Boston Marathon

A Pan, A Spoon, And A Whistle: NYC Marathon Recap

Warning: Picture heavy on this one.

Potty-gate was over, and we could finally run the race we’d been planning on for months and months. It was hard to believe we were running this huge, beautiful bridge from Staten Island over to Brooklyn. The bridge was pretty quiet, just hearing the sound of running shoes hitting the pavement. So many were stopped to take selfies on the bridge. We weren’t ready to do that yet, as we had a LONG way to go. Mile 1 ticked by and as always, I said, “Hey, only 25 more to go!”. I’m so funny.

The bridge wasn’t that difficult, although it’s nearly a mile on incline and a mile on decline. I’d done incline work on the treadmill thankfully, and I really wish I would have added it to Andy’s training plan. Oops. When we were near the end of the two-mile bridge, we heard the cannon from wave 4 go off, and I knew some of my friends were running the bridge with us.

When we entered Brooklyn, the crowds started. That’s the one thing I was told over and over, there were millions of spectators spread throughout the entire course. It’s crazy to imagine these people were stand for hours cheering on people they didn’t know, but that’s what happens.

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The best way I can describe the race is this. There’s miles and miles of runners. Thousands of runners spread out, with miles and miles and miles of spectators, holding signs, ringing bells, banging on pans, blowing obnoxious horns, and cheering. For miles. And miles. The sign I was waiting for was at mile 3.5. “You’re almost there!”. Haha. This is a classic. I really wish I would’ve taken pictures of these signs, but I had my phone in a flip belt sort of thing and since I’d had it out for most of the bridge, I didn’t want to keep getting it out. I should have though.

I’ve run a lot of marathons, including Boston, and I’ve never seen anyone bang on a pan with a spoon while blowing a whistle. It was just funny. I found myself smiling a lot, knowing this was most likely a once in a lifetime experience. I wanted to soak it in. The pan banging made me giggle, not knowing I’d see at least three of them. One was using a whisk on her pan. Whatever works, right?

I looked at the homes, the businesses, the tree lined streets. It was crazy to think it was a regular street in a regular city in the middle of New York City. What was it like to live there? What would it be like to grow up in such a large city? If I didn’t say it before, New York City is one of the most diverse places I’ve ever been. I think we heard more non-English than English, which was cool. Where were these people from, did they live there, what did they do for a living, were they visiting? It’s just interesting. Unique. I loved it.

Because Andy and I were relatively dehydrated going into the race, we stopped at all but one aid station, which were approximately every mile, except for the first few miles on the bridge. We walked through them, and the further we got into the race, the more cup pileage I noticed. Like I’ve said before, I’ve run in big races, but this one was about 20,000 runners BIGGER than the biggest one I’ve done before. The water/Gatorade cups pile up. And pile up and pile up. The streets get sticky, and after the bananas are handed out, they get slick. It made me think of some cartoon with an elephant slipping all over the banana peels. So we were extra careful with the banana peels.

You run through Brooklyn for many, many miles. Bands are spread out, lots of garage band type groups playing good music, and a few notable percussion groups were throughout the marathon. I saw a banana playing some sort of recorder/flute thing (I don’t think I’ll ever see that again), a lady running the marathon barefoot and with a grass skirt, trying to raise awareness for the environment. I saw tons of people running for charity, and I was specifically looking for my coach, who was guiding another sight-impaired friend. They were wearing neon yellow shirts, so I figured I would find them eventually. I saw many “Touch Here For Power” signs, and I touched many of them for power. I saw a few more banana people, I saw people running find their people in the crowds, running to them with huge smiles, I saw gorgeous brownstone townhouses on tree lined streets. Is that where the Cosby Show was set? We couldn’t remember.

The volunteers. The police presence. UNBELIEVABLE. AMAZING. Pretty indescribable to me. City dump trucks and salt trucks to protect main intersections. Police EVERYWHERE. Aid stations with plenty of people handing us our water or Gatorade, getting totally soaked in the process. They handed out Gu, bananas, Vaseline, and spectators handed out oranges and potato chips, among other things. If I remember right, some had beer (hey, it’s 5 o’clock somewhere) or mimosas (it’s basically a smoothie).

