Posts Tagged With: houston marathon

Houston Marathon Race Recap

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

8:10, 7:53

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

13.1 – 1:46:18, an 8:07 overall pace

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mile 23: 8:07

Mile 24: 8:13

Mile 25: 8:26

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

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

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

Then “1/4 mile to go”.

Mile 26: 8:02

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

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

Fuck. Yeah.

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

3:33:00 ; 8:08 overall pace

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

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

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

Houston Marathon – Pre-Race Recap

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Go Big Or Go Home

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

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

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Flat Kelli

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I Won’t Back Down

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Learnin’ To Fly

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

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

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FRA-GEEEE-LAY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

wings

Learnin’ to Fly

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

Being a Patient Patient

patience2

First of all, you are now reading the ramblings of a USATF Level I Certified Coach. I took the 200 question test on Monday, and 7 hours later, I pushed the “submit” button and received a 98% passing grade. I didn’t realize it was going to take so long and I wasn’t planning to take it until Tuesday, but I decided to just start on Monday. I figured I’d put a few hours in and go back to it the next day. Hour turned into hours, and honestly, I was afraid all my answers would have been erased had I logged out and that my computer would decide to reset itself and delete everything that night, so I just finished the darned thing. My head almost exploded all over the table.

I want to pole vault now.

I want to pole vault.

I learned A LOT, got A LOT of ideas, and am now crafting a plan to approach the USATF decision makers to see if what I want to do in my son’s middle school will be considered enough to be able to take Level II. You see, the requirements state that you have to have three years/seasons coaching experience for track and field and/or cross country. What my plan is, is to turn the current Stride program into a pre-high school track/cross country program since there is no middle school running program AT ALL. Eye roll and fists balled up.  I’m not sure if this fits their criteria, but I’m chomping at the bit to take Level II. I mean, I’ll seriously do whatever I need to do to get that experience so I can take Level II concentrating in Endurance.

Anyway, how was y’alls Thanksgiving? Besides being cold for three days in a row (me, not the outside temperatures) and having an….. uncomfortable “bed” to sleep on (if that’s what you want to call it, but raking up some leaves and sleeping on them would have been comparable), it was nice to catch up on my sleep, hang out with the family, watch the kids play with their cousins, and eat.

No running that morning.

No running that morning.

When we got up and until we left town on Wednesday, it was raining, so when we got to Charlotte, both my husband and I wanted to go run. Run? “Gee, Kelli, I thought you were not running right now because of your leg issues…” Well, I didn’t have any other option, and I can’t just NOT do anything, so I ran. And that run was perfect. If I could have canned that run and sold it, I would make millions. It was perfect. I felt like Flo Jo. I would have run a marathon that night and I probably would have qualified for the Olympic Trials. Ok, maybe not so much, but it was one of “those” runs.  Then the next day happened. Flip. Oh, it hurt. My leg hurt on impact. I got three miles in, and I had to call it quits. The best way I can describe my thoughts is WTF. And *($%#@. I wasn’t expecting to just be magically healed all of a sudden, but I wasn’t expecting THAT. So I was worried. And took the next day off.

Back at it on Saturday to burn off the mashed potatoes and mint oreos. Pain wasn’t too bad. Form felt better. Strides seemed more even than they had for several weeks before. Could my PT be working? Six miles Saturday, six miles Sunday. I could tell on Sunday that I had run Saturday, so I knew I had to just knock it off. We were heading home where I have alternative exercise options, so I decided to take TWO weeks off running. It’s literally like torture. All of a sudden, my house is on the Wilmington Road Runners Raceway. EVERYONE is running. Except me. And I hate all of them. Not really, I’m just jealous.

patience1

So what is a runner to do when she can’t run? She bikes. She bikes hard. I have several good workouts from tri training that I pulled out, one a 90 minute heart rate workout and one a 60 minute cadence workout. My legs feel good, strong, and really, they feel like I did my running workouts, which is exactly what I wanted.  Today, I’m off to the pool to reacquaint myself with the water. Once I do that, I’ll start working on drills and improvement, probably next week. I really do hate swimming. I mean I love the concept of it, but I hate actually doing it. I hate swallowing water when I try to breathe from the left side. I hate looking like a fish out of water. But I’m determined to work on it to meet my 2015 goals and to allow my leg to fully heal. I’m REALLY trying to be patient. REALLY. And it’s hard.

patience

I was supposed to be building up miles to the Houston Marathon. Instead, I cancelled my flight and deferred entry. I was supposed to be going for a sub-21 minute 5k next weekend, a PR I’ve been wanting since last winter. Instead, I’m going to have to sit by the sidelines with my camera so I don’t blow all the progress I hope I’ll make by then.

