Posts Tagged With: racing

Race Flashback and A Tip for Other Runners

My first marathon was the Myrtle Beach Marathon way back in February of 1999.  Since I’m returning to “The Beach” on Saturday for my 1/2 marathon, I thought I’d share my #1 tip in marathon running that I learned when I ran that first marathon, 15 longishly short years ago.

It’s amazing how young I was when I ran that marathon. And it’s amazing how dumb I was about training too. Yes, my view on running was different back then, but I so totally wasted my youthfully fast running potential.  I think back and wonder what I could have done had I trained and gone for time goals.  I was so fresh and injury-free.  Sigh.  My only goal back then was to finish a marathon.  Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought I would become a tried and true marathon addict and end up qualifying for the Boston Marathon.  So I didn’t take it too seriously back then, but I did do the work… sort of.  My training consisted of running a little bit (I had no way of really measuring since Garmins weren’t around, that I know of anyway) during the week and then running a long run on Thursdays, up to one 20 miler.  I didn’t do any tempo or speed work, and although I knew of the word fartlek, I wouldn’t have known what it really was.

I don’t remember a lot of details about that first marathon, but one certainly sticks out.  I was with a group that included my husband-to-be and my sister who were doing the marathon relay, and we were hanging out in the parking lot – doing what I do not know. I remember the National Anthem playing and saying something like, “Shouldn’t we get to the start area?”  We meandered over there and I knew I needed to pee again before I started running, and while I was IN the port-a-jon, the start gun went off.  Oh crap! (No pun intended.) I remember feeling like I missed a pretty big moment and that I was screwed, but I had a chip timer (I think one of those clunky ones on my shoe) so it really wasn’t a terrible deal, but I scurried to the back of the pack. Whew! Made it.  It is not good to feel as if you’ve actually missed your race, so here it is, my #1 tip for racing: Don’t be in the bathroom when the race starts. D’oh! And if you’re wondering, I’m still a little scarred from that experience and I will never, NEVER be in a bathroom when a race is close to starting. EVER.

The only other thing that sticks out in my memory is that the course past the half marathon split was boring.  BOR-ING.  I got sore along the way, which is pretty much a given for any marathon, and I remember the weather was nice.  That’s about it.

1999 Myrtle Beach Marathon

1999 Myrtle Beach Marathon

I don’t know where that picture above was taken along the course, but look at that oversized cotton shirt!  What IS that? Does it actually say, “SPRING BREAK” on it?!  I’m probably wearing cotton socks too! Wow.  But no matter the fashion blunders and location errors when starting the race, I was so proud to finish my first marathon in 4:37.  I still am very proud of that.

Just for kicks, look at the picture that was taken a year later when I was running the marathon relay.  What the HELL is the race bib doing that high and why didn’t someone make me lower it???

This is just a mess.

This is just a mess.

So as I sit here watching icy tree branches fall while I ready my race playlist and make a list of supplies I need to take with me to Myrtle Beach on Friday, all I know for sure is that I will NOT be in the port-a-jon when my race starts on Saturday.  Wish me luck, I’m hoping for a PR!

Anyone else make blunders before a race?

Categories: Boston Marathon, marathon, running, training for marathon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

That’s Amore (to get the full effect, sing it!)

As I told someone earlier this week, I’m totally hot and heavy with running right now.  My workouts are going really well, my legs are feeling strong, I’m getting faster with less effort, and (crossing my fingers and knocking on wood) I’ve had no indicators of injury – all in all, I’m lovin’ it! I’m simultaneously icing and stretching as I write this, just in case….. I never would have thought that 8:30-8:40 pace would now be my “easy” pace. It’s a good feeling, and I’m just in love with running and training, training and running.  I’m also trying to be really careful when it comes to personal health too.  It’s completely normal to dip your kids in Lysol and soapy water as soon as they get off the bus, isn’t it? Orange juice, anyone???

Today is my day off running, and as much as I need it and wanted it, I’m already thinking of tomorrow.  40 degrees and rain? Ok. I’m running. Wind? Whatever, I’ll wear an extra layer. I’m planning it, thinking about it, and visualizing it.  And it’s just a casual run.  Sunday is some regular “easy” running with hills thrown in for almost half of it. I’ve got my route already planned out, the timing of it, and I’m looking forward to it.

