Friday, July 31, 2020

Jumping July: July 2020 in review

July 2020 in review!

Total mileage for the month: 290.3
  • June 29-July 5: 62.2
  • July 6-12:  71
  • July 13-19:  60.7
  • July 20-26:  75.0
  • July 27-Aug. 2:  projected at 64, and I noticed my weekly mileage totals illustrate that I've been taking a day off every other week

  • July 9:  6 x 2:00 hill repeats within a 9.11 mile run (yes, the 911 was on purpose!).  This was Christian's workout and the type I never run on my own accord, meaning that it's good for me because it addresses my weaknesses.  Nothing like trying to keep up with a couple of 24 year olds on a hill to get the heart pumping!  I miss the GAP feature on Strava (now only on the paid version), but this was a good effort for me, and I kept up with the ladies who were recently running in college, so I'm calling it a win.
  • July 14:  5 mile tempo at 6:45 average via 6:42, 6:49, 6:36, 6:41, 6:56 (2 warm up, 2 cool down).  Christian had a 5 mile tempo at 6:45-6:50 so I decided to go for it, even though I really had no idea if I could run it.  It felt really good and not very hard for the first half, then I think we got a little too ambitious on mile 3, and mile 4 was harder, then suddenly mile 5 was quite a struggle (for me, she finished strong!).  It was unlike tempos feel when I'm in good shape; usually on those the first mile or two is the worst and then I find a groove and finish with my fastest mile.  As I was fighting to stay under 7:00 during mile 5, I started thinking, "I used to fight to stay under 6:00 (!!)."  I really have no idea how I used to run tempos so fast.  But, for being back to running for 6 weeks and not having run any miles under 7:00 before this workout, I was happy to run my 1st through 5th sub-7:00 miles back consecutively.
  • July 16:  5 miles easy, 10 x 1:00 moderate/1:00 easy, cool down to 9 miles.  I helped my friend Amy with a starter workout and I ended up feeling really good on the pushes, which averaged about 6:30 pace.  I would have guessed they were more like 7:00 pace, so things are feeling smoother.
  • July 21:  6 x 1 mile tempos with 1:00 recoveries in 6:22, 6:28, 6:18, 6:22, 6:27, 6:34 - average 6:25 (2.2 warm up, 2 cool down).  Christian had this workout with a goal pace of 6:30-6:35, but we got out a little fast and then it changed to try to stay under 6:30.  I felt good for 4, then 5 was a stretch and 6 was a struggle.  Christian is in one rep better shape than me (we were together for 1-5 but her last mile was 6:20, like the July 14 workout where we were together for 4 miles but she finished strong and I died on the last mile) so it's really helpful for me to run workouts with her!  I couldn't have run this on my own.
  • July 23:  Fartlek of 3 x 3' on/90" off/2' on/1' off/1' on/30" off (2 warm up, 5.3 cool down - the farlek covered 3.7 miles so it was an 11 mile day).  This was, again, Christian's workout that she was kind enough to drag me along for - she says I'm helping her but she is definitely in better shape than me and I mostly hang on!  It's been really good for me to get some speed back.  This was a nice effort-based relatively short workout.  Our push paces ranged from 6:01-6:27.  Afterward I told Amy I wanted to run 4 more miles so she took me out for 5...
  • July 28:  3 easy, 3 moderate in 6:58, 7:01, 6:54, 4 easy.  Missy asked me to do 4 miles sub-7:00 with her but I stopped at 3 (plus 2 wasn't even sub-7:00) - which is the beauty of not having a training schedule I guess, but I was not feeling it on this run.  Our third warm up mile was 7:33 and that already felt hard so I knew I was in trouble.  In hindsight I think I did a bit too much the previous week, so live and learn!  The weather was also atrocious, but that was the case for every run this month so I did not even note it (dew points of 70-76*).
  • Strides or hill strides on July 2, 4, 7, 13, 18, 20, 27.
  • No running doubles this month.  It's possible that 75 miles is the highest weekly mileage I've done in singles only, and if not it's close.

  • Biking:  I biked on July 5 and 19, and to and from running group several times for 56 total bike miles.
  • Elliptigo-ing:  My elliptigo arrived on July 23.  I rode it as double on July 23, 27, 30, and on July 29 for a day off running for 35.7 total elliptigo miles.  I'm not good enough on it yet to get my heart rate up to where I need to, but I'm improving each ride.  I think it's like running about half the distance, e.g., an 8 mile elliptigo ride is like a 4 mile run.  The website said that most people don't use all 8 gears, but riding in the Ozarks I definitely need them all!
  • Strength Training:  1:55, 2:01, 2:16, 1:45.
  • Yoga:  1:05, 1:25, 1:10, 1:30.

My first ElliptiGo ride

Long Runs:
  • July 3 - 15 miles (8:18). This was a hot, humid, hilly, breakfast run!  A Friday long run worked best for most of our running group this week, so we ran long a day earlier and then had breakfast at First Watch after.  I'd planned to do a light progression in the final 5 miles - dropping about 10 seconds per mile (something like 8:10, 8:00, 7:50, 7:40, 7:30), but at mile 10 when we were facing 3.5 miles of net uphill and I'd sweated out more fluid than anyone should, I decided I didn't really need to do that!  Everyone ran slightly different distances, but the group included Sean, Sierra, Christian, Rebecca, and Elise.
  • July 11:  16.2 miles (8:04).  I only planned to run 15 so the extra mile shows I was feeling good - I got faster/stronger throughout and my final 7 miles were in the 7's or very close (e.g., 8:01), keeping it easy - this was also the first time I saw 7:30ish miles (the final 2) with my heart rate truly in an easy zone during this return.  I ran 3 miles solo, 9 with Christian and Sierra (they had a cut-back week), then 4 solo.
  • July 17:  13 miles (7:46) on a Friday long run.  I was thrilled with this one because it was the effort level that just 4 weeks previously got me about 8:30 pace!  I ran with Missy chatting the whole time and didn't realize that we were staying around 7:45 pace until I stopped my watch at the end.  This was my first cut-back week since I started running again at the beginning of June - I built for 6 weeks then took the 7th week down, which is probably a little too much, but I am calling it a win because in the past I wouldn't have taken any weeks down when not being coached.
  • July 25:  15 miles (8:00) on the Bass Pro half marathon course, kind of as part of the Bass Pro Recycle Run.  Our group of Rebecca, Christian, Sierra, and Colin and decided to run the half course (which is also 13.1 miles of the full course) for those in the group training for Bass Pro who haven't run it before.  We all got goodies and snacks afterward!  Will the Bass Pro Marathon weekend actually happen?  Kind of doubtful.  Will I run one of the races if it does?  Likely.

