learning from failure

Learnin’ To Fly

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

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

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FRA-GEEEE-LAY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Learnin’ to Fly

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

Prelude To A Race

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

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

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My boys at the Bleacher Bar

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

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

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

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My son and Me

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

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My favorite support crew

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

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

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

 

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

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

My son and moi

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

The best family a girl could ask for

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

The Wilmington Road Runner Team

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

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

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

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

Game. On.

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

I’m Shipping Up To Boston

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

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

running homer

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

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

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

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

a race

Stay the course, KICK SOME ASS!

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

 

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

This Time I’ll Be Bullet Proof

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

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

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

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

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Trying not to throw up.

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

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

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

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

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Feeling defeated after Redemption Attempt #1

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

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

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

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

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

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

Charleston Marathon – T Minus 5 Days

Gulp. My marathon, the one that seemed like it was going to take forever to get here…is here. And I’m ready. Whether or not I feel like I’m ready, I know I’m ready. Or at least that’s what I’m telling myself. Sometimes you have to do that, right? Fake it til you make it?

As I weather stalk, I allow myself to freak out just enough to get to the point of throwing my hands up in a tantrum and saying F*%# IT!!! I’ve had it with weather! But I don’t, and I still freak out, but that’s ok because it gives me something to concentrate on. This is something I do. It works for me. It’s sort of like a diversion, like before Ironman and I melted down over my phone and before Houston, I flipped out over getting to the start line on time. That was a release of sorts and I moved on and raced well. I have a history of freaking out and telling myself the race is going to suck or whatever, then I move on and race well. I learned that Pre used to do that too. So if he can do it, I can do it too.

I digress. For this marathon, I’m going in with a different attitude. I’m not going to worry (as much) about the weather, but just deal with it the best I can. If it’s warm, hydrate more. If it’s rainy, keep my shoes dry. If it’s cold, wear more layers. OH, and there’s this:

a race

This is what I’m taking with me on race morning.

Also, I’m loading up on my Base ROCKET FUEL. I Amazon Primed some new hydration handheld bottles since I know I’m going to need more than just water and Gatorade on the course. Besides the Rocket Fuel, I’m carrying some Rocktane and Base salts, just in case I start feeling goofy.

My plan is to run this race evenly, and if it goes the way I want it to, if my mind wills my legs to do what I know they can do, I will negative split by 1:00. If I negative split by :01, I’ll be happy, but 1:00 would be a good plan for me, assuming I’m on time the first half.

I have to admit this is the first time I’ve truly believed in myself. That’s what Ironman gave me out of all these years of marathon running. I know I can do it, and if, for some reason I don’t meet my time goal, I’m going to drive home (well, my husband will) knowing that I gave it my all, I ran my best given the circumstances, and I will be happy knowing I left it all out there on the course, something I’ve never truly done in a marathon.  Surprised to hear that? Well, I am too. I always thought I was relatively confident, but after looking into my “failures” and digging pretty deep, I realized that I never truly believed I could do it, so I gave up. It’s actually a lot more common that anyone probably thinks it is, unfortunately.

Anyway, this is what’s going on in my house tonight:

 

Go Tigers!!!!!!

I made this since I was feeling festive. I can’t wait to cut into it and see everyone’s face because this ain’t a regular cake!!

Feeling feisty for the game!

Feeling feisty for the game!

So what about you? Staying up late to watch the National Championship game? Eating cake?
 

 

 

 

Categories: anything is possible, being epic, Boston Marathon, ironman, learning from failure, marathon, marathon training, qualifying for boston marathon, training for marathon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Wrightsville Beach Marathon – Race Recap

PRE-RACE

It’s the day before the big race, the marathon, the day I’ve been waiting for for months. I was looking forward to it and dreading it at the same time. I got up, ran my shake out run, the weather was good. It was cold and cloudy. Could tomrrow be a PR-making day?

My son came home from a sleepover Saturday, and ironic enough, he didn’t sleep much. We went to his soccer game, came home, and got ready to go out to the race festivities, all while I’m stuffing my face with carbs.

Food. I ate A LOT. It's like, the more I ate, the hungrier I got.

Food. I ate A LOT. It’s like, the more I ate, the hungrier I got.

Friday evening and Saturday were packet pickup, and on Saturday, there’s a 1-mile fun run and a 5k race. The full and half marathons were on Sunday morning.  I have to say, the Wrightsville Beach Marathon is relatively small, but it’s getting bigger and better.  I easily got my race packet and then my son’s packet for the 1-mile run that was Saturday evening.  The expo was nothing new, and I didn’t see anything I wanted wanted it all, but didn’t buy anything.

A beautiful day for the expo, 1 mile and 5k races!

