathon, Resolutions

Race Recap – Boston’s Run to Remember

I’ve been training for the Run to Remember to fulfill one of my 2013 Resolutions… here’s what happened!

My alarm woke me at 5.10am and I saw the day had dawned rainy and cold.

Great - rainy and cold

Google weather
Google weather

At 5.55am I jogged to the train station to catch the first Red Line train of the morning and pretty much the only people I saw were runners.  It was drizzling a bit but the rain wasn’t too heavy.

I met Hélène on the train and we walked together to the start – and immediately found Helen and Geoff.  Score.

We lined up for the abundant portapotties then went to drop off Helen’s bag.  The hall of the World Trade Center was completely packed and we could barely move.  When we finally emerged we saw we were at the 10.30/mile pacing point and couldn’t do anything about it.

While the drizzle continued there were speeches, a minute’s silence and the national anthem, then at 7.10am the horn sounded and we were off.

The route as per my Garmin (from connect.garmin.com)
The route as per my Garmin (from connect.garmin.com)

Of course, when I say “we were off” I mean, we shuffled forward for a few minutes before it was possible to break into a walk, and then into a ‘run’ – I did the first four km of the race at 7:24/km, 6:26/km, 5:48/km and 6.07/km.  I was getting really angry at this point because the runner traffic was so heavy – my goal of a sub-two hour half seemed impossible and now I was just going for a slow run in the rain.  It was at this point that Helen caught me up – we were just crossing Longfellow Bridge.  She told me Geoff was way ahead and this gave me hope – maybe it would be possible to fight my way through the crowd and make some progress.

So after that 30 minute warm up I decided to get on with the race.  We ran along Memorial Drive – we gave hi-fives to the police officers at MIT, I tried my first ever water stop and managed to inhale half of the cup and spill the other half on my shoes and down my leg.  (By the third water stop I’d go the hang of it).

At the turn-around point at Harvard (and please note, about half a km from my house) my husband was waiting for me and snapped this great picture! This was at about 10km.

At the half-way point.
At the half-way point.

Then it started to rain quite heavily.  I didn’t mind too much though – I had a fantastic view of the city across the river (it reminded my a lot of certain parts of the Brisbane skyline (circa 2002)).  I broke out the GU I had brought with me – just as well as it turns out: the GU table that was supposed to be at mile 8 was nowhere to be seen (it turned up at mile 11).

My splits for this section (5km – 15km) were mostly in the 5.20/km area. I honestly thought there was no way I could keep that up for the rest of the race, but I kept pushing, telling myself to “go hard or go home” (corny, I know).

As we got back into the city – crossing Longfellow again – we passed the 10 mile marker and I looked at the gun-time clock – 1hr 33 mins – and I realised I was in with a chance of a sub-2hr race. All I had to do (ha!) was pull out a 27 minute 5km and I’d be there. My pace for 16km-19km slowed a bit to more like 5.30/km, but I only needed about 5.40/km to make it inside the goal.

As we reached Downtown Crossing T station and I was on very familiar ground, I just started flying. I did the 19th km at 5.01/km and the 20th at 4.39/km. And as I approached the finish line I saw the gun-time was 2:00:30 or so and I knew I’d done it.

Immediately after the finish line we were funnelled into the World Trade Center hall which was completely full again and all I wanted to do was faint/throw up/lie down. The crowd pressed me forward and I got water, a medal and a bagel.  I fought my way outside and ran into Hélène who had finished about 1 minute before me.

Medal and T-shirt.
Medal and T-shirt.

We walked to our meeting point where my husband (bearing the most important post-race food product) and two friends were waiting:

mmmm donuts.
mmmm donuts.

When Helen and Geoff arrived – they had done a 2hr 6min – we discussed what we thought of the race.  We decided:

1. It seemed poorly organized (too many people for the size of the streets, missing GU stand to name but two problems).

2. The race packet was just plain weird  (a single advil, some cereal, and some athlete’s foot powder?)

3. The race t-shirt was pretty crappy – cotton and essentially see-through.

4. The entrance fee was very expensive but the medal was excellent.

BUT we were all extremely happy to have met our goals and run the race so overall we really didn’t care.