Running Highlights:
  • My running group did Jumping July photos almost every day!  We decided that Jumping January wasn't enough for the year.  I included almost all of them in this post.
  • I ran my first 7-day week back July 6-12, and I was proud of myself for waiting that long.  The following week I took a day off, then another 7 day week July 20-26.  A day off every other week for me may be a good spot right now, but in August I will let my coach decide!
  • I enjoyed this article, about time trial PRs and whether they "count".  I'm not in a position for this to be an issue (there is not enough GPS error in the world for me to PR at the moment!), but I've seen a lot of people run really fast time trials during COVID-19 and I think it's awesome!  Personally, I would not count a time trial PR unless it was run on a track with manual splits, or if I could run a certified road course exactly (which would be difficult).  I see people using GPS on the track and shake my head...a 5k is 12.5 laps, not 11.7 no matter what your Garmin says!  On a straight course GPSs can be really close or even right on, but you just don't know the margin of error that day.  You may have actually run faster than your watch says too!  In the big scheme of things I also think if it makes someone happy right now then so be it, but you're setting yourself up for future disappointment by running (for example) 50 laps on the track and calling it a half marathon PR.  But my favorite parts of the article was that the author mentioned that really every PR has an asterisk - whether it was perfect weather, a fast course, a great pace group, etc. - and a contributor mentioned that he always figured he could actually run 1-2% faster than his PR since there is always something not quite ideal about race day.  I agree with both of these so much! 

Life Highlights
  • Our garden thrived this month, producing tomatoes (several varieties), peppers (several varieties), eggplant, yellow squash, zucchini squash, butternut squash, spaghetti squash, okra, cucumbers, and lots of blackberries.
  • Since no one is taking real vacations this year, we have had family visitors instead.  My brother-in-law's family stayed with us for almost 3 weeks, and my parents visited for 4 days this month.   I didn't do much with my brother-in-law's family because I was in quarantine most of the time they were here (after a firsthand COVID exposure, but it was outdoors and I was fine), but Albani and Jon did some fun outdoor activities with them (zoo, farmers market, etc.).  We took my parents to Dogwood Canyon and made a day of grilling out at home another day, plus lots of board and card games.
Savasana, or corpse pose

Nugget got sprayed by a skunk this month,
& this was how he felt about the hydrogen
peroxide, baking soda, & Dawn bath

Latest cross-stitch
Dogwood Canyon

About half of our butternut & spaghetti
squash harvest!

  • Maybe You Should Talk To Someone by Lori Gottlieb
  • Someone We Know by Shari Lapenda
  • An Anonymous Girl by Grer Hendricks
  • The Turn the Key by Ruth Ware
  • Harbor Me by Jacqueline Woodson
  • Suspicious Minds by Gwenda Bond
  • The Benefits of Being an Octopus by Ann Braden
  • The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (The Hunger Games #0) by Suzanne Collins
  • I Know This Much is True by Wally Lamb
  • Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch
  • Same Kind of Different as Me: A Modern Day Slave, an International Art Dealer, and the Unlikely Woman Who Bound Them Together by Ron Hall, Denver Moore, and Lynn Vincent
  • Know My Name: A Memoir by Chanel Miller
Theme for the month:
Different goals.  I'm not going to run a yearly mileage PR because I had to take 15.5 weeks off, but my goal is to run 2020 miles in 2020.  I did the math on what this would take - averaging 54 mpw from here on, which is very doable as long as I stay healthy.  I also was inspired by my friend Liz's recent virtual half to set the goal of running a 1:25 half this fall.  I have run every time between 1:20-1:29 (most multiple times) except for 1:25!  What makes this ironic is that I had the goal of running a 1:25 for years, but then I ran a 1:24 and that was that.  After my time off that also seems do-able, whereas PRing in the half does not.  People who run really fast off of cross-training, I salute you, but I am sure not one of you!

Monday, July 13, 2020

Beyond Boston: Dean Gartland

I've known Dean virtually for about 10 years.  He is a very talented runner -- he ran his first sub-3:00 ten days before his 57th birthday and is working on running 25 consecutive Bostons!  He is also a really caring runner who has made amazing wooden projects for most of the Loopsters over the years (I have some amazing Christmas ornaments from him that I'll add a picture of after Thanksgiving when I next dig that box out!).  His enthusiasm for the sport and for Boston shine through in his interview, and I have a feeling he will accomplish his goal of placing in the top 3 in his age group at Boston soon!
Introduce yourself (who you are, where you're from, what you do, etc.).
Hey, I'm Dean Gartland from Louisville, KY.  I am a woodworker by trade and it's something that I love. Woodworking is also a hobby of mine next to running. I am the second oldest of ten kids. I was always running growing up either from my only older brother or chasing after one of my younger brothers.

How did you get started in running? Tell us a little about your early running career through present.
I started running in 1987 after talking to a guy who worked for me about our local half marathon at Derby time. He encouraged me to run a local 5K in a couple of weeks so I started running to be able to do that. Next was a 10K then a 15K followed by the half marathon. The only goal I had was to finish it in under two hours. Met that goal by a couple of minutes. 

I was hooked and wanted to run even more then. The longer the race the better but the only race I could find after that were 5Ks. I didn't have a clue how to train so I would just go out and run as hard as I could every day. My knee would sometimes hurt so bad after an hour of running I thought it would just explode but I kept on running. I would get home and could barely get out of the car and would hobble and hop to the house. This type of training went on until 1993 when I decided to give up running. I had lost interest, I hadn't met any new friends through running, and my wife and I had split up.
Why did you decide to run your first marathon?  What was your journey to BQ like? 
In 2007 my oldest daughter called me and told me how much she loved me taking her to races so that she could watch me finish and even got to run in some of the kid dashes. She told me that it would be great if we could both run that local half marathon the last Saturday in April. I agreed. At 5'5" and almost 190 lbs I was in no shape to run. I stopped at my favorite park after work and couldn't complete 1/8 of a mile. Boy was that an eye opener. My daughter had not only gotten me to run it but three of my brothers, a sister, and my sister-in-law. I ended up running that half marathon and loving it just as much as my first. At our little after party I announced that the following year I would be 50 years old and would run the full marathon in 2008. My daughter's mouth just dropped as she asked me if I was sure that I could do that. With a huge smile I told her I could.

