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I Remember When…..

Not long ago, I stumbled across this little nugget of nostalgia, a picture of my husband-to-be and me after my first marathon in January of 1999. He ran the marathon relay.

I couldn’t believe 1) what I was wearing, 2) the placement of my race bib, and 3) that my face looked so round.

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I remember training for that marathon, running 20 miles of the beach loop on Thursdays after work, eating Great Harvest Cheddar Garlic bread for lunch and snack and then eating a hot fudge sundae and drinking a Diet Coke after said long run. Gag. How ironic that 20 years later, many moves, two kids, and 20 years of married bliss, I meet my friends at that same location to run that same loop.

I think about how much has changed in my life over those twenty years, but specifically, how much has changed in running over twenty years. Oh my.

Before I get to the main point of this post, let me just mention something that HAS NOT changed in those twenty years. Me and running. Sure, I’ve learned a boatload since then, and I’ve  come so far, gotten way faster and have run the Boston Marathon (I wouldn’t have believed you had you told me back then) and done an Ironman, which means I learned how to swim to actually go somewhere, not just prevent myself from dying (I wouldn’t have believed you had you told me back then). I’m still the same person, one who just goes for things, like signing up for a 50 mile race before working up to that distance. Hey, ever hear of a 50k first? Nope, didn’t think so. I signed up for that first marathon before running anything but one 5k. I remember thinking, “Why not?”, so I did it. And I’m so glad I did. I have that same element of “No Fear” as I did back in the day, something that I’m pretty dang proud of. I digress.

Because it was worth going back and reminiscing the good ole days, here’s my list of things that are different since I ran my first marathon in 1999.

  • Look at that picture and whisper to yourself what my shirt is made of. It makes me shake my head and say “Bless your heart”. Poor little thing is wearing cotton. I shutter. I never wear cotton, at least 100% cotton as we all pretty much wore all cotton everything then. How did I not end up in the ER with severe blood loss from all the chafing? Were those heavy cotton socks serving as ankle weights? I have no idea how I did that. Nowadays, we have polyester, dry fit, breathable, light-weight fabrics that wick moisture. Pretty big step up, I’d say. My current running shoes probably weigh less than the shoe strings of the old days too.
  • Garmin or some sort of GPS device that will conveniently measure your pace and distance. What did we do back before GPS? We rode the route in our car and used the odometer to find the distance. Now you are free to roam the city with a simple push of the button. Need a specific pace? No need to do your workout on the track, just push that little button. Easy peasy. Unsure of what mile you’re on in your race? Just look at that thing on your wrist. No worries if you miss a mile marker (or if it’s missing), no worries at all, it’s just right there waiting for you, all the information in the world.
  • Races. They’re literally everywhere. Every distance, every location, all abilities, every weekend. There’s always something somewhere. Granted, it’s way easier to find races when you live in a temperate climate, for sure, but if you’re willing to travel, there’s always a race. And now there’s companies who’s sole goal is to provide you with a race on your vacation.
  • Speaking of races, how about race registration? I remember signing up for the Marine Corps Marathon, the first one I didn’t do because I met this cute boy and my training pretty much ceased to exist for the remainder of the summer, hence the Myrtle Beach Marathon. I filled out this form from somewhere, not sure if I printed it out or what, but I wrote a check and sent it in, BAM, I’m in. Now there’s a lottery and a chance you can’t even participate. How about the New York City Marathon? FIFTY-FIVE THOUSAND RUNNERS. And thousands more want in. It blows my mind. And all you have to do is enter some information and with the click of a “Complete Registration” button, you’re in. That’s pretty much how I signed up for my Ironman. It really should come with a “Are you sure you want to do this?” button, followed by a “Are you REEAAALLLLY sure you want to do this?” button.
  • The internet and all the information that comes with it. Don’t get me started on Google. I didn’t have a computer at home in 1999, and I had a barely functioning email at work that took me five minutes to get to. I used to communicate with my boyfriend via fax. FAX. I can’t even remember what sort of training plan I used for my first marathon. I probably didn’t even use one but at least knew enough to get long runs in and get up to 20 miles at one time. That’s probably why I hurt so bad and could barely walk after I finished my race, and I remember tripping over an ant hill. I don’t even think I ate anything during those long runs. Now you can find anything you want at the click of a mouse, and not the mouse who gets in your house. You can find any bit of running information, join virtual groups, virtual races, training groups, find a coach, find a training plan, anything you need, you can find with ease.
  • On-the-road entertainment. I used to wear a WALKMAN with those foam headphones when I did some of my training runs. I would make myself a tape of songs I probably got off the radio, ones where the beginning is cut off as you ran to the tape recorder and the DJ cuts off at the end. Now there’s iPods, MP3 players, iPhones, Spotify, and iTunes where you can get pretty much any song or playlist at the push of a button. Books on “tape”, Podcasts, anything you want, you have access to it. What a far cry from trying to memorize “Dancing Nancies” so I’d have a song to sing during a marathon. Oy, bless my heart. When I moved to Katy, Texas, I got lost on my run. I had my phone, so pulled up the GPS to find my way back home. You can do almost everything nowadays with your PHONE, and I honestly don’t even know how we did anything back in the day.

