learning from failure

Hitting the Reset Button

I’ve been thinking about writing this post for a while, not just to share it really, but as a process that writing can be. I’m actually really glad that I starting thinking about it, since I figured some things during the process. If this extremely personal share can help one person, it was worth posting.

Not long before the turn of the new year, someone mentioned that it was a new decade. I had never even thought of that! I started to think about where I was in 2010 and what the last decade has ensued, and it was literally too overwhelming for me to consider. I decided to look back over just 2019, but what occurred in 2019 includes 2018, and I really figured some things out. I “Dr. Phil’d” myself pretty successfully and decided that 2020 is the year of hitting the RESET button.

reset button

What happened? What went wrong? I mean, I just finished an endurance trifecta, so it can’t be that bad, can it? Yes and no. I shall ‘splain.

If you’ve been reading my blog for any amount of time, it doesn’t take long to understand that I absolutely love to run. Now, those July and August mornings I could use a portable air conditioner along the route, but running makes me feel like me. I can work things out, run with friends, and feel accomplished before 7 am. My spiral, whether it can be considered an actual spiral remains to be seen, but it certainly wasn’t a rise to the top, began when I got injured two years ago, right before my marathon. It was a calf injury that THANKFULLY, did not bring itself about during my race and I was able to get my 3:33 PR. It was when I returned to speed work a few weeks later that it flared up. Since it flared up, I didn’t train much on hills/trails for my 43ish mile stage race, each day being around 14 miles. So when I did the stage race in April, my calf was fine, but since it was so technical, my posterior tibialis had a panic attack and caused my ankle to swell and hurt like the bananas. It was the first time I’d ever been injured where I was taken out of the game. I couldn’t run, I could barely walk. And I didn’t know what to do. Physical therapy didn’t magically heal it, and I slowly realized, like as in two months later slowly, that I would seriously need to just STOP trying so hard to will my way through the pain and let it slowly heal on its own. Patience is not always my strong suit.

patience

During this time, I spent my workouts on my bike, aerobically working out, doing what I wanted, when I wanted, at the pace I wanted. Translate that to about an hour a day on my bike pedaling pretty darn easily.

I had to DNS all my races that I was really looking forward to, and it bothered me when I saw happy runners running. I wanted to be out there too, and I felt some pent-up pressure building.

Then Hurricane Florence hit Wilmington. During this time, my son had an injury that required him to be hospitalized, and that story, in and of itself, would drive anyone to madness, so I’ll keep it short. I’ll just say that I don’t know if I’ll ever truly get over what happened and how the doctor behaved and our subsequent meetings to discuss said behavior, but eventually, after lots of tears and “I wish I would have said ~”, I decided to give that up. But that revelation came months after Florence. Florence did not wreck havoc on my house, thankfully, but the entire disaster brought about so much uncertainty, fear, and general sadness because so many others had been affected. Thankfully, I had recovered from my ankle pain enough that I could run, but for about a week after the storm, I was literally too exhausted to run. It might have been the stress of my son being in the hospital, worrying if we should stay or leave, getting windows boarded up, getting up early and staying up late to be sure we were aware of the weather (the storm took two entire days to pass through), dealing with tornado warnings in the middle of the night, and then hearing the stories of those flooded. Then the aftermath included the pictures of death, retention ponds smelling like rotten fish, smelling the river from our house, and knowing we were damn lucky. That’s all I can say to describe it to keep it short. We bonded with our neighbors, tried to help others as much as we could, but with my son’s massive foot injury, we stayed closed to home so he would not be exposed to any sort of bacteria. And he couldn’t walk.

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The eye over my house

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The actual speed of Hurricane Florence

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Time slowly healed those wounds, and life got back to a new sort of normal. I began to plan for the Boston Marathon, so I was really careful about my miles, and I started to pay more attention to my nutrition that I had let go the last few months due to being injured and dealing with the hurricane.

My training was going really well, until it wasn’t. I was at the track, having a fantastic workout, feeling amazing, which was too amazing. I pulled my hamstring, which was pretty tender already, doing leg swings before a long run the Saturday after the amazing track workout. I remember exactly where I was, the position I was in, and how it felt when it happened.

I desperately tried to make it work, but after lots of physical therapy, time off, and tiny test runs, I pulled the plug on running the 2019 Boston Marathon. I cried. A lot. But after that, it was ok. I knew things would be ok. I spend a lot of time run/walking myself back to health. Again.

