no fear

On The Road Again

Just can’t wait to get on the road again…. You’re singing it, aren’t you?

Patience has paid off, and I still have a reservoir of patience left I will probably use up in another month, but I’m back to running. And it feels glorious.

Before last April, I’d never been sidelined from running, EVER, so to be sidelined twice in less than 12 months was just cruel, especially to my husband, who doesn’t love running the way I do and just doesn’t always understand the lack-of-running crank I become when I can’t run. Poor guy.

I started with a run/walk as I did last summer, but lucky for me, it progressed a lot faster than last year. So far. I just have to remember NOT to sabotage my progress and to be careful. My hamstring is still not pain-free, but it’s more than tolerable and is lessening, even with the increase in mileage and speed. This morning’s 6 mile run contained my fastest mile since January at 8:17, and it truly felt amazing. It didn’t hurt the temps were in the upper 30’s, which generally makes me feel like I can run forever, and Pearl Jam’s Even Flow came on. Staying positive through this whole deal has been essential to recovery and moving forward. I think having the right mindset through something difficult, keeping positive while staying realistic can mean the difference between happiness and depression, at least for me.

Unfortunately, I’ve been sad today, even though it started with the perfect run. Monday was two weeks until the Boston Marathon that I’m not doing, and I’m seeing a lot of activity on Facebook and getting lots of emails from the Boston Athletic Association regarding the marathon and all the prep that goes into it. It makes me sad. So I changed my Facebook profile picture to the race two years ago when I saw my kids and husband on the course, running towards them, arms flailing and jumping up, even though I was on mile 25. It was one of the best races I’ve ever had, EVER, partially because I ran the perfect race and partially because I saw my family, who have supported me whole heartedly in all the crazy things I’ve set out to do. I know that if I never get back to Boston, I’ll always have that race, and I’m ok with that. And I allowed myself one day to be sad. It’s ok to be sad, just don’t unpack there.

IMG_3350

One of my favorite days of all time. 

While I was running this morning, I thought about this year’s crazy plans, and I wondered if the past things I’ve done have been foolish or crazy or just plain stupid. I realized that you can go about things in a thousand different ways, but no, it wasn’t foolish or stupid, just maybe a tad crazy. My third triathlon was a full Ironman race, which is a 2.4 mile swim, followed by a 112 mile bike ride, followed by a marathon, 26.2 miles of running. You learn a lot about yourself during the training for endurance events, and I learned that I needed to surround myself with experienced people, listen to what they have to say about their event, and just keep moving forward. Endurance teaches you a lot about a lot of things.  One of the most important things it teaches me is that I’m capable of doing things I never imagined possible.

Funny side note: When a friend of mine told me he was going to do an Ironman, probably back in 2012, I didn’t know what it was, so looked it up. When I saw what an Ironman was, I literally said out loud, “That is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard of.” I chuckle at that now.

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Another one of my favorite days of all time, ever.

I’ve hesitated to talk about my plans for the fall. First, I wanted to be sure I had a person who was willing to coach me through this and knew my goals going in. Check. Coach picked and my challenge has been accepted. Second, I didn’t want people to think I was insane. Check. I care, but I don’t really care.

So here it is.

October 19th – IMNC 70.3 – half iron triathlon (half the distances of the above described IM)

November 2nd – New York City Marathon – 26.2 miles of fun

November 23rd – JFK 50 Mile Run

So how did this all happen? First, the triathlon was unintended, but it is endurance and includes cross training, which is good. Last year’s race was cancelled due to Hurricane Florence, so all participants were offered a deferral. The only race that worked for me was the same one, so I signed up. Why not?

NYC Marathon….now this was NEVER on my list until the Houston Marathon in January of 2018. There was a lot of talk about the NYC Marathon on Facebook, and since I was trapped in a hotel for three days because of the ice storm that prevented me from flying home and had a lot of spare time combined with post-race insanity, I looked up what it took to qualify. Boom. The qualifying time for my age group is 3:38, and I made it with my time of 3:33. I was accepted in for the 2019 race this winter, and my husband decided to enter the lottery for the race. Only about 15% get in who try to get in that way, and he got in! He said he wanted to do a big marathon, so running with 55,000 other people should probably fit that bill. The goal is to run together and experience all of NYC.

The 50 Miler. A few years ago, I was looking for something interesting “to do”, and the JFK 50 came up. I put it off until this year, when I learned that a group from where I live planned to run it as well. I decided that I needed to go for it, bonus would be having others to train with. It’s so big, so hard to even imagine, but I’m ready for the challenge.

tattoo

This is the tattoo I have on my foot to remind me to take chances and not be afraid of what challenges they may bring.

The Endurance Trifecta. 3 major endurance events, 5 weeks, no goal but to finish in the allotted time. Crazy? Maybe. Stupid? Absolutely not. Painful? Probably. Expensive? Yup. What isn’t? But I haven’t looked forward to something this big since I signed up for my full Ironman in 2015. I’m excited for the experiences, yes, but I’m more excited about the journey along the way. It makes not running Boston sting a little less.

 

Categories: anything is possible, being epic, Boston Marathon, follow your dreams, iron distance, ironman, ironman florida, marathon, marathon training, no fear, running, running buddies, running with friends, triathlon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

I Won’t Back Down

My marathon is only 11 days away. I just realized how ridiculously close that was sometime yesterday when I was thinking about the fact that I will be flying to Houston for said marathon next week. Next week. Oy. I know I’m ready, but I am never really, truly 100% ready. Maybe physically, but not in my mind. Marathons are a tricky business for me, and I’ve failed my fair share. Through a ton of work, the trend has reversed and I’ve celebrated a lot of success, and I’d like to keep it that way. So here’s a few things I’m doing to prepare for my race. In eleven days. Which is in eleven days. Eleven days away from today.