There were so many runners, we were separated onto different courses from the beginning until mile 8, where we all merged onto one course. I figured the course would eventually thin out some. Wrong. Andy and I didn’t always run side by side, but I never lost him. I had no idea how many Clemson fans are in New York City. Until Andy took his top shirt off to expose his orange shirt with white Clemson paw. I swear, I heard no less than ten million “Go Tigers!”, “Clemson!” and a few “Hey Clemson, Roll Tide” and one “Clemson, Go Dawgs”. I always knew he was near because I constantly heard someone yelling at him.

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Andy and his famous Clemson shirt

Little kids were lined up to high-five us. Several signs said “GO RANDOM STRANGER!”.  The people you see along the way and the people running alongside you. Everyone is so different, yet we were all united on that day to celebrate the human spirit. If you’ve never spectated a marathon, you really should. Even better, run one.

Brooklyn seemed to go on forever. And ever. Around mile 13-14, we crossed a bridge into Queens. For some reason, I thought Long Island was a borough, so I was so confused as to where that long island was. It was QUEENS. And I thought about “The King of Queens”, knowing we wouldn’t see Kevin James on the course but secretly hoping we would. It was basically the same as Brooklyn, and just as cool.

Somewhere along there a guy was by himself on the sidelines blowing this horrendous whistle horn thing. It was one of the most annoying sounds I’ve ever heard, which explains why he was by himself on the sidelines. That was one of the very few times the race course didn’t have many spectators.

Then came the bridge that no one talks about. The Queensboro Bridge. This sucker is a beautiful, old, STEEP bridge spanning about 1.4 miles, starting at around mile 15. It’s a double decker bridge, and the runners were on the bottom deck. We had a gorgeous view of Manhattan. Lots of people were walking, but I felt like I needed to run, for training. I was slow, but I kept going. The course was still really crowded, so you could see people going up and up and up and up and up. The bridges in the NYC Marathon ain’t no joke. I pulled over to the right so I could get a picture of Manhattan.

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Just gorgeous. Pictures don’t do it justice.

Then we started going down. I was REALLY glad we didn’t go up this part of the bridge because it was a steep decline. I found Andy, we got to the bottom and ran about 3.5 miles north through Manhattan, parallel to Central Park. I didn’t realize we ran that long in Manhattan at this point, so I looked for the next bridge far too long. At this point, I did not want the race to end but I couldn’t wait for it to be over, if that makes any sense. My legs were starting to feel the burn from the miles of walking the prior two days, and my knees were sore.

I’m not sure when we saw the dead rat along the course, but several other people saw it too. All I could think about for a while was how the thing was dead in the road. Did one of the Kenyans run over it with their fast feet? Did a car run over it over night? Why wasn’t it flatter like the bananas? It made no sense to me, but it entertained me for a while. Thanks, Rat.

Andy saw an inflatable unicorn holding a sign that said “Motherf***ing Marathoners!”. I REALLY wish I would’ve seen that. Next up, the bridge to The Bronx. Lo and behold, there was Coach Maleia and Diane. I knew I would find them among the thousands of people! We chatted a bit and then went on our way.

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Coach, Diane, and Andy

Bronx wasn’t anything spectacular, but we wound around the streets to get our miles in. The last bridge was around mile 21. Several people were holding signs and yelling at us, “THE LAST DAMN BRIDGE”. Perfect. It made me laugh and it was nice to know THIS was it for the incline. Sort of. The best part was the bridge was small and mostly a slight decline.

We were finally at our last destination…Manhattan! We ran down 5th Avenue about 3 miles. It was NUTS. It was gorgeous. It was full of runners. It was full of spectators. It seemed the streets got more and more crowded, louder and louder, and it was great to have that energy to use since the “low fuel” light came on for our gas tanks, haha.

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Crazy crowds

About half way down Central Park, we entered the park. Did you know that Central Park is hilly? Did you know The Met, as in The Metropolitan Museum, spanning several blocks, is on 5th Avenue and backs up into the park? Found out both of them that day. I knew from watching Shalane win this exact race a few years ago that the park has hills, but, fun fact, you can’t really detect hills adequately on a tv screen. It was hilly. And crazy full. Many times, we had to stop due to the congested streets. But the energy. You cannot beat the energy of this part of the race! Then I heard my name. WHAT???? My rock star friend Pam saw me from the sidelines!

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In the middle of my wave to Pam. I can’t believe someone found me on that crazy full course!

