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Showing content with the highest reputation since 09/29/2017 in all areas

  1. 24 points
    Here it is folks! Not only did I get the keys to my new house yesterday at 3 pm but then it snowed like mad all day today so I snapped a picture of the first snow and my house combined. I'm more in love with it every minute I'm there. I could "wax poetic" about my home. I will be sleeping there starting Wednesday night (tomorrow) with minimal "stuff" because everything is in 2 storage trailers. I met with the boiler guy this morning so I understood how the heating system operates and what to watch for and things to do so I'm comfy. It's a steam boiler system which means I have those really big tall old radiators and very comfortable warm heat that isn't dry. Dry forced air heat is misery for my allergies so I'm hopeful this is good for me all winter. However, steam systems are more technical than a regular boiler so I have plenty of learning to do. I'm super excited to get my stuff moved in on Friday and Saturday and then start running in my new town. New routes! A river! An old fashioned bakery! Coffee shops! 4 breweries! Who's coming to visit? The details: technically 4 bedrooms; 2 down, 2 up. The upstairs I have closed off right now and will probably have a student renting starting in January but until then, it's empty and I'm not heating it. 1 bathroom. Built sometime between 1895 and 1913 (conflicting information) and I'll be digging into the county records to get the best info I can. 1/3 of an acre because it's a double lot on a corner. 2 car garage with a seriously leaky roof to secure as best I can for winter. Basement for utilities but not at all for "living space conversion". I'll share interior pictures once I settle in. Thank you so much to everyone for cheering me on and sending congrats my way. You all are beyond wonderful people!
  2. 21 points
    My life has slowly been changing since 2012 when I was in pure Ironman training, and everything I did was on the road. It's tough to describe where most of you may have stopped hearing from me, but as a quick summary, I finished Ironman Wisconsin in 2012. After that, I went through a huge depression with a job that was not only not challenging me, but also, left me feeling like every day was the worst day ever. Anyways, I found the trails to be my outlet. By 2014, I decided that I wanted to complete a 100 mile race. I entered the Leadville 100 lottery, and I was denied. I took this as an opportunity to work backwards and work up to that distance slowly. By 2015, I ran Superior 50 in Lutsen, MN. The SHT (Superior Hiking Trail) gave me all I could handle that year, and I realized my decision to take a step backwards was the correct one. Since then, I've completed three more 50 mile races, and four 50k's. The trails have claimed me. They call to me. I dream about them. I get nervous about not being out there. I also made a pact on December 22, 2016, to continue into a streak until I complete that 100 mile race. I have spoken to my better half, and she has fed me with confidence that we're ready to attack this huge distance. I haven't announced it to anyone but the Loop currently. I have spoken to my coaches about it, and they've all given me the feeling that I'm on track to do this. Here's me once again announcing my bid for 100 miles on foot. Next year, I'm going to sign up for two different 100 milers in the Minnesota area in hopes to bat 500. It's scary! But I've often been heard saying if it doesn't scare the s*** out of you, it's not worth doing. Anyways, the two races are Zumbro 100 (in April) and Superior 100 (in September). Superior is a lottery, so there's no guarantee I'll get in, so if very well only be a single bid next year as well. Zumbro will be six, 16.7 mile loops. Superior has my heart and is 103.3 miles of point to point running in some of the most technical trails I've ever attacked. I have a few Loopsters in mind to ask to pace and crew me, but I haven't even asked them yet. Anyways, I'll leave it there for now. Hopefully, I post before I click that entry button in November. As always, run strong and never give up!