1) Staying warm. Except for my workouts. No one wants to run a marathon with pneumonia, and the temps have been frigid in the entire country, save Phoenix, which will probably see an uptick in residents come 90 days when everyone’s home listed during this freeze sells and they migrate to a warm climate. I suspect the reverse come July, but hey, it sucks in the cold. Or does it blow? I digress. “Snowmageddon” is scheduled to begin here in coastal North Carolina any minute. Schools were cancelled for the day. The ABC store closed at noon. I mean, this is serious business when the ABC store closes because what goes hand in hand with “snowmageddon”??? Booze. Big mistake, ABC Store. Big. So I’m keeping warm and will watch from the window when my insane children run around half naked on the front lawn when the ice begins to fall from the sky. Excuse me while I douse the house in Lysol.

lysol

2) Perfecting my playlist. This is sort of on hold right now, as my old computer decided to take a dump the week before Christmas and I was forced to buy another one so I could play on Facebook work. My new “smart” computer can’t “find” (hint: the songs are RIGHT THERE!) my old playlists and songs so I’ll get it all ready to go and download when my computer savvy husband can fix it for me. Thanks, dear, you saved my new computer from getting cursed at then thrown out the window.

3)  Making my list and checking it twice. Since I’m traveling out of town for the race, I will have to make sure I take everything with me. Literally. And I can’t ever make a complete list the first try, so I started this morning. I go from bottom to top, considering all the weather options. Then I add accessories like iPod, chargers, gu, gum, chapstick, and all that fun stuff. By the time I’m done, it’s about twelve pages long and has no less than five million items. Does anyone know what the airlines rip charge you for oversized luggage?

luggage

4) Obsessing about Watching the weather. Speaking of weather, I’ve been watching the Houston weather for three days. Let’s say it’s not my absolute favorite forecast, but it could be worse. I know it will change, and there’s nothing anyone can tell me to get me to stop checking my five weather apps on my phone. Don’t even try. Weather is one thing I cannot control, so it’s obviously the best thing to obsess over, capiche?

5) Spontaneously crying. It just happens and I have come to the point where I don’t try and stop it because it will just come out on race morning as one really huge freak out that no one needs. Trust me on this one.

6) Doubting myself. Hey, before you get all mad, just know this is a very normal process I go through and if I didn’t, I’d think there was something wrong with me (more than there already is, anyway), which would make me doubt myself even more. I’m at the point in training where I’m tired and achy. I don’t even know if I could complete a half marathon at my goal race pace if I was attached to Shalane Flanagan. Deep down, I know it all comes together. It always does. But the self-doubt is there, rearing its ugly head, telling me I can’t do this and I can’t do that. So how do I turn it around?

7) Visualization. When I feel like I can’t even make it up the stairs without stopping to rest, I think about pushing myself to finish (even if just a few more stairs).  I’ve been visualizing my races for the last several years, and it works. It turns the self-doubt frown upside down, and it gives you a chance to dream, to realize your dream, and to revel in it. I hear my foot steps as we hit mile 2. They’re soft and even. I hear myself breathing. It’s easy and light. I see the mile markers go by, I hear crowds of strangers cheering us on. I smile when we pass the belly dancers. I feel my legs aching as I speed up at the end to cross the finish line, meeting my goal (I’m still working on this one). I’ve got this. I think.

8) Planning my race. I’ve done this the last two races, and it’s actually quite difficult, but highly and extremely effective. I will plan everything, from the time I get up on race morning, to when to run to the start line, to all nutrition for the entire time from opening my eyes to the last mile, every sip, every calorie. Everything must be in order and planned. That is key to success – then on race day, you know it, you don’t even question what you’re doing, because it’s already decided.

9) And having fun. I’m having fun. I’m celebrating a really good training cycle. I’m thinking of the future (hint: I’m not ready to take a break at all). My friend and I are both traveling to Houston together and going for some big goals on the 14th. We celebrate each other, our achievement at making it through training, and most importantly, we celebrate the fact that we CAN do this thing called marathon.

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My theme for this marathon is “I won’t back down”. When I really listened to this song after Tom Petty passed away, it became clear that I hadn’t really listened to the words to this song. The fact that one of my coaches loves this song and uses it to drive himself during races is no accident.  It’s perfect for running a really difficult, long race, where mental strength is key. Last year was “Bulletproof”, and for Boston in April, it was a key phrase from the song, “Blow your Mind (Mwah)”, namely, the one that says, “If we don’t F*** this whole thing up, guaranteed I can blow your mind”, which I channeled into making sure I was doing EVERY THING IN EVERY CELL IN MY BODY to not eff up my race so I could get the result I deserved. It worked. Wish me luck on the 14th!

“Hey, Baby, there ain’t no easy way out. Hey, I, will stand my ground. And I Won’t. Back. Down. No, I won’t. Back. Down.” Thanks, Toms.

 

Categories: anything is possible, being epic, follow your dreams, marathon, marathon training, no fear, qualifying for boston marathon, training for marathon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 4 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.

wings

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

10 Things I’m Doing To Prepare For My 10th Marathon

I’m running the Quintiles Wrightsville Beach marathon here in Wilmington, NC, on Sunday and going for a Boston Qualifying time. I calculated how many times I’ve tried and not met my goal, and it was quite depressing, but I’ve finally decided that a marathon is a marathon, and I’m gonna have fun with this one, especially since it’s in my home town and I will know about a zillion of the other runners and spectators. Yes, that was a very long sentence, but this is my blog and I can write incorrectly if I want to.

So in honor of my 10th marathon and my love for lists, I’ve compiled a list of ten things I’m doing (and in some cases, NOT doing) to prepare for this race in no particular order. Except 10. 10 is the most important of them all. No kiddin’.

