Monthly Archives: April 2014

10 Things I Learned from Marathon Week and Meeting Shalane

It’s been a whirlwind of a week. My family and I stayed in Boston a few days after the marathon to be tourists then went to DC for a day and a half. Thank goodness we took that detour because I MET SHALANE FLANAGAN along the National Mall (see story below).  We got back home on Saturday so laundry is piled up and the fridge was completely empty, but it was so worth everything. I had the time of my life. I learned a few things along the way and thought I’d share.

1) I won’t be driving to Boston again. The only explanation that I need to give is: Washington, DC and NYC traffic. Our little 13 hour drive….was not.

One of the many beautiful (and expensive) bridges we crossed along the way.

One of the many beautiful (and expensive) bridges we crossed along the way.

2) My family, friends, and followers rock.  My husband, kids, parents and sister and brother-in-law came to Boston to support me. It’s not an easy or cheap trip, that’s for sure. And I can’t tell you how much your comments meant to me before, during, and especially after the race. Y’all rock. You lifted me up when I felt down in the dumps. You made me feel like everything was going to be ok when all I wanted was a re-do.

Cheers to my peeps!!!

Cheers to my peeps!!!

3) Boston does a marathon good. There’s no way to really describe this unless you were there on marathon day. I felt like a guest of honor in THIER home. It was amazing. THEY lifted me up, they carried me through, they made me cry in happiness. Well done BAA, well done Boston.

4) I hate negativity. It’s a bit of an oxymoron, but I heard a lot of negative things during our trip. Complain, complain, complain. I probably have felt some of them because I’m still burned about what happened, but I still feel very positive about the entire thing. Life’s for living and learning, isn’t it? Well, I have no patience for negativity most of the time anyway, and it has just gone up a notch, and I can’t tolerate it. It will now be met with a finger and a “bup bup bup bup” and I won’t listen.

5) I have bittersweet feelings about my race. I’ve had to let my feelings marinate for a week before I could really tell how I felt about my race. It was amazing. It was difficult.  It wasn’t what I planned or thought would happen that day. So I’m bittersweet about it, but mostly, I feel so lucky that I was able to be there and to finish. So it’s more sweet than anything else.  As so many people said, it’s not about your time when you cross, it’s about the fact that you got there and you crossed that finish line.

6) You learn something new at every marathon.  I learned that I have my race prep down. Preparing for the Boston Marathon isn’t easy. You start around 11 am and that’s not when you normally run for 26+ miles. It takes a lot of thought. After the race was over, I knew that I nailed my nutrition and hydration, even with a long, long, long car ride. My body was ready to run the entire race at an 8:15 pace. I knew I wasn’t going to bonk and I knew that the only issue that I had was something that I haven’t dealt with before.  NOW I have been introduced to the world of salt depletion and what it can do, so NOW I know how to prepare for that.  Run and learn, learn and run.

7)  It doesn’t make me feel better to hear similar stories of other runners who had the issues that I did, but it makes me feel a little better to hear similar stories of other runners who had the issues I did. It’s almost like it makes it legit, like ok, it really WAS the salt and I didn’t just wiener out.

8) I feel like my race was unfinished. I’m competitive.  I walked the last several miles of the Boston Marathon. That’s not what I went there to do. I think I’d even feel better if I had just loped in, but I walked. I HAD to walk, but still, I don’t feel the same way about this finish than even the hot race in Stillwater where I ran slow, but I still ran.  It kind of makes me mad that I feel this way and that I can’t just be ok with it, but if I said that I was, I’d be lying.

9) I want redemption.  I know I have a sub 3:40 in me. I feel confident, thanks to the first 20 miles of Boston, that this will happen. I am not eager to do this right away, which sort of makes me sad because I’m in really good condition and I’ll have to pretty much start over in a few months.  But I need to rest, both physically and mentally. I’ll be even more ready to get back to work, and I’ll probably work a little harder this time. Now I know that it pays off. I’m cautiously confident that I can pull out a 3:39.  I’ve already got it pretty much planned, just need to check a few logistics this week to be 100% sure this is the race for me and if I can still do the 1/2 iron distance in October as well. Announcement coming soon.

10) The Boston Marathon hasn’t seen the last of me. It’s not a matter of if I will make it back, it’s simply of when.

boston13

 

And now, for the rest of the story (Am I the only one who thinks of Paul Harvey when you hear that statement?).  My husband REALLY wanted to just stop in DC and walk around a few of the monuments, see them, show the kids, that sort of quick tourist thing. I don’t know how it happened, but the marathon gods intervened. We ended up leaving Boston a day earlier than we planned and headed to spend extra time in DC.  We got to the National Mall Friday morning.  It was pretty, we were out for adventure, had no plans but to walk around and see history. I saw a very fit runner approaching and as soon as she ran by, I realized it was THE Shalane. OMG. OMGOMGOMG. So I took a picture from behind, which is creepy if you think about it, but then I had a picture of her. I was feeling a little unsettled from the events of the race, the fact that there was some negativity going on with my two children (i.e. FIGHTING), and I was just a little down. Then my husband said, “Hey, there’s that runner up ahead again, they must be circling the mall.” I looked and it was her again. My heart started beating like I was back at the marathon, and I wondered if I should ask if it was her…..I didn’t want to interrupt, BUT I so totally wanted to interrupt.

I did it. I went toward her, in a non-stalkerish way so her body guard person wouldn’t use me as a javelin to remove me from the area, and I asked “Are you Shalane?”.  She answered “Yes” and stopped running. OMGOMG, my hands were shaking, my heart was going a million beats per second. I asked if we could take a picture together and she was gracious enough to allow that. I think I kept mumbling how awesome she was and that she did so great on Monday and was so inspiring, but I really don’t know what it sounded like to a sane person. All I know is that I needed that right then, at that moment of that day, to see someone who did so well and was so disappointed, and was out running again. It was truly like a pat on the back from the marathon gods and a “it’ll be ok, you’ll get your race”.