I’m going to be patient. It’s hard, I’m frustrated, very frustrated, but I’m going to be patient.  Meeting my goal will be worth it. I’ll look back and be glad that I had the patience to do the right thing at the right time. Maybe me saying the word “patient” over and over will allow it to absorb into my body and mind? Hey, whatever works, so patient patient patience.

In any case, assuming things get healed up, my goal marathon is the Wrightsville Beach Marathon in March. No travel and I’m already signed up, so this will be my last chance to BQ for the 2016 race. I’ll be busy doing other things next summer and fall to marathon train. More on that in my 2014 wrap-up in a few weeks.

I know I’ve written a lot about PATIENCE and the “woe is me” from having to give up this marathon AGAIN this year, but honestly, I am truly thankful. I’ve never lost sight on what I’ve been able to do, the fact that I’m healthy, strong, and loved. And as annoying as it is to NOT be able to do what I want to do, I know that I WILL some day. I’m good with that.

Categories: coaching, half iron distance, marathon, running, swimming, training for marathon, training for triathlon, triathlon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Turning A Bad Situation Into An Adventure, Plus Clarity

The last time I wrote, I was in the Atlanta airport trying to waste time until my flight to Charlotte, oblivious to the adventure I was about to have. I decided to head to the gate and hang out, thankfully finding the bathroom and gift shop right next to the gate. Bonus. I wouldn’t have to leave until I was on the plane. Those little things, you know.

I was so tired from not sleeping much, and as much as I wanted to, I couldn’t doze. I’ve never been able to do that, but I sure wanted to. I read some from my magazines, made a few lists, and mostly played games on my phone. I listened to a family several gates down have THE BEST time playing charades or gestures as loud as they possibly could (I had a gesture for them that I kept to myself). Time quickly passed (mostly after The Charade Family got on their flight), and soon, it was time to board. But the plane wasn’t there yet. I only had an hour in Charlotte until my next flight and since it was the last flight into Wilmington, I REALLY needed to get to Charlotte. Finally, the plane got in and started unloading. A hundred years later, it was time for all of us to board. The pilot said it would only take us 40 minutes to get to Charlotte, so it looked like I would have time to make my connection, barring any other issues.

Then the other issues started. As we were going down the tarmac, it sounded like someone was taking a hacksaw to the plane’s legs. I figured if this was an issue, the flight attendants would say something, right? No one said anything, and all I imagined was us landing in Charlotte only to have the legs collapse and we would all die a fiery death. Remember, I did say I was afraid to fly. And when I face fear, I normally exaggerate things. Especially when tired. The plane was just fine.

Then it stopped stopped and the dingy dongy thing came on and the pilot said, “Well, folks….”, which is never a good sign. Ever. Turns out, those storms I was watching were now over Charlotte, and the airport was shut down. We would have to wait 45 minutes for the next update.

Bad weather pretty much everywhere I needed to be.

Bad weather pretty much everywhere I needed to be.

I figured that if my plane was delayed, my connector plane would be delayed, plus, what the hell am I gonna do from there, so I just relaxed and closed my eyes. I was too tired to read and was bored of my games. About 30 minutes after that, Mr. Pilot came back on and said we were still delayed and would have to wait an additional 20 minutes for the update. They started serving drinks (water and juice only) and people went about their business. I imagined us being stuck there for hours and hours like those horror stories, toilets overflowing, screaming children, people going insane…..

Soon, Pilot Guy came back, said we were to leave, and we were on our way. I texted hubby the good news, and was just hoping to make my connection. We were soon in Charlotte. Thank GOD, because it was one of the most annoying flights I’ve been on. One guy smelled like moth balls, one guy had his game so loud, all I could hear was what I figured was Call of Duty (who wants to hear war-like action when flying??? I sure do NOT.), one lady was on her laptop and it looked like all she was doing was highlighting things over and over and then not actually doing anything with them, the people behind me kept grabbing the top of my seat so it was shaking me. I was annoyed the guy next to me never said one word to me. It felt like we went into a holding pattern above Charlotte, so I figured we would get in late. Finally, after I about drove myself insane, I put my earphones in and listened to some good old Dave Matthews Band to calm the heck down. Breathe.

