Posts Tagged With: marathon training

You Can’t Always Get What You Want

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

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

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At the Bellagio in Las Vegas

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

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

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

I. Can’t. Do. This.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You can’t always get what you want.

But if you try sometimes, you might find

You get what you need”

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

Making Another Pitcher of Lemonade

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

elaine

Me trying to run on Saturday.

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

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

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

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

lemonade

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

Acclimating to the Post-Ironman World

It’s two weeks post-Ironman, and it certainly hasn’t been an easy two weeks. It certainly hasn’t been difficult, but mostly, it’s been weird. The first week was one of recovery and getting my house cleaned up and all my triathlon stuff put away. I blogged about my race, I had doctor appointments, my boys’ running group, and no workouts to do. I wasn’t sleeping well that first week, kept waking up at night, and was dragging around. I had no desire to do another Ironman for a long time. I walked my dog with my coach, I went grocery shopping, and I cooked, which means I ate a lot.

I finally got my race pictures :)

I finally got my race pictures 🙂

The second week was one where I wanted to go back out and start running again, but didn’t because I didn’t want to sabotage my recovery. There’s a marathon coming in just a few months, and I know I needed to recover from the Ironman in order to get my speed back up to be even close to qualifying for Boston. I had a lot more time on my hands, started sleeping (FINALLY!) again, but was very unfocused. My to-do list is REALLY long, but I couldn’t figure out what to do, when to do it, and I just didn’t do much of anything. Key word for the week is “unfocused”. I don’t like that feeling. I assume, this is when most people sign up for the next race, but I still have no desire to put an Ironman in the near future. I can see it for sure, but I don’t want to touch it.  I also know that signing up for another Ironman would be betraying my husband and kids. They need and want me around, and as much as I love the Ironman thing, I love being with them more.

I do love my training peaks workouts to do!

I spent several hours that second week making my Ironman video. What a trip that was! Take a view – the race starts at 3:50, but a really cool part starts at 3:20….Check it out!

I remember more things from the race I had forgotten to write about and unfortunately, forgot to put in the video:

She is Purdy.

She is Purdy.

I saw Batman along the run course. And a lot of funny signs.

I. Am. Batman.

I. Am. Batman.

My favorite sign, compliments of my son, Tyler.

My favorite sign, compliments of my son, Tyler.

I was taking Base salt, and I remember putting the salt in between my lower teeth and lip, like it was chew, instead of under my tongue for a lot of the run. I remember thinking it was weird that it was burning. Well, duh, because you’re not supposed to put it in your lip, dummy.

I forgot to mention that the guy who wondered if I was swearing because I dropped food after Mile 100 on the bike (when I was really swearing about the sudden change in wind direction), saw me on the run and said, “Hey! There’s the *%#$ you girl!” I was embarrassed yet I laughed. He wasn’t supposed to hear me swearing on the bike!!!

So basically, it has been a blah week, one of more recovery, more doctor appointments, and then going out of town for the weekend for my son’s last football game. I’m so ready for football season to be over! As great as it is, four months is a long season of every Saturday having a game plus at least 2 practices per week. I love having my family all home in the evening where we can play, talk, eat, and simply be together.

 

My little Panther

The one big thing I did this week was to start back to training. Oh, yes I did. And I needed it. It was late into the week, but it wasn’t a day later or earlier than what I needed. The running has felt good so far.

This makes me happy.

I still have a coach, a different one, but the same coach I had to train me for the half iron distance last fall and the Boston Marathon in 2014. Part of me wonders what I was thinking by jumping back into training so close after the Ironman, but I know if I had some time to think, I’d be signing up for something anyway. It was a preemptive strike against doing something DUMB during the post-Ironman blues, since I know myself, and I’d most likely go a tad crazy without a direct and big goal to work towards and would sign up for all the races. I NEED FOCUS.

Another thing I did was to visit the local tattoo artist about getting the M-dot tat “and more” plus re-tooling my “Boston B” tat on my shoulder. I have some good ideas so far and am looking forward to some new and improved ink. I’m feeling more like myself, signed up for a personal training certification course, and have a bunch of ideas for my middle school program in the spring. I think I’m finally getting back to normal again!!! Yes, normal is just a setting on the dryer, but I feel more like myself again!

