Tag: Anne London

London Overcoming Fatigue

As we get ever closer to the Boston Marathon, members of the Level Legion: Boston Marathon Edition are checking in with some thoughts on the training the race, or whatever else they can come up with it. We let them go freestyle, and we’ll be presenting those to you throughout the week. Up next is…

Anne London

Reflecting back on this marathon training season, three things come to mind.

  • ·         It’s been insanely cold
  • ·         I am insanely tired
  • ·         I haven’t run that much…due to being cold and tired.

Every local runner will complain that this winter has been harsh. This caused me to enact a personal rule: “If it is below 20F, I am not running outside”.  That came back to bite me one Saturday morning when I woke up to a scheduled 13 miles and it was 0F outside.  I ended up running a half marathon on a treadmill and thought that I was going to have to be locked up in a padded room afterwards.  Yikes.  Not easy, or fun.  But, as the days have gotten longer, and it’s gotten “a little” warmer, I keep reminding myself that “it can’t possibly be this cold on race day”, so I am trying to look forward to that.

River London Boston Marathon Legion

Anne and Jose at their last long run before Boston. Photo courtesy of Jose Rivera.

When it comes to the fatigue, as any new parent will warn you, it comes with the territory of having a baby. Not just the physical fatigue (feeding the baby every 2 hours around the clock at the beginning), but mental fatigue as well (being a new parent and not having a clue about what you’re doing!).  Add in returning to work and managing the transition into a new house, and the thought of going out for an “easy run” at the end of the day seems impossible.  Even though the baby is sleeping more regularly, the runs have gotten longer, so there is never time to catch up.  The whole fatigue issue has turned into a mental endurance test, probably the toughest I’ve ever had to deal with, and again, I remind myself that “I can’t possibly be this tired and stressed on race day”, so again, I am trying to look forward to that.

Finally, I haven’t trained like I have in the past.  The other times I ran Boston I averaged between 40-60 miles per week; this year I am topping out at 30.  In the past I have been focused on time goals (breaking 4 hours), this year I am focused on finishing with a smile on my face.  Also, in years past I have run faster, but not healthier.  In 2008 there were ankle problems, 2009 a femoral stress fracture, 2010 featured a terrible sinus infection…all because I over trained and over did it and it never translated into an enjoyable race experience for me.

This year I am focused on the real reason I am running the race – to raise money and awareness for the National MS Society and to prove to myself that I am “back” in the game post-baby.  Not going to wear a watch.  Not going to push through the pain.  Just going to enjoy what is promised to be an amazing Boston Marathon.  Between the fans, the runners and the city backing this event, it is really going to be a special year, and I am honored to be a part of it and be a part of the Marathon Strides Against MS Team.  (And of course the Legion, can’t forget those guys).

London Lacking Sleep, But Not Resolve

The Level Legion: Boston Marathon Edition

Four Weeks to Go: A Check on Training

The 118th Boston Marathon is now just under a month away. The Legion has been training through one of the toughest and coldest winters we have had in a long time. With Spring now officially here, though Winter not quite gone, training is starting to reach its peak. The Legion has run some great races, put in some solid long runs and have had some bumps along the way. This week we look at how things are going and what their weeks have been like at this high point. You can see we all are in this together but we all have different ways of getting there. Our hope is that you continue to be inspired and encouraged by the Legion and that four weeks from now we can share our common goals of being a part of this great event in whatever way we are able! Now, onto the logs:

Anne London

Boston Legion LondonThe fact that Anne gets in any miles while taking care of her new baby is an inspiration to me and I hope to you all. She has been the testament to doing whatever it takes, but keeping a great balanced perspective on training vs real life. Thanks, Anne.

Training update: “If you don’t sleep enough, you’re not going to run well.”

This is what I’ve learned over the past two weeks during my training. I have been really struggling recently to get the mileage in due to being incredibly overtired. Little munchkin has had a bad head cold, so mommy has had late nights soothing a sick kid. This has translated into sick days for me and trying to catch up on sleep when I can…jogging when I have the energy.

I have managed to have some strong “long” runs on the weekends (13M and 16M), maybe due to the fact that my legs have been super fresh due to the reduced workouts during the week. I guess this is the “mini taper” before the big taper, right?

Still on track for my 21 miler this coming Saturday. I hope to have another strong training run (and to sneak in some REM cycles as well beforehand).