What have you noticed as changed since you started running, assuming it was a long time ago?

Categories: Uncategorized | 1 Comment

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.

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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.

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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

You Can’t Always Get What You Want

Every time something that I really, really want can’t or doesn’t happen, I hear the Rolling Stones song, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” on the radio. In my car. It’s happened about five times in the last six years. I never hear that song otherwise. I always hear it when I’m cranked up about something or trying to make a big decision or wondering why I didn’t get the job I wanted or didn’t get to race a race I wanted to race. It’s like a message from God. He is telling me that I’m not supposed to do whatever it is that I really wanted. And that everything will be ok.

I recently went on a trip to Las Vegas with my husband for our 20th anniversary, and I took a picture of myself. I thought it was pretty cool, but I didn’t like the age that I saw – the wrinkles and lines in places I hadn’t really noticed before. I thought about NOT posting it on Facebook because of the lines and I didn’t want anyone to think I was ugly or looked older than I am (45) or that I think I’m all that when I am not. Then I thought about it and realized that I really stopped caring what everyone thought about me a while ago. I mean, of course, I CARE what people think, to an extent, but it’s my face and there’s really nothing I can do to change that. And I like it. During this process, I realized that I don’t like what aging does to my face, but I sincerely appreciate what it does for my soul. I’ve had some profound changes in my 40’s and feel like I’m the most “ME” that I’ve ever been. I heard it’s a fairly common thing. I’ve learned a lot from my mistakes, and I’m proud of the person I am today.

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At the Bellagio in Las Vegas

My last post was the positive side of having an injury. To recap, during a track workout that I did WAY TOO FAST (my fault that I did not follow the coach’s pacing), I strained my upper hamstring. I bagged my next long run after 8 miles because of the pain, but I proceeded to run 15 miles on it the following weekend. I was determined. And I didn’t care what happened. And honestly, I don’t regret that decision.

After a few weeks, it became pretty clear to me that recovering from the injury was not going to be a quick process. The weeks until the Boston Marathon, which I qualified for by over 20 minutes, were quickly flipping by like an old clock with the number flaps. I biked, I elliptical’d, I avoided swimming, I did strength, and I stayed positive. I kept hope that it would be ok. I did not allow anger to creep in.

The day after an optimistic physical therapy session, I was to run two miles. And my leg hurt within a quarter of a mile, if even that. I ran/walked the two miles, and I burst into tears when I entered my house.

I. Can’t. Do. This.

I can’t run a marathon in eight weeks when it hurts to run a quarter mile. It’s not worth the consequences. I cried loud. All my pets were all up in my face trying to comfort me. Then I texted my husband that I will not be running in the Boston Marathon because I can’t even run a mile without pain. I cannot do it. I WILL NOT do it.

The weight was lifted. But I was extremely sad. Not angry. Just deflated, and very, very sad. All the hope, all the money on races, all the training that I carefully crafted. All of it for nothing. To be back to square zero. Ugh. Tears. I felt guilty. I felt sad. After I stopped crying, I decided I would do some retail therapy and run errands. I was a little on edge, and normally, I listen to my playlist in my car. But that day, I just kept flipping through the radio stations. Flip, song, flip, song….. it would be ok. Stay positive.

