This Time I’ll Be Bullet Proof

I’ve had so many thoughts running through my head lately, about marathons, about me running marathons, about running Boston, about running goals, and everything in between. I’ve struggled, for years, with putting the right words down to express how I feel, and I think I’ve finally come up with the right words in the right order. Here goes.

Back in 2009, I decided that I was going to run another marathon to try and qualify for Boston. Several years, mistakes, and marathons later, I was able to do that. When I went to Boston in 2014 to run the greatest marathon in the world, I was humbled, scared, yet confident in my training.

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I also felt (and still do) unworthy, that my time was not considered “fast” by so many fast people (I really shouldn’t read comments on Facebook, some people are just vile), that I didn’t really deserve to be considered one of the “elite” runners. Hey, some people call my fastest race pace “hobby jogging”, so you can’t blame me when I say that, plus, I’ve never quite felt I fit in to any group, let alone “fast runners” or especially “elite”. That’s just how I feel.

When the Boston 2014 race blew up from dehydration and BAD effects from salt depletion, and I finished in just under 5 hours, over an hour slower than I was trained for and expecting, I was absolutely devastated. DEVASTATED.

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Trying not to throw up.

I put hundreds of hours, thousands of dollars, and poured my heart and soul into that race. As my race report was appropriately named, that day was the best of times, the worst of times. I had the worst race of my life at the best race in the world. It hurt. It stung. And yet, the criticism went on. “Be happy you finished.” “It was a marathon, so be happy.” “You ran Boston. Feel lucky.” “Stop complaining, you got a medal.” “You’re just inexperienced.” Sigh.

I guess you could say it was backlash for feeling bad that my race went awry. It was painful to hear, but it was impossible to just “let it go”. Endurance runners have to be somewhat OCD about their lives, or they would never be endurance runners. You have to have order, planning, and a lot of discipline to do what we do, right? So how can I, someone who put years of blood, sweat, and tears into ONE race, just let it go and be happy? It doesn’t work that way. But on the other side of it, of course I was happy, of course I felt lucky, of course I was completely thrilled to wear my Boston jacket and medal.

But it was a failure for me. (Wait, don’t stop reading. I can see you roll your eyes.) And on my quest for redemption, I’ve failed many more times. And I’m scared of that failure again, when I run Boston in just a few more weeks. I’m scared of not meeting my goals, of having a bad race, of having to walk, of not remembering the last miles, of feeling like complete garbage when I’m done, of crying on the ground next to the port-a-jons because I felt so horrible. THAT is what I’m afraid of. It’s not failure, per se, as running a marathon can never be construed as a failure, in any way, shape, or form. No, no matter what, if you complete 26.2 miles, you, my friend, are never a failure.

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This training cycle leading up to Boston has not been met with as much gusto as it did in 2014. I had plantar all winter and wasn’t running at all, I didn’t start any tempo or speed work until February, and now I’m managing shin splints from starting speed work suddenly, not gradually. So here comes the voices in my head, no matter how strong my long runs and tempo work has been, no matter what I know, deep down, about my abilities, no matter what anyone tells me, I’m scared. I’m scared of failure, I’m scared of not having a strong race, I’m scared of working so DAMN hard and having a race result that doesn’t show ME. I’m scared of other people thinking I’m not worthy of Wayne and Garth’s praise, I’m scared of letting other people down. I’m scared of letting myself down. Again.

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Feeling defeated after Redemption Attempt #1

But listen, I’m also arming myself with a pretty thick vest. Because I know I can push myself to success, my version of success. I know deep down as far into my heart and soul I can get, that I’m a badass. I’m strong. And I know I’m going to be a lot smarter, those “failure” races taught me that. Listening to people tell me how to feel has given me some pretty thick armor as well.

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So don’t tell me to “just have fun” in Boston. Don’t tell me that “being there is enough”. Don’t tell me that.  That’s not my goal of The 2017 Boston Marathon. I already know I’m going to have fun and I’m lucky and honored and beyond excited to be there with the best of the best. I know it.  Don’t tell me the hard work is already done so the result doesn’t matter. Remember? I’m an endurance athlete. I worked my ass off for years to get there. I sacrificed a LOT to get back to Boston. Of COURSE it matters! This race is my redemption. My goal is to run strong. My goal is to run the entire race.  Do I have a time goal? Sure I do. (It’s 3:44:59, by the way and notice, it’s not a PR time.) But I’m not naive enough to think I shouldn’t be flexible when it comes to that piece. Lord knows what can happen during an endurance race. Eye roll. So instead of telling me anything else, just tell me “good luck”, “kick some ass”, “redemption is yours”, “kill it” or “get your race”. Or give me a fist bump.

