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I finished!! 

 
Not just now.  It’s three days later and I’m just now really getting around to doing an appropriate race recap.  I put my legs up on Monday night as Matt and I were watching Dexter, relaxing after the whirlwind of a weekend we’d just had, and started to try and do a recap here, but it just wasn’t happening. 
 
I needed a couple of days to take it all in.
 
In a word?  Awesome.  The race was amazing.  From the million + spectators (no joke!), to the event itself, to the thousands of volunteers handing out water and Gatorade and bananas on the sidelines, the whole experience was hands down one of the most thrilling of my life.
  
I’m a marathoner!
  
(Picture of me dorking out when I saw Nilsa at around mile 23.  Hey, at least I’m smiling!)
 
What an incredible race.  I’m not sure that I’m really allowed to have any complaints at this stage of the game, first marathon and all.   Afterall, I finished! My only real complaint, was that it was HOT.  Super, crazy hot.  Not unlike the heat that I have trained in many a time this summer, BUT, when you sign up for a Fall marathon, you kind of hope and somewhat expect that it will be a nice, crisp, Fall day.  Well, not so much.  While I knew that the weather was one of those things I just had no control over, when I saw the reports of temps reaching near 80 on Sunday, I wasn’t too excited. But, I knew I could do it, given that I’d done training runs in much worse.
 
While the heat most definitely had a huge impact on my time, the fact of the matter is, I finished the marathon!  And I’m so, so excited about that. 
 
Heading out of Charity Village, where I checked some stuff in the Girls on the Run tent before the race, I was beyond excited to run into my buddy Kevin!  We had tried connecting the day before, both on our cell phones walking around downtown, SO CLOSE to one another but not able to find each other.  Then, out of a sea of 45,000 people, who do I run into?!  KEVIN!  (I have a sweet picture of us at the start that I’ll have to upload here… I’m still working on getting all of the photos from the weekend organized.)
 
It was so nice to be able to start with my Boston running buddy.  If I didn’t have to stupidly stop to pee at mile 3, chances are we would have continued the whole race together.  Kevin finished about 4 minutes before I did, just about the time it took me to wait in line for the porta potties, do my thing, and get back out there.  In the humungo crowd of thousands, I wasn’t able to find Kevin again to catch up.  But I knew he was out there… somewhere!
 
Speaking of starts, and sweet moments, one that has special meaning to me, and you will understand this more if you know the background story about Matt and his marathon journey, is that the two of us were able to start together.  I can’t tell you how meaningful this was for me.  To be able to start the race with the man I love, when I wasn’t sure up until just days before how that would all work out, well, it was really something, let me tell you.
 
Here we are AFTER the race…
 
(He was apparently planning to go hunting after the marathon!?)
 
Matt and I stayed together until about mile 5.  We were pacing really well, going under a 10 minute mile, which was my goal for a sub 5 hour finish.  I knew I wasn’t supposed to have any big time goals in mind, or any time goals AT ALL for that matter.  I’d been warned about that from seasoned marathon buddies.  But I think on some level, we all go into a race like this with some sort of goal in mind.  Anyway, at the end of the day, my main goal was to just finish, and finish happy which I totally did.
 
 
Matt and I smooched and parted ways at the 5 mile mark.  He told me that he was going to find the moms, who were there cheering us on.  This was our plan from the get-go.  If he decided he wanted to stay behind, or stop, he made me promise that I wouldn’t let this affect my race.  While this was hard for me to accept, I knew that it was the right thing for this race.  We’d talked about it in-depth many a time.  He knew how conflicted I felt about not sticking with him, the guilt I experienced.  How I felt that I would be “leaving”  him.  He talked me right out of that.  Matt is amazing that way.  He didn’t make me feel bad for a minute for any of that.  He reminded me of how hard I had trained for this race, and encouraged me over and over that when he decided he would hold back, that I was to go on.
 
And go on I did…
 
So turns out, Matt told me he was stopping at mile 5.  But he told me that so that I wouldn’t worry.  And obsess, and worry some more (worry is what I do best?).  Instead of stopping at 5, guess what this champ did?!  He went on to run half!  This came seemingly out of no where, for a guy who hasn’t been training for such a distance in months.  Though it surprised me on some level, at the same time, I knew Matt had it in him to pull something like this off.  What a great accomplishment for him; I am elated for him, and so proud of his strong finish!
So now Matt was off on his own, doing his own race (unbeknownst to me!).  Up until the halfway point, I was pacing pretty well.  I wasn’t even paying too much attention to my watch, I could just feel that I was running well. 
 