While I rehabbed, my husband got a job offer from his current company to move to South Carolina. I worked my fingers off with finishing my jobs in Wilmington, preparing our house to sell (oh my, this was a doozy), planning a surprise 50th anniversary party for my parents IN MISSOURI, and planning a gift-giving present for my sister’s 50th birthday. Then we had a trip to Missouri, sold our Wilmington house, surprise party, trip to South Carolina, close and move in to our new house. Then my husband was required to travel every week for work back in Wilmington, due to company decisions that shouldn’t have been made, was required but wasn’t part of the plan. I was also dealing with some other personal stuff that I’m not getting into, but it caused a lot of not-so-good feelings. It was a lot. I had started to train for my endurance trifecta as well, and if anyone knows me, running more than maybe 6 miles in the summer is not my cup of tea. I was riding the struggle bus when it came to this part, but I got it done, each and every weekend. I followed my plan, I did what I needed to do to accomplish my trifecta goal.

Then all our travel started in October. Half iron tri, New York City, Lake Norman, JFK (which was 18 hours over 3 days plus that pesky 12 hours of running) weekend, then immediately turning around and being gone all Thanksgiving.  And to top it all off, the cherry on the pie was that I had yet another injury from the 50 miler that took me out of the game. Again. I. Was. Damn. Frustrated. And I stopped caring.

Why am I writing about this? Because it paints a picture, and not just the cropped “after” picture, but the entire thing. I needed to zoom out, so I could see what happened to me. I was sort of lost, probably about 15 pounds heavier than I had ever been without having just had a baby, and my nutrition was off the rails. I had too many empty bottles of wine in the recycle bin, too many crackers in the pantry, and way too much shredded cheese on my salads.

When I zoomed out, I realized exactly what happened. I got distracted and was doing so much for so many other people, I let myself go. I remember asking myself one time on the bike when I saw a belly roll I’d never seen before, are you ok with that? And unfortunately, my answer was, “Yup, don’t care. Chocolate covered almond, please, with a side of chardonnay.”

Don’t get me wrong, I am not blaming the circumstances on my nutritional failures. I made every single decision that led up to it. It was my fault, not stress nor moving nor being so damn busy this summer that I barely knew what side was up. I holed myself up in my house, avoided meeting the neighbors because I was just too freaking damn tired, didn’t want to tell my story, and felt judged because I didn’t have a job. If I wanted a glass of wine (or three), I had the damn glass(es). If I was too exhausted to cook, we either ordered pizza or got some fresh meals from the store. If I wanted to eat cheese, I ate cheese. Creamer in my coffee? Yup, fill ‘er up! I didn’t say no very much, my body paid the price, and it became the norm.

Now some people have already told me that I’m being ridiculous, I’m not overweight, I don’t need to worry about it, blah blah. But it bothers ME. It’s not who I am, and my current nutrition and weight would not coincide with my HUGE athletic goal that I have. I knew I couldn’t continue, as my already-tight clothes were not going to last any longer. And I just was not happy. That is the cue for change.

motivated

Not this time…this one is for real and for good.

In looking back, I realized the mistakes I made, but what do I do about it? It took me a few weeks, and I decided I needed to do a few things. The first, and most important thing, something that I have rarely done, was to forgive myself. Things happen, but the key point was that I was going to do something about it. After I forgave myself, I picked a date to start, which was January 6th. What was I starting? I hate this word, but it’s a diet. I needed to go cold turkey. No creamer, no cheese, no wine, no nonsense. I have been on this diet before, and it’s really hard. Low carb, low fat, low calorie plus exercise every day. Why this plan? Because I needed a reset, a complete reset in my mindset. And I wanted results quickly, because I know myself and I tend to get frustrated easily. When I feel and see progress quickly, it eases my mind and makes the sacrifices worth it just a little quicker than if I just cut back.

Today, after one week in and yesterday being my cheat day due to the Clemson game, I can feel progress. I feel different, I feel better, and my mindset has definitely shifted. It’s been good for me, absolutely a good decision that I made, and I’m extremely lucky that I had the opportunity to stop, think, and start to move forward again. I visualize what I will look like and how I will feel when I take the excess weight off, and I can see myself running the Houston Marathon for a PR next January.  I might grow my hair out longer so I can have a Jordan Hassay braid. I might not. I might have my tattoo redone. I might not. I’m hoping to find a job that fits my crazy kids’ schedules, but I might not. And that’s ok. I can see and feel a healthy, happy me emerging. This I know for sure.

bye felicia

See ya, 2019!

I wave goodbye to 2019. It was stressful and CraZy, but it was a really good year. As I wave goodbye, I turn around and face 2020 with my arms open wide. I am here.

hello 2020

From Overcomer, one of my favorite movies of all time.

