Author Archives: Running Boston and Beyond

About Running Boston and Beyond

Avid Runner, Wife, Mom, Coach, and Blogger. 11-time marathoner, 3 x Boston Qualifier, and Ironman finisher. Dream big, work hard! Follow your passion and do what you love.

Learnin’ To Fly

Well, hello there, strangers. It’s been several months since my fingertips have hit the ole keyboard. Excuse the coughing, it’s dusty in here. The last time I wrote, I was dealing with some pretty serious post-Boston depression and questioning the meaning of life what I was going to do next. A few weeks later, when the urge to sign up for all the races had passed, I settled down, and really thought about what I wanted to do with my running and/or triathlon’ing.

It came down to this: After my BQ/PR marathon in March of 2016, where I finished in 3:36, I felt like I could have done a little better. I trained for a 3:40, and achieved a faster time. I felt I have more to give, I felt like I had the urge and will to push harder. I also feel that dumb clock ticking away, and because I can’t bash it in with a sledgehammer, I figured, I have only so many years left where I can get faster in long races. This may not be true, but face it, the older you get, the harder things are, the more “fragile” (for full effect, pronounce this like the dad does in Christmas Story – FRA-GEEEELLLLAAAAYYYY) your body gets, and typically, you top out, or peak. I hope I’m the exception to this rule, but I also hope to win the lottery, too. You just never know.

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FRA-GEEEE-LAY

I settled on doing a marathon. No triathlons. I thought for a few weeks about what race I wanted to run, and when I wanted to run it. It didn’t take very long for me to decide that I wanted to go for a big PR and another BQ in Houston, in January. I’ve run this race before, where I got my first BQ, and it’s a big race, lots of support, on a flat course. Perfect. And by the way, I did qualify for Boston at Boston, but only by 28 seconds. This year, you had to qualify by 3 minutes, 23 seconds UNDER your qualifying time to get in. Needless to say, I didn’t get in, but that’s ok.

Then it was time to repair my body. Over the course of Boston training, I had foot issues (metatarsalgia), knee issues, and shin splints. My training wasn’t smooth, and I was still able to pull out a 3:44. Racing and training smart (HUGE thanks to my coach) was a big part of my success.

Over the summer, I ran, I lifted weights, I biked, I didn’t swim. I slept in once a weekend, and when it was 85 at 5 am with a dew point of 85, I stayed inside, on my bike, with my cold water, cold air, and remote. I got my personal trainer certification. In August, I started doing speed work again, so I could slowly build up to avoid shin splints. I started back on my Base Performance regiment. I did a 70.3 triathlon relay and ran a half marathon in September, in 1:51. I did a 5k time trial in early October in 22:53, and it was 9,000,000 degrees out that morning. I’m not exaggerating, it really was that warm. Seriously, it was. My body stayed healthy, and I was getting my speed back.

Fast forward. Tom Petty passed away on October 2nd, and I turned 44 on October 3rd. At track practice on my birthday, my coach, a HUGE Petty fan, played his music as we chased each other around the big oval. It was a gorgeous morning, and my workout was exhilarating. I heard “Learning to Fly”, and I teared up, because here I was, all fixed up, running with my friends, and learning how to fly again. I don’t think this is what Tom was singing about, but sometimes, you hear a lyric, and it coincides so much with something in your life, it attaches itself and has its own meaning. This is what that song did for me that day.

Because my goal is so big, at least for me, I had to trust myself to be vulnerable to failure again. It’s a scary thing, as I’ve failed at more marathon goals than I’ve succeeded. BUT, along the road to success, those failures provided the most opportunity for learning. The marathon is a beast, and it can tear you up. Respect the distance. I think that is why I wanted to go for this goal, because it’s so big, it’s so scary, I needed the challenge. I need the challenge. It feels like the one thing I can cling to right now, with the craziness of life, the career path that took a sharp turn down a road that I didn’t really want to take. But I have this, this big thing ahead of me. I need it. I want it. Dream big, work hard.

Today, at track practice, Coach went “old school”. His words, not mine. 20 minute tempo run followed by six 200’s at 95%. My tempo pace is 7:20, but today, I ran it a little faster. Each lap ticked by at 1:45-1:47, and I pushed for it, I fought to keep it, and I did it. Then I knocked out the 200’s. I love 200’s – they were my “thing” when I was in school 100 million years ago.

My husband loves Thursdays. 99.9% of the time, I come home from track practice with a huge smile on my face, a story to tell, and I say, “I LOVE RUNNING”. Track is my happy place – my friends, music, and an awesome, difficult workout. Today was no exception, but today was better. I feel it. I feel like I’m progressing towards my goal. I feel like I can actually do this thing. Something so big, so scary, intimidating…and yet, now it feels achievable. I believe in it. Granted, I have a TON of work to do, but I’m ready to dig in and do the work. I’ve been ready. As Tom Petty says, I’m learnin’ to fly. But maybe, just maybe, I do have wings.

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Learnin’ to Fly

Categories: anything is possible, being epic, Boston Marathon, follow your dreams, fueled by base, go for your dreams, learning from failure, marathon, marathon training, no fear, qualifying for boston marathon, running, training for marathon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Post-Race Depression and What NOT To Do When You Get It

After big races, the crazies come out. I was riding a high and we got a week in Boston, spent a lot of time in Fenway and all the cool little neighborhoods we could and some. It was glorious to eat out every day and not worry about real life and not have to drive to the huge glorious Target or grocery store right across the street from our hotel that served hot breakfast every single day. It’s taken me a week to sort of half ass acclimate back to real life, and I’m not doing well. I’m on shaky ground, like a tremor before the big on in California. I thought I was a little better, until I started crying for no apparent reason and then I realized what it was. Shit. Here it is.

I have post-race depression. Oh man, it’s real. I mean, I just had the race of my life, we vacationed as a family, we didn’t get stuck in the airport nor told to get off the plane (I’m talking to you, United), we came home to that nice pre-summer, before the melt-the-bottom-of-your-shoes-off, I-can’t-go-outside-without-breaking-into-a-sweat, kind of heat. Although it was close, I didn’t spend every last cent in Boston either. Life is good. But I’m sad, confused, aimless, and lost.

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THIS…is post race depression

So in my sadness, I have had some crazy shit cross my mind. I decided to let all my ideas go right on through and out the other side, because I know I have post-race depression and I don’t want to end up with a house full of baby animals, a yard full of chickens and ducks, and no money left in my savings account, a house under renovation or a “For Sale” sign in my yard.

Here’s a list of things I will NOT be doing while I get over my post-race depression.

1 ) Adopt a puppy or a horse or dolphin or shark or get an aquarium full of tropical fish. It has crossed my mind. Seriously, it’s crossed my mind. We were thinking of adopting a dog during the summer. I’m using all my super powers to NOT look at the county shelter websites or look at THAT magazine at the grocery store or “accidentally” let the group of ducks in the pond down the street or the neighbors back yard chickens follow me home. Or go to Petsmart, especially on Saturdays.

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This is me NOT luring cute lil baby ducks to my house where I am NOT making a hundred cute lil videos of baby ducks.

2) Look up races of any kind. Ok, well, considering I literally JUST did this, I can only say to NOT do it or that I SHOULDN’T have done it, not that I DIDN’T do it. BACK AWAY FROM THE COMPUTER.  Someone needs to come up with a blocking feature you can get that is the same as the one for nudie internet sites but make them for race sites.  “Type type ty– BLOCKED!!!”.  Crisis averted.