I thanked Shalane and her guard runner person and as they ran off, I had to go sit down so I could stop shaking.  I had a brush with greatness that morning, and for that, I’ll always be thankful.

boston16

 

 

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Categories: Boston Marathon, half iron distance, marathon, running, training for marathon, triathlon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

It was the Best of Times, It was the Worst of Times

I ran the Boston Marathon today. I did not re-qualify for the marathon next year, not even close. I’ll try and keep this shorter than a novel, but it’s so hard to describe the Boston Marathon in few words.  To sum it up in one word: Epic.

The bus pickup.

The bus pickup.

I was ready to run this morning. I was very well hydrated, I ate my cheeseburger in the middle of the night, I got up early to eat again, and I had everything ready to go.  I went to Boston Common early so I could hit the can before bus loading, and I was very glad I did. They loaded TONS of busses at the same time, so you had to wait until they were all ready to head to Hopkinton before your bus could leave.  It took a while. Then there was traffic on the way to Hopkinton. Then there were enormous lines to the jons when you got to athlete’s village.

So many people at athlete's village

So many people at athlete’s village

Then I noticed how freaking warm it was. I was worried, but I couldn’t do anything to change that part of it, so I just did what I could. I sat around, talked to some of my fellow blogger ladies (who are awesome by the way), saw a few other ladies from my Wilmington running group, and then headed to the can one more time. Thank goodness there wasn’t a line because we had FIVE minutes until start. Yikes!

I walked toward the start line. It took a little while, and I missed my corral because I was in the bathroom. Doesn’t matter, time starts when you cross the line, so I was fine. There were SO MANY PEOPLE!!! The start line was crazy. I cheered and went on my merry way. It was go time.

The first few miles are down hill. I stayed at my 8:30ish pace, but I had several red rover lines to get around. It was pretty annoying since you’re just humming along nicely and BAM, there’s a row of 10 minute mile people. I only tripped one guy.  Oops. He didn’t fall though, and I said sorry and he berated me for being in a hurry. Whatevs. It was go time!

I was a little slow on my goal pace, but I planned that, and was proud of myself for keeping the time I planned. For once. I picked it up on the straightaways and let the gravity pull me on the smaller hills in those miles, and I slowly gained about a minute leeway from my time cushion by the half marathon point, so I was thrilled. I knew the real race started near the 16 mile mark, and I knew it was going to be hard, but I was ready.  My legs felt strong, my breath felt slow and even, and I wasn’t hungry (one of my fears because of late start).  I felt like I was going to have an amazing race.

I had very, very chapped lips the entire time so thankfully I had my chapstick. (I just realized while writing this it’s because I was out in the sun so long and I’m not used to it.)  I ended up going with the Vaseline that was on sticks for us since I didn’t have to dig into my little chapstick/phone/gum keeper. I had iPod issues too. For some reason, all the songs started repeating themselves, so I stopped it and plugged my earphones into my phone, after dialing up my playlist and turning the volume down from the eardrum breaker volume it was on from this morning. All while staying at pace.

I was happy! It was the Boston Marathon! It wasn’t raining. I felt great. The crowds were epic. Just epic. I don’t have anything to compare them to, so if you haven’t experienced Boston crowds, there’s no way you can truly understand what they’re like. Pretty much the entire way. I clapped hands, I blew kisses to the Wellesley girls. I read that you can hear them from quite a distance, and I wasn’t expecting them before the 1/2 mark, but I knew it was those girls when I heard the noise. Amazing!

At the half point, I was on pace and had a minute or two extra built up. I had a sore IT band on my right leg that had never been an issue. My toe on that foot hurt too, and I figured it was just from the downhills. Oh well, I was kicking some Boston Marathon butt! I was so ready to push through all of that.

Then at mile 15.5ish, we went down.  I had looked at the course map a lot and knew there was a long up hill after that. I was ready and tackled it at a good pace. Then I slowed a little at the top so I could catch my breath. I knew that I could handle the hills after that one. I was ready to go!

Mile 16 was good. Mile 17 was good. Mile 18, I was on pace to BQ by five minutes. At least. I knew there were hills coming, but then I knew there were downhills and really awesome crowds to come.

THEN. IT. HAPPENED.  All of a sudden somewhere in mile 19, I felt dizzy. Whew. Keep going, keep going. Dizzy. Nauseated. A little more dizzy. WTF. It was sunny and warm for what I was used to. But I didn’t feel hot. I felt fine.  But evidently I wasn’t. I had to stop and walk. Ewwww, now it was getting worse. I walked a bit and started running again. There goes my time cushion. Shit.

I started running again and got back on pace for a little bit, and it got worse. I had to walk again. I was evidently overheated. At that point, I knew my time was out for a BQ because I knew I’d have to run the hills and the rest of the race really fast, so I decided to have fun. I saw Heartbreak Hill.  I really wanted to run up that damn hill! I wanted to conquer it. But my body said no. I was having a good time because the crowd along Heartbreak is really good. They are just so supportive! They yell your name, they tell you all sorts of things you need to hear, they call you heroes.  The crowds are captivating. Especially right there. Oh, a beer, lemme have a drink! So I had a guy open one and let me have a few drinks and get my picture with it. I posted this on Facebook and sent one to my husband and told him I was done and the BQ wasn’t going to happen right around that time too.

See how happy I look? Yeah, the shit hadn't hit the fan yet.

See how happy I look? Yeah, the shit hadn’t hit the fan yet.

At that moment, I thought I could just jog it in and break a 4 hour marathon. I’d be super happy with that.  I tried to run more and every time I did, I got extremely nauseated and relatively dizzy. Then it got worse. I had to stop and kneel so I wouldn’t throw up. I was getting pissed by this time because I had a long ways to go. And walking would take a lot of time.

