June 15, 2018

Last-Minute Father's Day Baltimore Gift Guide

Disclosure: I was invited to visit Hammer & Nails and received a complimentary service for my boyfriend as well as a gift card. As always all thoughts & opinions are my own. 


Just a heads up, Father's Day is this Sunday. Yes, we are already in the middle of June (HOW?!). Sometimes I have trouble figuring out what to get for my father but know that local Baltimore eats, spirits, or golf balls are always a great option. Have no fear, if you still have not picked up a gift for your dad, here's a list of 5 great options that are all available in the Baltimore area. 


Last-Minute Father's Day Baltimore Gift Guide

1. Sagamore Rye, Sagamore Spirit ($45)

If the father in your life enjoys whiskey, pick up a bottle of local Sagamore Rye from the Sagamore Spirit Distillery. It's a smooth rye that is super drinkable. I gave a bottle to my dad for Christmas, and he loved it! You can find it in many local stores-check out their locator for the retailer closest to you. 

2. The John duffle, Treason Toting Co. ($100)

Treason Toting Co. is a Baltimore company that makes durable and classic bags for "the travelling craftsman." Their The John duffle bag is made from water-resistant canvas with brass hardware for a classic look perfect for any adventure. Let's also put a Treason Toting Co. bag on a list of gifts people can give to me as well. 

3. Coffee beans, Ceremony Coffee (prices varies,$15-24)  

When in doubt grab some local food and drink goodies from the local farmers market or your favorite coffeeshop- a mug and a bag of beans from your local Ceremony Coffee shop such as their Summer 18 Annuals blend ($17) makes for a delicious gift. While you are there, grab yourself a coffee or one of their delicious coffee drinks too. 

4. Hammer & Nails gift certificate, (price varies) 

If you know a dad that needs some self-care, Hammer & Nails in Owings Mill is the perfect place for him to treat himself. It's a grooming shop for guys that has a man cave with oversized leather chairs, personal HD televisions, and complimentary beverages that make basic manicures and pedicures feel extra luxurious. The shop also offers haircuts and beard trims-check out their full list of services here. I had the opportunity to visit the shop a few weeks ago and think it's the perfect place for men to pamper themselves. My boyfriend really enjoyed his complimentary manicure. Hammer & Nails is offering a $125 gift card for only $99 for Father's Day as well as a great package that includes a manicure, pedicure, and haircut for $100. 

5. Brooks Running Ghost 10, Brooks Running and available at Charm City Run ($99.95-$120)

It is the perfect time to grab your dad a new pair of running shoes like the Ghost from Brooks Running or pop into Charm City Run and find something else he'd like. A gift certificate is always a great way to go so he can come in and get fitted for shoes or pick up any gear or nutrition he needs.  

I spent some time with my dad last weekend. The weather looks too great to not be out and about in Baltimore this weekend. Follow along in Instagram @breathedeeplyandsmile to see where the weekend takes me. 


What's your go-to gift for the dad in your life? Any other gift ideas? 

June 14, 2018

5 Reasons to Train with a Running Group {at Charm City Run}



This post was originally published on the Charm City Run blog. Head over there to check out more great blog posts talking about running shoes and gear, training tips, inspiration, and stories from the running community in Maryland.

With the arrival of summer, comes the start of training for fall race season. Training through a hot and humid summer in Baltimore takes guts, and some days it can be tough to get out the door for a run. Charm City Run offers many training groups throughout the summer from 5K to full marathon and beyond. In the age of the internet when anyone can google a training plan for any distance, I think that in-person training groups offer so much more than a plan. Here are 5 reasons why YOU should train with Charm City Run.

5 Reasons to Train with a Running Group {at Charm City Run}


1. ACCOUNTABILITY.

For some people, paying money for a group alone makes them more accountable to showing up and committing to the plan. It is also easier to get dressed and out of bed before 7:00am on a Saturday morning knowing you have a group of people waiting for you to run together. Aside from the sign-in sheet, everyone notices when someone hasn’t shown up to a workout. The group becomes a tribe or family of runners, especially with longer distance groups.