A beautiful day for the expo, 1 mile and 5k races!

My husband is the head of the Cape Fear Clemson Club’s aid station for the race, so he was in charge of meeting The Tiger, the only “real” mascot who came to the college team themed race. It was cool to meet a real mascot. He started with the 1-mile and 5k races and was at the Clemson aid station during the marathons.

My boys and The Tiger

My boys and The Tiger

Then it was time for my son’s 1-mile race. Evidently I signed him up early last year, and thankfully the race emails all participants, because I had no recollection that I had signed him up until I got the confirmation email. Oops. The race does keep you informed well in advance, so there should be no question as to when or where events were taking place. Pretty awesome. It was time for my little one to run. I was slightly nervous, but he’s been running A LOT lately, so I figured he’d be just fine.

It's not often you can say you ran with a leprechaun.

It’s not often you can say you ran with a leprechaun. My guy is in the orange shirt just right of Mr. Leprechaun.

Momma was right. That little bugger came in 2nd overall with a freaking 6:21 mile time. He’s NINE. Yeah.

Post race.

Post race. Complete with his hand in the bag of chips.

By the time The Tiger was done with his duties at the races, I was more than ready to go home. I was so happy to see tons of familiar faces. So many people I know where there, whether it was to volunteer or race in one of the four races. What a great family event!!

We headed home so I could eat more carbs and put my feet up, because, yes, it IS all about me. Bedtime was early.

My typical pre-race burger. It never fails. Kitty wanted one too.

My typical pre-race burger. It never fails. Kitty wanted one too.

RACE MORNING

I normally eat four hours before big races. I’ve been doing it since I started learning more about marathons, and it’s never failed me. I’ve bonked ONCE during a race, and I knew exactly what I had done to mess it up. It’s never happened to me since. I got up at 2:30 to stuff my face once more.

That was an early morning.

I don’t see that time very often.

I tried to get back to sleep, but my mind wouldn’t let me. At 4:something, I got back out of bed to get ready for the marathon. Would I be happy when I got home? Would I be sad? Angry, thrilled? You just never know with these things.

We dropped my car off at the finish line and headed to the aid station where my boys would be working, which is conveniently located right by the start line.  I got my Gu situated, used the port-a-jons about ten times, and I was ready to go.

Pre-race.

Pre-race. Looks like I have to pee.

I remember having some “oh shit” feelings because the weather forecast was off. It was already warm and the race hadn’t even started. It was 57 degrees and 90% humidity. Gulp. I do not run long distances well with temps above 50-55, especially with the humidity. Well, here goes!

THE FIRST HALF

The race started at 6:40. It was crowded, but it wasn’t where you’re stumbling and having to weave in and out of people. I think people actually seeded themselves according to the pacers, probably a first in any race I’ve done. At mile 2-3, I passed my boys’ aid station and called out to them. They had their music blaring, Clemson gear out in arms, and it was fun. There were a LOT of runners, which is something that I really like when racing. We headed off the island, and I noticed that I was soaked with sweat.  Grrrr. Of all the &(*%& days to be warm and humid. The course is a loop course, but it’s not even loops, so it’s hard to explain. We would be heading back to the island again, but first, a nice stretch of road with a lot of spectators and cool, funky aid stations, all college themed. You know, because it’s March Madness, the theme of the race. The NC State station had my friend, Alecia, dressed as Ms. Wolf, and the three times I passed her, she was dancing away. I hear her calves are strong as steel. I thought to myself, “I’m doing it”. (Thanks for the reminder, Judith!!!)

We went into the gated community of Landfall, a place I’ve only seen when visiting one friend and running through for this race. I had my times at certain intervals marked on my arm so I would know if I was on pace or not. Things were going according to plan, and at mile 10, I had 30 seconds on my goal time, 3:43. I met with a friend who would end up running almost the entire rest of the race with me, when I exited Landfall the first time. It was back to the beach.

I wasn’t feeling on my A game, and I wasn’t sure why. I knew it would be a test and that I was going to have to dig really deep to get my BQ that day. At the half point, I was one minute ahead of my goal time. Whew. I was sweaty. I was ready to do it.

Runnin' my race

Runnin’ my race. You just can’t keep those thumbs down.

As you’ve heard me complain before, my Garmin does not like the clouds, so the readings for mine and my friend’s were all over the place. I could only run based on feel. I picked up a little goody bag at my boys’ aid station at mile 14-15. It had ibuprofen, salt pills, gu, a mini water bottle, and a new gum in it. I really struggled with getting my stuff out, so I asked my friend to get them out for me. There was a lot of swearing.  As I passed mile 16, I used some more colorful words and basically said that I was going to make this marathon my bitch. I had ten miles to go. Let’s do it.