I walked and walked slowly. The miles crept by. I was in self-preservation mode. I didn’t want to pass out and not be able to finish. I had heat exhaustion, and according to the internets, and based on my symptoms, it was more about salt depletion. And it wasn’t over 70 degrees. It didn’t really make sense to me, but really, I hadn’t run a long run at that pace at that temperature for… well, years. This winter has been cold and I wasn’t used to it, and I’ve always been really sensitive to running in the warm weather. Anyway, I didn’t want to throw up. So I moved very slowly toward that finish line because I WAS going to get that damn medal. Every once in a while I had to stoop to stop the nausea. Every time I did, someone in the crowd or in the field of runners would ask me if I was ok and if I needed anything. I took popsicles, I took an ice pack, I drank a little water. I couldn’t eat though.  A few miles from the finish, one of my long run running partners came up on me and walked with me. Val. Val walked the rest of the way. She stayed with me until we got to Boylston street and we slowly jogged our way to the finish. I finished the Boston Marathon!  Val sticking with me means the world – I hope she knows that.

I walked about a hundred miles to get my MEDAL and food that I didn’t want. I chugged a bottle of water and got another. I had some Gatorade, but it hurt my stomach. I kept moving. I didn’t know where my family was so we made a plan to meet up. I lost Val….

I've never worked so hard for a medal. Any other race, I would have easily thrown in the towel for a DNF. Not the Boston Marathon.

I’ve never worked so hard for a medal. Any other race, I would have easily thrown in the towel for a DNF. Not the Boston Marathon.

I wanted to sit down but I wanted to meet up with my family. I sat down on the way to meet my family. I didn’t feel well. I sat down and met with them and drank a little more. We split so I could go meet up with Kate, one of my fellow Texas runners and friend. I had to go to the bathroom (which I thought was a good sign) and started crying because I started feeling so bad again and was just tired of not feeling well. I needed to lay down so I laid down in front of the jons where I was going to meet Kate. I needed to go to the medic. I didn’t know if something was really wrong. I didn’t want to eat. I drank some but felt like shit again.

Me getting my blood pressure taken at the medic area.

Me getting my blood pressure taken at the medic area. I’m COVERED with dried salt.

They took my blood pressure and it was low for me. It’s usually low, but 60 is not the normal lower number.  I wasn’t disoriented, just extremely nauseated and a little dizzy. So I laid there a while, they took my pressure a few more times, and then we left. I said goodbye to Kate and we headed to the hotel, which is the place I have been sitting since I got here! I finally ate a little for the first time in 12+ hours, thanks to my hubby getting it for me.

How do I feel about an epic fail marathon time? Well, I’m actually ok with it. I finished the Boston Marathon today. I was on pace for a PR and a good BQ for 19 -20 miles. I don’t believe I could or would have done anything different. I was worried about the warm and sunny weather before I started, I just didn’t know it was going to take such a toll on me. I’m not freaking out about going to get another PR/BQ as I thought I would. I’m good.  I ran the race of my life today and I feel like I worked harder than I ever have for a marathon medal. Any other race, I would have stopped for a DNF.  For THIS race, I had to finish. I needed that medal that I’ve been waiting for for over a year. And I’m so happy that I got to experience the largest Boston Marathon in history. I was chosen for this race, and I finished it. It was epic.

Now for some fun in Boston!!!!

Oh, and to everyone who has sent me texts, commented on this and/or my Facebook page (both personal and the Running Boston and Beyond), I thank you from the bottom of my heart. It helped me keep going when it got questionable. It made me feel like I was a rock star. It made a difference, and I appreciate it more than I can express with a simple thank you. To all of YOU, you rock!!!!

 

 

Categories: Boston Marathon, marathon, running, training for marathon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 37 Comments

It’s Go Time

I’m running a marathon tomorrow. I normally get quite a bit of performance anxiety, but it’s amped up quite a bit with this one. I’ve actually given myself a headache. I know, I know, just ENJOY the moment, the race, the crowds, feeling like a rock star. Trust me, I am. But I’m here to kick ass. I’m here for a PR and another BQ. I’m here to run my best race. I’ve paid for coaching, for PT, for tons of shoes, this trip. I’ve trained six days a week. I ran in the ice, the snow, the cold rain, the hot rain, the humidity, the early hours, the evenings, the afternoons. I put up with an allergic skin reaction to chlorine so I could cross train.  I missed ONE workout in over six months. ONE. And it wasn’t even a run, it was a swim. And I did housework that day so I consider that a workout 😉

I’m scared. I don’t want to admit it, but I am. I’m scared of the hills. I’m scared of having a bad run day. I’m scared of bonking. I’m scared of it being a little too warm, too windy, too crowded. Maybe I’m the only one who will admit it, but I’m not the only one who’s feeling that way.

So instead of letting it get to me any more, I’m going to focus. I’m going to channel all the positive thoughts sent from my friends. They’ve been priceless and I truly thank you. I’m going to focus on what tomorrow WILL be, which is the best race experience I could imagine. I’m going to push through the fatigue, the pain, the anxiety. I’m going to run my hardest.  I will keep this in mind “In the first half of the race, don’t be an idiot, and in the 2nd half, don’t be a wussy.”

We are heading to our downtown Boston hotel now.  Good luck to everyone running Boston tomorrow.

As for me….

fearless

 

Categories: Boston Marathon, marathon, running, training for marathon | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Expo Madness

If I would’ve had to give the Boston Marathon Expo a review right after I left, I would have said it was pretty bad. Then I had to let it all sink in, and I realize that it was pretty amazing. The only thing that I really, strongly disliked was the crowds. I don’t like to sweat just walking around. I heard so many say that it hasn’t been like that in the past. Maybe it was squeezing 10,000 more runners and families into the convention center, I don’t know, but I have a sneaking suspicion that it had something to do with it.

