Posts Tagged With: do your best

IMNC 70.3 Race Recap

In the spring of 2018, I signed up for IMNC 70.3, which was cancelled due to severe damage from Hurricane Florence. We were offered free deferrals to the 2019 race, so I signed up, just to ensure I had a spot, not knowing if I would, in fact, participate in the race.

As I’ve talked about, my “endurance trifecta” begins with IMNC 70.3 and ends with the JFK50 miler five weeks later, with the New York City marathon sandwiched between the two. The good thing about triathlon, is that it forced me to cross train to help my overall strength and to prevent overtraining on the run. I figured that if I needed to let a race go, it would be the triathlon. I’m honestly so overjoyed that I didn’t need to do that.

The best thing I could have ever done is to hire a coach. I can coach marathons all day long, but not triathlons or 50 milers, and mostly, not when I’m the athlete nor when all the said events are within five weeks of each other. Coach knew my goals and set the plan accordingly, often checking in on my hamstring injury and in general.

I decided to head to Wilmington on the Thursday before the race (race was Saturday), and Wednesday night, I woke up at 2 am and could not get back to sleep. Ugh. My son and I left after he was out of school, and we got to Wilmington around 8 pm. Let’s say that driving in the dark is not one of my favorite things to do, especially when I’m sleep deprived and need glasses. I figured I would sleep like a baby, but it was one of the worst nights of not sleeping ever. I’ve had insomnia issues before, and this was a pretty bad string of it. I think I possibly dozed for about an hour. Double ugh.

That Friday was packet pick up, run stuff drop off, and bike drop off. I saw a bunch of people I knew and glanced at the finish line being set up. A quick dose of adrenaline surged through me, part excitement, part fear. Could I actually do this race? I’m exhausted and haven’t trained for it like I had in the past. Yes, yes I’ll be fine. I can do it.

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My son and me in front of the convention center

I dropped my son with his BFF and headed to dinner with a friend, where I had my traditional chicken sandwich with mushrooms, cheese, and a fried egg. Delicious. It was then that I got my actual race plan together. Nothing like waiting until the last minute, right? Race numbers on bike, nutrition planned, clothes laid out, bag packed and ready to go. I decided not to get up too early, but I knew I had somethings to do before we headed to the race. My poor tired little brain could only muster up a few things, haha. At least it was written down.

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My “list” of things to do in the morning

I woke at 4, having only had a few hours of sleep. Probably the second worst string of insomnia, and it was NOT caused by nerves. Not in the slightest. SO FRUSTRATING. I melted down in my sister’s kitchen, and I muttered a few inappropriate things that I can’t believe came out of my mouth, but I was just SO EFFING TIRED. I honestly didn’t know how I was going to make it. The best Sherpa in the world and I took off and headed to the start.

The start area was buzzing, and it was 5:10 am. Crazy. I went to my bike and got my tires pumped up and nutrition laid out. Saw some friends. Oops, forgot to leave my watch in my bike helmet. Did that. Saw more friends, waited in line for the bathroom. I couldn’t believe the activity and how well organized it was. I got my numbers put on my arms and leg. Oops, forgot to put something else in my bike bag. Did that. Saw some more friends. Oops, forgot to put one last thing in my bike bag. Geez, this is what happens when you are exhausted!

Gorgeous sunrise over T1

I said “see ya later” to my sister and headed to the line to get a bus to the start. Wow, there were a lot of people. I found out later there were over 2,200 finishers, so there had to be 2,300-2,400 people there. Crazy. Once I got to the start, I realized it wasn’t as cold as I thought it would be. That was good, because standing and freezing your wetsuit tail off wasn’t my way of beginning a long day of racing, as I had literally zero additional energy to spare. The start was delayed for some reason, I could never figure out why, but once they started, things went pretty fast. It used to be a wave start, but this year, it was a self-seeded time trial sort of start. About one person goes per second. Smooth. I ended up finding two friends in the time I was going to start so we ended up walking across the road to the water. OMG OMG OMG OMG I AM GONNA DO THIS HOLY SHIT HOW AM I GONNA DO THIS IT’S OK I WILL BE FINE OMG OMG OMG.

