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.

IMNC 70.3 Race Recap

In the spring of 2018, I signed up for IMNC 70.3, which was cancelled due to severe damage from Hurricane Florence. We were offered free deferrals to the 2019 race, so I signed up, just to ensure I had a spot, not knowing if I would, in fact, participate in the race.

As I’ve talked about, my “endurance trifecta” begins with IMNC 70.3 and ends with the JFK50 miler five weeks later, with the New York City marathon sandwiched between the two. The good thing about triathlon, is that it forced me to cross train to help my overall strength and to prevent overtraining on the run. I figured that if I needed to let a race go, it would be the triathlon. I’m honestly so overjoyed that I didn’t need to do that.

The best thing I could have ever done is to hire a coach. I can coach marathons all day long, but not triathlons or 50 milers, and mostly, not when I’m the athlete nor when all the said events are within five weeks of each other. Coach knew my goals and set the plan accordingly, often checking in on my hamstring injury and in general.

I decided to head to Wilmington on the Thursday before the race (race was Saturday), and Wednesday night, I woke up at 2 am and could not get back to sleep. Ugh. My son and I left after he was out of school, and we got to Wilmington around 8 pm. Let’s say that driving in the dark is not one of my favorite things to do, especially when I’m sleep deprived and need glasses. I figured I would sleep like a baby, but it was one of the worst nights of not sleeping ever. I’ve had insomnia issues before, and this was a pretty bad string of it. I think I possibly dozed for about an hour. Double ugh.

That Friday was packet pick up, run stuff drop off, and bike drop off. I saw a bunch of people I knew and glanced at the finish line being set up. A quick dose of adrenaline surged through me, part excitement, part fear. Could I actually do this race? I’m exhausted and haven’t trained for it like I had in the past. Yes, yes I’ll be fine. I can do it.

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My son and me in front of the convention center

I dropped my son with his BFF and headed to dinner with a friend, where I had my traditional chicken sandwich with mushrooms, cheese, and a fried egg. Delicious. It was then that I got my actual race plan together. Nothing like waiting until the last minute, right? Race numbers on bike, nutrition planned, clothes laid out, bag packed and ready to go. I decided not to get up too early, but I knew I had somethings to do before we headed to the race. My poor tired little brain could only muster up a few things, haha. At least it was written down.

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My “list” of things to do in the morning

I woke at 4, having only had a few hours of sleep. Probably the second worst string of insomnia, and it was NOT caused by nerves. Not in the slightest. SO FRUSTRATING. I melted down in my sister’s kitchen, and I muttered a few inappropriate things that I can’t believe came out of my mouth, but I was just SO EFFING TIRED. I honestly didn’t know how I was going to make it. The best Sherpa in the world and I took off and headed to the start.

The start area was buzzing, and it was 5:10 am. Crazy. I went to my bike and got my tires pumped up and nutrition laid out. Saw some friends. Oops, forgot to leave my watch in my bike helmet. Did that. Saw more friends, waited in line for the bathroom. I couldn’t believe the activity and how well organized it was. I got my numbers put on my arms and leg. Oops, forgot to put something else in my bike bag. Did that. Saw some more friends. Oops, forgot to put one last thing in my bike bag. Geez, this is what happens when you are exhausted!

Gorgeous sunrise over T1

I said “see ya later” to my sister and headed to the line to get a bus to the start. Wow, there were a lot of people. I found out later there were over 2,200 finishers, so there had to be 2,300-2,400 people there. Crazy. Once I got to the start, I realized it wasn’t as cold as I thought it would be. That was good, because standing and freezing your wetsuit tail off wasn’t my way of beginning a long day of racing, as I had literally zero additional energy to spare. The start was delayed for some reason, I could never figure out why, but once they started, things went pretty fast. It used to be a wave start, but this year, it was a self-seeded time trial sort of start. About one person goes per second. Smooth. I ended up finding two friends in the time I was going to start so we ended up walking across the road to the water. OMG OMG OMG OMG I AM GONNA DO THIS HOLY SHIT HOW AM I GONNA DO THIS IT’S OK I WILL BE FINE OMG OMG OMG.

SWIM: The race started for me. The water felt great and it was a clear shade of green. It has been two years since I have been open water swimming, and I was a little concerned that I wouldn’t adjust from solely pool training for the race. Nope. I was fine. I hadn’t done more than 500 meters at one time without stopping (many of my swims were over 2000 meters though), so I was a little concerned I would get out of breath. Nope. I was fine. Current was strong, the salt water didn’t bother at all, and the sunrise was beautiful. Granted, I did stop a few times to get my bearings and figure out where I wanted to sight. I would NEVER EVER EVER suggest doing this race without open water experience, but considering I used to swim a few miles a week in that very waterway three, four, and five years ago, it came back like it was last week. My goggles got kicked off and I felt slightly violated by a few other swimmers, but it was nothing that I wasn’t expecting nor had dealt with during Ironman Florida, four short years ago. Turn, turn, turn, holy crap, I’m almost done. I felt great.

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The swim start

If you haven’t had your wetsuit stripped or haven’t actually seen it done, you should. It’s an “interesting” experience, haha.

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I made it through the swim!!!!

SWIM: 36:08

Transition: It’s quite a run from the swim finish to the bikes, and I had to run right by my bike to go the race route, which added about 200 extra yards for me when it was already a quarter mile. Ugh.

I saw several friends, volunteer extraordinaire Sami, Lena, and sister Sherpa, took my time to get my swim stuff packed in my bag and bike stuff on. My uncrustable would not fit in anything I had, so I left it. Boo.

Off on the bike

T1: 9:30 (that is a LONG transition)

Off I go on the bike. We will just go for a little ride. Just 57.65 miles. The good thing is that I knew the course was a little long, so I didn’t worry, I was just glad I knew. I kept Corey’s words in my head too, “Looks like we will likely have a head wind both ways.” Hmmmm. Ok then.

The route was a little different than before, and I was concerned since we crossed several major roads in Wilmington. Once I actually rode it, I was blown away at how good the route was and how safe I felt as a biker, unlike in year’s past. I glanced at the time when I left Wrightsville Beach behind, 8:30. I did not have anything on measuring pace or anything, only cadence. THAT was the important thing.

Bike training. I didn’t tell anyone this, but I did minimal bike training, and ZERO training on the road. 100% of my bike rides this entire year were indoor on my trainer. The longest ride was 2 ½ hours, which I did once, and two 2-hour rides and many other shorter rides, one per week. I didn’t tell anyone because, just in case something happened on the bike, someone couldn’t tell me, well, what do you THINK would happen? As soon as I got out there, all those thousands of miles I’d done before came back, pretty much like the swim. Ahhh, it was a beautiful day, slight head wind, but it was beautiful out. I was out with so many athletes, and I was doing it.

