Posts Tagged With: follow your dreams

Off to Nashville to RnR

Although I’m not technically off the grid, but I’ve had a lot of stuff (do you like my descriptiveness right there?) going on lately so am off the WordPress grid I guess. I don’t want to be all like “I have a big announcement”, but I have some really big and good news to share, but I’m not quite ready to share it yet. It’s taken up a lot of my time and Three Buck Chuck money, but I’m so excited and am impatiently waiting for the right time to talk about it.

The “big announcement” work is being paired with, but not really associated with, a big event I’m coordinating at my son’s school for the Stride (elementary running group I coach) community service project that seemed to have taken on a life of its own. To make a long story short, here’s the gist:

1) UNC-W decided to shut down their running programs but gave the community a few months to dig up $250,000 to save it for a year. Crap.

2) I do not like #1. At all. And I wanted to do something about it. Because it’s crap.

NO! Do NOT eliminate running programs!!!!

NO! Do NOT eliminate running programs!!!!

3) I wanted the Stride kids to know that they are empowered and they CAN make a difference to someone by taking action. Sometimes when you don’t know what to do, you can always run.  And sometimes people give you money to run. Because we give a crap.

4) We are having a school running event to raise money and awareness about #1. Not just the Stride boys, not just Stride and Girls on the Run, no, the entire student body was invited to participate to raise money for our event, complete with an MC, the athletes and coaches from the affected programs, and possibly the school mascot himself, Sammie the Seahawk.  We will even be discussed in the local paper in a story about ways the community is coming together to save the running teams. Because cutting them is a bunch of crap.

5) It takes a lot to coordinate the above, especially when you are not a part of the school staff and you really have no idea how many people will be participating. No crap.

So many emails, phone calls, newsletters, and Costco trips to handle, but I’m loving it. Our event will be on May 4th and I’m hoping the kids have a great time, raise a lot of money, and inspire someone to give the remainder of the funds required. Ok, the last one is a pipe dream, but if you don’t ever dream it, chances are, it won’t happen, right?

And if any of you reader is so inspired to donate any amount, please comment with your email and I will be glad you send you the info. K? K. It’s tax deductible, too. Bonus.

Now that THAT is done, my IM training has been going really well. I feel like I’m sort of spinning my wheels a little (pun totally intended) since I don’t have a schedule of workouts to do, I just do what I can on the days that it works for me. Since swimming is my weakest event, I’ve gotten in the pool and swam 2000 yards twice in the past two weeks, which is almost half the distance in the IM event. I think it was a good sign that I was thinking of food instead of form during the swim.  I have many months to grow that distance, and open water season starts next week. I’m seriously ready to tackle the waterway, the ocean, and all the swimming I can in any condition. Well, maybe not the “bacteria warning” days. Speaking of crap….

Trails at Poplar Grove Plantation.

Trails at Poplar Grove Plantation.

I had a nice 51 mile bike ride followed by a 5 mile run on Sunday. There were only two sub-20 mph bikers so at least I met someone really cool out of the deal. I was one of the sub-20 mph bikers, by the way. It felt good on the bike, but I was lacking for nutrition on the run. I pushed myself and finished up faster than when I started, so I was happy for that AND for seeing the little bitty snake in my path on the run. I didn’t even scream.

You'd think the thing was 12 feet long and two feet tall the way I walked around it.

You’d think the thing was 12 feet long and two feet tall the way I walked around it.

I’ve been doing speed work and hills, so when I start back with my training group in June, I won’t get shin splints. My friend and I ran 800’s the other day, and it’s funny when you realize you’re faster than a few months ago. The first set of 800’s I did in January were at 3:30, and I pushed for those, and I was really super happy about it. Fast forward to this week, we ran them in 3:21, and I think we could’ve gone faster. Probably 5 seconds faster. That’s progress. I guess when you’re running mile repeats in 7:00 over the course of marathon training, your 800’s should be quite a bit faster, right?  Of course, my thought process turns toward the run in my Ironman. I dream of having a 4:00 race (the running part). I know that’s probably insane, but hey, why not make that a goal? That means I have a TON of biking to do and a TON of running to do. But it’s doable, and I want to make my way back to Boston. I already have my next race planned.

Nashville, here we come!!

Nashville, here we come!!

This weekend, I’m doing something that I’ve never done. I’m taking a trip with a bunch of ladies and we are going to par-tay this weekend in Nashville. I’m running* the Rock ‘n’ Roll half marathon on Saturday, which will be interesting since I’ve only done one run of any substantial distance since the marathon. Oh well, my friend is going to run with me, so it should be fun. I hope, anyway. We are celebrating the friendships and going out on the town in Nashville, a city I have never visited. I’m super excited and may come back with a truck load of stories to tell. Wish me luck on the race. We have an open water swim planned for Sunday, so hopefully the weather will cooperate for the race and swim. If not, I’m sure we’ll deal with it just fine. I really enjoy the RnR races and I’m sure this one will not disappoint!

Have you been on a ladies/gentlemen trip before? Do you like Rock ‘n’ Roll races?

*I am running the race but MY name will not show up in the results, if you know what I mean.

 

 

Categories: Boston Marathon, coaching, interval training, marathon, marathon training, open water swimming, qualifying for boston marathon, running, running buddies, swimming, training for triathlon, triathlon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

The Epic-est Year

Did anyone else get the January blahs last week? Sheesh. The sun disappeared, which really has a tendency to make me feel like a zombie and it sucked the will to write out of me. And my computer and WordPress haven’t been getting along so when I type, it is literally as slow as a manual typewriter, minus the White Out. Last week was weird. I felt like the aforementioned zombie, but I also felt pretty good. I turned the corner on that pesky self doubt thing, my workouts have been spot on, I had an energizing meeting with my coach-to-be, and I realized that I’m going to have a freaking awesome year.

Maybe it was my post-800 run when I thought about the year as a whole and I actually said, “Wow, it’s going to be the epic-est year!”. While I know that’s not a real word and I can’t win Words With Friends by fitting it onto a triple letter, triple word space, it’s my word of the year. I’ll tell ya why it’s gonna be the Epic-est.

But first, here’s the rundown on my workouts.