London Goes for a Sunday Stroll

Level Legion: Boston Marathon Edition

February Race Recaps: The Level Legion has been hard at work training through one of the toughest and coldest winters of late. Fitting then that the Legion be equally tough and ice cold on the start line of their February Boston tune-up races. Whether one is trekking through the New Hampshire snow, winning a debut 20-miler, representing the home team at a local race, pushing along a 5 month old companion or simply putting in the steady work, this past month has brought along some great races. You have already heard from Scott, who decided that if you can’t beat this winter, might has well don the snowshoes and have at it. Now we bring you some more perspective on just how racing has been fitting in to the training plan as Boston inches ever closer.

Anne (and Catherine) London

Super Sunday 5m (Cambridge, MA) - 49:07

I ran the Super Sunday 5 miler on February 2nd and finished in 49:07.  Not my fastest 5 miler by far, but my fastest AFTER running 6 miles before the race as a warm up and pushing a baby stroller :-)   I needed to run 11 for the day, so I met up with my MS Society and NACHO teammate Kate before the race to get some sunny miles in along the Charles.  Once we arrived at the race, we met up with other NACHO runners, along with my husband Brian who had arrived with the little one.

This was going to be the baby’s longest run to date, and biggest event to navigate with a stroller.  We managed to sneak in towards the back of the pack, and had to make a quick pit stop to unlock the front wheel…much easier to steer that way!  Catherine slept the whole time, not a bad way to run a 5 miler!  My next race will also be a race with her, Craicfest 5K on 3/16.  That will be the day after a 13 miler with the MS Society, so another jog for the two of us!  Running with her is a lot of fun!

Editor’s note: The Super Sunday 5 Miler was held back on February 2nd in Cambridge, MA and was won by Nate Jenkins (surprise surprise) in an unchallenged 24:22. Karen Roa was the first female in 28:56, and was also 33rd overall out of over 1,500 runners. Random side note: toss up for best team name in this one between the Brighton Bangers and In It To Drink It. Good luck to Anne at the Craicfest! That’s the same weekend as New Bedford, so we’ll have a lot to report on.

Anne London: LVL Legion Training Update

By Tim Ritchie

The Level Legion: A Quick Look into Training

Last we left the Level Legion: Boston Edition, the athletes were telling you a bit about why they are racing the Boston Marathon. Now, let’s take a look at how they are doing so far. We are 8 weeks away from the big day and everyone is well underway with their training. Each of our runners has a unique approach to training and our hope is that you can find some comfort and encouragement in their responses. We have here a quick check in on our runners’ general outlook on their training to date and a sample of what their weeks have been so far. Enjoy and keep up the good work, runners!

Boston Legion LondonAnne London

Taking a Minimal Approach

Training has been going well, I am just constantly nervous about not logging enough miles.  My highest mileage week has only been 23 miles…incredibly low for someone marathon training. However, when the long runs come along, I am running strong and pain free…so I am doing something right!  My daughter is (mostly) sleeping through the night, so my fatigue level isn’t too debilitating.  I am very nervous about running through snow, and HATE running in the cold, so that’s been tough.  Eager for the weather to take a turn so I can open up the legs and really run comfortably.  Keep reminding myself to not look at the pace and the watch - I am not going to run this marathon as fast as previous years, but that’s okay.

I think this is where I am going to separate from the other runners you are profiling.  I am taking a “minimal running” approach to this Boston, as opposed to Bostons of years past.  This year, I started running 6 weeks after the birth of my daughter (which was only 15 weeks ago) and I was 35 lbs over my optimal running weight!  To prevent orthopedic injury due to the A) excess weight and B) fact that I had to stop running in July due to a stress fracture (at 7 months pregnant), I have been taking it VERY easy.  I run Tuesdays and Thursdays (3-5 miles), and then a long run on Saturdays with the Marathon Strides Against MS Team.  Our longest completed run thus far has been 18 miles (with 19 scheduled for 2/22).  Mondays and Wednesdays I cross-train - elliptical, bike or stair machine.  Fridays and Sundays I take off.  Happy to say that I am only 9 lbs away from my pre-pregnancy weight, I hope to be there by race day!  Again, the goal of running this marathon is A) raise awareness for the MS Society,  B) not get hurt and C) have fun!