So in January I decided that I need to get some help with this training stuff that I really knew nothing about. I found the local Fleet Feet running store where they had running groups meet on Wednesdays for a run and Saturdays for long runs. I showed up with my walkman on my hip and head phones around my neck. The owner pointed me to this group of older men to run with. I thought "Good a group that I'll be able to impress" When I asked them what they were going to run that Wednesday I was told that they were going to do hill repeats. Wasn't real sure what that was but asked if I could run along. After a mile warm up they explained that we would slowly run down this hill and at the bottom do a "U" turn and sprint back up. We would do this six times. No problem I thought since my local park was nothing but hills. Fast forward to Thursday morning when I could hardly walk getting out of bed to go to work. OMG I was so sore.That was just the beginning to so many great training runs with that group.

Soon it was the last Saturday in April and I was on the starting line of my first full marathon. As I ran past mile 25 my new training partners jumped in with me to run my last mile all the time yelling at the crowd that I was just about to qualify for the Boston marathon. I had no clue. After I finished sure enough I had run my first marathon (3:33:26) and qualified to run Boston in 2009. I just had to do it! But thought that it might just be my last marathon because those things really hurt.

The following year (2009) I trained hard and got registered for Boston 2009. One of my younger brothers and his wife told me that they would take care of my room in Boston because they were going to cheer me on. I ended up running my first Boston and only my second marathon one second faster that my first one. 3:33:25. That was the most awesome experience I had ever lived through at that time next to the birth of my daughter. I was going to be going back again the following year. 

One thing I just couldn't get my head wrapped around was the fact that I had just trained over 800 miles to run a 26.2 mile race. Seemed there should be a better way to use all of that training. That fall I ran both the Chicago Marathon and Las Vegas Marathon. I kept on until I was running six marathons a year.

In 2014 I decided that I wanted to now shoot for a sub-3 hour marathon. In February I ran a 3:01 which beat my 2013 Chicago marathon time of 3:02. Right before the 2014 Chicago marathon my training was going so good and my confidence was sky high, but four weeks before the marathon my Achilles started to bother me so much that I would limp the first couple of miles of every run. I had to get this fixed. I stopped running and only got in 5 or 6 runs the last four weeks before Chicago. At the Chicago marathon expo I had a doctor do an ultrasound on my Achilles to find out if I was going to be able to race the following day. He said he could see why I was in pain but should be okay to race. I was all smiles. I crossed the finish line the next day, (10 days before my 57th birthday) with a time of 2:59:52. I hit another goal!
What are your thoughts on Boston 2020 being cancelled? How did you handle the initial postponement and eventual cancellation, mentally and physically?
It was heartbreaking to see that the Boston marathon was first postponed then canceled in 2020, but that was the only right thing to do. I had started my training for the April Boston in November. Getting my mileage up and really just getting in shape for the hard stuff that would start in December. Once I had heard that the Boston was going to be moved to September I took a few easy weeks before once again starting up my training. Then again I get this message as I was getting out of my truck to go for a training run that Boston was now canceled for 2020. I stood there for a moment deciding not to push this run but instead to use it to reflect and calm down from the bad news. Running has helped me out through so many bad times.

Why did you decide to run Boston 2020?
Boston is everything that you have ever heard of about it. I've run 37 marathons now (all of them have been Boston qualifiers) and I can say that when people cross a finish line I see a lot of people break down and cry that they have completed a marathon. Boston is the ONLY marathon that I have seen so many people break down in tears at the starting line, I love this race and now can't see a year that I don't run it.
Do you plan to run Boston 2020 virtually? Why or why not?
I now have the opportunity to run Boston Virtually and that's what I'll do. This won't be a race or even a fast 26.2 miles but it will be a way of giving thanks for the ability to be able to do something that I love. There were so many questions to be answered and I think that the BAA did an excellent job of answering all of them. They were offering a commemorative bib for the first 15,000 entrants and I had to be one. A couple of day after I registered I received an email from the BAA letting me know that I was one of the first 15,000. Another goal met. 

Do you plan to run Boston 2021? Why or why not? 
Yes, I've run 11 consecutive Boston marathons and at this rate I'll get to join the quarter century club of 25 consecutive Boston marathons at the age of 75, another goal that I'm chasing, well that and finishing in the top three in my age group in Boston!

Friday, July 3, 2020

You cannot run too slow on your easy days

I've seen so many benefits from slowing down my easy runs that I want to tell the world so every runner can get these benefits.  Learn from my mistakes, everyone!  In the future I'll post more details about my personal experience, but in short, when I slowed down my easy runs I felt much stronger, had markedly fewer injuries/niggles, had reduced incidences of illness, experienced performance improvements (PRs in every distance from 5k to marathon at age 38-39), and began enjoying running even more, which I didn't even think was possible!  I think why many runners don't do it is because running faster can produce short-term gains, and we see those gains and think that it works - I have been guilty of thinking exactly that!  Plus it is fun to run fast and to say a certain "impressive" pace is easy. 

In this post I've linked and summarized some great articles on the topic that have been written by people who are more knowledgeable and faster than me. I mean, if Sally Kipyego runs her recovery runs at 8:30 pace or slower, why are 3:00 marathoners running theirs at 7:00 pace? 

The Two Simple Reasons Your Easy Days are Ruining Your Training
My favorite piece from this article is: "You cannot run too slowly on a recovery day, only too fast. Make sure you understand that. It is a simple concept that is notoriously hard to grasp."

The author notes, "In high school, I would often race my easy days around 6:45 mile pace and run my workout days around 6:30 pace. Ten years later, as a professional runner, I run many of my hard workouts at 5-minute mile pace or faster and my easy days at 8:30 pace or slower."  I have read in several places that a big difference between amateur and professional runners is that amateurs have a much smaller pace differential between easy pace and workouts, wheres professionals have a huge pace differential.  If you are running tempos at 7:30 pace and easy runs at 8:00 pace, you are either under-performing in workouts or over-reaching on easy days, and I would bet it is the latter!

The author also mentioned that going easy by "feel" is best for most runners, and while I agree with this after a person has learned to run easy, I see that a lot of runners don't know what it's like to actually run easy - they think they are doing it when they are running a moderate pace (I have been one of those people)!  "Easy" and "not hard" are not the same.
I mean, if you can't trust Runners World for training advice, who can you trust? Hah!