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3)Speed work – Recovering from a marathon is tricky. Considering we’re used to piling on endurance workouts and speed day after day, week after week, you’d THINK doing a little speed work would be fine. If you want to break yourself, sure, do this. But don’t do this. Not yet. Be patient and wait.

4) Make really big decisions on something you just thought of. Renovate your house? Redo the bathroom? New cabinets in the kitchen? Don’t do it. Let your credit card cool off a bit and see how much energy you have in a week. Let’s say I’ve had no less than eight trillion thoughts on what I need to do in my house RIGHT NOW. Considering I don’t want to sell my platelets to do it, just give yourself a two week waiting period on ALL big decisions. You don’t want to end up with a flight to Paris next week that you really don’t want to be on or cabinets with no doors because you decided to take them all off so you could order new ones that costs as much as a new car and/or will take five months to deliver.

5) Eat your way to happiness. Self explanatory. As great as it sounds, you will never find happiness at the bottom of a Cape Cod Aged White Cheddar and Sour Cream Kettle Cooked Potato Chips. I’ve looked. It’s not there.

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7) Sign up for a race. If you did this, then obviously you didn’t listen to #2, and shame on you. If you signed up for an endurance race, double shame on you, and if you signed up for an endurance race in the next, oh say, six weeks, then you need to have your internet taken away. Chances are, you’ll FEEL great, and you’ll think it’s a swell idea, until you start doing long runs and your legs feel like bags of Quikrete. You’ll nudge those toenails right off, and then you’ll have nail-less nubby toes for the summer. Who wants to see that? All because you had post-race depression.  Shame on you.

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Do not do it. 

6) Give yourself access to the internet and a credit card. The internet is vast and wide. You can buy anything and everything through it, and some companies just know how to feed in to our depression. Oh, look at these wonderful new shoes! Race pictures? How about a plaque and a new medal holder? You know why Ironman has registration the day after the race, right? It wants to lock you in and steal your money in that tricky space while your brain isn’t working right and your logic button has been dismantled. Everything looks shiny and new and like a great idea during post-race depression. Have the decency to back off for three weeks (or more), and if it STILL looks like a great idea, then wait another week and decide then. You don’t want to be rocking back and forth in the fetal position under your bed because you “thought it sounded like a great idea”.

7) Be frustrated. There’s no reason to Mohammad Ali yourself over something that is relatively normal and explainable. I had been working to this point in my running life for almost 8 years. EIGHT YEARS (to run the Boston Marathon). I reached the highest peak and a specific goal I’d been working towards for three years (to qualify for and then run the Boston Marathon well and finish strong). It was one of the best experiences of my life, so of course, what goes up, must come down. I don’t have an event in the near future, so I feel lost, aimless, and sad. And that’s ok, as long as I don’t go crazy and sign up for all the races. Trust me, I am using all my pent up energy to NOT do this….. and the more I think about it, the more I want to “just look around” at some races, so I need to change the subject before I get more real-life experience on what NOT to do.

8) Think it will last forever. It’s not a life sentence. It will get better. Or that’s what I keep telling myself. Feathers are ruffled, your pants are on backwards, and your bra is on the outside of your shirt. It’s ok. You’re recovering, you’re digesting a great thing. Go take your dog for a walk, go volunteer for a shelter of an animal you can’t adopt, go to a movie with your friends you didn’t have time for because you were training or too tired to keep your eyes open during a movie because of training.  But channel Meghan Trainor’s song when you get the urge to do something rash.

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But if you happen to be suffering from post-race depression, as I am, do this.

Open your eyes and realize that, this too, shall pass. And it will be ok.

 

Categories: Boston Marathon, follow your dreams, marathon, marathon training, qualifying for boston marathon, running, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Boston Marathon Race Recap

“Reluctantly crouched, at the starting line, engines pumping, and thumping in time. The green light flashes, the flags go up, churning, and burning, they yearn for the cup…..”

The race began. I started my music, my garmin, and we plunged down the first hill. I remember thinking how lucky I was to be in this crowd, how amazing it was, the spectators cheering, the residents along the course with their tents set up, serving oranges and coffee and water and handing out paper towels and holding jars of Vaseline out, holding signs, yelling and cheering, getting us runners whatever we needed. It was that way for miles and miles. These people are AMAZING.

It didn’t seem nearly as crowded and full of spectators as the race was in 2014. But the road was full. I had to concentrate on the people running slower than I was, the red rover lines of friends chatting it up (it’s cool, if you were behind me and in the corral that corresponded to your pace, but that’s another subject), the crevices in the road, and honestly, I wanted to take it all in. I wanted to race the race and absorb the energy and the beauty of the course.

I don’t think I looked at the distance reading on my garmin more than about three times the entire race, but I did look at pace, especially in the first several miles. “Don’t be American Pharoah” was what I was thinking. Don’t mess this up. You know not to take off too fast. My breathing was even and came easy. My legs felt good. I didn’t feel hungry nor over full. Things were in equilibrium, at least that’s what I thought at the time.

By mile two, I got worried. Sweat was dripping off my elbows, and it didn’t feel as if the humidity lifted, like it was supposed to. It wasn’t HOT hot, but it was WARM, probably mid to upper 60’s (perfect for spectators, too warm for runners). That worried me, and I made sure I started drinking. The small bottle I had in my hand held 5 ounces and you drank from it by biting down on the mouth. Wow, that was convenient. I liked that one.

The song “Blow Your Mind (Mwah)” came on my iPod, I sang along…. “…we fight and we argue, you’ll still love me blind. If we DON’T FUCK THIS WHOLE THING UP, guaranteed, I can blow your mind…”

I would listen to this song while running long and at home, and I just didn’t want to fuck this race up. I knew I had to be smart.  My husband said “FOLLOW YOUR PLAN” about a hundred zillion times before I left on the bus, and his words rang through my mind. I couldn’t fuck it up, I couldn’t embarrass myself again, I couldn’t come home as upset and sad and angry as I did the last time. I was there for redemption, and it would be mine.

The miles ticked by, and at mile 5, I still felt good. I wasn’t sweating as heavily as I was before (evidently, the humidity did lift right about that time), and it was time to take my first Gu. Instead of throwing the hand held bottle out, I decided to fill it up with Gatorade and drink some water from the aid stations. It was easy, convenient, and I could easily measure how much I was drinking. The only issue was that, since I was holding it, it was really warm. Yuck. But whatever, it’s a race, so I just went on.

In 2014, I remembered a row of people bouncing on trampolines. I had told several people about it, and was hoping it wasn’t some crazy mirage or I was just crazy. I can’t remember what mile it was, but I again, saw a row of mini trampolines along the road with little kids just bouncing away. YES. I remembered correctly. I had to laugh when I saw it, the oddity of a row of trampolines along a race course. Only in Boston.

We passed through the small towns, one by one, and I was having a good time. I sang along to Sweet Caroline, I high-fived so many kids, and I remembered to absorb all I could. But I didn’t feel good. My breathing felt fine, thankfully, but my legs didn’t feel fresh, or at least as fresh as I thought they should be. In my course studying, it says that if I’m still not fresh at this point, I need to regroup and consider slowing down, since the hardest part was still ahead. Because I’m stubborn and didn’t want to, I didn’t slow down. I was scared that my race was going to be derailed already, but I knew I was willing to fight for it and that slowing down wasn’t going to fit into my agenda. The words “The hard is what makes it great” rang through my head. Yes, the hard IS what makes this great.  I could see the wind was blowing by the flags and the water cups zipping across the road, but I definitely didn’t feel any breeze on my face, so I figured we had a nice tail wind. Thankfully.