Now THAT was crazy, but not as crazy as the last mile. I know at some point, Andy and I were walking, and I said, “Come on, let’s go”, which made him mad because his feet were about to fall off, but all I could think about is finishing the damn thing. As great as the experience was, I wanted to stop. I was ready for it to be over. After a few more ups and downs, we crossed the finish line. We did it.

FINISH TIME: 4:53

I have to admit, I was a little disappointed in the finish time. As much as I truly don’t care, for as torn up as I felt, I felt like we went faster, not that it really matters. It’s a weird combination of not caring and being competitive. Speaking of being competitive, Andy’s time was one second faster, so he beat me at a marathon, something he said he’d never do. Well done, Andy, well done.

Not many feet into the finisher chute, we were in a traffic jam. One of the volunteers chastised us for being slow and taking selfies that held up the line (that wasn’t the problem and no one around us was taking selfies), which we didn’t appreciate and I decided to keep my trap shut so I wouldn’t end up saying something equally rude back to him. Nothing like being ridiculed as soon as you finish a race, huh?

We stood there a while and came upon our photo op, post-race garb, and heat sheets. We opted for ponchos, which would be handed out about a hundred half mile (or more) later. We were thankful for the heat sheets, as the sun was going down and it was cold. One girl behind us said “Where’s the f%$King exit???” True that. We felt like we had to walk all way up to the other side of the park to get back to the finish, which was towards our hotel. Goodness.

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Aren’t we so cute?

Many, many steps later, we found the exit and walked slowly back to our hotel. Total steps for that day totaled 32 miles. THIRTY-TWO MILES. And we still had to find dinner.

We did it. Endurance Trifecta Event #2: Mission Completion

We met up with the kids in our room, cleaned up, compared stories, and found dinner. Wow. What an amazing event. The ONLY complaint I have is the lack of bathrooms at the start. That’s it.

I heard some people say this marathon is better than any marathon, including Boston. I’m not so sure. To me, it’s like picking between your children. They’re different and you love them equally. There’s something very special about the Boston Marathon, and there’s definitely something special about NYC Marathon. Running a major with my husband was pretty special as well. Anyway, I’m not picking because I don’t have to, haha.

I must have gotten a sunburn, because in our room, my face was on fire. My son was thoughtful enough and got me the “freezer” tray from our mini fridge to help cool my face. Such a thoughtful boy.

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Ahhhhhhh….

The next day, we walked up and through Central Park. Wow. Seeing it again was a good thing, as I hadn’t realized it’s beauty the prior day. We walked the park, saw the finish line, the green lawn (or whatever it’s called), Strawberry Hill, a couple sucking face, a strange workout (I have a video of it and it makes me laugh so hard my abs hurt), and then walked back on 5th Avenue and by The Met. The people we saw and the stores we walked by. Hmmm, let’s say they have some disposable income. And The Met. Wow. One thing I’d like to do when I go back is to take advantage of the museums in the city.

By the time we found New York Pizza and walked back to our room, we’d added ten miles to our total. Our feet were tired, our hearts were full, and we were ready to go home.

Thanks New York City, we love you.

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NYC Marathon

Up next in my Endurance Trifecta: JFK 50

Categories: Boston Marathon, follow your dreams, go for your dreams, marathon, marathon training, running, running with friends, training for marathon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 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

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

Houston Marathon Race Recap

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The Houston Marathon is a great race. It’s well planned and executed, and I was able to plan my race knowing what was going to be on the course. Plenty of water and Gatorade was offered every 1.5 miles after mile 2, mile markers and clocks every mile, an energy zone at mile 21ish, port-a-jons, a pretty course with lots of spectators that took us all over the city and back downtown to a fun finish line and a good post-race set up.

With the rampant cheating going on, I was happy to see timing mats every 5k and one at an out-and-back section where the half marathon was. This would help catch any cheaters but also provide fairly quick updates to those tracking me.

When I crossed the start line mat, I wondered if my family (ok, just my husband as I knew my two kids would still be sleeping) would get a notification that I started the race. It was game time.

I deliberately ran the first mile slow, and my Garmin beeped right on the mile marker at 8:25. I kept slowing myself down, because one of my main goals was to run a negative split. It always feels good the first mile, right? “Don’t screw it up” and “be smart” rang through my head, as I settled in and concentrated on “just” running. My breath was easy, my legs felt good, and I was basically the perfect temperature. I only had a throw-away shirt over my tank and arm sleeves. It was a perfect decision on what to wear.

