learning from failure

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

Wrightsville Beach Marathon Race Recap

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

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

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

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

Fleet Feet shakeout run!

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

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

My little speedsters

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

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

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

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

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

Fueled by Base and ready to go!!

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

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

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Categories: Boston Marathon, follow your dreams, fueled by base, go for your dreams, learning from failure, marathon, marathon training, qualifying for boston marathon, quintiles wrightsville beach marathon, race with base, running, running with friends, training for marathon, Uncategorized, wrightsville beach marathon | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Keep on Dreamin’

“Some dreams, stay with you forever, drag you round and bring you back to where you were. Some dreams, keep on getting better. Gotta keep believing if you want to know for sure.” ~Eli Young Band

Isn’t it crazy how a song can bring up so many emotions? Good and bad, songs can take you right to a time and place in your life. “Even if it breaks your heart” by the Eli Young Band came on the radio (Does anyone listen to the radio anymore? It was Pandora.) last night, and I couldn’t hold my tears in. Happy tears or sad tears, I just couldn’t decide, but they were tears of memories of crazy times, of wondering what I’m doing and why I’m doing it.

In 2011, my family moved to Texas under duress. It wasn’t planned, and it was a really hard move to make, especially since it was so entirely far away from my family and friends in Iowa. I had tried and failed to qualify for the Boston Marathon three times in two years, and I was worn out. I didn’t know if I had the energy and strength to train for another marathon and fail at my time goal. It’s heart-wrenching, embarrassing, really, really, embarrassing, soul-sucking, and I just didn’t know, especially with everything that happened over the move, if I had it in me to go through another disappointment and the stress of training.

Then I heard the song on one hot Saturday morning in Katy, Texas, in the summer of 2012 after running with my group and on my way to my son’s football practice. And I knew, I KNEW deep down in my soul that I had to give it a try, I had to keep trying until I made it. I knew I could do it, it was in my reach, so I knew I had to at least give myself the benefit of the doubt to try again.

“Keep on dreamin’ even if it breaks your heart.”

So, because of that song, I trained for the 2013 Houston marathon and qualified for Boston without even realizing it until ten minutes after I was done.

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Before I knew I got my BQ. Thought I missed it by 3 minutes, but actually made it by almost 2.

I ran the Boston Marathon in 2014. The race was a dream come true, just being a part of it, having those memories and sharing the experience of the pinnacle of racing. And I’m sure, if you’ve been reading this blog a while, you know that I did not finish that race on a good note. Dehydration, salt depletion, whatever it was on that hot day, left me struggling to finish as I walked the last 5 miles. It was not the Boston finish I wanted nor felt I deserved.

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I was livin’ the dream and went from this…..

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To this. I was devastated.

Since then, I’ve tried to qualify for Boston twice and am in training for my third attempt. This would be my sixth attempt to qualify for the Boston Marathon, seventh if you count Boston itself. It drains you. It depletes you. It makes you question your ability, your sanity, your everything. Some days I wonder if I should quit. One Boston is enough, right? It’s more than some people can get, right? Isn’t that enough? Well, it’s not enough for me. I know, deep down, just as I did that morning in Texas, that I can do it again. I know I have the ability to go back and run the race of my dreams. As I listened to that song last night, I knew I had to keep on dreaming even when it breaks my heart.

 

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

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