I had no idea what my MPH was or anything, but I knew I was taking care of my soon-to-be tired legs that would still be required to run a half marathon. NUTRITION was my main focus, and I made sure to drink every few minutes. I filled my bottle with Gatorade at each aid station and grabbed a gu. I had mini potatoes that I brought out just in time for the photographer. I had some chews as well. I felt good and I had a good therapy session with myself along the way.

The miles ticked by and we turned left and were rewarded with a nice tail wind. We turned left yet again, and the tail wind sort of disappeared, but hey, it wasn’t a strong head wind, so I certainly didn’t care. Half way, OMG I am DOING THIS THING! I tried my best to follow the rules, which is not what everyone decided to do, but I was not going to draft and I was not going to pass on the right. I yelled at the moron who did. The road was pretty bumpy and considering my seat hadn’t had as much training as I suspect almost everyone else did, I was careful for the bumps and cracks in the road. Extra careful.

Once we got back on the main highway, I knew I was going to make it just fine. My knee had been bothering me some, and with some head wind, it kept getting a little worse. As the head wind strengthened, I made sure I was eating and drinking enough, something I really messed up the last time I had done this race, and I was careful not to go below 80 cadence, especially to protect my knee. After Ironman it swelled up for a really long time, and I wanted to avoid as much as that as possible. I’m so thankful that Corey mentioned having head wind both ways – I wasn’t expecting it, and knowing it was possible made it so much better to handle when it actually happened.

The last two weekends, I had run 20 and 22 miles, 30 of them being on trails. My legs were not tapered for this race, but I was really happy at how they were responding. The miles started to get hard. I pushed and kept at it, clinging to positivity, knowing I was almost there. Just the run, just the run, oh, after the big bridge, then you run. You know how to run, you do it all the time, you will be good!

We climbed up toward the grated section of the bridge once last time, and I clung to my bike and desperately tried not to fall over, saying some unsavory words along the way. Whew, down hill. And I choked up. OMG. I did it. Minimal bike training, zero outdoor training, I freaking did it. My coach said it best when she was like “I bet your legs were like WTF”. Yes, they certainly were.

I rolled into the bike dismount area and stopped. I tried to lift my right leg over my bike and it wouldn’t move. One of the volunteers asked me if I was ok, and I asked her to come closer to my left arm, so I could use her to balance myself. Last time I did this race, I actually fell down at this part. I did not want to fall down. I held on to the volunteer and still couldn’t lift my leg over my bike. I started laughing and said “I can’t get off my bike”, when a guy came over and politely lifted my leg over my bike for me. I could fall down laughing at this visual, because it’s one of the funniest things that’s happened to me in a race.

BIKE: 3:25:31

The run. Transition didn’t seem as big when I checked my run bag in, but it was big when I had to run in bike shoes. I took them off and walked toward my bike rack and run stuff. I changed my shirt, put my hat on, grabbed some energy chews, gum, and turned my watch on. The bathroom had a line, so I planned to go to the next one and go there. I saw my sister and a few others there, and went on my way.

T2: 4:52

Just one problem. My legs wouldn’t work. Since my bike was an hour longer than I had trained all season and I had done zero brick workouts, it took a VERY long time for my bike legs to transition to run legs. Like 3-4 miles longer. Oh well, I was doing it. I ran shuffled through downtown Front Street where there were lots of spectators, and I glanced at my pace – 9:30. What? That didn’t seem right considering I was barely moving. I did a bunch of calculations in my head and started to worry. Oh, how long is this going to take? What if I have the walk the entire thing? Worry, worry, worry. A mile clicked by and we were in the unattractive part of the run. I was getting passed by what I felt like was the entire race field. It was frustrating for me since my run is typically my strong part, and that is where I pass everyone else. I saw the leaders coming through, I saw several friends, and my mind clouded up. I looked at my watch again, and I decided to turn the damn thing off. I don’t need it. This is supposed to be fun, not a competition. Remember what Lauren said? You’re partici-racing, not racing this thing, STOP it with the comparing and pressure to perform. That is NOT what this is about, KELLI.

I deleted my run, and decided once and for all to knock it off and just run. I walked through the aid stations and a little bit more, and focused on pushing myself to run when I didn’t feel like it. Practice. This is practice for the 50 miler. Push yourself to run when you don’t want to.

The course is sort of boring for me, but it’s pretty. I didn’t know where the turnaround was, so I just concentrated on going one mile at a time. I saw so many people, and it was fun to go through the aid stations. They were A-MAZING. I drank Gatorade and water at each one, and at one near half way, I took a gu.

The minutes and miles ticked by, and my legs got increasingly smooth. I felt like a runner, finally, and I started passing people. What everyone’s goal should be is to nail nutrition enough to speed up during your run, not slow down. And I was doing that. I was still walking, so my splits show the same pace, but in all honesty, I didn’t care. I was doing it. Race #1 of my endurance trifecta, the one I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to do, and I was doing it.

Then I saw this crazy lady holding a sign with my name spelled correctly yelling things that included my name, and as I got closer, I realized it was my friend Lena. OMG, she made a SIGN???!!! She made me give her a sweaty hug, and her enthusiasm absorbed into me, and I couldn’t stop smiling. That was so cool.

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Comin’ in for my schweaty hug

Soon, I was headed back to town on Front street. I was almost there. I’m going to do this thing! And I felt GOOD!!! Pick up your feet, don’t trip, pick up the pace, finish strong. And that is what I did.

RUN: 2:13:44

TOTAL RACE TIME: 6:29:44

I’m so freaking proud of myself, honestly. A good attitude when completely exhausted, PERFECT nutrition, strong legs, and a good attitude. That’s what it took to get this race done. I love this race. I loved the course, the amazing volunteers, and my friends along the way. It was a good day, a very good day.

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My sister Sherpa and me!

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Endurance Trifecta Race 1, COMPLETE. Next up, New York City Marathon on November 3rd.

I had to add this picture. I had NO idea there was a smiley face under my age until I got back to my sister’s house, AFTER the run. Thanks, Erin!!!!!

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My smiley face

Categories: anything is possible, follow your dreams, half iron distance, ironman, ironman florida, marathon, marathon training, no fear, open water swimming, running, training for half iron distance, training for triathlon, triathlon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Going Retro: Finding Focus

It’s been a long time since I’ve written. My family moved over the summer, so I equate the situation to eating before swimming. When you swim, all the blood goes to your muscles to keep you afloat, so your stomach gets less blood, which causes cramps. All my energy went to setting our home up, getting the kids settled, and having a three week stint with a job that didn’t pan out, so I didn’t have enough energy to blog. If I did blog, it would’ve been like “Here’s my blog. I’m doing a blog post. This is a blog. Hi.” So I didn’t blog.

Slowly but surely, my creativity started to come back. I figured I’d take advantage of it and update on some happenings.