I went to a spa to get some makeup for Vegas, Kohls for some shorts and anything with sparkles, Costco for food, and Harris Teeter for more food that I couldn’t get at Costco. When I got in the car to go home, I flipped the station yet again, and guess what song had just started.

I burst into tears on College Avenue, and I knew I made the right decision. More importantly, I knew everything was going to be ok.

Our family had a decision to make. Because Boston is an exceptionally expensive place to go, we decided to forego the entire trip to Boston. Instead of participating in the greatest marathon in the world on April 15th, I will watch it on TV, and track those friends I know running it. The next day, we are packing our truck, heading to a Charleston KOA cabin on a lake, visit as much as we can in the area, and spend a third of what we would have spent on just a hotel alone in Boston. I’m relieved. I’m still sad. But I’m relieved. I know it will be ok, and running Boston was not what I needed, for whatever reason.

The aging process isn’t always fun, until you delve into what the process teaches you.

“You can’t always get what you want.

But if you try sometimes, you might find

You get what you need”

Categories: being epic, Boston Marathon, coaching, follow your dreams, las vegas, marathon, marathon training, qualifying for boston marathon, running, running buddies, running with friends, Uncategorized, wrightsville beach marathon | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Making Another Pitcher of Lemonade

At the risk of sounding like a big, whiny baby, I am taking a moment to complain about something. Injuries. As if I wasn’t injured long enough last year, I’m injured again. From running too fast at track practice. The unfortunate part is that I can’t blame anyone or anything but myself for it happening. Again. And I knew better. Because it’s happened before. So here I am, in the middle of marathon training, and I can’t run. I mean, I could, but it would just cause a lot of bad running that looks like Elaine from Seinfeld when she went to a party and danced. See the clip HERE if you haven’t seen it, or if you want a chuckle. THAT would be me if I tried. And I tried last weekend, because my determination to get in a long run usurped the reality that it wouldn’t do any good, PHYSICALLY, and could actually set me back.  I also had some left over nerve pain medication from when I had shingles and when you mix that and a long run, things get funky.

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Me trying to run on Saturday.

I’m not going to sit here and gripe all day about not running when I am fully aware that all I need to do is let my body heal, which shouldn’t take too long if I don’t pull crazy Elaine dancing stunts. I’m also quite aware that I’m extremely lucky to be able to do these kind of things to myself, so there’s that too.

Because I like lists and I need to vent while also keep things light, I decided to make a list of things that are good about being injured. My lemonade might still be a tad sour, but at least you can drink it.

  • Being injured makes me think about and sharpen up on physiology because lately I’ve wondered, “Do I REALLY need my hamstring to run or am I just being overly dependent on it?”. Last Saturday, I literally tried to run without really extending my lower leg past my knee joint, so it wouldn’t pull on my hammy. It just made me look like the weird bug guy from Men In Black. Turns out hamstrings are necessary in running and the kinetic chain, not a sign of unhealthy co-dependence. And when you don’t use them properly, other funky stuff starts to happen.
  • You know how when you’re in the middle of that really hard workout, and you wonder when it will be over and you’re bordering the threshold of throwing up? When you’re injured, you won’t get that feeling. I mean, who wants to feel like that or actually vomit because of a race that you won’t win? Not me, oh, not me. I won’t miss that. <<Sorry, huge eye roll and maybe a small sigh, but I’m TRYING here. I thrive on that feeling. Sigh.>>
  • Who’s getting up early to go on a long run Saturday morning? NOT me, suckas! I’ll be sleeping well past 6 am this weekend.
  • Because I’m not putting miles on my shoes, they will last longer. So there’s that.
  • Speaking of saving money, I’m not burning the calories that I normally do when I’m marathon training, even though I’m still training, so I’m saving a lot of grocery money. Sign me up for that coupon!
  • If someone asks me to help them move or mow the yard or do yard work, I won’t be able to because I’m injured.
  • Unless someone asks me to move or do heavy yard work or something like that, I’ll be working on my pain tolerance. That’s not me yelling “OW!” when doing my physical therapy or tweaking the injury in the moment of amnesia when I bound up the stairs or try and play basketball with my son, heck no. That’s me yelling, “NOW!”. As in, “I feel great, NOW!”.
  • I get to reacquaint myself with the pool! And anyone who knows me, knows how much I LOOOOOOOVE to swim! Yay, me!
  • Planning. My brain can work like a drop of mercury after meeting the floor, especially when I have a little more mental energy, so I’m already scheming for my next big thing. Besides the trifecta I have planned for the fall (I hope to announce the three events come March), I’m already planning a big huge LL Cool J comeback for 2020. I’m not sure my husband will appreciate all my “ideas”, but like the Clemson Tigers, I am “All In”.

