follow your dreams

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

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

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

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THIS…is post race depression

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Do not do it. 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

The Boston Marathon Race Recap

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The TBL Sign, thanks to the Wellesley Girls

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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Citgo is following me. 

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

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

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

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

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

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I am literally jumping for joy to see my family. 

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

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

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

I did it.  I got my redemption.

Boston Marathon 2017: 3:44:32

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

Boston Marathon Race Recap Part Uno

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

NUTRITION:

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

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

HYDRATION:

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

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

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

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

RACE STRATEGY:

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

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

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

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

 


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

Renee and I at the bus loading area

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Boston Marathon adventure began.

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

Prelude To A Race

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

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

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My boys at the Bleacher Bar

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

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

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

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My son and Me

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

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My favorite support crew

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

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

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

 

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

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

My son and moi

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

The best family a girl could ask for

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

The Wilmington Road Runner Team

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

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

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

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

Game. On.

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

I’m Shipping Up To Boston

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

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

running homer

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

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

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

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

a race

Stay the course, KICK SOME ASS!

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

 

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

This Time I’ll Be Bullet Proof

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

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

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

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

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Trying not to throw up.

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

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

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

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

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Feeling defeated after Redemption Attempt #1

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

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

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

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

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

The Boston Marathon – T Minus 8.5 Weeks

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

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

The 5k that shouldn’t have been.


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

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

Merry Christmas

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

IMNC 70.3 Race Recap – Part II

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

For Part I, click here.

Part II begins….NOW.

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

The temp tattoo my sissy got for my race

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


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

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

Erin and me

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

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

Swim: 36:51

Yay!!! Finished with the swim!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bike: 3:12:07

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

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


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

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

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

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

Coming into the finish chute

Run: 1:58:58

Let’s break it down here.

Swim: 36:51

Bike: 3:12:07

Run: 1:58:58

T1/T2: LONG

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

76/435 women

18/89 age group

361/1060 overall

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

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

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

Part Deux: Wrightsville Beach Marathon

I have to admit, this race recap has been difficult to start. How do I put this experience into words? This race meant so much to me. This was the culmination of 8 marathon training cycles, 1 DNF, 2 deferrals, 1 stomach flu, 3 walk of shames, 1 woulda coulda shoulda, 1 shattered dream, 1 80+ degree day, and 6 years of perseverance, during which time my family moved 1000+ miles, TWICE. I learned a lot about people, about myself, and looking back, it was all worth it. It all led to this. one. day.

On race morning, I woke up calm, but as the time neared for us to leave the house, nerves hit. I started shaking a little bit and I wanted to cry really bad, but I held it back. I think. My husband and kids work a race aid station, so we left the house at 5 am. I drove myself to the race finish, crying all the way. Wailing. It was U.G.L.Y. Andy picked me up, and we went to the aid station, which lucky for me, is at the race start. It was cold and windy. Hmmm, I was hoping it wasn’t TOO cold, which is something I didn’t think I’d have to think about. I sat in the truck a bit as they unloaded the aid station stuff, and I decided to go for a very short jog to see how the old legs were feeling. I probably went just short of a quarter mile, and I felt good. So I jumped back in the truck where it was warm, and had my snack. I told a lot of people my husband was at the aid station at mile 2.5 (that part of the course is one big circle so you start and loop around to where we were in the truck) and 14.5, so some brought their bottles and extra supplies to leave there, and a few jumped in the truck with me. That was nice to have company as the minutes flew by. I’m bummed we didn’t get a picture! I realized I needed to head to the bathroom again, which was basically next to the truck, so I tensely waited in line, again as the minutes flew. I did NOT want to be in the jon when the national anthem was playing. NOT THIS TIME. Thankfully, our line moved fairly fast, and it was time to head to the start to fine the 3:40 pace group.