Boston Legion: Anne London

By Tim Ritchie

Last week we introduced to you here The Level Legion: Boston Marathon Edition, three men and three women, all talented runners in their own right that we believe comprise a good cross section of the runners in the northeast region. Each brings a unique perspective and background to their training, racing and experiences. It is our hope that you will see yourselves in the hearts, minds and legs of this Boston Marathon Edition of the Level Legion and that through them we can all support each other as we train, race and cheer for the 118th Boston Marathon. Now that you know who’s on the team, it’s time to start getting to know them better. Next up:

Anne London

Age: 31
Club: NACHO AC
Hometown: Cambridge, MA

How did you get started in running?

Boston Legion LondonI began running in high school (Chariho, RI) and captained the cross country and track teams (100m hurdles and 300m hurdles). I continued running in college (URI) and was a member of two A-10 championship teams (800m) during my three years in college. Afterwards, I turned to distance running in graduate school (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute) for stress relief.

What has been your most memorable running experience?

Starting and managing the NACHO Athletic Club with my husband, Brian. Finding great road races and other athletic events to do with a group of friends is what this sport is all about, and we always have a great time (and try not to take ourselves too seriously!).

What does it mean to be a part of the Level Legion?

This feels like a tight knit group of athletes in this area. Never having lived farther away than NY, I feel like I know a lot of the people in this community. I love that I can go to a road race and always see a familiar, friendly face.

Have you run the Boston Marathon before?

Yes. 2008 (4:44), 2009 (4:25) and 2011 (3:56).

Why did you choose to run the Boston Marathon?

Boston has been my only marathon. I have always run with a charity number. This has been my way of bringing together two things very important to me – running and supporting the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Raising money and awareness for the MS Society is a cause that has been important to me for many years, and I am thrilled that I have the opportunity to take the message from Hopkinton to Boston.

Why the 118th edition?

After the events of the 2013 Marathon, I immediately felt the pull to return. I think the city as a whole has shown that they are “Boston Strong”, and this was my way of supporting the running community and the city as a whole. I think this year is going to be a very special year.

What are your goals (broad or specific) for this year’s Boston?

Run healthy! I have never been healthy running Boston (stress fractures and sickness), so that is the focus this year. Not over training, just looking to have fun. This has also been a great motivation to “get back into shape” after the birth of my daughter on 9/28!

What are you most excited about?

Running with my MS Society teammates again! I have missed training with these incredible people; it is so wonderful to be back among such an inspiring group! We meet every Saturday morning for long runs through Newton and we always have a ton of fun!

What are you most nervous about?

Keeping injuries and sickness at bay…trying to train “just enough” to finish, but not too much so that I wear down. Balancing training, a full time job and a new baby is really tough!

We couldn’t resist asking Anne a couple of extra follow up questions regarding her team, Nacho AC.

Are you aware of the Nacho ripping up the snowshoe circuit right now? His name is Nacho Hernando, and he wears a singlet with ‘Nacho’ emblazoned across the chest.

No, was NOT aware of the super arctic NACHO…might have to put him in touch with “NACHO North”, our Alaskan chapter.

Will you attempt to recruit him to Nacho AC?

The NACHO coordinators definitely need to meet up with this guy. Sounds like a rock star.

Maybe with the all of the extra publicity Anne is bringing to Nacho AC with her run up to the Boston Marathon she’ll be able to recruit some more runners to the team.

Level Legion: Boston Marathon Edition

The Level Legion

Your Very Own…

by Tim Ritchie

A few weeks ago, John Hancock (principal sponsor for the 118th Boston Marathon) released the names making up TEAM USA, the American athletes who will toe the line in April as part of the elite field. These are some names that we know, love and can rally around come Marathon Monday. Names like Flanagan, Ritzenhein and Keflezighi will be in our heads throughout the excitement for the race itself. This got us thinking: we have a whole bunch of names right here in our own backyard. They may not be well known and they may not be lining up to go for the win, but their stories and their races are just as important to us. They are…

The Level Legion: Boston Marathon Edition

…and they are your very own.

We will introduce to you here three men and three women, all talented runners in their own right that we believe comprise a good cross section of the runners in the northeast region. Each brings a unique perspective and background to their training, racing and experiences. It is our hope that you will see yourselves in the hearts, minds and legs of this Boston Marathon Edition of the Level Legion and that through them we can all support each other as we train, race and cheer for the 118th Boston Marathon. Over the next few weeks, we will provide some insight, quotes, training and anything else we can to inspire you through the miles, the minutes and the moments.