Next Saturday morning at 6:30, I’ll be stepping to the line of a pretty big challenge, the Myrtle Beach 1/2 Marathon.  I’m aiming for an official PR, which is anything under 1:44, but I’m not going to get overzealous about it.  I have a race plan, and I’m sticking to it.  This isn’t my absolute A race, so I’m not going all out.  I’m feeling confident about it, probably more than I have for any other race, but yet, I’m not nervous.  Yet. Maybe that’s experience talking, maybe it’s just that I haven’t absorbed the thought of stepping up my game for an entire 13+ miles, maybe I’m just in denial.  I don’t know what it is, but it’s a good feeling, a sort of calm, like you know what’s going to happen and you’re ok with however it turns out.  Maybe that’s the love of running.

I’m hoping this love affair will remain until the end of April and I will avoid that burnout phase… you know, the one where you love running but you just don’t like it at that time?

For now, I’ll just dream of new running shoes, that runner’s high feeling, and the thought of feeling strong through a race I know will kick my ass.  So in prep for the race, I’m re-doing my playlist.  Anyone have songs that I MUST have?  I have a lot of go-to songs, and I have some new ones since my last race, but I’m always looking for new options.

Good luck to anyone racing this weekend!!!

Categories: Boston Marathon, marathon, running, training for marathon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Why I Can Buy Pink, Plus a Look Into My Week

THE NEW ADDITION

I’ve been a little out of it recently, partly because I wanted to shift focus on the blog to be more of what I’m doing and a little more involved in my training, but ok, let’s be honest, the real reason is because I saw a picture of a dog on a local rescue Facebook page last week.  “Liking” that page was probably my first step to “the downfall”, but we’ve been thinking of getting a dog after Boston, and I thought I had better willpower than that. (I’ve fostered up to about 20 cats in my house at ONE TIME, so I really should have known better than that. WRONG.)  I saw her picture, and that was all she wrote.  We kept her for almost a week to see if she and the cats would get along.  I wish the cats would appreciate her playfulness more than they do, as they seem to have forgotten what they behaved like when they were kittens. Oh well, she’s awesome, she’s loving, extremely smart, and she fits in very well.  When I get back from my trip next week, Scarlett will be the newest addition to our family.  And bonus – I CAN BUY PINK!!!

dog dog2

Back to the “stuff”……

Saturday will be three weeks til my first goal race, the Myrtle Beach 1/2 marathon. My goal is anything under 1:44 to finally bring me to an OFFICIAL PR for this distance.  I’m nervous.  I’m excited. I’m ready to take this race and bring my all.  I’ve had a few people ask my what my training plan is like, so I wanted to share that. Here goes!

Monday: Swim

Swimming has been one of those things that has required me to test my patience and understanding, something that I’ve rarely had to use made myself use when it comes to sports. If I can’t do something well relatively quickly, I just don’t do it.  That clearly explains why I do not play golf. If I hadn’t wanted to participate in triathlons, I wouldn’t have stuck with swimming.  To say that I like it would be lying, but I’ve found that I like the challenge of it more than I actually like to do it.  I guess it took me 40 years to realize that if you just stick with something and practice, you will generally get better.  D’oh! Swimming is finally becoming “easier” for me, not that it’s EASY per se, but just not kicking my ass every time I do it. Cheers to sticking something out!!!!

My equip before the swim.

My equip before the swim.

Tuesday: Tempo workout with my group.  I had previously never really enjoyed tempo runs, but in the last few months, I’ve come to like them.  A lot. Maybe it is the challenge of it, the endorphins after I’m done, I’m not sure.  But I know that these workouts are key in my race performance, so maybe that’s part of it.

Wednesday: Yoga and strength.  I can do strength all day, but I hate yoga.  I asked my coach to add to my schedule or I would find ANY REASON to get out of it if I just said, “Oh I need to do yoga so I’ll fit it in somewhere”. I hate the flexible people that can bend themselves into a pretzel. Nothing personal, but I can’t do anything similar, so it’s just annoying.  I’ll certainly do what I need to do to improve my running, stretch every muscle that I have in my entire body, and well, try to improve my actual flexibility.  Maybe it’s like swimming: the zillionth time you do something, you’ll see improvement.  So maybe in a few decades, I’ll be able to do a real “fold”. Sigh.