SWIM: The race started for me. The water felt great and it was a clear shade of green. It has been two years since I have been open water swimming, and I was a little concerned that I wouldn’t adjust from solely pool training for the race. Nope. I was fine. I hadn’t done more than 500 meters at one time without stopping (many of my swims were over 2000 meters though), so I was a little concerned I would get out of breath. Nope. I was fine. Current was strong, the salt water didn’t bother at all, and the sunrise was beautiful. Granted, I did stop a few times to get my bearings and figure out where I wanted to sight. I would NEVER EVER EVER suggest doing this race without open water experience, but considering I used to swim a few miles a week in that very waterway three, four, and five years ago, it came back like it was last week. My goggles got kicked off and I felt slightly violated by a few other swimmers, but it was nothing that I wasn’t expecting nor had dealt with during Ironman Florida, four short years ago. Turn, turn, turn, holy crap, I’m almost done. I felt great.

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The swim start

If you haven’t had your wetsuit stripped or haven’t actually seen it done, you should. It’s an “interesting” experience, haha.

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I made it through the swim!!!!

SWIM: 36:08

Transition: It’s quite a run from the swim finish to the bikes, and I had to run right by my bike to go the race route, which added about 200 extra yards for me when it was already a quarter mile. Ugh.

I saw several friends, volunteer extraordinaire Sami, Lena, and sister Sherpa, took my time to get my swim stuff packed in my bag and bike stuff on. My uncrustable would not fit in anything I had, so I left it. Boo.

Off on the bike

T1: 9:30 (that is a LONG transition)

Off I go on the bike. We will just go for a little ride. Just 57.65 miles. The good thing is that I knew the course was a little long, so I didn’t worry, I was just glad I knew. I kept Corey’s words in my head too, “Looks like we will likely have a head wind both ways.” Hmmmm. Ok then.

The route was a little different than before, and I was concerned since we crossed several major roads in Wilmington. Once I actually rode it, I was blown away at how good the route was and how safe I felt as a biker, unlike in year’s past. I glanced at the time when I left Wrightsville Beach behind, 8:30. I did not have anything on measuring pace or anything, only cadence. THAT was the important thing.

Bike training. I didn’t tell anyone this, but I did minimal bike training, and ZERO training on the road. 100% of my bike rides this entire year were indoor on my trainer. The longest ride was 2 ½ hours, which I did once, and two 2-hour rides and many other shorter rides, one per week. I didn’t tell anyone because, just in case something happened on the bike, someone couldn’t tell me, well, what do you THINK would happen? As soon as I got out there, all those thousands of miles I’d done before came back, pretty much like the swim. Ahhh, it was a beautiful day, slight head wind, but it was beautiful out. I was out with so many athletes, and I was doing it.

I had no idea what my MPH was or anything, but I knew I was taking care of my soon-to-be tired legs that would still be required to run a half marathon. NUTRITION was my main focus, and I made sure to drink every few minutes. I filled my bottle with Gatorade at each aid station and grabbed a gu. I had mini potatoes that I brought out just in time for the photographer. I had some chews as well. I felt good and I had a good therapy session with myself along the way.

The miles ticked by and we turned left and were rewarded with a nice tail wind. We turned left yet again, and the tail wind sort of disappeared, but hey, it wasn’t a strong head wind, so I certainly didn’t care. Half way, OMG I am DOING THIS THING! I tried my best to follow the rules, which is not what everyone decided to do, but I was not going to draft and I was not going to pass on the right. I yelled at the moron who did. The road was pretty bumpy and considering my seat hadn’t had as much training as I suspect almost everyone else did, I was careful for the bumps and cracks in the road. Extra careful.

Once we got back on the main highway, I knew I was going to make it just fine. My knee had been bothering me some, and with some head wind, it kept getting a little worse. As the head wind strengthened, I made sure I was eating and drinking enough, something I really messed up the last time I had done this race, and I was careful not to go below 80 cadence, especially to protect my knee. After Ironman it swelled up for a really long time, and I wanted to avoid as much as that as possible. I’m so thankful that Corey mentioned having head wind both ways – I wasn’t expecting it, and knowing it was possible made it so much better to handle when it actually happened.

The last two weekends, I had run 20 and 22 miles, 30 of them being on trails. My legs were not tapered for this race, but I was really happy at how they were responding. The miles started to get hard. I pushed and kept at it, clinging to positivity, knowing I was almost there. Just the run, just the run, oh, after the big bridge, then you run. You know how to run, you do it all the time, you will be good!