Monday was a post-17 mile easy run of 4 miles. It was raining that day, but it was one of those great rain runs. I was surprised at how good I felt after rocking out 17 miles at 8:42 pace the day before (the self-doubt day).

I was nervous Tuesday. I had 6 x 800’s at 3:40 maximum and a 400 recovery between. I was anxious. It was cold and windy. I headed to the track and ran a nice mile warm up. I was alone and sporting my new pair of hot friggin’ pink Adidas Boosts (Salt, they really do have a boost!!). I turned on my good playlist and started my first 800. Bam. Second 800. Bam. Then third. I was half done and I was averaging 3:33. What the hell was I so worried about??? Another “aw shucks” moment for me when I worried so much for no reason. Then came the last 800 and I ALWAYS try to knock out the last 400. Bam. 3:28. And I felt good, not depleted, not out of breath entirely. Sure, my hands were going a little tingly, but that’s the fastest I’ve gone in a while. It felt delicious. I ran a mile warm down to make the total workout 6.5 miles. I felt exhilarated and confident.

6th 800 time. So happy 'bout that right there.

6th 800 time. So happy ’bout that right there.

Because I had to switch up my workouts and shift my Saturday/Sunday running to Friday/Saturday, I planned to do a tempo run on Wednesday instead of Thursday. I ended up running with a new and awesome friend, Melissa, and didn’t do a tempo run. I was hesitant about having two really long runs back to back (actually three counting the week before the 17 miles) and then having two speed workouts back to back in between those long runs. It pretty much goes against everything “they” tell you to do, so I didn’t freak out. It was a good 6 mile run, especially because of running with someone else.

Thursday was to be my day off, but because I hadn’t gone to the pool yet and I committed myself to go swim at least once a week, I headed to the pool. I think I’m making maybe a teeny bit of progress, but I know there’s a long road of improvement ahead of me. I swam 1750.

I like my hair.

I like my hair.

On Friday, I had a 9 mile marathon pace run. I wasn’t sure how this was going to go, but I was hoping to average 8:30 if I could. I was happy to finish feeling well and calculate that I ran the 9 miles in 8:13 or better average. I can literally feel my training and see the progress in the workout data.  I almost freaked out when someone kept following me, but <sigh in relief> it was just my shadow. It’d been so long since I’d seen her, I forgot what she looked like.

Saturday’s run was 19 miles. And this was Meg’s Miles day, in honor of a runner who was killed by a drunk driver while on her morning run.  I was nervous because I know that when you get into miles like that, there’s going to be some discomfort. Aren’t we runners goofy? I also knew that I was lucky to be able to run.  I ended up meeting with someone new from the Wilmington Road Runners since we were at the same goal pace (9:00) and both had long runs and I’ve decided that I need to branch out and meet other runners. Running alone when your other friends can’t run or have different paces can be so… lonely.  Let’s say that the run wasn’t easy, but it was so nice to run with my new friend, Amanda. We chatted the entire time, which is a long time to talk to someone you’ve never really talked to before, so it was awesome. We saw one of the most beautiful sunrises ever, and I know I was mindful of Meg and felt very happy, no matter the miles or time or anything. I was alive and I was running.  When I was done with my 19, Amanda had another mile to go, so I stretched and drank my chocolate coconut water. Mmmm, good, I love that stuff. When Amanda was done, a bunch of Road Runners came out to cheer her on (how freaking awesome is THAT??), and we ended up chatting with a bunch of them for a LONG time. My stomach told me when it was time to go, and I swung by a friend’s house on my way home to pick up her tri bike to test out. My plan was to soak in the pool when I got home, but I was cold, could not warm up, so I didn’t think it would be a good idea to get myself even colder. I did miss the soak, but my long hot shower was pretty awesome. The rest of the day was spent doing yard work and chasing the kids around the yard and jumping on the trampoline on the couch. It was a good, tired feeling, that unique “I did a long run and feel like crap but I did a long run and I am awesome hear me roar”. Because I technically had two long runs in one week, I logged in just over 61 miles for the week. Roar!

Me and my new running buddy, the cool Amanda

Me and my new running buddy, the cool Amanda

So what about this year makes it the epic-est? Well, maybe because I believe it will be epic, so it can’t NOT be epic. Mind over matter, we create our own happiness, right? The day I decided it was going to be the epic-est year, my husband and I agreed. Epic. That’s our theme. We’re going to go big, go crazy (as much as two responsible parents can anyway), do what we want to do, be what we want to be. So what does that entail for me?

First, my husband is turning 40 in a few weeks. It’s going to be an epic time. He has no idea what I’ve planned for him, and I really HOPE he likes what I’ve planned, but I’m intending for his birthday to be unforgettable.

Then in March, I’m running the Quintiles Wrightsville Beach Marathon to try and qualify for Boston. I’m not going to get all self-doubty on you here, but I’m nervous about it, but then again, that’s ok to be nervous about it. It’s a big thing to try and do. I KNOW I can do it, and I just hope all the pieces come together that one day to make it happen. I’m going to have a great race and do my best, and that’s all I can do.

In April, it will be a first for me to take a trip with a bunch of girls. Many of them are going to run the RNR Half in Nashville, but I’ll be sitting by the sidelines cheering on the runners. We’re going to go out and have a great time in a city I’ve only heard about. Epic.

We are going to our 24th Dave Matthews Band show in May. Epic. Will we ever tire of our love for Dave? Nope, doubt it!

This summer, we are going to visit my parents in Branson, Missouri, where we will play on the lake, go to Silver Dollar City, zip line, and have as much fun as our pocketbooks and ab muscles can take. From there, we will head up to see our old friends in Iowa, ones we haven’t seen but once since moving away in 2011. The kids are so excited to see their first best friends and I know it’s just going to be a blast. Allthewhile, I will be training for IMFL. And I’m EXCITED about it!

My kids are going to be in different sports, doing things they love, and they are going to be epic. We’re going to do all sorts of fun things on our adventures too.

Coaching. I’m going to coach this spring, the Kids Run the Nation and Stride, and this fall, I’ll be coaching middle school Stride (or I may end up trying to start a track club through the school – haven’t decided and don’t know what’s possible yet). It’s going to be awesome!