Thursday: Speed work at the track

I’ve been in love with track work as soon as I started doing it, probably four years ago. I don’t know what it is, but I enjoy the challenge, the pushing, the everything about it.

Friday: OFF!!! But I do have a little strength work….

Saturday: Short(er) and typically easier run.  Sometimes I’ve given a distance range to do, say…3-4 miles, but I always do the higher number.  (By the way, I’m relatively competitive.  I betchya you other competitive people didn’t know that already! Ha!) I can enjoy these runs more and generally run from home and look at the waterway that’s about 1.5 miles away from the house.  I know what’s coming the next day, so I really do enjoy these days.

Sunday: Long run.  These runs have varied in their length and intensity, but I’ve enjoyed the challenge of pick-ups in the middle, running with a group from my group ( I guess that makes me a groupy, right?!), and again, I think it’s the challenge that gets me the most.  It keeps me interested, I run no matter the conditions, I run because I know to NOT run would be to leave out a piece of the race puzzle.  I’m not willing to do that anymore, to sacrifice an outcome that I want later because of how I may feel today.

I was kindly advised that my workouts will be changing after the Myrtle Beach race.  By whom, you ask? Well, after training myself several times, I decided that I wanted to go full force and have a coach.  I belong to the running group, Without Limits, and I have a training plan that has been specifically designed for me.  It does cost a bit, but after training myself on other people’s plans, I wanted to bring the level up a notch.  I never knew exactly what pace to run at, and I didn’t know how far to push myself.  There’s been injury and then the desire to do triathlons as well, so I figured this would be as good of time to have a coach as any.  I’m very glad I chose this route considering how my training has gone (injury and then definite improvement in speed and then there’s that swimming thing that I mentioned above) and it’s one of those “no-brainer” things.  I never have to worry about what I’m doing and how fast, as I’m just told, then based on my feedback, I get my next week’s workout.  I know I can’t do this for every race, but I wanted to step up my game, and give the Boston Marathon my best shot, so here we go! I would recommend this for anyone because it gives you more insight on what you maybe doing or not doing, and in a social aspect, it’s great to have running buddies to push you!

So that, my friends, is the making of my week of workouts and where I get them. I have one day off per week, but I’ve never felt like I’m burned out, I’m too tired, that I want another rest day.  Actually, I enjoy the variety and the social interaction, the daily challenge of it all. I have a race in just a few weeks, a race that I plan to test my abilities and training, and I believe that everything that I’m doing will lead up to an outcome that I can be proud of: my absolute best effort.

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

Running Boston

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

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

This is pretty much all me.

This is pretty much all me.

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

A Rainy Day and a Dream

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

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

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

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

It takes a lot to get ready for a race!

It takes a lot to get ready for a race!

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

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

You can see the rain coming down.

You can see the rain coming down.

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

Let's get this thing started!

Let’s get this thing started!

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

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

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

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

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

It. Was. Windy.

It. Was. Windy.

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

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

I’m near the left in a pink tank top.

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

race

The Dream

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

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

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

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

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

IMG_8170

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

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

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

102 Half Marathons…. And Counting

“Every once in a while, every runner needs to slow down to absorb the sport they love so much,

to remember why they started running in the first place.”  ~ Running Boston and Beyond

102 half marathons.  What, ME???!!!  Hell, no.  I haven’t run 102 half marathons.  Not yet anyway.  I ran my tenth half yesterday at the Battleship 1/2 Marathon in Wilmington that begins and ends at the USS North Carolina Battleship. I wasn’t planning to run this race, but a friend of mine, Anthony, Mr. 102-Half-Marathons himself, asked me to run with him.   Yes, he’s run 102 half marathons, and if that wasn’t enough, he’s also run 31 full marathons.   That’s 2,148.4 in race miles alone.  And a mere drop in the bucket compared to what he’s planning to do.

