Friday, June 26, 2015

It's the end of the world...and I like it just fine. (Fictionally speaking.)

Zombie apocalypse.  Worldwide plague epidemic.  Civilization-ending environmental disasters.

No, this is not a list of reasons why you should start stocking up on canned goods.  It's a list of (fictional) topics I LOVE to read about!

Obviously, I'm not alone.  The popularity of books like World War Z, The Stand, Oryx and Crake, etc. is a testament to the fact that other readers are in this with me.

But...why?  What is it about a post-apocalyptic novel that has me running to the library to get on the hold list?  Why do so many of us love to steep ourselves in a world where, (let's be honest) if they became reality, we would likely be dead (or undead, considering)?

Let's mull that over, shall we?

1. WWYD?
Post-apolcalyptic storylines are completely immersive for me.  It's impossible to read a book about life after the "end of the world" and not think, "Here's what I would have done in that crazy situation."  I find myself planning out how I would have survived, how I would have saved my kids (and my husband, yeah, he can come too), where we could have holed up to avoid the zombie horde, etc.  It's like a story within a story, as you always get a lot more to think about than just where the novel's plot is going.

2. There's safety in the outrageous.
You know what kinds of books keep me up at night?  True crime.  Stories of real-life serial killers, stalkers, rapists, etc.  That's the stuff that makes me want to sleep with my high school softball bat under the pillow.  But a plague that wipes out 99% of the world population?  PSHAW.  I can read about it, be entertained by it, imagine what I would do if it ever happened, but it won't really ever happen.  That's the fun of it!


3. Top-notch world-building.
This is somewhat related to #1.  Compared to many other genres, post-apocalyptic novelists usually have their world-building game on lock.  Writing about a world after civilization is obliterated requires an author to think through a lot more than just what the survivors are eating and drinking.  They have to consider the tiniest details of post-disaster resources, infrastructure, government, etc. and figure out how those details will impact their characters throughout the story.  The amount of imagination and forethought this requires is staggering.  Hats off to the authors who do it well!

Jump in here, readers.  Why do YOU love (or loathe!) end-of-the-world literature?  Or do you tend to love some of them and not others?  Why or why not?  I know I'm not the only morbid reader out there...
Gratuitous Daryl Dixon photo for all of my Walking Dead fans. YOU'RE WELCOME.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Commencement by J.Courtney Sullivan

Title: Commencement
Author: J. Courtney Sullivan
Publisher: Knopf
Publication Date: June 16, 2009
Source: personal purchase

Summary from Goodreads

Assigned to the same dorm their first year at Smith College, Celia, Bree, Sally, and April couldn’t have less in common. Celia, a lapsed Catholic, arrives with her grandmother’s rosary beads in hand and a bottle of vodka in her suitcase; beautiful Bree pines for the fiancĂ© she left behind in Savannah; Sally, pristinely dressed in Lilly Pulitzer, is reeling from the loss of her mother; and April, a radical, redheaded feminist wearing a “Riot: Don’t Diet” T-shirt, wants a room transfer immediately.

Together they experience the ecstatic highs and painful lows of early adulthood: Celia’s trust in men is demolished in one terrible evening, Bree falls in love with someone she could never bring home to her traditional family, Sally seeks solace in her English professor, and April realizes that, for the first time in her life, she has friends she can actually confide in.

When they reunite for Sally’s wedding four years after graduation, their friendships have changed, but they remain fiercely devoted to one another. Schooled in the ideals of feminism, they have to figure out how it applies to their real lives in matters of love, work, family, and sex. For Celia, Bree, and Sally, this means grappling with one-night stands, maiden names, and parental disapproval—along with occasional loneliness and heartbreak. But for April, whose activism has become her life’s work, it means something far more dangerous.

My Review:

You may have noticed that this novel landed a spot on my 30 Before 35 list.  Perhaps it seems like an odd choice, nestled in there with the likes of Ulysses and The Color Purple.  However, I added Commencement because it's been on my TBR list for several years...and it's on my TBR because it tackles one of my favorite time periods: the college and post-college years.