This marathon, the Charleston Marathon, is January 16th, so I have a lot of work to do. I’m still taking it relatively slow, but I feel that my endurance and strength is over the roof. I hope that it will translate to speed in the upcoming weeks. Only time will tell!

How do you handle post-race blues?

Categories: anything is possible, Boston Marathon, coaching, follow your dreams, iron distance, ironman, ironman florida, marathon, marathon training, qualifying for boston marathon, training for marathon, triathlon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Mile Repeats: Do I Love or Hate Them?

My legs are tired. I’m distracted (more on that in the next few days). I’ve been neglectful in reading y’alls posts and responding to your comments. It will make sense soon. Since my last post on Friday, I’ve run over 45 miles, all averaging less than a 9:00 mile. That’s pretty good considering I wasn’t doing any speed work just over a month ago. Speed work. Yeah. I’ll get to that in a sec.

OH!!!! Remember I told you that I got a Facebook message from Hal Higdon himself??? Well, I emailed him the information he requested. Then what do you suppose happened?? HE EMAILED ME BACK. EEEEK!!!! It’s like if when I was a teeny bopper and one of the band members from Poison would have LOOKED at me (or in my general direction). Uh. Muh. Gawd. If I could bronze an email, I would.

On Saturday, I had a 10 mile run at no specific pace. I decided to let my legs decide what to do and didn’t look at my Garmin pace at all. It felt really good, probably due to lower mileage the week before, and I ended up doing them at an average of 8:24 pace, which is right where I want to be for the marathon. Yeah!  Saturday evening, I had a swim lesson that went REALLY well. I’m actually looking forward to putting some of the learning into action in the pool.

To keep me entertained before the 10 miler, I had a Garmin race to see which one I would wear.

To keep me entertained before the 10 miler, I had a Garmin race to see which one I would wear.

Sunday was my 20 miler, and I was lucky to find some people to run with. Overall, it was a really good 20 miles filled with friends who made the time pass a lot easier than if I was running solo. Average pace was 8:54, which was faster than what I planned, but I was happy to go faster rather than slower.

I smile, but I'm not happy. My feet were frickin cold.

I smile, but I’m not happy. My feet were frickin cold.

I soaked in my 44 degree pool for 5 minutes, which is the most I could handle without my feet literally freezing and then they’d fall off and I’d have to go get one of those fake feet and it would probably look like one of those things you find in really nice men’s dress shoes.

Pre game cat nap. See what I did there? Cat. Nap.

Pre game cat nap. See what I did there? Cat. Nap.

I was happy that my long run fell on the Super Bowl Day, well, vice versa, so I was happy to eat a lot that night. I’m not a huge NFL team follower, more of a college fan myself, but we always eat, drink, and play silly games until the halftime show. I actually enjoyed the show this year, minus the Katy Perry beach ball outfit. I find it strange (at least for ME) that you are dressing your boobs up as beach balls. I guess she can, so more power to her.

My legs felt good on Sunday, even though I’d put 30 miles on them over the weekend. I ran an easy 4 on Monday morning and they still felt pretty good. Yeah for training!  I looked at my plan for Tuesday, which is tempo/speed day, and I had 7 x 800’s on it again. Hmmm. I really didn’t know if it was going to get me where I wanted to be for this marathon. I consulted a friend of mine who is VERY fast and has put together plans for herself and others. I asked her if I should do mile repeats, a tempo run, or more 800’s. She suggested I do mile repeats. Six of them. SIX. Oy. But after talking a little more, well, even before that, I knew it would be very beneficial to me if I did them. At a 6:55-7:15 pace. I think I threw up a little after reading that. But I want this marathon PR, right? Hell yeah! Well, you gotta do the work. It’s not going to be easy and it isn’t always going to be fun. So just do it.