Great race, awesome medal!

Great race, awesome medal!

I met Anthony at one of the first early morning track practices I attended with our training group, Without Limits.  I overheard him talking about the Dave Matthews Band, so immediately I had to chime in.  Anthony knows no strangers.  I mean really, this dude knows friggin everybody.  Well, except for the one person who said “Hi Anthony!” at the race yesterday and he looked at me and said, “I have NO idea who that was.”  He was the first person who asked me to warm up with him at the track, and I felt like I had one friend amongst all the strangers. Thankfully I know more people now, but he has a way of bringing you in and making you feel comfortable.

I haven’t seen Anthony in a while, so when I did see him on race morning, I expected him to look like his Facebook profile picture, including the white suit.

Rick Ross

Anthony Rick Ross.

Of course I hadn’t forgotten what he looked like, and we met up before the race.  I had the chance to ask Anthony some questions about all this running he’d done, and I thought it would be a fun thing to share with y’all.

Now THIS is Anthony.

Now THIS is Anthony in his new Without Limits shirt. I still think he should’ve worn the white suit…..

How it all started….  Looking for a way to lose weight and get his blood pressure and cholesterol under control, Anthony started running in 2006.  To say that he took to it would be an understatement.  He travels a lot for work and loves to travel beyond that, so running races was perfect to combine the love for running and travel.  One unique thing I found when running with Anthony is that he’s not concerned with his finish times.  It’s pretty hard to find that within a high-achieving training group where you always hear about the PR’s and the Ironman PR’s and the age category winners, and all the competitive this and that’s.  Sometimes you feel like you HAVE to do better each time, always looking to be better and faster.  Anthony simply doesn’t buy into it.  What’s really refreshing is that he runs because he loves to run.  I specifically asked him if he’ll ever go for times and is concerned with any of that, to which he replied, “I just run for the love of it and exercising to keep my blood pressure and stuff in check.”  He also quoted Bill Bowerman after being asked why he runs so much, “The real purpose of running isn’t to win a race, it’s to test the limits of the human heart.”  Boom.

After the race

After the race

The funny thing, or shall I say “new thing”, was that when we were done, I didn’t even look at the time on my Garmin.  We started off at a 10:28 mm pace and ended somewhere in the “I really don’t know or care” pace.  We walked, we talked, we were quiet.  About a million people waved “hello” to Anthony.  It was nice for me to enjoy the same race course that I ran my PR on last week, not noticing how beautiful it was while I was whizzing by.  I wonder how many times I’ve done that, how many times I’ve run past the beautiful things in order to see a certain number on my watch.  When we were done running, I didn’t even look past the “stop” button on my watch to see the finish time.  I didn’t care.

I found that Anthony has run races in many countries, Rome being his all-time favorite.  He’s run in Paris, Dublin, Costa Rica, Iceland, and all over the states, including Hawaii, with Chicago marathon being his favorite stateside race.  He said he’s had a few that he wanted to quit, such as the 20 degree Myrtle Beach Half in 2007, and the hot and humid Quintiles full marathon here in Wilmington in 2012, but he’s never given up.  He’s never been injured either.

We can all learn a little something from my friend, Anthony.  It never hurts to enjoy racing as much as you do just running.  While I’ve been off training because of that pesky injury that seems to never ever, ever want to go away, I’ve been able to concentrate on just running (although that PR last week was off the hook), cross-training, and being.  There’s no pressure, it’s all good, just the way it is.  Heck, I might even skip the marathon that I was going to do a month later than the Houston Marathon I was planning on running in January.  Sure, I want to PR when I run Boston in 2014.  I want to do the best I can, but I also realize that every once in a while, it’s good to run a race because you love running races.  Slow it down once.  Turn your Garmin off, run a race with your phone and take a picture here and there.  Run with someone and talk.  Enjoy it, absorb it. Don’t immediately go to the RESULTS area of the race finish and check your “official” time. Just run, because that’s what you love to do.  I’m guessing that, no matter how competitive you may be, you’ll love it.

Greenfield Lake - I actually STOPPED to take this picture.

Greenfield Lake – I actually STOPPED to take this picture.