  1. Weather stalking. It wouldn’t be a big race if I wasn’t looking at my six  weather apps. ONE!!!! IT’S ONLY ONE!!! I SWEAR, I’M NOT LYING. Ok, it’s six. I have six weather apps.  Come on!!! Everyone tells me that I can’t control the weather, so stop worrying. Quite the opposite for me. It’s the one thing I cannot control, so that’s the thing I worry about the most. The way I operate, I have to process something other than ideal. The forecast for race day doesn’t look ideal, but it doesn’t appear it will be over 60 that day, and that’s really good news. Wind and rain is in the forecast. Lucky me, I’ve PR’d twice in the wind and rain. It doesn’t intimidate me. I’m planning for heavy rain, just in case, but it’s doable. Obsessing about weather gives me something to think about and I can plan my clothes, shoes, and nutrition/hydration appropriately. So stop telling me to not worry because duh, I will anyway.

    Not too shabby!! But I’m still checking every ten seconds.

  2. Follow politics very closely. Hahahahahahaha! NO!!!!!!!!!!! Do you want to know what I posted on my Facebook page on Tuesday, our state’s election day? (Yes, I voted.) A picture of the beach, which is where my butt was sitting. No one needed to hear anything about politics because politics was taken that day. And every other day.
  3. Oh baby, it’s carb-loading time!!! I get to eat. It’s not whole wheat, it’s not brown rice, no, it’s white bread, it’s white enriched noodles, it’s good! I carb-load for three days before race day. No, I don’t gorge myself with food and I don’t eat much fiber, because that would make my race one long sprint between each port-a-jon or well-placed bush. I’ve shifted what I eat, not how much I eat (which is quite a lot because I’m always hungry around this time). Pasta for breakfast? Don’t mind if I do.
  4.  Hydrate. It’s humid here along the coast about 95% of the time, so chances are, I’m going to sweat a lot on race day, even if the temps stay cool. I’m closely watching how much I drink and, dammit, that pee had better run clear/light yellow by tonight!  I even bought some “Hint” water to make water actually taste better. No added sweetener crap, no carbonation, just water infused with fruit. Why don’t I just make it at home? Because I’m too tired from marathon training.

    Hint, I love this stuff!

  5. Watching basketball and cluelessly  very carefully filling out my award-winning brackets. March Madness has to be one of the most unproductive times of the year. Lucky for me, I’m self-employed, so I let my employee (me) watch the games as long as said employee (me) works at the same time. I’m a good boss. I mean really, my home town team UNCW, ALMOST beat Duke yesterday, my alma mater, UNI, is playing, as well as the other two Iowa teams, and we have UNC and Duke to continue to watch.  So go ahead and yell when you see that good shot on your phone from under your desk. Everyone knows what you’re doing anyway.
  6. Spent time with my family. My parents came to visit on March 3rd and left March 16th. I only get to see them a few times a year, so during that time, I put almost everything I possibly could on hold to spend time with them. We ate out, we cooked (I did once or twice but hey, who’s counting?), I took the kids out of school one day so we could shoot gunz, we went to the beach, we talked, we shopped, we even bar hopped. It was the best.
  7. Catching my ass up after taking two weeks off doing almost everything I normally do. The house didn’t learn to clean up after itself and my work didn’t get done, so, instead of thinking much about running, I’ve been doing all the things I didn’t do the few weeks my parents were here. It was certainly worth it, but when I had to figure out what to make for dinner for an entire week, it became clear that life was back to normal.

    What I find in every corner of every stair. I am baffled how this cat has any hair left on his body.

  8. Perfect my Marathon Playlist on my iPod. Do I want “Livin’ on a Prayer” at the beginning or the end? What was I thinking when I actually added an old boy band song?? It won’t make me laugh, it will make me angry. Uh, delete. Time to get those decisions made.
  9. Not running. Not much, anyway. It IS taper time. It’s a good thing because when I do, I feel like crap. Funny thing, this taper. One mile makes me out of breath, just as it should. The last time I felt this crappy during taper was right before Boston. This makes me feel very hopeful, because to me, crappy feeling means strong legs ready to race.

    taper

    Can’t touch this. Especially if you grew up in the 80’s.

  10. Making the perfect marathon plan. Failing to plan is like planning to fail. This became so very evident to me after the Charleston Marathon when, once again, I dehydrated and locked up and did the walk of anger and shame on and off the last several miles of the race. Nope, not gonna do it this time. Hey, I may fail at my goal, but it sure isn’t going to be because I failed to plan. Thanks to Coach Kristen’s request, I have crafted a very detailed race plan, from what I eat the day before, what I eat and what times the morning of, to how fast I’m going to start, what my pace plan is, and my VERY DETAILED fuel/hydration plan. This includes my Base Performance Salts, Amino, and Hydro. They come together to make Rocket Fuel, which is given out on the marathon portion of Ironman races. I have trained with this, and I believe in it. All I can say is that I’m FUELED BY BASE. I cannot afford to mess this one up. I am fully aware the race may not go my way, but it certainly will not be because I didn’t follow my plan. Maybe I got cocky after running a lot of marathons. I don’t know, but I didn’t think a lot of things through. Sure, I carried hydration with me in Charleston, but I didn’t actually drink it. Had I put that part in a conscious PLAN, the race may have gone differently for me. Now I don’t have anything to fret about because it’s all written down. I know what to do, just do it. RWB_IamaAwesome
  11. This is a bonus number. This one is what I’m going to do on Sunday. Well, for starters, I’m going to run my 10th full marathon, and I’m going to enjoy it. I’m going to remember all the time and effort and exhaustion I’ve put into training, and I’m going to remember this, clearly, as I think about slowing down. I will push, I will shove, I will remember how bad I want it. As the miles click by, I know I’ll feel thankful, tired, mad, happy, mad, thrilled, and joyful as I run. But mostly, see the pictures at the top of this blog. THAT’S what I’m going to do. I can’t say it better than that. Stay tuned. I’ll let you know how it goes.
Categories: follow your dreams, fueled by base, go for your dreams, marathon, marathon training, no fear, qualifying for boston marathon, quintiles wrightsville beach marathon, race with base, running, training for marathon hal higdon training plan, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

The In Between Spaces

A week ago, I completed my training for Ironman Florida.