Shortly after I graduated from UConn, I read I Am Charlotte Simmons by Tom Wolfe.  It really resonated with me, and still holds a spot on my favorites list.  However, I soon realized that the number of books that focus on college/post-college life (without a primary focus on New-Adult-style, almost-erotica romance) is not high.  Commencement is one of them, and I was happy to finally get around to it!   (And what better time to read it, just after cap-and-gown season??)

This novel will certainly appeal more to a female audience, though I hesitate to attach the "chick lit" label.  The book has its fair share of hookups, girly fights, etc., but they are worked into the plot with a higher level of seriousness than "chick lit"implies (at least by my definition).  For example, the broad subject of "dating" is discussed in a whole host of contexts: how to balance your love life with your career after graduation; how to reconcile the fact that the love of your life happens to be a woman, which is a situation that your conservative family will never approve; and how to cope when what starts as a wonderful first date, ends in rape.

Yes, one of the best things about this book is that it takes primarily-female issues, and gives them the weight that they deserve, without the frills you may have come to expect from other women's fiction novels.  I suppose this appeals to me because college was a significant time in my life.  Not to sound like a nerd (never mind, I am a nerd), but it truly was the best of times AND the worst of times in many ways.  I made a lot (A LOT) of mistakes, and had a lot of successes (thankfully more than the mistakes).  Plus, I worked in higher education for 8 years afterwards, and saw other students going through a whole slew of social and emotional changes through that work.  I know this is not the case for every college grad, but it gives you some idea why novels in this genre, written without a sense of frivolity, click so well with me.

The novel is broken into two parts, with the first part covering most of Sally, Bree, April, and Celia's 4 years at Smith College, as well as their reunion at Sally's wedding.  The second half focuses on what happens to the women after they go their separate ways post-wedding.  The first half was definitely stronger for me than the second.  I feel like the plot took a rather far-fetched direction in the later chapters, and the ending is incredibly abrupt, given how well-developed the rest of the book is.  That said, I suppose the second half is where most of the "action" happens, so I can't knock it too much, given that I never felt like I hit a slow point as I was reading.

Overall, Commencement is the perfect blend of head vs. heart.  Sullivan confronts some important issues in the novel, and does so with passion and humor.  If you have a recent female college grad in your life, this would be an excellent book to pass on!

Is there a certain time period that you love to read about in novels?  Childhood?  High school?  College?  Parenthood?  What makes that stand out for you?

Monday, June 22, 2015

Where I've Been...And Where I'm Going

Hello, reader friends!  I hope you've hung with me while I went on a bit of a vacation.  While part of my absence was accounted for by an actual vacation for the last week, I've admittedly been a bit flighty 'round these parts for longer than that.

During the last few weeks of my race training, I was just too tired to get much reading (or blogging) accomplished.  Then the race happened, and I took a full week off from running, but instead of spending that time reading, I spent a load of time with my family and just loafed around, catching up on Netflix.  (Ain't no shame in my game.)

Then we left for vacation, which consisted of 1 day at Sesame Place in Langhorne, PA (basically preschooler crack. I was more tired this day than all other days combined):

Followed by 7 days in Cape May, NJ.  Which was 95% running around the beach with 2 very happy kiddos, and 5% reading and day-drinking:
Kindle, keys, beer, and baby monitor. CHECK.
That 5% was pretty amazing though.  I read ONE AND A HALF BOOKS during the week!  Unheard of for me these days.  The one I finished was Commencement by J. Courtney Sullivan, and the one I half-finished was Day Four by Sarah Lotz...which my reader friend Julie alerted me to during vacation, because it's Lotz's latest release after The Three, which you may remember I ADORED last year.

(For my running compadres, I also managed 3 early-morning runs while on vacation...I even ventured onto the sand for the first time!  That is HARD WORK!  Not only because of the soft surface, but the slope of the shoreline near the water made it hard to balance.  Oh, and let's not forget the humidity.  Quite the sweat sessions, they were.)

