Flicking The Stupid Little Monkey Off My Back

A few notes before I start talking about monkeys…. First, the dog that we fostered got adopted on Saturday. He was awesome and was so happy to hear the news. My son is already badgering me about the next foster.

Second, my entire workout schedule has been totally messed up because of the weather. It rained from Friday morning until, well, I’m not sure if it’s quite done yet.  I’m suffering from depression from the lack of sunshine and outdoor activity. Sure, I can run in the rain, which I did on Friday and this morning. I can swim in the rain, but I won’t because I have enough issues breathing when it’s not watering from the sky. I can bike in the rain, but I won’t do that either.  I did get my 50 mile bike ride, if you can call it a ride when you’re not actually going anywhere, done on Sunday, here, in my living room, on the trainer. I hated 95% of it and almost quit at mile 20. Seriously, the trainer is a really cool and convenient thing, but it’s also torture!!!! You don’t go anywhere so you just watch a movie that you love but suddenly hate because you’re stuck there RPM’ing away and forced to watch something. I watched Elf. Then I watched part of The First Wives Club. Then I watched some of Property Brothers. Thankfully, I got done in the time I planned, but my cadence was a little slow. I’m ok with that because I just needed to get the miles in. I’m actually proud that I finished and didn’t quit. I really wanted to quit. So the weekend was a buzz kill when it came to working out beyond the bike ride, but I’m enjoying the last few weeks of flexibility and the freedom to say “I’m just not going to work out today”, when full on, heavy duty, 100% training starts September 1st. The only thing I must do, because my coach told me to, is get two 60-mile rides in before that. Game on. Now, back to monkey business.


50 miles. Done.

50 miles. Done.

Last week, I got some stuff from the Boston Athletic Association in the mail. I still think it’s cool when I get emails and actual mail from them. I’m like a kid. THEY KNOW ME???? THEY SENT SOMETHING TO ME???!!! They. Know. Me.

This time it evoked an emotion that I’m getting tired of. It’s not an emotion that I can easily explain nor easily get over.  As many of you know, I ran the Boston Marathon this past April.  Here’s the post I wrote about it that day.  It took me many years of blood, sweat, and tears and many failed attempts to finally break the time barrier and qualify. After that, it took months of waiting to see if I would actually get in since my time didn’t give me much margin, and I knew pretty much anyone who qualified this last year would go and celebrate after the devastation of 2013. I qualified by 1 minute and 43 seconds, but I only made it in by four seconds. But I made it in.

That race was the best of the best AND the worst of the worst. My feelings after the race were so torn on feeling awesome and how great the entire experience was and that I was there and I got to be a part of something that so many only dream of.  Added to all that awesomeness was a feeling of emptiness. Of sadness. Of anger. Disappointment. I haven’t been fully able to shake those feelings. So many people have told me, “Hey, you were there, you FINISHED the Boston Marathon! Just be happy for that!”.  Well, they’re right and I am. I mean, it was AMAZING  to be on THE course, to be a part of the entire thing.  But I’m also a competitive athlete who was thisclose to re-qualifying and getting a good marathon PR. I was so close. But yet, it was so far away. Actually, it’s not even about the PR or re-qualifying. It is about running the Boston Marathon, which in the technical sense, I didn’t get to do. Sure I ran most of it at a rockin’ pace, but I didn’t run the whole thing. It feels very, VERY incomplete. The journey feels unfinished.

After running six prior marathons and after training my ass off for months and months, the Boston Marathon was my slowest marathon finish time EVER.  In fact, I can’t even actually say, “I ran the Boston Marathon.” Those words don’t/can’t come out of my mouth.  I ran the first 20 miles and I walked the rest. I DIDN’T run the Boston Marathon.  The finish was very unexpected.  The time that I crossed the finish line doesn’t even really matter, it was the way in which it ended.  It wasn’t what I set out to do, it wasn’t what I was capable of doing, and I was extremely shocked at what happened during that race. I can’t get over it. I look at my medal and I’m so proud of all the work I did to get it, but it also brings up so many bad feelings in me. Then I get my finisher’s certificate and it shows my time, and I I’m reminded of gripping the crowd barrier so I could throw up. It reminds me of watching my foot go in front of the other one and wondering if I could make it six miles. It makes me think of the feeling that my neck was on a spring and that I couldn’t see straight. It reminds me of having cramps so bad that I gasped for air, scaring a guy running past me. It reminds me that I didn’t want to make eye contact with the medical crew so they wouldn’t pull me from the course (they wouldn’t, but at the time, my mind wasn’t right so I wouldn’t take the chance). It reminds me that I walked.  It makes me angry.  Then there’s that struggle. Many people would be happy with that time. Many would be so grateful to just be there. Well, it’s not as simple as that.  The Boston Marathon is the stupid little monkey on my back.

This is a monkey my son drew. Too bad the one that's sitting on me isn't cute like this one.

This is a monkey my son drew because we live in an area of town called “Monkey Junction”. THIS is the monkey. Too bad the one that’s sitting on me isn’t cute like this one, giving me a nice shoulder massage.

I need redemption. I need to do it again. I need to go back and RUN to the finish. Whether or not it’s a PR, it re-qualifies me, or is done during a thunderstorm/hurricane/blizzard, I NEED to go and do this race again.  I need that feeling of seeing the Citgo sign, of coming onto Boylston Street, of the crowds. Of finishing HAPPY.  Of finishing HEALTHY. I need to be able to look at my medal and know that was the best race. Ever. I want it to be a good story. Not of one that includes: “It was good until….” “Yeah, I had to stop so I wouldn’t throw up.”