2. OTHER RUNNERS WILL PUSH YOU.

When running by yourself, it can be harder to push or pace yourself. Running with other people allows you to challenge yourself to finish tough workouts that may seem scary at the start. Running with people in your training group also allows you to stick with others of a similar pace which usually helps you learn to pace yourself more evenly. I also find I will push my pace a little more when completing workouts with others which allows me to become a better runner. And, if your running group buddy says they are running X distance, you’ll probably try to stick with them and run X distance as well even if you weren’t feeling great at the start of the run

3.FRIENDSHIP.

I always tell anyone who moves to the city to join a training group to meet people! I trained for my first marathon with Charm City Run right after I moved downtown. I didn’t know any runners before, and by the end of the group I had made so many friends including a handful of close ones.  You and your training group members will bond over the tough workouts, a really hot long run, or the weird and funny things seen on the run. Something I’ve found true in life is that I can find more out about a person from running with them for an hour, than I could in any other setting!

4. YOUR GROUP WILL BECOME YOUR CHEER SQUAD.

It is awesome to finish a run to a bunch of sweaty high-fives or maybe even some hugs. It is nice to have people to cheer you through the last repeat of a track workout or finish strides of your longest run yet. On race day, your squad will be there to support you.
training group charm city run.jpg

 5. IT IS A SPACE TO TALK ABOUT EVERYTHING AND ANYTHING RUNNING.

No topic is off limits with your coach, store employees, and fellow trainees. You can ask about that nagging pain in your calf and get some suggestions of what to do. You can talk about the GI distress you had during the run. You can ask questions and learn about fueling for runs, hydration, and stretching. It is a space where people WANT to talk about all things running, races, and gear! It is not weird or annoying or silly!
The full marathon and Charles Street 12 training groups start this weekend (June 16th) at all Charm City Run stores. Half marathon, 5K, and other distances will start later in this summer. Check out all the information on upcoming training groups on the Charm City Run website. Just show up, and see what it’s all about!
Have you trained with a training group before? Do you prefer training solo or with others?

June 6, 2018

Global Running Day 2018 Discounts and Baltimore Events

Happy Global Running Day! 




As a runner, I love spreading the run love. I love encouraging others to find that sweet spot of doing things that are healthy and make them happy (and are FUN!). 
What is Global Running Day you ask?

{Source}


 Of course I started my morning with a workout with my November Project Baltimore crew. It was still part of the week-long Summer School workout series (free workouts every day of the week instead of just Wed and Fri) so there was some geography, pencil sharpening, and memorization in the workout-all before I had any coffee this AM. 
Doesn't this look like a fun group of people to workout with?
There are lots of fun events and sales (including race discounts!) happening in honor of Global Running Day so I'm sharing them here for you to check out. 

Take time today to maybe join a group run, workout with a new crew, treat yourself to some new gear, sign up for a new challenge, or do whatever gets YOU moving and having fun. 

In Baltimore

Global Running Day with Under Armour
Under Armour is hosting a run and post-run party at 5 PM today at 2601 Port Covington Dr., Baltimore, MD, 21230. You can find more details and register here  .
TIME: 5:00 PM

Global Running Day with Lululemon Towson & Harbor East 
Lululemon is hosting a community run from R. House at 6:30 PM (301 W. 29th Street, Baltimore, MD, 21211) and then a post-run strtech with a Movement Lab instructor (bring your own yoga mat!). There will be food, happy hour, and socializing to follow. All running levels welcome! More information and registration here


Around the Country and Beyond

#RunItForward with Brooks Running
Brooks Running is asking runners to #RunitForward and pledge miles, dedicate miles to something they believe in, and share the run love. It's all about community, appreciation of the environment, and connecting with people. Sign up here

Check out some discounts via this list from Runner's World as well as this list of Global Running Day runs from SELF magazine. 

Race Discounts

Rock 'n' Roll Race Series
rock-n-roll-race-series-global-running-day-sale

Rock 'n' Roll race series always has a big sale on Global Running Day. Save HUGE on most of their races for 24 hours (ends at 11:59 PT today)-hurry up and register because there are limited registrations at the lowest prices. 

If you miss out on today, you can always use code RNRRNB2018 to save $15 off most of their half and full marathons this year.  I'm a Rock 'n' Blogger for them and am hoping to do at least one more of their races this year. 

Philadelphia Marathon
Register today and receive $20 off the AACR Marathon, Dietz & Watson Half Marathon, or one of the combo challenges. Use code GLOBAL2018, and they'll donate $10 to the awesome Back on my Feet Philadelphia which empowers the homeless through running and community. Offer expires 11:59 PM EST 6/6/18. 