This fall is going to be the epitome of the epic-est for me personally, since I’ll be taking on Ironman Florida. In fact, I’ve already had a dream about it, visualizing the beginning and the fact of just being there. While the dream I had cannot be considered a realistic visual (I assume we wont be starting from a house boat – maybe that was from seeing someone mention the Alcatraz tri and they start from a house boaty thing) I thought it was so cool that  my thoughts of IMFL have already manifested themselves into a dream. I will be working with a very positive and experienced coach who I know will lead me to IM success. There is no room to question my success. It WILL be epic. I’ll be training all summer, all fall, and it’s going to get nutty in here. I’m going to be tired, grumpy, and working my butt off, but it’s going to be a journey with a destination I would have never imagined.

On my short recovery run with the pup, Scarlett

On my short recovery run with the pup, Scarlett

Along the way, I know I’m going to be running, biking, and swimming with some amazing people. I’ve already branched out and met more amazing people just this week. I think my husband (check out his blog HERE) and I are going to team up and do the Beach 2 Battleship 140.6 relay. I mean, how epic is THAT?? For him to just say, “Ok, I’ll run the marathon for you.” That’s damn cool. He’s the best. I’m also trying to decide what other events to do in prep for IMFL. The possibilities are endless, but unfortunately, my pocketbook is not, so will have to decide what is the best for training and what will maximize our training dollar.

So anyway, my year is already shaping up to be damn epic and it’s only January. And yes, I know I used my entire year’s worth allotment of the word “epic” in this one post.

Any EPIC name suggestions for our B2B 140.6 relay team???

Categories: beach 2 battleship triathlon, being epic, Boston Marathon, follow your dreams, ironman florida, marathon, running, triathlon | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

2014: Looking Back Before Looking To 2015

2014 was pretty epic. I accomplished and experienced things that I never thought I would or could. I also failed. More than once. I surprised myself with both the successes and the failures. I had a LOT of fun. I met a LOT of people.  Since this is the time of year that we make our goals for the upcoming year, I felt it was important to FIRST look at what the past year held and remember what I learned from those experiences.

EPIC:

Um, heller….did anyone say, “BOSTON MARATHON”??? The mostest epic-est, awesomer-than-anything and favorite part of my year and running life altogether was being a part of the athlete field in the 2014 Boston Marathon. It took me many years to get there, and to realize that dream was the ultimate epic experience. This got the diamond crown.

I got the medal.

I got the medal.

EPIC BUT NOT AS EPIC AS BOSTON BECAUSE BOSTON IS PRETTY DAMN EPIC ON ITS OWN:

I was able to PR in both the 5k in January (21:13) and the half marathon in February (1:40:15) as a part of marathon training. I was pretty damn happy about those times, too.

I learned how to train my ass off.  During Boston training, I never missed a workout. Ok, I never missed a running workout. Zero. I missed one swimming workout the entire training cycle. ONE. I learned how to be devoted. I learned to not make excuses. I learned that in order to become the runner you want and know you can be, you have to work and work hard. I learned how to go the extra mile. I did that, and I’m really proud of the work I did. I know I was capable of running an amazing race in April, which is almost as good as actually running that amazing race.

Beach 2 Battleship 70.3 – 6:03      I learned about being a triathlete. I looked fear in the face, cuddled with it for a while, let it whisper sweet nothings into my ear, then kicked it’s ass out. I learned how to swim better than I did before, I learned how to open water swim, I learned how to ride my bike in between swimming and running, and I learned how to run after swimming and biking. It was epic. And I’m going to do it again.

Almost to the finish of my first tri, B2B 70.3.

Almost to the finish of my first tri, B2B 70.3. It looks like my knees are stuck together.

I had fun.  Running is really awesome. But it can become competitive for me, and the ability to “just run” a race diminished. So that’s why I decided to do an endurance triathlon. Well, I had one on my radar for a number of years, but I needed to do something different and NOT be competitive. It worked, and I had a total blast training for and competing in the 70.3.

Mott’s Channel Swim – I entered and completed an open water swim race. Pretty proud of that, mostly because I would have laughed until I peed myself had you told me two years ago I would do something like that.

After the Mott's Channel Swim, a 1.3 mile open water race.

After the Mott’s Channel Swim, a 1.3 mile open water race.

The 10×10 Challenge. Ten continuous miles for ten days in a row.  I learned that it’s definitely doable to complete this challenge in July, but not advisable. I can’t wait to do this challenge again. It was an epic feeling and quite the journey in itself. Try it, you just might learn something about yourself.

Post-Challenge

Post-Challenge

Coaching. I found that I really love coaching. I’m learning a lot about it, and I know that I want to keep doing it. Being at the 5k with those boys made me feel like a momma hen watching her chicks fly for the first time. It’s a really cool mix of pride, excitement, and nerves.

Here’s the video I made for my Stride boys.

FAILURES:

I hate to admit this, but there’s usually something good that comes from failure. I think we all know this, especially as athletes. I’ve had a lot of good things come from the hard work and dedication that I’ve put into my running and triathlon training and races. I’ve also had some pretty big fails. But with a little distance, I can see how the failures have done me good. Dammit.

I’ll start with the little one. I got a pretty big PR (4 minutes) in my half marathon in February. So you’d think it’s all good, right? No, I was pissed. I got a 1:40:15, but I could never see the success in THAT because I was too busy being pissed that I was only 15 seconds from getting a sub-1:40.  I wished I had pushed just a second or two faster, that I had put my head down and gunned it into the harsh wind that met us a mile or two from the finish that totally wiped me out. I wish this and I wish that. What I REALLY wish is that I could’ve forgotten about all that garbage and celebrated the huge success that I DID have. I ran a really good race, and I’m now really happy about it. But my finishing moment was ruined by me wishing I had something better. When you start getting that attitude, that nothing is good enough, it’s time to think about things. And that is what led me to decide for sure to do the triathlon. I KNEW that I wouldn’t be competitive with it. I KNEW I would have fun, that I COULD NOT get all ants-in-my-pants about times and stuff. I knew I needed to step out of the bubble, the one that says you’re never good or fast enough. That was stupid, and that race taught me to not be stupid.

