Posts Tagged With: houston marathon

I Don’t Even Know Where To Start So I’ll Just Start

Ok, yes I do know where to start. I have to give a HUGE congratulations to Kecia from Push My Limits on her completion of Ironman Wisconsin. Is it cyber stalking if you yell at your computer because it won’t refresh and update the “live” status of the athlete you are following?! Because I didn’t do that.  You are an inspiration, lady!!!! You truly are!

As for me, I really do not know where to start. I’ve been trying to get some sort of routine in order for my days as a “stay at home” mom. Yeah, I’m certainly not home as much as I would think I would be, and if I wasn’t biking on the trainer, I would be home much less than I am now. I have so many projects to complete (one of which is getting my photo albums updated since I haven’t done that in over THREE YEARS), ones I couldn’t muster up the mental strength for last year.  I feel so much better about being settled here, and getting to my projects with a fresh attitude is a welcome feeling for me. I really didn’t think it would take over a year to get settled and let that crazy-stressed feeling diminish. Enough about that, let’s get to the goods, so I’ll start with my training.

Biking – I “biked” when I was in high school and college and enjoy it now. I didn’t think I would like the cadence/heart rate workouts that I’m doing now, but I really do. It’s a challenge for me, which is one reason why I like it, but I feel a difference in how I’m running, so I’m pretty pumped about how all the biking will improve my running. I’m really focused on one goal: The Houston Marathon. I think I’m biking at least three times per week, and none of them are marked as “just go ride your bike”. They are “you’re so gonna sweat on this ride” sort of workouts. I’m loving it. But shhhhhhh, don’t tell my coach!

Ahhh, coach. I’m back with my coach at Without Limits, who will melt away that summer feeling of “I can do whatever I want whenever I want” sort of laissez faire attitude. Sure, I’ve run and biked A LOT this summer, but it wasn’t the actual training that I’m needing right now. I have more accountability, which helps too, since my schedule is a lot different than it was with two kids in elementary.  Some days, I work out right after my oldest son goes to school and I’m just getting done and showered at 11 am. It’s kind of ridiculous.

Swimming – I didn’t go on the one swim where it was super wavy and I would have felt like I was in the washing machine on the “jeans” setting. On Labor Day, I went for an open water swim with a friend while my sister supported in her kayak. As we dropped vehicles and got all situated to start, my sister swatted at some bugs and totally dumped her kayak over. Did you know that some kayak paddles do not float? Yeah, epic design fail, eh? At least they could have had a warning on them that said DO NOT BUY AS THEY WILL SINK AS FAST AS YOU SAY PADDLE  Warning: “This paddle does not float”. Really, how ridiculous. My sister said she was fine and was going to get to the finish point to meet us, so my friend and I took off, but not before we saw some dolphins in the waterway. It was glassy perfect for a swim. Ahhhh….

week3

Perfect!

I thought the swim would be about 1.2 miles or something like that, but when I got to the usual starting point, I was already at .8. I knew I had .9 or a little more to go. Ugh.  I was tired from finishing the 5k challenge from the 10×10 challenge peeps and putting in some good runs before, so I told my compadre that I didn’t know if I could make it all the way to the finish. She simply said, “You can do it.”  I was on my way to complete the longest swim EVER, let alone an open water swim without stopping (except to talk and avoid the trolls as we crossed under the bridge), something that I could’ve never imagined doing. An hour and twelve minutes later, I had swam 1.72 miles. I was tired, but I felt great about it.  The comment from my friend was priceless. It always pays to be positive!!!

I freaking did it.

I freaking did it.

The swim this week was cancelled due to weather, plus there’s usually a bacteria warning after heavy rain, so I’ll get one in once or twice this week. If anything, I’ll head to the pool.

Running – Ahhhh, my one true love. I started back with a tempo run and speed work at the track last week. I tried not to go crazy, as it was super hot and humid, and I do NOT want to end up injured like I was last year. I’m trying to keep my paces that are given to me, but sometimes, it’s hard when you know you can go faster. I just have to keep in mind that yes, this is a marathon, not a sprint, so just take it easy. I have 17 weeks until the marathon.  That means I’ll have plenty of time for speedy speed work in the future. That’s what I keep telling myself anyway.