Good feelings.


This is how it ended.

Bad feelings.

So as I train for my half iron distance at the end of October, my sights will be set on the Houston Marathon.  And instead of being a whiney little putz like I am being now, I’m going to concentrate on all the GOOD that happened on April 21st, 2014.  Or I’m going to try. It gave me a huge boost of confidence. I KNOW I can run the race of my life in Houston. I RAN WAS AT THE FRIGGIN BOSTON MARATHON. Heller!!!!  It reminded me that a marathon is just that, a marathon. Anything can happen.  The good, the bad, the ugly. You can prepare all you want and can have a terrible race. You can have minimal expectations going in and can be surprised at the awesome outcome (my BQ race in 2013). Marathons are their own organism with so many factors that can effect the outcome. The best thing I can do NOW is to start getting ready. I need this goal. I need to move on.  Get off my back, you silly little monkey, there’s no room for you here.


**Update before this is even published…. I feel better just writing this. I struggle since I don’t want to come across as ungrateful for being a part of the Boston Marathon field. But I’m sure many of you can relate after having a “bad” race. Thanks for reading. The little monkey is a lot smaller than he was just last week. I’m sure he’ll always be there in some sense, but at least he’s smaller.

Haha, I was looking through pictures and knew this was there but overlooked it…. THIS is the epitome of how I was feeling. Sense the sarcasm in my “thumbs up”?


Categories: beach 2 battleship triathlon, Boston Marathon, half iron distance, iron distance, marathon, running, swimming, training for half iron distance, training for marathon, training for triathlon, triathlon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

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15 thoughts on “Flicking The Stupid Little Monkey Off My Back

  1. You have accomplished what some will never accomplish. I think the huge goal for most competitive runners is “qualifying”. That sense of knowing that you are good enough to run with the worlds most elite runners. You are right, anything can happen on race day, hell you could have been sick and unable to run at all. To me, you are among the elite that qualified. We look up to you based on that, not the actual race itself. Bad races happen, but having those brilliant races that get you to Boston are what counts. Well done!

    • Thank you. A blogger friend was one of those who came down with stomach flu and couldn’t make it to the finish and ended up in the ER. Of course I’m grateful I was there!!!

  2. You will rock in all races and events that you do. You are very strong willed, you will excel, and you make me proud watching you so determined and meeting your goals and going after your dreams. Keep it up, we are all cheering for you and support you fully.

  3. That is one of the things that has frustrated me about running…you could feel like a million bucks going into a race, but you never know when your body is just going to suddenly say NO WAY. I’m sorry that something like this had to happen to you there, but I have no doubt in my mind that you’ll be back to try it again with a more amazing outcome. 🙂

  4. I dream of ‘running’ Boston. Be glad you were able to. I have a couple friends who ran it this year. One is an elite and was hoping to run around 2:20. But I know it’s a tough course. He ran around 2:40 and was disappointed. The other took the qualifying race as her great race and Boston was merely the celebration. She soaked it in and took pics along the way. I like her perspective.

    • Of only it was as simple as that. I went from going for a PR mentality, then a BQ, then “let’s have fun” to ” I just want to cross the finish line” to ” I don’t know if I can make it”. Of course I was grateful to be there, thrilled, and once I realized I wasn’t going to meet my time goal, I was fine with that. I even had a beer with a BC student (see race recap for a pic). I posted stuff on Facebook on the course. The horrible, sick feeling that came on in mile 20-21 sucked the fun out of it. THAT’S what I’m most upset about. When you’re laying next to the port-a-jons crying because you feel so bad, well, you just want a do-over!!!

  5. I’m so glad you wrote this because I’ve been struggling with motivation for my October marathon. I think it’s because I am suffering from my own monkey from my May marathon when my stomach rebelled for the middle 10 miles. Like you, it was not the race I was trained for. So now as I struggle with a hip injury, I’m feeling defeated before I start. A big part of me wants to just skip this marathon and try again when I have a better attitude. But then, I want to push through the fear and disappointment.

    Thank you for this post.

    • You’re welcome and thanks for reading. One thing that you should probably keep in mind, which would be really difficult for me to actually follow but sounds awesome in theory and for “other people”, is that you do not have to do any race you do not want to do. My sister taught me a very good lesson. She made it into Marine Corps marathon and had some nagging injuries and decided to defer. I asked her if she wanted to just push through it since she was feeling better and could finish it. Because that’s what I would normally do. She said she didn’t want to make the injuries worse and wanted to RUN the race as she knew she could, so is giving it up for this year. I wish it was that easy. We always think of the “what ifs” and “I can’t be a quitter” when it’s just doing what’s best for US and our running lives. Don’t feel bad if you skip it, whether it’s a 5k or a marathon, just do what you feel is best for you!!!! And you know there’s tons of us who would support you, right???

  6. I am so glad I stumbled across your page. Thank you for sharing your journey from the depths of your heart. It is incredible the amount of emotions a person encounters, the highs, the lows, and everything in between.
    I’ve been training very hard for my 1st full marathon in October. Qualifying for Boston is way beyond my reach, right now there is always that fear of the unknown with my 1st full.
    All the best on your tri in October. I am rooting for you.
    Your blog is an inspiration.
    THANK YOU! 🙂

    • Thank you for the very sweet and thoughtful comments!!! If I haven’t already, I will follow your journey. You will feel so amazed after your marathon. It’s a one-of-a-kind thing to do!! Best of luck and hope to chat more in the future!

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