We climbed up toward the grated section of the bridge once last time, and I clung to my bike and desperately tried not to fall over, saying some unsavory words along the way. Whew, down hill. And I choked up. OMG. I did it. Minimal bike training, zero outdoor training, I freaking did it. My coach said it best when she was like “I bet your legs were like WTF”. Yes, they certainly were.

I rolled into the bike dismount area and stopped. I tried to lift my right leg over my bike and it wouldn’t move. One of the volunteers asked me if I was ok, and I asked her to come closer to my left arm, so I could use her to balance myself. Last time I did this race, I actually fell down at this part. I did not want to fall down. I held on to the volunteer and still couldn’t lift my leg over my bike. I started laughing and said “I can’t get off my bike”, when a guy came over and politely lifted my leg over my bike for me. I could fall down laughing at this visual, because it’s one of the funniest things that’s happened to me in a race.

BIKE: 3:25:31

The run. Transition didn’t seem as big when I checked my run bag in, but it was big when I had to run in bike shoes. I took them off and walked toward my bike rack and run stuff. I changed my shirt, put my hat on, grabbed some energy chews, gum, and turned my watch on. The bathroom had a line, so I planned to go to the next one and go there. I saw my sister and a few others there, and went on my way.

T2: 4:52

Just one problem. My legs wouldn’t work. Since my bike was an hour longer than I had trained all season and I had done zero brick workouts, it took a VERY long time for my bike legs to transition to run legs. Like 3-4 miles longer. Oh well, I was doing it. I ran shuffled through downtown Front Street where there were lots of spectators, and I glanced at my pace – 9:30. What? That didn’t seem right considering I was barely moving. I did a bunch of calculations in my head and started to worry. Oh, how long is this going to take? What if I have the walk the entire thing? Worry, worry, worry. A mile clicked by and we were in the unattractive part of the run. I was getting passed by what I felt like was the entire race field. It was frustrating for me since my run is typically my strong part, and that is where I pass everyone else. I saw the leaders coming through, I saw several friends, and my mind clouded up. I looked at my watch again, and I decided to turn the damn thing off. I don’t need it. This is supposed to be fun, not a competition. Remember what Lauren said? You’re partici-racing, not racing this thing, STOP it with the comparing and pressure to perform. That is NOT what this is about, KELLI.

I deleted my run, and decided once and for all to knock it off and just run. I walked through the aid stations and a little bit more, and focused on pushing myself to run when I didn’t feel like it. Practice. This is practice for the 50 miler. Push yourself to run when you don’t want to.

The course is sort of boring for me, but it’s pretty. I didn’t know where the turnaround was, so I just concentrated on going one mile at a time. I saw so many people, and it was fun to go through the aid stations. They were A-MAZING. I drank Gatorade and water at each one, and at one near half way, I took a gu.

The minutes and miles ticked by, and my legs got increasingly smooth. I felt like a runner, finally, and I started passing people. What everyone’s goal should be is to nail nutrition enough to speed up during your run, not slow down. And I was doing that. I was still walking, so my splits show the same pace, but in all honesty, I didn’t care. I was doing it. Race #1 of my endurance trifecta, the one I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to do, and I was doing it.

Then I saw this crazy lady holding a sign with my name spelled correctly yelling things that included my name, and as I got closer, I realized it was my friend Lena. OMG, she made a SIGN???!!! She made me give her a sweaty hug, and her enthusiasm absorbed into me, and I couldn’t stop smiling. That was so cool.

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Comin’ in for my schweaty hug

Soon, I was headed back to town on Front street. I was almost there. I’m going to do this thing! And I felt GOOD!!! Pick up your feet, don’t trip, pick up the pace, finish strong. And that is what I did.

RUN: 2:13:44

TOTAL RACE TIME: 6:29:44

I’m so freaking proud of myself, honestly. A good attitude when completely exhausted, PERFECT nutrition, strong legs, and a good attitude. That’s what it took to get this race done. I love this race. I loved the course, the amazing volunteers, and my friends along the way. It was a good day, a very good day.

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My sister Sherpa and me!