  3. 20 points
    :O I'm blooping! (Is it even still called blooping?) It's only been five days and I already have no idea what I did before the jogging stroller. Thanks again to ALL OF YOU and especially fivestarks for organizing such a generous gift. I was a little scared to start - is her head stable? are the parts secure? is it put together right? WHAT IF IT FALLS APART?! - so I made DH do most of the pushing the first time on Saturday. Nobody was hurt in a dramatic stroller accident and L fell asleep so that's her vote of approval, I guess. Sunday I ran for the first time in almost a year. DH had to go twiddle his thumbs at the auto shop so I thought hey, why not try? My plan was to NOT wear my Garmin so it would stay more of an exercise-y walk/run in my head. What it ended up being was a 4.5 mile run with a few hills that I walked and some water breaks. I've had my fair share of comeback runs and mostly they really just are terrible. Feeling out of shape, wobbly, sucking wind and getting cramps in my shoulders. Why shoulders? Who knows. This one... was glorious. I WAS RUNNING. NO ONE COULD SEE POST BABY BELLY BEHIND THE STROLLER. I DIDN'T FEEL TERRIBLE. And perhaps most importantly... ANOTHER RUNNER WAVED AT MEEEEEEE!!! Sidenote: I didn't think through how the post-run was going to be... I'm used to being able to cool down a bit, take some fun pictures to put on Loopville, drink some water and take a nice long shower. Yeaaaahhh hahaha. No. Even my PF-y foot got in on the action and quieted down after the run. I haven't heard a peep out of it since. I guess it got a good stretching. My lower core muscles were a different story and I spent the next two days grimacing every time I had to lift a leg with DH giving me the you started out too fast/far again look. I'm used to that look. I don't care. But then I felt better and ran the same route again on Wednesday and it was equally as glorious and amazing. A tiny bit farther (I don't trust this Apple Watch for GPS) and a tiny bit faster (probably because of the warped distance) but still I'm taking it woohooo!! Here's L's second run face: "ok mommy, is this going to be a regular thing?" Honestly I just want to have something to do that eats up some time during the day and if that lets me get back into shape and enjoy running again, it's a huge bonus. And so I'll label this as cautiously optimistic for me getting back into it. It'll be different and difficult, but when I heard L cooing and giggling and waving Bill the monkey rattle around as I huffed and puffed behind her at mile 3... so so so worth it.
  4. 18 points
    Long overdue race report, as usual. Lots of pictures, as usual. Waaaaay back in mid-May, I traveled north for the second annual “Caitlin’s Birthday Mother-Daughter Race Weekend.” Last year’s inaugural event was the Martha’s Vineyard Marathon, where my Mom ran her very first half-marathon and I ran my 13th marathon. This year we were keeping it in New England but heading north to Maine, where Mom would run her third half-marathon (she’s a total pro now) and I’d run my 12th half-marathon AND my 17th marathon, because why run one race when you can run two?? I got home to Massachusetts from DC on Thursday, and Mom and I hit the road for Maine on Friday morning. But first, an important stop for apple cider doughnuts, because New England. We hit the expo at the University of New England in Biddeford, ME and picked up our packets, then had a tasty early dinner at a cute little Italian place in Saco, where we were staying. I got Flat Caitlin ready for Saturday’s half-marathon (race #1), and we called it an early night. Saturday morning dawned cool and crisp (sunny and 50 degrees!), which felt amazing to me since DC was already in the throes of its hot, humid summer weather. Mom and I drove over to the start/finish area at the University of New England (about 20 minutes from where we were staying; it seemed like everywhere we needed to be over the weekend was about 20 minutes away from each other…) and parked the car, then headed inside the nice warm student center to wait for the race to start. Lots of other runners slowly trickled in, and I kept an eye out for the yellow bibs that indicated another crazy person who was doing the 39.3 mile challenge. It was so awesome to have a comfortable place to wait indoors and to have real bathrooms to use prior to the race! With about 10 minutes to go, Mom and I walked the little ways over to the start line in a nearby parking lot. I was in the first wave, so I lined up in my corral and chatted with a couple of other runners while we waited for the race director to blow the official starter conch shell. At 8am sharp, the conch was blown and we were off! Given that I had