Categories: anything is possible, being epic, Boston Marathon, follow your dreams, learning from failure, marathon, running, running buddies, training for marathon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

‘Cause I Love The Adrenaline In My Veins – JFK 50 Race Recap Part II

Pull up a chair and grab a cup of coffee. This is a long race report.

It was 5:00 am, and a ribbon of cars led us to the school where we were to have our 5:45 am pre-race briefing about 20 minutes from the hotel. A Cyndi Lauper song was on the satellite radio. Because of “potty gate” in NYC, I was very anxious about using the bathroom before the race started. There was no parking spaces left at the school  when we got there, so Andy dropped me off. I got in line at the row of port-a-jons outside the school, and was quickly done. I tried not to drink too much since I knew there would be no way I’d have time to go before the race started. Most race reports I’d read said that (it was very true). Andy found me inside the gym, and we waited. The Cyndi Lauper song was on repeat in my head. NO. I can’t race with Cyndi today. So I turned my phone on music and the first song was the Lizzo women’s anthem, Truth Hurts. No, I don’t really want to hear Lizzo for 13 hours either so I changed it to Tom Petty, hoping for the best, but knowing that my mind plays whatever song it wants to.

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Before it got full in there

Race Director Mike Spinnler gave our race orders, and the meeting was dismissed right around 6:00 am. The gist of it was “If someone slips, don’t step where they step. If they don’t slip, step where they step.” Simple. We had about a 1000-meter walk to the start of the race in downtown Boonsboro. So many people. I want to say there would be around 900 runners who started. Bathroom lines were too long. Oh well, I’ll figure it out and if need to go in the woods, I will.

Downtown Boonsboro was cool. The barber shop was already open and had customers getting coifed. That’s awfully early for a haircut. There was a hotel there with a double-decker porch with people watching us. I wanted to throw up. I wanted to cry. I wanted to go home. But I was there, it was the perfect morning. Dry, partly sunny (when the sun would come up as it was still dark), and rain was only predicted for the later afternoon. I gave Andy a kiss, said thank you, and told him I was ready to get into the crowd. As soon as I walked away from him, I regretted it.  I looked back for him, but he already moved. I found a few ladies, talked to them about their prior experience (they had experienced more than one DNF in their seven years of running) so I kind of didn’t follow them since DNF wasn’t on my list of possibilities, and I tucked myself in near the second half of the pack. All I could think about was to follow my plan, go slow in the beginning. Don’t ruin your legs in the beginning, no matter how “good” you feel.

I didn’t hear the National Anthem, but all of a sudden, it was time to go. We started. I didn’t use my Garmin, as I knew the battery would only last maybe a quarter of the race, so I looked at the time when I crossed the start line, and it read 6:30. When they say they promptly start at 6:30, they ain’t kidding.

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Race Start 

Over the first 5.5 miles, you gain 1,172 feet in elevation. I had done many treadmill/stair stepper workouts over the months. I felt prepared. The first 2.5 miles were on a paved road. The first mile or so is basically rolling hills. It was starting to get light out, and it was a pretty day. Then we rounded a corner and my jaw dropped. Oh. I had it in my mind the road portion was rolling and as soon as you hit the AT at mile 2.5, you went straight up. That wasn’t the case. This road was going at a very steep incline. Most of us slowed to a walk. I used to be a really slow walker, but doing so many walks on the tread and walking parts of trails taught me to walk a lot faster. We went up and up and up. I heard some say that the trail was close, and then I saw the sign. I wasn’t sure how it would work, so many of us crammed onto a single-track trail. Would there be a back up or a line to just get onto the trail? Ain’t got time for that!

When we got to the trail entrance. I stopped at the bathrooms, where there was a short line, texted Andy I was about to cross the first timing mat, and went on my way. After that stop, I had ten minutes of time banked.

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A road-ish trail or a trail-ish road?

The trail was pretty wide and it did not go straight up, as I thought it would. Actually, it went down. Hmm. Not sure where I had gotten that information from or how I would’ve misinterpreted it. Oh well! The next mile was a pretty easy portion of the trail. Some ups and downs but nothing steep, nothing really rocky. The trails were in PERFECT condition, and I often thought about those who ran the race last year when it was a huge sloppy mess after getting 8 inches of snow the day before. At mile 3.5, you got onto a paved road again. Thankfully, I overheard someone earlier saying that the road portion was the steepest part. That tidbit of information helped me deal with the fact that it was 100% true. We walked straight freaking up. Forever. The damn road kept going up and up. I wasn’t sure what 1,172 feet of elevation gain really was, but I was beginning to get an idea. It was a lot when it’s compacted into a few sections within 5.5 miles.