With the extreme high humidity and the fact I wasn’t able to go run early (because I was on the bike), I tried not to look at my pace. Last week, I didn’t look at distance or pace ONE TIME during the run, just the elapsed time. For any of you out there like me, and I know there’s a LOT of us out there, I am still slightly annoyed at what my watch read after my run.

Raise your hand if this is annoying.

Raise your hand if this is annoying.

I didn’t even look at distance (and I don’t know why pace said 6:19, maybe because I moved my arm fast or something, but I certainly wasn’t going at that pace!) until I got inside and cooled off. D’oh!!!!

So for my training, I’m getting in some good miles, speed work, tough bike rides, and long swims. I’m still not concerned with my pace for the half iron  triathlon that is in less than six weeks! I’ve got my eye on the prize, what will hopefully be my second BQ, my marathon.  I’m almost giddy thinking about training for it, getting into the harder workouts, the strength, more biking, and everything else. Call me crazy, but I just love training!

I’m also going to be training a bunch of 6th graders for their first 5k.  It’s the Stride program, which to anyone who is familiar with Girls on the Run, it’s that but for boys. I’m super excited and just hope we get enough registrants to have the program at all! So if ANYONE has any advice on dealing with middle school kids (boys in particular), I’d love to hear it. I have my own 6th grader, but we all know dealing with your own kid is different than multiple kids who aren’t yours! Ha!

That’s it for now, as it’s back-to-the-fridge day. I cannot eat enough!!!!!

 

 

Categories: beach 2 battleship triathlon, Boston Marathon, half iron distance, marathon, open water swimming, running, running challenge, swimming, training for half iron distance, training for marathon, training for triathlon, triathlon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Flicking The Stupid Little Monkey Off My Back

A few notes before I start talking about monkeys…. First, the dog that we fostered got adopted on Saturday. He was awesome and was so happy to hear the news. My son is already badgering me about the next foster.

Second, my entire workout schedule has been totally messed up because of the weather. It rained from Friday morning until, well, I’m not sure if it’s quite done yet.  I’m suffering from depression from the lack of sunshine and outdoor activity. Sure, I can run in the rain, which I did on Friday and this morning. I can swim in the rain, but I won’t because I have enough issues breathing when it’s not watering from the sky. I can bike in the rain, but I won’t do that either.  I did get my 50 mile bike ride, if you can call it a ride when you’re not actually going anywhere, done on Sunday, here, in my living room, on the trainer. I hated 95% of it and almost quit at mile 20. Seriously, the trainer is a really cool and convenient thing, but it’s also torture!!!! You don’t go anywhere so you just watch a movie that you love but suddenly hate because you’re stuck there RPM’ing away and forced to watch something. I watched Elf. Then I watched part of The First Wives Club. Then I watched some of Property Brothers. Thankfully, I got done in the time I planned, but my cadence was a little slow. I’m ok with that because I just needed to get the miles in. I’m actually proud that I finished and didn’t quit. I really wanted to quit. So the weekend was a buzz kill when it came to working out beyond the bike ride, but I’m enjoying the last few weeks of flexibility and the freedom to say “I’m just not going to work out today”, when full on, heavy duty, 100% training starts September 1st. The only thing I must do, because my coach told me to, is get two 60-mile rides in before that. Game on. Now, back to monkey business.

 

50 miles. Done.

50 miles. Done.

Last week, I got some stuff from the Boston Athletic Association in the mail. I still think it’s cool when I get emails and actual mail from them. I’m like a kid. THEY KNOW ME???? THEY SENT SOMETHING TO ME???!!! They. Know. Me.

This time it evoked an emotion that I’m getting tired of. It’s not an emotion that I can easily explain nor easily get over.  As many of you know, I ran the Boston Marathon this past April.  Here’s the post I wrote about it that day.  It took me many years of blood, sweat, and tears and many failed attempts to finally break the time barrier and qualify. After that, it took months of waiting to see if I would actually get in since my time didn’t give me much margin, and I knew pretty much anyone who qualified this last year would go and celebrate after the devastation of 2013. I qualified by 1 minute and 43 seconds, but I only made it in by four seconds. But I made it in.

