Philadelphia Marathon 2016

Philadelphia Marathon 2016

My day started with getting up at 4:35 although my alarm was set to go off at 4:45. I had a horrible night sleep due to frequent bathroom trips and never really getting into a deep sleep. I dreamt that I had completed a 30k trail race at a ski resort, which I hoped was a sign of good things to come.I prepared oatmeal in the room along with coffee and got ready. I had a prepped bag to check for post race along with a throw-a-way sweatshirt. 

Francine, Aimee, and I headed down to the lobby just after 5:30 and were greeted with water and bananas and a few shuttle bus volunteers. We were directed to “the middle bus” which was quite full and warm. Shortly after boarding, we departed for the start line. The ride was short and we headed to Logan Circle to meet up with Dimity and the other BAMRs for silly toes.

 Afterwards, we dropped our bags to the large trucks which were alphabetized by the first 3 letters of your last name. We then headed to the portapotties where we met up with another BAMR, Monica from Denver. The national anthem was sung while we were in line. After a quick group selfie, we headed to our respective corrals.

It was sunny, 39* and 19 mph winds at the start, which made it feel like 30*. I started with Jennifer Z. and Stephanie H. in the blue corral.


I ran with Jennifer for a few miles before she set off ahead of me. I hooked up with another girl (?Greta) for a few miles, who had done an Olympic triathlon but no more than a 10K. I left her after mile 8 and then was on my own.

 I saw Melissa near our hotel just before mile 8 where she took these pictures.

The weather was sunny, cold, and light wind for the first half. My nutrition was on the hour, every hour and I took in ½ Honey Stinger waffle or a mini Larabar each time. I took water at most stops as I walked through them. The hill up to Please Touch Museum was a long one and exposed towards the top.

I passed so many people from that point on and the only people who did pass me were those who went off course to pee and then jumped back in. I enjoyed miles 12-13 by the river facing downtown.
The clouds increased and the second half felt much colder and significantly more windy.


It was hard to go by the art museum and turn towards Kelly Drive and see all the runners coming towards the finish line with all the spectators facing them. I saw Melissa, Dimity and Tamar at mile 15/25 and yelled across the street to them. Miles 15-18 felt long, but once I was past Falls Bridge, things changed. as I approached Manayunk, I felt strong. There was great energy and quite a few different groups cheering us on including a beer stop, candy, and orange slices (which I did not partake). There were some funny signs that made me laugh and lots of police presence at all intersections so I thanked many officers. In general, there was a large police presence in the city all weekend. The police motorcycle motorcades were kind of ominous and the huge crew of police bicycles was strange.

As far as my numbers go, I had programmed my Garmin with a workout based on HR caps, but at the start line, I just pressed start and immediately was beeping because I was >140. I stopped my Garmin and chose the workout labeled Philly marathon. After about 4 miles, I wanted to change my screen display, but instead hit the lap button, which then put me ahead of where I should be. I then stopped my Garmin and saved the workout as part 1. I ended up turning off the heart rate alert and just ran monitoring my numbers. In the end, my average heart rate was 181. I progressively increased my heart rate every hour since I was no longer following a specific workout.

I went into this marathon with no specific time goals. I wanted to be part of the BAMR fun and finish feeling happy and healthy. I had no physical issues and so I accomplished my goals. Thank you to Melissa and Dimity who stayed at mile 25 to see me.

Philly was 17:41 slower than my first marathon (MCM) last fall (13:06 vs.12:26 pace), but 5 minutes faster than my second marathon (Hartford) six weeks ago. My official time was 5:43:44.



Hartford Marathon 2016

Hartford Marathon 2016

This was my 2nd marathon completed and although I did not run it faster than my first – MCM last fall, it was better than it, in so many ways!

My A goal was a PR (<5:26). My B goal was a negative split – second half faster than first half (Steava back half challenge was an extra motivator). My C goal was to beat the course time limit which was 6:00.  I am proud to say that I met my B goal with 3:00 vs. 2:48!