And then, the heat hit.  We’re talking upper 80’s here, whooboy, it was a hot one.  I kept plugging along, but I knew I was slowing down.  I was craving more and more water, but conflicted because I didn’t want to chug the water at the aid stations, for I knew that would make my stomach a mess.  I walked through every water station from 13.1 out.  Walked slow, real slow, at some of them.  And then you know how it goes, once you walk, getting back to it and running is even tougher.  But I didn’t have too much of a choice.  I knew I didn’t want to walk any of the race OTHER than the water stops, so this was my chance to kind of regroup.
 
 
The one and only time I walked besides the water stations was when I saw Nilsa and her husband around mile 23.  They ended up being the only people who I knew that I saw on the course (more on that in a minute), so I had to pull over and say hello for a minute.
 

And stretch.

The main “hurt” that I had during the whole race was my hips.  So weird, because my hips NEVER hurt.  I guess you just never know what will happen on race day! 

Speaking of cheering and all?  Having my name on my shirt?  Such a good idea!  People were cheering for me left and right the whole entire race!  While I’d heard that this could either be a good or a bad thing… could give me some great motivation, might get a little annoying, I loved it.  I figure I put my name on there for a reason, and you’re damn right I appreciated every single “go Meg!” that I heard on the sidelines.

So, the second half of the race was getting hotter and hotter.  And the course went from a “yellow” caution level to a “red,” “high” alert level.  There were warnings on the course to slow down, to walk if needed, not to push it.  And a lot of people did walk.  This is a part that I struggled with, seeing people hurting.  Not for nothing, because hell, I was hurting in my own right, but seeing people on the sidelines walking, or limping, or worse- at the first aid tent getting IV’s, that was tough to see.  I really felt so much empathy for them.  I can’t even imagine training so hard for such a big event, and having to bail out midway through because of a medical emergency. 

Some people say that the last 6 miles are the toughest.  Afterall, I had never run beyond 20, so yeah, I was pretty freaking nervous for 20-26.2.  But the worst of it for me?  Was roughly miles 17-19.  It was just so god damn hot out there.  This whole second half of the race was in the blazing sun, whereas the first half was at least in the shade.  While there were spectators everywhere, they kind of dwindled down a bit at around mile 17 or so, and I found these 3 miles to be the toughest.

Around mile 20, I kind of felt a burst of energy.  And I mean, that’s all relative because it wasn’t as though I was going into sprint mode here.  But I did feel like, holy hell, I’m six miles away from being a marathoner!  Something clicked then, and I knew I could do it.

Mile 20 was also where I was hoping to see the moms.  I knew there was a very likely possibility that I would miss them, or they’d miss me, and unfortunately that’s what happened.  Turns out, the moms were on the left side of the road cheering, and I was on the right.  I knew my mom was out there, nearby… somewhere, and though I didn’t actually see her, that kind of helped me get through another mile a little easier.

One of my favorite moments of the race was when I could have sworn that I was coming up on mile 21, and not two minutes later, I saw that I was actually at 22!  WIN!

When I say that miles 20-26.2 weren’t awful, they most definitely weren’t easy.  It’s that feeling where you know you’re close, but I also knew I was about an hour away.  My everything was kind of aching at this point, the sun was beating down like crazy, and damn, was I thirsty.

This picture is one of my favorites for two reasons.  First, look at how freaking happy I am, at mile 26?!  I did make it a point to try and smile every time I saw a photographer (but also have learned that I run with my tongue out a lot?, thanksverymuch marathonfoto.com).  Secondly, see this dude  here in blue?  He’s from Ireland.  I came across him right here, and he was walking.  He looked so strong and I don’t know, I know some people may find it annoying when they are walking, to have another runner to tell them to “be strong!, you can do it!”… but I had the sense that all this guy needed was a little encouragement.  I looked over to him and told him “buddy!, we’re almost there!  come on, run with me!”  And he said his legs felt so weak, he wasn’t sure he could do it.  I told him damn straight he could do it; we were SO CLOSE to the finish line.  He told me this was his third marathon, that he had come to Ireland for this race.  I told him how this was my first, and told it to him straight right then and there, that we were running to the finish.