There’s probably a few million more positive things I can find (aka make up) about being injured, but I think I’m ready to move on. I can feel progress already, and I know this will be a minor setback, albeit a significant one. I’ll be back to running, I’ll be running in Boston, and I’ll be happy, no matter what. And that, my friends, is the most important part.

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Categories: Boston Marathon, marathon, marathon training, running, swimming, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Mindset

In order to look forward with a clear vision, I think it’s a good idea to look back. New Year’s becomes a “thing”, picking your word of the year, resolutions, stuff like that. I like it, and I think it is necessary for many people, as long as the vision doesn’t become blurry and you forget what you believed in so clearly on January 1st. I don’t remember what my “word” was for last year, so evidently, that’s not a good method for me. I’ve VERY successfully used phrases for my “year mantra”, and it was life-changing in a good way, but it just won’t work for me now.

This year is different. I want something different. I want to feel differently. 2018 was not a good year for me for many reasons, but I think it is necessary to have years like that, or difficult times. Coming out on the other side of darkness has its benefits, for sure. It certainly wasn’t the worst year ever and I still consider myself extremely lucky. But it still sucked, overall. You always have the opportunity to learn from past mistakes or having to overcome some obstacle(s). I decided that I wasn’t going to pick a word for the year; I’m choosing a mindset. It’s an all-encompassing feeling that I’m searching for, that I’m striving for, really. You tend to get what you put in the universe, right? If you put positivity out, you will attract it.

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I’ve never found a shark tooth before. But I wished it when walking on the beach, and lo and behold, I found one. Here it is, laying on my marathon training plan.

There are so many good things that occurred in 2018. My kids are doing well, my oldest turned 16 and is working, my husband is happy at his job. I started coaching cross country, my elementary coaching is in high demand. I got a big marathon PR and truly felt the training result and the glory and the pain of a strong finish. But it came with a lot of woulda shoulda coulda situations from that entire experience. The two injuries that followed were probably preventable and sent me into a mini depression, but going through that gave me a lot of insight and reinforced how lucky it is that I can do what I do. It was one of two, or maybe even three, big experiences of the year where I kept quiet and I shouldn’t have. Woulda. Shoulda. Coulda. All I can do is take that and apply it in the future. I can’t dwell on it.

Do you ever think about situations and often come up with the best response at least 24 hours AFTER the conversation has taken place? For me, it’s usually a week post-conversation when I get the, “THAT’S WHAT I SHOULD HAVE SAID” feeling. That was pretty much me in all of 2018. So what can I learn from it? Well, the biggest takeaway for me, is to not rehash any conversation in my mind and get upset about what I COULD have said that would have either ended the particular conversation or situation, or could have made me out to be super smart. Isn’t that what we’re usually looking for anyway? As I cleaned my house up from the holiday family fun, I was reminded of how silly it is to waste time on these imaginary conversations. As much as I want to be heard, as much as I want to be right, as much as I want the other person to KNOW that I am right and they must at least acknowledge what it is I’m saying, it’s just. Plain. Silly. To waste another minute on it. I think part of me is the little girl, standing there, just wanting someone to acknowledge her. Just see her. Just listen to her……Just see me. Listen to me. Like the Stands With A Fist character in “Dances with Wolves, I want to stomp my foot and be heard. But it doesn’t work that way. Sometimes the softest voices can be the loudest. Sometimes you have to walk away.

Instead of sitting there and spinning webs of imaginary situations and conversations, it’s time to let go of hurt feelings, of wanting to be accepted, of wishing away things, of regrets, of missing the unsaid words. It’s time to let go, and look forward with a very laser sharp view of the future. As I sit here in the dark room because it feels like the sun will never come out again, I think about being happy instead of depressed from the bleakness and brownness of the outdoors. I can be transformed from thoughts, and that’s my first step in being mindful of making my own self happy. Happier, anyway.