Donate Like 5K in Baltimore
I have run the Donate Like 5K with the Living Legacy Foundation of Maryland a couple times (and placed both times ::woop::woop), and besides the fun swag and fast course, it's a great 5K. It support the Donate Life Foundation which works to support saving lies through organ, eye, and tissue donations. 

Today they are offering 50% off all 2018 Donate Life Family Fun Run and 5K registrations-adult 5K registration (bib, shirt, and medal included!) is just $12.50.
donate-life-5k-sale


ZOOMA Women's Race Series

zooma-race-global-running-day

North Face Endurance Challenge Series
north-face-endurance-challenge-global-running-day


Sales

StrideBox
stridebox-global-running-day-sale

HoneyStinger 
honeystinger-gel-sale


Sarah Marie Design Studio
FREE pair of Superhero Nail Wraps today only with code "LOVETORUN" with any purchase. Just add to cart and use code at checkout. 


How are you celebrating Global Running Day?

I’m linking up with Holly and Wendy for the Weekly Wrap.

May 30, 2018

Why I Trust NOW Foods for my Natural Products


Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Fitfluential, LLC on behalf of NOW Foods. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.



In health and fitness, there are lots of claims and labels being thrown around by brands and people. As a former chemist (who will always be a science nerd at heart), I’m the type of person that finds the actual research article when I read a headline about a new study. Sometimes there are small samples for the study, bias, or parts of the research aren’t addressed. The same thing goes with labels such as “natural” not being a regulated label or even their being specifics about what constitutes “organic”. Before visiting NOW Foods headquarters just outside of Chicago for the #NOWGetFit influencer event this month, I hadn’t considered myself super brand loyal, but now I can tell you I trust NOW Foods!

NOW Foods #NOWGetFit Day 1
After a travel snafu (ugh American Airlines WHY) I made it out to the event on Thursday starting with a trip to the Cooking Skills Academy for an “Iron Chef Challenge” using NOW Foods ingredients. 

Chef showing us how it's done.

My team won with a take on an avocado toast-clearly all those years watching Iron Chef and the Food Network have paid off! 

The winning dish!
Also forgot to mention that the before our challenge the night before, Kasey from Powercakes made us DELICIOUS protein donuts. I don’t throw around the word delicious paired with protein donuts ever.
Girl, I'd watch your Food Network show. 
I’ve bought many NOW Foods products in the past because it seemed to be good quality and has been a very affordable option for me for supplements, essential oils, and baking products. I’ve bought their products in natural food stores like Whole Foods, on Amazon, or on iHerb. All of their products are free of preservatives or artificial ingredients.

Getting to listen to the NOW Foods CEO Jim Emme talk about the company and hear about its history was really eye-opening. Today it is one of the largest independent manufacturers of natural products in the U.S. with over 1500 different products including foods, supplements, sports nutrition, essential oils, health & beauty products, and a new pet supplement line. 


The company spends very little money on marketing which helps them keep their cost so low for consumers which may be why you’re unfamiliar with the brand. You may recognize their signature orange and white label from health food stores or your own pantry!

NOW is still family-owned since Elwood Richard started the company in 1968 and is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. It still continues its original goal of making healthy, quality, and affordable products. 

When I made it back to my hotel room at the Eaglewood Resort & Spa that night (which was fabulous!) I sifted through two giant bags of NOW Foods products including protein powder, a diffuser and essential oils, and supplements (psst…you can win the same gift bags valued at $520 on my Instagram)

Swag on swag. 

NOW Foods #NOWGetFit Day 2 

The next morning we got up bright and early for a tough group tabata workout with the lovely Kasey from Powercakes. 

The group post-workout

This lady is so much fun and knows how to lead a killer workout. 

After our workout, NOW Foods had created the smoothie bar dreams are made of so we could refuel with our own smoothie creations. 
Can I have this in my apartment every day? 

I got to try out NOW Foods protein powders, MCT oil, amino acids, and more. While enjoying my smoothie, I learned more about the sports nutrition which I was very interested in as an athlete.