Final result:

Place      Div /Tot  Div     Nettime   Pace
2544/6389  383/1286  F3039   1:57:17   8:57
Helen, Geoff, Hélène and me.
Helen, Geoff, Hélène and me – victorious!

[The training plan I used is this one, and my training updates are here].

Posted in Half-marathon, Resolutions

Half Training Update – weeks 9-11

Yes, I’ve abandoned the blog for almost a month – sorry about that!  My excuse is I was working flat out and I put actually running ahead of writing about running.  I know, crazy.

Training update week 11

It’s now less than a week to go before the Run to Remember half marathon and I did my last long run on Sunday (12 miles – 19.3 km).  I averaged 5.46 min/km in 18C sunshine.  I hope that Sunday 7am will be a bit cooler than this – and if so, and if everything goes to plan I might be able to get around in 2 hours. I’m going to need to average 5.41 min/km to do that though…..

I practiced with GU fuel on this run…. and can I just say “yuck”!  As per instructions I had the strawberry banana flavour before I started running and it was pretty revolting.  I had the chocolate outrage flavour on the run and it was much tastier but then it gave me stomach ache. Doh.

GUs

Annnyway, since this is the fuel that will be provided during the race I’ll just have to cope. I’m thinking about packing a few Shot Bloks in case I screw up getting to the fuel table.

I also tried a new route at the weekend and it was excellent – so many water fountains!  I ran along the southern bank of the Charles from Harvard to the Museum of Science and back. It was a pretty nice run – a few tourists, dogs, kids, cyclists and other runners but it wasn’t ridiculous.  Also there were lots of wildlife…

geese

The rest of week 11 was 3/5/3 miles – not much to report except I felt quite slow.

Training update week 10

It was 3/5/3/11 miles.   Not much to report except I finally got sick of the Minuteman trail with its worlds-supply of dads taking their kids for bike rides and getting in the way.

Training update week 9

This was a taper week so I did 3/5/3/6 miles.  I did my fastest 1 km this week – 5.01 minutes, and fastest 10 km – 55.11 mins.  Mind you, my Garmin was playing up on the 10 km run so I’m not 100% confident of the PR.  It reckoned I started in the middle of a house – also nowhere near where I actually started….

strange_garmin

So I’ve got an easy week this week – 3/2/2 miles. I’ll try to drink lots of water, not eat too much crap (she says while munching on caramel popcorn…) and get enough sleep…

Finally, my thoughts are with everyone in Moore, OK after the insane tornado this afternoon.

 

Posted in Reviews

Restaurant Review – Grafton St, Cambridge

Grafton Street is our go-to restaurant/bar in Harvard Square.  Good food, quick service (ha!), nice drinks, reasonable prices and it’s possible to hear yourselves in conversation. This was our experience on Saturday, April 6, 2013:

I don’t know what it was about this evening but there were a lot of people on the streets.

The first place we tried – Border Cafe – told us it would be an hours wait.  Screw that, we thought.

So we went to our usual haunt – Grafton Street – which was packed – but were were told 45 minutes for a table.  No problem.  We got a bottle of wine and split it between the six of us.  We stood in a huddle near the open front (in April – why??) and waited as more and more people poured in.  After half an hour one of our party left.

After an hour of waiting we checked in with the front desk again – you haven’t forgotten about us?  No, I’m sure it will be soon – or some such platitudes.

An hour and a half in – any movement?  They’ve been given the check we’re told.  Ok.  We’ll get another bottle of wine then.

Two hours in I plead with them – can’t you move them along? Are we next on the list? and so on.  More platitudes.

Two hours and 20 minutes in, Geoff goes to the front desk.  Now Geoff is a kind and gentle Canadian, but he’s a tall guy.

“You have 10 minutes to seat us or we’re leaving”.

Eight minutes later we have a table, two complementary bottles of (not their cheapest) wine, a free starter to share and as much bread as we can eat.  Minutes later – perhaps only 15 – our mains (entreés) arrive.  We’re placated (or was that just the wine talking?).

Grafton Street saved itself some customers this night, but next time we’ll think twice about walking in without a reservation.

~~~~

You can read other people’s reviews of Grafton Street on Yelp.