Running slow is very common with Kenyan-born runners, and no one can argue what distance running powerhouses they are. The article notes, "Sally Kipyego, an Olympic silver medalist in the 10,000 meters, can hold a sub-5:00 minute pace in the event. Achieving that requires Kipyego to log plenty of hard track sessions and tempo runs. Yet on her non-workout days, she ambles along at 8:30-per-mile pace, sometimes even slower."  Her easy pace is over 3:30 slower than her 10K pace, and clearly it works. Sally recently placed 3rd in the 2020 Olympic Trials.  Side note: It completely blows my mind that a woman can average 4:55 pace for 6.2 miles!

I've read this time and time again, and you will see it as a recurring theme in this summary: “The common denominator among most really successful runners, people running at a high level, is a really wide chasm between training-run pace and where they work out....Brenda Martinez, who has PRs of 1:57.91 for 800m and 4:00.94 for 1500m, is a perfect example of this. Under the guidance of coach Joe Vigil, she’ll run 8 x 1,000m repeats at 2:55 [that is 4:41/mile pace!], but on her easy days, she’ll run a 9-minute pace."

The article also advises "runners to use 10K race pace plus 2 minutes for easy-day pace, wear heart rate monitors (and aim for 65 to 70 percent of maximum heart rate), or take occasional treadmill runs to monitor pace."  While I am not at all a fan of treadmill running, it's clear there are benefits to setting it at a certain pace, whether easy or on a workout day, and letting it keep you there!  This article presents the other side of the coin too (faster easy days and when they might be appropriate).

How Fast Should Your Easy Runs Be?
This one provides great scientific explanations, and if you're interested in the science behind easy running make sure to read the whole article. Just like heart rate doesn't lie, science does not lie! It also breaks down a lot of common questions (e.g., "But if I feel good can I run faster?", "Don't I get more benefit from running faster?", "How slow is too slow?", etc.).

I have personally found that I will run a faster marathon off of almost all easy running than off of frequent workouts at a slightly lower mileage volume.  This is probably because,  "...nothing will consistently help you improve continuously like developing the aerobic system."

For the numerically minded (and really, what runner isn't), "Your optimal easy run pace for aerobic development is between 55 and 75% of your 5k pace, with the average pace being about 65 %....  Running faster than 75% of your 5k pace on your long run doesn’t provide a lot of additional physiological benefit....In fact, the research indicates that it would be just as advantageous to run slower as it would be to run faster...Even though 50-55 % of 5k pace will seem too easy, the research clearly demonstrates that it still provides near optimal physiological aerobic adaptation."

"Many runners have a distorted view of what 'easy' means".  This post summaries a couple of scientific studies and concludes that you cannot run too slow on your easy days and that easy pace should vary from day to day!  I think that's another sign of "not real" easy pace (or at least it was for me):  always running the same pace on easy runs, or stating ahead of time what your easy pace is going to be.

The post mentions the 2:00+ current 5k pace guideline for easy runs, which I've seen noted in numerous paces and based on my personal experience is pretty solid. 

Why Running Slow Can Eventually Help You Run Faster
I acknowledge that the slow easy runs method may not be best for short-term success.  If you are running one training block, you might be better off running faster every day.  But if that describes you, I doubt you're inventing the time to read this post, plus most runners I know are in it for the long-haul!

If the previous information isn't convincing you that this method works, perhaps this expert will scare you, "So if all your runs are too fast, according to Bartholic, you’re not developing the power system that you need for 97 percent of a race...Your maximum aerobic benefit is going to be running slowly....When you’re running slowly, and your injury risk is lower, you can run more often, more miles, and build up slowly,”

In the past I've fallen victim to thinking that I had to run a lot of workouts to get faster, but I had a similar experience to this: “You think you have to do a lot of speed work to get faster,” he said, “but after doing most of my runs at a slow pace my marathon finish time was much faster.”  

This article mentions how to calculate an appropriate easy pace based on heart rate, and also mentions the "talk test". I don't know how the talk test goes for others, but I can converse when running marathon pace but that is NOT an easy pace for me.

It's Okay To Run Slow, Really
If your race performance has plateaued or you've dealt with reoccurring injuries, slowing down your easy runs might be just what you need to break through.  It seems very counter-intuitive; we want to go pound workouts and pick up the pace every day to get faster, but "While some runners have success with faster paces on easy days (particularly lower volume runners), eventually even those runners usually see diminishing returns as aerobic adaptations from moderate running get tapped out." 

"Polarization essentially means that training is usually easy or hard, rather than a grinding-it-out moderate all the time. Lots of “grey-area” moderate running can increase injury risk and lead to stagnation due to the absence of adequate recovery and faster stimuli." When I was training for a goal pace of 6:15 for the Indy Monumental Marathon, I noticed that I rarely ran between 6:15-7:45 pace - the "gray area" for me (if I was hitting 7:15-7:30 at the end of an easy run it was only because someone I was running with was speeding up).  My workouts were at 5:30-6:15 pace, and my easy runs were 7:45-8:30 pace.  It wouldn't have hurt me to run easy runs slower than that - many runners who are much faster than me do.

How Running Slow Makes You Faster
Seriously, run slow to run fast.

" 2018 Ironman World Championships runner-up Bart Aernouts said... “a slow run can only be too fast, not too slow” [notice a reoccurring theme here?].  Bart’s really easy runs are paced between 6:54/mile and 8:03/mile. That’s not super slow, but some of you are likely running most of your runs at a similar pace – and you’re likely not one of only two men to finish the iconic Kona Ironman course in under eight hours, running a 2:45:41 marathon, averaging 6:19/mile after a 2.4-mile swim, and a 112-mile ride in the Hawaiian heat. If that’s the case, it’s time to slow it down."  I think that pretty much speaks for itself - a 2:45 marathon after swimming and biking for 5+ hours in terribly hot conditions in insane!

But what pace should we run?  "For non-elite athletes, coach Luke Humphrey...recommends 1:30–2:30 minutes per mile slower than goal race pace."  I'm not sure what race distance he is referring to, but less than 90 seconds per mile slower than any race pace is too fast to really be easy; well, unless you are one of those amazing people running 50 to 100 milers!