So the next one… it was the epitome of good and bad. The Boston Marathon. Yes, I’ve talked a lot about this, but I think, after this, I’m done talking about part of it. I’ll wipe the bad part out of my memory like wiping the marker board clean.

Running Boston was so awesome, so overwhelming, but I had a big fail. I trained and trained and spent hundreds of dollars on a coach and getting there and all the hubbub that comes with seeing your dream marathon come to fruition. My parents came to see me, my sister and her husband came to see me, my husband and my two kids came to see me. I was ready for the race of my life. Oh, I got the race of my life all right. The race recap I wrote that day describes the race perfectly – It was the Best of Times, It was the Worse of Times. You can read it HERE. It really was the strangest combination of good and bad. The bad was something I didn’t see coming. I thought that it was possible for me to run out of strength because I pushed the race. I was worried about how warm it was too, but when racing, I never felt hot. I wasn’t sweaty. I went for my goal, and I was doing it. I was heading for a sub 3:40 and I only had a 10k to go. Part of my race mantra was “I can do anything for X amount of time”. I was counting down. I was doing it. In freakin’ Boston. That was the best of times.

I can’t remember the exact feelings, but around mile 20-21, I knew something was wrong. I knew I had to stop, regroup, and slow down. I knew my PR was shot, but I was having fun.

Heartbreak Hill area, having a brew with one of the college kids. Most of it spilled out the sides of my mouth, but still, this was fun.

Heartbreak Hill area, having a brew with one of the college kids. Most of it spilled out the sides of my mouth, but still, this was fun.

Then the bobble head feeling started. And the nausea. It all went downhill from there. I barely remember the last part of the race. I knew I had to stop several times so I wouldn’t throw up. And I didn’t truly understand what happened until I became the internet doctor later that night.

761540_1257_0011

Can you see the sarcasm on my face?

Where’s the lesson in this? How can my slowest marathon of seven teach me something? First of all, I’ve never tried harder to finish a race. I could NOT DNF. No. Hell no. So I put on my big girl tights and pulled out every bit of anything I had to finish that race. And it took me almost 5 hours to do it, 75 minutes extra minutes in just the last 5 miles. I had to put one foot in front of the other carefully and consciously. To sum it all up, I had salt depletion dehydration. How did I turn that frown upside down? I acquainted myself with Endurolytes. I thought that taking in salt was just an endurance triathlon thing. Honestly. But I talked to a lot of people, tried them myself, and learned that Endurolytes are pretty damn awesome. I used them throughout the summer, especially during the 10×10 Challenge. I used them during my triathlon. I used them with long runs. And if I learned one thing from the Boston Marathon, it was what salt depletion was and how serious it can be. Oh, and how to help prevent it. Sometimes I wish I didn’t have to learn so many lessons, especially the hard way.

WRAPPING IT UP

You can always learn something when you look back at your experiences. Whether you learn them right then or have some “delayed learning” like I did, chances are, some piece of information can be available to you at almost any given moment. It’s just up to you to grab it.  Where does this leave me as I look back over 2014?

I’m very proud of the work I did. I’m proud of the chances I took. I’m proud of the fact that I let myself learn things along the way. Sure, I have a tiny baby scar from feeling so horrible during one of the best races of my life, but I’ll go back. I’ll do it again, and I’ll get my moment of glory. Some day. I’ll be patient. I know I have things to work on too. Facing fears and not letting them take over. NOT taking the easy road (swimming only on calm days). Balancing life and athletics.

As I took towards 2015, I know that I’ve got a beast mode full of grit and determination that I have not fully used before. I also have a lot more patience than I used to. What EXACTLY does that mean for me in 2015? You’ll just have to wait and see! Plans post to be coming soon. 😉

Do you look back before you look forward?

Categories: 10x10 challenge, beach 2 battleship triathlon, Boston Marathon, coaching, half iron distance, learning from failure, marathon, open water swimming, running, running buddies, running challenge, running streak, running with friends, swimming, training for half iron distance, training for marathon, training for triathlon, triathlon | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

My Road to Boston – Part III

My road to Boston has been paved with blood, sweat, tears, blisters, lost toenails, surprises, physical therapy, wine, frustration, pain, happiness, sadness, fear, excitement, euphoria, but most importantly, FUN.  It has been a total blast. For the first time EVER, I really truly understand it’s more about the journey than the destination. Sure, the destination is friggin’ awesome, but the journey has made my life more interesting with more depth, and the trip next week more meaningful. From that moment I decided I wanted to try and qualify for the Boston Marathon, it’s been the center of my running. Arrows pointed toward that city constantly, and I’ve made more decisions based on that than I could have ever imagined. It took a long time, but I’m almost there.

boston-marathon-logo

It’s the end of the journey…. or is it just the beginning?

So back to my story…. Part 1 is HERE and Part 2 is HERE.  My plans were to run the Houston Marathon again in January since I enjoyed it and was already registered. I didn’t know when I signed up that I would be living 1000 miles away, but I figured I would go back and run it. I started training in August.  My plan was to try and re-qualify for Boston again by at least five minutes so I could “just” run Boston and really soak it in… oh, what’s the significance of the five minutes? Well, let’s just say that just because you qualify for Boston doesn’t mean you get to actually run it. And I was thisclose to not being able to run it.  Five minutes would give me a comfortable cushion so I wouldn’t have to worry (as much) at registration time next year.

Because of the increased interest in people qualifying for and running this year’s Boston Marathon and the fact that I had “only” qualified by 1:42, I knew it would be a close call if I actually got to be one of those lucky runners whose registrations was accepted.  I was able to submit my time (basically, apply for a position) on Monday, September 16th.  I had to wait until Wednesday, September 25th to find out if I actually got in. That was the LONGEST and most stressful few days ever. I even made list of things to do while waiting.  Read that hilarious post HERE. I don’t think I would’ve been so stressed had I not gotten a case of terrible shin splints.  I ignored the shin splints until it was excruciating to run, even a mile, and then went to physical therapy to try and fix. I was in such turmoil because I wanted to be in the position to re-qualify in Houston, especially if I wasn’t able to run in Boston.