Tuesday morning, I headed to the UNC-Wilmington track. There’s a one mile loop around campus that I wanted to run on so I wouldn’t have to look at my Garmin much and I could also grab water between each set. I was nervous. I always am, so there’s nothing new, but I got my game face on and prepped my mind to push hard. I’m glad my friend told me they were hard for her. I know they are, but hearing someone say it prepared me more. But running a marathon isn’t easy, so training for one shouldn’t be either.

I warmed up and started my first repeat. There’s some turns and a tiny bit of traffic to consider, plus a cold breeze, but I ended up finishing the first one in 6:52. Then the others followed. 6:55. 7:05. 7:05. 7:05. Then the last one. I have no idea what happened since I didn’t feel like I was struggling, but I ended up at 7:16 for that one, which pissed me off since I ALWAYS try to at least maintain if not pick it up for the last one, which is what I thought I was doing. Oh well. I did it. I freaking did it. And I wasn’t dead when I finished. I ran an easy 800 to cool down, and headed home to stretch, eat, and stretch more.

I love little teeny flowers.

I love little teeny flowers. I grabbed this pic after my mile repeats.

So anyway, do YOU like mile repeats? I don’t. But I do. But I don’t. But I do. I hate them AND I love them. You can learn a lot about your mental wherewithal during mile repeats. I went through all the stages of grief during those repeats. Denial. Anger. Bargaining. Depression. Acceptance. It’s kind of funny how it works. All I know is that I wouldn’t let myself give up. I REALLY wanted to slow down, to quit, to tell myself that I couldn’t do it that fast, that I could just do five instead of six. But I didn’t. I REALLY want someone else to run with me for next week’s set of 1.5 mile repeats. Seriously, that could make a big difference in the perception of how hard they are. Hopefully that will come together, as I’m already working on finding a  partner in misery.

What kind of speed work do you love to hate?

Categories: marathon, qualifying for boston marathon, running, training for marathon | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Back To the Doc

The week before Christmas (and all through the house….oh wait, wrong story!) I started feeling an old ache start up in my knee.  I knew the holi-weeks were going to be pretty full with staying up late/sleeping in, taking care of the kids while not in school, doing my workouts, and hanging out with my family, so I waited until last week to make an appointment with my chiropractor/leg fixer-upper doctor.

I went in today with the diagnosis from my last chiro/leg fixer-upper from when I lived in Texas, so I could explain it better than “well, it’s the three bandy things that go across the inside of your knee and….. it’s a little achy”.  I felt pretty special when I could say that I had “pes anserine bursitis”, although I would have rather said that I was fine and the appointment was a mistake and was just there to share my Christmas candy.

Anyway, the appointment went as expected, me learning the proper way to do squats and deadlifts, and then having my leg myofacially released as I planned my mental grocery list to keep from yelling, “STOP THAT IT EFFING HURTS” “OUCH!” and kicking said doctor in face as I politely explained it was just a “reflex”.  I expect that my knee will recover quickly and that my hamstrings will be hugely buff in the coming months from my strength work to prevent the bursitis from returning…. again.

One thing I learned and would like to pass along to other runners is to NOT ignore those aches and pains that are out of the norm.  Sure, we all get them from time to time, a twinge here and a stab there, but those should go away with a little time.  If something persists, GO SEE A DOCTOR or at least, stop running.  I’m guessing that my husband would take a second job to pay for any medical costs to fix me so he wouldn’t have to put up with me in my “I’m injured so I can’t run so I’m going to make everyone around me miserable because I am miserable because I can’t run” mode, so really, not running isn’t a good option for many of us. I also understand that the previous sentence was probably grammatically INcorrect, and I am sorry about that.

I had to made some choices because I do understand treatment is not cheap.  I went through weeks just this fall when I was logging in about TWO whole miles per week, so I totally get the anxiety, the frustration, and I really get when you just have to stop. I honestly believed that if I ignored my shin splints, they would 1) go away 2) make me stronger 3) disappear.  So I ignored them into a pretty bad injury and then into having to defer a marathon I was planning to do (one that keeps boasting on Facebook “oh, only two weeks more” as I quickly scroll past thinking that they’re real bastards for leaving me out), one that probably could have been run had I just taken care of my shin splints before they turned into torture.  But it’s still a little their fault, right, all that boasting… and giving people time lines…. and, well, I’m just blaming them for all the pressure they made me put on myself.  Just kidding, it was totally my fault.