What am I going to do in 2019 to make myself happier? First of all, I’m in the beginning of training for the Boston Marathon, and if anything makes me happy, giddy almost, it’s thinking about running in general, but specifically in Boston. This will be the third time, and I’m hesitant to make a big goal, but I think I’m going to anyway. Why not? If it doesn’t’ work out, then it’s still running the Boston Marathon, right? I’m going to give the next few weeks of training my best, and I’ll see if it’s a truly realistic goal.

The second thing that would make me happy, but I have literally zero control over, is seeing Clemson win the National Championship against Al…..allll…..aaaaa…. I can’t even say it. The other team. Go Tigers!

I’d like to take on a really big goal. A few big goals. I have a plan for the fall, and it might be really stupid, but I’m the kind of person that will look at it and say, “I can do that”. If my 3rd triathlon was a full ironman, then anything is possible.

But overall, it’s about spending time with people I care about, doing the things I care about, being the best version of myself, being kind while still speaking my mind, staying away from drama, learning from the past, applying that knowledge to now, and remembering that every day is a gift from God, every day there is always something to be thankful for. Happy 2019 to everyone! May this be your best year yet!

Categories: anything is possible, Boston Marathon, coaching, follow your dreams, ironman, marathon, marathon training, running, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 5 Comments

A Million Little Things

It’s been a long time since I’ve been here. I’ve wanted to write several times, and when I go to do it, I pretty much freeze up because it’s been so long and I don’t even know where to start.

To accomplish anything, there has to be a beginning, right? So I guess I need to just start at the beginning, where I left last time. Even if there’s a million little things.

In January, I ran my hardest, fastest, and most satisfying marathon to date. The Wednesday before the race, I tweaked my calf during my last speed session. Luckily, it didn’t affect my race, but I spent the next two months “taking it easy” to make sure it didn’t get worse. Looking back, I didn’t do this the right way, but hindsight is always 20/20. In April, I went to Alabama to run the Grand Viduta stage race, which is 43 miles of technical trails total over three days. While I would suggest it for anyone and everyone to do this amazing, well-done race, I would not suggest it for those who didn’t train on trails very much. Because I was running on rocks and uneven surfaces, my posterior tibialis, specifically through my ankle, became irate after day 2. Because we are constantly told to “push through the pain” and I didn’t want to “quit”, I pushed through the tears and pain, and I ran on day 3. Hindsight…. I should have hiked it, not run it. That’s not the pain you push through, that’s for sure!

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Grand Viduta Stage Race – I would HIGHLY recommend this race!!!!! 

 

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Mud

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And beer. 

After weeks of not being able to run without pain, I went to my PT for dry needling. Still couldn’t run. I went for second opinion with my chiropractor, who has fixed my many ailments over the years. He confirmed what my PT said, but he also had the injury from lifting, so he understood. He said to start from zero. Start over. In my head, I screamed “NOOOOO! I can’t do that! I’m a runner!!”. I normally don’t run less than 5 miles, unless I’m in taper. But at that point, I got it. I had to start over. In July, I started run/walking, running 30 seconds at a time, quickly increasing to two minutes at a time. Then every week, I added a minute to my run portion. It was a great way to run in the hot, humid summer mornings, so I will most likely do this method next summer. During that time, my kids and I spent three weeks in Missouri and Iowa having a ton of fun with family and friends. Hubby was there for a week.

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A little lunch get-together turned into a family reunion! 

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Guess what’s on his Xmas list?

Runners with injuries that prevent them from running makes them less-than-enjoyable companions. I went through a depression during this time. Running truly brings me peace of mind, joy, happiness, time to think, and a sense of well-being that I cannot get from anything else. It’s hard to explain, but it’s the way I’m built. I had to slowly build up my time, and I was sincerely thankful for the ability to do the little I was doing. But I wasn’t always the nicest, friendliest person, and I was frustrated because I knew it, but there was nothing I could do about it. We went to the Dave Matthews Concert.

I am a youth running coach for programs I began at the elementary and middle schools my kids attend/attended. I got everything approved, websites set up, and registration open for our fall sessions. The next day, I got word I would not be able to have my middle school running program since the county **finally** added cross country to the middle school sports programs. While that was the news I was waiting for for years, I didn’t know if they would hire ME to coach it! So for a week, I didn’t know if I had a job, if I needed to add other programs, what would go on. More unneeded uncertainty.