Last week, it dawned on me that my endurance trifecta was an actual possibility. I never put much thought into the completion of it, because it’s something that doesn’t truly matter and I created it, not like I joined in a challenge……  Ok, I lied. It does matter, because no one wants to back away from a challenge they created. And there’s no reason why I can’t complete this thing.

Race #1: IMNC 70.3 – This race was supposed to be a do-over from the horrible 2017 race, when I went into it completely exhausted and depleted, and I totally melted down during the bike (I would say crash and burned, but I know enough people who have actually crashed, I won’t use that term). Then last year, Hurricane Florence forced the race to cancel, so I used my entry from last year for this year. I took the biking REALLY easy this training cycle to ensure it didn’t flare my hamstring injury from January that has decided to unpack and stay for a while. Thankfully, the injury keeps getting better, even with my increase in volume and adding incline.

I do have to say, since I’m on the trainer a lot, I got a chance to binge watch Stranger Things. I had no idea it was such a good show, and now I feel like one of the cool kids at school because I know who Eleven is. And Halloween will make so much more sense this year. So much more.

Swimming has gone well….. let’s just say I’m getting it done. I had a tantrum slash pity party in the middle of my swim last week. I was sucking air and frustrated, so I stopped in the middle of the lane. UGH! I had a little talk with myself and decided that I’d better get comfortable with being uncomfortable REALLY QUICK, and to have a cup of “suck it up” with a side of “STOP WHINING”. Let’s say the 2600 meter swim this week went way better.

no whining

Running. Oh, running. There’s a huge difference between summer running and non-summer running, and when I say summer, I mean all the seasons because it’s never really cold here. I literally think it’s going to stay in the 90’s until the end of time. I’ve had some decent runs, and some non-decent runs, and ones where I’m all like, “what the hell was that?”, and some that are “THAT’S what running is”. I don’t do well in the heat and humidity, which, for me, is pretty much anything above 60. Give me some 40-degree days and I can run forever.

How ironic is it that when I’m running and getting on with a big diatribe of how horrible and hot I am, I’m listening to audio books where the runners are competing in the Badwater 135, where it’s basically the temperature of a casserole-ready oven. So I take what I can from those authors and their experiences with something so unbelievably uncomfortable, and know that all I need to do is keep moving forward and keep my chin up. It’s that simple. It sucks that my pace is 2-3 minutes slower than my cold weather pace and that I probably will pass on training for another fall marathon, but I’m out there getting it done, flushing my body free of all the water it has ever taken in.

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This is me.

Like I said before, I recently realized that the first race of my trifecta will be here in the blink of an eye. I shifted my focus to this one race. Because I’ve raced a lot over the years, visualization comes quite naturally to me. It’s something I started doing the first time I raced a marathon, and it really comes in handy with other races as well. I need to think through the transitions, remember what I need to have, and to make sure I am on-point with nutrition.

My focus for this 70.3 is FUN. And finishing. Just finishing. Remembering to find joy in each mile, knowing that I’m out there, accomplishing a goal, not worrying about a time. It’s like going retro since I haven’t raced a race without a time goal in a long time. The first triathlon I ever did was a 70.3, and I had a total blast along the way, so that is what I want to recapture in this race. I can see myself talking to my spectator friends, stopping to pee if I feel like it, and run/walking the run part. I don’t even want to wear a watch, because the goal is to finish, not to finish in XX hours and minutes. It just doesn’t matter.

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Please tell me my family and I aren’t the only ones who knows what this is from. Please.

As my training gets longer and more difficult, I’m embracing the difficulty, keeping a positive attitude, and trying to prepare the best way I can. And honestly, as hot and humid, as much as I just don’t get faster in the pool, as tired as my legs can be, I’m enjoying myself, maintaining my house, keeping my boys fed, meeting new friends and neighbors, and occasionally, binge watching Netflix. Go me!

As I celebrate another year on the planet, I look up at the sky, take in a breath of horribly hot and humid air with twinge of sewer smell, and thank God that I’m able to be out there, smelling stinky air, running for 3-4 hours at a time, swimming slowly in a pool, watching Netflix as I bike, and coming home to a family that loves me.

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Happy Birthday To Me!

 

 

Categories: anything is possible, being epic, follow your dreams, half iron distance, marathon, marathon training, running, swimming, temper tantrum, training for half iron distance, training for marathon, training for triathlon, triathlon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Keep on Dreaming….

Facebook can be a good thing and Facebook can be a bad thing. The “Memories” or “On This Day” feature has been pretty cool. I get to see pictures of my kids when they had baby teeth, and I get to see some fun times with friends and fellow athletes.

Today’s Memory struck a cord with me, and I was taken back to the specific day that prompted the post seven years ago. I clearly remember what happened, where I was, and where I was going.

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That Saturday morning, I went to run with my group. I had signed up for the Houston Marathon because I lived in Houston at the time, and someone, who knew I had tried to qualify for Boston before, asked me if I was going to try again. This would be my fourth attempt, and I was still pretty stung from the previous failed attempts. I told this person that I didn’t know if I really wanted to put so much effort into something and come up disappointed. Again. He shrugged and we went about our workouts. I didn’t think a whole lot about it, as I needed to get to my son’s football practice on that very hot, Texas morning.

On my way to the field, I heard the song “Even if it Breaks Your Heart” by Eli Young Band. I immediately started tearing up, because I felt like the song was sitting me down and telling me to keep my dream of running in Boston alive. Don’t give up. Keep going, even if it breaks your heart. It definitely HAD broken my heart, but the heart has a funny way of healing itself. I knew then and there I had to continue to fight to keep my dream alive, I needed to keep my goal of qualifying for Boston, and do what I could to make it happen.

It’s funny when I look back to that time in my life. If I only knew. If I could have sat myself down, sort of like the song did, and looked myself in the eyes. I would’ve said “You have no idea your potential. Go for it”.

It took me a few days to really think about it, the irony of the situation and how that song came at the right place and especially the right time. As I’ve written about before, some songs speak to me when I need it the most (“You Can’t Always Get What You Want”). I needed that song on that day, and I’m so thankful all the puzzle pieces came together for me to hear it.

In the last seven years, I’ve qualified for Boston four times. I’ve run Boston twice, which is where one of those qualifications was made. I ran my fastest marathon in Houston less than two years ago. It’s crazy to think what we could do if we never stopped believing. But that’s a different song….

I’m currently in the middle of yet another dream-making training session for my endurance trifecta, and I think, yet again, I needed to see the words to urge me to keep dreaming. Dreams really are the spice of life. Even if they break your heart.

“…Some dreams, stay with you forever, drag you around and bring you back to where you were.