Anyway, now I'm home, and looking forward to reconnecting with all of you.  I have some book reviews to write, and would also like to make time for a few bookish non-review posts that I've had in mind for a while.  I have only one book tour that I'm doing all summer, so I'm really looking forward to some free-range reading over the next few months!  I would also like to bring The Well-Read Runner back every few weeks, as I am in the midst of figuring out my next race plans...especially because I'm back from vacation and something needs to be done after I ate all that fudge and drank all that wine all week.  HA.

So, the moral of the story is...I'm back, so let's talk books!  :)

Friday, June 12, 2015

Fantastic Thriller Alert! Disclaimer by Renee Knight

Title:   Disclaimer
Author: Renee Knight
Publisher: Harper
Publication Date: May 19, 2015
Source: copy received for honest review through TLC Book Tours

Plot Summary from Goodreads:

Finding a mysterious novel at her bedside plunges documentary filmmaker Catherine Ravenscroft into a living nightmare. Though ostensibly fiction,  The Perfect Stranger  recreates in vivid, unmistakable detail the terrible day Catherine became hostage to a dark secret, a secret that only one other person knew--and that person is dead.

Now that the past is catching up with her, Catherine’s world is falling apart. Her only hope is to confront what really happened on that awful day even if the shocking truth might destroy her.

My Review:

I've read a few good books lately, a few "okay" book as well, but Disclaimer is the first one I've come upon in a while that really knocked my socks off.  The plot moves quickly (very short chapters that easily keep your attention), your perception of each character is constantly evolving, and Knight saves up some plot twists that pack a serious emotional punch.  This novel is everything I want in a thriller.

What really makes you fly through these pages is the mystery of it all--Catherine reads this book that she finds at her bedside, but does not make you (the reader) privy to its full contents.  As a result, you are left demanding answers--what is it in this book that is making Catherine so crazy--crazy enough that she feels it could ruin her life?  These revelations are worth the wait, especially because they will completely change your opinions of the protagonists.  I love it when a novel can take my perception of a character and turn it on its head halfway through the story.  Not only is this just fun for me as a reader (I like being kept on my toes), but it's a sign of great character development, as each person in the book becomes impressively multi-faceted.

Disclaimer is a perfect example of the old adage that "every story has two sides".  In this case, many more than just two.  And what happens if you take drastic action after hearing only one, or two, of those sides?  If one of those sides is no longer able to speak for itself?  Or if you never give one side a chance to explain itself?  The truth is a shifty thing in this novel--all the more engrossing for the reader.

I can't say too much more about Disclaimer without giving out spoilers, so I'll leave it at that.  I flew through this book in 3 days.  At my slow reading rate these days, who needs more of an endorsement than that?

As always, much thanks to Trish and TLC Book Tours for including me on this tour!
Want some more opinions?  Some of my favorite other book blogs are reviewing this one!  Check out the other blogs on this book tour HERE.
Renee Knight

Friday, June 5, 2015

GIVEAWAY! Five Night Stand by Richard J. Alley

Title:   Five Night Stand
Author: Richard J. Alley
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Publication Date: May 12, 2015
Source: copy received for honest review through TLC Book Tours

Plot Summary from Goodreads:

Legendary jazz pianist Oliver Pleasant finds himself alone at the end of his career, playing his last five shows, hoping the music will draw his estranged family back...

Frank Severs, a middle-aged, out-of-work journalist, is at a crossroads as his longtime dreams and marriage grind to a standstill...

And piano prodigy Agnes Cassady is desperately grasping for fulfillment before a debilitating disease wrenches control from her trembling fingers...

When Frank and Agnes come to New York to witness Oliver’s final five-night stand, the timeless force of Oliver’s music pulls the trio together. Over the course of five nights, the three reflect on their triumphs and their sorrows: families forsaken, ideals left along the wayside, secrets kept. Their shared search for meaning and direction in a fractured world creates an unexpected kinship that just might help them make sense of the past, find peace in the present, and muster the courage to face the future.

My Review:

Five Night Stand is the perfect read to accompany a sip of your favorite drinky-drink after a long summer day.  This story felt like jazz itself: soulful, melodious, and smooth.  There isn't anything particularly earth-shattering that happens in the plot--no huge reveal or shocking twist to hang your hat on.  Instead, I found myself enjoying the way Agnes', Frank's, and Oliver's lives came together as their journeys intersected in increasingly intimate ways.