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My goal is to be free of the monkey on my back that has been sitting there since 2014, to be free of doubts, to get my best race at the best race in the world. THAT is my goal. Freedom. Redemption. It’s so much more than time. It’s a feeling. So no, I’m not caught up in a time, I’m not worried about another BQ (that would be the icing), I’m not worried about having fun (because hell yeah, I sure am!!!) what I am worried about is repeating the epic blow up in 2014. That’s it.

BUT. This time, I’m armed with three years of experience, not just running, but Ironman experience too. This time, I have a detailed plan. This time, I KNOW, beyond a shadow of a doubt, I’m very capable of meeting my goal. This time, I don’t give a crap what anyone thinks of me (Ok, I’m working on this). This time, I’m ready to attack. And this time, I’ll be bulletproof.

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Categories: anything is possible, being epic, Boston Marathon, follow your dreams, learning from failure, marathon, marathon training, qualifying for boston marathon, quintiles wrightsville beach marathon, running, training for marathon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

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11 thoughts on “This Time I’ll Be Bullet Proof

  1. Experience is worth gold! You are going to crush it this year, and I’m so excited for you!

    • Thank you! I’ve said this the last few races, “I don’t want to have to learn a big lesson with this one.” Haha, experience sure does have a way of teaching you things, but hopefully I’ve gotten the big lessons out of the way…for now. 🙂

  2. Anything can happen on race day, and so much is out of your control (especially in a marathon, 26.2 miles is a long time for everything to go your way), but there’s a certain peace runners get knowing that they did all they can to prepare.

    I’ve had two injuries over the last few months and have spent more time not training than training which has given me tons of time to think about just how negative I was being toward myself when I had bad races. After my November injury I dedicated myself to falling in love with the process rather than the result and got a surprising PR in the Charleston half, but then got injured again 3.5 weeks later. Ugh.

    I never really got hurt until I started trying to train for a marathon, and even then, while I wanted to someday BQ my goal was to make peace with the marathon. I “ran” one in 4:15 in 2013 without a ton of training but never considered that running a marathon because of the time. I think with all the injuries and not making it to the start of a marathon, I have made peace with my 4:15. As crappy of a time as that was, at least I completed it. It is what it is.

    You’re so much more than a race result or time or award/placing. Everyone who reads this blog knows you’re putting in the effort to do your best. You WILL crush it!

    (And just know I wish I was there with you, because I really was hoping to be…)

    • One thing that caught my eye is the “ran” in reference to a 4:15 marathon. As I said in the post, a marathon is a marathon, and a 4:15 one at that is nothing to scoff at. My first two were 4:45ish and it was HARD.
      Injuries have a way of teaching you patience, unfortunately. You know I’ve had my fair share. But all you can do is continue to be patient and keep trying. I have several running friends who are in their 50’s and 60’s who are or recently went to Boston for their first time. Just never say never!
      And thank you so much for your support. I know I’m lucky to be running on April 17th – I certainly am hoping to crush it – I’ll do my best!

  3. That photo of you after redemption race #1 breaks my heart. I totally get this post. But I also feel like you’re a hero to me, and how you fought for yourself after your disappointment in your Boston race has been admirable. You rock!

    • I still feel that day. It motivates me – I know I am not that race, so I kept trying. Same thing for April 17th. And thank you – You’re pretty darned awesome yourself!

  4. The hard part about putting too many eggs in one marathon basket is just that. Unfortunately, running frequent marathons and qualifying for Boston every time you run a marathon isn’t normal for most runners. It is totally understandable that you want a chance to run Boston again and feel successful about your race. Being well trained and having great support help a lot on race day. Be kind to yourself leading up to the race and enjoy the experience for what it is…;you are a Boston qualifier, earned your spot and no matter how fast you run, most runners will never get the opportunity. And people who follow your training and progress will be supportive no matter what your outcome is on race day. I can’t wait to follow you on April 17th…I thought I would be there to cheer but darn Easter is on the 16th. Kelli, you are very strong and will have a great day. My Boston result for most people would have been dreadful, but food poisoning and an ER visit less than 40 hours before the race changed my perspective. I had zero expectations and just hoped to finish with my sister by my side. However, now that time has passed, I want to go back and run a good race. Hopefully 2019 will be my year to go back again!

  5. Virtual fist bump from me. You got this. Hope this is the race you’re looking for!!!

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