A-Mazing

A-Mazing

I have to mention that along the way, I came upon this group. The woman in the chair was paralyzed 26 years ago. She was a very young and extremely active girl at the time and was hit by a car. She and a friend decided the best way to celebrate life was to participate in a marathon. I had heard the story, and when I passed them, I told them they were amazing and blew them a kiss. Some good perspective. Because of chair issues, they were only able to complete 13.1 miles, but anyway, 13.1 is a LONG way.

Feeling good. Still have hitchhiker thumbs.

Feeling good. Still have hitchhiker thumbs.

We were coming upon mile 18, which is close to where you go back into Landfall. I had my goal time written on my arm. When I saw my time, fully expecting to still be a minute or more ahead of goal time, I

Huh????

Huh????

Then I realized that I was one minute BEHIND my goal time. I lost TWO MINUTES in those five miles.

wtf

Yeah. Needless to say, I sort of freaked. I was definitely feeling the weather. I FELT like I had been running a really good pace. My legs felt strong, but my breathing, eh, it was just not regular. When I brought my pace down, my heart rate skyrocketed and my breathing went with it. WTF?

Herein lies the confusing part. Maybe I spent too much energy trying to figure out what happened. But I felt defeated. I tried to speed it up. It wasn’t working. My body was like all

Heeeellll NO.

Heeeellll NO.

I knew I would not be able to pick up and get a negative split marathon, the one thing I was really counting on  and planning for the entire training time. My legs felt good though. I wasn’t sore. They weren’t tired. WTF? Honestly, I knew my goal time was out. I felt like I was running in pudding, or soup, or water, or something other than air. I FELT like I was running at a good pace, but the fastest I was actually going was too slow.

I didn’t give up. I really thought about what was going on. And I didn’t understand what was going on. Is it the humidity? I kept going until I just felt like….

wtf6

And I walked some. I adjusted my goal to be a sub-4:00 marathon. Nope. Gotta beat stomach flu marathon of 3:56, so my new goal became a sub-3:56. And I was REALLY upset. How could this happen? How could I lose two minutes in 5 miles? How could our watches be off? How could I LET this happen? How could I waste this opportunity and sacrifice all the sacrifices that my family and I have made for this dream of mine. Then there’s the other side of me. I am freaking running a marathon. Ain’t no shame in that. So it’s the Libra side of me that pulls me on either side, the one that divides the happiness with “you didn’t try hard enough”. And I kinda wanted to punch it in the face that morning.

Almost to the finish.

Almost to the finish.

And I saw my family, my boys, the ones who are always there for me. I saw so many of my friends who yelled my name. And strangers were yelling my name too. It was confusing earlier since I was like, “how the heck do they know my name” and dur, it was on my bib.

And I finished.

Marathon #8. Done.

Marathon #8. Done.

Official time is 3:52:28.With all the walking I did, it ended up being an 8:53 pace. An 8:50-effing-3 pace. So with that, come mixed emotions. I really needed to sit and think for a day, let the weekend digest and see where it went. Yes, I’m REALLY disappointed. I’m confused.

IMG_7525 wb5

I’m also very proud, I’m happy. That’s a REAL smile. I ran a marathon. Sure, it wasn’t the pace I wanted, but I sure gave it a hell of a try. So I let my disappointment marinate for a day, and now I’ve moved on. I loved this marathon. I love having goals to shoot for. I loved that my friend ran with me. I love that I saw TONS of people I knew out on the course, that my boys were a part of it too. I loved that my friend made sure I had food, even though I didn’t want to eat. I LOVE the fact that my friend, Amanda, who I met because of this race,  KILLED her race and got her BQ by almost SEVEN minutes. It’s about family, friends, goals, energy, and living life. Next year, I’ll be back.

But first, I got me some Ironman to do.

Hugs, anyone?

Hugs, anyone?

What do you think about marathons? Love/hate? Time goal/no time goal? Do you like all my new animated gifs?

Categories: Boston Marathon, follow your dreams, go for your dreams, ironman, ironman florida, learning from failure, marathon, marathon training, no fear, qualifying for boston marathon, quintiles wrightsville beach marathon, running, running with friends, training for marathon, training for marathon hal higdon training plan, training for triathlon, triathlon, Uncategorized, wrightsville beach marathon | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 33 Comments

2015 – IM Ready

I find it interesting the way things come to be. One simple conversation or one decision can lead you to something that you never thought possible. Maybe not impossible exactly, but just not considered.