So what’s on the horizon for Anthony?  First, there’s the Las Vegas half, then the Kiawah Island half, Ocean Isle Beach, a full over in Asia, Myrtle Beach…. well, you get the idea.  Let’s say the schedule is full.  I’ve heard more than one person ask him, “So what is your next goal?”.  You know, we running types always seem to have to have a goal.  And he’s definitely got one.  He now wants to run 100 full marathons and 200 half marathons.  Knowing Anthony the little bit that I do, there’s one thing for sure:  He will meet his goal, this crazy 200/100 goal; he’ll set his mind to it and get it done.  And he’ll have fun the entire way.

A nice "incline" at the beginning of the run.

A nice “incline” at the beginning of the run.

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

Post-Race Euphoria

“When you’ve had the perfect run, you’ve cleared your soul.”

– Pat Monahan

This was posted on Fit for 365’s Blog and I just had to share it, especially after Saturday’s run.  It was the best description of the run that day that I could ever come up with myself.  I had the perfect run.

This was right when I started running Saturday.  I never lost that good feeling.

This was right when I started running Saturday. I never lost that good feeling. Not even two days later.

So today, I’m “suffering” from a bout of runner’s euphoria.  I loved that run.  I wanted that run.  I needed that run more than anything.  After being out of serious marathon training for a month, after having so much pain when running, after deciding to defer the Houston Marathon, I just needed that perfect run.  And now I have…the affliction…. post-race runner’s euphoria.

Post-Race Euphoria –  The feeling a runner gets after racing, whether the race is considered “successful” or not, that said runner can run all the races he/she wants whenever he/she wants without burnout, injury, excessive fatigue or realizing it was probably not a good idea. This condition is especially serious when said runner has an exceptionally good, fun, or fast race, OR has been a spectator at an iron distance race.  Runners credit cards should be quietly removed from wallet/purse and computer/social media should be removed and a five-seven day moratorium for race entry should be immediately instilled.

Have you ever had post- race euphoria before?  The first time I had it, I had just run a sub-4:00 marathon after being sick at the Lincoln Marathon in May of 2011, my second attempt at a BQ.  The next day, I went looking for other races and immediately signed up for a 1/2 marathon two weeks away.  I thank God  the marathon I really wanted to sign up for was too far away.  I can only chalk it up to post-race euphoria.  I ended up running that 1/2 marathon two weeks later and I HATED it.  I resented every boring stupid step, the dumb volunteers handing me WATER (I know, right? How dare they?!), CHEERING, and the stupid boring course filled with nothing but dead grass and a dumb levy.  So, from then on, I imposed a one-week moratorium – NO SIGNING UP FOR RACES FOR ONE WEEK AFTER RUNNING A RACE. If it’s really a good idea the day after a race, it will still be a good idea one week later.  After that incident, I’ve never made it past a week and still wanted to sign up for a race.  Well done, moratorium, well done.

My thoughts at the time were, "*^&$% race, why the HELL am I doing this?!"  And isn't the scenery just gorgeous??? Not.

My thoughts at the time were, “*^&$% race, why the HELL am I doing this?!” And isn’t the scenery just gorgeous??? Not.

So what’s the purpose of telling you all of this?

1)  Start a one week moratorium after a race.  Do not, I repeat, do NOT sign up for a race in the first week after a race.  Post-race euphoria is very dangerous!!! Especially for your wallet 🙂

2)  Don’t look directly at your medal…. it’s tricky prowess will get to you to ignore #1 above and sign up for ALL THE RACES.

3) Enjoy your races.  Enjoy the good moments.  Learn from the bad moments.  But when you have the perfect run, etch it into your permanent memory and relive it.  Revel in it.  Love it.  Replay that moment when you are having a bad run.  I know that’s what I’ll be doing for years to come.  B2B, I’ll always love you…..