a marathon to run the next day, my plan was to take the half-marathon nice and easy. This turned out to be a fantastic race to just run for fun, because the course was so beautiful! Almost all of it was right along the coast and I had so much fun soaking up the ocean views and marveling at the gorgeous beach mansions in the quiet neighborhoods that we ran through. The race seemed to fly by, and before I knew it I was coming into the finish back at the university campus! I was really happy with how consistent I kept my pace throughout the race, and how comfortable it felt. I collected my medal and commemorative water bottle (way to be both green and fun, Maine Coast Marathon!), went to the car to grab my warm layers, and then camped out at the finish to cheer on runners and wait for Mom to come in. I met two super cute and very good dogs waiting for their person to finish the race as well, so that was fun. And cheering at the finish line is ALWAYS a great time! Mom came flying in so much sooner than she’d expected – she finished in 2:54:xx, breaking three hours for the first time and getting a ridiculous 14-minute PR! After enjoying a post-race Shipyard beer in the beer garden, Mom and I got cleaned up and then headed into Freeport, because it was only about half an hour away and I was desperate to visit the HUGE L.L. Bean flagship store! It didn’t disappoint! The rest of Freeport was super cute and we had fun walking around and window shopping (and maybe doing some actual shopping too!). We stumbled upon the Wicked Whoopie store, which was SO exciting because they always come to the Big E (basically a New England state fair that’s held the next town over from my parents) and are a family favorite! Look at the size of this whoopie pie!! That is 5 entire pounds of sugar and fat. A little much even for my huge sweet tooth. I did get a few regular-sized whoopie pies though, including a chocolate-dipped one! Mmmmmm…. After walking around Freeport for a while, Mom and I had dinner and some beer flights at a really cool brew pub over in Portland: Liquid Riot Brewing. It was so delicious! Then we went back to our hotel, I got the marathon version of Flat Caitlin ready, and I hit the hay. I got up nice and early to have my pre-race breakfast and coffee, and Mom and I drove the 20ish minutes to the Marathon start at Kennebunk High School. Yet again, we had a nice warm indoor space to wait and real bathrooms! Maine Coast Marathon FTW! There was a bit of confusion after we moved out to the start line. The race director made an announcement that there was an emergency with the volunteer crew that was setting up the aid stations, and that there would be no hydration stations for the first 8 miles of the race. They would also be delaying the start by another 15 minutes to allow the volunteers to get the aid stations set up for the remaining miles of the race. We never found out what happened with the volunteers, and while I wasn’t super thrilled about extra time standing out in the chilly morning, I’d much rather do without water for the FIRST 8 miles of a marathon rather than the last 8! (as I sit here in August in DC thinking about 8 miles without water, I shudder a bit, but it was only in the 40s that morning!) Finally we were off! I had zero plans for this marathon other than to take it easy, have fun, and try to run fairly consistent splits, which meant starting off at a really easy effort. The course itself was mostly really enjoyable. We wound through Kennebunkport, which was such a cute little town! And there were more breathtaking ocean views and gorgeous beach houses to look at. There was a stretch along the shoulder of a highway that was less than ideal, and it’s also where pretty much all the uphill was. So that was a little unpleasant, but I got through it and the last few miles were back to scenic ocean views. I started with gloves and tube sock arm-warmers because it was so chilly! Oh to feel cold again… The volunteers were great, and by the time I came through Mile 6 or so, they’d gotten a makeshift water station set up. I honestly didn’t notice the lack of water for the first several miles, though I was thankful to have it once it was available again. Hopefully that issue didn’t mess up anyone else’s race too dramatically! It’s been a little while, so I don’t remember as many specifics about the race as I might have immediately afterwards. But I remember just genuinely enjoying running it, and kind of marveling at how fresh I felt given that I’d just run a half the day before. In the couple of place where there was an out-and-back that allowed us to see the runners ahead of and behind us, all of the people with the yellow 39.3 Challenge bibs cheered for each