Then I got the call they wanted me to coach for the middle school. It was awesome. Two weeks after our season started, a hurricane named Florence set her sights on Wilmington. Then my youngest son was playing with his best friend and family on one of the barrier islands, and he got a very deep cut on the bottom of his foot from an oyster shell. Six stitches. No antibiotic was prescribed. Hurricane still heading towards us. Son’s foot got infected, so off to the ER. Town shutting down. Do we stay or do we go? He was admitted for IV antibiotics for a day, hurricane a Cat 3 at that time. He got discharged from the hospital on a Wednesday, Hurricane Florence started to decrease in intensity, and we decided to stay and ride the storm out. Wilmington was a ghost town. Our windows were boarded up. We had bikes in our living room. I made my kids get their “most prized possessions” and put them in a plastic bin. It was so scary. All of it.

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We are the blue dot in the eye of Hurricane Florence.

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My son and I in the eye of the hurricane.

Hurricane Florence hit us directly as a strong Category 1 storm early on Friday morning. The eye wall was…. It’s hard to find the proper words. It was crazy. When they eye went over, we went outside, all the dogs in our neighborhood went out to do business, and we looked at the mess. We contacted our out-of-town neighbors, we quietly nodded to each other. So many trees down. Bits of leaves everywhere. Branches, flower petals, leaves everywhere. Where did nature go to hide from this monster?

For two more days, Florence crept forward, leaving us flooded and water damaged. Power was out. It was hot. We had middle-of-the-night tornadoes. It was real. Who wants to get in the powder room with your husband, two kids, and a cat? Not me. The aftermath world felt like a parallel universe. Things weren’t right. The air stunk like decay. Fish were laying on the interstate. Parallel, weird universe. We were patient. Some were not. It was a time I never want to experience again. I know that I’m grateful for my neighbors a few doors down, the help she gave my son with his foot, the friendship and quiet (and sometimes not so quiet) understanding of what we faced. Things moved on. The kids were out of school for three weeks.

Some form of normalcy began again. We started back with cross country, my son’s foot healed, and I started my elementary program, and life went on, simply displayed by the trees and flowers that bloomed from the hurricane stress. It was the same, but everything was different. But we were ok.

My running slowly came back to normal. My son turned 16 and got his license. Ask any parent how that feels, and I’m guessing nine of ten will give you the “deer in headlights” look. It’s hard to describe. We went to a Clemson game. For the first time in seven years, my youngest son wasn’t playing football in the fall. My half iron triathlon was cancelled. Our open water swim race was cancelled. I couldn’t do most of the races I had signed up for because of my injury.  We went from having a slam packed full fall to barely anything. I didn’t like it.

So where am I now? I’m working, but not much, not enough for me. I need something more. So I’m looking into that and have a few thoughts in what direction I want to go. My elementary running program has 29 kids participating, which is just great. They are the next generation of runners. I have so many ideas how to make our cross country program better. It’s almost Thanksgiving.

I started a little speed work recently, and my ankle has been ok with it. I’m running up to 10 miles, and my ankle is ok.  I ran a 5k last weekend, and managed 7:35 average minute miles. It’s frustrating. While I’m extremely grateful, it’s distressing to see how much hard-earned fitness I lost and how much work I have ahead of me to get back to where I was. I am confirmed for the Boston Marathon for 2019, so I’m excited to have that to train for. Big goals!!!! I qualified for the New York Marathon, and I plan to do that too, along with another little challenge I’m not quite ready to talk about.

All in all, 2018 has not been a great year for me personally. I can’t say it’s been a bad year, it’s just a year of learning, of transition, and of hope. Onward and upward seems to be the popular saying around here recently. But I’m changing it. 2018 was good. I’m so thankful. For everything, even the bad. But there is bigger, better, and more to come in 2019.

Categories: Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Houston Marathon Race Recap

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

8:10, 7:53

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

13.1 – 1:46:18, an 8:07 overall pace

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mile 23: 8:07

Mile 24: 8:13

Mile 25: 8:26

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

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

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

Then “1/4 mile to go”.

Mile 26: 8:02

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

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

Fuck. Yeah.