My nerves quelled by this time, and my focus started to shift to the task at hand. I had also realized that I had my directions messed up. The wind was from the north at probably a good 10 mph, so I thought we would have a head wind for a few miles at the beginning and in the middle. I was wrong – we would only have it a few miles at the beginning, and several of the other miles would be protected. I was very happy to realize it and my race could go even better than I planned! Yay for getting it wrong!!!

I found the pace group, made a little small talk, and got my music ready. I don’t know what kind of time warp we were in, but I swear, it was the fastest ten minutes EVER. Thankfully, the race started on time, and we were ready to go. I crossed the start about a minute after the gun went off.

Here we go. It was crowded, I couldn’t hear my music (I even checked to be sure it was on), and I ran on the sidewalk instead of the street. I passed many people who shouldn’t have been in front of me, and soon, my Garmin beeped one mile. Fifteen seconds later, I came upon Mile 1 at 9:00. Wow. Ok, that was a tad slow and my Garmin was reading fast. Hey, no big, this is a marathon, not a sprint, and I knew my coach would be happy I didn’t blow the first mile at an 8:00 pace. Save the legs, save the legs.

We ran the next mile with the wind, and I picked up a little from that first slow mile. I warmed up, so I took off the Sheddable Shell and carried it with me. I dodged the drainage grates in the street, something I was used to because I run that loop all year long, and I wondered what the out-of-towners thought. Mile 2 approached, and my Garmin was consistent with the early beep like at mile 1. Ok, 8:09. That’s a tad fast, but we were with the wind and my breathing didn’t increase, so good sign. Half a mile later, I passed my kids and Andy working to hand out water and Gatorade, and I threw my balled-up Sheddable Shell coat, hoping someone would grab it before it blew away. Thankfully, my son saw it and picked it up.

We ran off the island and the sun was coming up, but thankfully, it was cloudy. The weather was shaping up to be perfect for me. I saw the pacer fly by and say something about making up time. I knew I did not want to increase my pace to a sub 8:00 mile, so I stayed back, trying to keep them in sight. This was also where my pace bracelet came in perfectly. At each mile marker, starting at 3, I looked at my time and where I should be on the bracelet – I knew I was behind from that first slow mile, but I knew I had time to make it up, if things went my way. Mile 3 was at 8:02, faster than it should have been, but I felt like it was effortless.

Mile 1: 9:00, Mile 2: 8:09, Mile 3: 8:02, Mile 4: 8:00, Mile 5: 8:19

Ah, nutrition and hydration, those other controllable variables. I carried my first Gu (orange Rocktane) with me and had an 8 oz bottle of Rocket Fuel nicely clipped to my shorts. I actually remembered to drink, and my goal was to have this 8 oz done within 1 hour. I was a little behind, so I made sure to drink big sips each time. The miles were going by at a great pace, and I was following my plan. I realized at mile 5.5 that I needed to eat. I wasn’t hungry, but I knew I needed the fuel, so I tore into my Gu and got it down, finishing it with the last of my Rocket Fuel. Done. I was going to supplement with water at the aid stations in the next section of the race. But I didn’t expect to have to pee. Oh man, I have to pee, and it’s mile 8. I had just caught up with the pace group at this time, happily following them and letting their pace dictate my pace. I saw a few people I knew with the pacer, which was really cool and I saw TONS of people along the course I knew. That’s the beauty of a home town race! Built in support. When I found myself going at a pace under my goal pace, I tried to pull back. It was way to early to bank time.

Instead of saying “Hello” or “Hey all” or just “How are you feeling?”, the first thing I said to the pacer was, “I have to pee.”. How friendly of me.  I knew I needed to take the chance and go, and at that point, I was close to my 3:39 goal pace, making up for that slower first mile. The next two aid stations had port-a-jons, but they were full, so I kept going. Finally a few miles later at mile 10-11, I found an empty stall, fumbled around, almost losing my iPod, and quickly peed. I came out and immediately looked for the pace group, happy to see they were still in sight. At this point, my Garmin was .12 miles off the mile markers, part of which was due to tangents, part of which was my Garmin.