We finally made it to the gate in Charlotte after what felt like the pilot, upon landing, was doing what Nascar drivers do before the race, you know, taking the wheel back and forth to “warm up” the tires. THAT’S what it felt like once we hit the ground. Breathe.

I found the gate for my departing flight and saw it was delayed enough to where I could run the hundred billion miles there to make the connection. At least I got in some cardio, right? I made it to the gate, had time to pee, and then it was time to board. Whew!

THE BAD SITUATION PART

We all boarded and headed out. “Ding Dong”. “Uh, folks, Wilmington is under severe storms…blah blah…can’t handle the weather AND planes… flight is cancelled.” Um, what?

shins3

We are all in the plane, and you cancel the flight? Can’t you just wait 15 minutes for it to blow over and we can be on our way? Holy hell, what am I going to do now? DELTA got their flights in that were coming in at the same time, why can’t YOU, stupid USAirways????? *&$^%&*

THE ADVENTURE PART

We all de-boarded, which is a first for me, and walked towards the customer service line, which was long when I ran past it on the way to my now-cancelled flight. The line was looooonnnng, even after they added more agents.

Stupid long ass line.

Stupid long ass line.

We were all given vouchers for a discounted rate for a hotel, and sent on our merry way. This cancelling a flight thing was new to me, and I honestly didn’t realize that when they cancel a flight, there is no “make-up” flight. You just have to absorb into the other flights that were overbooked. As the people around me muttered to each other, we were realizing that the few seats available in the morning were quickly being taken by the people in front of us and on the phone. In just a few minutes since the flight was cancelled, the earliest available flight out of Charlotte was mid/late afternoon. REALLY? (Within an hour, it was 6:30 pm)  It was close to 11:45 pm at this point. We were all tired. One guy looked like his head was going to explode. I don’t remember exactly how this came about, but the lady standing next to me in line, Barbara, and I decided to rent a car and drive to Charlotte. It was a 4 hour drive, and we didn’t want to wait another day to see if we could get home. Barbara had talked to another girl, Sachi, and we three took off to the rental car area.

We ended up getting a one-way car rental (can you say RIPOFF?!) and decided to go ahead and drive home without spending the money on a hotel.  $320 later, we found ourselves in the Avis lot getting into a nice Ford Mustang.

Niiice car.

Niiice car.

We made one stop to get some sugar energy and of course, had to get a picture. What a crew.

 

Barbara, Sachi, and Me

Barbara, Sachi, and Me

I drove for a while, even after being so exhausted, and when the speed limit turned to 70 about 90 minutes later, I didn’t feel like I could actually drive at 70 without putting us at risk. I pulled off at an exit, peed in the grass, and Barbara took over until we got to Wilmington.

What do you do when you’re driving with strangers and need to keep each other awake? You talk. You get to know one another. So that’s what we did. Sachi is from California visiting her parents who just moved from the Midwest. Barbara lives basically across the road from me and was on her way home from a conference. She has a very interesting career so we talked a lot about that. Check out her website here, especially if you like diving. Or history. Or fish. Or travel vacations. Very cool. We talked and gabbed and I found it very interesting how you can turn from strangers to almost friends. We are all so different and came together with one goal: getting to Wilmington. We all have very different lives, but I found the two ladies very interesting, have cool jobs, very friendly, and I felt lucky in chance to be standing in line by them. Those small chances made the night different than had I been standing in line next to grumpy mad guy or anyone else.

Drop offs were linear, thank goodness, and since the car was rented in my name, I pulled it into my driveway close to 4:45 am. The same time I’d be getting up for my track workout. I hugged my husband, went in to kiss and hug my kids, and I fell into a fast sleep until my son scared the SHIT out of me giving me a hug before he went to school. I woke up around 9:30, went about my business, returned the car (which is when I realized that I had ZERO patience and needed to just not do anything for the rest of the day), and sat on the couch until my kids got home from school. My mind was mush, for the most part. I texted Barbara and we decided to get together some Sunday for NFL. You just never know where a friendship can begin, can you? Sachi has a busy weekend with family but I figured I’d touch base with her next week.

I LOVED driving this car.

I LOVED driving this car.