My family and I rode the train into town and I immediately was drawn to the finish line in the distance. I immediately choked up, got a picture, and went into the expo.

Finish line off in the distance. That's as close as I wanted to get until Monday.

Finish line way off in the distance. That’s as close as I wanted to get until Monday.

Getting my race bib was the easy peasy lemon squeezy. I got my marathon shirt. Surreal. Keep calm. Don’t go crazy here with emotions. So I shoved them deep down, and we went to the Adidas section that had all the official race garb. Total mayhem.

mayhem

I didn’t want to buy my own race jacket, so my husband took our loot and stood in a long windy line for almost 30 minutes. I was irritated because I had this grandiose idea of what it was going to be like and my imagination did not meet reality. So my family left to walk around and grab lunch, and I walked around the expo by myself. There wasn’t room for me to walk around with anyone. I was hot, sweaty, and realized that I had 1) forgotten my Hal Higdon book and 2) forgotten to put deodorant on. Turns out that Hal was on his break the three times I walked by his booth, so #1 was irrelevant, but #2 was becoming an issue. I kept my arms down.

I wandered up on Kathrine Switzer’s booth and there was only two people in line to meet her. OMG. Seriously, a really cool moment. She chatted me up and I was surprised at how much she talked and how friendly she was. I thanked her for breaking the barrier for women to run marathons.  I bought her book and had her autograph it, then I just HAD to buy one of her shirts with “fearless” on it since my mantra is “no fear”. How ironic. I can’t wait to read her book.

Katherine Switzer - one amazing woman

Kathrine Switzer – one amazing woman

I was so lucky to meet a small group of “Boston Bound Bloggers” who have forged a friendship via Facebook. The five of us chatted and hope to meet up at Athlete’s Village before the race. What a great bunch of ladies and I’ll discuss their blogs at another time!

I then stalked Hal Higdon’s booth a few more times, looked for a shirt for my husband, and then happened upon Dean Karnazes. Holy crap, it was him in real life!! I was really done with the expo at that point and hadn’t eaten for almost four hours, so instead of waiting in line, I got this picture. Professional job if I don’t say so myself.

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My husband told me they were by Fenway and I needed to eat, so I walked over there and was surprised at how close it was to the convention center. I was surprised at how small it seemed, but it was so cool to just see it in person. We went to the Bleacher Bar so I could grab some grub, and I didn’t understand why they asked me to please not take pictures. Why would I take a picture in a bar? OHHHHHH, that’s why. When we walked through, I realized you could see in the inside of Fenway and the game that was going on at the time, right from inside the bar. Wow. So I wolfed down a sandwich and a glass of water and we headed out of Boston to beat the Fenway crowds.  But not before we grabbed our new Boston Red Sox gear….

boston2

What a day. Amazing to see those people. Amazing to be surrounded by so many other runners, those running for charity, those running for someone else, those running to win, those running for the sheer joy of it. No fear? Well, I have to admit I’m getting pretty nervous about the race in just a few short hours. Less than two days now. It’s carb up time. It’s mental preparedness time.  I’ve been visualizing and discussing things with myself for a few weeks now, but this is it. This is go time.

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My brunch this morning.

 

 

 

 

Categories: Boston Marathon, marathon, running, training for marathon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

A Long Trip and the Mothership of all Expos

It took us about 2 extra hours to get to our destination of Braintree, MA, because of stupid traffic near DC and Baltimore. We drove a total of 15 hours. Unfortunately, I will never look at an Oriole the same way. Besides two hours in standstill traffic because of no reason, the trip to Boston went really well.

How much shit do you need for a weeklong trip? Well, ALL of it.

How much shit do you need for a weeklong trip? Well, ALL of it.

I did learn a few things on our way.

1) We travel really well together. We have a lot of experience with long trips and we can pull them off without tears, fighting, tantrums, and silent treatments in the car (mostly anyway). My oldest son would probably be happy tucked in the corner so he could read the entire Harry Potter series AGAIN, but my youngest doesn’t care much for reading. He draws, plays with transformer type toys, and he even made one of them into a gold winning gymnast. They are quite flexible and a lot easier to fix than a real gymnast when their hip pops out. Their movie player stopped working on Day 2, so that was a bummer for them, but they just went on and did other things.  We have a Battleship tournament going. I read a little of last month’s Runner’s World, but for the most part, my husband and I just chatted along the way. Oh, I did take a huge honkin nap within the first few hours of our trip on Thursday, but that was to be expected after all the stress to get my shit together and house cleaned up for this trip. I have NEVER regretted stressing to have the house clean when we leave because I totally appreciate it more when I get home and I don’t have a disaster to deal with.

2) We hate traffic. As soon as we knew we were stuck miles before we even hit DC, we went into PTSD mode. Living and driving through Houston twice a day for two years has traumatized my husband.  We did end up finding a little bit longer route around Baltimore but we were going somewhere instead of sitting there being angry.  Thankfully we didn’t have traffic issues on Day 2.

3) The route from Wilmington to Boston is filled with really cool sites.  We saw the heart of DC, although we didn’t get to drive closer as planned because of #2. We saw downtown New York City. We crossed over many really cool, huge bridges.

trip3

We were in the Bronx. We saw come pretty cool little towns on our epic fail “detour” towards Plymouth. We saw Plymouth Rock and the Mayflower II.  It’s just a rock but it’s a pretty neat place where a lot of history happened.

THE rock

THE rock

 

We ate dinner while watching people race go karts. Pretty cool. I would have included a picture of NYC but it just looks like the sky and road.

Go Kart racing and restaurant, all in one.

Go Kart racing and restaurant, all in one.

4) Don’t believe that all yellow line roads on a map are 4 lane like they advertise themselves to be. I decided to take a “detour” towards Plymouth that would cut some time and miles off our already long trip. Well, that was stupid because it turned out to be a really busy 2 lane road through all the little twists and turns and towns you could imagine. And we couldn’t find a gas station with bathrooms on the INSIDE for miles. Insane. Insane first world problem, I know.