Mile 6: 8:13, Mile 7: 8:06, Mile 8: 8:13, Mile 9: 8:18, Mile 10: 8:15, Mile 11 (the bathroom mile): 8:56

At this point in the race, we run through a private neighborhood full of curving roads that seem to go. on. for. ever. I knew the half marathoners split off close to the exit, and it seemed like 17 miles instead of maybe 5. FINALLY, I saw the split, and we were herded through some gates and out of the neighborhood, where we headed back to the beach loop. I was feeling good, keeping in mind that the race hadn’t even really begun, remembering how many times I had done well up to mile 18-20. But something in me know I had fight, I had something different this time. I wasn’t tired, I wasn’t sore, I wasn’t breathing heavily. I saw a bunch of people I knew at the aid station, whether they were helping, waiting for their relay team members, or spectating. Lori, I won’t ever forget you saying, “Well, there she is.” when you saw me. You made me feel so important at that point. Lynda, I remember seeing you and how happy you were to see me too. Those are the little bits I remember, the faces, the smiles, the people yelling my name, not knowing if they knew me or called it from my bib. Whatever it was, it was magical, as I was in a groove and feeling invincible. Maybe it was the Rocket Fuel.

Mile 12: 8:05, Mile 13: 8:10, Mile 14: 8:02, Mile 15: 8:21, Mile 16: 8:19

Mile 12ish

During the beach loop, I would pass Andy and the kids at mile 14.5 or so. I had a little bag of goodies to take and a new bottle of Rocket Fuel. When I approached, I thought of all the things I wanted to tell him. I was on pace, I was kicking it, I felt great, I was gonna kick this thing’s ass, I was gonna do it, this was my race. I saw my son standing guard looking for me, so I waved my arms out so he knew I saw him and that it was me. He took off towards Andy, who was standing there ready to give me my goodies. So instead of saying all these cool, awesome things, I garbled out something like “I fight, me fight” but it probably sounded more like, “ughing fite ughime”. I have no idea why my voice was messed up, but it was messed up. After I got my supplies from Andy, I picked up some Gatorade from one of my Epic runners volunteering that morning, and I was on my way.

Togas and Tigers Aid Station, Mile 14.5

Yes, the guy in the picture is wearing a sheet. He’s from the Latin Club at a local high school. They were awesome.

Ah, right then, the song my coach picked out for me came on. “Bulletproof”. I teared up at little, then got my crap together again. I certainly felt bulletproof at that point. It was perfect.

As I was leaving the loop, I saw my friend, Gary, coming onto the loop. The conversation went the same as with Andy, “ughemefightumrtph”. No idea what that was. Anyway, we waved, which was communicated in a much more eloquent way by a simple “wave”, and I was headed off the beach. Gu #3 was consumed, and I passed the busy aid station again and headed to the new part of the course, instead of the neighborhood abyss it was before this year. Right in here, I caught up with the pace group again and hung behind for a bit. I was feeling GOOD, and barring any sudden injury, I knew I had a BQ coming. I wanted to start kicking it, but held off. I had 10 miles to go. Anything can happen, so I played it safe.

That “waiting” lasted one mile. When we headed to the cross city trail, I passed the pacer, and I started running, paying little attention to pace, just feel. I was in a groove, and I felt amazing. Rocket Fuel. I saw some of the first place men (HOLY CRAP) only a few miles from the finish.  I kept drinking my Rocket Fuel and hydration along the course, but I wasn’t concerned with dehydrating at this point, so I know I didn’t drink as much as my plan stated. As we approached UNCW, a part of the course I’d run a hundred bazillion times before, I was on autopilot. I wasn’t paying attention to my watch, only the times at the mile markers. When I saw the markers come into view, I looked at my bracelet and said the corresponding time out loud, or rather something like “pshimph”. Sometimes I wouldn’t remember it by the time I actually got to the marker, so I’d just repeat it. I was gaining time. I think I was nearly 90 seconds to 2 minutes ahead of 3:39 at this point. The mile distance, according to my watch and the mile markers was getting longer – my watch was reading slow this time, probably due to the trees.