My music played loudly in my ears, and because the roads are sloped, I tried to stay in the middle where the surface was more even. The sky was clear, the sun was creating a beautiful sun rise, and I was chugging away at my miles, staying just over 8-minutes per mile. I felt good. I kept taking small sips of my Base Rocket Fuel (Hydro plus Amino but I forgot to add the salt – oops!) from my collapsible hand-held bottle.

8:06, 8:00, 8:04, 7:59, 8:05

I kept finding myself going sub 8, so I was sure to slow a little each time. Marathons can chew you up and spit you out, that’s for sure. “Don’t ruin it, don’t blow your engine early.” I had my first nutrition at mile 5, and I felt like I dug around in my Coeur bra storage compartment like someone looking for their registration after getting pulled over. Where was the damn thing? I had four of them in there, and I was finally able to fish one of the non-caffeine variety out. I had also unsuccessfully tried the “tequila shot” method on my hand to take my Base salt, which resulted in me losing over half of it on my glove and somewhere on the streets of Houston. Damn damn.

I started to get a little warm, so I decided to throw my shirt off at the 10k point, where one of my friends from the old hood would be spectating from. Brrrr. My arm sleeves were wet with sweat, and met with the 30-something degree air, and cooled me right off. I can’t believe I saw her in the crowd, but I was happy to see one familiar face out there. “HI KRISTA!!!!”

houston marathon

Twenty miles to go. Just a long run. I saw a woman who was going pretty much my exact pace, so I stayed on her tail, which gave me something to pay attention to, because I was so lost and couldn’t figure out where we were in the city. I had my next nutrition just under ten miles, and by that time, I had refilled my hand-held bottle, spilling the cold Gatorade all over my glove in the process. Because it was cold, I didn’t take in as much hydration as I had originally planned. Not a very good idea. The half marathon split between miles 7 and 8, then we ran through Rice University and toward the only boring part of the course.

8:06, 8:05, 8:02, 8:04, 7:59. I felt better than I had at this point in Boston, but I didn’t feel as good as I did the marathon before that. Granted, I was running a bit faster, but I wondered if I could hold my pace. My favorite running songs played in my ear, and I stuck with the one girl at my pace. It’s funny, because I don’t really remember a lot of details when and where they occurred, but I was aware of a lot going on around me, if that makes any sense. The potholes, the turning (RUN THE TANGENTS!), the water stations and volunteers, Superman, the police officers standing in the intersections, the people in cars who obviously didn’t know they were going to be stuck a while because there were TONS of people behind me, the spectators standing out in their hats and gloves and blankets, and COW BELL. I love this race. This flat race. Haha.

**Please don’t go Captain Watermark on me because I’m posting these pictures. I bought these, old school style, but they’re not here yet.  **

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Between miles 12 and 13, during the boring part filled with lots and lots of power lines, there was the first real hill. A bridge. I tried to maintain my pace as I charged up, and sped up as I came back down. The “girl with the same pace” and I went back and forth.

8:10, 7:53

We hit the half mark, and at that point, I was pacing to get my PR. With wiggle room.

13.1 – 1:46:18, an 8:07 overall pace

Because Garmins can be Garmins (UNRELIABLE), I was wearing a pace bracelet with the goal time of 3:35. This made it easy to see where I was, to be sure I was pacing myself correctly. At almost every mile marker, I looked at my overall time and compared it to what the pace bracelet said I should be at. As long as I stayed under the time on my bracelet, I was fine. But the more under I was, the better.

I got really confused, as I knew we were going by the Galleria area, but it sort of looked like downtown where the start and finish were, and I knew we were only around mile 14. What the what? And I lost track of my hydration somewhere along here. I knew I was re-filling my 6 oz hand-held with Gatorade and sipped from it a lot, plus I was taking water from the aid stations, perfecting the “spill all over one’s face, hands, and legs” in the process. But I wasn’t paying attention to the totals as I had planned.

The miles ticked by, and I was maintaining my pace, slowly increasing the time between my 3:35 pace bracelet and my actual time. At mile 16, I thought “just a ten mile run to go”, anything to keep me going. The playlist I created for The Boston Marathon was playing the “hill” music, and I loved it. My legs were doing ok, my breathing was still fairly even, and I knew I could finish my race and get a big BQ..IF I didn’t mess it up.