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Endurance Trifecta Race 1, COMPLETE. Next up, New York City Marathon on November 3rd.

I had to add this picture. I had NO idea there was a smiley face under my age until I got back to my sister’s house, AFTER the run. Thanks, Erin!!!!!

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My smiley face

Categories: anything is possible, follow your dreams, half iron distance, ironman, ironman florida, marathon, marathon training, no fear, open water swimming, running, training for half iron distance, training for triathlon, triathlon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

If I Had Some Liquid Paper…or something like that

Does Liquid Paper even exist anymore? After my last blog and mostly due to the last sentence of it, I caught some heat over being too hard on myself. I was actually told to CHANGE THAT LAST SENTENCE. You know who you are. So here goes:

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I’m removing the last sentence of my last blog.

“You always learn something when you race. Yeah, I learned how not to be a dumbass.” This is now stricken from the last blog, and by stricken, I mean I’m striking it here in this one. The thing is, I don’t think I’m a dumbass. I actually consider myself to be quite intelligent. Intelligent people can do dumbass things. Teenage years and early twenties are a prime example of smart people doing dumb things. I didn’t dwell on it (for once) like I normally do. I made a critical error, and by realizing the error, it made me feel better. While part of me wanted to do this:

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I knew I had to do this:

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The way I see it is that it had to happen. I had to learn my lesson from this huge mistake. The lesson was learned, however dumbass it was, and I moved on. I have regrouped. So here’s the deal, I’m fixing my ponytail, and I’m trying again. As much as I wanted to quit for that five minutes, I don’t want to give up. Ever.

By the way, congrats to everyone who made it through the great “snowmageddon” out there. It was a doozy, even here in coastal North Carolina. Everyone rushed outside at the same time to take a picture or video of the two snowflakes that fell, so it created a rush of warm air that in fact, melted the snowflakes they were trying to photograph.

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This is what happens in the south, but for reals, the roads are scary as SH%$ when it snows here.

We survived. 🙂

Anyway, because I shifted my goals, I had to shift my races. I was supposed to do a fun 50k on Saturday, but it is now a 5 miler. Instead of doing whatever I wanted the next few months, I will be running, doing speed work, tempo, strength, PRACTICING HYDRATING, all in prep for my 10th marathon in March. Yes, I am trying this BQ thing again on March 20th. Who knows what will happen, but the thing is, I won’t know if I don’t try. And I feel good, have had a strong training cycle, and I got coach’s permission to keep going. So I’m regrouping, recovering the last few weeks, and next week, I’m back at it. Wrightsville Beach Marathon, you totaled me last year (probably because I didn’t drink enough), but I’m coming for you!

In the meantime, my Epic Running Company youth running groups have opened registration and I’m studying for the AFAA Personal Trainer Certification. And for someone who has a Business Finance degree and not a Biology degree? Yeah.

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The tensor fasciae latae what?

So anyway, I’ve been keeping busy, having a good few weeks break, but I’m ready to get back at it. All with a good attitude and understanding that I am not a dumbass. 😉

Let’s hear it – have you made any HUGE multiple mistakes in your races? Did you finally learn from them?

Categories: Boston Marathon, coaching, follow your dreams, marathon, marathon training, qualifying for boston marathon, quintiles wrightsville beach marathon, running, training for marathon, Uncategorized, wrightsville beach marathon | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Hells Belles Do B2B

Yesterday, I ran 1/2 marathon as a part of the Hells Belles relay team in the Beach 2 Battleship 1/2 iron distance race.  It was amazing beyond belief.  Because there were so many facets to yesterday, it’s hard to even know where to start, so I’ll just start at the beginning.

First thing Friday morning, I had a nice 30 minute shake-out run while my swimmer, Randee, tried out her wetsuit and unexpected cold temps.  While I was THRILLED at  the colder air, she was facing swimming in an environment she wasn’t used to, which isn’t something you usually want to do on race day.  Let’s say she wasn’t thrilled about the temps.  The B2B expo was next.  We picked up our packets, went to the mandatory meeting and walked around the expo.  I ended up buying an outfit I can wear swimming and in triathlons.  If I wasn’t already planning to do the B2B 1/2 next year, there’s no way I could come out of that expo NOT wanting to do one, that’s for sure.  I was humbled by the people there and what they were preparing to put themselves through.  Me, I was “just” running a 1/2 marathon!!