I made sure to keep drinking. I slowed down at aid stations to refill my hand held bottle, and I never used the one clipped to my shorts. It could be hard to clip back on, and I didn’t want to distract myself enough to mess with it. I did end up throwing it to the side eventually. At one point between miles 5 and 10, I got nauseated and felt full. I thought that maybe I’d had too much fluid, so I backed off a little for a few miles.

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I don’t know where this was taken, but I was on a mission. “Ain’t got time for pictures.” Lol. 

A good sign was that I needed to pee. I stopped in my qualifying marathon, so I wasn’t afraid of taking the time, as long as I found one that didn’t have a line. In about another mile, I found an open one and quickly did my thing.

Soon after, it was time for the Wellesley Scream Tunnel. This is all it’s cracked up to be. I had requested a Team BlueLine sign and I knew it was made, so I aimed to the right side of the road so I could hopefully find it. It felt like a mile of girls screaming to me, many holding signs to “Kiss me” for various reasons. I sort of wanted to take part in the tradition, but I wanted to run more, so I didn’t kiss anyone. I saw one sign that said, “Fuck Me”, which surprised me and made me laugh. Alrighty then. Way to put it out there.

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The TBL Sign, thanks to the Wellesley Girls

We had another few miles of rolling hills, and I knew the course would turn, then go down hill, then the real test would begin. There is a hill at mile 16, but this one doesn’t seem like much to me. Not sure why, maybe it’s because you’ve just gone down a hill. Then there’s a set of three of hills, starting around mile 17.5, the first being the longest (almost half a mile) and most gradual. The cue this is going to happen is that you make a turn on the course. I was desperately trying to remember the course from the last time I was there, but it seemed different this time.  I wasn’t 100% sure where I was, even though I had studied. I think I over-thought the entire thing, haha, no surprise to those who know me. My legs were not feeling worse than they were before, and I was definitely on pace for my goal, with almost a minute to spare. I was feeling good, followed my nutrition and hydration plan, and was ready to face Newton.

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They take your picture BEFORE the hills. It’s like they want to catch you before you start walking or something… 

When we started up the first long hill, I shortened my stride and concentrated on the road in front of me. The song “Til I Collapse” came on, and I tried to absorb that feeling. I passed a lot of people, which made me smile, and when I reached the top, I was damn proud of myself. One down, three and change to go. I’d lost some time, but I wasn’t worried and I was still on pace. I knew that last time at this point in the race, I felt good too, but I knew I had armored myself to prevent anything bad from happening. It’s a marathon though, and you just never know what can happen. Don’t get cocky. THAT is something I truly believe. But at that point in time, I was racing well, and I felt good.

Just after mile 19, there was a steeper, yet shorter hill. Again, I wasn’t 100% sure this was actually “the second” in the set of three, but I powered through with little change in pace. We were rewarded by a nice long stretch of downhill running.

Then, this is funny, I started going up and up. I took my iPod off and backed it up to “Til I Collapse”. I thought it looked like Boston College, and I thought it was Heartbreak Hill, but I wasn’t sure if this was it or the hill BEFORE the hill. Last time, it was SWARMED with people yelling and screaming, sidewalk chalk messaging us to “Break This Hill”, and when we curved around a little, I was expecting to see a big blow up thing saying we had beat the hill or some message that this was actually Heartbreak. I almost asked someone if it was, but honestly, I didn’t want to spend the energy, and I didn’t want to sound stupid. When we came to the top, I saw a sign that indicated that yes, you were done with Heartbreak Hill. I almost started crying from joy. I made it. And I didn’t even know for sure THAT was the hill. Ignorance is bliss, I guess! I saw a girl holding a sign that said, “You made this hill your bitch!”. I fiercely pointed at her and said, “YES!!! YES!!!!” She smiled and well, so did I. I made it. I freaking made it up the hardest section of this race, and I was getting redemption. It was happening. I was doing it. I was about 90 seconds off my goal pace of 3:45.

After Heartbreak ends at mile 21, you descend. Five “measly” little miles left (we all know these miles feel more like ten), and a lot of it was down hill. I let the wind and gravity take me. I felt amazing. What happened? Why did I feel so good?

 

The last time, I was suffering tremendously at this point, so I don’t remember any of the course. I don’t remember the crowds, thick against the barriers, yelling at us, cheering us, the people on the T, looking and cheering. I don’t remember any of it. At some point, you see the Citgo sign, then it disappears behind the trees. I knew Citgo was a LONG ways away, and I giggled, as I had felt the four days we were there, the sign was stalking me. From our hotel, from our seats in Fenway, from everywhere, staring at me to come get it.

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Citgo is following me. 

My pace quickened to about 8:10’s or so, and I felt amazing. I mean, I felt like I was on the last miles of a difficult marathon, but I was running the fastest miles of the race. I couldn’t believe it. I grabbed my necklace, which is my late grandmother’s, the grandma who started me running in the first place, and I held it, looking up and telling her and my other grandma in heaven, “Look, I’m doing it! Thank you!”. I thought about all the people who had wished me well, and I felt them lift me up. I felt my family there, knowing they were tracking me, knowing I was having a good race. I couldn’t believe I missed so much experience last time. It was so amazing, the crowds, the city, the support.

Yes, I’d picked up the pace, but I wasn’t making up the few minutes I lost in Newton as I was hoping.  I struggled with wanting to get a BQ and also knowing I had gotten what I came for: A successful finish to a hard race on a hot day. I knew I had that, so I decided with three or four miles to go, to stop looking at the time, pay no attention to my pace bracelet, and run the thing. Just finish. Finish strong. I didn’t want the lack of a BQ to be disappointing, but I didn’t want to ruin the experience of joy in “just” running it. I didn’t look at my watch again until I crossed the finish line.

But there was race to run, and I couldn’t blow up. I wasn’t going to hold back, but I wasn’t going to be stupid either.  I was covered in salt, so I kept taking my Base salt at this point, and I was thirsty. I threw my hand held away, and relied on the aid stations, taking a Gatorade and water each mile, sometimes stopping to avoid extra air. I had NEVER drank so much in a race before.

When the Citgo sign reappeared and the mile markers ticked up, I was trying to find where I was in the city. I was lost. I had no idea where my husband and kids would be, so I remembered thinking it was kind of dumb that we didn’t even plan at all where I could look for them. I wondered who won the races, did Galen or Jared, did Des finally get her victory? I felt sorry for myself that I had missed so much three years prior. NOW I get it. NOW I get why this race is the best in the world. This. It was right in front of me, and I was doing it.

Then with just over a mile to go, you go up a bridge overpass, which wasn’t pleasant, but I expected it, and I knew it was the last hill, besides the slight incline of Hereford. I ended up looking towards the right, and freakin’-A, there was my family. I cannot ever explain how I felt when I saw them, except for pure joy. I jumped when I saw them, galloping towards them with my arms swinging out, yelling at them in excitement, never had felt that feeling of pure exhaustion and pure energy and pure joy at the same time.

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I am literally jumping for joy to see my family. 

After I passed them, our road went under another road, and I felt like I had wings. Then I saw the turn. I had missed it last time. There was the right turn on Hereford. I choked up. I was almost done. Good God, I was almost done. The crowds were so loud, so I took my ear buds out and shoved them down my shirt. I wanted to HEAR and experience everything. It was like nothing else. Then left on Boylston. The finish line was within sight, but it was not as close as what you’d want, haha.