NOW Sports uses quality ingredients that are heavily researched and tested. This year NOW Sports will have the Informed-Sport certification which is a globally recognized assurance program by the LGC for anti-doping that certifies that every batch of a supplement product and raw material with the certification logo has been tested for banned substances. Professional and collegiate athletes can use the 150+ products in the NOW Sports line without worrying about the ingredients. I even met a couple awesome Olympic athletes at the event who were NOW Foods ambassadors!  

All the proteins and MCT oils-with the new labels coming out soon!
Later in the morning we headed over to the NOW Foods Operations facility to take a tour of the plant in Bloomingdale, IL (they do public tours monthly FYI!). I was honestly blown away by the level of quality, documentation, and testing. NOW tests each and every batch of raw materials and finished products that come into and leave the facility. All of their products are non-GMO, and their products in the Living Now line are produced in a dedicated gluten-free and allergen-friendly facility. These products are made without the 8 major allergens (including dairy, eggs, soy, wheat, nuts, and fish).

Looking chic in my factory gear and hairnet!
So clean and organized. 




As someone who spent the last 7 years working in research labs, I was excited to learn about their Quality Control and Quality Assurance programs as well as see their labs. NOW has an A rating from the Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) and is one of the first to seek GMP certification in 2000. Their testing goes above and beyond this as I mentioned earlier, making sure that everything that they say is in their products is actually there, free of contamination. 

I used to work with these LCMS machines-but look how many they have!
Also without geeking out too much, their labs were immaculately clean and organized (and yes some of these labs had people working in them). Learning a little about their research to make a stevia that was complete but not bitter-tasting was interesting too.

Research poster on NOW and stevia
Everyone I met from the company and in the factory was friendly too, which is nice to see in a company.



After the tour we headed to the corporate headquarters for lunch catered by Whole Foods which was a dream-like a Whole Foods hot/cold bar without having to weigh your plate! I learned more about NOW Food’s body care products and essential oils and also made my own fitness cleaning spray and sports soak. 

All the Mediterranean goodness on one plate. 



NOW Solutions, their health and beauty care line is made of pure and natural ingredients. Besides being affordable, their essential oils are certified organic and 100% pure, which is tested using strict quality standards. I learned that their essential oils are some of their top-selling products!



One of the fellow influencers asked the CEO Jim why fly a bunch of influencers/bloggers out here and take the time to put on such a nice event for us when he could pay for marketing. He said that we shouldn’t undervalue ourselves and that visiting the company in person is more valuable to him because we can see it all for ourselves and share our experiences with other friends, family, and followers. To him that was more important than any TV commercial. So I left the weekend 100% trusting the NOW Foods brand and knowing that when I’m buying their product, I’m getting exactly what the label says.

Some of my swag that YOU can win too!
Again, I’m partnering with NOW Foods for a giveaway to win the same amazing swag bag I received with over $520 worth of products including an oil diffuser, body care products, protein powder, baking products, and more. Head over to my Instagram to enter!


What decides what natural products you purchase-quality or price, or both? What is a brand you trust? 

May 8, 2018

The 2018 Boston Marathon: Miserable yet Amazing


Every one of my friends who I talk to asks me “How was Boston?” and my response has been “::sigh:: Miserable and amazing”. That’s the truth.

Settle in for my big Boston Marathon race recap. I thought about shortening it, but I like having all of these thoughts down on the interwebs to look back on. You’ll get expo and logistics thoughts in a following post!

Boston Marathon 2018 Race Recap


PRE-RACE

The week of the marathon the weather forecast was not looking good. Eventually 3 or 4 days before the race the forecast was saying 100% rain. ONE HUNDRED PERCENT. Where in the eff do you ever hear a weather forecast saying 100%?!?! The weather was forecasted to be raw with temperatures around 40 degrees (real feel colder), rain all day, and 20 mph E/SE winds (that’s a headwind). People talked online about how it rained in 2015 when they ran it and how it wasn’t so bad. I wanted to hope that the forecast would change or at least it wouldn’t be so bad. My parents were in town for the race and literally only came to one other half marathon ever-where it also poured rain (are they unlucky?Just saying.) My mom overheard someone in her hotel grabbing shower caps to cover her shoes so I did the same. The concierge said he thought they were out but luckily found a couple for me (#runnerprobs).

boston-marathon-2018-subway-newbalance

I woke up in Cambridge at my Airbnb Monday morning feeling anxious. Part positively, part negatively. I woke up to the wind howling and rain beating down outside the bedroom window. Yikes. I layered up my outfit and ate a Honey Stinger salted caramel waffle and banana along with some Nuun. I cut holes in my trash bag poncho. I packed my little Athlete’s Village bag with my headphones, gels, extra Honey Stinger waffles, old race heat sheet, gloves, and an extra trash bag.
Boston-marathon-2018-shower-caps
Garbage bag chic with shower caps on shoes as an accessory

I was worried about being cold AND soaking wet. Part of me thought too many layers may get too hot over the marathon distance (LOLZ WHAT A JOKE).