And I have to admit…. I’m running the Battleship 1/2 Marathon in Wilmington on Sunday!!!! .  This was completely unexpected BUT!!!  I am not a hypocrite!!!  No, I am not.  Technically, this is the EIGHTH day after the race, I haven’t signed up yet (I will at the expo on Saturday which is the SEVENTH DAY), and well, I’m not going for a PR on this one.  This is pure enjoyment, all fun.  I was asked to run the 1/2 with a fellow Without Limits runner, a friend Anthony, who has run ONE HUNDRED ONE 1/2 MARATHONS.  Yes, 101!!!  This will be his 102nd.  I’m going to be talking to him while we run and I’m really excited to hear all his stories about the races he has done across the world.  Stay tuned as that story will be coming next week.

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

Let’s Go, It’s Race Time

The Beach 2 Battleship Full and Half Iron Distance Triathlon in Wilmington, NC, is on Saturday.  I’m lucky enough to be racing the 1/2 marathon part of the triathlon relay as the runner for the Hells Belles team, consisting of my sister, Randee The Swimmer, and a friend, Wendy The Biker, and me, Kelli The Runner.

I'm pumped to be a part of this race!

I’m pumped to be a part of this race!

This is the first time I’ve really raced in several months.  Sure, I did the 15k a month ago, but that pretty much served to shake the race dust off my legs.  This race is bigger.  Much bigger.  I’m pretty nervous about it for a few reasons.

1) It’s a relay, so I want to do my best, not only for me, but for my Hells Belles,

2) It’s a relay so I really don’t know when my start time will be,

3) I can’t use my iPod (Ahhhhhhh, Noooooooo!!!),

4) I will start my leg of the relay after noon so will be new for nutrition and I’ve never raced after 9 am, and

4) I’m not physically ready since I’ve had to take so much time off running.

I think that’s one of the most frustrating parts is that I had a PR goal for this race, the weather appears that it will cooperate, and I’m just not going to be able to rise to that PR challenge. Races certainly won’t go away, so I’ll get to that some other time.  But I’ll be damned if I go one second slower than what I can.

Our team is ready too.  Wendy The Biker has a bike named “Stella”, so I’ll be calling her in when they get to our exchange point.  I can’t help it. 

Anyone who’s seen Seinfeld can relate to me on that one.

The one thing that I have going for me is that I’m mentally ready.  I’ve got this.  My mantra for the week is “get comfortable with being uncomfortable”.  It’s going to be hard, it’s going to hurt, and I simply will NOT take it easy.  I normally visualize before just marathons, but I’m already getting into that mode for this half marathon, which I’ve never done before. I have a plan of action, and it will require me to be patient with my pace (which I’ve had trouble with in the past), and it will require me to just get comfortable with being uncomfortable.  I haven’t run more than 9.3 miles this training cycle, so my body will be telling me to slow the hell down, but I know that

Hells to the no, I will NOT slow down! It’s time to get going, to push myself really hard, which I rarely do.  Sure I have before, many times actually, but part of it is to prove to myself that I can indeed push past the limit that I normally do.  So many of the other athletes will be doing just that on Saturday, so I may as well join in and do it too.  No one is jumping off bridges (docks don’t count), so I’m good.  Pushing myself is not to be confused with being a total train wreck either, and de-railing at mile ten. That’s not my intention.  My intention is to race smart.

It will be difficult for me to run without music, as I will actually go faster when one of my “pump it up” songs comes on.  For any race, I have the playlist choreographed so my favorite race songs come on at just the right times.  It may seem silly, but music DOES make a difference to me.  I decided that I’m going to just have to block everything out except for the crowds and run like

It will be a new experience for my team, and I don’t think any one of us has lost sight on one of the most important parts of racing either: Having Fun.  What’s the point of it if you make it all about PR’s and making your times and zoning, but you leave out the part that probably got you starting racing in the first place?  I will say “thank you” to volunteers, I will sing along to any music I can hear, I will take in the sights, I will read the signs that spectators hold and mock the ones I don’t like, and I will high-five those little hands that reach up to mine.  I’m really looking forward to seeing my running group teammates finish the half iron distance and the others finish the full iron distance.  I see the half in my future for next year.  It’s scary, but I think I’m just crazy enough to take it on.

So to all of you who are racing this weekend, good luck, do your best, and don’t forget to have fun!!

Categories: Boston Marathon, marathon, open water swimming, swimming, training for marathon, triathlon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 3 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

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