Maps Lie

Maps Lie

5) We get the giggles when we are tired. Or bored. Or both. Our conversation turned a little “5th Grade” when we were driving through the various towns. For instance, we laughed about the exit sign confidently blaring “Mianus”. We were disappointed we never got to see “Youranus”.  Not really. I enjoy looking at the map to find all the little tiny town names that are more interesting than others. One of my favorites is “Gnaw Bone” in Indiana.  For the love of God, why would you actually incorporate a town called “Gnaw Bone”??  We found an interesting brochure at the first hotel we stayed at and giggled a while about that too.

I would visit but I couldn't help but snicker when the tour guide says "Intercourse".

I would visit but I couldn’t help but snicker when the tour guide says “Intercourse”. The guide is snickering too.

We saw the name “Powhite” on a sign and I couldn’t help but wonder if the name originated because that’s where all the “po’ white” people lived. Then my favorite is “Wequetequock”. Say that when you’ve had a few glasses of wine. Or just say that anyway. Then it reminded me of this:

funny2So then we had to entertain ourselves by reading all the names of the towns along the way for quite a while as Sylvester the Cat or Daffy Duck.  Mature, I know. But it was funny.

THE EXPO.  I get to go to the Boston Marathon Expo today. I’m literally jumping up and down clapping my hands like a 5-year-old. Besides running the race and probably the Red Sox game on Wednesday, I’ve been more excited about THIS part than almost any other part.  The Mecca for runners. The Mothership of all Expos. I can’t wait. I’m afraid of buying all the things…. I mean, how would I get them home? 🙂 I am also excited to meet a bunch of other bloggers who are running. We’ve been chatting and trying to help each other for a few months, and to actually meet them is super exciting. So I’m counting down until we leave and head to Boston for a full day of fun.

trip10

How am I feeling? I had a great little jog yesterday where I looped the parking lots of a few businesses about a hundred times because the roads were scary.  My parents arrived here last night and asked me how I was feeling. Well, I’m feeling good but I’m at the point where I’m wide eyed thinking WHAT THE HELL DID I DO???? I have to run 26+ miles in just a few days! It’s gonna hurt!!! But I know deep down that this is an amazing adventure, a journey, and an experience that I will treasure for the rest of my life. So I’m feeling happy, lucky, pretty damn good!

 

Categories: Boston Marathon, boston red sox, marathon, running, training for marathon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Boston Strong

IMG_1349-5 copy This is me.  The tattoo is real, minus the “Boston Strong” and that is just compliments of Photoshop.  I got my 2nd tattoo last year after I qualified for the Boston Marathon. It isn’t about the Red Sox. It isn’t about running marathons.  It’s about believing in yourself and going for what you want. It’s about holding your head up when you fail and digging in to try again. This tattoo has a very deep meaning to me. I  I wear it with pride, even when I’m chided by Yankee fans.

I won’t ever forget the moment in the parking lot of the Katy Kroger grocery store last April 15th, when a friend of mine called to tell me what happened in Boston. It didn’t compute. I went home and turned the TV on and immediately started crying. I felt like someone had punched everyone in the gut… One. Big. Sucker. Punch.  I had already qualified, but I didn’t know if I was going to be able to run the marathon at that time. I knew I would never be afraid to run it though. And I’m not afraid of running there, those very streets, on Monday. I will run with pride. I will run with “Martin Richard” written on my leg to remember him and to remember everyone who was affected by this act of terrorism.  Martin was the same age as one of my sons, and lost his life just watching what so many of us love to do.

We will run for Boston. We are Boston Strong.

Categories: Boston Marathon, boston red sox, marathon, running, training for marathon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

My Road to Boston – Part III

My road to Boston has been paved with blood, sweat, tears, blisters, lost toenails, surprises, physical therapy, wine, frustration, pain, happiness, sadness, fear, excitement, euphoria, but most importantly, FUN.  It has been a total blast. For the first time EVER, I really truly understand it’s more about the journey than the destination. Sure, the destination is friggin’ awesome, but the journey has made my life more interesting with more depth, and the trip next week more meaningful. From that moment I decided I wanted to try and qualify for the Boston Marathon, it’s been the center of my running. Arrows pointed toward that city constantly, and I’ve made more decisions based on that than I could have ever imagined. It took a long time, but I’m almost there.

boston-marathon-logo

It’s the end of the journey…. or is it just the beginning?

So back to my story…. Part 1 is HERE and Part 2 is HERE.  My plans were to run the Houston Marathon again in January since I enjoyed it and was already registered. I didn’t know when I signed up that I would be living 1000 miles away, but I figured I would go back and run it. I started training in August.  My plan was to try and re-qualify for Boston again by at least five minutes so I could “just” run Boston and really soak it in… oh, what’s the significance of the five minutes? Well, let’s just say that just because you qualify for Boston doesn’t mean you get to actually run it. And I was thisclose to not being able to run it.  Five minutes would give me a comfortable cushion so I wouldn’t have to worry (as much) at registration time next year.

Because of the increased interest in people qualifying for and running this year’s Boston Marathon and the fact that I had “only” qualified by 1:42, I knew it would be a close call if I actually got to be one of those lucky runners whose registrations was accepted.  I was able to submit my time (basically, apply for a position) on Monday, September 16th.  I had to wait until Wednesday, September 25th to find out if I actually got in. That was the LONGEST and most stressful few days ever. I even made list of things to do while waiting.  Read that hilarious post HERE. I don’t think I would’ve been so stressed had I not gotten a case of terrible shin splints.  I ignored the shin splints until it was excruciating to run, even a mile, and then went to physical therapy to try and fix. I was in such turmoil because I wanted to be in the position to re-qualify in Houston, especially if I wasn’t able to run in Boston.