That race was the best of the best AND the worst of the worst. My feelings after the race were so torn on feeling awesome and how great the entire experience was and that I was there and I got to be a part of something that so many only dream of.  Added to all that awesomeness was a feeling of emptiness. Of sadness. Of anger. Disappointment. I haven’t been fully able to shake those feelings. So many people have told me, “Hey, you were there, you FINISHED the Boston Marathon! Just be happy for that!”.  Well, they’re right and I am. I mean, it was AMAZING  to be on THE course, to be a part of the entire thing.  But I’m also a competitive athlete who was thisclose to re-qualifying and getting a good marathon PR. I was so close. But yet, it was so far away. Actually, it’s not even about the PR or re-qualifying. It is about running the Boston Marathon, which in the technical sense, I didn’t get to do. Sure I ran most of it at a rockin’ pace, but I didn’t run the whole thing. It feels very, VERY incomplete. The journey feels unfinished.

After running six prior marathons and after training my ass off for months and months, the Boston Marathon was my slowest marathon finish time EVER.  In fact, I can’t even actually say, “I ran the Boston Marathon.” Those words don’t/can’t come out of my mouth.  I ran the first 20 miles and I walked the rest. I DIDN’T run the Boston Marathon.  The finish was very unexpected.  The time that I crossed the finish line doesn’t even really matter, it was the way in which it ended.  It wasn’t what I set out to do, it wasn’t what I was capable of doing, and I was extremely shocked at what happened during that race. I can’t get over it. I look at my medal and I’m so proud of all the work I did to get it, but it also brings up so many bad feelings in me. Then I get my finisher’s certificate and it shows my time, and I I’m reminded of gripping the crowd barrier so I could throw up. It reminds me of watching my foot go in front of the other one and wondering if I could make it six miles. It makes me think of the feeling that my neck was on a spring and that I couldn’t see straight. It reminds me of having cramps so bad that I gasped for air, scaring a guy running past me. It reminds me that I didn’t want to make eye contact with the medical crew so they wouldn’t pull me from the course (they wouldn’t, but at the time, my mind wasn’t right so I wouldn’t take the chance). It reminds me that I walked.  It makes me angry.  Then there’s that struggle. Many people would be happy with that time. Many would be so grateful to just be there. Well, it’s not as simple as that.  The Boston Marathon is the stupid little monkey on my back.

This is a monkey my son drew. Too bad the one that's sitting on me isn't cute like this one.

This is a monkey my son drew because we live in an area of town called “Monkey Junction”. THIS is the monkey. Too bad the one that’s sitting on me isn’t cute like this one, giving me a nice shoulder massage.

I need redemption. I need to do it again. I need to go back and RUN to the finish. Whether or not it’s a PR, it re-qualifies me, or is done during a thunderstorm/hurricane/blizzard, I NEED to go and do this race again.  I need that feeling of seeing the Citgo sign, of coming onto Boylston Street, of the crowds. Of finishing HAPPY.  Of finishing HEALTHY. I need to be able to look at my medal and know that was the best race. Ever. I want it to be a good story. Not of one that includes: “It was good until….” “Yeah, I had to stop so I wouldn’t throw up.”

Good.

Good feelings.

 

This is how it ended.

Bad feelings.

So as I train for my half iron distance at the end of October, my sights will be set on the Houston Marathon.  And instead of being a whiney little putz like I am being now, I’m going to concentrate on all the GOOD that happened on April 21st, 2014.  Or I’m going to try. It gave me a huge boost of confidence. I KNOW I can run the race of my life in Houston. I RAN WAS AT THE FRIGGIN BOSTON MARATHON. Heller!!!!  It reminded me that a marathon is just that, a marathon. Anything can happen.  The good, the bad, the ugly. You can prepare all you want and can have a terrible race. You can have minimal expectations going in and can be surprised at the awesome outcome (my BQ race in 2013). Marathons are their own organism with so many factors that can effect the outcome. The best thing I can do NOW is to start getting ready. I need this goal. I need to move on.  Get off my back, you silly little monkey, there’s no room for you here.