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I looked around, I thought about 2013 and what that must have been like, and I felt protected and thankful. I crossed over the first mat and heard my name being called, and then I crossed the finish line of the 2017 Boston Marathon. A few seconds later, I looked down at my watch and saw “3:44:??”. Oh my gawd, holy shit, I did it. I freaking pulled out a BQ. I qualified for Boston at Boston.

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I don’t know why people bite their medals but I didn’t care, I was just happy. 

I did it.  I got my redemption.

Boston Marathon 2017: 3:44:32

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Categories: anything is possible, Boston Marathon, follow your dreams, marathon training, qualifying for boston marathon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Boston Marathon Race Recap Part Uno

Marathon racing is a game. It’s a game you need to play right to get the result you want. Nutrition, hydration, race strategy, and training are what I consider to be the most important players in the game, and they all need to play together nicely for a successful race. I’ve learned, via many many many mistakes, that a precise plan can really help me focus on exactly what I’m doing and when, and help me to avoid some pretty big mistakes.

NUTRITION:

I typically start carb loading three days before my endurance events. I don’t necessarily eat more, although sometimes I feel like all I ever do for that week leading up to a race is stuff my face.

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The night before racing, I eat a huge juicy chicken sandwich, with mushrooms and a fried egg on top, if the restaurant cooperates, which ours in Boston did not. It was plain-o boring. I also had a baked potato, just because I had already had some fries earlier in the day, and I didn’t want grease overload and have to toot all my way from Hopkinton to Boston. Because the race started at almost 11 am for my wave, I ate four full meals on Sunday, the last being at 10 pm.  I woke up at 5:30 am on Monday  to eat oatmeal, then at 6:30, three pieces of bread with peanut butter, my traditional pre-long run meal. Then I spaced out my eating to have something small every hour until GO TIME.

HYDRATION:

The weather forecast kept getting warmer as marathon day approached, and I was nervous about it, but I raced well three years ago when it was sunny, dry, and in the low 70’s, until I became dehydrated. I knew I could do it, and I knew it was going to be hard, but I knew I was sure going to give it my full effort and attention. I thought that for everything that had ever gone wrong in my races, it was due to poor hydration, so I had to get this one right.

On Sunday, I drank a little bit more than normal amount of water, but I added Nuun to the mix, as I did not want to flush out my electrolytes. I am also addicted to hearts of palm and olives, so I had some of those, just for the salt content, and well, because:

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On race morning, I didn’t drink too much more than I normally do either.

The plan I came up with was to be sure to get about 16 oz per hour of fluids. I knew I was going to start the race well hydrated, so I wasn’t planning to get anything from the aid stations until mile 3 or 4, plus I decided to carry Base Performance Rocket Fuel with me, which is a mix of an energy powder, aminos, and salt. I had a 6 oz bottle hooked to my shorts, and added two 5 oz hand-held bottles, something I had never done, but felt important. I was going to drink the Rocket Fuel until the first hour, then alternate between water and Gatorade, getting at least two ounces of fluid in per mile, which would give me the total amount I thought I needed. I was also planning to have a lick of Base Salt every two miles.

RACE STRATEGY:

Leading up to the race, I studied the course, with my coach and on my own, and I read the mile by mile course information, something I had found three years ago and was extremely helpful.  I’d done the course before and knew most people leave the start like American Pharoah coming out of the gate.

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It’s really hard not to, considering you go down hill for a few miles. I knew I needed to really watch my pace here and not go crazy. My goals was to run a 3:44:59 race, so I had a 3:44 pace bracelet on, and I wanted to keep right at an 8:30 minute mile. I didn’t want to go slower down the first hills because, well, might as well let the momentum take me using a 9:00 minute mile effort. I needed to shorten my stride on the downs and ups to help save my quads, and well, I needed to not be a baby when it came to the set of hills in Newton. I knew when they were coming and about how big they were, and I was not intimidated by them. So overall, I wanted to keep a pretty steady pace through the entire race, but hopefully not slowing down at the end.

I felt like I was going into the race well prepared and ready to rock. I was concerned about my various injuries that had popped up and caused my training to not go as well as I wanted, but I knew I was going to run a marathon and I knew I could do it well.

About 45 minutes before my wave could load the bus to Hopkinton, my husband and I got an Uber to the common to meet a fellow training buddy, Renee. We chatted nervously as we made our way to the bus, and soon, we were on our way out of town. Seeing all those busses leaving town in their orderly fashion is an emotional experience. So many hopes, dreams, expectations, excitement, probably some dread in there too. I’m so glad I was able to sit with Renee  on our long ride and talk to help distract me, probably us both, about the day. Bus after bus after bus……

 


It hadn’t quite hit me that I was going to run a marathon that day, but I was surprisingly calm.

Renee and I at the bus loading area

When we got off the bus in Hopkinton, it was cooler than in Boston. All I had extra was a short-sleeved t-shirt, and I’m glad I had it. We entered the athlete’s village and found our way to the bathrooms. In 2014, I totally missed the call to my wave. I didn’t want to go to the part of the village “down the hill”, so we stayed at the top by the school. I still couldn’t hear anything and I was annoyed that I didn’t know who was supposed to be going where and when. All I knew is that I did NOT want to be late, dammit!

Renee and I decided to get closer to the speaker so we could hear what was going on, when we happened upon a group of runners from our home town, who were probably 30 feet from where we were. Yay!!! Thankfully, Amanda knew what was going on, and I realized I had only five minutes to go until we needed to leave the village and head to the start line, 40 minutes before our wave was to start. Hmmm, a few more nerves kicked in, so I got my crap together and ready to go.

Near the start line area, there’s a huge port-a-jon village, so I got the rest of my stuff ready there.  I forgot to pack the Body Glide and forgot to glide the inside of my arms, so I ended up using Chapstick as a replacement. Hint: it worked. I took my last bit of fuel, drank my last bit of water, got my gum in, tied and re-tied my shoes and then re-tied them again, to make them juuuuuust right. Our corral and wave was called, and it was time to line up. I was supposed to meet another Team BlueLine runner, but I could not, for the life of me, find any busses where they were. Bummer.

One thing I noticed was that it was friggin hot. I didn’t feel a wind, a breeze, or a fart. It was warm. Oh man.

I decided to leave one of my small hand-held water bottles at the start area, then strategically packed two Base salt tubes on me, Chapstick, my one clip-on bottle, one hand-held bottle, and two gu’s, all with NOT using a fuel belt of any kind. Pretty impressive, don’t you say?

I was in the same corral as Amanda, so we walked our way to the start, where they really wanted us crammed in like itty bitty sardines. I noticed, again, how warm it was. And it felt humid. The eight minute wait went by fast, and we were on our way.

My Boston Marathon adventure began.

Categories: being epic, Boston Marathon, follow your dreams, fueled by base, marathon, marathon training, qualifying for boston marathon, running, running buddies, running with friends, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Prelude To A Race

Last Thursday, my family got on a 5:25 am flight from Wilmington to Boston, via Charlotte. Let’s just say that I don’t get up before 3 am very often, and there’s a reason why I don’t. We landed on time in Boston, and by noon, we were peddling our bags at our hotel, off to wander our blurry eyes around until 4 pm check-in.

