Turns out grad school takes up a lot of time. I haven’t written since January (when I was between class periods) and have barely been able to even visit the loop. I feel out of touch. Ultimately it will be worth it, but it’s going to be busy until late 2020 at least.
My training has gone relatively well even with working full time and taking classes. All I do is run, go to work, study, eat and sleep. (More or less) It’s a good thing running feels mostly like a break to me and I never had any social life. Otherwise this would never work. After a good training season, I thought shooting not only for a PR but that big 4:30 goal might be a possibility. If the weather was good at least. I ran my spring half at GO St. Louis at goal pace and I ran nearly all my workouts as planned. I think most missed workouts happened due to weather.
Travel to NJ went smoothly. My friend Rachel picked me up at the airport on Friday. We went back to her house to have lunch – we considered going into NYC for the afternoon/evening but decided it was better to stick to closer things. Instead we went to Patterson Great Falls National Park. It has the second highest volume of water in any waterfall east of the Mississippi. We spotted a skunk (WAY to close for comfort, but luckily we were way more alarmed than he was – didn’t get a picture because he went into the bushes and I wasn’t going to try and get close again!)
Then drove around and looked at some of the beautiful, (and EXPENSIVE) houses in the area and did a little shopping. I got a present for my mom for mother’s day and a gift for my sister for her birthday. Then we had dinner at a Lebanese restaurant (Uncle Momo Bistro). We had a falafel salad and beef shawarma which we split. SO GOOD. (Not pictured is the giant, fresh pita bread that was inflated like a balloon on the beef shawarma plate.)
Saturday after we ran a couple miles as a quick shake out run and had breakfast Rachel drove me down to Ashbury Park where we walked along the boardwalk. Friday had been very rainy and Saturday was SUPER windy. Rachel headed home and I headed to the expo. There wasn’t a lot to see there but I got some pictures, and chatted with the Team in Training people and the guy at the table trying to sign people up for triathlons including the Chicago triathlon. I’d like to try a tri (ha) someday, but there is no way that is going to happen until I’m done with school. Soon it was time for the Team in Training inspiration dinner. I found a few other solo travelers to sit with and as always was truly inspired by the stories of just what our fundraising has done – and how much still needs to be done in the fight against blood cancers and other cancers (many treatments originally developed from research funded by the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society has also gone on to benefit people with other cancers). I failed to meet up with any loopsters on Saturday but I was hoping to catch up with some on Sunday.
My alarm went off at 4:45 am (3:45 central time!) but I was already awake. Not sure why this hotel has such hard beds – but it didn’t make getting prerace sleep any easier. TNT met up in the lobby and we rode buses together to the starting area. I walked over to the farthest bank of POPs and got in without waiting. At first the sun was shinning but then it clouded over and got a little colder. I was keeping an eye peeled for loopsters, especially Gwen and Greg, because we had talked on facebook about running together until the half broke off and I knew what they said they were going to wear. I had about given up when I spotted them in line for the coral and called their names. They joined me in the corral and after waiting what seemed like a really long time we were off.
We ran together for a few miles before Greg stopped for a bathroom break and fell behind. Gwen and I chatted and ran for the full 11ish miles before she turned and went on to the half finish. Up to this point I was pretty close to on pace for the 4:30 I’ve wanted for so long. However I was already beginning to fade a little. The weather was perfect. I felt ok, but it quickly became clear this was not going to be the day for 4:30. I’m just not there yet. The full course felt a lot less empty that it does sometimes. I felt like there were more people around than when I did Austin last year. We started on the long, long out and back. Except for a couple of quick places where the “out” branches off everything from mile 10 or so on is part of the out and back, although not all of it is quite along the same road. We ran past beautiful houses, and houses that were less beautiful but still huge and expensive looking.
Some of the fancy houses we ran past (picture taken on Saturday)
Part of the boardwalk I ran along, picture taken Sunday evening. (The race route was going toward the camera)
I never got off course but missed the moment when I actually turned around and started on the return part of the course. Just after that point the 4:45 pacers caught up with me. I held on and ran with them for a mile or two but when I slowed at a water stop they didn’t and then they were gone. The chance at 4:30 had disappeared miles ago, but now I knew there could be no PR either (PR is 4:43). My C goal became no walking outside the water stops. I just kept plugging along, my pace had really slowed, but I was still running (and somehow passing people). The ocean was to my right and a nice distraction. I thought of all the people I run for who are battling cancer, and those whose battle had ended. I was not feeling great, but it was still way better than what people undergoing cancer treatment deal with, and that kept me running. Team and Training coaches would join me for a short time every once in a while, which is also one of the great benefits of being a part of this group. Finally, the end was in sight. But I had no kick. So I just kept up my slow pace. I managed to smile and do my “trademark” thumbs up as I crossed the finish line of marathon #8.
Again, this one was a long time coming. I need to work harder at cross-training and hopefully avoid getting hurt. Stepping up to the beer table I realized I had lost my beer ticket along the way. So, no free beer for me. I signed out at the TNT table and then headed to the shuttle (provided by TNT) back to the hotel. I showered and was lounging around thinking about lunch (at about 2:30 pm) when I checked facebook and saw that I had an invite to join the loopsters still in town for lunch at the Robinson Ale House that was basically across the street. Yes, please! It was so great to meet everyone. I’m glad I got the chance. After we all left lunch I went down and put my feet in the ocean. It wasn’t as cold as I expected, and no colder than when I did it in Ireland. This trip was the first time I’d seen the Atlantic from the US side.
After that I was pretty done for the day. I went looking for ice cream about 7, but wasn’t able to find any place that was open. (I think I should have tried harder, but I went back and ate some of the snacks I had in my room).
On the way to the train station, shortly before I tripped and fell down (but long enough before that it wasn't because I took this picture - it was because I was rushing).
Monday morning I got up early for the long travel day home. I walked a mile to the nearest commuter train station – tripping and falling along the way, ripping a hole in my sweatshirt, and my NJ marathon long sleeve t-shirt, scrapping my wrist and elbow and bruising my knees. Then I took the train to Newark International Airport, which required switching trains twice. Luckily people were very helpful, and I didn’t have to go down any steps! Then at the airport I took the airport tram to my terminal, got through security relatively easily, bought a sandwich for lunch and waited for my flight. It was delayed and I began to worry about making my next flight. My first flight landed just as my second flight was supposed to be boarding! But I made it, and when I got home I saw my luggage had too thankfully! It was a long day of travel, but I was glad to be home.
I didn’t run or workout at all until today. I always take 6-7 days completely off. Today’s run/walk felt really good, though I was glad to take walk breaks. I was sore through Wednesday, but I’ve felt worse. I’m not sure what I’m running next. I’m off classes until the 14th and intend on soaking up the break.