Ten drama filled days later, I got “THE EMAIL” that told me I was accepted. I found out later that day I had only made the cut by four seconds. (Read the hot mess full story HERE – can you say DRAMA?)  I think about four seconds over a marathon and that’s a sip of water, a slurp of gu, and at the end of that particular marathon, I started channeling my grandmother .1 miles early and started to kick it like she always told me to (I was delirious and thought that marathons were 26.1 miles that day). Served me well, and had I not done that, this blog would be talking about something completely different today.

I ended up deferring the Houston marathon and just had to let it go so I could heal my shin splints. It was difficult and I still wonder what would have happened had I been able to run that race, but I know that it will be ok. I know that running Boston this year is an honor, it’s a dream come true. Will I re-qualify? Well, I won’t know til it’s over, but at this point, I’m just happy with the fact that I’ll be there. Of course I want a PR run that day, one week from today, and I’m trained and physically able to do so, but that’s not what this race is about. The Boston Marathon is about following your dreams, it’s about keeping with something, not giving up. It’s about running, the stories behind the runners, the crowds, everything that marathons stand for: endurance, perseverance, and for me, doing something that I truly love to do.

Looking back at all it’s taken for me to get there has made my trip to Boston more meaningful. I had forgotten some of the details, the pain, the drama, that it took to get to right where I am. It really has been about the journey before the journey. So what if the weather is hot? Rainy? So what if I run two minutes too slow? Really? I’ve already decided to let all that stuff go. I can’t let any negativity in, I won’t let anything ruin what I’ve spent almost five years trying to get to. I hope other Boston Marathon runners do the same. We are type A runners, we live on times and goals and breaking our goals and split seconds. But really, this experience is beyond anything I could have ever dreamed, and I’m not even there yet!!  A week from today, I’m running the Boston Marathon, and I’m going to have the time of my life.

 finish line

Categories: Boston Marathon, marathon, running, swimming, training for marathon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

10 Days ’til The Dream Comes True

I am not quite done with my “journey to Boston” posts and I promise I will have the last one polished up and posted on Monday.  Read Part One HERE, and Part Two HERE.  I really appreciate everyone’s words of support as I travel back in time and recall that bumpy road that got me to where I am today.  If you have ever dreamt of heading to the start line in Hopkinton or any race, I would simply say: Do it.  Go for your dreams. Don’t be afraid of failure. You never know until you try.  Don’t give up!

 

Don't give up.

Don’t give up.

And now a word from our sponsors: fatigue, muscle aches, and tiredness.  I’ve got a pretty sore shin that I’m really pampering right now too. I’ve put myself in a virtual bubble – hand sanitizer, washing with soap, holding my breath when someone near me coughs or sneezes, drinking my juice, not visiting my kids’ petri dish school this week. I’m being very careful.

I’m in taper time now. Officially as of today. It makes the shin issue less of an issue, thankfully, let’s just hope it can repair itself during this break from intensity.  I don’t get taper madness.  I don’t really understand it either.  I mean, I GET it, but I don’t get it.  I know what’s coming. I know this rest is all for the benefit.  I’m looking forward to walking normally on Sunday afternoons too. After months of training, I’m enjoying the little bit of time and rest.  And again, I know what’s coming!

I had a good 20 mile run on Sunday, or what I thought was 20 miles. If the pace on your Garmin is measuring slow, does that mean the distance is off too? I can’t quite figure that one out, but we were definitely going faster than what Garmie was telling us, so I assume we went farther than 20 miles. Bonus I guess? Not really because I. Am. Tired.  Tired. As. F**K.

This is me. This is me on running.

This is me. This is me on running.

It’s all worth it. I love it. I would still marry running. I’m glad I already have something to train for after this race is done as I know I’d probably go slap happy into a deep depression if I didn’t.  Call it the post-marathon blues, the what-the-hell-am-I-going-to-do-so-rested feeling.  This has been an amazing training cycle and as much as I’m ready to rest when it’s over, I will miss the challenge, the fun, the people I’ve met along the way, the part of the journey of what I’ve been dreaming about for years.  All I know for sure is that I’m going to absorb every moment of this experience. The years it’s taken to get to this point, the training the past few months, the planning, everything. I’m trying to remember how it feels, how all the blood, sweat, and tears has been worth THIS feeling, THESE moments. I mean, I am getting emails from the BAA. I still get giddy, I mean, they’re emailing ME.

So instead of staring at the wall going “buh buh buh”, I had better get my crap together and get some things done. The kids are out for spring break starting at 3:00 today, so this is IT for free time!!

A special good luck to One Year(ish) to Boston  and Running Wild in your marathons and everyone else who is racing this weekend!  YOU ARE STRONGER THAN YOU THINK!!!!!

 

Categories: Boston Marathon, marathon, running, training for marathon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

Going Back To Where It All Began

Wow! Last long run was Sunday!  6 miles Saturday and 20 on Sunday.  We are soooo close to the big day… less than two weeks! The closer I get to be able to run in the Boston Marathon, the more I’ve thought about the journey. It’s been a long one.  An amazing one. How it started, all the trials and tribulations since I decided I wanted to try this thing. The sweat.  The tears. The injuries. Everything.  It’s been a long process that didn’t just start 18 weeks ago with this training cycle.  The journey to Boston started on October 17, 2009, the day I ran the Lewis & Clark Marathon (my 3rd full and first after having two kids) in Sioux City, Iowa.

I didn’t qualify for Boston on a lark.  I have failed more than once. It’s been a deliberate thing. I’ve made two 1,000 mile moves with my family since then.  I’ve learned more than I could have ever hoped.  So this marathon has been a long journey for me that culminates in less than two weeks. Here’s how it started.

To train for the Sioux City Marathon, I ran here and there, and honestly, I don’t remember ever really following a plan. I knew I needed long runs and I didn’t know anything about speed work or tempo running at the time. Cross training? Meh. My goal was to finish.  I was thrilled when I crossed the finish line in 4:12.  After I celebrated and got cleaned up, I headed to my mom and dad’s house.  As I sat in their back yard drinking a celebratory Miller Lite, I remember wondering what it would take to qualify for the Boston Marathon.  I didn’t really know much about that race and what it takes to get in.  I found that it would take me running a 3:45 to qualify (the times have since been reduced by five minutes for that age group). Hmmmm….I was still in post-race euphoria, so I figured I could do about anything. Within a few hours, I set my sights on The Lincoln Marathon. May 2010. I was convinced I would qualify for the Boston Marathon.