A light rain started about this time (I think). It was really light, so it was ok. Ha, little did I know.  We made our way to the center of campus to the circle and headed back. The circle was small on the map, so when we ran around it for real, I remember thinking it was ridiculously large and I hated every second of it. In prep for the race, I knew I would KNOW when I left campus, if this race was going to be a good ending, or another chapter in the BQ attempt saga. As I left campus, I knew I had it. I kept gaining more time. I was getting it done.

Mile 17: 8:10, Mile 18: 8:20, Mile 19: 8:12, Mile 20: 8:04, Mile 21: 8:28 (I think this is where Garmin made up some distance because at each mile BEEP, the distance to the mile marker kept getting shorter.)

Since the course was an out and back, I saw many of my runner friends out there. I hope I at least said “hello” or waved to them, but by this time, I was getting tired, even though I felt amazing. I know that when I had to turn or go up a “hill”, I grunted and moaned with the effort. It was embarrassing, but hey, gotta do what you gotta do, right?

Mile 22: 8:14, Mile 23: 8:18

As I headed off the cross city trail and across Eastwood Road, it was time to try and go faster. It was time to go, it was time to kick it. We headed into a neighborhood. Then. Then it happened. And I’m SO thankful for ME, it happened here and not even one half mile before. The bottom dropped out and it started to POUR. Oh. My. Goodness. This wasn’t your typical rain. This was rain where I could feel a drop hit my toe through my shoe and sock. This was a drenching downpour. And it was cold. Holy crap, was my race doomed? I didn’t even know where I was with pace, I didn’t know how many miles I had left.

It was relentless. I was soaked, my shoes were full, my earphones weren’t working well since they had gotten wet. My glasses, tucked nicely below my cap, were spotted with tiny drops of rain and they started fogging up. I tried to clean them off on my soaked shirt. Yeah, that didn’t work.

Mile 24: 8:29, Mile 25: 8:32

I knew some friends were going to be around half a mile out. WHERE WERE THEY? Corner after corner and turn after turn, we kept going. A mile left, half a mile, no friends, but plenty of puddles. I didn’t look at my time, I was just getting to the finish. Splashing through the puddles, finally, I saw I was getting close. I saw my sister, YAY, my sister came out and was cheering for me. I threw my glasses at her, saw Captain America, and made eye contact with Wendy, missing a bunch of other friends out there with her.

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Almost at the finish!

Mile 26: 8:21

FINISH FAST. FINISH WITH GLORY. FINISH WITH A SMILE.

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I got it!

I got my marathon. The time on the finish line clock said 3:37 and something. Holy crap. 3:37. I did it. I ran my best race. I collapsed with tears at the finish, making some wonder if I was injured or sick, to which I replied, “WHFFPHDMFBSOTNIAUAULIFIED FIPFHSH”. Translated: “It’s a happy cry! I qualified for Boston! I did it!”

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Crossing the finish line. So many emotions. This picture tells my six-year story.

I hugged my sister, babbled out some more stuff, and didn’t even know what to do with myself. I was cold and tired. But I was electric. I was so happy. It was pouring. I needed to get warm. I needed two more hands. What was I going to do, food tent, husband, kids, rain, cold, dry clothes, where was I, coach, need to see coach. I ran into the food tent to find Coach Kristen. No, she just left. I wandered around, chatted with people (I sounded like a heavy smoker), then headed back out to talk to my sister and find my husband. When I saw him, we hugged and I was finally able to tell him that I did it, we did it. He took the kids into another tent, and after saying bye and thanks to my sister, I went to find my car. I was so turned around and didn’t know where I was. I actually asked someone to tell me where my car was. I got my dry clothes bag and headed to the tent where my family was. I started SHAKING and hyperventilating for some reason, so I just leaned over and remembered to breathe. I could breathe. Finally. I could breathe again.