It's about time.

It’s about time.

At that point, there was really nothing more I could do to prepare for the race PHYSICALLY, except to not get sick. As I got in my truck to go home, I started crying. It was a release, it was part sadness, it was part relief. As I cried my way home, my mind was like a rolodex of memories of the past year, flash cards of experiences over the summer. The finish line is essential to this journey, but the journey is really what it’s all about. This past week, I thought about so many things that I’ve done (or made myself do) that I would not have done otherwise, and I realized how thankful I was to have this experience. As I prepare to head south to Florida this week, I am nervous, I’m a little scared, but most of all, I’m confident that I can handle whatever the day brings.

The sun rise over the ocean the day I got to swim in the ocean while the sun rose.

The sun rise over the ocean the day I got to swim in the ocean while the sun rose.

So what are these “in-between” spaces? Well, they’re not the number of miles I biked, or how fast I was able to get my 800 repeats done, or my power meter (if I had one) readings, the type of tires I have on my bike, how “aero” my helmet is (it isn’t), or how much faster I could swim a mile than two months ago (I can’t – I’m the same speed). I don’t know how many miles I’ve bike and run and swam. Because it doesn’t matter. I did it. I lived it. And it meant something to me.  It was more about the people I met, the multitude of sunrises I saw, the convenience store we frequented on our bike rides, the dumb dogs that chased us, the big, stupid jellyfish that assaulted me slid by and scared the crap out of me, swimming in my wetsuit in my pool, my husband and I finishing the Beach 2 Battleship 140.6 as a team, the caterpillars making their way across the highway as we passed, and the butterflies the flitted by every. single. day. we. rode.

Some of the best ladies I've met! Of course, I don't have pics of the gents I've met along the way.

Some of the best ladies I’ve met! Of course, I don’t have pics of the gents I’ve met along the way.

A pool-wetsuit swim. Yay.

A pool-wetsuit swim. Yay. Technically, the pool WAS wetsuit mandatory 🙂

It was the way my kids understood what I was doing, the way my husband easily took a lot of burden off me, never making me feel guilty (I was good at that on my own) about the time I spent away or the money I have spent. It was the exhaustion I’ve felt, the naps I’ve taken, the way I yelled at those cars “because they think they’re so cool” as I biked that one Sunday during my meltdown, the laughter as I thought about silly things along the way (like when I peed my pants on purpose to “test” if I could pee on my bike),

Yup. Even though they're black pants, there's pee.

the reaction from people when I say I’m training for an Ironman, the way my friends reacted when I said “HELL NO I WILL NOT SWIM TODAY” because I was scared of sharks and jellyfish stings. It was swimming in the ocean while the sun rose.  It was riding 102 miles in the hills of North Carolina, not knowing how much I would truly enjoy the experience.

Pre-100 mile HILL ride

Pre-100 mile HILL ride

It was understanding why people put themselves through this, the beauty of it all, when you step back, take the training out of the experience, and just experience the experience. You see the in between spaces, the stuff people miss when they’re just training, when they’re getting through it instead of living it. The in between spaces is the meat of it, the bulk of an experience, the REAL-ness of it all, when you’re training for hours and hours in a week to cross a finish line to become an Ironman. It’s what IT is all about. It’s life. It’s real, and I love it. THOSE are the in between spaces.

Pre-ocean sunrise swim.

Pre-ocean sunrise swim. I’m on the left.

 

My mom asked me what one thing I’ve learned from training for an Ironman. I couldn’t come up with one. I gave her and my sister three things that I’ve learned about training for an Ironman.

  1. I have the best husband ever. Hands down, no questions asked. I just do.
  2. The finish line is essential to the journey, but the journey is definitely what it’s all about.
  3. I’m thankful God gave me a body that will allow me to do this and a spirit that wants the challenge.

And my final one I’m adding, is this:

4) I appreciate the in between spaces and thankful for them all, both good and bad.

I’m thankful, I’m lucky, I GET to do this.

No matter if the swim is cancelled for an algae bloom, if it’s windy, cold, hot, humid, whatever, I know I can get through it. I’ll remember the in between spaces and know that I can get through anything to get my finish line.

 

 

Categories: anything is possible, being epic, iron distance, ironman, ironman florida, marathon, no fear, open water swimming, running, swimming, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

On Swimming, Biking, and Running

First of all, I have to give a HUGE, GINORMOUS shout out to my two coaches. Sami, my Ironman coach, just completed the World Championship 70.2 in Austria and is only a few weeks away from making her way to Kona. Hello, Awesome! She has been a huge inspiration to me and has helped me navigate this crazy thing called Ironman.

Sami finishing IM France

Sami finishing IM France

My other coach, Kristen, has helped me train through some crazy races (that means I was crazy at the time, not the race), including my first half iron last fall. She was the one who had me ready to kick Boston’s butt before it kicked mine, and who will hopefully help me get another BQ come January. This nutty girl and her equally nutty friend made it into Otillo, the absolute swim/run endurance event this weekend in Sweden. This race entails swimming a total of 10k and running a total of 65k. Oh, but it’s not just that, it’s swimming to an island WITH YOUR RUN GEAR, running across it WITH ALL YOUR SWIM GEAR, then swimming to the next island, and so on and so forth. Check out the website because it’s proof people do crazy stuff. Ha! Best of luck to you my friend, Kristen.