 

**Update before this is even published…. I feel better just writing this. I struggle since I don’t want to come across as ungrateful for being a part of the Boston Marathon field. But I’m sure many of you can relate after having a “bad” race. Thanks for reading. The little monkey is a lot smaller than he was just last week. I’m sure he’ll always be there in some sense, but at least he’s smaller.

Haha, I was looking through pictures and knew this was there but overlooked it…. THIS is the epitome of how I was feeling. Sense the sarcasm in my “thumbs up”?

761540_1257_0011

Categories: beach 2 battleship triathlon, Boston Marathon, half iron distance, iron distance, marathon, running, swimming, training for half iron distance, training for marathon, training for triathlon, triathlon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

Redemption In Two Ways

Guess what I’m doing tomorrow morning? Yes, I’m going for a run, but I’m also going to register for the Houston Marathon that will take place on January 18th, 2015.  Is 2015 less than a year away??? Cripes. It’s my redemption race and my plan is to crush it.

houston marathon

Why am I signing up for THIS race when there’s a bajillion other marathons right around the corner from me? Well, I’m running THIS one for a few particular reasons

1) It’s large (13,000 for the marathon and 12,000 for the half marathon). The more people around me while running, the faster I seem to run with less effort. I like the hoopla, the crowds, the other runners going along with me. It distracts me from what I’m actually doing to myself 🙂

2) It’s flat.  People talk about the “hills” somewhere in there, but it’s flat, plain and simple.

3) The race is in January so it shouldn’t be hot.  It’s Texas so anything goes in January, but typically, it’s nice and cold and the start and cool at the finish.

4) I have a lot of friends in the Houston area and will get to visit them.

5) I got my BQ there in January of 2013. Bad weather that day, but good memories.  I want another one.

The timing of this race was interesting, because it’s 11 weeks after the Beach 2 Battleship 1/2 Iron Distance Triathlon I’m doing at the end of October. I wasn’t sure if it would work to do both, but after looking back at Training Peaks, the timing for the 1/2 marathon run and training for the full  marathon look pretty close. I thought the biking for the tri will only strengthen my legs and hopefully help keep me injury free – cross training is awesome. For a while, I was ready to ding dong ditch the triathlon and just do the relay again, but I really want to do it all. I don’t see why I can’t.  So I am.

The quote that I have on my fridge so I can always remember it when I get hesitant to do something is this:

“What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?” 

I'm looking forward to doing this for "fun", not for time.

As for running recently, I started feeling better last week. I took Thursday off so I could go to my son’s Battle of the Books competition, so I felt I needed some miles on Friday. I am SICK of running in my hood so I headed to the track at UNCW to park and ended up going 7 miles on the cross city trail. It felt awesome and I finished in 58 minutes.

I had a wonderful and fulfilling 3.4 mile run with my son on Saturday. We just chat and gab the entire time, so we plan to run more often. What a wonderful way to bond with your kid! Then over Saturday and Sunday, I hauled almost 8 TONS of mulch into my yard while my husband was doing all the other things that needed to be done in the yard. Needless to say, my back and arms are a “little” tired, and I refused to do any more yard work today. Mulch makes me cringe.

Mulch, anyone?

Mulch, anyone?

I was so shocked and pleasantly surprised at what having energy was like on Sunday evening, even with all the yard work. It’s been weeks since I haven’t been either traveling or doing long runs, so it was refreshing to feel really good. My husband ran his 3rd 1/2 marathon after only running 5 miles to train (sorry for hogging every weekend morning for MY training, honey!), and I was so proud of him to finish in 2:05.  I looked up a few full marathons for him to do, and it’s only a matter of time before he hits that “REGISTER” button. (As I rub my hands together and give him a maniacal laugh..). HE was the one who was knocked out last night, poor guy.

Hubby after his 1/2.

Hubby after his 1/2.

And redemption was mine.