It took me a while to get a good read on each of the characters.  With Agnes and Frank, it was because they both seemed so much older than their actual ages.  Agnes, coping with a neuro-degenerative disease at the young age of 22, has hardened herself to many of the trivialities of life as she tries to make peace with the short time she has left.  On the other hand, Frank, in his mid-forties, is faced with a sudden lay-off, and must decide what his life's direction will be now that his work is suddenly gone.  Their fortunate meeting in New York with jazz-virtuoso Oliver Pleasant puts them both on a path to find some peace.

I'll admit that this book was a little outside my comfort zone (I'm not particularly up on my jazz knowledge, nor am I very musical in general), but the story within these pages has an appeal even for the most musically-unskilled readers.  The relationships here are poignant, while the prose itself is quite subtle, and all together it makes for a very enjoyable read.

As always, much thanks to Lisa and TLC Book Tours for including me on this tour!
Want to find out more?  Check out the other blogs on this book tour HERE.  And connect with Richard J. Alley on Facebook, Twitter, and his website.

GIVEAWAY TIME!  One lucky reader (in the US/Canada) can win a copy of Five Night Stand for their very own.  Just enter using the Rafflecopter below.  Giveaway ends June 11!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The Well-Read Runner: Mystic Half RECAP!

Yes, my friends, after 12 weeks of blood, sweat, and tears, the Mystic Half Marathon has come and gone.  What a day!  (Spoiler alert: a very good day.)  Let's recap!

Day Before/Expo:
I drove down to Groton, CT (where my parents live and 10 minutes from Mystic) on Friday night.  I made this trip solo--Small Fry started suffering from car sickness a couple months ago, and as we have lots of travel coming up in the next few weeks, we decided to spare him the 14 hour (round-trip) drive to Connecticut for my race.  Sad for me, but I will admit that it was nice to have a bit of alone time pre-race.

Saturday was packet pick-up.  We drove over to the Mystic Hilton, and I was psyched to get a low bib number (50...I felt like an elite...haha).  I also picked up for two other runners because there was no race-day pickup for this race.  Kind of a pain for a lot of people, I think!  It would be nice if they had this available on race day next year.

I got a great deal on a new Adidas running tank and sports bra at the expo ($35 for both!), and spied Amby Burfoot at his table, but was too nervous to go up and talk to him.  (To know why, see: every single author signing I have been to and acted awkwardly at.)  For those that don't know, Amby Burfoot won the Boston Marathon in 1968.  He was the editor-in-chief of Runner's World for a long time, and still writes for them.  And, turns out, he went to my high school!  He agreed to sign on as a "celebrity pacer" for this race, leading the 2:15 group (a bit slower than I intended to run).  Turns out I would be seeing more of him on race day than I thought (more on this later).

I did also attend the course preview, which was a slide-by-slide review of the entire course.  This was SUPER helpful, as we would be running through some wooded areas that I was not entirely familiar with, despite growing up in the area.  I felt like I had a decent handle on things by the time I left.

That night, my good friend Colleen (we were BFFs through most of high school!) hosted a pasta dinner at her parents' house, as both she and her husband Chris were signed up to run, as well as her younger sister (Caitlin), and two of Caitlin's friends.  Much carb-loading ensued, and the non-runners drank lots of good beer and dark-and-stormies, while the runners looked on sadly and sipped their water.  Le sigh.
Me and Colleen at dinner.  My hair is a preview of the race-day humidity!
Race Day:
Well, I woke up at 4:15am with a serious case of jitters.  My stomach had crazy butterflies going on, and I knew there was no way I was getting back to sleep.  I laid there until about 4:30, when I gave up and decided to get ready.  The forecast was showing no rain in sight, high humidity, and temps in the mid- to high 60's for start time, so I went with my old Adidas running shorts, New Balance tank, and C9 running hat as my race day outfit.  Ate my usual pre-race breakfast (plain bagel with peanut butter, and a banana), though honestly my stomach was so nervous that I only got through half the bagel and half the banana.  Drank a bunch of water, packed up my hydration pack, and out the door at 5:45am.