We were ready to go.

We were ready to go.

I ate the same sort of foods I would in preparation for a full marathon, just not as much.  The issue was that my stomach was being a little grumpy.  It’s not normal for me to feel like that before races, and I’ve done plenty of them, so I knew something else was going on and that I needed to be extra careful.  I had dinner with my teammate, Wendy, and we were both tired but really excited for the events Saturday.  After I got home from eating, I got all my race stuff together, set my alarm, said goodnight to my family, and went to sleep.  Well, I did after the stupid song I had in my head all day left my brain.  I was teasing my son by singing and acting along to the song “Hold On” by Wilson Phillips like the friends do in the movie Bridesmaids, so it circled for a while.  Annoying.

I got up pretty early to the text, “Wakey wakey” from Randee.  I silenced my phone and went back to sleep for another hour.  When I did get up at 6:30, I knew I was in for it.  My stomach was pissed.  I’ve never had a GI problem during a race, and I certainly didn’t want to make this the first time, so I stayed home and just followed my eating plan. It’s a good thing I didn’t have an early morning race, that’s for sure.  Why am I including this little “TMI” segment?  Well, because this is a blog about running and runners talk about stuff like this.

I was pacing when the race started for Randee.  I waited and waited and then tried to track her progress.  Nothing.  What happened?  Where is she? WHAT IS GOING ON?????  I found the live cam from the swim finish and watched and watched for her.  Then it quit streaming.  I waited a little longer and texted her husband to see if she was done.  She was.  Wendy, our biker, was on her way to me.  I had three hours to get ready to run.  Butterflies!!

We didn’t know exactly where we were going for the exchange point and we didn’t know what the traffic/parking situation would be like, so we headed to downtown Wilmington early.  I’d much rather be there early than to be scrambling around and late.  Thankfully, my stomach settled down, and I had a feeling I needed to eat more.  I kept my coach’s words in my head, “Be sure to eat enough so you won’t want to eat other runners, but not enough that you’ll shit yourself”.  Good advice, Kristen, good advice.  My go-to pre-race meal emerged a few years ago before a marathon, so we stopped at Burger King and I picked up a double hamburger, of all things.  But when you find something that works, you do it if it feels right.    We got there in plenty of time, had no trouble parking right by transition 2, and found our way to the relay transition point.  Randee showed up after showering up after her swim, and we saw some fellow teammates from our mutual training group, Without Limits.  We cheered, we waited, and at the time that would have been Wendy’s best finish time, I got ready to go.

Me watching the bikers as they came into transition.

Me watching the bikers as they came into transition.

I waited in the transition area for about 30 minutes.  Five minutes before that, I got butterflies.  I got nerves.  I thought, “Wow, I don’t feel like I’m going to run 13.1 miles in just a few minutes.”  Maybe it was because my mind was ready.  Maybe because I didn’t have a huge amount of pressure on me – my only goal was to finish in under 2 hours.  I don’t know what it was, but when Wendy came into view, I was ready to go.

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I yelled, “STELLLAAAAAA!!!”

 I gave Wendy a hug, got the timing chip around my ankle, started my watch, and took off.  Boy, did I feel good.  I didn’t look at my watch for a little bit, and when I did, I was shocked to find out that I was going at about a 7:30 minute mile.  I knew I’d crash pretty quickly if I kept that pace up, so I slowed down.  But I felt soooo goooood!!!  My pace was even, my steps were quick, and my breathing was slow and steady.  I slowed up to an 8:15 minute mile, which was 45 seconds a mile faster than my plan.  I honestly tried to slow down.  I really did.  I knew that I could end up crashing.  But I wanted to go for my best time, because I knew “that” feeling, that wonderful “this is awesome” feeling, and I was having it right then.  I also didn’t want to derail at mile 6, so I had to be smart about it.  I knew I would end up feeling uncomfortable, and I knew I was comfortable with being uncomfortable.  It was time to act like a runner.