1385080_10203974705300632_405769710090026340_n

Otherwise, I’m still here, chugging away at this crazy train called Ironman training and life.  Honestly, I’m not sure which one takes up more time.  Training feels like it’s all-encompassing. It’s very different from the half iron, and I’m not sure if it’s this way for everyone else, or if I’m the anomaly, or if it’s a factor of being a first-time Ironman participant.

I was trying to describe it to my husband, because I feel guilty that my training is taking up about 90% of my brain. I think about training, the race, nutrition, equipment, the next workout, the last workout, sharks, should I have an extra pair of goggles in my wetsuit, what if it rains, I don’t like hills, all that stuff, whirling around in my head all the time. All. The. Time. ALL THE FREAKING TIME. I’m sure he’s tired of it, heck, I am tired of hearing myself talk or think about it. In explaining to him how I was feeling,  and evidently I’m still in pre-school, because the only way I could accurately describe how I was feeling was by pictures.

So this depicts the Beach 2 Battleship half last fall. We were super busy, but I got all my training in. It seemed time consuming at the time, but I was sure to have fun with it and not stress out.

Half iron training.

Half iron training. Do you like my flamingos?

You can see the Beach 2 Battleship on the left but it’s on the side. It’s clearly there, but everything else in the picture is clear and it takes up more space in my vision than B2B.

Then there’s Ironman.

Clearly, my focus is on IM.

Clearly, my focus is on IM.

The Ironman is the main focus. Everything else is there, but it’s blurry, and the IM clearly takes precedence. This is how I feel 99% of the time. I can’t stop thinking about it, focusing on it, and chewing on it, spitting it out. But it’s always there, and everything else is in the background and fuzzy. Sure, I’m getting everything taken care of and it’s not like I’m ignoring my kids while I stare at the wall or something, but when we talk about something, my mind drifts to 1) training 2) the race itself. Considering how much time it takes me to train, it’s pretty clear why I’m always thinking about it, but I certainly gets annoying. Visualizing is good, but I’m sure visualizing the heck out of this race.

On swimming, biking, and running.

Swimming. Oh, that pesky swim. The event that has me tied up in knots, the one I hope to get through, the one that scares me the most. There’s no reason to believe I can’t finish this swim in plenty of time. But crazy things happen, I know, so I’m doing my best to prepare for it.  Except swimming open water. Yeah, there’s a jellyfish and shark convention going on this summer, so I’ve been out for a few weeks. A few weeks ago, I was going to try and swim in my wetsuit because there was a seriously jellyfish issue and tons of people were getting stung. Then my friend posted this picture.

Yeah, a few miles from where I swim.

Yeah, a few miles from where I swim.

I basically had a panic attack. I know sharks are out there. I KNOW that, but this summer in the ocean is weird and these pictures were taken VERY CLOSE to my house, in the inlet, and a few miles from where we swim. I decided against swimming, which is good, since both the ladies I was going to swim with got stung up, even with full wetsuits on.

Me. Totally me.

Me. Totally me.

So I’ve been to the pool and have been swimming on my swim tether at my house. I have to say it’s going well. I can swim for 90 minutes without dying and being sore. I’m not fast, am not getting any faster, but, barring any weird race situations, I think I should be able to finish this swim in 1:45 or less and feel good.

BIKING.

Ahhh, biking. This is relatively new for me, this thing called biking. I’ve found to enjoy it, minus the cars going two millimeters away from me at 55 mph. I knew that I needed to really gain some strength on the bike. I’ve put in a lot of hard intervals, long rides, and it’s finally starting to pay off. I can now do 80 miles at 18+ mph after a tough week of workouts. This past weekend was the biggest confidence booster where I went 82.5 miles in 4 1/2 hours then ran 6 miles with every other mile at a tempo pace with negative splits, ending on a sub-8:00. Yeah, the legs were shredded after that workout, but I think I felt a rush of what it was like to really push yourself past the zone of uncomfortable. I pushed harder in that workout than I probably have ever, for sure harder than any other brick workouts. All I could think was that the harder I push, the stronger I will get and the better I will feel when I race.

The road. The road that goes for miles and miles and miles.

The road. The road that goes for miles and miles and miles.

One thing I really enjoy about biking on Sunday mornings is seeing the gorgeous sunrises. I’ve been so blessed to have good weather so far, but the sunrises? One of my favorite things. I love the sounds, the bugs as they welcome the morning and then move into the symphonies of summer. I’m out there for hours and hours, so at least I have something to listen to.

This holiday weekend, I’m heading to central North Carolina, where there’s HILLZ. Oy, I’m not used to hills, but it’s time to do what it is that scares me, which is a 100 mile bike ride in da hills. Yup, that’ll be me on Monday. Wish me luck. To say that I’m intimidated would be a pretty big underestimate.

Running.

I haven’t missed running. I’m getting long runs in, but I haven’t enjoyed them. Why? Because I can’t breathe. I’m losing 85% of my fluids in ten minutes of running. It’s so humid. It’s so hot. I know, it’s summer, fall is coming, but I dread my long run on Saturday because I know I’m going to soak through 2 pairs of my running shoes and be so covered in sweat, I look like I just got done with my swim. I miss you, cool weather, and I miss enjoying my running. This makes me re-think trying to get into the Chicago marathon because running in soup at pace is just, well, not fun!  BUT, like I mentioned before, I’ve pushed past the comfort zone, and even when my legs are tired, I have sweat coming out of my eyebrows, I push. I have a marathon to train for after IM Florida, and every little bit faster and stronger I get now will only help me later when it’s time to push the gas to the floor.

So there. That’s the deal. Focus. Drive. Hard work. It’s been fun, I’m truly enjoying this crazy thing, and I look forward to the next few months. It really has been a journey so far.