Ten drama filled days later, I got “THE EMAIL” that told me I was accepted. I found out later that day I had only made the cut by four seconds. (Read the hot mess full story HERE – can you say DRAMA?)  I think about four seconds over a marathon and that’s a sip of water, a slurp of gu, and at the end of that particular marathon, I started channeling my grandmother .1 miles early and started to kick it like she always told me to (I was delirious and thought that marathons were 26.1 miles that day). Served me well, and had I not done that, this blog would be talking about something completely different today.

I ended up deferring the Houston marathon and just had to let it go so I could heal my shin splints. It was difficult and I still wonder what would have happened had I been able to run that race, but I know that it will be ok. I know that running Boston this year is an honor, it’s a dream come true. Will I re-qualify? Well, I won’t know til it’s over, but at this point, I’m just happy with the fact that I’ll be there. Of course I want a PR run that day, one week from today, and I’m trained and physically able to do so, but that’s not what this race is about. The Boston Marathon is about following your dreams, it’s about keeping with something, not giving up. It’s about running, the stories behind the runners, the crowds, everything that marathons stand for: endurance, perseverance, and for me, doing something that I truly love to do.

Looking back at all it’s taken for me to get there has made my trip to Boston more meaningful. I had forgotten some of the details, the pain, the drama, that it took to get to right where I am. It really has been about the journey before the journey. So what if the weather is hot? Rainy? So what if I run two minutes too slow? Really? I’ve already decided to let all that stuff go. I can’t let any negativity in, I won’t let anything ruin what I’ve spent almost five years trying to get to. I hope other Boston Marathon runners do the same. We are type A runners, we live on times and goals and breaking our goals and split seconds. But really, this experience is beyond anything I could have ever dreamed, and I’m not even there yet!!  A week from today, I’m running the Boston Marathon, and I’m going to have the time of my life.

 finish line

Categories: Boston Marathon, marathon, running, swimming, training for marathon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

10 Days ’til The Dream Comes True

I am not quite done with my “journey to Boston” posts and I promise I will have the last one polished up and posted on Monday.  Read Part One HERE, and Part Two HERE.  I really appreciate everyone’s words of support as I travel back in time and recall that bumpy road that got me to where I am today.  If you have ever dreamt of heading to the start line in Hopkinton or any race, I would simply say: Do it.  Go for your dreams. Don’t be afraid of failure. You never know until you try.  Don’t give up!

 

Don't give up.

Don’t give up.

And now a word from our sponsors: fatigue, muscle aches, and tiredness.  I’ve got a pretty sore shin that I’m really pampering right now too. I’ve put myself in a virtual bubble – hand sanitizer, washing with soap, holding my breath when someone near me coughs or sneezes, drinking my juice, not visiting my kids’ petri dish school this week. I’m being very careful.

I’m in taper time now. Officially as of today. It makes the shin issue less of an issue, thankfully, let’s just hope it can repair itself during this break from intensity.  I don’t get taper madness.  I don’t really understand it either.  I mean, I GET it, but I don’t get it.  I know what’s coming. I know this rest is all for the benefit.  I’m looking forward to walking normally on Sunday afternoons too. After months of training, I’m enjoying the little bit of time and rest.  And again, I know what’s coming!

I had a good 20 mile run on Sunday, or what I thought was 20 miles. If the pace on your Garmin is measuring slow, does that mean the distance is off too? I can’t quite figure that one out, but we were definitely going faster than what Garmie was telling us, so I assume we went farther than 20 miles. Bonus I guess? Not really because I. Am. Tired.  Tired. As. F**K.

This is me. This is me on running.

This is me. This is me on running.

It’s all worth it. I love it. I would still marry running. I’m glad I already have something to train for after this race is done as I know I’d probably go slap happy into a deep depression if I didn’t.  Call it the post-marathon blues, the what-the-hell-am-I-going-to-do-so-rested feeling.  This has been an amazing training cycle and as much as I’m ready to rest when it’s over, I will miss the challenge, the fun, the people I’ve met along the way, the part of the journey of what I’ve been dreaming about for years.  All I know for sure is that I’m going to absorb every moment of this experience. The years it’s taken to get to this point, the training the past few months, the planning, everything. I’m trying to remember how it feels, how all the blood, sweat, and tears has been worth THIS feeling, THESE moments. I mean, I am getting emails from the BAA. I still get giddy, I mean, they’re emailing ME.

So instead of staring at the wall going “buh buh buh”, I had better get my crap together and get some things done. The kids are out for spring break starting at 3:00 today, so this is IT for free time!!

A special good luck to One Year(ish) to Boston  and Running Wild in your marathons and everyone else who is racing this weekend!  YOU ARE STRONGER THAN YOU THINK!!!!!

 

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Where It All Began – Part Deux

I’m really enjoying the journey back in time, the “Road to Boston” so to speak. So to NOT have to require a publisher, I’m breaking the story up into a few pieces.  Please read to first part HERE, the part of the story that explains where this crazy dream came from and a few bumps in the road I encountered along the way.

My 1st and 2nd attempts at qualifying for Boston in May of 2010 were gone. I had to let them go, as much as it killed me to do that. Live and learn? Run and learn is more like it. Oh, and don’t be stupid. We all have our moments though.

I ran the Des Moines 1/2 Marathon “time trial”  in 1:44:45, which just so happens to be exactly an 8 minute mile pace. GAME ON!  Once again, I set my sights on the Lincoln Marathon for May of 2011.  Bam, here we go again at a BQ.  In December, I started my training plan. I was confident I learned from my mistakes and that I could pull in a 3:45 for the marathon.