The article also mentions the importance of the other pieces of training programs, such as fast intervals.  While this post is not about them, workouts are obviously essential to race success and should be included in a training schedule in addition to the awesome easy runs we are focused on here.
This x 1000: "But just because you can push harder than a true easy pace doesn't mean you always should."  Just because you can run faster on easy days doesn't mean it's a smart idea!

This article also discusses the difference between marathoners running sub-3:00 vs. 4-6 hours, which I thought was a helpful distinction.  The faster you're racing, the more differential you should have between easy pace and marathon pace. A 2:59 marathoner needs to slow the pace down 1:30 or so per mile, while someone running a 4:30 marathon may only need to slow down by 0:45-1:15.

This is important for marathoners: "Part of doing those slower runs is that it teaches our bodies to burn fat, which is really important in a marathon because our carbohydrate stores only last so long," she says. "So the more efficient we are burning fat, the more we can push off hitting the wall."  This is also a good point I hadn't thought about until now, but when I was running easy runs too fast I was more apt to hit the wall.

What Pace Should My Easy Runs Be?
I personally experienced this: "More often than not, when a runner’s race times plateau it’s a sign that there’s not enough variety in the training program, they’re not recovering well from the work they’re doing day after day, or some combination of the two."

We runners always want a number!  "I recommend easy/recovery runs to be 90 seconds to 2 minutes per mile slower than your marathon pace."

The author discusses the easy runs of 2:13-2:14 marathoners: "with a majority of those runs in the 7:30 per mile pace range—nearly two-and-a-half minutes per mile slower than the paces they could race a marathon!"  If 2:13-2:14 marathoners are running easy runs at 7:30, I certainly don't need to be!

Using the 80/20 Rule to Balance Triathlon Training Intensity
While this article is clearly about triathlon and not running, the point about the "moderate intensity rut" is spot on. "Recreational triathletes spend a much smaller percentage of their training time at low intensity and a much larger percentage at moderate intensity" (compared to elites and professionals who perform much better).  Another case of running slower to perform better!

You Can't Run Too Slow on Your Long Runs!
I mean, the title says it all. He recommends marathon pace + 2:00.

In some ways it is harder to run slower for long runs, because it means significantly more time on feet!  This article isn't focused on advanced marathon runners, but I think it's important to note that if you are trying to work your marathon time down, workout long runs become very important, especially later in the training cycle.

I found this long article on base training after I wrote this original post, and it doesn't exactly fit in this post, but I wanted to add it to show the importance of aerobic development.  The author also notes that you'd be surprised at how well you can race off of lots of easy mileage plus some strides, and I have experienced that.  Now is the perfect time to train like that, since it's an investment in long-term development and we are unsure when races will happen again! 

Here are a few examples from some really fast people:
Nick, a 15:45 5k and 32:29 10k runner ran these PRs at age 37, bettering his college bests, after slowing down his easy runs to an average of 7:45.  Read his details here.

Shawanna calls it sexy pace! She is a 2:45 marathoner who runs a lot at 8:00-9:30 pace.  You can see one of such runs here, but her Instagram account and Strava are full of them (she is also the best ambassador for running positivity that I know - you can't help but smile and love running when you see anything she posts).

This post by Sam says it all - she ran 3 blazing fast mile time trials (in Alabama in June!), and her average pace for all of her running was 8:34.  Aside from her impressive 5:02 mile, she has also run a 17:20 5k and a 2:49 marathon with easy running from 8:00-9:00+.

Molly Seidel, the runner up in the 2020 Olympic Marathon Trials, posts all of her runs on her Strava, and her easy runs are usually 7:30-8:00 (relative to her 5:30 marathon pace!).

Keira D'Amato has been making headlines during quarantine, including time trialing a 15:04 5k and 4:33 mileHer Strava shows many runs between 8:00-9:00 pace.

Hiruni Wijayaratne is a 2:34 marathoner hoping to represent Sri Lanka in the next Olympics, and at the end of this podcast she notes that her easy days will be 9:00 pace, maybe 8:40.

Now is the perfect time to experiment in training, with no races for the foreseeable future.  If you try slowing down easy runs and don't like it, then you can always speed them back up.  In the words of Dr. Seuss, "You do not like them. So you say. Try them! Try them! And you may."

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Joyful June

June 2020 in review!

Total running mileage for the month:  241.5
  • June 1-7: 47 - this was my first real week of running back!
  • June 8-14:  55.4
  • June 15-21:  60.1
  • June 22-28: 60
  • June 29-July 4: 62.2
Rebecca & Jack gapping the group on a
beautiful farm road morning (Missy also
gapped us, then stopped to take photos!)

Total bike mileage for the month:  95.8 
- just posting this because it's quite clear I dropped biking real quick once I started running, plus I had some issues from my bike seat after a huge Memorial Day riding weekend and am not sure I could ever go back to riding 300+ mpw now. #thingsnoonetellsyouaboutbiking  Starting on June 23 I was able to start bike commuting to some of our group runs, which was a great way to keep using my bike some and to add onto runs without adding any impact.
See, I biked some! This was after the
June 30 fartlek workout

Post-15 miler

Post mini-workout on June 25
  • June 23:  5 miles moderate at 7:09 average (1 warm up, 2 cool down) with my friend Christian who had this workout.  It seemed like a very non-intimidating way to do something that wasn't very easy running, and my hip felt great so it was a success! I miss the GAP feature on the free Strava, because we ran a rolling route (259 ft gain) and I thought my effort was more even than my pace showed (range of 7:02-7:19).
  • June 25:  6 x 1:00 pick ups to tempo effort (5:58-6:32) at the beginning of miles 2-6 of an 8 mile run.  Like June 23, this was also Christian's workout and it seemed like another great "intro workout" for me.  It's pretty easy to run only easy runs when everyone else is running easy, but it's harder than I realized when others are doing workouts at the group run!
  • June 30:  4 x 2', 1', 30" fartlek at tempo effort (6:02-6:43 on a rolling route) with equal recoveries and 2ish warm up, 1.5ish cool down.  I am loving these effort-based workouts - thanks, Christian's coach!  Related note: I plan to start back with my awesome coach in August so she can save me from myself.  I'm not really training for anything so I've just been doing what sounds fun, which will equate to me making poor decisions if I don't go back to being coached (I think it makes me a great training buddy though, I say yes to about everything!).
  • I did strides, hill strides, or unstructured pick-ups 1-2 times a week every week, because I do plan to race again some day.
  • Doubles:  June 30 - I said I was going to wait until July to do any doubles, but I don't think one day made a difference!
  • Strength Training:  2:00, 1:42, 2:00, 2:43
  • Yoga:  0:40, 1:20, 1:00, 1:00 (2-4 x 0:20 practices each week)
Global Running Day!