 

 

 

 

Categories: anything is possible, beach 2 battleship triathlon, being epic, Boston Marathon, coaching, half iron distance, interval training, iron distance, ironman, ironman florida, marathon, marathon training, no fear, open water swimming, qualifying for boston marathon, swimming, training for triathlon, triathlon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

New Limits in an Epic Year

Well, hello there again, strangers. Today marks the first day of school for many parents, and I find myself here with a mimosa glass of cold water, finally able to sit down, guilt-free mind you, and write a post! The first day of school is normally bitter sweet for me, as is the last day of school. I LOVE having my kids home during the summer and school breaks, but there is something to be said about having uninterrupted hours to do the stuff I need to do to make this house clean and run like a well-oiled machine without finding the room I just de-cluttered all re-cluttered within five minutes because the kids are home. I don’t know what it is, but they’re just messy. Truth be told, I’d much rather have a messy, loud house full of kids, their friends, and their clutter, than a clean, quiet one, so I am a little sad about school starting.

I thought the best way to catch y’all up is to make a list, because I LOVE lists. I especially love to cross stuff off lists and am one of those who will write something down that I’ve already done simply so I can cross it off. I never said I was good at time management….

So here goes. Here’s a list of things I’ve been doing, in no particular order of importance.

**Ironman Florida is ELEVEN weeks away. I have to admit, when I saw that on the calendar just a minute ago, the word, “Holyfuckingshit” just flew out of my mouth. Sorry, mom. In reality, I have less than 11 weeks left. Gulp. Training has been kicking butt. It certainly hasn’t been easy, but it’s not supposed to be easy. I’ve had good swims, bad swims, good bike rides, awful bike rides, awesome runs, bad horrible sweaty runs. That’s the name of the game, but I can say that I’ve done my training and I’m feeling really good about it. I’ve pushed myself to new limits I never thought I could do (and still walk – it might be weird looking, but I’m walking). I’m loving it and can totally see why people get addicted to endurance sports.

**I started a company. Yes, I’ve hinted about this, but finally, FINALLY, I got my ducks in order and launched Epic Running Company, LLC.

EPIC Logo FINAL 2

This is something I never thought I would or could do. But it materialized just this year when I asked myself, “Self, why the hell not??!” My focus is a middle school running program I started, but I’m also interested in helping adults reach their running goals. I currently have one client, and he’s currently kicking butt in his marathon training. I love watching people push themselves past something they never thought they could do.  The program at the school will be starting on September 15th, and I’m so excited, I am giddy just thinking about it!

**I rode 80.55 miles on my bike in 4 hours and 19 minutes.  That’s an average of 18.7 mph, y’all, and for me, that ain’t no joking around. That’s a limit I never thought I’d cross. Granted, I had intervals during the ride, and they certainly made me feel every single cell in my legs as they screamed for me to slow down, but I didn’t slow down and it made up for me wanting to throw my bike into the Cape Fear River the prior week during a very challenging century ride. Two weekends, two completely different rides. That’s training.

**Athletes talk about things like we are babies/infants. We talk about pee, the color of it, if we got to go poo before a long workout, how much we eat, WHAT we eat, what we drink, how much we drink, how much, salt, sugar, everything we consume, what we wear, all that sort of stuff. I would hesitate to bring this up, but hey, THIS is the bread and butter of athlete-speak, right? So here goes. Yesterday, near the end of my ride, I experimented with peeing in my bike shorts. Other people do it and it seems like such a handy time-saver. I wanted to give it a try and see if it’s something I could do during the race. I found that yes, yes, I could do this if I really needed to NEAR THE END OF A RIDE, and I’m not to the point of being able to pee ON the bike (I just sat on the ground and let it go as I ate my Uncrustable), and I’m not sure, after 40 or so years of training myself NOT to go on myself, that I could even pee while riding my bike (without falling over) if I wanted to. Anyway, here’s what I liked and didn’t like.

I like that I didn’t have to walk into the spidery, web-filled, mosquito-infested woods to pee, possibly baring myself to an innocent person “looking for morel mushrooms” or something equally treasure-like only to find a biker’s butt. “Hey mom, you’ll NEVER guess what I found in the woods today.” Peeing in your shorts completely eliminates uncomfortable run-ins like that. Also, you don’t have to wait in line to pee. Bonus. Go in your shorts and then “accidentally” spill your water, conveniently rinsing it off. You get some relief, AND you cool yourself down. What I didn’t like about it is that there was pee in my shorts.

Yup. Even though they're black pants, there's pee.

It collected like I was wearing a wetsuit. I didn’t like that and was baffled about how spandex can be waterproof (although we know I’m not talking about water).  So anyway, I might try it again, but am concerned with how the runoff is handled. I assume we all know where it goes, since most of us are familiar with gravity, but I won’t know until I try. I’ll be sure I’m riding solo, so if you’re one of my biker buddies, don’t worry.

**Sweating. I’ve never sweat so much and have reached new limits in how many pairs of shoes I can soak through during a long run (right now, it would be two in 14 miles but I really needed 3). Seriously, I’ve never done so much working out in humid, gross, disgusting coastal North Carolina. I can usually find a loophole in running or doing something that causes the entire liquid portion IN my body to come OUT as sweat. But there’s no loopholes in Ironman training, that’s for sure.

sweat

**I can change a flat tire on my bike in less than 10 minutes. I’ve had LOTS of practice – 7 flats since the season started for me in May. This has caused a new level of stress during the ride, probably for the people I’m with as much or more than myself, and I’ve developed situational Tourette’s Syndrome that features the “F” word.

This was me. Or a nice version of me the last flat I had.

I’m not proud, but I’ve decided I’m over it and it’s almost funny. I now have new tires, new rim tape, and new tools, since the old ones broke and were “gently tossed” into a ditch in Pender County when I had a flat and it took 4 of us 20 minutes to just get the tire off the rim. That was fun. But now I am confident that if I get a flat during the race, I can change it quickly and be on my way. That’s a skill every biker should have.

My favorite quote.

My favorite quote.