I’m not a drama person. I don’t like it, don’t want to be around it, but there was a lot of it that spring.  My 97 year old grandmother, the epitome of faith and strength, passed away in February.  In March, my husband’s stupid company at the time let him know that when the project he was working on was done in August, he’d better find himself some work to do, which was the opposite of what they had told him a few months ago. Bummer was that any work was five hours away in Kansas City. Hmmmm.  Can you say, PANIC? Sioux City, Iowa, isn’t exactly a hotbed of employment activity for large construction project management, so we figured we would have to move.   I immediately went into “we have to sell the house” mode and he went into “interview for a job” mode. Within two weeks, our house was up for sale.

THEN on April 4th, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. Sheesh.  Let’s just say my running kept me sane, but I certainly had some wine in the fridge. Her cancer was caught very early thanks to a mammogram (so anyone who says they don’t save lives is telling lies so if you haven’t had one, GET ONE) and she had surgery to remove it, followed by radiation.  It was difficult to see my pillar-of-strength mom go through this, but I often think that it could have been worse and I was just glad she was going to be ok.

Training was hard through all of this, but I kept at it and got my miles in.  I did my speed work. I ran hills. The marathon was almost there.

On April 30th, my husband and I dropped our kids off at my mom and dad’s house as we headed to the race. I was feeling good, had a nutrition plan in place, but… why… was my stomach upset? I don’t get nerves. Why wasn’t I hungry? No, everything was fine. I pushed that out of my head. We stopped by my favorite restaurant and I grabbed my huge chicken wrap/enchilada thing that I knew would sit well and fill me up. I started eating it on the way down to Lincoln.  Ew. I didn’t want to eat. What the hell was going on? We went to the expo and then the hotel where I laid down and watched tv for a few hours. I felt terrible. Then around 10 pm, eight hours before I was to be leaving to toe the line at a MARATHON, it happened. Yup, I had the stomach bug. A few yacks later, I laughed and thought, “Fucking figures”.  It wasn’t a terrible version of the stomach flu, but I knew my run would be compromised because those valuable carbs were just missing.

I started the race pretty strong that morning after I forced myself to eat my big breakfast. The weather was good, a little windy, but it was great running weather. I can’t remember exactly when I started to lose steam, but I told my husband around mile 16 that I felt like throwing up again. So that’s probably about where. I don’t know for sure.

I'm wearing the pink shirt. So happy that I could finish this race!

I’m wearing the pink shirt. So happy that I could finish this race!

I've never been on a jumbo-tron before! That's me, arms up, on the right. Very thankful at that moment.

I’ve never been on a jumbo-tron before! That’s me behind the pink girl, arms up, on the right. Very thankful at that moment.

I finished that darned race in 3:56, just 11 minutes slower than what I needed to qualify for Boston. Ugh. Here we go again. I didn’t know if anyone would believe me that I got stomach flu or if they’d think it was a cover for a bad race. It was real, and I was pretty much just happy that it was all over. I took my medal and went home.  I lost about ten pounds from that experience because I just couldn’t eat for days. Urg.

BQ ATTEMPT 3: Fail

That July, we sold our house, moved in with my parents, then in August, we headed to Houston, Texas, where husband got a pretty good job. We didn’t want to move there, but we were out of time and options.  To say we were living off adrenaline and stress was an understatement. The dream was put on hold, and I ran for fun, learned how to deal with Houston heat/humidity, and in January of 2012, my sister came to visit with her running group Without Limits from Wilmington, NC. One of the members was in the women’s Olympic trials and a bunch more were racing the half and full marathon. I LOVED the way the group helped each other, cheered each other, and I wanted that. So the next day, I joined a local running group in Katy.

I entered the Houston Marathon in May of 2012 and we started training in August (the race was in January).  It’s fun to start marathon training in Houston in August. Not. I’ve NEVER sweat so much.  I didn’t know if I wanted to go for a BQ again. I was exhausted. My husband wasn’t home much since his work commute was insane. My kids had a crazy football schedule.  I just didn’t know if I had it in me.  I was scared to put all that time and effort into it only to have the crappy outcomes again. I didn’t know if it was worth it anymore. Then one morning I heard the words to an Eli Young Band song that changed my mind. I started crying immediately when I heard it and I knew I wanted to go for a BQ.

“Keep on dreamin’ even if it breaks your heart”

I knew I needed to go for it again. I trained to BQ (3:40), but I didn’t put a lot of pressure on myself because I didn’t want to be disappointed. Again. I went into the race totally freaked out (read the full race recap HERE – it’s a pretty cool story, for real, read it) because of the weather. I had gained weight. I just didn’t know. I went mental and basically had a breakdown in the 20 minutes before the race. I kept saying that all I wanted was a great race.

I ran the Houston Marathon in 3:43:18….

After I found out "the big news" at the Houston Marathon

After I found out “the big news” at the Houston Marathon

…not knowing until 30 minutes later that I had qualified for Boston by 1 minute 42 seconds. Yes, the time for what my age would be AT THE BOSTON MARATHON was 40, even though I was only 39 at qualification time, so I had an extra five minutes. SURPRISE!! I cried. I celebrated.  I. Did. It. It was sweeter not finding out until after I was done, too.

I knew that just because you qualified for Boston didn’t mean you automatically get in. I knew it was based on how many people registered and the times they qualified by, so each year is different. I knew I squeaked by to qualify, but I had to wait until September to register and see if I would actually get in.

It took almost two years to recover from the huge stressful move from Iowa to Texas when my husband got the chance to interview for a job in Wilmington, NC, one of my favorite cities in the country AND bonus, where my sister and her husband lived. (My husband is from NC and I had lived there for several years before Iowa and Texas.) A few weeks later, in the early weeks of June 2013, we were getting our house ready for sale for our last move “back” to NC, which is where we really wanted to be. Before we even moved into our house in August, I started training with the running group Without Limits, the same one that inspired me to join a running group just a year before.  How friggin’ ironic.  I didn’t know if I was going to get into the Boston Marathon. After the bombings, I knew everyone who could run, would run. It was going to be close.