Some dreams, keep on getting better, gotta keep believin’, if you want to know for sure…”

 

 

 

 

Categories: anything is possible, being epic, Boston Marathon, follow your dreams, go for your dreams, half iron distance, ironman, learning from failure, marathon, marathon training, qualifying for boston marathon, running, training for marathon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

It’s been a while since I’ve written, but so much has and will be changing in my life! Where do I begin? Well, after I decided to forego running Boston, I was determined to get back to running, and by running, I mean running healthy. I’m not sure what happened in the middle, but with everything else going on, I failed to keep track of what I was doing. I picked up biking, which could be the reason my hamstring is just not healing. I was on track and running 30-something pain-free miles a week, and then all of a sudden, it was hurting again. I don’t know if it was due to the introduction of biking or running too much, but something started bugging it. So I backed off, got a coach, and am swimming again! Yay me! If you know me, you know I’m being totally sarcastic about the lack of love lost between me and swimming. The part that I don’t want to admit is that it feels really good and my upper body could use some help in the strength department.

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Don’t tell anyone I’m actually enjoying it. 

 

My sights are set on the fall endurance trifecta, but my ultimate goal is to run the NYC Marathon with my husband and then the JFK 50 Miler. The 70.3 triathlon was a deferral from last year due to the hurricane, and it forces me to cross-train, so in all honesty, it would be a wonderful supported workout, but it’s not the primary focus.

While I was running too much, my husband’s company had an opening near Charleston, SC, so he applied for it. After a long wait, we found out that we would be relocating the family to Summerville, SC over the summer. It is a really good opportunity for him and his career, and we are looking forward to making some changes. And can you say, “Clemson. In-state tuition????” Go Tigers!

We will be saying “See ya later” to so many friends, but my sister lives in Wilmington, and I refused to change my son’s orthodontist, so we will be “forced” to come visit quite often, which makes everyone feel better. THAT..was a run-on sentence. Sheesh. We usually move 1000+ miles, so this one seems pretty simple. Except the home selling process is excruciating, and I’ve hated almost every moment of it. In less than one week, theoretically, if the buyers do what they say they will do, we will have a nice down payment for our new home in the bank. Thankfully, it’s a seller’s market here in Wilmington, but I certainly feel like we have made all the concessions for the buyers and they have made none. I feel like karma will get us back for it, and if not, at least I know I’m not the a-hole I certainly want to be most of the time. Let’s say I’ve said my fair share of swear words lately.

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It doesn’t work. Ever. 

I said “goodbye” to my coaching business I started five years ago. That was hard, but in all honesty, I needed more. I loved what I was able to do and the kids I made a difference to. I wanted to keep that, but expand, and I just couldn’t figure out how to expand in a responsible and insurable way. I’m not sure where the wind will take me in Summerville, and I’m looking forward to working more when we get there and settled.

This week, we are supposed to close on our current home and drive for two days to go to my parent’s house near Branson, Missouri. It may not be the best timing for a long trip, but with the 4th of July, LEGAL fireworks, and the fact that my parents love to cook for us, it will be a really nice relaxing time in the middle of chaos. We were considering putting the trip off, but I told them that I really need to be taken care of during this time. I’m pretty lucky. Except that my husband gets to fly back and I am making the drive with the kids and dog. My sister and her husband will be there part of the time, so we are really excited to spend some good old-fashioned family time together.

In our house hunt, we looked for trail systems near Summerville, and we were lucky to find a 15 or so mile trail about 10 miles from our new house. How awesome will that be to have some longer trails to train on! There’s sidewalks for miles as well, which isn’t something that’s common in my current neighborhood. As much as I will miss the amazing running community here, I’m looking forward to expanding the number of people I know, and hopefully hosting some Wilmington folks for the running, swimming, and triathlon events in Charleston, which there are many.

Wish me luck this week as I say goodbye to my home of the last 6 years (hopefully), and embark on a long road trip. In just three weeks, I should be moving into my new house in Summerville.

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The New Home…

Changes. They can be overwhelming. They can be scary. They can be sad. They’re almost always stressful in some way. But change is good, and the adventure awaits!

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Goodbye to Epic Running Company. At least for now. 

Categories: Uncategorized | 2 Comments

I Remember When…..

Not long ago, I stumbled across this little nugget of nostalgia, a picture of my husband-to-be and me after my first marathon in January of 1999. He ran the marathon relay.

I couldn’t believe 1) what I was wearing, 2) the placement of my race bib, and 3) that my face looked so round.

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I remember training for that marathon, running 20 miles of the beach loop on Thursdays after work, eating Great Harvest Cheddar Garlic bread for lunch and snack and then eating a hot fudge sundae and drinking a Diet Coke after said long run. Gag. How ironic that 20 years later, many moves, two kids, and 20 years of married bliss, I meet my friends at that same location to run that same loop.

I think about how much has changed in my life over those twenty years, but specifically, how much has changed in running over twenty years. Oh my.

Before I get to the main point of this post, let me just mention something that HAS NOT changed in those twenty years. Me and running. Sure, I’ve learned a boatload since then, and I’ve  come so far, gotten way faster and have run the Boston Marathon (I wouldn’t have believed you had you told me back then) and done an Ironman, which means I learned how to swim to actually go somewhere, not just prevent myself from dying (I wouldn’t have believed you had you told me back then). I’m still the same person, one who just goes for things, like signing up for a 50 mile race before working up to that distance. Hey, ever hear of a 50k first? Nope, didn’t think so. I signed up for that first marathon before running anything but one 5k. I remember thinking, “Why not?”, so I did it. And I’m so glad I did. I have that same element of “No Fear” as I did back in the day, something that I’m pretty dang proud of. I digress.

Because it was worth going back and reminiscing the good ole days, here’s my list of things that are different since I ran my first marathon in 1999.