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Up and Up and Up

After we climbed up and up, we got back onto the trail at mile 5.5. This was a much narrower portion, and I was excited that most of the steep incline was over. I told myself, “Just be careful, make sure you eat, and have fun”.

We were mostly single file, and you had to be strategic in passing someone in front of you. This is where Lizzo decided to join me in my head, and she hung in there for a LONG time, although I tried and tried, unsuccessfully, to get Tom Petty back. You run with interesting people in races like these. Well, probably in any race. Behind me, there was a group of ladies running, and every time we walked over the rocks, one of them yelled, “WALKING!”. Then when we ran on the trail, she yelled, “RUNNING!”. Constantly. “RUNNING! WALKING! RUNNING! WALKING!”. I tried not to get irritated, but how could any regular person not get irritated with that? I wanted to tell her to STFU and just go with the flow like everyone else was doing. I had to get out of there.

Then I got stuck with these two guys behind me. One was soft-spoken, but the other one was apparently using a megaphone because the dude was so loud. Like yelling at me kind of loud. A few miles later, I got ahead of them, thankfully.

No, I wasn’t grumpy, but when you’re running that long, you become slightly poodle-like, and things that don’t ordinarily bug you, do, then things that normally bug you, do not.

I chatted with a few people, watched the sun come up, and tried to take it all in.

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Along the trail as the sun came up

At mile 9.3, we came to a check point in what was like a big field. I didn’t go over a timing mat, so I texted Andy where I was. At that point, I had banked more time and was 30 minutes ahead of the cutoff. I got some Gatorade, took an energy bar, and tried to eat a few potato chips. For some reason, they pretty much crumbled and fell out of my mouth. It still makes me laugh thinking about that, especially since it didn’t make much sense, because my mouth wasn’t dry and I wasn’t thirsty. The bar was pretty hard since it was cold – probably still in the 30’s, but it was good.

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I’m pretty sure this is mile 9.3

One of the ladies I talked to said she had run this part of the course before, and it goes up more, then turns really rocky, then goes into the switchbacks down. I wasn’t sure what mile I was on (remember, no Garmin), so I pretty much went with what she said. I figured we would have a good mile with rock and a mile of switchback, which I think ended up being pretty close to being true. The only difference was the rocky portion was probably longer than a mile. Once we did get to that part, which pictures do not do it justice, I was really careful to 1) NOT fall, and 2) NOT twist something. I got caught behind a few slower runners and just a few times, I took a chance running on the rocks a little faster than I normally would have. Thankfully all was well. We could hear the trains below, as the director had told us that if we get caught by the train, we are SOL, just be patient, and wait for it to pass.

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The rocky trail. It doesn’t look rocky, but it is.

I wish I had a picture of the switchbacks. I’ve been on switchbacks before, both on a trail and road, and what I had pictured was pretty much nothing like what we had. This was all rock, steep decline, and you could see straight down. Safety people were along the course, most likely for the people who chose to run down those things. I’m sure they drive around without seat belts too. My little group was chatting about something I can’t remember, taking our time getting off the hill, and we passed one woman in a sling and one guy who had hit his face on the rock. It wasn’t too bad, thankfully, and that guy and I passed each other back and forth the next 30 or so miles. We knew we were getting close to the bottom, as we could hear the cheering of the checkpoint and the first of three stops where our support people could see us.

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I’m the one with my arms flying in the air

Four hours into the race, I passed mile 15, one hour ahead of the cutoff. I found Andy, went to the bathroom, got some mini potatoes and shoved them into my pocket, grabbed an Uncrustable, changed my socks and into running shoes, and went on my way. I was in a really good mood. Eleven minutes later, after winding around a trail and under a bridge and over some railroad tracks (NO TRAIN!!!!) while munching on the sandwich, I crossed the 15.5 mile marker. I had a feeling I was going to get warm, so I took my long sleeved shirt off, took my number off, re-pinned it to my sleeveless shirt, dropping my Uncrustable in the process, and asked someone to stuff my long sleeve into my pack after picking up and dusting off my Uncrustable. If I’m going to run 50 miles, I can eat a dirty sandwich, especially since it was DELICIOUS. I realized the photographer was there, and at the same time, realized my sleeveless shirt was inside out. Sigh.

The next check point was at mile 27.3, also one of the points our support people could meet us. Twelve miles, I can do this.