We are very excited to present this outstanding group of runners to you. Let’s meet them now:

The Men

IMG_3225

L-R: Rivera, Graham, Harvey

Jose Rivera

Age: 39 (40 day of Boston Marathon)
Club: Central Mass Striders & Tri State Running
Hometown: Webster, MA

“I never dreamed of running a marathon, never mind being able to run Boston. Boston was something for the elites, not for me. But I am happy that I am here, because I deserve to be here. I have worked and trained hard to be here. I am a part of this great event as well as all 36,000 others that worked hard to be here. I am so looking forward to running Boston!!!”

Scott Graham

Age: 55
Club: Greater Lowell Road Runners (GLRR)
Hometown: Westford, MA

Brian Harvey

Age: 26
Club: Boston Athletic Association Unicorns
Hometown: Boston, MA

“I keep my log on athleticore.com – check it out if you’re interested in excessive (and nerdy) detail on all things numbers. I hope people enjoy following my training. I very much look forward to keeping my eye on the other runners!”

The Women

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L-R: London, Millett, Encarnacion

Anne London

Age: 31
Club: NACHO AC
Hometown: Cambridge, MA

Aly Millett

Age: 25
Club: Greater Boston Track Club
Hometown: Charlestown, MA

Karen Encarnacion

Age: 48
Club: Somerville Road Runners
Hometown: East Walpole, MA

Lots more to come, both from and about this select group of talented runners. Stay tuned!

Firsthand Account from 25.5

Guest blog by Anne London

Monday was a very scary day in Boston. I took a half day and walked with Brian across the river to our friend’s house to join them at their annual party to cheer on the runners. They live at mile 25.5, about 0.5 mile (800m) from the finish line. They have a balcony where you can see the runners go by. I was documenting my day:

 

We were down on the street looking for a teammate of mine when we heard the blasts. We didn’t realize they had been explosions; you don’t think you’re going to hear anything like that…we assumed it was a big truck hitting a pot hole (we have terrible streets here) or fireworks, or a mock cannon for celebration. About 60 seconds later EVERY police officer went running towards the finish line – on foot, motorcycle, car, horse…something big had happened.

Right in front of us, they started stopping the runners;

 

I immediately went on twitter on my phone and saw that a friend (who lives AT the finish line) had written an update. We then knew it was bad. We started telling the other spectators around us, and everyone was using their phones to try to get in touch with people they knew were at the finish line.

 

The runners were starting to hear the news and getting really upset. I have been as tired as they are; at mile 25.5 (of 26) you have NOTHING left in the gas tank and are physically and emotionally DONE. People were crying and going into shock. We ran back upstairs and were bringing down buckets and cups of warm water, it was pretty cold (the temp had dropped to 45F/7C). We spent an hour walking through the runners, who were just corralled on the street, not knowing where to go, giving them water and texting their families. The phone lines were shut off (to prevent more bombs from detonating) so info could only get out via text.

An example of the messages being sent out amongst the chaos at the moment.

The runners started to clear out, I guess they were being brought to shelters to await further instructions, so we went upstairs to watch the news. More bombs were allegedly being found, so we were on lockdown. We had some of our friends who had been running in with us, we had brought them inside to get them warm and dry and fed, but it was stressful because initially there were other friends that we could not find.

Our block was cleared by police at about 7:45pm, so we started the walk home back to Cambridge (see photos below). It was eerily quiet on the streets, other than FBI and police. I was so thankful I was with my husband and had decided to go – he had always planned on going over but I wasn’t going to take the day…ultimately I decided that it was too exciting of a day to be cooped up in the lab, I know you all understand. But if he had gone and I was here not knowing where he was and not able to get in contact, that would have been very tough.

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Yesterday was a terrible day for Boston and the running community. What puts it in a very real perspective is that the bombs went off at 4 hours 10 minutes into running the marathon – my past times have been 3:56 and 4:22 in 2011 and 2009. This attack directly affected my teammates and their families, and I am so thankful that everyone that I care about is okay, just a little shaken.

I asked Anne if there was any special significance to the Tweet she chose to add to her account and this was her response:

I just went online and that was the first tweet I saw that gave us any sort of clarity (I don’t know T&R outside of a meeting long ago, but I listen to the show daily, I was trying to put it in perspective for my Swiss colleagues).