  • Look at that picture and whisper to yourself what my shirt is made of. It makes me shake my head and say “Bless your heart”. Poor little thing is wearing cotton. I shutter. I never wear cotton, at least 100% cotton as we all pretty much wore all cotton everything then. How did I not end up in the ER with severe blood loss from all the chafing? Were those heavy cotton socks serving as ankle weights? I have no idea how I did that. Nowadays, we have polyester, dry fit, breathable, light-weight fabrics that wick moisture. Pretty big step up, I’d say. My current running shoes probably weigh less than the shoe strings of the old days too.
  • Garmin or some sort of GPS device that will conveniently measure your pace and distance. What did we do back before GPS? We rode the route in our car and used the odometer to find the distance. Now you are free to roam the city with a simple push of the button. Need a specific pace? No need to do your workout on the track, just push that little button. Easy peasy. Unsure of what mile you’re on in your race? Just look at that thing on your wrist. No worries if you miss a mile marker (or if it’s missing), no worries at all, it’s just right there waiting for you, all the information in the world.
  • Races. They’re literally everywhere. Every distance, every location, all abilities, every weekend. There’s always something somewhere. Granted, it’s way easier to find races when you live in a temperate climate, for sure, but if you’re willing to travel, there’s always a race. And now there’s companies who’s sole goal is to provide you with a race on your vacation.
  • Speaking of races, how about race registration? I remember signing up for the Marine Corps Marathon, the first one I didn’t do because I met this cute boy and my training pretty much ceased to exist for the remainder of the summer, hence the Myrtle Beach Marathon. I filled out this form from somewhere, not sure if I printed it out or what, but I wrote a check and sent it in, BAM, I’m in. Now there’s a lottery and a chance you can’t even participate. How about the New York City Marathon? FIFTY-FIVE THOUSAND RUNNERS. And thousands more want in. It blows my mind. And all you have to do is enter some information and with the click of a “Complete Registration” button, you’re in. That’s pretty much how I signed up for my Ironman. It really should come with a “Are you sure you want to do this?” button, followed by a “Are you REEAAALLLLY sure you want to do this?” button.
  • The internet and all the information that comes with it. Don’t get me started on Google. I didn’t have a computer at home in 1999, and I had a barely functioning email at work that took me five minutes to get to. I used to communicate with my boyfriend via fax. FAX. I can’t even remember what sort of training plan I used for my first marathon. I probably didn’t even use one but at least knew enough to get long runs in and get up to 20 miles at one time. That’s probably why I hurt so bad and could barely walk after I finished my race, and I remember tripping over an ant hill. I don’t even think I ate anything during those long runs. Now you can find anything you want at the click of a mouse, and not the mouse who gets in your house. You can find any bit of running information, join virtual groups, virtual races, training groups, find a coach, find a training plan, anything you need, you can find with ease.
  • On-the-road entertainment. I used to wear a WALKMAN with those foam headphones when I did some of my training runs. I would make myself a tape of songs I probably got off the radio, ones where the beginning is cut off as you ran to the tape recorder and the DJ cuts off at the end. Now there’s iPods, MP3 players, iPhones, Spotify, and iTunes where you can get pretty much any song or playlist at the push of a button. Books on “tape”, Podcasts, anything you want, you have access to it. What a far cry from trying to memorize “Dancing Nancies” so I’d have a song to sing during a marathon. Oy, bless my heart. When I moved to Katy, Texas, I got lost on my run. I had my phone, so pulled up the GPS to find my way back home. You can do almost everything nowadays with your PHONE, and I honestly don’t even know how we did anything back in the day.

What have you noticed as changed since you started running, assuming it was a long time ago?

Categories: Uncategorized | 1 Comment

On The Road Again

Just can’t wait to get on the road again…. You’re singing it, aren’t you?

Patience has paid off, and I still have a reservoir of patience left I will probably use up in another month, but I’m back to running. And it feels glorious.

Before last April, I’d never been sidelined from running, EVER, so to be sidelined twice in less than 12 months was just cruel, especially to my husband, who doesn’t love running the way I do and just doesn’t always understand the lack-of-running crank I become when I can’t run. Poor guy.

I started with a run/walk as I did last summer, but lucky for me, it progressed a lot faster than last year. So far. I just have to remember NOT to sabotage my progress and to be careful. My hamstring is still not pain-free, but it’s more than tolerable and is lessening, even with the increase in mileage and speed. This morning’s 6 mile run contained my fastest mile since January at 8:17, and it truly felt amazing. It didn’t hurt the temps were in the upper 30’s, which generally makes me feel like I can run forever, and Pearl Jam’s Even Flow came on. Staying positive through this whole deal has been essential to recovery and moving forward. I think having the right mindset through something difficult, keeping positive while staying realistic can mean the difference between happiness and depression, at least for me.

Unfortunately, I’ve been sad today, even though it started with the perfect run. Monday was two weeks until the Boston Marathon that I’m not doing, and I’m seeing a lot of activity on Facebook and getting lots of emails from the Boston Athletic Association regarding the marathon and all the prep that goes into it. It makes me sad. So I changed my Facebook profile picture to the race two years ago when I saw my kids and husband on the course, running towards them, arms flailing and jumping up, even though I was on mile 25. It was one of the best races I’ve ever had, EVER, partially because I ran the perfect race and partially because I saw my family, who have supported me whole heartedly in all the crazy things I’ve set out to do. I know that if I never get back to Boston, I’ll always have that race, and I’m ok with that. And I allowed myself one day to be sad. It’s ok to be sad, just don’t unpack there.

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One of my favorite days of all time. 

While I was running this morning, I thought about this year’s crazy plans, and I wondered if the past things I’ve done have been foolish or crazy or just plain stupid. I realized that you can go about things in a thousand different ways, but no, it wasn’t foolish or stupid, just maybe a tad crazy. My third triathlon was a full Ironman race, which is a 2.4 mile swim, followed by a 112 mile bike ride, followed by a marathon, 26.2 miles of running. You learn a lot about yourself during the training for endurance events, and I learned that I needed to surround myself with experienced people, listen to what they have to say about their event, and just keep moving forward. Endurance teaches you a lot about a lot of things.  One of the most important things it teaches me is that I’m capable of doing things I never imagined possible.

Funny side note: When a friend of mine told me he was going to do an Ironman, probably back in 2012, I didn’t know what it was, so looked it up. When I saw what an Ironman was, I literally said out loud, “That is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard of.” I chuckle at that now.

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Another one of my favorite days of all time, ever.

I’ve hesitated to talk about my plans for the fall. First, I wanted to be sure I had a person who was willing to coach me through this and knew my goals going in. Check. Coach picked and my challenge has been accepted. Second, I didn’t want people to think I was insane. Check. I care, but I don’t really care.

So here it is.

October 19th – IMNC 70.3 – half iron triathlon (half the distances of the above described IM)

November 2nd – New York City Marathon – 26.2 miles of fun

November 23rd – JFK 50 Mile Run

So how did this all happen? First, the triathlon was unintended, but it is endurance and includes cross training, which is good. Last year’s race was cancelled due to Hurricane Florence, so all participants were offered a deferral. The only race that worked for me was the same one, so I signed up. Why not?

NYC Marathon….now this was NEVER on my list until the Houston Marathon in January of 2018. There was a lot of talk about the NYC Marathon on Facebook, and since I was trapped in a hotel for three days because of the ice storm that prevented me from flying home and had a lot of spare time combined with post-race insanity, I looked up what it took to qualify. Boom. The qualifying time for my age group is 3:38, and I made it with my time of 3:33. I was accepted in for the 2019 race this winter, and my husband decided to enter the lottery for the race. Only about 15% get in who try to get in that way, and he got in! He said he wanted to do a big marathon, so running with 55,000 other people should probably fit that bill. The goal is to run together and experience all of NYC.

The 50 Miler. A few years ago, I was looking for something interesting “to do”, and the JFK 50 came up. I put it off until this year, when I learned that a group from where I live planned to run it as well. I decided that I needed to go for it, bonus would be having others to train with. It’s so big, so hard to even imagine, but I’m ready for the challenge.