I got to the race site at 6:00.  There was tons of parking right at Mystic Village, which was awesome, because you didn't really need to do gear check--everyone's cars were a minute's walk from the start/finish area.  For a race this well-attended, that was impressive.
Chris and Colleen on race morning
I met up with Colleen, Chris, and their crew, and then found Cora and Sara, the two women I picked up packets for.  Cora and I have actually "known" each other for almost 10 years, as we were both members of's wedding discussion forums back when we were planning our weddings, and we have kept in touch ever since.  However, today was the first day we were actually meeting in person.  It was great to finally meet, especially on a day as exciting as this one.

Sara is friends with Cora, and I hadn't chatted with her much before race day (a few times online as we discussed race training, but that was it).  However, we ended up as running buddies this day--a first for me, because as you remember, I run solo basically all the time.  But Sara is also registered for the Ironhorse Half this coming weekend, and decided she wanted to take it easy at Mystic.  My anticipated pace (9:45) was way comfortable for her, given that her race pace could be closer to 8:00, so she asked if I wanted company and offered to be my pacer.  I said yes--even though I'd never run with anyone at a race before, I figured it would be really helpful to have company, especially in those later miles when I would need motivation.  (I am very glad that we did this!!)

At 6:30, I ate a Honey Stinger waffle, then used the porta-potty one last time.  Said a good luck to Colleen & co as they were seeding a bit further up than I planned to seed myself.  Sara and I lined up just ahead of Amby Burfoot and his 2:15 pace team, as I was hoping to come in closer to 2:10.  There was also a 10K, and half and 10K runners lined up at the same time.  The start line was a bit disorganized, of the only downsides to the race details.  The start was on Coogan Blvd, but most of us were jumbled up around the corner in the driveway near Steak Loft, even when the gun went off.  Not a huge deal, but it would have been nice if we all could have just lined up on Coogan.
Waiting in the start line chaos!  Sara is in the pink standing next to me/looking away
(Let me talk for a hot minute about my pace goals for this race.  Ultimate goal: just PR.  Anything under 2:21 would make me happy at the finish.  But pace-wise, I was hoping to hold 9:45/min for as long as I could, with the hope that during the hills, I would go no slower than 10:45/min as an absolute max.  10:45 was the average pace of my last half, so my philosophy was that if I had a lot of minutes under that, and a few minutes at that, then I would PR.  Right?  Yay, math!)

7:00 came, gun went off, and away we went!  The race started on Coogan and then took an immediate left to head down toward the Mystic Seaport.  This part of the course was flat, flat, flat.  And beautiful to boot.
First look at the river coming into downtown
Even though I lived in this area for years as a kid, it was still exciting to run past all the fun Mystic landmarks.  Plus, coming into downtown (around the 1 mile mark) and seeing the Mystic River was pretty great.  A definite favorite was being able to run across the Mystic Drawbridge.
Coming up to the drawbridge
(Unfortunately, that was the last pic I took during the race--things got a bit more wooded afterwards, and once the hills started...forget it.)

After the bridge, we took a right and headed down to River Road.  This road winds down along the Mystic River and makes for more gorgeous scenery.  And again, flat flat flat.  Sara and I were chatting away as we ran, and we had to keep checking our Garmins and slowing down in order to be near 9:45.  Our first four miles clocked in at 9:30/9:32/9:35/9:50, so we were doing a great job staying near pace!

During the 5th mile, I decided to take my first Gu (I had 2 with me).  During my long runs, I usually fueled at 4.5-5 miles, so I decided to do the same here.  However, within a few minutes of taking the Gu, I felt insanely bloated--like I had eaten an entire breakfast or something.  So strange!  No cramps like I usually worry about, but just felt really uncomfortably full.  Hmm.  Ah well, I charged on, and miles 5 and 6 both came in exactly at 9:45--awesome.  Almost halfway there!

Then...the hills.