I’d heard from several race reports that the C & O Canal was boring and flat. Like super extra boring. Considering it was a change of scenery and my running routes at home are boring (I often run when it’s dark just so I don’t have to see the same thing over and over again), I wasn’t worried about it. I knew the required pace dropped to 12-13 minute miles along this section, so I did not allow myself to walk much at all. Since I had no concept of distance or pace, I turned my Garmin on so I could give myself a tad sense of how far I had gone and how far I had to go. My pace hovered around 10:20, which I felt was perfect. I sped up a few times, but made myself slow down when I started to breathe harder. The canal was pretty. It wasn’t all straight, as it followed the winding of the river. The leaves still had a slight bit of color, and the dead leaves on the trail made a soft sound with our footsteps. Granted, many many many others had gotten to this point in the race before me and tamped them down, but that still didn’t matter.

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The C&O Canal

Then I started to hurt. I felt the incline from the trails. I didn’t understand how I could be hurting already, when I had over half the race to go. I went into panic mode, then I talked myself off the ledge. The hard is what makes it great. Keep going. You’ll be fine. Breathe. It will be ok. This is a blip.

Our first aid station on the canal was at mile 19, and it did not disappoint. This is one thing I didn’t know about the JFK 50, but this is one thing that I heard during the first miles that sets it apart. The aid stations are AMAZING. So many things were offered, typical of trail races and ultras, but I believe there’s just more people there (at LEAST ten per) and they are offered more frequently. If I remember right, one aid station during another trail race I had run offered a hose. So this was pretty stacked compared to a hose.

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I may or may not have texted my husband that I was leaving him for this grilled cheese….

I texted Andy that I was getting a headache and to bring ibuprofen to the next meet up, but right near the race half way point, there was an aid station and I got two from someone there. I was really wary of taking anything, but I knew I was hydrated, so I took them and didn’t look back. My aches went away. And I was now half way through my 50 mile race!

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Whoop Whoop!

Since I was wearing my tank top, my bra was chafing my arm. When I came upon the next check point at mile 27.3, Andy was there waiting for me. It’s interesting, because I didn’t NEED him, as the race had everything I could need or want, but I needed to see him. It was like during Ironman Florida, just seeing my people filled me up. Just seeing him made me feel better.

I used the port-a-jon, he gave me a few more ibuprofen to stash in my pack, and I went to the medical tent to get a band aid. The chafe stuff I put on my arm was not working well enough. I told them what I needed, and I ended up laughing so hard because one of them rubbed Body Glide all over my arms, me laughing because the stupid tag of my inside-out shirt was sticking out and I was getting body glided. I went on my way with a smile on my face and an hour and five minutes to spare.

Eleven miles until I see him next. The pace requirement increased to almost a 15 minute mile. I allowed myself to walk a little more. I still had a LONG way to run! I chatted with some people, one guy gave me an orange wedge, and then I heard music. I wasn’t sure what in the world was going on, but it was the song “Get Lucky” that repeats the lyrics “We’re up all night to get lucky” about a hundred times. I’m not sure about you, but there’s nothing romantic about being in the middle of a 50 mile race. I was thinking it was just a bad choice of music. Then the guy said, “Ok, here you go, you will remember this moment forever” and the Marvin Gaye and Tammi Tarrell song “Aint No Mountain High Enough” came on. It’s funny because I didn’t know it was basically a love song, but I teared up thinking that there was no mountain that was going to keep me from finishing this race. Little did I know, the music was coming from a couple on bikes dressed as The Incredibles. A few more songs came on as they slowly pedaled, and the music was a really nice distraction from what we were all doing. They stopped so I got their picture and thanked them for being out there for us. In all honesty, Mr. Incredible was right. I will remember that song at that moment for the rest of my life.

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The Incredibles

I played games to get me to the next stop. Ok, you can either run two miles and then walk for half a mile, or you can run a mile then walk a quarter. Catch the lady in front of you. Get in front of the guy who was walking in the leaves and looked like he was going to fall into the river. Don’t fall down. Eat. Aid stations were plentiful, and at one I had a quarter hamburger and at the 34.4 mile check point, I had homemade Christmas cookies. This aid station was decorated, Santa was there, and the number of kids out there wanting to help us was overwhelming. During the entire race, I really tried to tell as many as I could, “THANK YOU FOR BEING HERE, YOU MAKE A DIFFERENCE”. They certainly did.