He cooperated.  😉

He was so gracious and such a cool dude.  At the last couple seconds, when we could see the finish line right there, he pushed me, “go ahead girl, you go for it!”  And you can see above, we finished pretty much right together.  Kind of fun, and definitely memorable, that little encounter.

And so, I finished!  I’m a marathoner!

(I had one sip of that beer, and then tossed it.  One of those things that seem like a good idea at the time.  And who am I to pass up a free brew?  Remember, it had been a week since any alcohol consumption over here.)

What a race.  To say I had an incredible, amazing, wonderful time, would even be an understatement.  I’m just so, so excited about it all.  I trained hard for this thing, put in some serious time and energy into this, and I achieved my goal!

I’m totally loving the marathon.  Would you think I’m crazy if I told you I tried to sign up for another one in about a month in NH, but found out that it’s on a weekend I have clinical? 

I’m already addicted!  I want more!  More of the rush, more of the energy from the whole experience.  I loved most everything about it, and I am so, so happy that I’m able to say today, that I am a marathoner.  No one can take that away from me!  Woo!

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Seven weeks into marathon training probably isn’t the time to figure such things out like, YOUR SHOES NOT FITTING correctly.  But leave it to me and my blisters to tell you that something is decidedly not right with my feet these days, and I think it all goes back to the sneaks!

Tell me, do you go up a size or a half a size in running sneakers?  I’m normally a size 8 high heel regular shoe.  Last year when I did my half, I went up to an 8.5, and that seemed to work pretty well.  There’s always been slight blister issues, but not so much that I had any issue while running, more that my feet just hurt afterwards.  Enough that I could deal.

So I figured, why not try going up another half a size?  When it was time to get my new sneaks this time around, I explained to the friendly runner gurus at Marathon Sports my whole blister debacle, and the nice chick there suggested I try going up to a 9.  I tried them out that day right then and there, ran up the street and back, and they felt fine.  They were the same brand as before (Asics), just the 2010 version.  Marathon Sports is cool in that they let you try out the shoes for something like two or three weeks, and if you’re not satisfied, you can return them and switch to a different pair.  Well I did try them for a few weeks.  And they were fine!  They felt good, there really wasn’t any huge issue.  I was still getting blisters but I just figured, apparently I have blister feet, or something, and kept on going.

I ran a half marathon in them, and I’ve been training with them ever since.  But the blisters, they’re getting worse.  I’m down three toe nails at this point and still have the pedicure question, but now want a 30% discount since I’m DOWN THREE TOE NAILS!

Yeah, ew. I know.

And this from me, a girl who used to LOVE a good, relaxing, soothing pedicure!  But no more.  I haven’t been in months, and my feet, they’re-a-hurtin’.

(Sidenote: Don’t ever, ever google “woman + blisters” if you don’t want to fear for your life, OR, if you’re eating dinner at the same time and don’t want to totally lose your meal. I’m just sayin’.)

ANYWAY…

So other than my poor little tootsies, things here are going just swell in the way of training.  Last weekend I set a personal distance record, racking up 14 miles!  Besides the hot as hell hot and humid weather we’re having here, all things considered, the run went really well.  I finished in 2:20, running about a 10 minute mile.  Given this extreme heat, I was pretty happy with that.

Oh and also?  I’ve finally decided to smarten the heck up, and I’m using a water belt!  Who’da thunk that this little sucker would be such a lifesaver?!

I swear every time I come here that I’ll come here more often.  And life just seems to be getting away from me these days.  I have been reading all these great running blogs lately, and yummy food blogs, all these in addition to the filled to the brim google reader I constantly have with hundreds of my favorite blogs that I’ve known and loved for several years now!

What’s your favorite blog to check out for running inspiration or advice?  Or, your favorite blog that has nothing to do with running, but that you love just because?

In no particular order, here are a handful of my go-to blogs for both running related things and not so much running related things.  Check them out!