I woke up at 5:35, got ready, and went down to the lobby to go to Starbucks which opened at 6. There was a line, but it moved along and I was able to get some oatmeal with dried berries and nuts. I had breakfast in the room and was feeling pretty good, having slept about 7.5 hours. We left our room around 6:45 and headed to the start area which was in Bushnell Park, which was about .5 miles from the Downtown Hartford Marriott, where we were staying. I made a porta potty stop on our way to the start line before meeting up with a group of BAMRs. I met 3 of 5 women from our heart rate training group at the cannon in front of the Capitol building at 7:15. 


We then split up, but Meaghan and I headed to the porta-potties one last time before heading to the start line.  I listened to the national anthem and a blessing and waited for the start with Meaghan and Melissa.


The gun went off and we moved along with the crowd slowly. My heart rate was already high and I knew that it was because of the excitement of the race.  I quickly realized that I would not be able to stick with my race plan (see below).


All three of us, we’re higher than we wanted to be, and we shuffled along at a below-target pace. Although I was not able to keep my heart rate within the parameters of the plan without getting swept, I did keep to the premise of start slow and gradually increase. The course limit was 6:00 which meant a pace of 13:44/mile.


My average heart rates were as follows:

hour 1 – 159

hour 2 – 165

hour 3 – 169

hour 4 – 178

hour 5 – 181

hour 5+ – 183

We told ourselves to “let them all go” and watched everyone run passed us. This was a challenge because we all had energy and could go faster, but we committed to the plan.  the three of us were last for MILES!  We stuck together, and the cops followed us…closely!!! 


We were lucky to find Melissa’s family at different points as well as Brian and Brenna during the first half. This gave us many photo ops.

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We had a motorcycle, a car with ALL its flashers, and a couple of  bicycles with us. We carried on with our modified “don’t-get-swept”plan for several miles, running 13-14mm with HR too high. Eventually, the police pulled up next to us and told us that he was leaving us to follow other runners since we were no longer last-thank goodness!

I would NEVER have succeeded as well as I did today without these ladies. It was not just hard to be the caboose for miles…it was stressful with them tailing us so closely.

The three of us made it to 13.1 together and then started slipping apart as we tackled the next section. I decided to continue with my plan to increase my heart rate as well as my pace and did so with little difficult. I was on my own for the rest of the race, and made it a point to acknowledge every person that I passed. On the out and back, I enjoyed seeing Melissa and then Meaghan.  

I passed a total of 88 people (I may have missed a few because it was hard to remember in the later miles). I ran almost the entire second half and walked through water stops. My fueling plan worked great and I had NO nausea, which is a win for me. I took 1/2 waffle at hour 1 and the other 1/2 at hour 2. At hour 3, I took in 2 balls. At hour 4 and 5, I took in 1 ball each hour.  I stopped at most water stops, and only drank water.  The weather was mostly cloudy and 48 at the start, but warmed up to the high 60s.

My husband and daughter were waiting at the finish line where I came in with the 5:45 pacer.

Post race, I walked .5 mile to our hotel and then another .5 mile later in the afternoon to go get a Coke at Burger King. For dinner, we  headed out again on foot for another .5 mile to go to dinner. I felt great!!! #coachedandloved #winningatlife 

Beach to Beacon 10K

Beach to Beacon 10K

Last year, I claimed this to be my favorite race of all time and I was excited to be able to participate again this year. My bestie, Sarah and I traveled up together on Friday afternoon. The expo was great again and we were surprised to receive lots of gift cards – a $10 LL Bean, a $10 Olympia Sports, and a Dunkin Donuts. There were samples of food as well. We got great magnets and awesome tech shirts too!  We opted to go to dinner in downtown Portland and it was great.

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We chose to sit at the counter in the front window so we could people watch, since it was a crafter’s evening and there were many folks walking around downtown.


Back in the hotel room, we laid out our goodies while we watched the opening ceremonies for the Summer Olympics.


In the morning, we stopped at Dunkin Donuts for breakfast before heading to the shuttle bus at the Hannaford lot. We arrived around 6:30 and waited in line. The drop off was further away than last year, so we had a nice long warm up walk to the start area. Once again, there were tons of porta-potties, which made for short waits in lines. The start line was crowded as usual. We waited amongst thousands of others for the race to start at 8am.

Sticking with the heart rate training plan was not easy. I had to walk from the beginning and I sent Sarah to run her own race, since I was going to be much slower.  My run cadence shows just how much walking I did.


Being at the back of the pack has its perks. You get great solo shots and don’t get blocked by other runners.