NEXT POST: Four seconds that made all the difference, shin splints, and the Boston Marathon.

Categories: Boston Marathon, marathon, running, training for marathon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Going Back To Where It All Began

Wow! Last long run was Sunday!  6 miles Saturday and 20 on Sunday.  We are soooo close to the big day… less than two weeks! The closer I get to be able to run in the Boston Marathon, the more I’ve thought about the journey. It’s been a long one.  An amazing one. How it started, all the trials and tribulations since I decided I wanted to try this thing. The sweat.  The tears. The injuries. Everything.  It’s been a long process that didn’t just start 18 weeks ago with this training cycle.  The journey to Boston started on October 17, 2009, the day I ran the Lewis & Clark Marathon (my 3rd full and first after having two kids) in Sioux City, Iowa.

I didn’t qualify for Boston on a lark.  I have failed more than once. It’s been a deliberate thing. I’ve made two 1,000 mile moves with my family since then.  I’ve learned more than I could have ever hoped.  So this marathon has been a long journey for me that culminates in less than two weeks. Here’s how it started.

To train for the Sioux City Marathon, I ran here and there, and honestly, I don’t remember ever really following a plan. I knew I needed long runs and I didn’t know anything about speed work or tempo running at the time. Cross training? Meh. My goal was to finish.  I was thrilled when I crossed the finish line in 4:12.  After I celebrated and got cleaned up, I headed to my mom and dad’s house.  As I sat in their back yard drinking a celebratory Miller Lite, I remember wondering what it would take to qualify for the Boston Marathon.  I didn’t really know much about that race and what it takes to get in.  I found that it would take me running a 3:45 to qualify (the times have since been reduced by five minutes for that age group). Hmmmm….I was still in post-race euphoria, so I figured I could do about anything. Within a few hours, I set my sights on The Lincoln Marathon. May 2010. I was convinced I would qualify for the Boston Marathon.

That December, I started my 18 week Advanced plan from Hal Higdon. I read his books and I was hooked.  I joined the gym that had a 1/10th of a mile indoor track so I could safely train indoors in that cold Iowa winter. I trained five days a week. I ran at the track at 5:00 am. I ran 200 laps at the gym. I ran in the ice, snow, rain, sleet, in 12 degrees, and the 70 degree “heat”. I did what I needed to do to get ready for my race.  I got nasty shin splints a month before the race. I looked up what to do, I took time off, I iced, and I wore my compression sleeve. I was ready.

Before the first Lincoln race.

Before the first Lincoln race.

On that clear marathon day in May, I bonked at mile 6.  What went wrong? Well, nothing except nutrition. I ate carbs and carbs. I was hungry the night before and I just wanted a burger. No, that’s not what the books tell you to eat. So I ate my simple carbs. I ate my complex carbs. I ran my hardest… until mile 6 when I got “the feeling”. You know, the one where you just don’t have the energy to continue at the pace you’re going. I was devastated. It was a torturous decision to end at 13.1 when I was planning all along to come home celebrating my BQ, but I knew to continue would just add more punishment I didn’t need. I already had in my mind that I would try again as soon as possible, and I didn’t want to tire my body out more than it already was.  When I finished the 1/2 in the Cornhusker stadium, I cried. I thought about all that time spent training, the trip to Lincoln, the money, and then to have it end with a huge fail. I threw my medal down and left it. (Husband picked it up and it is now on my medal hanger, a constant reminder that you just have to learn from your mistakes.)

There was a camera at mile 26 so the spectators could see you approaching the stadium.

There was a camera at mile 13 & 26 so the spectators could see you approaching the stadium.

The finish line at the Lincoln Full and Half Marathon

The finish line at the Lincoln Full and Half Marathon

 

BQ Attempt 1: FAIL/EPIC FAIL

I learned a lot from that fail though. Listen to your body. If you are hungry, you’re hungry. What works for one person may not work for the next. I learned that I need a lot more protein than other runners do. I need a lot more food that I thought I would, in general when fueling for a race. I was determined to learn and try again.

That afternoon, with my tail tucked between my legs, I went home and told everyone what happened. I failed. I fu*&ed up. But I learned from it and moved on.  My next quest would be four short weeks later at the Stillwater Marathon (Minnesota) at the very end of May.

I continued my long runs, we made plans to go north to Stillwater, and there I was at my 2nd attempt at a BQ.

The Stillwater Marathon touted itself to be scenic. Well, there’s ONE scenic spot at the end, so I was disappointed in the course. The race itself, well, I started out great and got to the ten mile mark when I knew it was going to be another fail.  This time, however, it was one of those things that was out of my control: The Weather. Yes, it was a beautiful day…. for boating.  Or swimming. It. Was. Hot. I believe the temp got up to the 80’s so I have to say that this was one of the toughest marathons I’ve ever done. I hadn’t trained in heat, I do not like to run in heat, and it got me. Even the pacers were slowing down and the race crew was handing out bags of ice (they feel really good tucked in your bra). I finished in what is still my slowest time ever and over an hour past the time I would need for a Boston Qualification. 4:47:57.  Whew.

THIS was the scenic part but put a fork in me, I was DONE.

THIS was the scenic part but put a fork in me, I was DONE.

BQ Attempt 2: FAIL

I’m not sure if I really learned anything from that besides knowing I can push through some really difficult miles on black pavement in the middle of the Minnesota countryside.

I had to stop a take stock at that point.  Was I being stupid? Was I living a pipe dream? What this realistic for me? Was I wasting my time and the time I could be spending with my kids? I didn’t want to give up, so I set my sights on a “time trial” per se, the Des Moines 1/2 Marathon in October. If I could run that race at an 8 minute mile, I was going to keep trying to achieve that elusive Boston Marathon Qualification.

 

NEXT POST: Des Moines, Lincoln, and a move to Texas

 

 

Categories: Boston Marathon, marathon, running, training for marathon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

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