After being out of speed work, hill work, and tempo running for a full month because of my severe shin splints and calf tightness, I was expecting my leg to start hurting.  Yes, I felt some discomfort, slight pain, and I shoved it aside.  I was elated to be running to my potential without pain, the first time in a very long time.  Finally!!  In a race too!! The crowds along the first two or so miles were amazing.  There was music, there were Without Limits people yelling at their teammates, there were strangers yelling, “You’re looking strong, keep it up!” and “Go Hells Belles!!!”.  I was running my first big race without my iPod, so I didn’t know what to expect after the crowds thinned out and I was alone.

About a mile into the race.

About a mile into the race.

The course was out and back, so I was able to see runners as they were on their way back towards the finish.  So inspiring!!!  I kept passing runners and honestly, I felt bad since I knew they were the ones who had swam 1.2 miles and biked 56 miles already.  I had an “R” on my calf, so at least I knew they could see that, know I was part of a relay team, and know why I had so much energy.  My pace stayed steady between 8:10 and 8:20.  At about mile 6, I noticed that my watch stopped beeping when I passed the mile marker.  Hmmmm.  I’ve run in races where my watch shows I’ve run less distance, but not a course with such tight corners and basically no margin of error.  Did they measure the course wrong?  The first time, my watch showed I was .10 miles off.  Then it was .2 miles off at the next mile marker, then .3 miles.  I thought that it would be pretty crappy to be a marathon runner and find out the course is measured incorrectly.  But other than that, I was floored at how much I DIDN’T miss my iPod.  Sure, it would’ve been nice, because the course was quiet.  Besides the water stations and beginning/end, it was extremely quiet.  But I didn’t care.  I listened to my breathing, I listened to my steps, I heard the rustling leaves, I heard other runners.  I was in my own world, my zone, my happy place, my happy pace.

The miles ticked down, and I got closer to the finish.  My lips were dry.  I was getting tired, breathing harder.  My coach saw me along in there somewhere and yelled, “KELLI YOU’RE AWESOME!!!”  I kept at it.  I repeated to myself, “You are uncomfortable.  Get over it.”  I wanted my chapstick.  Three miles to go, two miles to go…. crowds were starting to form again.  I was close.  I heard the music, the crowds thickened, the atmosphere….awesome.

I was exhilarated while also trying not to trip on the uneven bricks.  Tricky when you're tired.

I was exhilarated while also trying not to trip on the uneven bricks. Tricky when you’re tired. And no, I didn’t hold my arms up the entire race.

I tried as hard as I could to finish strong.  I saw the finish line.  Wow.  I know I hadn’t done the entire 1/2 iron distance, but really, any finish line is emotional.  I found my two teammates, who joined me so we could finish together.

The Hells Belles

The Hells Belles

Once we crossed the finish line, I stopped my watch.  Holy shit.  1:44:08.  An unofficial PR by 7 seconds.  Granted, my watch showed less than 13 miles, but I had to give that up to the Garmin gods.  I did it.  I had an absolutely amazing race.  Randee swam it.  Wendy biked it. I ran it.  PR or not, official or unofficial, I ran my best race, it felt AWESOME, and I had fun.  I couldn’t ask for more than that.

Me, Wendy, and Randee

Me, Wendy, and Randee

After the race, we collected our awesome medals, pajama pants, and food.  My husband (Sherpa) and I sat down and had a beer while listening to the post-race music, then headed to our favorite hangout to watch runners go by and hang with the other Belles.

I appreciate the lady taking this picture of us since if I'd taken it myself, it'd be of my hand.

I appreciate the lady taking this picture of us since if I’d taken it myself, it’d be of my hand.

I’m intimidated by completing a 1/2 iron distance next year, which is exactly the reason that I plan to sign up and do it.  Two huge boxes checked off a life goal list in 2014?? Boston Marathon in April, check.  B2B in October, check.  Heck yeah, why not??!!

How can I describe yesterday?  Awesome? Amazing? Inspiring? Yes, yes, and yes.  And as I watched the full iron distance runners continuing to run after being at it for over 10 hours at that point, I thought, “Well, maybe that’ll be me some day.”  And today, as I think about it, I know it will be.

A runner finishing their first half of the marathon in the full iron distance.  Can you say INSPIRE?

A runner finishing their first half of the marathon in the full iron distance. Can you say INSPIRE?

Categories: Boston Marathon, half iron distance, iron distance, marathon, open water swimming, running, swimming, training for marathon, triathlon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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