About Jessica Goldman

An underdog runner

Dress Rehearsal!

I ran the Shamrock 1/2 Marathon this weekend as a dress rehearsal for Boston. I did it in the midst of another 100 mile training week and purposefully ran 16 miles the day before so I would be a little bit depleted at the start line to make it feel harder. I had several goals for the race. Unfortunately, the Boston Marathon prohibits hydration vests so I need to get some practice drinking out of cups at aid stations. This was a separate comedy show in itself. I stopped at every single station except for one where I couldn’t find anyone with water (they all had power-aid.) Most of the water went in my shoes, or on my shirt. I guess it wasn’t that big of a deal because it was raining, sleeting and snowing so I was already soaking wet.

I originally had a pace goal in my head that I wanted to run. I wanted a finish time that would give me evidence that I have the capability to run my Boston Goal pace.  Two days before the 1/2, I did a speed workout that really cranked up my quads. The night before the race I was unsure if I should even run. The last thing I need at this point is an injury!? So I decided to reel things in if my body was not cooperative. My legs felt like cement at the start but they didn’t actually hurt.

The weather channel had forecasted that it would be 39 degrees so I was wearing shorts and a long sleeve shirt. It must have been colder because it started to sleet, rain and snow. My body was so rigid from the cold that my back and arm were going into spasms. Another goal for this race was to practice wearing a watch. Because of this handy device, I knew that I was off pace and it took a great deal of self control to run my own race and not get caught up in the competition. The course was much hillier than I expected and my stiff, cold body struggled on miles 10-11. The hills were steep and the weather was getting really nasty. Just when I started to fall into a funk I saw my friends Justin and Alli standing on a corner and cheering me on. In classic Jess Goldman style, I yelled something about having a wedgie and needing someone to pick it. Haha! I LOVE you guys! I am not sure why anyone puts up with me.

I ended up finishing in 1:37:18 with a 7:26 pace. I was 4th place out of 155 women in my division and 56th overall out of 722 (12th place female) It was not what I was aiming for but I guess I should still be happy with it. My coach is a perfectionist and very hard to please (myself) Once I got home I did some math and realized that if I had tapered for this race I would have improve my performance by about 3% which would have had me exactly on goal and possibly faster. It was a great test run and I learned a lot. I came out of it without any injured muscles or fatigue. I was hypothermic though so I had to hustle home to warm up. I gave my soup and beer tickets to a homeless lady and hobbled back to my car with blue lips, all wrapped up in my silver space blanket.

Another big milestone was that I actually drove myself to Manchester for the race! Since my illness last year I have not driven out of my little local radius. Now that I have the glasses, I decided to expand my comfort zone. I was so nervous when I left my house that I got 15 minutes into the trip and realized I wasn’t wearing them!! I had to do a U-turn and go back home to grab them off of the kitchen table. Although I still have anxiety I think the glasses worked well and my driving was ok. I also wore them running today for the first time. It is very challenging because they distort my depth perception. They help with some of the vertigo and peripheral problems but make other matters worse. It is a toss up whether they help or hinder during a run.


I had another major shoe blow out this week and the Sauconey Kinvaras are no longer going to Boston with me.


I am now in a pair of Sketcher Meb go run’s that have a nice soft heel. My friend Rebecca gave them to me as a gift last year and they are comfortable and light weight. Well, sadly I have no race photos yet so you will have to be satisfied with some pictures of barn yard animals that I took while I was running with my friend Heather. One more tough training week and I will start to taper!


This week was a drop down week so I only ran 68 miles. Although I am feeling fine physically, I am feeling emotionally drained. I try not to live in the past or to focus on fear but seeing all of the Facebook reminders that it was one year ago this week that I was in the hospital receiving infusions has taken a toll. They treated me for autoimmune encephalitis and although they were never able to isolate particular antibodies, my current Dr.’s think that I was accurately diagnosed. Although I am doing very well now , I know that many people experience a relapse within a two year time frame.  I usually chose not to dwell on that but perhaps the combination of training fatigue and the anniversary of the event have penetrated my guard. I apologize if I have been moody or distant with anyone.

I returned to the optical neurologist and they lightened up the lenses of my distance glasses. The reading ones are still dark and you can also notice that they double as a Kleenex holder. Wearing the glasses is an adjustment and I am having some difficulty with depth perception still but I think I look way better in the goofy glasses than I did in a hospital bed. Major improvement.

I also feel like I am stuck in this pattern of thinking, “Wow, considering the way I was last year , I am doing great”. But I just want to get back to a place where I can feel like a normal person who is doing well in general, not just compared to how bad I was. Perhaps this is hard to explain.

I busted my butt this week and had to get creative to do my workouts. The day of the blizzard I got up super early and drove to the track and did my speed workout before sun up. I also snuck into the UNH track one day and did my laps inside. I really hope the snow stays away now,  I need the roads to be free of ice to do this speedy stuff. I ran a 16 mile time trail on Saturday. I hit my goal pace but I can honestly say that it will take a whole lot of magic for me to hold that pace another 10 miles on race day. I also have tons of people telling me that it is almost impossible to run a PR at Boston because the crowds are so dense. I am just trying to block it all out for now and I complete my training each day. I have a few races coming up for training purposes. I need to practice drinking at aid stations and see how wonky I actually am in a crowd. I can’t wear the glasses for running yet and I am still bouncing off of hedges and bushes like a pinball on my training runs. I am lucky that I have so many friends who are experienced runners to give me advice and guidance. Well, here goes another week!