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My boys and best supporters

I did it. I didn’t even know the time I had, but I did it. Need to find coach. Ah, coach found me. We jumped (I think that’s what that was), hugged, and we celebrated. I texted my parents, “I don’t think we can afford to come visit next summer because WE GOIN’ TO BOSTON!!!” Nice, aren’t I?

I saw a few more friends (Melissa) and fellow finishers, and although I was warm, I didn’t know what to do besides wander around the food tent. I wish I had a rain jacket so I could watch the other finishers. Damn. It was time to go home, and I was super bummed it was raining, because this post-marathon party is fun. After I got home, took a twelve hour shower, and ate a little, my husband looked up the results and found that I had crushed my goal and finished my marathon in 3:36:38. I even got 2nd in my age group. Oh, the tears flowed again. I did it. Finally. And I get to go back to Boston.

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Post-Race Happy

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Post-Race Nappy

So if my experience can teach anyone anything, LEARN from your mistakes. Be ok with making mistakes. That’s how you learn. That’s how you grow. But learn from them. And don’t give up on your dream. Go for it. Don’t give up. If you KNOW you have something within you, do it. Go for it. As for me, I’m running Boston…and beyond.

Categories: anything is possible, being epic, Boston Marathon, follow your dreams, go for your dreams, learning from failure, marathon, marathon training, qualifying for boston marathon, quintiles wrightsville beach marathon, race with base, running, training for marathon, Uncategorized, wrightsville beach marathon | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Wrightsville Beach Marathon Race Recap

PART I. Evidently, I’m so wordy, I had to cut this off before it turned novelish. Part 2 coming soon!

As I was running on Sunday, I actually thought about this blog. What will I write about? How will it end? Will there be tears of happiness or sadness, because you KNOW there’s always tears at the end of marathons. I’m just thrilled about the race, and it will go down in history as on of my favorite days, just like Ironman Florida was. Who knew I could have two of my favorite races within just a few months of each other?

Over the past few days, I’ve had a feeling of calmness come over me. I finally did it. I finally did what I knew I could do all along. I raced my heart out, ran to the absolute best of my ability, and I achieved my time goal along the way. THIS is why I kept at it. THIS is why I didn’t quit. I can breathe now. I have nothing more to prove. It’ll be about redemption in Boston. So here’s the story of my race, well, it’s the story of the weekend.

As I wrote in my last blog, I had a very specific race plan. I was careful about my carbs the three days before, and I knew I was going to eat my big meal earlier than I had before. What I didn’t plan on were the nerves I had when I woke up on Saturday. Evidently, they had all saved up in my system and came out to play that day. Yay, a nerve party! After having a really good night of sleep, I woke up at 8 am, then headed to the Fleet Feet shakeout run at 9. I ended up running with a friend of mine, and I’m irritated I didn’t get a picture of us! Here’s a group photo though. I enjoyed talking with Jim the entire 3.3 mile run, and was a good, strong run. I felt good! I chatted with some of the other runners after we were done, then headed home to get ready for our busy day.

Fleet Feet shakeout run!

My son and I worked the half marathon packet pickup on Saturday, which was three hours of intense packeting, whew, and when we came out of that tent, we were dizzy and sweaty and glad to be done with our volunteer work. I’m just thankful I could stay seated. Just after we were released, both of my boys ran the 1 mile fun run. My youngest has a natural athletic ability to him, and last year, he blazed to a 6:21 finish without any real preparation. This year, he wanted to get a 6:15. Quite admirable for a 10 year old. My 13 year old, who is athletic (more athletic than what he thinks he is) but not as competitive about it,  didn’t feel like running, had been on his feet helping me for three hours, so said he was just going to run. Cool.