There was a make-up Red Sox game that afternoon, and Fenway was a stone’s throw from our hotel, so we headed to the famous Bleacher Bar, where the hostess scored us some amazing front row seats to the Sox pre-game practice. My husband and I had a few Sam Adams 26.2 brews and a good sandwich, before we headed off to look at some new Sox gear at the stadium store and conveniently, the Target next door to our hotel. Who doesn’t love a giant Target????

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My boys at the Bleacher Bar

Soon, we headed back to the hotel and napped on the lobby couches, and finally, were led to our room. Then we headed to get groceries and hang out at the hotel until our early bed time.

On Friday morning, after a long, glorious sleep, my hubs and I headed out on what would be my last tempo run. I didn’t realize you could barely go a block before having to stop for traffic, although any amount of common sense would tell you that, so I was easily frustrated (nothing new) until we got to a really pretty park trail around Jamaica Lake. The first mile didn’t feel great, which is what I expected, but my tempo paces came easily to me after the warm up, and I felt like I could run forever. I didn’t know whether to feel good or bad about that since normally, the week before my marathons, I feel like complete crap and that I have never strung two miles of running together before. 5ish miles later, we were back at the hotel, ready to take on the day.

The first order of business was the expo. Three years ago, it was such a mad house, I went through by myself, which is boring and sad. This year, I drug my entire family along as we shopped for Boston gear and other essential items stuff we didn’t necessarily need but really wanted.

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My son and Me

Then we headed to see about the insider Fenway Park tour, which is only held three hours before game time. Yes, scored tickets for that! It was pretty fun to learn a little more about the park, that Yawkey was the last name of the person who essentially saved the Sox back in the 30’s, sit in the oldest seats in the major leagues, and hang out on The Green Monstah watching the players as they had batting practice. Several balls were hit in our area so, considering my nerves were a little shot anyway, I was glad when the tour was over.

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My favorite support crew

Next up, Red Sox game!!! We had a few beers, walked around, and sat in front of a couple who knew each other but I know her favorite word is any version of FUCK. It was fun, but I know my mind was on food and running and weather and almost everything else but the game.  Sleep came easily that night.

On Saturday morning, we headed to Boston Common for the BAA 5k. I signed the entire family up, mostly so my husband and kids could run across the same finish line I would have on Monday and they would get to experience the “right on Hereford, left on Boylston”.

We saw a lot of thongs things while wandering around the common….

 

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Geez. I really wanted to submit them for an episode of “What NOT to Wear” or “Don’t Stretch While Wearing This”. But I don’t know of those actual shows.

Anyway, my youngest and husband ran the 5k, and my oldest, who had foot surgery in January, and I walked the entire thing, just chatting it up. It was fun, and although we were close, we did not finish last.

My son and moi

After that, we headed back to Fenway for our second and last Red Sox game. We hung out for quite a while on Yawkey way, listening to a really cool band, watching a guy on stilts, and feeding off the energy of the crowd.  It was a good game, but unfortunately, all I could think about was marathons and food and weather. I knew I had missed the boat on eating well that day, so I wanted to be sure I could get a really good meal. We stayed to the end, but lucked out and got a seat at the restaurant right next to our hotel and got the meal I was looking for. Whew.

The best family a girl could ask for

On Sunday morning, my husband and I headed out for my 25 minute shake out run, which thankfully felt like crap, and then we headed to the finish line, where we would meet with the other runners from Wilmington. It was great to see so many familiar faces, talk to my friends and training buddies, and see the finish line, up close and personal. We headed back to the hotel, where we watched the Sox game on the roof deck of our hotel. It was cool to hear the crowd live when the Sox won.

The Wilmington Road Runner Team

I pretty much sat on my butt the rest of the day, got all my race gear ready, and honestly, I didn’t panic when I kept seeing the temperatures for race day getting warmer and warmer.  I talked to my coach about hydration, and then my husband and I came up with a very solid race day plan. He has been with me through all my marathon bonks, knew the drill, so we planned it down to a pretty clear picture of what I HAD to do to make this race successful. I wasn’t that nervous, but I would get waves of excitement, nerves, and whatever else that pre-race feeling is, but then it would pass, and I just did my thing. It was weird, but maybe that’s what happens when you gain experience and there’s very little expectations. I mean, I had expectations, but I wasn’t gonna win the race, so there’s just nothing THAT important to freak out about. Haha, yeah, right. That’s what I keep telling myself.

It had been stalking me the entire three days. I knew it was there and I knew it was going to stare me down on Monday.

I went to bed around 10:30 that night, after eating a baked potato and chicken sandwich, hoping upon all hope I had done my nutrition right and that my plan was going to work.

At 5:20 on Monday morning, my friend texted me, wishing me luck, just 5 minutes before my alarm went off, and I knew it was a good thing to wake up to a good luck text. Thanks, Stacey!

Game. On.

Categories: Boston Marathon, boston red sox, follow your dreams, fueled by base, learning from failure, marathon, marathon training, qualifying for boston marathon, running, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

I’m Shipping Up To Boston

So I sit here, wondering what to say. I’m channeling Santa Claus, making my list, checking it twice. I’m checking the weather every day, knowing it’s futile since we all know the weather will do what it wants, when it wants, no matter what. I’m packing everything I can think of, and more, for my epic trip up north. Y’all, I’m shipping up to Boston. F*** yeah, I’m SHIPPING UP TO BOSTON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We are getting the house cleaned, playlists finalized, last minute stuff before we head out at the butt crack of dawn Thursday. I randomly burst into tears, thinking about qualifying day, thinking about the last time I was in Boston, how good it was, how bad it was, how badly I want this race to just go well.  I’m making my race plan, checking it twice, but of all the feelings I have, I’m grateful. I GET to run Boston!

running homer

This race is something I’ve worked very hard for.  Of the nine marathons I ran with the goal of getting a BQ, I achieved that goal twice. There were a lot of failures along the way, but I learned something from them all.  Good Lord, do I have to learn so much?? And Pah-LEEEZZZEEE, don’t make me learn anything on Monday!!!!!

The quest began in 2009, and here we are, 8 years later, and I’ll be running the race of my dreams for the second time. Well, if things go my way, it will be for the first time, if you take the “running” part literally. For those who don’t know, the 2014 Boston Marathon did not end well for me. Yes, I finished, but I spent about two hours on the last 5 miles, desperately trying to put one foot in front of the other just to cross the finish line. I don’t remember much about the end, but I do remember lying on the ground next to the port-a-jon, crying because I felt so bad. I also remember lying on the cot at the med tent listening to the man next to me hurl his guts up while I was handed a Muscle Milk. Gag.

I’ve learned a lot since then. I’ve become and Ironman since then. And I’m not going into this race with a rigid plan, either. You can’t control the weather, you can’t control the crowds of runners around you, but you can adjust to it. I think that’s the best thing that’s happened since I started the quest for Boston – I’ve learned how to hold on, but I’ve learned how to let go. I’m taking the ashes of my last Boston Marathon, dropping them on the finish line, and I’m letting the bad stuff go, no matter how my race turns out on Monday. It’s done, I healed the wounds, I’ve let all the mean stuff people said to me go, I’ve let all the mean stuff I’ve said to myself go.

I’m going in with a goal to get my third BQ, but the main goal, the number one (ok, three things) thing I want out of Monday, is to 1) remember the entire race, 2) finish with a smile on my face, and the most important thing, 3) RACE SMART. Any race you run smart is a good race. And oh, yeah, don’t forget to be a bad ass.  And BQ. Haha. Yeah, I want it.