Twitter is the fastest way to get real time info, and in this case it proved to be true. Police started running and I went on twitter. They hadn’t even stopped the runners yet. It was chilling to realize that it was more than just a truck crash or fireworks.

Rich (of T&R) lives in the marathon sports building, I heard his account on the air today. People were blown into the lobby of his building. His account was terrifying.

This has affected so many of us and in different ways. Now’s the time to lean on our community and to help each other get through this. As you can see from the pic below, Anne came up with a way for her to show some solidarity and made a few people smile along the way.


Thanks for sharing this with us, Anne. We’ll get through this, and we’ll be stronger than ever. We owe it to those affected most by it.

On a side not I’d like to address one of the statements made in this post just for clarity. Anne refers to the phone lines being shut off, but according to CNN that wasn’t the reason for the break in communication. The system was just overwhelmed. I left her original text intact because it was a widespread belief at the time that cell phones could possibly trigger more explosions and that they were shut down. While we’re presenting first hand accounts, stories and other information about the tragedy it’s also a good time to clear up any misconceptions about what happened (as best we can).

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Club Spotlight: Basel Dragons Running Club

Guest blog by Anne London (Nacho AC), special overseas correspondent for Level Renner.

Earlier this year I was awarded the amazing opportunity to spend ten weeks in Switzerland at my company’s home office for a mini-sabbatical. One of my first thoughts (after the panic of not knowing how to speak German outside of “please”, “thank you” and “may I have another beer?”) was “where was I going to run”? I am training for the NYC Marathon in November and I needed a strategy of how to get in quality long runs, tempo runs, and the occasional race here and there. So I did what every technological runner would do – I went to Google. “Basel Running Club” was entered, and what was spit out was the professional looking website of the Basel Dragons Running Club. I contacted the club through their website, and was invited to join them for a group run.

Inside the Basel Dragons Club House

The ‘Club’ actually started out when Martin Holt, originally a semi-professional rugby player in the UK, posted an ad on the English Forum to see if anyone would like to join in on a coaching session that he was conducting. The response exceeded all expectations, and a steady stream of newcomers have been joining the group each week and even returning with friends and colleagues. The average turnout for twice weekly tempo runs is 30 – 40 people and boasts over 100 full time members.

The club welcomes people of all abilities and splits the training groups into 5 groups based on pace (min/km, not mile…have had to learn quick conversions in my head!). Knowledgeable group leaders pick scenic and often challenging courses ranging in distances but always targeting for a 1 hour finish time (with the faster runners covering more distance than the slower pace groups). Being an visitor in the city this has been a great way to learn the city, find the best running routes to run by myself, and push up some pretty serious “hills” (as someone who trains at sea level I’d call them mountains!) and meet some great like-minded people.

The Dragons also have a very neat “Club Championship” race series that is designed to support club members in their training, and push for improvement and enjoyment of running during the year. It doesn’t favor the fastest runner but recognizes those who show improvement throughout the year and perform well when it counts.

Fifteen races are selected by a race committee (and the runner chooses six) and points are awarded based on the finish position of each member in relation to other club members on the team. HOWEVER, to even the playing field, handicaps are assigned based on your training pace group. The runners who train in the fastest group receive no handicap; the second fastest group receives bonus points equal to the number of the faster group members that finish, the third group receives bonus points equal to the number of members from the two fastest group, etc. The intended outcome of the ‘Ability Handicap’ is that the fastest runners in each group receive similar scores (placing + handicap) with those outperforming their training group status getting more.

Basel Dragons at the Liestaler Stadtlauf 12K

It’s a really nice system that evens the field so that everyone can compete. Marathons earn you extra points. There is also a PR bonus that adds on points based on how much you lower your time for the distance, so there is motivation to run hard every time.

In addition to all of the running, the club is very social as well. I had the opportunity to join in with them for one of their social events in their clubhouse under the Wettsteinebrücke Bridge for a pizza, beer and music night. A local musician was invited to entertain and we spent time together getting to know each other. Many of the members are not local to Basel (it is the “English Speaking Running Club” after all), so everyone has a story to tell. The group is very welcoming to visiting runners, as I am finding out, with many runners being in town for a limited engagement. Some basic sleuthing through online search engines and running communities (such as DailyMile) will often come back with results such as this great group of people – so the next time you’re traveling give it a shot!