That December, I started my 18 week Advanced plan from Hal Higdon. I read his books and I was hooked.  I joined the gym that had a 1/10th of a mile indoor track so I could safely train indoors in that cold Iowa winter. I trained five days a week. I ran at the track at 5:00 am. I ran 200 laps at the gym. I ran in the ice, snow, rain, sleet, in 12 degrees, and the 70 degree “heat”. I did what I needed to do to get ready for my race.  I got nasty shin splints a month before the race. I looked up what to do, I took time off, I iced, and I wore my compression sleeve. I was ready.

Before the first Lincoln race.

Before the first Lincoln race.

On that clear marathon day in May, I bonked at mile 6.  What went wrong? Well, nothing except nutrition. I ate carbs and carbs. I was hungry the night before and I just wanted a burger. No, that’s not what the books tell you to eat. So I ate my simple carbs. I ate my complex carbs. I ran my hardest… until mile 6 when I got “the feeling”. You know, the one where you just don’t have the energy to continue at the pace you’re going. I was devastated. It was a torturous decision to end at 13.1 when I was planning all along to come home celebrating my BQ, but I knew to continue would just add more punishment I didn’t need. I already had in my mind that I would try again as soon as possible, and I didn’t want to tire my body out more than it already was.  When I finished the 1/2 in the Cornhusker stadium, I cried. I thought about all that time spent training, the trip to Lincoln, the money, and then to have it end with a huge fail. I threw my medal down and left it. (Husband picked it up and it is now on my medal hanger, a constant reminder that you just have to learn from your mistakes.)

There was a camera at mile 26 so the spectators could see you approaching the stadium.

There was a camera at mile 13 & 26 so the spectators could see you approaching the stadium.

The finish line at the Lincoln Full and Half Marathon

The finish line at the Lincoln Full and Half Marathon

 

BQ Attempt 1: FAIL/EPIC FAIL

I learned a lot from that fail though. Listen to your body. If you are hungry, you’re hungry. What works for one person may not work for the next. I learned that I need a lot more protein than other runners do. I need a lot more food that I thought I would, in general when fueling for a race. I was determined to learn and try again.

That afternoon, with my tail tucked between my legs, I went home and told everyone what happened. I failed. I fu*&ed up. But I learned from it and moved on.  My next quest would be four short weeks later at the Stillwater Marathon (Minnesota) at the very end of May.

I continued my long runs, we made plans to go north to Stillwater, and there I was at my 2nd attempt at a BQ.

The Stillwater Marathon touted itself to be scenic. Well, there’s ONE scenic spot at the end, so I was disappointed in the course. The race itself, well, I started out great and got to the ten mile mark when I knew it was going to be another fail.  This time, however, it was one of those things that was out of my control: The Weather. Yes, it was a beautiful day…. for boating.  Or swimming. It. Was. Hot. I believe the temp got up to the 80’s so I have to say that this was one of the toughest marathons I’ve ever done. I hadn’t trained in heat, I do not like to run in heat, and it got me. Even the pacers were slowing down and the race crew was handing out bags of ice (they feel really good tucked in your bra). I finished in what is still my slowest time ever and over an hour past the time I would need for a Boston Qualification. 4:47:57.  Whew.

THIS was the scenic part but put a fork in me, I was DONE.

THIS was the scenic part but put a fork in me, I was DONE.

BQ Attempt 2: FAIL

I’m not sure if I really learned anything from that besides knowing I can push through some really difficult miles on black pavement in the middle of the Minnesota countryside.

I had to stop a take stock at that point.  Was I being stupid? Was I living a pipe dream? What this realistic for me? Was I wasting my time and the time I could be spending with my kids? I didn’t want to give up, so I set my sights on a “time trial” per se, the Des Moines 1/2 Marathon in October. If I could run that race at an 8 minute mile, I was going to keep trying to achieve that elusive Boston Marathon Qualification.

 

NEXT POST: Des Moines, Lincoln, and a move to Texas

 

 

Categories: Boston Marathon, marathon, running, training for marathon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

Running Boston

I’ve thought a lot recently about what I wanted this blog to be and the purpose of it in general.  Someone recently asked me the reason why I spend time thinking of things to write about and then take the time to make sure what I’m writing is how I feel and it comes across the right way.  I replied to him that if my writings make one person feel they can accomplish something and I have inspired another to try for a goal, then I have succeeded.  Recently I’ve felt that I needed to have a “big idea” each time I write, but when I started this blog, the morning before the 2013 Boston Marathon had even begun, I wanted to share my training, share my journey, and just write about what a normal 40-ish person does while doing new things. I’m not some crazy good athlete.  I’m not some nutrition guru.  I’m just a person who loves to run, who loves to compete, and wants to try new and exciting events.  I felt that other people could relate to me and could take one spark of the fire that burns within me to live this life to the fullest.  So far in my blogging journey, I’ve found such great support, so many other wonderful bloggers who feel like a sort of family, and I’ve really enjoyed it.  But I also feel that I’ve strayed from the original purpose of the blog, which was to share the ACTUAL feelings as I train for the Boston Marathon and all the adventures beyond.  The name does start with Running Boston, doesn’t it?

So this, dear friends and followers, is just the beginning of the original purpose of the blog.  It’s the good, the bad, the ugly of training for and competing in marathons, 5k’s, triathlons, trail races, endurance races, and all that inspires me.  I’m hoping it inspires you to go for your goals, to try something new, to follow your dreams.

This is pretty much all me.

This is pretty much all me.

Categories: Boston Marathon, marathon, running, swimming, training for marathon, triathlon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Rainy Day and a Dream

The Houston Marathon is on Sunday.  I would be tapering in preparation for this race right now if I hadn’t developed and then ignored my severe shin splints.  It still pisses me off, but I’m also thankful that I’ve had more time to learn swimming, to become stronger, just in a slower fashion.