I really cannot overemphasize here THE HILLS.

Right towards the end of mile 6, the half marathoners had to take a left onto Deer Ridge Road, while the 10Kers continued straight.  We went 3/4 of a mile on Deer Ridge, then had to turn around and come back down to the main road.  When I went to the course preview on Saturday, the guy had said there was a hill on Deer Ridge.  OH, JUST A HILL, YOU SAY?  A MERE BUMP, PERHAPS?  This was not just any hill.  This was the hill to end all hills...honestly, I'd say it was the hardest one on the entire course.  It was relentlessly steep, starting right after we got on Deer Ridge and not ending until we got to the turnaround at the top.

Needless to say, it was a trudge.  In the middle of it, I almost pulled out my phone and texted my runner-friend Mandy with "THE WHEELS ARE COMING OFF!!"  I was losing steam, and fast.

I did have to walk some of it--though honestly, it was more because that Gu was making me feel like I had to puke, vs my legs couldn't handle the hill.  Anytime I started breathing too hard, that Gu came back at me.  But I pushed where I could and finally, blessedly, got to the top.  While it was nice coming back down the way we came, I could feel the beating that my quads were taking and knew I would pay for that speed later.  Mile 7 came in at 10:24...above desired pace but still under the pace of my last half, so okay.  I lived to see another day.

Once we got down Deer Ridge and turned left to rejoin the main road, I saw a bank of porta-potties.  As I had expected (based on how ALL of my long runs went), I had to pee.  So, I made a quick pit stop. Luckily, there were no lines, and I got in and out pretty quickly.  At the next potty stop, I saw a line of 5 people, so I was happy I chose to go now!  Because of this stop and a moderate hill right after, mile 8 was my slowest at 11:04.

Before the race, the mile I was dreading the most was mile 9.  The elevation map made it look like this was the mile with the worst hill (and Saturday's course preview confirmed as much), so after the agony of Deer Ridge, I was just a tad scared.  However--while the hill this mile was pretty painful at times, it was more gradual than Deer Ridge, and thus didn't feel quite as bad.  Still very difficult though, and there was definitely some walking involved (again, thanks to that Gu still upsetting my stomach).  Mile 9 ended in the middle of it (10:37).

Mile 10 was definitely the mile where my negative self-talk ramped up big time.  I remember thinking:

-"I will NEVER EVER EVER run another half marathon again.  EVER."
-"Why do I do this to myself?  I mean, really.  Did I not remember how this went the last time?  THIS IS ATROCIOUS."
-"It would not be dishonorable to just run 5Ks for the rest of my life.  I would probably get really, really good at them."
"Why did all those long runs feel so LUXURIOUSLY EASY????"

Also, even though my mile splits (now, in hindsight) were not that bad, I was mid-race (never a good time for me to be doing math) and I was sure that I was not going to PR.  Amby and the 2:15ers kept passing me back and forth, and I was positive that meant I was going to lag enough to lose hope of beating the 2:21 of my last race.

Yes, mile 10 was a dark time.  11:01, my second-slowest mile--and I don't have a porta-potty stop to blame that one on!  To her credit, Sara stayed upbeat and chatted with me the whole time, which I absolutely appreciated, even if she was greeted by total silence as I pushed on.  Haha.  Sorry, Sara!

However, after mile 10, there was a nice stretch of downhill for a while.  I got my breath back a little bit, and a smidge of energy to attack the last couple of hills.  Mile 11 came in at 9:56, my fastest of the back half.
This was taken somewhere around now.  I am smiling because Sara was throwing up gang signs at another photographer, not because I was feeling SO AMAZING.  Haha.
Mile 12 (10:25) and the beginning of mile 13 had some mean little hills (how is that even fair?  DO THEY EVER STOP?), but by then, I could feel that the end was near.  And I realized that I was not only going to finish, but I was GOING TO PR.  I was going to do it!!  Sara and I were running right behind Amby's pace team, and were keeping a pretty good pace with them.  I remember looking at my Garmin at one point and seeing that I was at 12.7 miles, and my face broke into a huge grin.  We were almost there, and I was going to kick my PR's ass.  TIME TO SHINE.