**I’ve truly embraced this quote: “If you want something you’ve never had, then you have to do something you’ve never done.” I live and breathe this quote. I’ve cried, I’ve bled, I’ve thrown stuff, I’ve sworn, I’ve been so tired, I forgot what I was saying in the middle of my sentence, but I’ve kept going. I know it’s only going to get harder, but the beautiful thing is that we can adapt. We change to accommodate the difficulty that will come. It’s going to get really hard with school, two kids in two sports, husband training for a marathon, and my training, coaching, and a house to run, but this is what life is, isn’t it? Isn’t THIS what we’re supposed to be doing? Having fun and making memories along the way, doing things we never thought we could?

I smile thinking about this year, the things I’ve been able to do, the experiences I’ve had with my family, and it really is going to be the Epic-est year.

I’ve embraced uncomfortable-ness like never before.  And there’s absolutely nothing that will make me stop.

 

 

Categories: anything is possible, being epic, coaching, follow your dreams, go for your dreams, interval training, iron distance, ironman, ironman florida, marathon, marathon training, no fear, open water swimming, running, running buddies, running with friends, swimming, training for triathlon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

From 0 to 120 in Seven Days

I wonder what it’s like to go 120 in a car. I’ll never find out, but I’m curious if your face flies back like when people skydive. I would think so.

I wonder what this feels like. Probably dry.

I wonder what this feels like. Probably dry. And windy.

I’m 30.5 weeks ahead of Ironman Florida.  It doesn’t seem like that much time when you think about all the training the race will require, but then again, it’s over half a year. I’m sure it’ll be here before I know it, so it’s time to get to work!

Last week, I started riding my bike and swimming. I rode 30 miles on the trainer once, then twice, I rode 20 easy miles. No intensity was necessary, as I felt I needed to avoid ramping up miles and intensity at the same time. Saturday, I decided that I needed to get up to 50 miles. I planned to meet up with my friend, Gary, so we took off early on the route we rode tons of times last year. Part of it is a 4-lane highway at 60 mph (for the cars, not me because if it was me, hello Kona!), but it’s a good route with a 30 mile loop. There’s a convenience store that’s conveniently located for pit stops as well. I felt the 30 miles was done at a pretty good pace, especially since it was the first road ride in a LONG time. My device didn’t work right, but Gary’s Garmin said we were going between 17-18 mph. I felt like we were going slightly north of that, but who am I to argue with a Garmin?

I mentioned last week that my tri bike didn’t feel that different from my old road bike. Well, once I got on the road, I could definitely feel a difference.  It was good, and when we were done with the 30 (Gary’s first 30 in a long time), I decided to go home and ride another 20 miles on my trainer to avoid the A-holes who think they don’t have enough space in an entire highway to move their vehicles-of-death more than two inches away from my arm. A-holes. I felt like I was going to be endangering my life on the road enough this season, and I did not feel like getting killed, as I was NOT Jesus and would NOT be rising from the dead.

The 20 miles on the trainer was not what I expected. I was tired. My legs were tired, and it was hot and sweaty inside. I decided to leave the TV off and listen to music instead. It was sort of nice to have my own personal DJ (thank you, dear husband) and when I needed a new song, I just said, “NO” and he changed the song. I’m definitely going to look into this Sufferfest I hear rumors about. A lot of my harder workouts are going to be inside and probably by myself, so it’s time to turn off “Oprah’s Where Are They Now”, and get into it for real.  I wanted to give up my bike ride and wondered why 50 miles seemed so challenging. Well, one week before, I hadn’t ridden, and within seven days, I’d gotten in 120 miles. THAT is probably why. It makes more sense when you add it up.

Post-bike run. It was pretty awesome.

Post-bike run in the sprinkles. It was pretty awesome.

I stopped pedaling as SOON as that thing whispered “20” to give me a total of 50, and I quickly laced up my shoes, grabbed my phone and gum, and went out the door for more torture a two mile run.  It felt super slow, and when Helga from “Map My Run” spoke at the 1 mile mark, I was happy to realize that I was going at an 8:30 pace. Ahhh, the glory of post-bike running. I got in another mile at the same pace and was. just. done. Wow, from zero to 120 in seven days. Glorious. I’m guessing I’m going to feel accomplished for the next several months as I continuously cross the line of what is comfortable and redefine uncomfortable. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

On Sunday, I slept in. It was awesome. I felt good and it was an absolutely gorgeous Easter Sunday. My husband had gone to run 12 miles with his group, so I talked with the kids, told them to wait on the Easter egg hunt, and went out for a good 5 mile run. At the first mile, the one that seemed like the longest mile ever, I wondered if that was how I was going to feel every Monday, since my long brick workouts will be on Sundays. But after the first mile, I got into the groove, remembered what it was like to be injured, was very thankful to be exactly where I was in life, and the rest of the run felt better and better. It was Easter, a time of new beginnings, and this was my new beginning. I ended up at an 8:28 pace overall, and I came in with a smile and spent the rest of the day with my family. My husband, on the other hand and a possible rock star in the making (ok, he IS a rock star), ended up running 13.1 miles at his goal race pace. That isn’t what he was supposed to do, but he was really happy, and I am now 100% sure he’s going to blow away his old half marathon time in just a few more weeks.

My tri training is really in it’s infancy, and it’s only going to get bigger and badder, so I’m channeling my inner beast whenever I can, but especially when I have a workout in my head.  My plan is to push past it, even if just for one minute, yard, or mile. I headed to the pool on Monday and planned to do 8×100’s with a rest. I’ve just started back swimming and it’s my most difficult sport, so I’m giving myself some time to adjust to it. When I had one more 100 left, I channeled the Beast and decided to do a 200 after I was done with my 100’s. I knocked out the 200, and decided to finish with a 100. So my workout ended up being 1100 instead of the planned 800, and I was pretty happy when I left the pool. I could have stayed and done more, but I plan to swim thrice this week, so I didn’t want to end up regretting that decision. Unfortunately, I’m going to have to deal with my chlorine allergy until open water season starts, but hopefully Loratadine will help.