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Stay the course, KICK SOME ASS!

So excuse me as I finish packing, listen to some Dropkick Murphy’s, do a little dance in the kitchen, attend a few Red Sox games, drink a beer (or two), and eat a hot dog, but I’m shipping up to Boston, and I’m gonna have an awesome effing time!

 

Categories: Boston Marathon, follow your dreams, go for your dreams, learning from failure, marathon, marathon training, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

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

The Boston Marathon – T Minus 8.5 Weeks

The road to the 2017 Boston Marathon has been covered with blood, sweat, and tears. Literally. In 8 short weeks, my family will be heading north to Beantown. This marathon training cycle has been cut short, but because I was a patient patient, I feel good about where I am. I should get a Patient Patient medal, because this is the first time in a string of injuries that I didn’t sabotage myself along the way, and actually let myself heal. I should probably re-gift that medal to my husband for putting up with me in the process. That poor man.

Let me take you back to November. I had just come off the  NC Ironman 70.3 and had signed up for a few local 5k’s. On one of the first cold mornings on November 12th, I ran a 22:15ish 5k, and even got 2nd in the Old Lady division. I mean Masters Female. I felt great about where my training was and where I was planning to take it. Basically, I was going to pulverize speed in November and December, then add endurance in January, making the perfect storm of speed, strength, and endurance in April. My goal was to PR the race and return in 2018. Yeah….right (said like Bill Lumbergh in Office Space). I should have known there was a different path for me. Later that day, I felt my plantar return, and it was bad.

The 5k that shouldn’t have been.


I reacted very calmly  I freaked out. I was so upset. I kept trying to run, just a little, and it made my foot hurt so bad. Evidently, reading about it on the internets doesn’t make it go away, but I sure deserved a medal for that, too, and BONUS, I learned how to pronounce “metatarsalgia”. I tried to do bike intervals, only to realize it made my foot feel just as bad as running. All I could do was to bike easy and go to Orange Theory (using the GLIDER, of all things *shutter*, because dammit! I’m a runner, not a glider.). All right, I tried swimming, but after one day, my chlorine allergy made it almost impossible. I might have used that as more of an excuse than I really should have, but I hate swimming and I hate my reaction to chlorine (skin rash, yay me!). I don’t know why it was so bad when I swam in the same pool all summer, but it was bad. So I “couldn’t” swim, I couldn’t bike hard, and I couldn’t run. I was a peach to live with. I was like Cinderella, singing to all her animals. Yes, that’s what it was like to live with me during that time. (This is when my husband should’ve gotten the Medal of Patience.)

People, it was cold out, and I couldn’t run. I was missing it and I was missing out. The rest of November. And December. Then I decided, probably due to everyone and their “Countdown to Boston” posts, I needed to start running because I was going to run that damn marathon no matter what. I started with a few miles on Christmas Day, something I have never done before. It was my gift to myself, and wow, I felt God that gorgeous morning.

Merry Christmas

Then I came up with a plan to SAFELY build endurance through January. I was running again. My foot was ok. I alternated run days, I took it easy at Orange Theory. No speed. Then in the last week of January, I decided I needed to return to my coach and start speed again. I felt like I was second guessing all my workouts, I wasn’t pushing myself and didn’t know if I could or should, so coaching would benefit me the most. Coach Kristen has done really well for me, so I was so excited to once again, see those Training Peaks emails come through in the morning.

I don’t know how, but within the first week, I was meeting the pace challenges set before me. I was Maria, singing on the mountaintop.  I was back at track practice, my favorite thing in the freaking world when it comes to training. My foot was behaving.

Then. Then the shin splints started. Ugh. I started speed work too fast. It’s derailed my plans twice in the past. What do I do? Well, I knew my race wasn’t going anywhere and I knew ignoring them wasn’t going to work, so I gave myself a day off speed, gave myself some active release therapy, took a day off, and I was careful. Boom. Shin splints are minimal now. Key point: catch them and do something about it IMMEDIATELY and prevent them from occuring in the first place, i.e. STRETCH (and that damn yoga).

Just this week, I ran a 48:18 in a 10k race, again placing 2nd in the Old Lady division. Then Tuesday, I had 3 x 15 minutes at barf pace, and I seriously questioned if I could do it, mostly because I’d had a long run and an Orange Theory workout between that day and my 10k. I borrowed some of the faith my coach had in me, and I pulled it out. When I was done, I felt like a rock star, like I deserved a participation trophy of sorts, for believing I could do it enough to just try. Sometimes you can surprise yourself.


I don’t feel like I can breathe a sigh of relief, because I know there’s any number of injuries lurking around the corner. This morning, after another great track workout, several of my running buddies asked how I was doing, and I was almost afraid of jinxing myself by saying, “GREAT!”. But you know, when you’re out there getting it done, watching the sun rise, it really was GREAT. I told my coach to put “Do your damn yoga” in my plan after track, so I’ve been good about that. It’s funny that I’m responsible for a hundred thousand other things, but if “yoga” isn’t specifically in my plan, the chances of me actually doing it, even though I know I need to, dwindle down to close to zero. Pretty sad, but I’m sure I’m not the only one. Please tell me I’m not the only one?

So my goal for Boston is a BQ. A 3:44:59. That time won’t get me in for 2018, but that’s ok. At this point, anything is possible (thanks for that, Ironman), and it could be warm, it could be cold, it could be raining, it could be snowing. All I know is that I will do my absolute best with whatever the day gives me. If if one thing is certain, I know I’ll be there, and I’ll be happy.

Categories: anything is possible, Boston Marathon, follow your dreams, marathon, marathon training, qualifying for boston marathon, running, running buddies, running with friends, training for marathon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

Putting Myself in Time Out

First of all, HAPPY NEW YEAR!! And GOOOO TIGERS! We are a Clemson family and my husband literally bleeds ORANGE, so today is a happy, yet slightly hung over, day.


Second of all, I’ve missed this (blogging) so much. I’m back running again (I bet you didn’t know I wasn’t running, because how would you, I haven’t been blogging) so I’ve been thinking of so many things to write about, so I decided to write about the first thing that I really wanted to share. And I got lots to share.

Here we go. The last thing I wrote was my race report for IMNC 70.3 tri. It’s been months of trying to catch up with life, work so I can pay for life, and honestly rest. Here it is, January, and I never wrote a follow up for that particular blog, and I felt it was really important to do so.

So look at this picture from two years ago after I completed my first tri, the B2B 70.3. Look at that face!

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Beast Mode. In Endurance events like this, you really have to zone in on this, or you can lose your mind.

I was so happy. Thrilled, excited, powerful, and fulfilled. I knew I did the best I could for that day, especially considering it was my very first tri.

After I finished this year, I felt very unfulfilled, angry, upset, mad.

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Here’s the kicker. My finish time this year was less than ONE MINUTE different from the exact same race two years ago (6:03 or something like that). How bout them apples?  Less than one minute. And I was pissed. Mad. But the most interesting thing was not that I was mad about my result, which I was, but I was mad that I was mad. The race was hard. Everyone else said it too, so it must be true, right? Really, it was, and sure, I was disappointed I missed my goal time (by a lot) and mentally collapsed on the bike, and I worked my butt off for months to meet my goal time. But I was the maddest that I was mad about it at all. Where was that happy person like two years ago? That’s who I wanted to be, not a grumbly mess who would answer, “but it was way off my goal time” or “Thanks, but….”, when complimented on the race itself. No race finish should have an asterisk next to it, really.