Making a spectacle out of myself with my spectacles

So I got my glasses! I have a set for reading and a set for distance. They are heavily tinted to block things out that are confusing my brain and they have prisms to try and make my eyes work together. Part of the problem is that the brain signal from each eyes is completely different when it comes to left and right and up and down.

I am going through an adjustment period with them right now. If I look down it seems like I am looking into a circus mirror that makes me alternate from being really short to really tall. Although I am trying to play it cool, I keep stumbling around like a drunk. I hope that part goes away soon. It seems to have improved already. It will be so fantastic if these glasses can get me back to normal.IMG_20170310_185542157

I haven’t worn them on a run yet because we have had sub zero temperatures with the wind chill factor. The glasses would just ice up and I would end up face planting. I still got out and did a 22 miler on Saturday with some friends. The wind blew so hard that I thought we were going to blow over the railing when we ran across the Newcastle bridges. When you live in New England you can’t wait for mild weather. If you did you would never go outside.

I did have one nice run earlier in the week with a group of friends. I will cherish that memory as we wait for yet another blizzard. I am pretty bummed out because my training plan has me doing track workouts and I can’t really run track in over a foot of snow.17191503_773719009473194_741816797678126624_n

I just finished my third 100 mile week which means I will dip down in miles this week for recovery. I have been given my information for the Boston Marathon! My bib number is 17718  and I will be in Wave 3 Corral 2. I am already nervous. I am trying to just put my faith in my training and I hope that race day cuts me a break so I can use everything that I have worked for. baamarathon_2017_blast-header_725x355

Violating the laws of Physics

Another 100 mile week in the bag. In contrast to last weeks hot 70 degree fiasco this week has been full of gale winds and sub zero temperatures. My usual training partners have been out of sync with my schedule but I ran with a few new friends.  I was very thankful to befriend another person who is training for the VT 100 who lives nearby. Ricky let me tag along for a long run on Saturday. It was so painfully cold and windy that we could barely talk. The wind was throwing us around and blowing the hood right off of my head. At one point I glanced down and noticed a little action figure on the side of the road. It seemed like a sign so I grabbed it and stuck it in my pocket.img_20170305_173354474

I was pretty amused when I looked it up because the character is Flash. The Wiki description reads as follows : “Nicknamed the “Scarlet Speedster”, all incarnations of the Flash possess “super speed”, which includes the ability to run and move extremely fast, use superhuman reflexes, and seemingly violate certain laws of physics.”

Hahaha! That is EXACTLY what will be required for me to run fast at the Boston Marathon. I pretty much have the laws of physics, nature and genetics stacked against me. Remember when I did this VO2MAX testing last summer at UNH? image2

Well I went back this week to see if my numbers had improved. Sadly my VO2MAX was even worse!! I don’t even register as athletic. Some of my other numbers looked a little bit better, like respiration rate, heart rate and the fueling ratio of fat/vs glycogen stores. But when it comes right down to the stats, my body is not efficient at processing oxygen. I am an ultra runner and speed is really difficult for me.

I was feeling pretty tired this morning and my assigned run was to try to run 7-8 miles at a pace between 7:30 and 7:45 minutes per mile. This is really hard for me so I had asked a bunch of friends if they were able to pace me so I could get the hang of how my feet should be moving. I got up early to discover that my tires were dangerously low on air from the temperature change. I had to go to 3 gas stations to find an air machine that was not frozen and broken. I  finally arrived at the group run and no one was there. It was so cold that my body was in pain so I ran laps around the city block waiting for people. After 2 miles I checked my phone and saw a message saying that no one was coming. GRRR.

I had to get to work soon and didn’t have a route planned out so I hopped in my car and drove to a different spot. The parking lot was chained shut and I could’t get in. GRRR. So I drove further up the road and parked in a different place. By this time I was in a pretty bad mood. I started running and had everything covered except for my eyes. My face covering immediately iced up and my eyelashes were laced in frost so I could hardly see. The wind was so strong and painful on my face that I was making growling noises. My legs never even warmed up so I thought for sure I was running slow. I was guessing an 8 minute mile. I stopped at 7.5 miles because my vision was getting blurry from my eyeballs being so cold. I was delighted to see that I ran a 7:16 pace. I think that is a personal record for me. I don’t think I have ever gone further than 4 miles at that pace. So there was my anticlimactic and un-triumphant win. No cheering crowds, no medal, not even a bird or a squirrel around to witness it. But I will take that as a victory this week. I will continue to fight to make progress.