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The volunteers are also so happy to see you at the water stops and cheer you on enthusiastically.  You get spectators shout encouraging words and comment on your outfit because you are not part of the crowd.

The downside of being so slow is that you have far fewer spectators along the course as well as at the finish. You also miss out on the food for runners especially if you watch the awards, which we did.  

The highlight of the race for me was my finish when Joan Benoit Samuelson [American marathon runner who won gold at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles] came towards me to shake my hand and congratulate me.

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There were a total of 6345 finishers, so I was not alone in the back of the pack.

6286 347/350  F45-49 1:49:06  1:40:21 16:09 Sandra Muldowney           
The Runner's World Classic 'almost' half-marathon

The Runner's World Classic 'almost' half-marathon

As I sit here reflecting on this race, I realize that there were many factors that contributed to it not being a great day.  I was traveling on my own given Brian’s training schedule. This is atypical since both he and Brenna typically accompany me to my races. I woke up [later than I should] and felt rushed although I had all my things laid out and ready to go. I was sweating even before leaving the house and once outside felt very warm.  It was 73* and sunny with 73% humidity. I took my oatmeal to go and ate it on the way, but was not able to finish it. I did not have a long time to wait before the start which is not usual for me. A highlight of my morning was seeing Bart Yasso at the start line.


Today was a real test of my commitment to this process. I “completed” the Runners World Classic half marathon. I say “completed” because I ran 10.48 miles – not 13.1. I was detoured at mile 7 and rejoined the race course just prior to mile 10 because I had fallen too far behind the 3:00 time limit. I was the last runner for the first 3.5 miles and thought I might get lost since the 2 women ahead of me seemed to be walking/jogging and I was only walking. My heart rate was 152 at the start line and I really struggled to get it below 140. I walked almost the entire course and did try to shuffle a few times when my heart rate lowered but it would quickly rise and I would have to stop and walk again. I was so grateful for words of encouragement along the way from Melissa [my new Facebook friend from the AMR HR marathon training group] who was volunteering at the finish line. It was great to see her and Bart Yasso around 3 miles too.





Caution – Heartrate training in progress





The second half of the race was better for me with my heart rate staying closer to and below 140, but I decided to not try to shuffle at all. As I approached the finish line, Bart announced my name and said that he knew I was doing the heart rate thing and said good job. It was great. Melissa must have told him what I was doing when they saw me earlier and he remembered! Finally, a got a really cool medal put on me by Melissa.


In summary, Yes. I was in last place in the race for over 3 miles. Yes. I had to be detoured because I was way over the time limit. Yes. I walked virtually the whole thing. Yes. I was asked to move to the sidewalk because they had to open the roads. Yes. I was asked if I was still in the race. Yes. I stayed true to my heart rate marathon training plan.

 Here are my results:

OVERALL PLACE 510 of 546 WOMENS RANK 270 of 299 AGE GRADE 42.61% PACE mins/mile

Hollis Fast 5K – a tradition

Hollis Fast 5K – a tradition

Thursday, June 9, 2016 at 6:30

For the 4th year in a row, I ran the Hollis Fast 5K. This is a unique race in that it is always held on a Thursday evening in early June, is downhill, attracts very fast runners, and is often cloudy and drizzly.  This year, my goal was to help Sarah beat 30 minutes. For the first time, our husbands and children also ran although everyone at different speeds and this proved to be a great race for all. My husband 23:36.9 and my daughter 35:47.0 PRd and she finished with a smile on her face. She actually finished having fun and carrying her friend!


The evening was comfortable and clear – 63* and 48% humidity and we set off together. Our Garmins were giving us different numbers so we split the difference when figuring out if we should speed up or slow down. This was a mistake because in the end we fell short of our goal.

11 days after Vermont City Marathon, I crossed the line of the Hollis Fast 5K with my bestie, Sarah. [You can see her head to the left between the two women looking down to stop their watches.]

Hollis 2

Here are my results!

693 45 SANDRA MULDOWNEY     30:15.6 18:25


Vermont City Marathon

Vermont City Marathon

While Brian drove on Saturday, May 28th, I had a chance to read the runner’s guide as well as check out the course map.