Today was my redemption run. It didn’t start out to be one, but as I was running from the UNCW track again, I felt some fatigue from the weekend and probably from a few glasses of wine I had last night. Hey, they were in a pink flamingo glass so I blame that for going through them so quickly 🙂

I’m still relatively upset about what happened in Boston. I know, it’s just a race, it happens all the time. But still. I’m competitive so it’s really difficult not to separate the marathon from Boston.  I pulled through my fatigue this morning like I was finishing the last 7 miles of the Boston Marathon. I kept going. I went faster. I imagined the cheering crowds, being able to cross that finish line with gusto, not with guts-o ( I was extremely nauseated when I crossed the finish line in Boston). I wanted to beat my “fresh” time from Friday.  So I pushed it. I didn’t go all out as I am still in recovery mode, but I wanted a pace like I was imagining I would have run in Boston. I finished that 7 miles in 56:48, a minute and 12 seconds faster than Friday.  And an 8:07 pace. I’m good with that. I got my redemption. There weren’t any crowds, there wasn’t a finish line, but I got to push through fatigue and the desire to cut the run short so I could finish. Now it’s time to put the bad feelings away and only remember the best part of Boston.  I got redemption.

This is all I need to remember from the Boston Marathon.

This is all I need to remember from the Boston Marathon.

Categories: Boston Marathon, half iron distance, marathon, running, swimming, training for marathon, triathlon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 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

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?

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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

Merry Christmas!

 

I would like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas!!  It’s a great time of year for my family, lots going on, lots of sleeping in training included, which has made it difficult to fit blogging in. I have lots of ideas, plans, goals, and everything to share.  Thank you for reading and I hope you have enjoyed. There’s only more and better to continue the rest of 2013 and in 2014.

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

Be sure that you get your workouts in this holiday season, normally filled with fun, food, family, friends, and parties.

Be sure you don't stop working out!

Be sure you don’t stop working out!

 

Categories: marathon, running, training for marathon | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Ode to My Medals

Medals, medals, oh how you shine,

I ran those races and you became mine.

I cherish the memories attached to your race,

Even when I sucked and couldn’t show my face.

Don’t get too comfortable, as I know I’ll add more,

 Crossing that line I always quest for!

IMG_1255

Each medal has it’s own unique story.

I finally found a place to put my medals “only” two months after moving into my new house.  I remember taking them off the wall in my Texas house, and I thought about packing them in the car so I knew they wouldn’t be lost.  Those medals represent such a huge part of my running life and they each have a specific memory attached. Some are amazing, some are not, and some were a reward for a hard run race.  Some just remind me of having fun with friends (like N’Orleans).  I carefully hung them up and had a little run down memory lane.

I know I’ve finished several races without getting a medal, and many of the finishers shared the same opinion about that, “What?! No medal? That sucks!”.  I understand they are expensive and require additional volunteers to give them to finishers, but sometimes, you just want that piece of the race to remember it by.  One race where I finished second overall women, I was lucky enough to get a rock painted green Blarney Stone. It’s cool but a little hard to display.

My St. Patty's Day Race Award.  I know you're jealous.

My St. Patty’s Day Race Award. I know you’re jealous.

Not all memories attached to medals are good.  Take this one:

What should have been the 2010 Lincoln Marathon

The Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda, D’OH! Medal

First of all, this dumb medal is an insult to itself.  The neck strap is huge and the dinky medal is teeny tiny.  If you’re running a half marathon, at least the medal could look a little nicer or the strap could be half the size.  Maybe I’m a little bitter?  This race was the 2010 Lincoln Marathon Half-Marathon.  I was trained for and planned to qualify for Boston at this race.  Buuuutttt, as dumb, and I mean DUMB luck would have it, I bonked at mile six and had to stop at the half instead of finishing the full.  Yes, mile six.  I shutter to remember what I ate the day before.  I’m too embarrassed to even repeat it.  From that day on, I make sure my eating is where it needs to be for me, and I also listen to myself more than I rely on what a book says regarding pre-race eating.  Oh, and I am fully aware of what eating simple carbs (That’s the D’OH!!! part) instead of complex carbs will do to your race.  That medal is proof.  I have to thank my husband for keeping this medal from ending up in the garbage can, which is where I put it after that race.  Well, I threw it more than put it, but I was angry and the medal was just, well, stupid.  He kept it for me and now it just shows that you can’t always have a good race.