Four miles until the next stop. In all honesty, for running this far, I felt pretty damn good. I felt hydrated, fed, and happy. I was truly enjoying myself. No, I didn’t want to do any extra dance steps or drop and do 20, but I was feeling good. Despite feeling good, a cramp developed in my left calf. Part of my race plan was to assess whether it was from a lack of electrolytes or just needed to be stretched. I took some Base salt and stretched. It migrated down into my Achilles and then into my heel then to the side of my heel over the next ten miles.

When I arrived at mile 38.4 at 8 hours and 48 minutes, I was an hour and 27 minutes ahead of the official cutoff, and I “only” had around a half marathon to go. I would be on the canal until around mile 42, and I knew, I just knew that I was going to finish this race. I saw Andy and honestly do not remember much else about that stop except that it started to rain.

Four miles until the canal. My watch gave me the low battery message, which made me mad because I had only had it on for about 2.5 hours. Piece of crap. I turned it off and went by time from then on. The migratory cramp now in my foot was irritating, and the top of my left foot had started to bug me a little bit. All in a day’s running, right? It started to cool off as I approached the country road portion of the race, especially with the rain. At least it was a light rain. Three, two, one, I was there. Mile 41.8, four minutes shy of two hours ahead of the cutoff. And the rain stopped. I had three and a half hours to finish 8 miles. Let’s do this thing. We couldn’t feel the finish yet, and 8 miles is a long distance when you’ve done 42, but it was more than doable. We were handed safety vests and I dug my long sleeve shirt out of my pack and put it on. When we got onto the road, we went straight friggin’ up. So much for rolling hills.

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Looking back, down the giant hill, and I actually passed up the guy handing out beer 

I’m not sure how the conversation started, but someone right there said he had done a ton of ultras before, including this one more than once. I asked him for some tips on how to NOT feel like complete trash the next day. Basically, his lesson was to take care of yourself that night and the next day. Compression socks, roll, stretch, hydrate. Jeff is an experienced ultra runner, as I had mentioned before, and he was having a bad race. Funny, since I considered myself having a good race and we were at the same place at the same time. Perspective.

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Up the damn hill

We ended up talking the rest of the race. Racing, life, just stuff like that. We ran the flat and down hills, start at the mail box, go to the power pole, and I took in the beautiful countryside while it was still light. There was a fair amount of traffic on the road, and as careful as the drivers were, it was a little unnerving. My feet were really starting to hurt. It wasn’t a cramp feeling, it was pain. I look back on this decision, and I still, one week out, do not regret one tiny shred, but for the majority of the last six miles of the race, I walked. I knew I was going to make the cutoff, but I did not like the feeling I had in my feet, and it wasn’t worth risking an injury to make a certain finish time, when my goal was always to just finish.

Night fell like a hammer, and all of a sudden, it was dark. The race had mile markers for us, which was nice. We passed others, others passed us, and soon, we came into town. The finish was so close.

Three, two, one. One mile to go. Do I run, do I continue to walk? Eh, walking seemed like the smart solution. When I made the final turn, the wind picked up, and it was cold. I could hear the finish line. Thankfulness overflowed in my heart. My body carried me this far. My family supported me the whole way. I did it.

Eleven hours and forty-seven minutes after I started running the JFK 50, I crossed the finish line. I RAN across the finish line.

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FINISH LINE!! And a fist bump.

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Post race in the school

The Aftermath:

I cried after the race. So many emotions, it’s really hard to describe, and I still struggle to come up with words. The main takeaway is gratefulness. I’m so thankful that I was able to participate and finish this race. Since I’m not sure what to say, I’ll copy what the race director had to share the day after the race, which still brings me to tears. It was a special year, as the person who created this race, the one I wrote about in my last post, Buzz Sawyer, passed away in 2019. Of all things, I wish I could thank him for creating something such as this.

“This one was for Buzz. He would be so proud of all the athletes, volunteers, race staff and supporters who came out yesterday to be a part of the 57th Annual JFK 50 Mile presented by @altrarunning

Whether you finished or not, PR’d or not, scored one of those beautiful cookies at mile 19 or not… be proud to be out there when many people will never have the guts to even try.

“Do not pray for easy lives. Pray to be stronger men”. John F. Kennedy” ~ Mike Spinnler

buzz

Buzz, Thank You

One week out, my foot still hurts and I’ve taken one mile walk, which was way too far. I’ll be patient, head to the pool, and count my blessings. I already know what I want to do next. 🙂

 

 

 

Categories: being epic, follow your dreams, learning from failure, marathon, running, running buddies, ultra marathon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Going Mental: When You Become Your Own Mean Girl

Into every training cycle, a little fear must fall.  At least for me. And when it happens, sometimes it happens big. This training cycle was no different than many, especially the really big races like Ironman Florida, Boston Marathon, and going for a big PR at the Houston Marathon. Sometimes something can be so big and so new, it’s hard to wrap my head around it, which is how the fear creeps in. Fear and I are not strangers but we are not friends. I certainly don’t welcome fear into my house for a cup of coffee. I also don’t loathe fear, as it’s a natural consequence for going above yourself to do something new. That’s the way I see it. Fear is natural, but the most important thing about fear is how you handle it.