In celebration of the anniversary of a race that changed my life, I thought I would share the recap I wrote after the marathon last year.  It is still so vivid to me, the very interesting revelation I made after the race was over, and I look back on this with such fondness.  It brings me to tears. Please enjoy, enjoy the way I made the huge discovery on the rainy day I ran my sixth marathon.

A RAINY DAY AND A DREAM – (originally posted January 2013 on a different blog)

I ran the Chevron Houston Marathon on Sunday. After training for six months and doing my pre-race taper and eating routines, I knew I was going to do whatever it took to run and complete the race in the best time I could.  I gathered my things the night before, and hoped the forecast for rain and wind was wrong.

It takes a lot to get ready for a race!

It takes a lot to get ready for a race!

Because of the cold, rainy, and especially windy conditions I woke up to, my hopes of a PR (any time under 3:56:30) or even better, a goal time of 3:45 fizzled.  (The time of 3:45 would prove to myself that I could qualify for Boston at the next Houston Marathon after I turned 40.)  I ended up hoping to finish the race altogether.  I was emotionally charged, nervous, and overwhelmed.

As we were driving towards downtown Houston at 4:30 am, it was raining and very windy with temps in the upper 40’s.  I was dreading the race. I was disappointed. I felt bad for the first time runners, the spectators, for my husband, and I was literally scared to know how hard it was going to be.  All the calm that I had felt coming into the race slowly seeped away as the anxiety crept in. I knew this race was going to be a huge test in mental strength.

You can see the rain coming down.

You can see the rain coming down.

I was supposed to be in my corral by 6:40 for the 7:00 am start. My group was just leaving the convention center at 6:30, and I needed a bathroom. It was raining, and I started to panic.  I HAD to go to the bathroom before we started. Where were the port-a-jons? Why was it raining? Was I going to make it into my corral before they closed it? Was I going to be totally soaked before the thing even started? Would I be able to finish it? Tears. My poor husband just told me that I would be fine, that I had plenty of time, that it would all be ok. He remained the calm in that storm of mine. As I entered the corral in plenty of time (people were streaming in until the race was starting so I really don’t know if they closed the gates to the corral at all), I found the LONG line to the bathrooms. It started pouring. I realized that it didn’t matter if the race started when I was in the bathroom because my time would start when I crossed the start line, not when the cannon went off. I would have rather started later than stop along the way.  Thankfully, I made it to the center of the pack for the start two short minutes before the race started, and five minutes after the cannon went off, I actually crossed the start line. Here I was, after six months of preparation, finally running my sixth marathon.

Let's get this thing started!

Let’s get this thing started!

Because it wasn’t too cold by temperature, but because of the rain, I decided to wear gloves, biker type shorts that wouldn’t slosh when wet, a tank top, a shedable shell waterproof, very light coat with tear-away sleeves that I bought at the expo, a long sleeve throwaway shirt, then a poncho. I was so thankful for the decisions I made regarding what to wear (especially the shedable shell), because it turned out to be perfect. After three or four miles, I was making good time while dodging puddles, and I completed the 5k in about 26 minutes.  I got pretty warm after that so I managed to take off the long sleeved shirt while keeping the poncho on since it was raining. Skills, baby, skills.  Haha!

As the mile markers went by, I noticed that my pace was steady and averaging around 8:25 minutes a mile, a miracle in my mind.  My breathing felt good, and my legs were strong.  One thing I read in the paper about the marathon kept ringing through my mind.  Ryan Hall, an elite marathon runner, said that rain should not be a factor in marathon performance. Wind is, not rain. That piece of advice kept me going, and I knew I had no excuse to give up or slow down simply because it was raining.  The good thing is that I didn’t feel the wind was as big as an issue as what I thought it would be, plus, the five or so miles going with the wind was a gift that I was very happy to unwrap, as my pace increased to about 8:10 minute miles. Once it stopped raining so hard and the darkness lifted, I saw so many wonderful, supportive spectators, a river of runners in front of and behind me, and I was running a race that I had been excited to run for months. I saw Superman running, I saw ponchos flowing as their owners ran mile after mile, I saw hundreds of articles of clothes abandoned on the side of the road, I saw plenty of people cut in front of me, I saw beer stands, and I cringed when I saw a man with a fanny pack flopping on his back. I loved the cheering people on their porches, the church members loudly celebrating us, the people hanging out of their cars to yell at us to keep going, the blue-lipped volunteers handing out Gatorade and water.

I honestly don’t remember when it stopped raining. Mile 7? Mile 10? I just don’t recall. That’s the beauty of being in “the zone” – I don’t remember a lot, including the pain!  I warmed up, threw my gloves onto the side of the road, and I ripped the sleeves off my jacket. I realized later that I should have kept my gloves, even though they were wet. My. Hands. Froze.

I was going to meet my husband between miles 15 and 16, and I really wanted to change into my dry shoes he had for me. While grabbing the cups of Gatorade before that, I realized that my arms and hands were so cold, I had no dexterity to tie my shoelaces if I changed into dry shoes.  I decided to save the minutes and kept going in wet shoes.

The miles flew by. I saw belly dancers, I saw more beer stands with people stopping for a cup, I avoided big puddles like the plague, and I saw downtown Houston on the horizon. I grabbed my necklace for strength for the second time at that point. It was my grandmother’s necklace, one that she wore every day, probably even when she taught my sister and I how to run around the shed in her back yard. I thought of my favorite Bible verse, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” I thought of my husband, my kids, my family, and I wanted to make them proud. I almost teared up when “The Fighter” came into my ears, and I knew I was running as best as I could. I did not want to hit THE WALL.  Then my right thigh and knee started to ache. When I passed mile 22, it started to hurt. With every step, it hurt. I regretted not taking more ibuprofen at mile 16 like I planned to, but it wasn’t bad enough to stop me.  I was still going as fast as I could go, but it was a little slower pace. I gritted my teeth and kept running.

It. Was. Windy.

It. Was. Windy.