While I was biking during this year’s race, I went from feeling good, to wanting to quit triathlon altogether, to “get yourself together”, to “I hate goal times”, to “do your best and kick as much butt as you can”. It was a tricky cycle of love to hate to love to dislike to contentment. During the run, which is my favorite thing to do in the whole world, I thought that I needed to reset my triathlon goals, and to stop making them so finite. There is so much to triathlon, at least for longer distances. So much can happen along the way to derail a race. Or make a race great. It’s not just three events, it’s pretty much five – swim, bike, run, transition, nutrition. They’re all essential components of one organism, which is the tri. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love to tri. But I actually started doing triathlons after being disappointed in a 1:40 half marathon, which was a HUGE PR for me. I couldn’t shake the “it wasn’t fast enough” feeling, so I decided to do tri, so I could just enjoy the sport. Then I got all fancy with it and put big time goals on myself, and it ruined a really good race. I need to protect that “good feeling” when I tri. So I’m putting myself in time out.

Don’t get me wrong, having time goals is great. But not for me, for triathlon. I need a break from that, because that’s what I do in running. Running is where my competitive spirit resides. I am going to let triathlon be where my fun spirit resides. For now. So I’m putting myself in time out. No “racing” triathlons. No watches, no expectations except to have fun, which is the reason I do these things anyway.

Do you find you get too competitive with times? Or is that what makes it fun? Do you have sports for competing and then others for “fun”?

Categories: beach 2 battleship triathlon, being epic, half iron distance, iron distance, ironman, running, swimming, training for half iron distance, training for triathlon, triathlon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 9 Comments

IMNC 70.3 Race Recap – Part II

Soooo, I was planning to post this a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, I got busy with the wonderful shingles virus and taking my kids and self to our fall doctor appointments for a total of seven visits. It’s been “fun”, and now I totally understand why there’s a chicken pox vaccine.  Praise medical science for that, because shingles is like riding the roller coaster of Forrest Gump chocolates – you never know what you’re gonna get on any given day. For weeks. I digress, and here’s the very extended version of my IMNC 70.3 race report. Finally.

For Part I, click here.

Part II begins….NOW.

The morning of the race, I woke up at 4:00 am to my son’s words on my alarm label, “Move your bacon”. It always makes me smile. I got up, ate four pieces of toast with butter and peanut butter, and got my fuel ready….d’oh. My fuel. Yeah, I had forgotten it in my truck that I parked at the race finish the night before. Thankfully, I have awesome training buddies, and two of them were bringing me some fuel at the bike area where we planned to meet for a picture. My husband got up and headed out to volunteer, and my sister picked me up to take us to the start.

The temp tattoo my sissy got for my race

I was tired and nervous about the wind, as it was blowing pretty hard and steady around 15 mph from the northwest, which was to be directly in our faces on the bike. Oy. When we got to T1, it was buzzing with excitement. I love this feeling.  I checked my bike, fueled her up, checked on my T1 bag, and gathered with many of my friends.


My sister drove me to the start and we went to her friend’s place, 3rd floor, where you could see the full distance swimmers coming down the channel. I’m guessing we could see at least half a mile one direction and a full mile the other. It was one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen in a race, and I wish I could’ve gotten a video of it. It was a beautiful day, a little less cold than I thought it would be, but it was definitely windy. The water was choppy, so I mentally prepared to get some extra salt during my swim, haha.

Soon, it was time to head to the start and get the party started. I was wandering around, saw more buddies, when one of them happened to mention, “Hey, I think the orange caps are already across the road”, which means I missed my wave being called. Oh, man, this was the Boston Marathon all over again, when I missed my wave being called and I was LATE TO MY START. Geez. Thanks J. Mott, you could have totally saved my race! I quickly ran across the street in my cold, bare feet, thankfully, as my wave was just entering the water to wait for the start. The water was pleasantly warm, which made the wait less shivery and I tucked about six ladies’ wetsuit zipper strap into their suits to prevent them from getting tangled in the racing arms and legs. It was time to go!

Erin and me

I looked into the day that laid before me, and I was confident in my abilities, I trusted my training, borrowed a little of that confidence from my coach, and knew I could push through and have a great race. What would happen that day? Would I leave happy? Would I cross that finish line in glory? I knew it wasn’t going to be easy and I was nervous, but nothing worth having is easy, and if it was easy, everyone would do it.  Before I knew it, it was time to start the swim. My plan was to not head directly down the channel, it was to head towards the middle to catch as much current as I could and veer left to cut any tangent I could without missing a buoy.

The weird thing about the swim course was that it was not like any of the courses we locals have swam in before. When we started swimming, we normally head down the channel and take a hard left. This time, we were steered at an angle towards the swim finish, which was unusual and unexpected. I was always told to “Know where you are” when open water swimming, and during the swim, sure, I knew where I was, but I really had no idea what was going on and why my landmarks were not where they were supposed to be. I followed the crowd, allowing them to determine where exactly to turn.  I felt good in the water. I didn’t stop, I didn’t get kicked in the face, I didn’t feel stressed or out of breath. When we did make our left turn, we were directly into a stiff wind, and the water was choppy.  I got my face full of wave a few times, got my extra salt, but at least I didn’t throw up. The swim finish approached quickly, and I was thinking that I was going to get my huge swim PR.

Swim: 36:51

Yay!!! Finished with the swim!!

I climbed out of the water on wood ladders, declined many offers of help, and walked myself up the dock towards the parking lot. I was so thrilled that I did not get pummeled by the fast young men whose waves started after mine. Seriously, I was stoked. I found the wetsuit strippers, let them do their job, and was happy to find the warm showers so I could at least try and wash some of the salt water off my face, arms, and neck. It felt so good!

T1 for this race is long, and it was expected, but what I really did not like is that we were required to go get T1 bags with our gear in them. I was not changing my clothes, so I had to run extra to at least get my bike stuff out of my bag and put my swim stuff back in. I heard volunteers yelling there was plenty of room in the tent, but I stayed outside the tent to transition. I heard the full participants complaining after the fact they shouldn’t have had to share the tents with the half, but where I was, there was plenty of room for all. I dropped my bag with a volunteer, ran to my bike, and knew I needed to hustle to get going. THE CLOCK WAS TICKING. Every second counted.

I knew it was windy, but I thought I could tackle it. I started my bike carefully since there was a lot of traffic, but once over the metal deck of the Wrightsville Beach bridge, I started my true journey. We headed out of town with heavy car traffic. It boggles my mind that there are so many cars out there, since this race isn’t new and signs had been posted regarding heavy race traffic for at least two weeks. I heard the drivers were very verbally abusive towards the bikers, and one biker was even hit by a car, because the driver just had to get to the shopping center and turned in front of the biker. Ugh, people, when you see bikers, realize they are moms and dads and sons and daughters and uncles and aunts and teachers and friends. BE CAREFUL! You can snuff out a life with one impatient move.

I remember finding my groove as I headed towards the interstate portion of the course. I was trying to drink and I had my baby potatoes with Base salt somewhere in there. I felt good and strong, my wonky knee was behaving so far, although I knew the hardest part was ahead of me. Yes, as I turned onto the interstate, the wind took my breath away. I was surprised at how strong it was, but I was determined to push through and meet my goal.