8:02, 8:02, 8:00, 7:58, 7:57

I needed salt. I grabbed my tube of Base salt, and it was empty. Oh crap. I spilled most of it on my hand, and I REALLY needed it now. Well, what’s done was done, carry on. Still behind “girl with the same pace”.

Near the 18 mile mark, we turned, and you could see the tall buildings, where the finish was, eight miles away. One of the spectators said, “You’re headed home”, and I choked up. Eight miles to go, just a run I can do with my eyes closed, but it was still a long way. I replayed Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down” and Eminem’s “Til I Collapse” somewhere in here, luckily able to take my thumb out of my glove and hit the back button on my old iPod.

It was a pretty part of the course, but we had a head wind and it felt like it was all sloping up. Ugh. Then more bridges to go under. You go down first, then you go up. They’re not long, but they’re steep. More and more stupid friggin’ bridges (to go under). I thought this course was FLAT. This sure isn’t the mountains, but it sure wasn’t as flat as I remembered. I started taking my nutrition more often, and I know I was hydrating, slowing a little along the hydration stations so I wouldn’t spill all over the place.

We passed through Memorial Park as the buildings began to get larger. “Oh my, just hang on. Don’t back down, don’t back down, don’t back down, don’t give up, you gotta fight for it, don’t eff up what you worked so hard for, for God’s sake just finish what you started and DO NOT GIVE UP.”

8:00, 8:12, 7:57, 8:09,

At mile 21, I grabbed my 5th nutrition at the aid station, and nursed it for probably a mile. It was good. My initial plan was to start a small acceleration at mile 20. When I reached mile 20, I knew that wasn’t going to happen, so I rearranged it to mile 23. But I started to struggle. “The girl with the same pace” took off. I felt like I was going faster than I actually was, and I was afraid to look at my per mile split. I FELT like I was going at the speed of light, and I remember thinking to keep lifting my knees up, just keep going, don’t slouch, don’t lean back, keep moving, keep breathing. Just. Friggin. Go.

Between mile 23 and 24, I felt like my wheels fell off. We had to go under another steep bridge, and I felt like I was in quick sand. I knew I was going to get my BQ by a large margin, but I wanted that PR, I wanted it more than anything. And I knew I had missed some hydration, as my breathing and heart rate increased a lot, which is something I’ve experienced many times before. But I just pushed as much as I could at that time. I grunted. I moaned. I said some eff words and some words that started with “bull”.

Mile 23: 8:07

Mile 24: 8:13

Mile 25: 8:26

Oh Lord, please give me wings and let me fly.

The road finally flattened out (yes, I am still aware this race is not technically hilly, but it certainly is not pancake flat as I incorrectly remembered), and I was headed home. We were downtown again.

My legs churned, and I sped back up. Puke or pass out, just GO! I saw the “1/2 mile to go” banner, which really made me very angry at the time because I was ready for the damn finish line.

Then “1/4 mile to go”.

Mile 26: 8:02

The crowds increased, the sound of cheering increased, the voice in my head wondering where the HELL the finish line increased, and my speed increased. I heard it, finally. I was home. I ran over the mat that registered my name to the announcer, and I heard my name as I crossed the finish line. I was done. I pumped my arm, Shalane-style, and I said “Fuck yeah”.

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I finished my 12th marathon, and at the age of 44, I ran the fastest marathon to date, with a 3:33:00.

Fuck. Yeah.

I wobbled my way to get some water, and I was overwhelmed with emotion. I leaned on the fence, and I cried. I did it. I fought, and I won. I told the volunteers trying to help me, “It’s ok, it’s a happy cry.” Everything, all the million little pieces came together on this day, all the hard work and “learning experiences”, the frustration, the pain, it all paid off.

3:33:00 ; 8:08 overall pace

kelli houston marathon

And FYI, my husband’s cousin got his BQ with a time of 3:06. Congratulations, Craig! “The girl with the same pace” ended up with a 3:31 I found out as I talked to her walking towards our medals. And I missed my negative split by 24 seconds. Ha, I’ll get over it. Oh wait, I already did.

Next Up: Post Race and my “extra time” in Houston…..

Categories: anything is possible, being epic, Boston Marathon, follow your dreams, fueled by base, go for your dreams, learning from failure, marathon, marathon training, qualifying for boston marathon, race with base, running, training for marathon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

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.

Blocked

 

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.

no

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.

meghan_trainor___no_by_gustavocardozo97-d9w589y

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

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