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This is the tattoo I have on my foot to remind me to take chances and not be afraid of what challenges they may bring.

The Endurance Trifecta. 3 major endurance events, 5 weeks, no goal but to finish in the allotted time. Crazy? Maybe. Stupid? Absolutely not. Painful? Probably. Expensive? Yup. What isn’t? But I haven’t looked forward to something this big since I signed up for my full Ironman in 2015. I’m excited for the experiences, yes, but I’m more excited about the journey along the way. It makes not running Boston sting a little less.

 

Categories: anything is possible, being epic, Boston Marathon, follow your dreams, iron distance, ironman, ironman florida, marathon, marathon training, no fear, running, running buddies, running with friends, triathlon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

You Can’t Always Get What You Want

Every time something that I really, really want can’t or doesn’t happen, I hear the Rolling Stones song, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” on the radio. In my car. It’s happened about five times in the last six years. I never hear that song otherwise. I always hear it when I’m cranked up about something or trying to make a big decision or wondering why I didn’t get the job I wanted or didn’t get to race a race I wanted to race. It’s like a message from God. He is telling me that I’m not supposed to do whatever it is that I really wanted. And that everything will be ok.

I recently went on a trip to Las Vegas with my husband for our 20th anniversary, and I took a picture of myself. I thought it was pretty cool, but I didn’t like the age that I saw – the wrinkles and lines in places I hadn’t really noticed before. I thought about NOT posting it on Facebook because of the lines and I didn’t want anyone to think I was ugly or looked older than I am (45) or that I think I’m all that when I am not. Then I thought about it and realized that I really stopped caring what everyone thought about me a while ago. I mean, of course, I CARE what people think, to an extent, but it’s my face and there’s really nothing I can do to change that. And I like it. During this process, I realized that I don’t like what aging does to my face, but I sincerely appreciate what it does for my soul. I’ve had some profound changes in my 40’s and feel like I’m the most “ME” that I’ve ever been. I heard it’s a fairly common thing. I’ve learned a lot from my mistakes, and I’m proud of the person I am today.

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At the Bellagio in Las Vegas

My last post was the positive side of having an injury. To recap, during a track workout that I did WAY TOO FAST (my fault that I did not follow the coach’s pacing), I strained my upper hamstring. I bagged my next long run after 8 miles because of the pain, but I proceeded to run 15 miles on it the following weekend. I was determined. And I didn’t care what happened. And honestly, I don’t regret that decision.

After a few weeks, it became pretty clear to me that recovering from the injury was not going to be a quick process. The weeks until the Boston Marathon, which I qualified for by over 20 minutes, were quickly flipping by like an old clock with the number flaps. I biked, I elliptical’d, I avoided swimming, I did strength, and I stayed positive. I kept hope that it would be ok. I did not allow anger to creep in.

The day after an optimistic physical therapy session, I was to run two miles. And my leg hurt within a quarter of a mile, if even that. I ran/walked the two miles, and I burst into tears when I entered my house.

I. Can’t. Do. This.

I can’t run a marathon in eight weeks when it hurts to run a quarter mile. It’s not worth the consequences. I cried loud. All my pets were all up in my face trying to comfort me. Then I texted my husband that I will not be running in the Boston Marathon because I can’t even run a mile without pain. I cannot do it. I WILL NOT do it.

The weight was lifted. But I was extremely sad. Not angry. Just deflated, and very, very sad. All the hope, all the money on races, all the training that I carefully crafted. All of it for nothing. To be back to square zero. Ugh. Tears. I felt guilty. I felt sad. After I stopped crying, I decided I would do some retail therapy and run errands. I was a little on edge, and normally, I listen to my playlist in my car. But that day, I just kept flipping through the radio stations. Flip, song, flip, song….. it would be ok. Stay positive.

I went to a spa to get some makeup for Vegas, Kohls for some shorts and anything with sparkles, Costco for food, and Harris Teeter for more food that I couldn’t get at Costco. When I got in the car to go home, I flipped the station yet again, and guess what song had just started.

I burst into tears on College Avenue, and I knew I made the right decision. More importantly, I knew everything was going to be ok.

Our family had a decision to make. Because Boston is an exceptionally expensive place to go, we decided to forego the entire trip to Boston. Instead of participating in the greatest marathon in the world on April 15th, I will watch it on TV, and track those friends I know running it. The next day, we are packing our truck, heading to a Charleston KOA cabin on a lake, visit as much as we can in the area, and spend a third of what we would have spent on just a hotel alone in Boston. I’m relieved. I’m still sad. But I’m relieved. I know it will be ok, and running Boston was not what I needed, for whatever reason.

The aging process isn’t always fun, until you delve into what the process teaches you.

“You can’t always get what you want.

But if you try sometimes, you might find

You get what you need”

Categories: being epic, Boston Marathon, coaching, follow your dreams, las vegas, marathon, marathon training, qualifying for boston marathon, running, running buddies, running with friends, Uncategorized, wrightsville beach marathon | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Making Another Pitcher of Lemonade

At the risk of sounding like a big, whiny baby, I am taking a moment to complain about something. Injuries. As if I wasn’t injured long enough last year, I’m injured again. From running too fast at track practice. The unfortunate part is that I can’t blame anyone or anything but myself for it happening. Again. And I knew better. Because it’s happened before. So here I am, in the middle of marathon training, and I can’t run. I mean, I could, but it would just cause a lot of bad running that looks like Elaine from Seinfeld when she went to a party and danced. See the clip HERE if you haven’t seen it, or if you want a chuckle. THAT would be me if I tried. And I tried last weekend, because my determination to get in a long run usurped the reality that it wouldn’t do any good, PHYSICALLY, and could actually set me back.  I also had some left over nerve pain medication from when I had shingles and when you mix that and a long run, things get funky.

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Me trying to run on Saturday.

I’m not going to sit here and gripe all day about not running when I am fully aware that all I need to do is let my body heal, which shouldn’t take too long if I don’t pull crazy Elaine dancing stunts. I’m also quite aware that I’m extremely lucky to be able to do these kind of things to myself, so there’s that too.

Because I like lists and I need to vent while also keep things light, I decided to make a list of things that are good about being injured. My lemonade might still be a tad sour, but at least you can drink it.