I felt so old when these two mentioned
they graduated high school in 2014, haha!

Long Runs:
  • June 6:  12.2 miles (8:31)!  I have never been so proud of a slower-than-usual-easy-pace 12 miles (this was my sixth real run back).  It was 73 degrees, with a dew point of 72, which is pretty much death, so the friends I ran with (Christian and Claudio) didn't mind taking it slow - I could not have run this far very fast, although I do think I could have done better without the dew point of death.  I was planning to go for 10 but Christian was running 12 and I felt good so I went with it.
  • June 13:  13.1 miles (8:26).  A good-sized group run, with Abby, Claudio, and Sean.
  • June 20:  15.1 miles (8:15).  This was another nice group run with Paul, Sean, Claudio, Daniel, Christian, and Rebecca.  Coming back from time off is the only time I can drop around 10 second/week from my zone 1 pace while also adding 1-2 miles/week!
  • June 27: 14 miles (8:15).  Yet another nice group run with Christian, Abby, Claudio, Sean, Rachel, Sierra, and Amy.  It was an unintentional progression (8:40ish down to 7:20ish), but we ran an almost mile out-and-back section that we usually avoid due to the long hills on it  and those miles were a bit slower (there are currently 2 porta-potties on that road due to construction and several group members needed them along the way).
    • I also did medium long runs on Wednesdays starting the second week of the month with 10.2, 11, and 12.2.
      Post 13.1
Running Highlights:
  • Clearly, returning to "real" running was the huge highlight of this month!  During the final week of May I did five run/walks and one straight run, and the first week of June I switched to all running.  Words cannot express how good it felt!  I thought I loved biking until I started running again and felt a hundred times better.  My endurance came back quickly (perhaps the biking wasn't totally worthless), and I have no idea if/when my speed will come back but I don't care that much at this point!  I'm thankful for what I have instead of wanting more.  I had to hold myself back to not run more mileage, but I stuck with 6 runs a week this month - one day off each week and no doubles.
  • I ordered an Ellipigo!  I've wanted one for years but I think I always felt that buying one was admitting I'd be cross-training (which normally means I am not running).  It is ironic that I bought this now and not 5 months ago, but I am going to try a little lower mileage supplemented with the Elliptigo training and see what happens. Now is a great time to experiment in training, and staying healthy is very important to me.  My Elliptigo is scheduled to ship on July 13.
  • My resting heart rate was running around 50 when I started back to running after 15 weeks off, but by the end of June it was down to 33-34, which I thought was crazy!  I've seen it hit 28-30 when I'm at top fitness, but I have never seen it change so quickly (I've only had a Garmin that monitors it since early 2019 though).  I also learned that it is much easier to get your HR high when you are out of shape!  My first week back I couldn't keep my HR in my easy range no matter how slow I ran, and I still have long way to go but it's getting better every week.
We are better at running than at 
centering for photos

Strava sent me some goodies!

This buff from the Run Farther & Faster podcast
is great for keeping sweat out of my eyes on the
spin bike (can also be used as a COVID mask!)

Albani told me that "llamas are trending"

My sedentary cross-stitching hobby lives on!

With cat & cousin

Albani's summer job at the farmer's market

Yet they wouldn't do yoga with me

I should have taken a photo when my RHR
was 50 not long ago! Also I apparently got
my HR up to 170 in the "light" fartlek on 6/30
Life Highlights:
  • We did a lot of gardening this month...  I learned that I highly dislike gardening when I'm in "single parent mode", and told Jon that if he was gone much longer the garden was going to die.  Fortunately it all lived, and I got really good at mowing our yard!
  • Jon was traveling for work from May 8 through June 19, and I developed a huge admiration for single parents.  We did this once before and I remember feeling the same way then!  Albani is now old enough to stay at home by herself while I run (she is also sleeping), but last time she was (I think) 8, so I only ran loops around my neighborhood in case she woke up while I was out.  One week back then I ran over 60 miles, including a 20 mile long run, on that 0.8 loop!
  • I have been cutting my own hair and Albani's hair during COVID-19, and I'm pretty sure I'm going to keep doing it!  We also did highlights this month.
  • We celebrated Father's Day with take-out ribs and working in the garden.
  • Jon and Albani are selling produce (mostly blackberries) at a local farmer's market 3 days a week; I help on Saturdays (after my long run, of course).
  • We had visitors for the last week of the month, my brother-in-law and his two children who are a little older than Albani.  Albani is dying for a phone like them, but we aren't letting her get one until she starts driving.  She often tells me that all of her friends have phones (which I believe, based on what I saw at middle school orientation), and I always respond, "Good, you can borrow one of theirs if you need to make a call."
Summer evenings

I'd missed this church sign!

Orange Leaf Friday

Albani got an Andy's gift card along
with her Timothy award for Awana

Big beets
Father's Day
She likes to do this and ask us if we'd buy her

I found this gem when looking for
old pics of my dad & I for Father's
Day - a little road race in 1987
  • The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult
  • House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig
  • Running with Sherman by Christopher McDougall
  • Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes
  • The Dance by Richard Paul Evans
  • The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell
  • The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead
  • An Unwanted Guest by Sherri Lapena
  • I am about 30% through I Know This Much is True by Wally Lamb (it's 1444 pages)
My reading suffered this month, because every weekday was non-stop from when I woke up between 4:30-5:00 a.m. and went to bed between 9:00-9:30 p.m. (i.e., I only read to fall asleep in bed and on weekends). I read ebooks during easy rides on my spin bike, and I only did one of those this month (vs. about 5 times a week when I wasn't running)!

Theme for the month:
Endorphins. I have never been so thrilled with 6 mile slow runs as I was on June 1 and 2, or for really any running I did this month! Does time off reset your endorphin levels?

Beyond Boston: Sherry Lee

A mutual friend introduced Sherry and I, and I related to her in many ways!  I remember running in 2003 when there was very little information online about how to train for anything, which is quite hard to imagine now.  She started running then in order to cheer for P. Diddy running the New York City marathon, and like most of us, was soon hooked for good.  She has been Boston streaking since 2015, after also running it in 2009 and 2010, and she plans to be part of history by running the first virtual Boston!  She checked breaking 3:00 off her list at CIM 2018 and plans to try to OTQ someday, but her biggest achievement may be her outlook, "I never want to be ungrateful for my health and ability to run." 