There’s a difference between fear and “can’t”. I remember hearing the phrase “Can’t never did anything”, and I say this to my kids whenever I hear a misplaced “can’t”. It literally never did anything for anyone. Fear isn’t “can’t”.

There are many types of fear. Like the real kind when you’re running down a dark street and you hear this noise and you think you’re being followed and then all of a sudden you realize it’s a leaf skittering alongside you with the wind. The fear when you’re running to your ringing phone and slip a little on the carpet while you’re going downstairs and you get a shot of adrenaline in your fingertips. There’s more REAL fear but I don’t need to go there. Then there’s the fear you get when you start a new job, or meet a possible business partner, which would probably be better described as “nerves”, but it’s still fear. Then there’s that pesky fear. The fear of failure. The fear of failure and “can’t” are first cousins and they often have family reunions when the fear of failure arrives at your doorstep.

I applied for a full-time job last week. I was scared to do it, mostly because I didn’t want to get rejected. I didn’t want to be the one looking kind of dumb with my finger and my thumb in the shape of an “L” on my forehead. Back in the day, I was way overqualified to do this job, and now, I’m not quite qualified, technically. And I didn’t want to be rejected, because it would just validate my fear of being the L. But I wanted the chance to find out if I would at least get a shot at that job, and if I didn’t apply, I would never know. When I got that dreaded email “Thank you for applying, BUT….”, I felt pretty low. But at least I took a shot at it. And now I know they will never get a chance to work with me and know how awesome I am, how hard-working I am, that I’m funny, smart, and thoughtful. Their loss. Time to move on. But I’m actually proud of myself for putting myself out there and punching fear in the face. Nothing bad happened when I got the email. It actually gave me a little clarity.

I digress.

Last weekend, I ran a 30k trail race at Lake Norman State Park. It was a trip that I didn’t want to take because we had just gotten back from New York, and two weeks before that was the half iron triathlon and a ton of long runs and training and I was just t i r e d. But it was already past the time to cancel my hotel reservation and my kids and I were supposed to go to a wedding, a wedding that I wanted to attend, but I didn’t want to drive that far.  I resigned myself that I HAD to go, although I just wanted to stay home. I worried about traffic and I worried about driving in the dark and I worried about finishing the race in time to drive to the afternoon wedding about an hour away from our hotel.

I got up and got ready for the race, worried some more, then drove myself through some gorgeous fall hills to the park. It was 28 degrees, and it had been a long time since I had felt temps that low. I missed the beginning of the “trail talk” since I, among many others, was sitting in my car keeping myself warm. I arrived for the giveaways and asked another participant if I had missed anything really important. “Go left at the junctions and be sure you punch your bib at the checkpoints” was all I missed. There were probably about 110 of us total for the 30k and 50k, so it took maybe half a mile or so for the crowd to thin out. I stayed back and let a lot of others go in front of me. It was a gorgeous morning and a beautiful trail. We were off.

Things were going fine. Until they weren’t. My legs have handled the tremendous amount of volume I’m put them through and recovery was typically quick. (I didn’t see that then but I do now.) And this was my last long workout before my big race. About four or five miles in, my somewhat fragile mental state collapsed. Sometimes, when you’re in the middle of something, or near the end, your perception becomes skewed. For instance, the week between the half iron triathlon and the NYC marathon was a ten mile run. And I was like, “Oh! ONLY ten miles this weekend.” I forget that running ten miles is actually quite a lot. And during my meltdown on that trail, when I felt my legs starting to get a little tired (I know this because I start tripping on things), I unleashed the wrath of my fear onto myself.

It’s also important to note that within failure, you find the opportunity for growth. I’ve failed at reaching my marathon goals, but within that, I’ve learned my biggest lessons. But that is not the same as fear that stops you from trying. And tells you you’re not good enough. Which is what I was feeling.

Here’s just a sample of things I said to myself.

You’re NEVER going to be able to finish the JFK in 13 hours if you can’t even run this easy trail in 15 minute miles.

How could you let yourself gain so much weight over the last year.

You can’t do this.

You’re going to be late for the wedding. You can’t use “I was running” as a valid reason.