  • Being injured makes me think about and sharpen up on physiology because lately I’ve wondered, “Do I REALLY need my hamstring to run or am I just being overly dependent on it?”. Last Saturday, I literally tried to run without really extending my lower leg past my knee joint, so it wouldn’t pull on my hammy. It just made me look like the weird bug guy from Men In Black. Turns out hamstrings are necessary in running and the kinetic chain, not a sign of unhealthy co-dependence. And when you don’t use them properly, other funky stuff starts to happen.
  • You know how when you’re in the middle of that really hard workout, and you wonder when it will be over and you’re bordering the threshold of throwing up? When you’re injured, you won’t get that feeling. I mean, who wants to feel like that or actually vomit because of a race that you won’t win? Not me, oh, not me. I won’t miss that. <<Sorry, huge eye roll and maybe a small sigh, but I’m TRYING here. I thrive on that feeling. Sigh.>>
  • Who’s getting up early to go on a long run Saturday morning? NOT me, suckas! I’ll be sleeping well past 6 am this weekend.
  • Because I’m not putting miles on my shoes, they will last longer. So there’s that.
  • Speaking of saving money, I’m not burning the calories that I normally do when I’m marathon training, even though I’m still training, so I’m saving a lot of grocery money. Sign me up for that coupon!
  • If someone asks me to help them move or mow the yard or do yard work, I won’t be able to because I’m injured.
  • Unless someone asks me to move or do heavy yard work or something like that, I’ll be working on my pain tolerance. That’s not me yelling “OW!” when doing my physical therapy or tweaking the injury in the moment of amnesia when I bound up the stairs or try and play basketball with my son, heck no. That’s me yelling, “NOW!”. As in, “I feel great, NOW!”.
  • I get to reacquaint myself with the pool! And anyone who knows me, knows how much I LOOOOOOOVE to swim! Yay, me!
  • Planning. My brain can work like a drop of mercury after meeting the floor, especially when I have a little more mental energy, so I’m already scheming for my next big thing. Besides the trifecta I have planned for the fall (I hope to announce the three events come March), I’m already planning a big huge LL Cool J comeback for 2020. I’m not sure my husband will appreciate all my “ideas”, but like the Clemson Tigers, I am “All In”.

There’s probably a few million more positive things I can find (aka make up) about being injured, but I think I’m ready to move on. I can feel progress already, and I know this will be a minor setback, albeit a significant one. I’ll be back to running, I’ll be running in Boston, and I’ll be happy, no matter what. And that, my friends, is the most important part.

lemonade

Categories: Boston Marathon, marathon, marathon training, running, swimming, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Mindset

In order to look forward with a clear vision, I think it’s a good idea to look back. New Year’s becomes a “thing”, picking your word of the year, resolutions, stuff like that. I like it, and I think it is necessary for many people, as long as the vision doesn’t become blurry and you forget what you believed in so clearly on January 1st. I don’t remember what my “word” was for last year, so evidently, that’s not a good method for me. I’ve VERY successfully used phrases for my “year mantra”, and it was life-changing in a good way, but it just won’t work for me now.

This year is different. I want something different. I want to feel differently. 2018 was not a good year for me for many reasons, but I think it is necessary to have years like that, or difficult times. Coming out on the other side of darkness has its benefits, for sure. It certainly wasn’t the worst year ever and I still consider myself extremely lucky. But it still sucked, overall. You always have the opportunity to learn from past mistakes or having to overcome some obstacle(s). I decided that I wasn’t going to pick a word for the year; I’m choosing a mindset. It’s an all-encompassing feeling that I’m searching for, that I’m striving for, really. You tend to get what you put in the universe, right? If you put positivity out, you will attract it.

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I’ve never found a shark tooth before. But I wished it when walking on the beach, and lo and behold, I found one. Here it is, laying on my marathon training plan.

There are so many good things that occurred in 2018. My kids are doing well, my oldest turned 16 and is working, my husband is happy at his job. I started coaching cross country, my elementary coaching is in high demand. I got a big marathon PR and truly felt the training result and the glory and the pain of a strong finish. But it came with a lot of woulda shoulda coulda situations from that entire experience. The two injuries that followed were probably preventable and sent me into a mini depression, but going through that gave me a lot of insight and reinforced how lucky it is that I can do what I do. It was one of two, or maybe even three, big experiences of the year where I kept quiet and I shouldn’t have. Woulda. Shoulda. Coulda. All I can do is take that and apply it in the future. I can’t dwell on it.

Do you ever think about situations and often come up with the best response at least 24 hours AFTER the conversation has taken place? For me, it’s usually a week post-conversation when I get the, “THAT’S WHAT I SHOULD HAVE SAID” feeling. That was pretty much me in all of 2018. So what can I learn from it? Well, the biggest takeaway for me, is to not rehash any conversation in my mind and get upset about what I COULD have said that would have either ended the particular conversation or situation, or could have made me out to be super smart. Isn’t that what we’re usually looking for anyway? As I cleaned my house up from the holiday family fun, I was reminded of how silly it is to waste time on these imaginary conversations. As much as I want to be heard, as much as I want to be right, as much as I want the other person to KNOW that I am right and they must at least acknowledge what it is I’m saying, it’s just. Plain. Silly. To waste another minute on it. I think part of me is the little girl, standing there, just wanting someone to acknowledge her. Just see her. Just listen to her……Just see me. Listen to me. Like the Stands With A Fist character in “Dances with Wolves, I want to stomp my foot and be heard. But it doesn’t work that way. Sometimes the softest voices can be the loudest. Sometimes you have to walk away.

Instead of sitting there and spinning webs of imaginary situations and conversations, it’s time to let go of hurt feelings, of wanting to be accepted, of wishing away things, of regrets, of missing the unsaid words. It’s time to let go, and look forward with a very laser sharp view of the future. As I sit here in the dark room because it feels like the sun will never come out again, I think about being happy instead of depressed from the bleakness and brownness of the outdoors. I can be transformed from thoughts, and that’s my first step in being mindful of making my own self happy. Happier, anyway.

What am I going to do in 2019 to make myself happier? First of all, I’m in the beginning of training for the Boston Marathon, and if anything makes me happy, giddy almost, it’s thinking about running in general, but specifically in Boston. This will be the third time, and I’m hesitant to make a big goal, but I think I’m going to anyway. Why not? If it doesn’t’ work out, then it’s still running the Boston Marathon, right? I’m going to give the next few weeks of training my best, and I’ll see if it’s a truly realistic goal.

The second thing that would make me happy, but I have literally zero control over, is seeing Clemson win the National Championship against Al…..allll…..aaaaa…. I can’t even say it. The other team. Go Tigers!

I’d like to take on a really big goal. A few big goals. I have a plan for the fall, and it might be really stupid, but I’m the kind of person that will look at it and say, “I can do that”. If my 3rd triathlon was a full ironman, then anything is possible.

But overall, it’s about spending time with people I care about, doing the things I care about, being the best version of myself, being kind while still speaking my mind, staying away from drama, learning from the past, applying that knowledge to now, and remembering that every day is a gift from God, every day there is always something to be thankful for. Happy 2019 to everyone! May this be your best year yet!