Basel Dragons #runonthelevel

The Über Race Report, Vol. III

 Anne London (of CRC and Nacho RC fame) decided to take on four races over a span of six days and chronicled it all for us. Today we wrap up this Über Race Report with Vol. III, which involves a swim and a road race:

Well, as us NACHOs like to say, “anything worth doing is worth overdoing”… and in endurance sports that often comes back to bite you. Soon the shoulder pain started, which lead to the neck pain, then I couldn’t open a door or lift a bag… and back to the orthopedist I went. Diagnosis: supraspinatus and biceps tendinitis. Prescription: Cortisone injection, PT and no swimming. No swimming? How was I supposed to train for the swim? I couldn’t understands how something that was supposed to be good for me and my running could result in more orthopedic appointments.

Team NACHO after a successful Save the Bay Swim.

Two months later, I found myself standing on the beach at the War College waiting for the cannon blast that signaled my wave of the swim to start. I was scared. Really scared. Was a cortisone shot, PT, and four open water practice swims going to be enough? My brother John looked at me from his kayak and I could tell he was thinking the same thing too. I could only bet that John was hoping he wasn’t going to have to drag me into it mid-swim and signal the coast guard.

As the cannon boomed for the start, we were off, and I quickly forced myself to accept that whatever was going to happen would happen. “What had been my overall goal?” I found myself asking. To use this as an opportunity to become a better and stronger runner. With the twice-weekly PT sessions and clinical massage, I was targeting areas that I had never focused on before and I was already seeing the results in my running. I felt stronger on my long runs, perhaps because I wasn’t stressing my upper body as much. My legs felt better, probably because of the extra foam rolling I had been doing because it was in my face every time I went to PT.

About half way through the swim I stopped swimming and took a quick break, using the buoyancy of the wetsuit to allow me to float and take a look around. From the water I could look up under the Newport Bridge on a gorgeous summer morning - not a perspective that most people will have. John asked me if I was okay and I finally realized that yes, I was okay, and was going to be okay. I ended up swimming the second half of the race faster than my first half, probably because I calmed down and actually allowed myself to have a good time.

I was welcomed on the beach by my siblings and my in-laws who were proud and excited to share in our accomplishment (and the free Del’s Lemonade at the post-race party). Accepting the team plaque recognizing NACHO was the icing on the cake: Stepping out of my comfort zone and trying something new made me a better runner and made us a stronger team, a lesson that I will soon not forget.

Fast forward three days. After digging out my CRC singlet and the infamous bright pink spandex shorts, I was ready to make an appearance at the Newburyport Yankee Homecoming 10 miler. I pointedly say “make an appearance” and not say “run” because my legs (and arms, and back, and shoulders) were toast. Absolute toast. Weird, I know. Again, why was I doing this (fighting traffic leading out of the city on a grey, humid day after once again forcing eight hours of work into a hectic, stressful abridged day)?

To answer that, you have to rewind two weeks to a wild night out at Audubon Circle in Fenway. NACHO was having its monthly happy hour and the beverages were flowing. In walk some of the wilder CRC ladies (you know who you are), and the fun escalated to another level of ridiculousness. One thing lead to another, and next thing I know the smart phones are out and we’ve all registered for Newburyport. Did I check to see when it was (mid-week) or where it was (over an hour north of the city) or when other races were scheduled (weekend of insanity 3 days before it)…? Clearly not.

Not having run the Yankee Homecoming before I had no idea what to expect from the experience, but despite the stress of getting up to Newburyport mid-week it was definitely a race I would do again: the crowd support, the scenery, the layout of the course – it is a quality event. I set out with the plan of treating it like a training run, but (surprise surprise) after the legs warmed up I ran harder than I had planned, and ended up only one minute slower than the ten miler raced four days earlier. Not so bad. After coming through the finish, enjoying my free freeze pop and proudly wearing my goofy shorts with my CRC friends, I had no regrets. Immeasurable physical and mental fatigue was worth the feelings of accomplishment and camaraderie.

Looking back on the week now (two weeks later) would I pack that many events into one week again – no. My running has suffered since and I am now finally getting back to baseline. But individually, each event highlights a component of who I am as an athlete; the fun and casual Charles River Run with NACHO, the dedication needed to train for the Blessing, the challenge of stepping out of the comfort zone and completing the Bay Swim, and the foolish spontaneity that is only inspired by friends to jump in and run the Yankee Homecoming. Four races in a week – insane, but man, it was fun.