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

3:33:00 ; 8:08 overall pace

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

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

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

Houston Marathon – Pre-Race Recap

The road to running a marathon is normally long and winding, full of ups and downs, highs and lows, and pretty much everything in between. My training cycle for the Houston marathon began in August, when I started doing speed workouts, to allow me time to slowly build into them, as to avoid/prevent injury. I had some amazing workouts, some questionable workouts, and then bad ones. There were workouts in the 90’s, where I could barely breathe, and I struggled to just finish the damn thing. There were workouts in the teens, which is an anomaly along the coast of North Carolina.  The good thing is that most of the workouts were good. And I was having fun. I felt myself getting faster and stronger.

To clarify, after my marathon in March of 2016, I trained for 3:40 and pulled out a 3:36. I felt like I had more to give, so I wanted to give it a try. I set my sights on a 3:30 race.

Fast forward. The holidays made the approaching race come up what seemed like superspeed. Pretty soon, two weeks before the race, I was doing my last long run. It was killer, but I nailed it.

In some of my last conversations with my coach, I devised my race plan and looking at the course map, where I spelled out how much I would drink, when I would drink it, and what I would drink, and when I would eat the day before through the entire race. What I would carry, what I would wear if it was hot, if it was cold, pretty much everything. Through our email exchange, I found out I was not expected to run a 3:30 when that’s what I thought I was aiming for. It should have been a phone call instead of an email, but I was a little shaken up by it but in all honesty, it was fine. She gave me some pace guidelines, and I took it upon myself to reset my goal to a 3:35. That would be a PR and a huge BQ, and I knew I would be happy with it. My main goal, I told her, was to negative split my race, to finish faster than how I started. That, I tell you, is the biggest adrenaline rush you can have.

Things proceeded as normal. I doubted my ability, I doubted pretty much everything, but it was a normal feeling, mostly brought on by the “taper flu”. Taper makes me feel like complete crap, where I am tired from climbing the stairs, from cooking dinner, from everything. I typically feel like Pheobe running in Central Park.

My last speed session the Wednesday before the race was tough, but again, it went really well. Could I? Was it possible? The only way to find out was to give it my all.

I packed everything, including the kitchen sink. I traveled with my friend, Melissa, who was also running the full. We left on Friday morning, and we arrived pretty much on time. Ahh, Houston traffic, I did not miss you! I really wanted to go to the expo when we got in, but I knew that would time us to leave Houston when 437,894 other people were leaving and we would get stuck in really heavy traffic. That was not something I was going to do. We went to my old stomping grounds in Katy, a “burb” of Houston. First stop was the grocery store, where I got all the things I thought necessary for the weekend. Pesto chicken pasta was on the menu, along with some snacks, bananas (haha, there’s a banana story coming), and lots of bottled water. I brought my oatmeal, Base Hydro, Base Salt, Base Amino, and Base Energy. I love Base, by the way, and am proud to be on the Base Race Team again this year. #shamelessplug #baseperformance

I stayed at my “old” neighbor’s place, and was thrilled to be able to visit with her and a few “old” neighbors, even if it was just a few hours. After her cat “nibbled” on my hand for removing him from my room, it was bed time. I had a VERY hard time getting to sleep, probably because Melissa and I were just trying not to wake each other up, which in hindsight, would have been worth getting a hotel for. That was one of the many things I learned I should have spoken up about. Sleep is an endurance athlete’s main goal the second night before the race, so we should have made it our priority to set ourselves up to get as much shut eye as we possibly could.

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I woke up a few times in the night, but ended up waking up with a start at 9 am. OMG I AM LATE! I wanted to get up at 8, but I know I needed the sleep, so I tried not to panic. Melissa and I went for our shake out run of 25 minutes. Funny, we had to go all the way to Houston to run together. It felt “ok”, but it was done, and it was time to roll. I quickly got ready, and made my way to another friend’s house for a few catch-up minutes. I headed back, collected my stuff, and we headed to meet yet another friend for lunch. And the lunch was GOOD. Pesto chicken sandwich it was. The weekend of pesto! And if you know me, you know I LOVE pesto. I knew I needed to be careful for the fat content, but it is something I normally have, so I wasn’t too worried. Plus, I pour out the oil on the top of the pesto jar, so I felt comfortable with it.