  • SoMi Speaks– I’m lucky enough to know this lovely lady in real life as well as through our blogs.  She’s run multiple marathons, lives in Chicago, and she and her husband “Sweets” are going to be our gracious hosts for the marathon this October!
  • Life According to Mel Heth– This newly engaged gal is also a runner!  She lives on the West Coast and writes about her daily life, enjoying the everyday (including wine and cheese!) with her Mr. Wonderful, and the running she does near wine country!
  • I Run, You Run– This chick lives in DC and is battling some serious heat these days on her long runs! And I think we have it bad in Boston!  She’s also newly engaged, and likes to race with her cutie fiance Karl!
  • JustRunJustLiveJustBe– Aww Lesley.  I just have so many wonderful things to say about my Colorado running mentor of a friend.  Though we’ve never MET in real life, we’ve known each other for … almost FOUR years now?  She’s run more races than I can count, she’s an amazing writer, and a fabulous photographer!
  • Skinny Runner– She’s funny, she’s fast, she dishes about celebrities, she busts out 10 miles like it’s her job, and her JOB job is pretty effing sweet!  She’s a chick version of Deadliest Catch, heading to Alaska in the summertime to do that whole dangerous fishing thing.
  • running, eating, living in the real world– We share the same name! I don’t think she knows who I am, but I google stalk her blog on the regular.  She’s a college graduate also training for the Chicago marathon!  And she’s battling some nasty heat these days in Florida!

Tell me some of your go-tos!

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Who has nine desperately-need-to-be-pedicured toes and one missing toenail?!
 
That would be me!
 
And right in time for this weekend’s race!
 
I have been jonesing for a pedi for a couple weeks now, figuring that would be my treat after the race this weekend.  Last night that fated toenail that went gnarly a few months back lost it’s great fight and now, my biggest question is whether I can get a discount at the nail salon, since I’m getting 1/10th less service?
 
(Do I crack you up too?  Imagine how lucky Matt is that he now gets front row passes day in and day out to this Crazy of mine now that we’re officially living in sin!)
 
More on that later, as well as the fabulous MS walk that went over so well last weekend!
 
For now, my response to anything and everything this week is, “it’s Sex and the City week!”- hence why I’ve been with my head in the clouds, dreaming of Jimmy Choos and Aiden and the four girls back in action on the big screen!
 
I’m heading to the show (for the second time!) tonight with the ladies.  At a theater that serves cocktails!  On a week when I decided to “eat clean” and therefore JUST SAY NO to all things alcohol!  Seriously.  What was I thinking, planning this race on the same weekend as the sequel of one of my favorite movies hits the big screen!?
 
I’ll be back over the weekend at some point, with pictures of last weekend, and our attempts at shining the bedroom floors (beer was still in the menu last weekend so THANKFULLY there are summer ales involved in that project), a full race report from the half this weekend, and maybe even some talk of hot dogs because it is Memorial Day weekend after all.  And what’s this weekend without a couple dogs on the grill?!
 
Hope you all have a fantastic, sunny, Sex and the City filled weekend!

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One good thing among the many good things about long runs, is that when you’re running upwards of two hours, eating meals like this come guilt free:

Saturday night, fourteen of us headed out for my grandmother’s 80th birthday.  The whole dinner was a surprise, and my grandmother’s face when she walked into the restaurant and saw the group of us waiting for her was priceless:

Just look at them!  How adorable are they?  It’s moments like this that I will remember for a lifetime.

Here’s a couple more from the evening, just because I’m feeling all look-how-savvy-I-am-I-can-upload-a-boat-load-of-pictures-at-once!

ignore the black shadow on the lower left?

all the grandkids with the birthday girl!

and this one really got me-- manfriend/grandfather bonding time.

And while I’m on the picture kick, here’s two from a little picnic Matt and I went on this weekend down by the Charles to enjoy the nice weather…

Doesn’t that look yummy?  I’ve been saying that I wanted to have a picnic for a long time now, and I finally convinced Matt who I’m pretty sure had a really good time!  Drinking Prosecco outdoors by the water?  Yes please!

And since this is a running blog, I’ll give you a short and not so sweet but okay update on that front.

Saturday we ran 8 miles after having taken the week off, remember?  It was just okay.  Not great, not horrible.  It was hot and humid and by the end, my knee was killing me.  Kind of like last year.  And here I thought I was out of the woods with that one!  But frozen veggies are again my friend, and I’ve been icing it off and on.  Hopefully I’ll kick that injury to the curb.