That portion of the course got scary. I was trying to find a good “zone”, but with the strong wind blowing at an angle, it was extremely difficult. We were coned off in the left lane of a two lane highway, with cars and trucks barreling past on the right, faster bikers flying by on the left. I almost hit a cone a few times, so made sure I was always paying attention, which made my “zoning” impossible. When the wind wasn’t as strong, I was sure to push harder, and I really had no idea where I stood with my goal time. Just before we turned north (and into the direct head wind), we rode over a ginormous bridge. Cars and trucks were backed up to our right, and you’d have to be absolutely crazy to try and ride in aero. I got out of aero and held on to my handlebars like they were hundred dollar bills. It was not my favorite moment on the bike.

We took a short jog south (which is where the extra 6 miles came from), and then turned north. Oh, Lord, it was windy.

You can literally see the cold front that brought the wind in the night before the race. Or the wind brought it in. Regardless, it sucked. Or blew.

Let me tell you a story. I hate wind. The end.

I have hated wind since I was in high school, when I was riding RAGBRAI (a week-long bike ride in Iowa) I grew to hate it even more, and I’ve pretty much hated it since. You can explain the science behind wind, but it still doesn’t make sense to me. And this is where the mind melt began. I have heard reports it was 15, 20, 23 mph steady with up to 30 mph gusts. I don’t know what it actually was, but everyone was having difficulty and it was not just “breezy”. For competition sake, we all had the same conditions, so it was fair. But I hate wind, so it really wasn’t fair.

When I saw the first aid station, I grabbed a bottle of water and chugged as much as I could, then threw it down at the “last chance trash” sign. I was trying to drink as much of my Base Hydro as I could, and I believed I was doing a good job. Probably ten miles into hell (the direct head wind), I wasn’t feeling the best. Besides having a mental breakdown during what was supposed to be my record-breaking race, I started feeling like I was dehydrated. For me, this is a bobble head sort of feeling, like I can’t really see 100% straight. I’ve had this during some training rides, and it’s not a great feeling. I should have stopped to re-fill my hydro. But I did not want to stop. I couldn’t re-fill on the fly since I was afraid of getting blown over. **I should have stopped and re-filled.**

In the meantime, my mind was filled with negative thoughts. This is what wind does to me. It sucked my confidence, my drive, and my determination away. I let the wind beat me. I should have been stronger in this moment.  I remember thinking, besides my goal is shot, that all those early barf-o-meter mornings were pointless because of this one moment, that I was absolutely crazy for having such an aggressive goal, that I need to do triathlons for fun and not time because it ruins the joy of it (this is the only thing that I still think is true), that I sucked, that this was stupid, it was just. So. Hard. Then it clicked in my brain and I laughed at the irony of it. For those who don’t know, I am a youth running coach, and in my business email signature line, there’s a little quote, “It’s supposed to be hard. The hard is what makes it great.” From that point on, I thought about the kids that I yell at, the ones I tell to push past the discomfort, and I remembered that I needed to be an example to them and to myself, that I was stronger than the damn wind, quit whining and bitching, and PEDAL. So I quit being a big baby, got a hydration game plan together, and pedaled.

When we reached the end of hell and were able to turn around and get a tail wind, I re-filled my hydration and drank as much as I could. I ate my snack, and I pushed myself. I’d been having some knee issues, so I was careful not to go overboard, but I was happy to be able to sustain over 20 mph with our tail wind. Thank you, sweet Jesus, for the tail wind. I was careful not to drink too much, as I didn’t want my stomach full of fluid for the run, but I knew I was playing a make-up game, which is hard to do in the running portion of a triathlon.

As we headed into town, I felt defeated. I let the wind beat me. I made a big nutrition mistake, one I should have already learned.  I knew I wasn’t going to get my big PR, but I just wanted to finish the race strong, and I didn’t want the run to blow up. As we came into T2, there was short steep hill where volunteers were signaling to slow down. No one wanted to slow down, but we did, and the dismount line came very fast. I think this is when I saw my parents, one son, and my sister. Oh, what a sight for sore eyes! We then walked our bikes to what was a single file rubber mat covering dirt and gravel, and we had a long walk to the bike hand off. Ugh, so much wasted time here! Then we were told to put our bikes on the left instead of right. I was not feeling great, so in the middle of trying to quickly switch (there were stacks of people behind me), I became dizzy and fell down. So embarrassing. I knew I held up the line, and quickly recovered and ran my bike, carefully, to the hand off line and into the grassy T2 area. I found my bag and ran into the tent, put my stuff down, and started to cry. I. Was. So. Pissed.

This was going out on the bike (hence the smile) since I don’t have one coming back in

Bike: 3:12:07

My friend, Beth, was working in the tent, said hi, encouraged me (she is awesome), and I quickly changed, sucked it up, and headed out to run 13.1 miles. T2 was LONG and annoying. I know somewhere along the way, whether it was T2 or just into the run, I saw my dad and son on the side. I stopped and gave them both a hug, when across the lane runs my mom for her hug. I tear up at this moment because I do not know if they truly understand how important it was for me to see them at this particular point in the race. And I love the fact that my mom probably would have bulldozed other runners to get her hug. Haha, go mom. The hugs were just what I needed.

It was a pretty big deal my parents got to see one of my races. Pretty big deal.


I knew I needed to start slow but be steady on my run. The course was really weird the first mile – we twisted and turned, went behind buildings, and I didn’t particularly like it. But once we came out of that, we ran through the bars, shops, and restaurants of Front Street, which is one of my favorite places to be in downtown Wilmington. There were a lot of people out cheering us on, but that was short lived as we headed towards Greenfield Lake. I saw TONS of my fellow Without Limits teammates, friends I knew from other training, and I thought it was just beautiful out. Funny thing is, I was hot. There was no wind, barely even a breeze, so I was laughing to myself over the irony of it – I needed that wind to cool me down.

I took a Gu (or whatever they had on the course), kept my Base salt handy, and drank Gatorade at almost every aid station, which were spread out to be about every mile. I enjoyed my run, and as the miles ticked by, I didn’t even look at what my pace was. I was feeling better, something I wasn’t expecting, so I was hoping to at least finish my half marathon fast. I wanted my parents to see me finish strong, so I concentrated on recovery more than I did anything else.

About a mile before the course turnaround, I realized my Base salt tube was empty – wow. Luckily, there was plenty to grab at the Base Performance tent. Lucky me.  I was making sure to take salt, keep hydrated, and eat. I was walking a little here and there at aid stations, but I did my best to run faster every mile. Again, the course was beautiful, and I really loved being able to see and cheer on so many people that I knew.

The miles ticked down, and I came into downtown Wilmington again. There were some crowds, but not as many people as I had expected. I pushed hard through the last mile, saw my family as I came down the finish chute, and gave high fives to as many people who stuck their hands out for me. I was done. I finished.

Coming into the finish chute

Run: 1:58:58

Let’s break it down here.

Swim: 36:51

Bike: 3:12:07

Run: 1:58:58

T1/T2: LONG

Total time: 6:03:34 (I missed a PR by a mere 26 seconds)

76/435 women

18/89 age group

361/1060 overall

As disappointed in my race as I was, to finish strong with my family watching, and to finish well compared to others racing that day, I really can’t complain about anything. I trained hard, I raced hard, I made some mistakes, but I finished with a smile and a lesson, and there’s really nothing better than that.

See that guy with the mic? That is THE Mike Reilly. :):):)

Categories: beach 2 battleship triathlon, being epic, follow your dreams, fueled by base, half iron distance, ironman, open water swimming, race with base, running buddies, running with friends, swimming, training for half iron distance, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

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