They took off, and less than six minutes later, my youngest came around the corner, finishing his race in 5:43. Um, ok. That’s fast. Then my oldest came into view, hauling his butt to the finish in 7:08. Yeah, “I’m just going to run it, Mom”. Sure, son. I was so proud of their efforts, and that they put everything they could into their one mile. I’ve told them a hundred times before, it’s not the time that shows on the clock that matters, it’s the effort you put into it. Proud momma.

My little speedsters

After the race, I ended up seeing a friend of mine, who was pacing for the half marathon. Evidently, she met the 3:40 pacer, which was my goal pace, so I was lucky enough to meet and talk to her.  I have no idea how I missed the fact there was a pacer meeting, but thankfully, I found that she had an “even pace” theory. I felt comfortable with that, so I decided to try and run with the group, something I’ve never done before. I would find her blonde hair at the start line.

After chatting with a few more people, I was ready to head to dinner. I have been eating a big burger the night before big races, but this time, I changed it to a grilled chicken sandwich with bacon, cheese, and a fried egg on top. And fries with Base salt and some ketchup. It was delicious and just enough to really fill me up but not make me feel like throwing up. One thing about this meal that was different was that I ate earlier in the evening. I wanted to be sure it had enough time to move through, if you know what I mean.

I didn’t get all my gear ready until after dinner and I had checked all my weather apps at least one more time. It was going to be 48 as a low, a high of 57, windy, and showers during the race. Hmmm, well, let’s plan for that rain, but I was REALLY thrilled about the cool temps. I didn’t know how windy it would end up being, so I was in a quandary about what exactly I would need, because if there’s one thing about me, I do NOT like being warm when I run. I decided on my shorts, tank, arm warmers, billed hat for rain, light shade sunglasses since there wasn’t supposed to be any sun, and a light, waterproof, disposable coat by Sheddable Shell with tear-away arms that would keep my core warm and dry. I would HIGHLY recommend getting a few of these coats for cooler weather running. They’re cheap, and then if you have one, you won’t have to pay more for shipping than the minimum $30 order because you waited until the last minute to order them. You’re welcome. I was going to carry an 8 oz bottle of Base Rocket Fuel and along with that, supplement with water along the course. I had trained with this and found it to provide the extra push I needed to get through those long runs, plus it helped me recover faster than I had in any prior training. I made my 3:39 pace bracelet, mostly since I thought my arms might be covered and I needed to be sure I could check my paces without depending on my Garmin. That little piece turned out to be one of the best decisions I could have made.

3:39 pace bracelet. Essential on race day to keep me aware.

For the first time ever, I studied the race course, especially the placement of the aid stations and what they offered. I wanted to be sure I could get Gu when I needed it at every five miles, and carry it if the course didn’t offer what I needed when I needed it. My husband and kids were working the aid station at mile 14.5, and I had made a little goodie bag with chapstick, gu, new gum, Base salt, and a fresh bottle of Rocket Fuel. I also packed a new hat, gloves, and an extra pair of shoes in a waterproof backpack to leave at that aid station in the event of a deluge of rain and a change of shoes would be necessary.

Fueled by Base and ready to go!!

I charged my iPod, checked to be sure it worked correctly, and charged my Garmin. I was ready to go. This was the most prepared I went into any marathon. I was determined to make it my best effort, and no matter the outcome, I was going to do whatever I could to remove the variables that brought me down in the past. Hydration, nutrition, training, and weather. Those are the big ones. All seemed to be lining up to lead me to my goal. Surprisingly, it didn’t take me long to get to sleep. I had felt so tired that entire week, my legs felt like lead up until that day, so I knew I was physically ready to run the next morning. I had finally calmed back down, but the nerves were still there. What would tomorrow bring?

All I know is that I kept thinking, “Prior planning prevents piss poor performance” and “Failing to plan is like planning to fail”. I had planned, mapped it out, and knew what I needed to do when I needed to do it. I was ready. For the first time ever, I had a real, complete marathon plan.

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