And the blisters, they’re back too.  Today’s run felt really good, despite the knee mishap over the weekend.  I’m thinking it is indeed the socks, and not so much that I need to totally stear clear of cotton, but just pick the right ones, and I’m finding out which are better for me vs. others.  Saturday?  8 miles and no blisters.  Today?  5 and some serious killers.  It’s like Mother Nature or some running devil is trying to keep me from wearing high heels tomorrow for my birthday and let me tell you, I’m not having it!

This blog has its name for a reason.  Fine I’ll run sans heels but no way will I be birthday-ing with my ManFriend, out for a very special date that we’ve been looking forward to for a while, in FLATS.  No way in hell.

What was the highlight of your weekend?

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This weekend was New England weather wise, pretty good!

I had thought it was supposed to be nothing but rain all day today, but no!  Not even a drop!

Which worked out really well for Matt and I actually.  Saturday we went out for what was supposed to be our long run.  We’ll call it our Long Run That Could?  Something like that.  We were all set, off with good intentions to tackle that double digit run no problems, but apparently The Universe or maybe Matt’s foot and calves more specifically had other plans in mind for us.

No big deal.  We did a 4 mile or so run and it was a gorgeous day to boot, so we were able to at least get outside to enjoy that.  Poor ManFriend had some killer cramps going on in his calves so the ten miler just seemed not in the cards for us.

But no big deal!  I convinced him to look at it as just a nice, leisurely run in the beautiful weather, rather than a 10 mile running Fail.  And besides, we had today to go after it again anyway, and go after it we did.

We were at an hour and ten minutes in and couldn’t believe it had been that long we were out there.  The time flew by!  It was another perfect day weather wise, we finished 10.2 miles in 1:48:something, and I have some serious color on my face and only a couple blisters to show for it!

After we finished, we went and saw another apartment in what now will be dubbed The Great Apartment Search 2010, for our plans to cohabitate starting in June.  After that, we treated ourselves to an icecream and it was damn good!

Speaking of re-refueling, we tried out these energy fruit blocks today.  I’m forgetting the exact brand, but after trying out a couple different GU’s over the past couple of weeks, we found we kind of prefer these gummy block things.  Not as vom-inducing I found, and they kind of dissolve in your mouth and don’t taste bad at all.

What do you use for some energy during your long runs?  What brands do you find are better over others?

My girlfriend cut up small pieces of granola bars or power bars during her marathon, and for her, that worked.  I think I could find myself not minding that, but I know Matt prefers to not actually have to really chew anything while he’s running.  Also, since we’re starting to up our mileage, we’re thinking we’re going to start taking some water with us, at least for these long runs.  Especially with these gnarly GU’s and even with the jelly things today, I’m always jonesing for a chug of water to kind of swig it all down with!

Alright, Office Space is on now so I have to immediately plant it on the couch as we wait for dinner to finish!

What was the highlight of your weekend, running wise, or otherwise?!

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Matt and I have been saying all weekend that I need to update this little training blog of mine lest people think that we’re no longer alive!

Alive we are.  Both of us with legs that aren’t feeling 100%, go figure.

I finished my big race yesterday, in pretty much exactly my goal time.  I was aiming to finish the race in anything under 2 hours.  Figuring throughout my training I’d go a little less than a 10 minute/mile pace, that I could race at just over 9 minute miles.  Turns out that line of thinking was spot on, and I finished the race in exactly 2 hours and 45 seconds. 

Eating oatmeal on race morning!

Eating oatmeal on race morning!

Blurry me getting ready to cross the finish line.
Blurry me getting ready to cross the finish line.
Kind of exited!
Kind of exited!
Me & Mom :)
Me & Mom 🙂
Some of my cheerleaders!
Some of my cheerleaders!

And finally:

Three long weeks worth! ;)
Three long weeks worth! 😉

I really had a great race.  The course was pretty much perfect, a few rolling hills like I expected, but nothing too challenging.  The weather was a bit on the cool side in the morning, probably the coolest I’ve run in thus far.  I opted to wear capris and a short sleeve shirt under my singlet, and kept on my long sleeve zip up until about mile 2.  By then, my muscles had warmed up a bit and since the course was mostly in the sun, I wasn’t so chilly.  It was my hands that stayed cool the longest, but by around 8:45am (the race started at 8), I was feeling good temperature-wise.