Lesson learned.  Take care of yourself because 1) believing an injury will suddenly heal itself is completely whack and 2) you probably won’t have to take as much time off running if you take care of it.  Simple, isn’t it?

 

Categories: Boston Marathon, marathon, running, training for marathon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Inspiration Friday

Compliments of Competitor Running

Compliments of I ❤ to Run

You know me and that “F” word.  But it just seemed fitting today.  I AM tired.  But the funny thing is that it is only serving as more inspiration for the next week’s worth of workouts. I can feel myself getting stronger, faster.  I know my body is working hard, step after step, stroke after stroke, minute by minute.  And I’m not even in “real” marathon training yet either. Oy vey.

I’m currently on a 6 days on, 1 day off workout schedule.  Today is my day off. And my legs (and back, and arms, and shoulders, and feet) are thanking me. I know it’s repairing, healing, storing more energy for the next week.

My fatigue seems to fuel the desire for more fatigue, the kind of fatigue that makes you just want to lay down and sleep that really good kind of sleep, but it’s the kind that takes you to your goals.  I love it. I want more of it. I have missed it. This is not to say that I haven’t told the kickboard to f**k off when I was doing my swim workout.  I’m not saying I didn’t roll my eyes when I was doing an 8 mile run and I thought we had done 4 miles but we were only at 3.  But I kept swimming and running, because I know that quitting is not an option.

I’ve had two people call me crazy this week.  I just laugh and think that we are all a little crazy in our own right.  Marathon running isn’t crazy in the least either, at least it isn’t to me and tons of other people.  I’m not a “100-mile race” crazy, or a “full iron distance” crazy… yet.  So I thought about what inspires me and keeps me going.

I don’t think there’s just one thing that motivates me.  A challenge? Showing my kids that if they put their minds to it, they can accomplish their goals?  The endless piles of food I can eat?  Probably all of them.  But I think that truly, the most inspiring thing for me is to know that I put everything into the process of meeting my goal, and then meeting it. It’s a rush.  It’s a “lookey what I can do” for myself. It’s adrenaline and endorphins all packed into a little pill that takes the form of a race. It’s addicting.

I know for now, I accomplished my goal to be able to run the Boston Marathon.  Now I want to crush it there.  I want to complete a 1/2 iron distance next October.  And the only way to do these things is to put the work into it.  I’ve half-assed myself through so many races in the past… sure I’ve put the miles in, but I haven’t done all the extra work that goes along with training.  Sometimes a PR or a certain time wasn’t the goal, and I’m totally ok with that.  Now it’s time.  I’m going to kick it’s ass. I won’t know how much ass I can kick until I do it the right way, either. No fear, right?

For today, I’m tired as F**K, but I’m ready to head back out tomorrow.  I’m looking forward to it.

What motivates you and keeps you going?

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

Hells Belles Do B2B

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

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

We were ready to go.

We were ready to go.

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

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

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

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

Me watching the bikers as they came into transition.

Me watching the bikers as they came into transition.

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

IMG_1278

I yelled, “STELLLAAAAAA!!!”

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

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

About a mile into the race.

About a mile into the race.

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

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

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

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

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

The Hells Belles

The Hells Belles

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

Me, Wendy, and Randee

Me, Wendy, and Randee

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

With a Little Help From My… Um, Friends?

I must note that this is a story that mingles animals and running.  What do animals have to do with running?  Amazingly so, they’re an essential ingredient in the formula that will take me to Boston.

I am an animal lover, plain and true. I grew up on 30 acres in the middle of Adams County, Iowa, with a variety of cats, dogs, chickens, ducks, pigs, and horses.  My sister and I would frequently run around the farm to explore the creeks, pond, woods, and fields. One time we even found an old water pump in the middle of the pasture that spewed out a field mouse when pumped, so we put an old mason jar under the pump and caught the mouse. Little did we know he was too smart for us and figured out how to get out of a hamster cage by twisting off the closure caps.