After lunch, we headed to the race expo. More Houston traffic, but at least it was Saturday. The expo was a little more crowded than I thought it would be, but I was able to see my husband’s cousin, who was gonna “just jog” the marathon with the 3-hour pace group. Gag.

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I also saw stars when I looked over and there was KARA GOUCHER signing autographs. Silly me waited around, didn’t get a picture, and missed my chance at meeting her. Damn. Kara Goucher. Right in front of me. And not even a picture to prove it.

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Go Big Or Go Home

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I picked up a few cool tank tops and a hand-held water bottle, got some pictures (not of Kara Goucher), and it was time to head to the hotel, set up camp, and mentally prepare for what I was going to do to myself the next morning. I wasn’t really nervous yet, probably because I had been running myself ragged, but it was ok. I was supposed to meet a friend of mine from home for dinner on Saturday night, but I got a pretty nasty headache and wanted to stay put and rest for the remainder of the evening. No more running around.

Once I checked in to the hotel, I laid out all my clothes for the race. I was in a quandary about what to wear. It was going to be cold. I love running in the cold. But how cold was it going to be? Did I need tights or shorts? Long sleeve or short sleeve or sleeveless? The good thing is the weather on Saturday was similar to that predicted on Sunday, so based on my shake out run, I thought it was going to feel much warmer than it actually was. I finally decided on shorts, tank top, arm sleeves, gloves, and a headband to cover my ears. I had a throw away shirt and sweatpants as well.

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Flat Kelli

I ate my pre-race pasta, prepared my Base Rocket Fuel for the hand-held bottle, and got all my crap together. I also drank two bottles of water with a Nuun tablet in each. Was I ready? Was I really, really ready? It was time to find out.

I set my alarms for 3:30 and 3:35. I’ve made a few “alarming” mistakes when it comes time to set the time to wake up, so I checked and doubled checked to make sure it was correct. I woke up a few times in the night, but was able to get back to sleep. Thankfully.

Before I knew it, my alarm was beeping and it was time to get up. I made my double oatmeal, trying to be quiet. As you know, using the microwave quietly is nearly impossible, but what could I do? After the oatmeal, I got my bread and peanut butter ready to go. Three pieces of non-whole wheat bread. Time was creeping by as I tooled around, got dressed, and checked my five weather apps to see what it was like outside. Cold – 35 or so. It was cold, and it was going to be sunny. I was happy with my choice of outfit. I would do almost anything to not overheat, which is not hard for me to do.

All of a sudden, it was almost time to go. I got my bag check bag full of post-race junk, throw away clothes, accessories, and snacks ready to go. Then BAM, nerves hit. I was probably shaking as I scurried around to make sure I had everything. We hit the road to the convention center.

The Houston Marathon is probably one of the best organized large races I’ve been to. Granted, you had to walk and walk and walk and walk to get anywhere, but you have an indoor area to hang out, drop your bag, and they made regular announcements as to the time the corrals would close. I needed to hit the can before we left toward the start, but the lines were just too long, and I couldn’t chance missing the cutoff to get in Corral A. Melissa and I said our goodbyes and good lucks.

I jogged towards the start line, following the stream of runners, knowing I only had to follow them to find where I needed to go. The corrals were well marked, and I found the can just outside the corral area. I ran this marathon five years ago, and it was set up significantly different, and I remember it POURING rain as I waited in a long line to go to the bathroom wondering why I was so stupid to do something so stupid, haha. This time, the line was short, and it wasn’t raining, thank God. I had to chuckle at the memory of me absolutely FREAKING out last time “because I was going to miss the corral cutoff time and then I wouldn’t be able to run the race because AHHHHHHHH”. I was nervous, but I was calm. I did some leg swings, A-skips, quad pulls, and knee huggers. The sweats came off and I dropped them over the fence. D’oh. Should’ve checked the time as I had 20 minutes to go and it WAS cold out. Oh well. I listened in on conversations, I people-watched, I thought over my race. Was this the day? How was I going to feel when I crossed that line? WOULD I cross that line? I was ready to go.

One national anthem and a quick crowd mash later, I crossed the start line, and my race had begun.

Categories: anything is possible, being epic, follow your dreams, fueled by base, marathon, marathon training, qualifying for boston marathon, race with base, running, training for marathon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 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.

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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?

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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.

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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

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