Editor’s note: I’m pretty sure I’d swim from Newport to Jamestown for free Del’s.

Be sure to check out the rest of the Über-ness:

Vol. I of the Über Race Report

Vol. II of the Über Race Report

Thanks again Anne!

The Über Race Report, Vol. II

Yesterday we brought you Vol. I of the Über Race Report, and today we bring you Vol. II. Anne London (of CRC and Nacho RC fame) decided to take on four races over a span of six days and chronicled it all for us. This segment involves events number two and three (the third one being a swim).

After having gotten to work early and packed eight hours into five, we were Rhode Island-bound. The humidity was building along with the thunderclouds, but that was no deterrent. This race, The Blessing of the Fleet 10 miler (now in its 41st year), was one of my favorites. This race is the unspoken test to whether a cross country runner had done their summer workouts – you’d be sure that all of the high school and college coaches are checking the results.  Close to 3,000 runners descend upon Narragansett, RI for this fast, flat, and scenic event. This year, my husband Brian and I were joined by his college friend Grant, a newly-minted running enthusiast who had made the decision to drive up from New Jersey for the race.

As the three of us chilled out at Narragansett High School before the race, Grant made the comment, “Everyone looks so fast, so serious. Everyone looks like they’ll run six minute miles, but that’s not how it goes, is it?” It’s true, ten miles is no walk in the park. For 99% of the people there, they had trained for this. You don’t just get out of bed one morning and say, “I’m going to run a ten miler today”. You train, you prepare, you COMMIT to achieving that goal. As I ran the race that night, I thought of all of the hard work that the runners around me had done, all of the sacrifices and planning that had gone into making it to the starting line that day.  I pushed through the familiar course, feeling stronger and stronger as the miles ticked by.  I happily finished with a 10M PR, a result of training and smart running; a skill that is only developed over time.

NACHOs ready to tackle 10 miles at the Blessing of the Fleet.

Less than twelve hours later, we found ourselves across the bay in Newport at the Naval War College for the Annual Save the Bay Swim for event number three.  The Save the Bay swim is a big event in Rhode Island, with politicians, local vendors and some of the region’s best athletes converging on a small beach in the early morning.

It has also been a big event in my family for the past twenty years: this year would mark my husband’s third swim and my father’s twenty-first consecutive swim. All season (and I mean ALL SEASON - he’s outside swimming in November!) my father trains for this one event, with the special challenge of swimming the bay in as many minutes as he has been alive in years, in this case, 59 minutes. What’s nice about this goal is that you get one extra minute each year to meet it, allowing for a “natural decay” in time as you yourself, well, decay.

He had this reach goal, 1.7 miles in 59 minutes, while me, I just wanted to finish. And so, we formed the NACHO Save-the-Bay swim team, a team Brian and my father wanted to do for a few years but they could never find a third person. My youngest brother, John, was dragged in to be my kayaking assistant, as non-elite swimmers were required to have a kayak spotter that would give help to the swimmer if needed. Help was definitely something I need.

Now, I am NOT a swimmer. Sure, I’ve completed triathlons, but there is a difference in finishing a sprint triathlon and trying to swim from Newport to Jamestown, especially when there is a perfectly acceptable bridge with a toll that now accepts EZ Pass to speed up the process. But this year was different for me - after watching my father finish for the past twenty years, I finally got the courage to try it myself. This wasn’t a decision made lightly. For starters, I hate being cold and wet (kind of my least favorite thing actually), so I had that to contend with. Secondly, I am an incredibly slow swimmer. Like, old lady in the lap pool-slow. Third, it’s not my thing… I guess that kind of goes back to the whole “not liking being cold and wet thing”, but it’s all related. I am not a swimmer, and I don’t enjoy it.

So why was I here? In my mind months earlier, I had convinced myself that swimming the bay would make me a better and healthier RUNNER. I have had a range of ridiculous orthopedic injuries, and with the New York Marathon looming this upcoming November, I figured getting off of the roads and forcing myself into a pool and/or ocean was a smart decision. So I jumped head first into swim training (pun kind of intended). I started working with the triathlon coach at MIT in the mornings before work and squeezed into the wetsuit starting in May to practice my sighting in small ponds in Rhode Island.

Vol. III will feature the end of the swim race and the last road race. Look for it later this week.

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