When my oldest son was a few years old, I started fostering kittens for a rescue near Mooresville, NC.  When we lived back in Iowa, I got involved with a no-kill cat rescue. I  started a fundraising campaign called “Running for a Paws”  for this rescue that netted about $3,000.  I ran races to collect donations and pledges, and had initially planned to run the local 1/2 marathon as the final race for this fundraiser, the Lewis & Clark Siouxland Marathon. Because I had collected pledges based on the number of race miles I did, I figured I could jack up the fundraising pot a few hundred bucks by doing the FULL marathon, which was my fourth full marathon. I figured it would be my last marathon. (My husband rolls his eyes at this as he knew better.)  I didn’t follow a training plan, didn’t do speed work, tempo runs, and I pretty much ran when I wanted to.  Yes, I got my miles in, but it was more for the accomplishment than anything else. I call that “old school” style.  Race day was nice and COLD, and I flew to the finish in 4:12.  And that was just the beginning.

After the race, with my rescue partner, Beth, and my mini support crew.

After the race, with my rescue partner, Beth, and my mini support crew.

I remember sitting in my mom and dad’s back yard with a Miller Lite after the race, and out of the blue, I wondered what time I was need to qualify for the elusive Boston Marathon, the race I’d heard of but really didn’t know anything else about.  I googled what it was at that time, before it was lowered by five minutes. This was the race that I thought was just for elites and extremely fast people, not for regulars like me.   “Hmmmm, if I can finish a marathon that I didn’t really train for in 4:12, I bet I can finish in 3:45 if I really give it a try.”  And often times, when I get something in my head, I will try and try until I succeed or get distracted and move on to something else.  Three marathons later, here I am, a 2014 Boston Marathon Registrant.  And all because of that one marathon that I ran to raise money for the animals.

Isn’t it funny how one decision can lead to so many other things? My desire to help this rescue led to my return to long distance running. It also led me to have some furry “helpers”, but I love them and know that if it wasn’t for me, three of the four probably would not even be alive today.  Because I currently do not have a job outside the house and we recently moved here from Texas, I don’t exactly have a bunch of friends beating my door down for coffee talks and fun excursions that were frequent before the move. I haven’t been able to run with my group for the last several weeks because of my injury either.  I’m a social person, so I do find myself fairly lonely.  But with a little help from my furry friends, I am never alone. I think that, at this particular point, they’re as grateful for me as I am for them.

I am never alone. Ever.

Even when I’m alone I’m not really alone.

At first, I was upset that I had to pull out of the Houston Marathon in January.  Then I think about the opportunities that may follow because of that decision.  What will I do after running the Boston Marathon? Where will my next marathon be? Will I be ready for the 1/2 iron distance triathlon next October?  It’s exciting to think of all the possibilities ahead.  For now, I’m just going to get through the 1/2 marathon on October 26th the absolute fastest I can, then in November, concentrate on strength building so I can heal whatever it is that’s hurting me. But I’m still excited.  Along the way, I know I have people here to train with, to cross train with, and to just be there for me.  And my furry little friends will never…EVER…let me be truly alone.

Squiffy watching me do crunches.

Squiffy watching me do crunches.

Tuna helping me roll out my shins.

Daytona helping me roll out my shins.

Goldie is making sure I ice my shin splints long enough.

Goldie is making sure I ice my shin splints long enough.

Because there’s ALWAY fur to clean up, always litter to clean, always food dishes to be filled, and always fresh water from the tap to be run so they can drink out of the faucet because “why would a sophisticated cat drink out of a bowl”, I like to take goofy pictures of my cats and share them in order to prove who really is boss. Yes, I know they really are the boss, no matter how much I think that I am.

Mother Purrresa

Mother Purrresa

IIII cccaaannnn'tttt reeeeaaach it!

IIII cccaaannnn’tttt reeeeaaach it!

daytona2

Say AHHHHHH!

Don’t let his cuteness fool you. He’s pulling you into his vortex so he can then bite you.

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

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