I learned a lot in 2014. The two main kernels of knowledge came at the beginning and the end of the year. I learned how to train. I trained my ass off for Boston. I ran when I was tired, I ran when I was exhausted, I ran when everyone else was sleeping in, I ran when my muscles ached, I swam to cross train, and I didn’t give up. I didn’t miss anything.  I knew that PR’s and successful races don’t train for themselves, so I got up before 5, I ran in the snow, the ice, and honestly, I loved it. I learned how to put everything into my race.  It became even more of a part of me, deeper into my soul. It made me happy to work so hard, to focus on a goal, and to push myself.

I also learned that being afraid of things is stupid. Ok, there’s things like sharks and the flu and spiders in the toe of your shoe and things like that, but I was terrified of the open water swim in my half iron triathlon. I knew we wouldn’t have a tide push, or much of one, and I was scared I wouldn’t make the time cutoff and be disqualified – I am not a strong swimmer. I FREAKED out about it more than once, and I honestly considered not doing the tri for that one reason. And when race day came, I finished in good time, with plenty to spare, and I pulled off a really good race, especially with it being my very first tri. I ate a little crow, got a little sheepish, and realized that all that worrying was stupid. And a waste of energy. There’s no room for fear when you have a a dream.

So what does this mean for 2015?

March 22, 2015!!!

March 22, 2015!!!

MARATHON: I’m still planning to run my marathon on March 22nd right here in good ole Wilmington – the goal is a 3:43, which would be a PR and a BQ. My training has increased, and I’m hopeful for a good race. I’m behind with speed work, but at this point, I’m doing the best I can that doesn’t irritate my irritable leg. It’s like the grumpy old grandpa sitting in the corner of the room with a ratty old plaid blanket over his legs, muttering “bah” every time someone asks if he wants something but then complains that no one will get him anything and he’s cold.  I can’t figure this one out, so I’m being cautious, but I’m also continuing with training. I’m still very much in love with running, and every time I visualize the race, I get goose bumps.

March 7-8, 2015 - SO EXCITED FOR THIS!!!!

March 7-8, 2015 – SO EXCITED FOR THIS!!!!

COACHING: I have decided to pursue more coaching education (I would like ALL of it, but let’s be realistic – one class at a time). I happened to find an open (that’s hard to do) RRCA Coaching Certification Class ONLY 90 MINUTES AWAY (also hard to do), so I signed up within ten minutes of finding it. I almost peed myself.

I’m also beyond happy that my ideas to work on the middle school Stride program curriculum were accepted. My goal is to make it more of a pre-high school cross country meets track and field program since there is no track program for any middle school in our county. I have tons of ideas, resources to read and talk to, and a plan to write. I am really excited to see this come together this spring for the fall season.  I’ll be coaching the elementary Stride this spring, so that will be working with twenty 3rd-5th graders. This will be like herding cats on a treadmill, or at least that’s what I’m guessing, but I know it will be a lot of fun!

THE BIGGUN:

The two elements that I mentioned earlier are put together on this one. I learned how to train right and to train hard. I learned how to do new things, things that I’m afraid of (or not comfortable with), and that I must take chances. I love to challenge myself physically, but more than that, mentally. I love the mental part of running, of training, of pushing yourself and doing new things. So by chance one Sunday afternoon in November, I found registration still open for Ironman Florida, and I registered.

No room for fear on this one.

No room for fear on this one.

There’s no going back, there’s no excuse that will get me out of it, and honestly, more than fear, I have a sense of determination, of eagerness, of peace. Whether I cross that finish line to the tune of “Kelli, YOU are an Ironman” or not, I’m going to face my fears and give this thing my all. Why this event? I’m such a newby, why would I take on something so BIG? Well, it’s simple to me, yet quite complex to explain. I’ll steal from the video below and say “Ironman is about persevering, enduring, and being a part of something larger than ourselves…. Anything is possible.”

November 7, 2015

November 7, 2015

If you’ve ever wondered why people do Ironman races, watch this video – for reals.  This will explain it all. For example, when I told my parents that I signed up, instead of getting, “Wow! Way to go! Good for you!”, I got a head shake with “That’s nuts” and “Why would you want to put your body through that?”. To me, it’s simple. To them, I need to be put in a straight jacket and thrown into a padded room. I had my mom watch this, and I honestly think she gets it, or at least gets it more than she did before. And this video motivates me to try my absolute best, to be the epitome of what an Ironman really is. Or more accurately, an athlete.

2015, IM ready!

Categories: anything is possible, coaching, go for your dreams, half iron distance, iron distance, ironman, learning from failure, marathon, no fear, quintiles wrightsville beach marathon, rrca coaching certification, running, swimming, training for half iron distance, training for marathon, training for triathlon, triathlon, wrightsville beach marathon | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

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