As downtown got bigger and bigger, I knew I was headed for a PR, and I was as thrilled as a person surviving on adrenaline could be. I couldn’t comprehend much, but I knew I was doing well. I thought that it was amazing that I started a race with very low expectations of finishing at all, but ended up running the best race of my life.  I got mad (I don’t have an explanation for that, I was just mad) as I saw the “1.5 MILES TO GO”. I passed the 25.2 mark and threw my coat off so the photographers could see my race number. ½ mile to go. ¼ mile to go. Then I passed the 26 mile mark. Kick it. So I started going faster. I turned the corner, saw the people in the stands and along the sidelines, and I crossed the finish line with my arms up. 3 hours. 43 minutes. 18 seconds. I was done.

I'm near the left in a pink tank top.

I’m near the left in a pink tank top.

As I dodged the guy throwing up Gatorade at the finish line, and I made my way to the photo area, got my picture taken, and found my husband.  I was so happy, surprised, thrilled, cold, and exhausted. I met my goal time by 2 minutes and unfortunately missed qualifying for Boston by 3 minutes. I knew I couldn’t have gone 3 minutes faster, so I was very satisfied with my time, especially since the conditions were unfavorable.  I ran the race well, and that’s all I wanted in the first place.

race

The Dream

The runners were pointed inside the convention center and were met with chocolate milk, water, Gatorade, bananas, ice cream sandwiches, a hot breakfast, and fruit cups. Wow. It was nuts.  Houston does a marathon well, that’s for sure.  I didn’t know where to go first so I sort of wandered in circles and settled on picking up my bag so I could put my finisher shirt and mug in it. That one decision changed the course of my day.

I really can’t remember the details of how the conversation started with a fellow 39 year old runner. It could have started with me trying to bend down, lightly crying (I cry after marathons and this was a happy cry), moaning as my knees bent, and us sharing a “yeah, this hurts but we both know it’s worth it” glance. I know that I told him that I met my goal by a few minutes but missed Boston by only 3, and I would be back to tackle that goal next year after I turned 40. He said he qualified by just a few minutes and he was ecstatic.  He then told me that he was 39 too, but I was mistaken.  Qualification is based on the age you are AT the Boston Marathon, not the age you are when you run to qualify. I think there was some babbling in there somewhere, then I asked him if he was 100% sure to which he replied “YES, I AM 100% SURE”.  I shook his hand (I almost hugged him but we all smelled too bad for that) and he said, “Maybe I’ll see ya in Boston” and went on his way. I was stunned. I freaking qualified for the Boston Marathon. I think. I had tried two times before, only to find disappointment. Could this be true? Could I have done it on the day I least expected it?

I found a fellow Gotta Run runner and told him (I was crying so I figured I might as well tell him what my deal was) that I thought I qualified for Boston and he agreed about the rules. I texted my husband.  He texted me back and confirmed.  I put my face in my hands and really cried, like a BOO HOO cry. I swirled with disbelief, happiness, and feelings that I still can’t quite describe. Thankfulness? Pride? Confidence? It was and actually still is a combination of those feelings. I found my way to the reunion area and cried into my husband’s shoulder. Hey, I cry after marathons anyway, I realized a dream I had for several years, and my emotions were just fizzled out.   I hugged my parents and whispered that I qualified for Boston, and then cried a little more.  I told my Gotta Run coach, the one who kept telling me, “You got this”.  We celebrated our marathon finishes and kept getting updates on our fellow teammates. Everyone did it. We were all winners.

I went home truly truly happy with my marathon for the first time. I was so proud of all the other runners I knew, many of which were experiencing their first half or full marathon. I was very impressed with the Chevron Houston Marathon, and I look forward to running it in the future.

I followed a path to a dream, and I caught the rainbow. I think the best part about the entire race, including the Boston Qualification, is that I didn’t know. I didn’t put these boundaries and expectations on myself that morning. I did my best, and I knew I did my best, and I was happy with the result. The reward was that in itself. The BQ was the topping, the ultimate surprise, the gift that I honestly never knew I could or would be able to earn. I did it.   Who knew that rainy day would be the day my dream would come true?

IMG_8170

I’m so lucky to know the people from Gotta Run Katy. And thank you, Alain, for always believing in me.

Categories: Boston Marathon, marathon, running, training for marathon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 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.

IMG_1278

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

My New Pet

I have terrible shin splints so I’m not able to run.  It’s been several weeks since I’ve been able to run.  Oh wait, that’s only how it feels…. Actually, it’s been one full day.  It feels like twelve years.  An eon.  And I hate it.

I’ve been getting physical therapy for several weeks now, and I feel like we’re just now making progress. When I went to therapy last Wednesday, he centered in on the problem and I REALLY got up close and personal with myofascial release therapy. Oh boy did I. So when I went in today, I still had left over bruises from last week, so he was “easy on me”.  I was sort of looking forward to it because I know that it works and I know that I want to run.  Like now. Like yesterday.  I’m ready to go. But when he starts to put his needly fingers into my shin bone, I kinda want to kick him in the face. Accidentally of course.

I have to say that it was a little worse than last week, probably because it was slightly sore from last week, but it (the pain portion of the session) didn’t take as long. New bruises quickly emerged so I decided to give myself the Rorschach Test (you know, the Ink Blot Test) to see what I came up with.  Would it be a Boston “B”?  Would it be a race medal design? No.  It wasn’t.  Now we have a new cat in our house named BC Jones. What does BC Jones mean? It’s the name my son came up with, because BC = Bruise Cat and Jones is because Jones is cool.  **

Meet "Cat"

Meet “BC Jones”

 

I kind of like BC Jones. He won’t leave hair all over the place like my other cats do.  He won’t try and trip me when he can see the bottom of his food dish like my other cats do. He doesn’t require a litter box or vet visits.  He will slowly disappear and I will be able to run again.  Welcome to our house, BC Jones, but you are NOT welcome to stay!

 

** I wondered whether or not I should post a picture of a bruise. I mean, gross.  Then I thought about runners and I decided to hell with it. How many times have we whipped off our sock and said, “Hey, look at my missing toe nail!  Cool, huh?!”  or shown someone our swollen Achilles or puked at the end of a race or blown a snot rocket during a run? Yeah, bruises don’t matter.

Categories: Boston Marathon, marathon, training for marathon, triathlon | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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