THE CLARITY PART

During all of this, I’ve had a LOT of time to think. I have been pushing myself to make it to the Houston Marathon. My goal is to re-qualify for Boston so I can have my re-do. My leg hasn’t healed and from the little bit of walking I did between classes and the run I had Friday, it wasn’t healing well enough for me to do speed work and REALLY make the efforts to crush the race, which is something I know I can do. I’ve been getting physical therapy and we haven’t 100% nailed down why my leg keeps getting hurt. Why is it always the left side? Every time it feels better, I attack training without truly considering the repercussions or if it’s actually healed or just rested.

This is me every time my leg starts to feel better.

This is me every time my leg starts to feel better.

I remember sitting on the plane, thinking about making myself run 14 miles the next day, and I said, “Why am I doing this?” Why am I being so stupid? It IS pretty stupid.  Why would I short-change my physical health to half-ass train for a marathon? Because I have a ticket? Because I want to see my friends? Because I’ve signed up twice and not done the race? Because I want to prove it to myself that I CAN but I really CAN’T train right so just do it anyway? Because I WANT it so badly? Yes, I think that’s what it is. I want this so badly, I need it for myself, and I love doing it. But at what expense?

Suddenly, as I sat on one of those planes, I realized that I needed to stop. I realized that I wasn’t doing the right thing, that my leg wasn’t getting better, and I needed to fix it before I could move on and train the RIGHT way. And as hard as this is for me, I know that it’s what I should do. I know that I tried, it didn’t work, so I need to re-group, fix it, and then go. I have HUGE goals for 2015. HUGE. And I must go into the year healthy, happy, and ready to train. Not 2 for 3, but all 3 for 3. So that’s what I’m going to do. And by the way, this doesn’t mean I don’t have other goals in mind. Oh, we are all like that, right? Can’t do one goal, so what’s the next? Yup, it’s there, but I need to get through this injury thing before I can go full force ahead.

Clarity. It’s a good thing to have.

 

 

Categories: coaching, marathon, running, running with friends, training for marathon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Time To Rock ‘N’ Roll!!

For eighteen weeks, my husband, Andy, has been training for his first marathon using the Hal Higdon intermediate training plan. I think training has gone very well for him, minus a little calf glitch in there a few weeks ago that seems to be fine now. I’ve been able to see training from the flipside, and it’s been fun for me. Not as in a “haha, it’s funny watching you sweat” kind of fun, it’s just been fun to see him do something that I truly love to do. He “gets” things more than he did before, like how tired you can be, how hungry you can be, what taper madness is, what pre-race nerves are like, all the aches and pains, chafing, carb loading, and wow, about a billion more things. He’s met running friends, he’s not slept in on a weekend (except for this past Sunday) for months, and I think he’s had a lot of fun. You’ll have to check HIS blog out that he started during this adventure, called Salt Life & Clemson. He talks about life, being a dad, husband to a crazy wife, a Clemson fan, a Red Sox fan, and of course, running. Check it out!

Savannah, here we come!

Savannah, here we come!

So on Thursday, we are going to pack up the Ford and head south. His race is Saturday and honestly, I’m nervous!!! I’ve never been a Sherpa for anyone, and because he is the BEST Sherpa in the continental US and probably the entire world, I don’t want to fail him.  I’ll have two mini-Sherpas with me, which always adds an element of, um, entertainment, but it is extremely important to us all that they see their dad cross that finish line. The hay is in the barn for hubby, so getting packed and carb loaded is all we can do now. Wish him luck!! All I can say is that I’m so proud of him for all the hard work he’s put into this!

As for me, I’ve had a roller coaster of a week. On Monday, I felt like I could conquer the world in a single bound. Today, I feel like I couldn’t finish a 5k if my life depended on it. What’s up with that?? Maybe it’s coming off a big race. Maybe it’s because I didn’t sleep much last night. I am worried that my shin splints have migrated into my calf, so at this point, I don’t even know if I will be able to train for my marathon in January. It’s all I’ve been thinking about since Boston, so it’s been emotional to try and think about an injury and the possibility I may have to pull the plug on my big race. I don’t understand what is going on, but after my run tomorrow, if my gait feels “off”, I’m going to make an appointment with a physical therapist who can assess my stride and see if there’s something firing wrong in there somewhere. I think I’m ok with whatever happens, there’s local marathons, but I already spent the money on a plane ticket to Houston and don’t want to go all that way to run a half marathon or not at all. How will this all play out? I’m guessing I’ll have some sort of answer by the end of next week. Can’t I just skip the pages and get there already???!!!!  Ahh, I remember now, it’s all about the journey! In the meantime, I’m going to have a BLAST with my family in Savannah and watch my husband finish his marathon.