Categories: anything is possible, Boston Marathon, coaching, follow your dreams, ironman, marathon, marathon training, running, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 5 Comments

A Million Little Things

It’s been a long time since I’ve been here. I’ve wanted to write several times, and when I go to do it, I pretty much freeze up because it’s been so long and I don’t even know where to start.

To accomplish anything, there has to be a beginning, right? So I guess I need to just start at the beginning, where I left last time. Even if there’s a million little things.

In January, I ran my hardest, fastest, and most satisfying marathon to date. The Wednesday before the race, I tweaked my calf during my last speed session. Luckily, it didn’t affect my race, but I spent the next two months “taking it easy” to make sure it didn’t get worse. Looking back, I didn’t do this the right way, but hindsight is always 20/20. In April, I went to Alabama to run the Grand Viduta stage race, which is 43 miles of technical trails total over three days. While I would suggest it for anyone and everyone to do this amazing, well-done race, I would not suggest it for those who didn’t train on trails very much. Because I was running on rocks and uneven surfaces, my posterior tibialis, specifically through my ankle, became irate after day 2. Because we are constantly told to “push through the pain” and I didn’t want to “quit”, I pushed through the tears and pain, and I ran on day 3. Hindsight…. I should have hiked it, not run it. That’s not the pain you push through, that’s for sure!

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Grand Viduta Stage Race – I would HIGHLY recommend this race!!!!! 

 

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Mud

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And beer. 

After weeks of not being able to run without pain, I went to my PT for dry needling. Still couldn’t run. I went for second opinion with my chiropractor, who has fixed my many ailments over the years. He confirmed what my PT said, but he also had the injury from lifting, so he understood. He said to start from zero. Start over. In my head, I screamed “NOOOOO! I can’t do that! I’m a runner!!”. I normally don’t run less than 5 miles, unless I’m in taper. But at that point, I got it. I had to start over. In July, I started run/walking, running 30 seconds at a time, quickly increasing to two minutes at a time. Then every week, I added a minute to my run portion. It was a great way to run in the hot, humid summer mornings, so I will most likely do this method next summer. During that time, my kids and I spent three weeks in Missouri and Iowa having a ton of fun with family and friends. Hubby was there for a week.

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A little lunch get-together turned into a family reunion! 

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Guess what’s on his Xmas list?

Runners with injuries that prevent them from running makes them less-than-enjoyable companions. I went through a depression during this time. Running truly brings me peace of mind, joy, happiness, time to think, and a sense of well-being that I cannot get from anything else. It’s hard to explain, but it’s the way I’m built. I had to slowly build up my time, and I was sincerely thankful for the ability to do the little I was doing. But I wasn’t always the nicest, friendliest person, and I was frustrated because I knew it, but there was nothing I could do about it. We went to the Dave Matthews Concert.

I am a youth running coach for programs I began at the elementary and middle schools my kids attend/attended. I got everything approved, websites set up, and registration open for our fall sessions. The next day, I got word I would not be able to have my middle school running program since the county **finally** added cross country to the middle school sports programs. While that was the news I was waiting for for years, I didn’t know if they would hire ME to coach it! So for a week, I didn’t know if I had a job, if I needed to add other programs, what would go on. More unneeded uncertainty.

Then I got the call they wanted me to coach for the middle school. It was awesome. Two weeks after our season started, a hurricane named Florence set her sights on Wilmington. Then my youngest son was playing with his best friend and family on one of the barrier islands, and he got a very deep cut on the bottom of his foot from an oyster shell. Six stitches. No antibiotic was prescribed. Hurricane still heading towards us. Son’s foot got infected, so off to the ER. Town shutting down. Do we stay or do we go? He was admitted for IV antibiotics for a day, hurricane a Cat 3 at that time. He got discharged from the hospital on a Wednesday, Hurricane Florence started to decrease in intensity, and we decided to stay and ride the storm out. Wilmington was a ghost town. Our windows were boarded up. We had bikes in our living room. I made my kids get their “most prized possessions” and put them in a plastic bin. It was so scary. All of it.

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We are the blue dot in the eye of Hurricane Florence.

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My son and I in the eye of the hurricane.

Hurricane Florence hit us directly as a strong Category 1 storm early on Friday morning. The eye wall was…. It’s hard to find the proper words. It was crazy. When they eye went over, we went outside, all the dogs in our neighborhood went out to do business, and we looked at the mess. We contacted our out-of-town neighbors, we quietly nodded to each other. So many trees down. Bits of leaves everywhere. Branches, flower petals, leaves everywhere. Where did nature go to hide from this monster?

For two more days, Florence crept forward, leaving us flooded and water damaged. Power was out. It was hot. We had middle-of-the-night tornadoes. It was real. Who wants to get in the powder room with your husband, two kids, and a cat? Not me. The aftermath world felt like a parallel universe. Things weren’t right. The air stunk like decay. Fish were laying on the interstate. Parallel, weird universe. We were patient. Some were not. It was a time I never want to experience again. I know that I’m grateful for my neighbors a few doors down, the help she gave my son with his foot, the friendship and quiet (and sometimes not so quiet) understanding of what we faced. Things moved on. The kids were out of school for three weeks.

Some form of normalcy began again. We started back with cross country, my son’s foot healed, and I started my elementary program, and life went on, simply displayed by the trees and flowers that bloomed from the hurricane stress. It was the same, but everything was different. But we were ok.

My running slowly came back to normal. My son turned 16 and got his license. Ask any parent how that feels, and I’m guessing nine of ten will give you the “deer in headlights” look. It’s hard to describe. We went to a Clemson game. For the first time in seven years, my youngest son wasn’t playing football in the fall. My half iron triathlon was cancelled. Our open water swim race was cancelled. I couldn’t do most of the races I had signed up for because of my injury.  We went from having a slam packed full fall to barely anything. I didn’t like it.

So where am I now? I’m working, but not much, not enough for me. I need something more. So I’m looking into that and have a few thoughts in what direction I want to go. My elementary running program has 29 kids participating, which is just great. They are the next generation of runners. I have so many ideas how to make our cross country program better. It’s almost Thanksgiving.

I started a little speed work recently, and my ankle has been ok with it. I’m running up to 10 miles, and my ankle is ok.  I ran a 5k last weekend, and managed 7:35 average minute miles. It’s frustrating. While I’m extremely grateful, it’s distressing to see how much hard-earned fitness I lost and how much work I have ahead of me to get back to where I was. I am confirmed for the Boston Marathon for 2019, so I’m excited to have that to train for. Big goals!!!! I qualified for the New York Marathon, and I plan to do that too, along with another little challenge I’m not quite ready to talk about.

All in all, 2018 has not been a great year for me personally. I can’t say it’s been a bad year, it’s just a year of learning, of transition, and of hope. Onward and upward seems to be the popular saying around here recently. But I’m changing it. 2018 was good. I’m so thankful. For everything, even the bad. But there is bigger, better, and more to come in 2019.

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