Boston-marathon-2018-flat-runner
I ended up wearing: Brooks Launch shoes, Maryland buff,  Lululemon shorts, Lily Trotters compression socks, toe socks underneath my compression socks (in an attempt to avoid extra blisters, a Tracksmith Brighton tank (hoping the merino wool would keep me warm), a Lululemon Run Swiftly long sleeve tee, a Brooks Running rain shell, with a Nike November Project tagged shirt on top (gotta rep!). On top of all of that was a clear rain poncho. I also had some Nathan gloves, a Flipbelt, a Mizuno Coldgear ear warmer, Goodr sunglasses, and my trusty Nuun Headsweats hat.

Boston-marathon-2018-pre-race2
A candid photo of me looking at the weather outside. YIKES. 

This race was supposed to be my victory lap, so I had trained for a fun and slower race. I got on the T along with all the other runners in a variety of rain and “garbage bag chic” gear. Once I got to Boston Commons to catch the bus to the Athlete’s Village I was feeling okay despite it being 38 degrees outside. The rain wasn’t coming down too hard, and the excitement of being with other runners was fun. We're running Boston, YAY! I waited in line to get on Bus #1 while two men from Dublin chatted with one of the volunteers and photobombed my selfie!

Boston-marathon-2018-pre-race

On the bus I sat next to a girl who had run the marathon before, and there was another Boston first-timer in front of us. People around me seemed to be positive and have the “oh well” attitude I had adopted. Honestly I was a little more nervous because I had been so freaking miserable the year I ran Rock ‘n’ Roll DC half marathon when it was in the upper 30s and rainy. I hate the cold weather in general (not just running) and do not like running in the rain much either (aside from summer rain).

 Boston-marathon-2018-athletes-village

The bus ride to Hopkinton was about 45 min-1 hour long, and it felt like it. I also made the mistake of picking a seat next to the heater on the bus so I was literally sweating and feeling uncomfortable by the time we got to the Athlete’s Village. Once we got to the village I was pretty excited, despite the fact that it felt cold and rainy. I made it to the port a potty and then into the Athlete’s Village tent a.k.a. the Athlete’s mud pit. On the plus side-no line to get a photo with the Hopkinton sign!
Boston-marathon-2018-athletes-village2
Instagram Story screenshot! 
I squeezed into the tent, and it was not the fun time I imagined getting to hang out before the race. Near me there was no room to sit or even squeeze past people to find a spot. So I awkwardly stood around, sipped on a beet juice, and ate another Honey Stinger waffle. Once the first Wave left the tent to walk to the start there was a little more room (it’s a 0.7 mile walk from the Village to the actual Start Line). I had a Chicago Marathon mylar heat blanket (things they give you after races to keep you warm) that I ended up tossing since I wasn’t sitting down. Luckily I had some Hot Hands I packed for the race to put into my gloves for the walk to the start. Once it was time for Wave 2 to head to the start I started walking. Getting in the mud was unavoidable, but my shoes stayed semi-dry thanks to the shower caps.

Boston-marathon-2018-athletes-village3

I was having a flustered morning with the uncomfortable heat on the bus, the logistics, the mud pit and standing in the Athlete’s Village, that I hadn’t gotten my headphones ready and spent time walking to the start trying to finagle them and get them set up (I brought wired ones because I was worried about my AfterShokz wireless headphones getting soaking wet?) as well as remove my sweatshirt and pants. I met a girl who was running her first Boston in my corral which was nice to have a small chat before our wave started. Also sidenote, it's bizzare because the race ends in downtown but literally starts in a neighborhood in a small town. 
Boston-marathon-2018-start-line
Think happy thoughts at the start line? 
Boston-marathon-208-start-corral-wave2
Welcome to my corral! 