What about YOU? Have you any Sherpa tips for me? Been to Savannah to run?

 

Categories: Boston Marathon, boston red sox, half iron distance, marathon, running, running buddies, running with friends, training for marathon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Taking A Look Back Before I Go Forward

A year ago, I couldn’t imagine sitting at my kitchen table, writing my first half iron race report. Sometimes, when things are that far away and you don’t have the skills or equipment to do something, it seems impossible. But it was always my goal, to finish the B2B 70.3 with a smile on my face.

Off the subject, but speaking of smiles, I got my race pictures back this weekend. Oy. Can you say GOOBER?

Ok, back to it. I remember last year, when I ran the half marathon for the B2B relay, and I knew I wanted to do the 70.3. I knew I wasn’t interested in doing sprint triathlons, but endurance events. I didn’t want to make a “thing” of it and do them all the time, and I still don’t, but I knew I wanted to give it a try. If it all went well, I was planning to do a full iron distance, and I still am. But as I did do the race report, I thought back to events over the year that led me to a pretty good finish for my race.

I made my goal and I focused on it. I started swimming as marathon cross-training. I figured out what bike I could piece together, got it adjusted, greased up, and started riding it. My time at the pool was long and tedious. I swallowed a lot of old-lady aerobics water. I became friends with Endurolytes the hard way at the Boston Marathon. I ran the BOSTON MARATHON. I learned how to change a tire on my bike. I drew a cat on my PT bruise. I got a half marathon PR. I figured out how to unclip my shoes so I wouldn’t fall over at a stop light. I learned how to hydrate with EFS. I ate while riding my bike. I got a trainer so I could do bike workouts inside. I cried. I deferred a marathon. I ran. I ran more. I got a wetsuit. I swam in open water to practice. I got a swimming lesson. I met a lot of people along the way. I worked pretty hard along the way. I did the 10×10 challenge. I laughed a lot. I sweated a lot. I swore a lot. I ate a lot. But I had fun. It was an adventure. It was something new and an experience I was enjoying, beyond my expectations.

Here’s two pictures. The top one is of me running the B2B relay last year.  The bottom one is of me running B2B this year. I’ve come a long way. But I’ve got a long way yet to travel on this journey of mine!

Running the relay October 2013

Running the relay October 2013

Doing the full 70.3

Doing the full 70.3

During the year between those two pictures, I ran 1,339 miles. I biked 1,025 miles. I swam 55 miles. That’s freakin’ 2,419 miles!!! Not every mile was good (i.e. the last 6 of the Boston Marathon and most of them in August). But they all add up and provide a block in the foundation of meeting a goal.

If I could go back and tell my 2013 self something, it would be to just give it a go. Don’t be afraid. Read the tattoo on your foot, for crying out loud! Just do your work, trust your training, and have fun. Maybe that’s a little unrealistic, to have no fear? Well, ok, we all have some fear.  The key is to face it and don’t let it stop you from following your heart and going for your goals. Never stop dreaming. Never stop GOING AFTER your dreams. Chase ’em down with a baseball bat if you have to! Just go get ’em!

I can tell my current day self the same thing, as I gear up to train for the Houston Marathon that’s only 11 weeks away. I need to focus on my goal and stop overthinking everything, stop worrying so much about things I cannot control.  (It’s best to email coach when not high on caffeine too considering I have ALL THE FEELINGS.) My husband is rolling his eyes at this right now. You are, aren’t you, Andy??? Yeah, I can dream big, right? I know I’ll worry, I know there’ll be hard days, but I won’t give up. Hmmm, I wonder where I will travel in the next 12 months. How many miles will I run, bike and swim? Chances are, it’s going to be a lot, but most of all, I’m looking forward to the journey.

 

This is the tattoo I have on my foot as a constant reminder.

This is the tattoo I have on my foot as a constant reminder.

 

 

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

Turning Fear Into Determination

It’s taper time, bitches, and do you know what that means? It means I’ll have more time to get the shit done that I neglected because I was too busy doing my workouts until noon, showering and stuffing my face until 1:00, then staring at the wall going “buh buh buh” until my first kid gets home at 2:45, then spending the rest of the night stuffing THEIR faces and making them do their homework and go to practice and get ready for the next day while also reminding them that no, they cannot spend an hour in the jon as to avoid emptying the dishwasher because conveniently, it’s time to go to practice/school.