2013 Houston Marathon

2013 Houston Marathon

The Houston Marathon medal is one of my favorites, of course, because this is the race where I qualified for Boston and PR’d by 13 minutes.  I will never let rain or wind factor into my mindset before the race, because I know that all you can do is run your best race, as I did in Houston.  You just never know how it will end up, so always keep positive!!

Some races are just meant for fun.  My husband and I ran these 4 mile obstacle/mud races in Winnie, Texas, and were even four beers deep before running one of them.  It was fun.  A lot of fun.  The people who manage the WWIII.5 races are wonderful people too, so I would recommend this race to anyone.  And check out their web page because I can actually say that I’m on the website!!  I’m the one climbing out of a car on the right side of the page.   I decided to keep the medals as-is instead of cleaning them off before I hung them up to make it more true-to-life.  I may even have some dirt left in my ear too…..

Winnie Wars

Winnie Wars

The second marathon I ever ran was the Disney Marathon in 2001.  I decided, on a whim of course, to join Team in Training and raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  My grandma was a survivor and she had passed away from other causes the year before, so it seemed appropriate, and I was able to raise over $3,000 for the cause.  I ran this one using the “run 9 minutes, walk 1 minute” method with a friend, which seemed to work well for us as we could walk the next day.  This is one of my favorite medals as well, because who doesn’t like Disney?

The Disney Marathon

The Disney Marathon

2012 Turkey Dash

2012 Turkey Dash

This is the medal I got for finishing first in my 35-39 age group at the last Thanksgiving Day race.  I’ve always wanted to run a race on turkey day but we either were traveling that day or there wasn’t a race to run.  Last year was the first opportunity to do one, so I signed up for the 10k, plus it was a good training run.  It was a beautiful day, humid but sunny, and I wanted to go as fast as possible.  I was amazed to finish the 10k in a 3 minute PR of 47:22.  That was the first taste of “don’t underestimate yourself” I had last year, and it was a good lesson that I carry with me today and pass along to my kids.

As much as I cherish my race medals, I have to admit that the memories attached to them mean more to me than the actual medal.  But I’ll be happy to keep collecting both the memories and the medals as long as they’ll give them out!

Do you have a favorite race medal?

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

Shin Splints are A-Holes

In the last few posts, I’ve made reference to my “achy leg”, or my “leg that hurts”, or my “stupid shin splints” (that’s the technical term, you know).  Because hindsight is always 20/20, or at least 20/30 in my case, I really should have taken time off when I started to get THAT feeling.  I’ve had them before, but never this early in training and never this, well, for a lack of better words, painful.  I know that at the time,  I was so worried and paranoid about being able to get into Boston, it didn’t matter and I was going to work through any pain so I could run my best race in January in Houston so I could re-qualify for Boston at an even faster pace so then I wouldn’t have to worry about actually getting in to run Boston.  It’s a very bad spiral of crazy, my friends.

Besides putting all that pressure on myself about Houston and re-qualifying and all this other crap, I also committed to running the third leg of the Beach 2 Battleship 1/2 Iron Distance Relay Race with my sister and a friend.  Oh, I wasn’t just going to run it, I was going to PR, which puts me at a sub-8 minute mile. For me, that’s booking it.  On top of that, in August, we moved (with our two kids and FOUR cats) 1200 miles from our last home in Texas to North Carolina. Nothing like a bunch of changes and upheaval to start off training, right?

So last week, after my 15k race, I decided to take 10 days off running and concentrate on cross-training so I could let my leg heal. I have been getting physical therapy, which seemed to work….. until yesterday.