My view at the pool. Interesting, ain't it? Not.

My view at the pool. Interesting, ain’t it? Not.

This morning, I woke up feeling like crap because we decided to stay up and watch the basketball game. WHY DO THEY START GAMES AT BEDTIME?????  I don’t know what time it was when we fell asleep, but it was too late and after too much beer and a mini Totino’s pizza. That was dumb, but at least our dinner earlier in the evening was healthy and delish.

Springtime Orzo - Um, YES.

Springtime Orzo – Um, YES.

I wasn’t too thrilled with doing speed work, but again, I know that in order to race fast, you have to train fast, so my plan was to do 4×400’s at as fast as I could get down to, or 6:05. I hadn’t done really anything faster than 6:50, but closer to 7:00 minute miles in a LONG time, so I honestly didn’t know if I could get these done. I made the mistake of not going to the track, so it was hard to see what my paces were and then I had to check on the distance relatively often. Next time, to the track I go. My Garmin was fussy since it was cloudy. For instance, it had me going at a 5:24 pace during my warm up. Yeah, NOT. So to the best of my estimation, I got my 400’s in, not four of them, but SIX 400’s at about a 6:15-6:20 pace. I thought my hands were going to fall off when I was done and I do not understand how people can run marathons at that pace and faster. Seriously. And how do they keep their hands from falling off?

I came home after 6.3 total miles in an average pace of 8:06. A good day’s work. I then burst into tears. I was sad. It was the song’s fault, but I was just sad. I’ll tell you why in my next post but it’s running related. It comes and goes, but today it was here for a short visit.

It’s not all bad, and I’m not sitting here crying while typing. It’s just one of THOSE days.

crying

Not me.

It’s cloudy, I’m tired, and my cat is at the vet. He’s fine, but it’s weird without him here. I can go pick him up this evening and pay my bill that is probably the equivalent of my mortgage payment, but at least we’ll have him back.

With the training for this Ironman, my focus has shifted. My perception has shifted. I was annoyed a lot of the time when training for the half iron last fall. Maybe it’s because I just wanted to run and was spending all my running time on the bike or in the water? But this time, I’m getting my workouts in and my mileage built up for when I start with my coach in June. I’m also allowing myself to run when I want to run. If I want to add running, then I’m going to. I’m planning a post-IM marathon, so I will have to really work on running along with the swimming and biking, more than I would normally. This Ironman can’t be a fluke. I have to be prepared, mentally, physically, and yes, emotionally. It’s going to take a lot of Beast to get it done, so I might as well be a Beast now. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Do more than the minimum. Push yourself. Give more and you just may surprise yourself by what you find on the other side of the effort. From 0 to 120 in seven days.

Now where’s the food because I’m going to eat all of it.

Do you mentally prepare for big races? Do you for training? Do your hands feel like they’re going to fall off when you run fast?

Categories: 10x10 challenge, anything is possible, go for your dreams, half iron distance, iron distance, ironman, ironman florida, marathon, marathon training, no fear, open water swimming, running, swimming, training for half iron distance, training for marathon, training for triathlon, triathlon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 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

Building a Marathon Playlist

I love listening to music when I run. I think it actually can enhance my performance. Sometimes, when I’m just listening to a certain song, my heart rate will go up and I will want to go run, or if I’m at home doing “my thing”, clean faster. In fact, this song is making my heart rate elevated right now:

Can anyone listen to this and NOT get pumped up? It’s now on my race playlist. Twice. Once in the beginning and once at the end.

Side note: It’s not a very good idea to listen to your fast playlist and drive. Just sayin’.

My playlist is vast and varied. I look for good race songs all year long and add them when I hear them a few times and pass the “I won’t get annoyed at this song after a week” test. I have country, rock, instrumental (example above), teeny bopper, and old school. It would be boring to give you my entire playlist – I mean really, who DOESN’T have “Roar”, “Eye of the Tiger”, “Lose Yourself” and “Runnin’ Down a Dream” on their playlist? How about “The Fighter” by Gym Class Heroes? So here’s a few highlights that may differ from your own.

“Come on, feet…got ta get me there!” This one makes me smile and think of making it to the finish line.

“Got ta walk on…. I’m so tired… but I just can’t lose my stride!”

Then there’s this one. It’s pretty obvious just by the title, “Ignition”.  If anything, listen to the chorus at :47. Again, how can you NOT run faster to this one?

I have two different “Animals” songs, one by Nickelback and the other by Martin Garrix. They are both heart thumpers.

Here’s a different sort, and I know it’s not everyone’s thing, but I use these two songs as a “triggers”. I used them in Boston when we were to start heading up, up, up around mile 15-16. I knew it was time to kick it in gear when I hear them. That’s when your body tires and your mind needs to stay sharp.  The hardest part is coming. Hard work it is.

 

The song below makes me want to run mountains. Big mountains with Vikings and lions and fight people wearing bear coats. I have the short, 2 minute version on my playlist.

Then I’ve got “My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark”, “Just Push Play”, various AC/DC songs (but not Highway to Hell, that would be way too obvious), “The Distance”, “Higher Ground”, “Kickstart My Heart”, songs like that. But near the “it’s mental more than physical” part (ok, that’s pretty much the entire thing), I have put a nice little reminder of what I’m trying to do and where I want to go and why I’m putting myself through this. After all, it’s all about Boston.

What are your go-to race songs? Have taper madness before?

 

 

 

 

Categories: Boston Marathon, boston red sox, hal higdon training plan, marathon, marathon training, no fear, qualifying for boston marathon, quintiles wrightsville beach marathon, running, training for marathon, Uncategorized, wrightsville beach marathon | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

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