THE RACE

Boston-Marathon-2018-course-map
Boston Marathon race course (source
I knew the first few miles were downhill and fast so I tried to stay slow. I was actually embracing the rain and having fun those first few miles. Trying to avoid puddles was pointless because the rain poured down those first few miles so everyone was soaking wet and cold anyways! I decided to keep my clear rain poncho on for the race and kinda knotted it up so my legs were free to move. It was exciting to see spectators and to be running the BOSTON FREAKING MARATHON. The rain was cold, and around Mile 3 I just remember running through a heavy, heavy downpour. I honestly do not understand how some runners ran without hats. Also because the wind was blowing against us the whole time, wearing sunglasses totally helped keep the rain out of my eyes. I tried to focus on looking out for the signs for the iconic towns we were running through during the first 10K. It's so historic, and I read so much about this course and knew the names of these small Massachusetts towns that it was exciting. 

I was feeling okay and running consistent miles through the first 10K. I had some feeling in my feet by now! My gloves were soaking wet and annoying so I tossed them around this point and hoped it was a decision I wouldn’t regret. Once I hit Natick I was struggling from miles 7-13. There wasn’t a ton of spectators. In my head I was fighting mentally-I kept thinking that I was miserable.This was miserable, but then I would try to keep my thinking positive because it’s Boston and I’m here. It was just hard for me to swallow that I needed to buckle in for 4 hours of this. I was also struggling because I never felt this crappy this early in a marathon-usually the hard part comes around miles 17-18. 

I had my name written on duct tape on my chest which helped to get some cheers-I was so grateful for every spectator that yelled out my name. I thanked every volunteer from whom I took water from too. I took water or Gatorade at all but a couple aid stations because I knew I might not feel thirsty but still needed to hydrate. At the halfway point I checked in with my watch and was happy to see that I was running consistently at a 8:35/mi pace. At this point I focused on getting to the Nuun Hydration cheer station at Mile 17 and knew my November Project friends would be at the cheer station at Mile 18.

Again, the whole race was into a headwind (with sometimes the wind comically filling up my poncho, but I wasn’t ready to give it up) with light rain alternating with heavy rain. Somewhere after the halfway mark I moved into a happy running place. I was running the Boston Marathon and kept telling myself that I was doing great. I chuckled to myself that I wanted a victory lap and Boston was like “NOT TODAY. Prove you’re a badass, again!”. 

Boston-marathon-2018-race-photo

Once we entered Newton around Mile 16 I knew there would be some smaller hills before Heartbreak Hill, but actually they weren’t too bad. It was some climbing, but nothing I haven’t seen in Baltimore before. I grabbed a Twizzler from a spectator which makes an excellent running fuel choice-especially in the rain!

Sidenote, shout-out to Honey Stinger Ginsting gels for not being gross to suck down in the cold rain! Surprisingly I had no problems fueling during the race.

Before I knew it I made it to Mile 17 and grabbed a cup of Nuun. At Mile 18 I saw my friends including my buddy Sarah. I was confused as she came on course with me to cut across the course to get to a train station, but it was really great to see a familiar face. I think I deliriously told her I was feeling great, haha. Heartbreak Hill was a little tough of a climb for me, around here my legs were feeling cold and tight, and I started to have pain in my foot. It did feel really great to finish that infamous hill and have all those spectators cheering at the top! At this point I was lower on energy and started giving thumbs up to spectators who cheered my name instead of cheering back.

Boston-Marathon-mile18-race-2018

The twingy pain was in both feet and then just my right foot, and all I could think was that I was injured. After Mile 20 and Heartbreak Hill I knew it was fairly downhill. My numb-ish legs, the headwind and cold, and the pain in my foot (plus my mind now wrapped up in the pain) made the last miles a struggle. I took walk breaks at all the water stops and stopped twice to stretch out my legs. I knew I was slowing down, but at this point the goal was just to finish. I saw a box of clean white socks on the side of the road which was a nice gesture, but I wondered if anyone took the time to change their socks during the race.  

My next visual goal was to make it to the Citgo sign at mile 25. I struggled through until Mile 25 and then attempted to take my phone out of my Flipbelt for a photo which was comical. My hands were so cold they wouldn’t work, and the STRUGGLE WAS REAL. It literally took a minute or so on the side of the race. I took a foggy, rainy selfie and then headed on to the finish. 
Boston-marathon-2018-citgo-sign
Terrible selfie. And comically so wet. 
At this point I dropped my poncho for the finish line in a poncho graveyard (everyone was shedding gear!).