Let me describe shin splints: they’re like a crazy ex-girlfriend. One descriptive word I stole from Wayne’s World back in the day and still use now is “psycho hose beast”.  They make you insane. They start off as a tight muscle. Maybe a cramp.  Then when you start running, you’re like “What the hell??! Why does that hurt?”.  Then while you’re running, they want to show you they still love you so they stop hurting.  Then as soon as you’re done, BAM, like a bat on your shin, it hurts like hell. Then you stretch, foam roll, maybe ice it and don’t think about it as the pain (or as I now call it because I’m actually tired of hearing myself say it, discomfort) has gone away. Maybe you have a few more days of good running, and then you’re back at the pain discomfort again. It comes and goes, but then the times when it dissipates dissipates, and then you’re just left with that terrible feeling that nags and nags at you. Should I run, should I not, what should I do?  The physical therapist squeezes your bone and muscle with a vice-grip (that’s what it feels like – I really don’t know what they actually do as I’m sweating and gritting my teeth and trying not to cry at the time).

I felt very optimistic about recovering quickly. The discomfort was going away, I was doing my cross-training pain-free, and then.  It. Happened. The crampy feeling came back Monday, and I hadn’t had a run in over a week.  Was it the yard work? It remained Tuesday.  Tuesday was the day I was to return to running.  Should I? Should I not? I have a 1/2 marathon in just over two weeks.  Will this ruin it? Does it matter? Do I have time to still train for Houston? Is it too late?  The run was good, wonderful, long strong strides, fast, everything I needed it to be. But it hurt. And it hurt for the rest of the day.

I finally did something yesterday that I never wanted to do nor imagined that I would have to do. I realized that I need to quit training for my marathon. No, I didn’t quit training, as there’s always muscles to be strengthened, skills to be learned, miles to be swam, a bike to be ridden. I realized that I need to see the big picture. I DID get in to Boston. I WILL run in Boston in just a few months. I cannot and will not ruin that because I have a fantasy about beating my marathon PR in Houston in January. It’s simply not worth it. But why is it bothering me so much? Why did take so long for me to just STOP and realize that I’m doing no good to my body by pushing it through pain that simply isn’t going away?  (It’s funny to think about this particular question because, duh, we’re marathon runners and we just don’t give up easily, plain and simple!!)  Why am I torturing myself with making this decision?  Why is this so hard???  Then I realized the truth.

In all the chaos and drama of life, running is the constant in my life.

It’s the thing I rely on to calm my soul, to make me feel free, to bring me a sense of joy that nothing else can bring.

This is not to diminish what my husband means to me either. He is my one PERSON, the other constant in my life.  But there’s a big difference for what he can do for me and what running does for me.  So what do you do with a relationship that is hurting, an injury?  You nurture it.  You don’t keep beating it down until it becomes nothing but what the past was and what the future could be.  So I’m going to take time off running for now, which pains me to say, but I’m still doing the 1/2 marathon on October 26th.  After that, I’m just stopping. I cannot make this worse. I have to be smart about it and do the right thing. Will it work? Will I recover? Honestly, I don’t know for sure. But I’ll do whatever I need to do to make that happen.

It makes me sad to think of not running. But I know I have to let it go. I’ve had to do a lot of things these past few years that I did not want to do, so it’s just plain annoying to face yet another one. But that’s life, right? Just deal with it and move on. It doesn’t do anyone any good to whine and mope about it.

I’m lucky to have a support system in my husband, my sister, my coach Kristen.  She has been doing my training plan since August and has had to make so many adjustments, starting with my first “achy leg” comment several weeks ago. Kristen has been very supportive and has let me make my own decisions about what running I should do or not do, while giving me her honest opinion about those decisions.  My sister is teaching me how to swim well. I thank all of you for being there for me. I don’t know if you really understand why this is so difficult for me, but chances are, you do.

So instead of feeling sorry for myself, I feel very lucky. I get to run in Boston in April 2014. I can still train. Running will be there for me, but we’re just going to take a break from each other. Hopefully, we’ll come back even stronger. No fear.