For instance, take today. I got up, got my kids to school at 7:45, hopped on my bike and rode 40 minutes, messed around with my dumb cadence sensor who just wants to be free but will not because I’m going to zip tie that MFer until it cannot breathe and fall off my bike. I then did strength, showered, ate, drank coffee, cancelled my NatureBox subscription, emailed all my Stride parents, picked up more crap from Saturday’s event that I just left laying around, posted a few things on Facebook, researched how to tighten my shoe cleat on my bike pedal, put on makeup AND curled my hair (this is a big one), worked on my new “About” page that I’ve been “working on” for months now but can’t seem to finish, packed up and took a load of crap to Goodwill, picked up my book on hold at the library, came home and it’s not even noon. Can you say “hollah”? I mean, really. It’s not like every day had a huge long workout, but when they shorten up, I can certainly feel it.

Anyway, while I taper down for my first triathlon on the 25th, I MUST reflect on the last year and smile. Hell, I need to do a little dance!  I swam the “Mott’s Channel Swim”, which is almost the same course as my triathlon course at exactly the same tide as my triathlon tide, so it was picture perfect practice for my triathlon.  Saturday was my first swim race, and a year ago, I had only been “swimming” for a few weeks. It’s crazy to think that a year later, I was swimming  over a mile in the channel, without a current push, with about 100 other people, and I would really enjoy myself. And I mark Saturday as the day that my fear of swimming, my fear of not making my cutoff for the swim in the tri, my fear of failing at the tri would turn into determination.  It’s about time.

My view on the way to my run/swim.

My view on the way to my run/swim.

Saturday morning started off like Friday – it was absolutely gorgeous. I had six miles to run, so I decided to get a good parking space at the swim race start, and I took off for my run from there. I was hesitant to get my pace miles in because of my *(^% shin splints, but I got two miles in at 7:40 and the others at 8:15-8:30.  I would have done three at pick up pace, but I misread my workout and only did the two. It was probably good for my splints. I saw some people I knew along the way, saw the ocean, and knew it would be a good day for a swim – sunny, warm, slight breeze, NOT windy. I wasn’t nervous at this point, so I was hopeful that I would remain calm.

After my run, I went to wish my coach and swim race director a happy birthday, got my timing chip, and chatted with some of my buddies. I was doing the “Mott’s Channel Swim” which was a mere 1.3 miles, but there were others doing the “Swim the Loop” which was a 3.5 mile swim that ended against the current.  Yikes.  No nerves yet. I got my post-race bag ready, dropped it off, made sure I had my swim cap and goggles, and ate my two pieces of bread with peanut butter as I waited for the trolley to come take us to the start.  I ended up sitting by someone I knew and a few I didn’t know but got to know as we waited to head out. It was fun! Some of us were concerned the warm weather (in the upper 70’s or lower 80’s at finish) would make us too warm for wetsuits but I wanted to practice my “real” tri experience as close to what the tri actually will be, so I had mine on.  When we got to the start, music was playing, and I wondered how it would be to swim with about 100 other people, which is something I’ve never done. Obviously the crowd would thin out significantly, but I just didn’t know what to expect. Gulp. Then the nerves hit. Big ones. Big raging ones with nausea.

The only thing that went through my mind to do was go to the person with whom I’ve done the most open water swimming with, the person who has ALWAYS told me that I could do it, to not worry, and that it’ll be ok – my friend Stacey.  I only met her on July 4th, but I’m so glad that I did!! I have complained and moaned and groaned about my swimming ability, and she has always been so positive to me, and it all came around on Saturday. I found her and was met with a hug and a “You’ll rock this race”. That’s all I really needed, and then we talked course strategy. Thanks, Stacey! I knew I needed to veer to the left to catch any current that would take me right, and I knew that I needed to try and hug the marsh to the left. The part that I DIDN’T do was REALLY study the details of the course. Sure, you look at it and seems easy and like a straight shot until you get out there and realize you can’t see the finish because there’s docks and buildings and boats and water weeds. More on that later.  The National Anthem was played, and we were about to head into the water for the mass start at 10:00 am.

Swim course for the Mott's Channel Swim. Looks simple and easy right? Yeah, that's because you're waaaaay up high and can see everything.