Introduce yourself (who you are, where you're from, what you do, etc.)
Hi, I'm Sherry Lee, a Christ-follower who loves running, surfing and traveling responsibly. I teach middle school PE and live in Cupertino, California, birthplace of your Apple products ;). My husband and I love adventures in our California backyard and around the world; running in the mountains and snorkeling and surfing in the ocean.

What are your thoughts on Boston 2020 being cancelled? How did you handle the initial postponement and eventual cancellation, mentally and physically?
Although running the Boston Marathon is usually a tradition I cherish, I think it was the best and safest decision for Boston 2020 to be cancelled. My husband and I still ran our own marathon in April so our training wouldn't go to waste, but it was just a leisurely run. I had a strong feeling that the initially postponed race would be cancelled, so I didn't get my hopes up. I honestly didn't mind because training in the hot, dry summer is rough. I just took the time to enjoy running our gorgeous San Francisco Bay Area trails and still continued my speed work, although the mileage was shortened.

Do you plan to run Boston 2020 virtually? Why or why not?
Yes, I plan on running Boston 2020 virtually although not at race pace. I want to keep up my Boston streak tradition. My first Boston Marathon was in 2009 and then 2010. An injury took me out of running for a while and I had to work my way back, but haven't missed Boston since 2015. The race reminds me to be grateful for each day that I am healthy enough to run. Also, I want to be a part of history by running the first ever virtual Boston Marathon!

Do you plan to run Boston 2021? Why or why not?
Yes, I plan to if I feel it's safe and to continue my Boston run streak tradition.

How did you get started in running? Tell us a little about your early running career through present.
I swam in high school and only ran a little bit as part of training. I didn't start running until I was in graduate school in New York City and I wanted to cheer on P. Diddy in the New York City Marathon in 2003. I thought if a "non-runner" like him could run a marathon, so could I. At that time, there was very little research I could do online to find any kind of training plan. In the words of Forrest Gump, "I just started running." 

I signed up for the half in the 2004 San Francisco Marathon. My goal was to run the half and be done with running. I finished in 1:56 and had so much fun, I signed up for my first full marathon. After running one marathon (more on that later), I was pretty content with just running the distance and never thought I could run any faster. It wasn't until I almost qualified for Boston when I realized a BQ could be a realistic goal for me. 

After qualifying in 2008, I went on to run 2 Bostons in 2009 and 2010, where I broke 3:30 but got injured and was unable to run the next 2.5 years. That was when I started dating my then boyfriend, now husband. Once I could start running again, I had to start from square one. My husband started coaching me and introduced me to speed work, fartleks, lactic threshold, and hilly tempo runs. Before I knew it, my personal bests in every distance started dropping and I started winning local races. I also joined my husband's Pacific Association USATF run club, Excelsior. 

My goal each year has always been dropping my marathon times, but I always thought breaking 3 hours would be a very lofty goal. In 2018, I finally broke 3 hours at CIM (another annual race on my racing schedule), finishing in 2:59:30. In the last few years, I also started a running club at the middle school where I teach. The club schedules weekly fun runs in between cross country and track season. I'm shocked and so encouraged at how many pre-teens want to run! It's a joy to share my passion with them.
Why did you decide to run your first marathon?
After I ran my first half marathon in 2004, I decided to add “running a marathon” to my bucket list. I thought that after that, I would be done with running and be satisfied. After crossing the finish line at the 2005 LA Marathon in 4:15, I was instantly hooked on the marathon distance. I dedicated each mile to something or someone in prayer while running. It was very meditative for me, so the goal wasn’t about time. I loved running the long distance, the spectators cheering for random strangers, and runners sharing in the suffering. I truly embraced the pain afterward. I loved being sore and knowing that my body could be pushed to its limit.

When did you set the goal of qualifying for Boston and what inspired you to try?
When I lived in New York City, I visited my cousin a few times who was attending Wellesley College. She was the one who actually told me about Boston and the Wellesley scream tunnel. After I ran my first marathon, she told me that I should try to qualify, but I told her that there was no way that I could even get close to the qualifying time! It wasn't until December 2007 when I accidentally broke 4 hours for the first time and ran 3:48 at CIM, that I realized I could probably qualify for Boston in my next marathon. Back then, the qualifying time for 18-34 year olds was a bit easier, 3:40 for women and a guaranteed entry if you ran under that time.
What was your journey to BQ like?
Before 2007, my goal in each marathon was just to finish and enjoy each step. After CIM 2007 where I shaved 25 minutes off my prior PR, I thought I was really close to a BQ. I decided to set the goal and train to BQ in early 2008. GPS watches weren't that common yet, so a lot of my training was around a 2-mile lake where I would just estimate what my pace was using my classic digital watch. The biggest part of my journey was the support of my friends, who really encouraged me in my training and celebrated with me when I finally qualified at the 2008 San Diego Marathon in 3:38.

Why did you decide to run Boston 2020?
For the same reasons why I would run Boston 2021, but also, of the 37 marathons I've run, Boston is by far my favorite and most memorable. The city transforms into a running mecca and the spectators make you feel so special. Since I'm probably more likely to be struck by lightning than to ever make it to the Olympics, Boston will probably be the closest I'll ever get to feeling like an Olympian (although if my aging body lets me, I will attempt to OTQ one day!).  Being surrounded by other runners, who also had to train so hard to qualify, gives me a sense of camaraderie and understanding for one another.
How did it feel to be accepted into Boston 2020?
It felt great to be running my 8th Boston, albeit virtually! Each year I feel it’s such a privilege to be accepted and I don’t take it for granted. I still get goosebumps on the day I receive the official Boston letter of acceptance in the mail. I never want to be ungrateful for my health and ability to run.

What did you learn from this journey - from BQ to postponement to cancellation?
I used to burn out by the end of every Boston training cycle and just couldn't wait for the race so that I didn't have to push my body so hard once it was over! After Boston was postponed, I could have taken a rest but found myself continuing to train at a high level with hard quality workouts. I usually take the time in between training cycles to just run leisurely, but now without knowing when the next race will be, I'm realizing I want to keep my speed so my body doesn't forget what it feels like!