 

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

4 Seconds

I got the email from the Boston Athletic Association yesterday while I was stopped at a light on my way home from a doctor visit.  I’m not proud that I was so obsessive about checking my email that I would do it at a stop light, but it was after noon, and I knew I was going to get an email soon. BING. There it was. I actually said, “well, here we go” as I read it. I had prepared myself to get the bad email, the one that said, sorry, it was filled up with faster people. I would be ok. In the words of Eli Young, I would keep on dreaming even if it broke my heart.

The first sentence read: “This is to notify you that your entry into the 118th Boston Marathon on Monday, April 21, 2014 has been accepted, provided that the information you submitted is accurate.”  WHAT? HAS BEEN ACCEPTED???  Not, has NOT been accepted?? I got in? I made it? I slipped through? Holy shit!!!! I re-read that part a million times looking for the word “not” in the middle of the sentence.  I immediately said, “OH MY GOD….. OHMYGODOHMYGODOHMYGODOHMYGOD!!!!”  And I don’t normally say that. I started crying. Not a little drippy boo hoo; no, this was the UGLY cry. I covered my mouth and rocked back and forth. I couldn’t stop saying “OHMYGOD OHMY GOD”. The light turned green and I stayed in my lane like a good driver should. I admit, I freaked out. I was a hot mess. I get to run the Boston Marathon! Oh, MY GOD!  I made it safely to my neighborhood and called my husband. He was thrilled. I went to my sister’s house and she was on a call for work. I was this pathetic, crying hot mess on her doorstep but I looked at her and smiled, so she knew that I got in. I texted people, I posted on Facebook. I re-read my email. I talked to my mom and heard my dad yelling in the background.  “Who wants to go to Boston????”  I re-read my email again. I wept. Then I went home and listened to the song Tessie, the song that I have on my marathon playlist to remind me what my goal is. I told my kids. We danced, we cried, we laughed, we forgot about homework. One of the most memorable days of my life was yesterday.

Because the remaining registrations were going to be given to people who ran the fastest for their qualifying time and I qualified by only 1 minute 42 seconds, I knew I was really close to the cutoff between those who made it and those who did not. I read the press release from the BAA that stated the cutoff time was 1:38.  Wow. 4 seconds. I made it by four seconds. While four seconds is a very long time in some events, you look at a marathon and it’s usually not about seconds (unless you’re one of the top finishers), it’s about minutes.

Kickin' It!

Kickin’ It!

I thought about the day I ran the Houston Marathon. I remember standing there in the downpour worrying that my shoes would get wet. I remember letting myself go at the pace I felt comfortable with, not the pace I had intended to go. I remember not stopping to change my shoes because no more rain was falling and I could deal with damp shoes and my hands were frozen. I remember nearing the end and hearing my grandmother’s voice to “KICK IT”. I remember hauling ass at the finish like I always do because that’s what she taught me to do. I remember thinking that I ran my best race. I remember finding out that I qualified for Boston well after the race was over and that I thought I missed it by 3:18, not made it by 1:42. I remember crying when I found out I had actually qualified for Boston that cold, rainy, and windy day.

I have terrible critical thinking and math skills when I’m running, so I thought that when we crossed the 26 mile mark, I only had .1 miles to go. I remember thinking the marathon people measured wrong and it’s way further than .1 miles. How could a huge marathon in Houston actually measure wrong?? I assume I felt that way because it actually was .2 miles, not .1 because that’s the actual distance of a marathon – duh.  My terrible counting skills and my grandmother’s voice in my head telling me to kick it at the end of a race combined to make the perfect storm of a Boston qualification and acceptance. I would have loved to call my grandma and tell her the good news, but I look up to Heaven and I know that she already knows.

Thanks Grandma.  Four seconds made all the difference.  I’m goin’ to Boston!!!!

Grandma

Grandma

 

I have to mention that I feel terrible for those who qualified for Boston and who were not accepted. It’s torture, really. To spend so much time training for and running and then waiting for all this. To all of you, I’m sorry.  I feel terrible that you reached the door of a dream but couldn’t actually open the door. I know I would have been devastated. My heart would have been broken. But again, like the song says, keep on dreamin’ even if it breaks your heart.

Categories: Boston Marathon, marathon, training for marathon | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

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