We arrived at the expo at the Sheraton at 4, met one of my 5:00 pacers, and went to the New England double booth to get my bib and shirt. There was a short line. We walked the 5 aisles and left after getting a long sleeve 26.2 in 802 shirt. It was a decent medium sized expo, but we did not spend much time there because we wanted to get settled in our hotel.

At 5:30, we checked in at the Fairfield Inn in Williston, VT, which was under renovations and had a really bad smell downstairs. The only pool was outdoors and was closed. We got an all new room, with a king bed and sofa bed, which was nice! Lessons learned – ask where the room is in relation to the elevator and the ice machine – closer is not better in this case. Luckily it was not a problem at all this time! Breakfast room was open with food at check in – cereal, milk, yogurt, fruit – coffee and cookies too.

At 6:30, we left for dinner right down the street from the hotel and had a great meal! The Vermont Tap House is highly recommended.

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The next morning, I woke up at 5:30, showered, got a bagel and peanut butter from the breakfast area along with coffee. We left the hotel at 6:35. We parked on the street in downtown Burlington by 7am. I got my right knee taped and geared up before walking to the park near the start area. I used the porta potties twice and made it to my pace group with only 5 minutes to spare. The sun was blazing and my Garmin showed that it was 73* at the start at 8:09am. I was sweating in the first mile! The crowd support was amazing.

I stayed with my pace group until just after mile 6. I met up with 3 other runners who had also started with the 5:00 pacers, but dropped back like me. 2 were from the six03 group (April and Andy) and the other young woman – i don’t know except it was her 1st marathon. Miles 4-8 on the Burlington beltline were the most challenging in terms of heat, sun, and shade. They also ran out of water. I was grateful that I had my handheld water bottle because this lasted until we saw April’s fiance and he could refill it. I loved running through neighborhoods and having the residents helping us with hoses, sprinklers, and water stops. I ran with April for a few miles which was fun and we even stopped to take this picture.


The only time I saw Brian and Brenna was when I came through Battery Park after mile 15, although they saw me another time as well.

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I had no issues with anything hurting and felt great until about mile 16 when I started feeling nauseous. Yes. I was hot and sweaty but I had been hot and sweaty. Unfortunately, I did not follow my training nutrition plan. Don’t ask why because I don’t know why. Around mile 16, I went under a fireman’s hose and got completely soaked. All I could think about was my sloshing sneakers! Luckily, I didn’t make it too much farther before a volunteer told us that they had black flagged the race. It was just after mile 17 on North Ave. We were given the choice to go forward to a park where shuttle buses would pick us up or go back the way we came to another water stop to get picked up. I decided to go forward. Once I was in Leddy Park [which was part of the race course], I saw people making the decision to continue on the course. I could have cut across the parking lot and rejoined the course at mile 24 on the bike path, but did not feel right about crossing the finish line without having completed the 26.2 miles. It might have been faster than trying to figure out where to get the shuttle and the waiting around.  I boarded a bus back up top on North Ave. and was taken back towards the start area, although I was dropped off in a neighborhood and had to manage to find my way to the start. Thankfully, I met a guy, Brett [I think], and we walked together. He also recommended a restaurant for dinner which turned out to be very good.  

Once I was in Battery Park, I asked where I should go to get my medal. I was told Echo, but had no idea what or where that was, so I headed to an information tent for help. They directed me to the finish line where I was supposed to get the attention of a volunteer who would give me my medal. I was stopped and not allowed to enter the finish area, so I had to get the attention of a man who had just finished. I explained my situation and he approached a volunteer who told him that they could not give me my medal. I went back to the information tent and told them that they had given me misinformation and once again asked about Echo. Brian and Brenna were actually waiting there while I was going back and forth trying to figure out where to get my medal. Once I got to the other end of the park, I saw a line of shuttle buses dropping off runners and 4 volunteers handing out medals to people as soon as they got off the bus. Ugh! I was so frustrated. My bus didn’t get the memo!!!  Needless to say, I had no desire to stick around the finish area once I got my medal and reunited with Brian and Brenna. We did walk back toward the finisher’s food area, but I was disappointed in the offerings.

Today, I was scheduled to complete my 2nd marathon – The Vermont City Marathon, but unfortunately, the race was cancelled due to extreme conditions and too many casualties. This is where I was stopped after completing 18.5 miles.