There were 5,000 people who ran this race, so the whole place was packed.  Matt dropped me off for 7:15 to meet for  a picture with the Dana Farber team, who raised a total of over $300,000!  Then I had some time to stretch a bit, and kind of take everything in.  It felt really good to finally be there.  After 13 weeks of training, I had finally made it to race day and I was feeling good.

Only one thing was missing and that was my partner in crime, my training buddy all along, my Matt. 

First of all I want to send out a big thank you from both of us for all of your kind words of support and encouragement, not only over the past week when things were very uncertain with what was going on with Matt’s health, but throughout our whole training journey.  I know that this blog was started with the intention of it being about my half marathon training journey, but it became so much more than that, once Matt started running with me. 

Over the past several months, running has kind of become our “thing.”  We went to dinner with some friends a few weeks back, and they asked what our “thing” was as a couple.  We both kind of looked at each other, and in unison said, “running.”  Running has totally been our thing together, and though Matt has had to take a couple weeks off, we both have no doubt that it will continue to be our thing in the future.

After a (very) long week of waiting, and waiting (and more waiting), on Thursday afternoon we finally got an answer to all of the unknowns of the whole week.  The MRI’s and exams and Matt’s symptoms all pointed to the diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis.

And while that isn’t the best news in the world, it certainly isn’t the worst case scenario either.  What we know is that he is going to be okay.  That he can continue playing hockey and lacrosse and training for another half marathon, and that basically, he can go on living a seemingly normal life.  Granted, there will be a plethora of things that Matt will need to begin to do to treat this and prevent future “flare ups,” but all in all, life as we know it is going to go on. 

As nervous as I have been about all of this, it almost feels better, in a way, to finally have an answer.  The unknowns, I know for Matt and myself, were the worst.  And as he has faced all of this news with such positivity and grace, so will I.  From all of this, he’s been more than amazing.  Seriously, he amazes me with his outlook.  Where I’d be likely curled in the fetal position wigging out, he’s the exact opposite.  He’s taken this medical news and is all about going after this thing, and seriously powering through it.  He’s the type of wonderful person that once he knows what is going on, he just wants to begin to make it better.  He’s determined and positive and his whole outlook on all of this has only confirmed even more why I love him so much.

SO, that’s really the latest from here.  There are so many important things to focus our time and energy on right now.  Like love, and laughter, and the Autumn foliage outside the window.  Like living in the moment and savoring every last drop of all of the good and sweet in life.  So though this news most definitely knocked us off our feet a bit, we’re getting back up, and we’re damn determined to not let this stop our living.

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beach running

Yeah, looks all fun and easy for her, doesn’t it?

I thought it would be pretty good too.  I’ve always wanted to run on the beach, like really run.  Not just run after a ball or straight into the water or run back to the cooler for a beer, but really run run, like with sneakers and for more than 100 yards.

Well that was our very intention on Sunday morning, but after a long night out on Saturday which included a lot of this:

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I mean a LOT of it:

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And then there was this:

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Which, I have no idea how or why, but ended up like this:

IMG_0092

….welllll, suffice it to say, we weren’t really in top shape come early Sunday morning for our 7 mile run.

Had we gotten out there a little earlier, we would have been able to run on the hard sand that stretched the whole beach, but since we didn’t come back to life make it out until around 11:30ish, it was a little too late, there wasn’t much clear beach left, it was HOT, and we just weren’t feeling it.

So, we nixed the run, figuring we’d either get it in later that night when we got back home, or first thing Monday, which is when it ended up happening.

Instead of the run there was lots of this:

IMG_0039

And this:

IMG_0129

And after all of that?  There was a whole soiree of lobsters, corn on the cob, baked potatoes, shrimp, you name it, all courtesy of Mike. 

Oh, but this blog is supposed to be about running, right?

Well we did get in the 7 mile run that we needed, just did it yesterday morning instead.  It was good to get it out of the way first thing, before work.  It was a good run actually, and we both took today off, and plan to run Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and then Sunday…. 8 miles maybe? 

That’s the latest from here!  If only every weekend could be spent here….

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