Finally, we turned left right before the 13 mile marker (10:27 split) onto Coogan Boulevard, and then into the Mystic Aquarium parking lot, with the finish in sight.  The crowd was enormous, the cheers were infectious, and I was smiling ear to ear.  But I also felt a HUGE surge of adrenaline, knowing that the finish was so close, and it made me feel like I was going to puke.  (Basically the entire tagline for this race should be "I Thought I Was Going To Puke.")  So I did ramp it up a bit, but not too hard, because a finish line vomit session was not on my agenda.  I remember Sara saying, "Come on, Amby is right there!  Let's speed up and finish with him!" and my response was, "I really do not want to puke on Amby!" (a solid choice).

I saw the finish, saw the clock ("You can finish under 2:15!" Sara exclaimed), pushed through the chute.  Final finish time was 2:14:07!  A PR by over 7 minutes.  To say I was overjoyed is a serious understatement.  You can tell in my finish photos:

(Yes, my form went to absolute crap by then, but I DID NOT CARE.)

Colleen (who finished in 2:05!) met me at the finish, as did Chris (1:46!) and my parents.  Hugs all around and much celebration, though honestly at this point, I was getting THE WORST stomach cramps.  Damn that Gu!  It took me almost a half hour before I felt good enough to choke down some post-race food, and even then I didn't feel fully recovered until the evening.  Not sure what was up, but whatever.
Sara and I right after the finish!
Sara and I also waited for Cora to finish, and she gets mega kudos for pushing on, because she found out the next day that the pain she was in was due to a torn LCL.  OUCH.  You go, girl.
Cora, me, Sara
I did walk around the post-race party looking for Amby Burfoot, because by this time I felt like we had nearly finished together and thus had become bros, so we needed a selfie, but I couldn't find him.  So Amby Burfoot should probably feel pretty relieved about that.

Other than the start line craziness, the only other downside to this race is that the free beers we were promised at the Steak Loft/Go Fish could not be served until 11am.  WHAAAAAT.  I finished at 9:15, and there was no way I was waiting around til 11 for my much-coveted beer.  You can blame Connecticut and their ridiculous liquor laws for this.  Booooooo, I say!

Afterwards, I went to my parents' house, showered, packed, and was on the road by 11:30.  I do not recommend spending 7 hours in a car immediately after running 13.1 miles (legs are still paying for that 2 days later), but it was worth it to get home just in time to tuck my kids into bed! (Also, very fun to go into rest stops with some nice bling-bling on your neck.  Yes, I wore it the whole drive.)

Final verdict: This course is hard.  Really hard.  I have talked with many others and heard some other recaps by now, and it seems I am not being overly dramatic here--the difficulty of this course is no joke.  That back half almost requires you to bank time in the front half if you want any hope of a decent finish time.

That said: a 7+ minute PR feels pretty amazing on a course this tough!!!  I am so proud of myself, and happy for all of the hard training I did to achieve this.  I could never have trained enough for those hills (at least not in the area where I run), or the humidity, but even so, I can feel how much stronger I was during this race vs during the Rochester Half last year.  A major, major difference.

Of course, I can't help but wonder what I could have done with this strength on a flat course...

...I guess I have to do another one to find out?  :)

Monday, June 1, 2015

The Well-Read Runner: A Quick Update!

Hello readers!  I just wanted to let you know that I am still alive, the Mystic Half Marathon did not kill me, and in fact it went quite well.  Well enough to result in a 2:14:07 finish time, a PR by over 7 minutes.

Celebrating at the finish with my good friend Colleen, who also nailed this race!
A race recap is forthcoming, but I haven't had time to put it all together yet.  It will be here in a day or two though.

And, to my bookish friends, please trust me that more lit-related content is coming.  I promise.  My race is over, I am taking some time off from running (for a couple weeks, anyway ;) ) and I'll have much more time to read AND write!

More soon!  Thanks for hanging with me during this crazy running journey!
Linking up with Tara today, as I wanted to let my Weekend Update friends know that I have survived!  :)
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