You have absolutely no reason to be this tired right now.

Then I reminded myself that I had run a marathon the week before. And walked 60-70 miles in four days.

STOP MAKING EXCUSES.

Why did you even sign up for this 50 mile race when you KNOW you are a BAD trail runner?

There is no excuse for being tired.

You are going to embarrass yourself when you get a DNF.

Then I told myself that yeah, I ran a freaking marathon the week before and to not lose sight that THAT event is typically the goal for most people. But it didn’t matter.

You’re going to be last.

Running a marathon is no excuse for being tired right now.

Stop being a huge pansy. Pan. Zee.

You’re pretty dumb for thinking you can do this.

There were a few cycles of this negativity. I was really mean to me. I’m not proud of it, and I wasn’t even sure if I was going to share this. But I know I’m not the only one who does this. But I didn’t let it win. First, I knew from Ironman training that when you get low, you probably need to eat. So I ate one of my gels. I felt better and my mood lifted a little almost immediately. Then I went through my last month of training in my head.

20 miles

22 miles

Half Iron Triathlon, which is 70.2 miles and took me 6.5 hours

10 miles (yeah, the EASY week)

Marathon day, which was 32 miles of running and walking, plus 27 miles of walking in 4 days.

Look LADY, you have put your body through a LOT, so STOP being a bully, stop being so hard on yourself and just keep moving forward. And I did.

I went through the mean lady/nice lady cycle a few times during that race.

I think the 30k course was short a mile or two, but I finished in just under four hours. Four hours of running is a lot of time to be running. And I wasn’t last. I wasn’t in the top half of the finishers, but that’s ok.

I made it back to the hotel in plenty of time to get prepped for the wedding and find food. And as I said, it was one of my favorite weddings of all time. I totally borrowed worry. And we went home on Sunday. I was tired. Really. Really. Tired.

Then Monday came. And the mean lady came back. I got scared again. And I questioned my ability to finish the JFK 50 Mile race over and over. I was familiar with this feeling, but it came on really extra hard for this event. All it is, is fear of failure. So you want to give yourself enough reasons to just not even go? Just don’t even try because if you don’t try, you can’t fail, right? RIGHT? But just like that job, you can’t fail if you don’t even try. I didn’t come this far to only go this far. And I wanted to try, and I was going to put everything I had into making a successful race plan, then more importantly, execute it. I told my coach my mental state wasn’t really good, and I told her that this was normal for me and zero negativity would be allowed in my thought processes come race week. And she gave me the race plan assignment, and I really can’t express my gratitude at the timing of it, because it ignited the thought processes that will carry me over that finish line.

It only took three days, and all that bad juju is gone. Poof. And I look back and am disappointed that I was so mean to myself. I sealed the negative off and I will not allow it back in. I have worked too damn hard to be afraid. And part of a good race plan is to prepare for the unknown, as something unusually typically pops up in an event that long. And that’s ok. It’s crazy that I was feeling so bad at the beginning of the week, and today, I’m feeling nervous and a little anxious and really, really, dang excited.

On November 23rd, I’m running the JFK 50. I’m not going to TRY it, I’m not going to attempt to, I’m going to do it. I’m not naive enough to believe that things can’t happen to cause a DNF, but I’m not even going to let that into my space. At this point, a DNF is just not possible.

My mantra is to “Keep fucking going”.

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I’m carrying this bracelet my sister gave me.

Follow my race plan.

Adapt to changes.

Stay positive.

Bullet proof.

Remember that I didn’t come this far to only go this far.

All the way. 50.2 miles. I’m going to do it.

running quote 2

Categories: anything is possible, follow your dreams, learning from failure, marathon, marathon training, running, temper tantrum, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Keep on Dreaming….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

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

Houston Marathon Race Recap

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

houston marathon

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

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

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

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

8:10, 7:53

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

13.1 – 1:46:18, an 8:07 overall pace

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mile 23: 8:07

Mile 24: 8:13

Mile 25: 8:26

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

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

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

Then “1/4 mile to go”.

Mile 26: 8:02

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

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

Fuck. Yeah.

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

3:33:00 ; 8:08 overall pace

kelli houston marathon

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

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

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

Learnin’ To Fly

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

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

fragile

FRA-GEEEE-LAY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Learnin’ to Fly

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

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!

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

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

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

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

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Stay the course, KICK SOME ASS!

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

 

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

This Time I’ll Be Bullet Proof

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

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

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

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

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Trying not to throw up.

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

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

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

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

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Feeling defeated after Redemption Attempt #1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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