Swim course for the Mott’s Channel Swim. Looks simple and easy right? Yeah, that’s because you’re waaaaay up high and can see everything.

When we crossed the mat to get into the water, I was still a little nervous, and I honestly couldn’t believe I was about to embark on my first swim race. Me?! Swimming?! Crazy!!! The water was pretty cool, not yet COLD, but cool, so I was glad I had my wetsuit on. Picture it: 100 swimmers happily chatting, sun shining, beautiful view, and pretty calm waters. It was go time. I started close behind Stacey so I could keep an eye on where she was going, and the horn sounded. We were off.

There’s really nothing like the sound of 100 swimmers all in the water at the same time. I have always enjoyed the sound, and here it was again. And this time I was one of them. I usually get songs in my head or count strokes or just watch the docks pass by when I swim. This time, I was concentrating on sighting and knowing where I was and where I wanted to be. It seemed pretty easy in the beginning, probably because I’m familiar with the course. I waited until I reached the first buoy to check my Garmin, just to see where I was. Hmmm, not too bad! I didn’t look at the time, because it was really irrelevant at that point. I remember thinking, “Hey, I’m crossing the channel. I’m almost across the channel. I crossed the fricken channel!”. I did check a few times to see if there were other swimmers behind me, and I was actually glad there were. Just a few lingered, but I wasn’t last.

The water got slightly more choppy as we progressed, and my goggles fogged up. I had to stop to check my bearings and clear my sight, then I started back again. Since I hadn’t had a day off in eight days, my body was pretty tired, but I felt good and strong. My coach even said “let’s have you swim on some tired legs”, which they were. In a good way. I watched my distance progress, and at .6, I was happy to be half way. Then it dawned on me that the race was, in fact, 1.3 miles, not 1.2. Dur dee dur.  Oh well, just keep on swimming!  I’m not sure how far into the course we were, but I remember passing a buoy and thinking we needed to head right to the finish. I swam that way for a bit, was confused because there wasn’t another bright orange buoy to sight to, so I stopped to verify I was going in the right direction.  Good thing I did, because I was NOT going in the right direction. Oopsy! I corrected myself and headed towards the other swimmers.

 

Oops! This still cracks me up. Lesson learned to REALLY check the race course before you swim because it's not like a running race!!

Oops! My Garmin map. This still cracks me up. Lesson learned to REALLY check the race course before you swim because it’s not like a running race where you’re following people!!

I was still feeling good, staying focused, and I made sure I knew where I was from this point on. And the funniest and most ironic part for me was that I was having FUN!  I didn’t care how fast I was going, I didn’t care that I made a mistake, and I honestly didn’t care if I was last as long as the support people didn’t harass me, which I knew they wouldn’t. THIS is why I wanted to do triathlons! THIS feeling – the FUN, the excitement, the thought of doing something new.  And I liked it. (Did I just hear my husband groan and hide the credit card?)

I knew I was getting closer to the finish when I could hear the announcer. I checked my Garmin and knew that I would end up swimming farther than 1.3, but again, I didn’t care (and what was I going to do, stop, hold my Garmin up and say “Hey, I’ve done 1.3, so hellooooo, I’m DONE!”? No, just like any distance, Garmins are Garmins and with my little “detour” I very well probably did swim some extra. I was trying to find the finish line as I was pretty damn confused, and finally it became clear AFTER the stupid boat moved away from blocking my view of it.

When the finish line came into sight and I had just a little left to go, things changed. I saw some swimmers behind me, and my competitiveness came out. No way in hells bells was I going to let someone pass me now, so for the first time probably EVER in the history of me open water swimming EVER, I tried to swim fast. I lengthened my stroke, pulled harder, kicked harder, and I made it to the finish as fast as I could. In front of the other swimmers.

We had to climb a ladder onto the dock to well, get out of the water, but to also cross the timing mat. I stopped my Garmin on just over 47 minutes.  47 freaking minutes! Can you say insta-tears?????? Holy hell, Gary was so right, I had been freaking out about this half iron swim for NOTHIN’!!!! I F*****G DID IT!!!!!!! And I swam a bonus .09 miles with a total of 1.39. If I can do THAT, then what the hell have I been whining about making the cutoff in the swim in 90 minutes with less swim to finish?  Yes, Gary, you were so right!!! Cue the “told you so” dance!