You can learn more about Sherry's running on her awesome YouTube channel!

Monday, June 29, 2020

Beyond Boston: Devra Leach

Richard White, another runner featured in this series, connected me to Devra (they ran a virtual Boston on Patriot's Day together!), and she mentioned she recognized my name from when we went 1-2 in the 2015 Bass Pro Marathon.  Small world!  Devra has run 5 Bostons and expresses that the experience is like no other!  She plans to run 2020 virtually (again!) but also hopes to go back in 2021.
Introduce yourself (who you are, where you're from, what you do, etc.)

My name is Devra (Gower) Leach and I’ve lived in the Branson/Hollister, Missouri area most of my life. I am the Group Benefits Department Manager at Connell Insurance as well as a Group Benefits Consultant. I also “serve” as the wellness “inspirerer” (not sure that’s a word) within our organization and for some of my groups. I have been married for 3 years to a husband who is very supportive of my (running) habit and we have dog, Jaxson who is like our child. In my spare time, I am a Group Cycling Instructor at the Cox Fitness Center in Branson. I love running but also do a lot of biking and will hopefully be participating in my 11th Bike MS this year. I participate in 2-3 marathons and several charity biking events each year.

What are you thoughts on Boston 2020 being cancelled? How did you handle the initial postponement and eventual cancellation, mentally and physically?
Now, I “get it” but when the announcement came 5 weeks prior to the Boston Marathon, I was angry. I honestly thought people were blowing all of this COVID stuff out of proportion. I and a couple others that I train with had been training for months and working towards a PR. I had been pushing myself with speed work to try and achieve a 3:17. 

When the news came, besides being angry, I felt lost. What do I do now?? Not only had I been preparing and training so hard to reach a goal, I was looking forward to a long weekend away in one of my favorite cities with my husband as we don’t get a lot of time to travel or really spend together. 

But I decided I was not going to let all that training be for naught. I had a goal, I had put way too much blood, sweat, tears (literally) and time in to just quit. So I continued training and ran the "Boston Marathon" in Branson on April 20th with Richard White. Well, we started at the same time and same place but had our own course we felt comfortable with. I did not run a 3:17 but a 3:23. There was nothing pushing me other than my determination and knowing that I worked for this. There were no crowds to cheer me on to push me faster to that finish line. And there were hills! More hills than in Boston! (editor's note: the Branson area is extremely hilly!)

Do you plan to run Boston 2020 virtually? Why or why not?
I do plan to run the Virtual Boston even though I feel like I kinda did that back in April. 😜 But I will be joined by thousands of runners across the country or even the planet for this accomplishment. I honestly never got the appeal of running a virtual race but It’s BOSTON! You still get your medal, a shirt, your bib AND counted as completing the 124th Boston. I am hoping I’ll get my 2020 sticker too. I have all 5 of my Boston stickers on my car. I actually totaled my car when I hit a deer back in November and I was so upset I would lose all my stickers. I reached out on FB through the Boston Buddies page and so many people responded willing to give up their stickers from past years that I was able to replace all of them and even ended up with a few extras. How cool is that?! Boston runners unite!

Do you plan to run Boston 2021? Why or why not?
I sure hope so! My qualifying time from the NYC Marathon was good enough to get in this past year (even though it was a disappointing time for me) and as long as they don’t “tweak” any of the timing qualification for this year (which I can’t imagine with this situation, why they would), I should be able to get in. 

There is something so exciting about filling out your entry right at the second it opens and hitting that send button and the anticipation of actually getting in. I’ve had my husband and a friend two different years ready with my info and card number at the exact second registration opened as maybe I was in meetings or on the road for work. Haha! 

There is something so special about Boston! It’s the marathon of all marathons! It was a goal of mine to qualify for years but that just isn’t enough. And people don’t even realize that just because you qualify, you might or might not get in. You’ve got to be better than the best and better than you were the year before (until you hit the next age bracket). 

If you’ve never been there or never experienced the Boston Marathon, there is just no explaining it. I tear up anytime I’m there or watch a documentary on it. My first year there was the year after the bombing and the city was so welcoming and so happy people came back. I was surprised at how friendly the people were and was not expecting that the next year I returned thinking it was because it was that first year back. But no, they love the marathon and the runners. The excitement and the energy of the weekend is unexplainable.

How did you get started in running? Tell us a little about your early running career through present. Why did you decide to run your first marathon?
I had a couple of friends I met at the gym who were casual runners. When they tried to get me to sign up for my first marathon I thought, why would anyone pay money to do something you can do for free?? Then the day came that they went to run the marathon and I felt so left out and regretful. That was maybe early 2000’s. I ran my first half marathon, yes my first race ever was a half in STL in 2007 (I think) and that was it, I was hooked. Crossing that finish line was like crack! I have since run close to 30 marathons, 24ish half marathons, one ultra (50K) and several other smaller races in between. I ran Chicago once and was supposed to last year again but had to defer to this year due to an injury. I am sure Chicago will be canceled as well this year, unfortunately. I ran NYC in 2018 which was also a bucket list marathon but honestly I was so disappointed compared to Boston.

When did you set the goal of qualifying for Boston and what inspired you to try?
I’m not really sure when I decided but it had to have been after I ran the Disney Marathon in 2009 with a few weeks left to train after I had suffered a stress fracture and I still beat all my friends by a long shot. I qualified in 2012 at the Kansas City Marathon with a 3:28. I was ending a long term relationship and I guess I just had the determination and drive to set new goals and push towards something huge – Boston!

Why did you decide to run Boston 2020? How did it feel to be accepted into Boston 2020? 
Now that I’m older, it’s a bit easier to qualify but I don’t just want to BQ each year now, I want to shatter that qualifying time so I have the cushion I need to guarantee my entry. It is so exciting and still shocking each time I’ve gotten the news that I’ve been accepted. It’s like I’m going to the Olympics – it’s kind of a big deal. 

What did you learn from this journey - from BQ to postponement to cancellation? ?
This journey has taught me to not sweat the small stuff. I’m not the only one that got their Boston Marathon canceled. There are those that this was to be their first time after taking years to qualify. Now that would be disappointing. I’ve been very pleased with how BAA is handling it and offering refunds and the opportunity to still earn our spot next year as well as earn our medals and recognition for completing the 124th Boston. There are far worse things to deal with right now. I just wish I could get my airfare back!