Boston-marathon-2018-ponchos

Boston-marathon-2018-mile25_2
You can make out some of my ugly crying face in this one LOLZ. 
Once I saw the iconic Right on Hereford followed by Left on Boylston turns I cried some ugly tears (hidden mostly by the rain and my sunglasses). IT WAS SO ICONIC AND STILL AMAZING, even in the terrible weather. I heard my name yelled out by a few people and even stopped for 30 seconds to go hug and chat with my boyfriend who was like “GO finish the race, Lauren!”. I was so happy that last mile.

Boston-marathon-2018-mile25
Thanks to Sarah for the great photo on Boylston! 
And then I threw my arms up in the air and crossed the BOSTON Marathon finish line in 3:52:44. It is my slowest marathon time to date (which was the plan anyways) but was more of a struggle than I had anticipated.

Boston-marathon-2018-finish-line

I laugh at this now, but part of me wondered during the race if I was a big baby about the weather and maybe everyone else didn’t think it was so bad. Seeing the faces at the finish told me I was right. A volunteer gave me a medal and another wrapped me in the fancy hooded mylar coat thing. I knew I’d be sad if I didn’t take a finish line photo so I wrestled with my phone again and took a finish line selfie.

Boston-marathon-2018-finish-line1
Look at those tired, defeated faces behind me

POST-RACE

I knew the cold would kick in fast-it always does for me post-race even when it’s not freezing cold and rainy. I heard at the finish that Desi had won the women’s race and cheered for her. If Shalane wouldn’t take it I really wanted Desi to win. I shuffled down to grab my bag of snacks and water. I felt like the finish line chute was SO long. I kept shuffling until I got to the family meetup. My boyfriend had my jacket and a warm shirt so I wanted to meet up with him, and I was happy to not have to wait at the gear check. BIG THANKS to the volunteer who had a map to help me figure out what direction to head and what streets to go on to get to my parents’ hotel. Also BLESS THEM for having a hotel by Copley Square.

Boston-marathon-2018-finish-line2

My boyfriend called and insisted I wait for him somewhere although I argued that if I kept shuffling in the right direction I would make it there faster (cold, tired, runner sass). So in typical Boston fashion, I huddled my SOAKING wet self into a Dunkin Donuts. Here I was on the verge of not happy tears because I was really uncomfortable, and it seemed to be taking my boyfriend FOREVER to come find me. Eventually he did and bless him, he took off all of my top layers down to my sports bra (no shame) because my hands weren’t working (so I really wasn’t any help) and got a dry sweatshirt and jacket on me. We shuffled back through the Prudential Center mall all the way to the Marriott across from my parent’s hotel. Inside we made a pit stop at David’s Tea (which I mostly agreed to because tea is warm, despite loving David’s Tea in all other scenarios). The cashier comically asked me if I had just run the race even though I CLEARLY was wet and bundled in my Mylar coat.
 Boston-marathon-2018-post-race1
Upon showering I found out that I had the worst chafing I ever have had, despite liberally applying Aquaphor to my entire legs and feet (Thanks a lot, thighs! No blisters though!). I’ve never had literally chafing wounds that lasted a week and needed to be bandaged the next 2-3 days. I’ll spare you the details, but DAMN. A hot shower and a cold beer along with an entire plate of French fries (no shame in my game) warmed me up faster than I imagined. I also got to see some news coverage of the race in the hotel and learned about how SO MANY elites dropped out! It was over, and I could celebrate being a Boston Marathoner now.

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Sidenote: Also my foot was feeling a little sore post-race like it had before the Philadelphia Marathon in the fall and during some of my training, so I have been keeping an eye on it. I had two weeks of rest and it's felt okay with a few runs this past week, but fingers crossed it's nothing serious. 

Final thoughts: Boston was miserable yet amazing. I thank each and every volunteer and spectator who was out there that day. I do really want to come back when there are larger crowds of spectators and the weather isn’t the worst in race history. Maybe have a proper victory lap? I felt like crap for a lot of the race, but did have some happy miles. This race showed me that I can do hard things. Really hard things.


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