I had a crazy 19 mile adventure run on trails with my friend Holly. I was a little bit intimidated to run with her because she is super fast. I led us up some of the elusive trails to Parker Mountain. We had to slop through swamps and cross flooded streams and walk across little boards to get there. We finally got to the “vista point” and there was so much fog that you couldn’t see anything. Haha, luckily she has a good sense of humor and seemed to have fun. I am hoping that she can pace me on some fast road runs seeming that I taught her to walk on water.

Well, now that I am home I have important things to do..like making spicy mango fried rice. It takes a lot of work to fuel this machine!!



Excursion to Beantown

I finally ramped my training back up! 100.3 miles this week. I have had some emotional ups and downs as far as my progress goes. I set out to do a “time trail” which means you run at 90% effort at the given distance and try to keep a steady pace and have some kick left at the end. The chosen distance was a 5k. The particular morning that I set out to do this, it was 12 degrees and I had been feeling a little bit under the weather. I knew that I had been exposed to a few different flu’s at work so I decided to play it safe and I stayed indoors to do my time trial on the treadmill. This was a bad idea! Not only do I still get vertigo on the treadmill but I also get anxiety that I will trip and go flying backwards. I did a warm up and then set the pace to 7:03 minutes per mile. The problem with a treadmill is that there is a panic button. After 1.5 miles I hit the panic button and stopped the machine. (FAIL) I was discouraged but thought that maybe I needed to lower the pace. I set it to a 7:08 and started running again. After 1 mile I hit the stop button again. Sigh. I finished the last bit at a 7:08 pace and then did a bunch of slow recovery miles. I was really depressed. I felt really disappointed in myself all week. But A few days later I tried the same assignment on road. I didn’t monitor my pace on a watch, I just set out to run what felt like 90% effort. Bingo!! I ran the 5k at a a 7:04 pace with my last mile being the fastest.

But, just as soon as confidence set in I found a way to knock myself back down again. I rode down to Boston with some friends on Saturday to run 20 miles on the course. We did the hilly section backwards and forwards. I was super excited because my little brother met up with us and ran. (The whole 20 miles!) Instead of being 12 degrees, the temps shot up to 70 that day. My body was completely unprepared. My legs felt like lead and I felt dehydrated and overheated. My face and arms were covered in salt when we finished. It was a subtle reminder that anything can happen on race day and I need to be able to adapt to the conditions set before me. I may have set my race pace goal too high but I will continue training and see how I feel when the day comes. At least I have a spectacular crew of people to train with!

Another good thing that happened was my appointment with the optical neurologist. They spent HOURS testing me. To my great delight, the results showed how messed up I am. My vision is 20/15 but what my brain does with that information is apparently wild. She actually used the phrase “completely caliwampus”. She said that she wishes that she could see what I see because it is so weird. I go back this week to get fitted for special therapeutic glasses that will hopefully help correct some of the problems! They will look a little strange because I think the lenses will be blue or red. I just want my vision to go back to normal. Anyway, time to go eat..I have to wake up early and run again..zzzz

Dial it back

This was an easy week for miles, only 55 but I had to work hard for all of them. A lot of snowshoe miles and tempo runs. After pushing my pace for a 19 miler before work yesterday I almost didn’t show up at the snowshoe race today but I am glad I did! I was second place female and I won craft beer and a snow shovel. The course was tough and the crusty snow was difficult to maneuver. What a fun day with family and friends though.

Interesting tidbit..one year ago today is when I ended up in the emergency room with the neurological issues. I would say I have come a long way! I see an optical neurologist this week who will be trying to identify the issues with my vision. I had my friend Deb do a gate analysis (although I was wearing a skirt) and it seems like my right side muscular weakness is slowly improving. I still have a lot of work to do but I am not as bad as I was.unnamed1

I have been cleared to start some upper body strength training. So far I have been shoveling so much snow that I don’t need to do too much else. Also the snow running seems to be much more work on the upper body and core. It is frustrating and exhausting but really good for balance and strength.

I struggled to get through my training this week and I am so thankful for all of my friends who helped get me through. I look forward to days without snow storms. My work schedule has been very hectic due to weather cancellations and I have a tough time staying on track with my runs when my hours get jumbled up. Hopefully this week offers some fair weather and routine. I need to ramp up again. (After a good nights rest hopefully)

Full on Winter

This has been one of the toughest 80 mile weeks that I can remember! So much snow! When you are in deep snow and running in snowshoes or spikes, a mile that would normally take 8 minutes takes 16 minutes. Work, run, shovel, eat, sleep. I am so thankful for the people who come and do this crazy stuff with me. The night runs are particularly fun and wild. One night we had to turn our headlamps off because the snow was coming in sideways and we couldn’t see a thing. I got my snow shoe wedged under a log one night and the binding pulled my heel out of joint. Luckily Dr. Middleton was able to adjust it and I have been able to run on it again.

We had our SIX03 Endurance kickoff party this weekend and I got to meet and talk to the famous Bill Rogers. He is the  former world record holder for the marathon and won the Boston marathon 4 times. It was so cool to be able to ask him questions about training. I am so thankful for the new friendships and perks that the club has given me. Well, it is time to go shovel again and come up with a game plan for my miles. Have a great week!