THAT is when it happened. THAT is when my fear disappeared, and determination slowly took over. It probably started happening the minute the swim started, but when I was done, I had such a feeling of……of…..happiness. I set my mind to it, I did the work, and I did it.

I  was wobbly right out of the water, not vertigo as some swimmers have, but I think it was simply “tired body syndrome”, which became “I want a damn beer syndrome”, which became “this was awesome syndrome”. I recommend that one for anyone 🙂

After the Mott's Channel Swim.

After the Mott’s Channel Swim.

I found the results and saw that, with my 2:00 wetsuit penalty, I finished 82nd of 98 swimmers. If I took out my penalty, I would gain 5-10 spots, but still, I finished, so my place is irrelevant.  It simply didn’t and doesn’t matter to me. We hung out for quite a while, drank some beers, ate lunch, and watched as the 3.5 mile swimmers came in, many of them against a very strong current. They were inspiring, that’s for sure!

So now, as I taper, as I get my race plan in place, make my lists, get my race head on straight, I know that I’m determined to tackle any obstacles that come my way come race day. I know that I can do it, that I can overcome, and that I can finish my race strong and smart on October 25th. Saturday was the day my fear turned into determination.

My Garmin's path of the race. Pretty close to my race plan minus the teeny little oopsie in there.

My Garmin’s path of the race. Pretty close to my race plan minus the teeny little oopsie in there.

 

View of the finish overlooking the course.

View of the finish overlooking the course.

 

Categories: beach 2 battleship triathlon, half iron distance, iron distance, marathon, open water swimming, swimming, training for half iron distance, training for marathon, training for triathlon, triathlon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Why I LOVE Mammograms!

On Wednesday, September 25th, 2013, I had a physical therapy appointment in the morning. I was dealing with shin splints (how ironic that I’ve sidelined myself for the exact same thing a year later) and was desperately trying to fix them so I could carry on training for the Houston Marathon. I knew I was to be notified that day about whether or not I got in to the Boston Marathon. I was a mess, a total basket case, and I probably needed a little psycho therapy (not the wine kind). I’d crunched all the numbers and I was right on the edge of being able to run that race that I spent years trying to qualify for.

After my PT appointment, I had some lunch and went to my next appointment, my lovely mammogram.  I was turning 40 a few weeks later, so they were to become part of my annual health screening for the rest of my life. Yea.

My appointment was on time and for some reason, I always get a little nervous about these things. I guess being half naked in front of a stranger will do that to you, but really, the ladies who do these are normally just wonderful. It was short and sweet and twenty minutes later, I was on my way. I was OBSESSIVELY checking my email for any sign of a notification from the BAA on my acceptance, or lack thereof, and I was beginning to feel like I wasn’t going to get the news that I wanted to get. I quickly ran into the Food Lion that was right down the street, got some wine and a few other things that we always need. I started on my way home. Now I don’t normally do this and have vowed to my kids that I WON’T do this again, but at a stop light, I checked my email again. Bing. It was there. I read it and found this:

 

THE Email

THE Email (that I will never delete)

Yes, I got in to the amazing Boston Marathon. I freaked out.  To read the whole story of how close I was and what I did (does not include driving into a ditch or another car), click HERE.  Really, it’s a good story. Do it.

For weeks, as I drove by that stop light where I read THE email, I got the warm and fuzzies. I was still in disbelief, but I was just so happy about it. I needed it.  A lot.

And as much as I dislike having my boob touched by a stranger then squished and photographed, since that day, I’ve had a fondness for my mammogram appointment. I always remember it as a good experience, a happy day, and I want to go back. I’m going to tell them that I love mammograms because I found out that I got into the Boston Marathon on my way home from getting one. The power of association, right?!

The other reason why I love mammograms is that my mom’s breast cancer was caught extremely early because of one. The cancer was removed with surgery and she had a few months of radiation after that.  It wasn’t a piece of cake for her at all, but it could have been so much worse. I LOVE mammograms because I have my mom and if we didn’t have mammograms, I may not have my mom.

So to anyone and everyone, if you’re a woman, get your boobies squished and photographed. Maybe you’ll get some good news when you get home. Maybe it will save your life. But just do it.  Men, urge the women in your life get theirs photographed too. Go turn and cough for your doctor. Just do it. It could save a life.

 

 

 

Categories: Boston Marathon, half iron distance, running, training for half iron distance, training for marathon, training for triathlon, triathlon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

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