other, which was really cool! Before I knew it, I reached the final few miles. There was a photographer right at the 26-mile mark, which I thought was both hilarious and a little bit mean, so I had to cheese for him a bit. Mile 26: I made the final turn and heard my mom cheering before I spotted her. I crossed the finish in 3:54:53, which combined with my 1:54:40 half-marathon the day before, gave me a 6th place finish among the women doing the 39.3 Challenge! I was so happy with how I’d paced the marathon, and I was thrilled to have gone sub-2:00/sub-4:00 for the race weekend, since even though I didn’t officially have any goals, doing that was my not-so-secret goal. I picked up my marathon medal and Challenge medal, and borrowed Mom’s half-marathon medal (which she wore to the marathon finish line because why not?) for a photo shoot! So much bling! It was still cool enough at the finish for me to rock the Challenge jacket, so that was great! Mom and I hung around in the finish line beer garden for a while, and met up with Amber and her DH, which was great! Mom had packed up the car and checked out of our hotel while I was running, so everything was ready for our road trip back to Massachusetts. But we made a slight detour on our way out of Maine to see the famous Portland Head Lighthouse: After getting back to MA, I enjoyed a super relaxing week at home to recover, hang out at the stables, and celebrate my 32nd birthday! Next up: more catch-up bloops about summer training, crazy 5Ks, and chasing big goals!
  5. 17 points
    ... and I bet you local folks thought I was doing the Hospital Hill Half Marathon ... So that 13.1 that I was training for? It was the Thelma & Louise Half Marathon, a classic, run-with-your-best-girl, ladies only race set in the rugged cliffs of Moab, Utah. This race was an excuse for a girls trip with one of my closest friends. She's must faster than I am (former 400 m hurdler, that one), but she is the type that abides by the "run with", as opposed to "run at the same time" rule. In this race, it was especially fun to have a person that you run right beside every step. As Moab itself is at about 4,500 feet and surrounding terrain can get up to 7,000 feet, we decided to fly in Tuesday for Saturday's race - to get adjusted to the altitude change and to also take advantage of the national and state parks surrounding the town. We hit up Arches National Park, Dead Horse Point State Park (where T & L famously drove their convertible into the Colorado River), part of Canyonlands National Park and also some zip lining on petrified cliffs that somehow aren't part of any park, but are owned by the touristy places in Moab. For pics of those adventures, hop on over to my Instagram and check out #girlstrip. Race day was an early early wake up call. Our alarms were set for 3:45 am in order to get to the buses by 4:45 that would take us to the starting line. It's the desert. It's summer. The race started at 6 am. Friend, M and I agreed to join the sports bra squad on race day, but found ourselves needing long sleeves in the incredibly cool and windy morning that we awoke to. We literally had been moving about our tiny home rental, barely mummering to each other until we stepped outside and the cold air caused us to scream in surprise. That woke us up. The bus ride was relatively quick and uneventful. The race starting point was right along the Colorado River and surrounded by cliffs - an insanely beautiful sight. However, that early in the morning, before sunrise, it was cold and the wind was not helping. Luckily, we found a spot that blocked most of the wind, and wound up chatting with two other women who had traveled from Seattle. When it was finally time to head to the start, we shed our layers, dropped bags, hit up the toilets one last time and lined up literally at the very end of the pack. It was chip timed, so who cares, right? The course was described as a slight decline out and a slight incline back. So, the strategy was to keep things reined in the first half so as to not crash and burn in the second half. M let me control the pace, which I'm sure was painfully slow for her at first. We ticked off the first 3 miles in 12:24, 12:37 and 12:28. Starting at mile 3, there were aid stations every 1.5 miles - key in the heat and dry air for us Midwesterners who weren't used to this climate. Our goal was to run all the miles, walk all the water stops, because we both suck and drinking and running anyway. This was a great strategy, except for the part where it really messes with my split data, LOL. Around mile 4, we ran by an arch (jug handle arch) and this amazing group of women drummers, Moab Taiko Dan that energized us and quite frankly, made me so happy I've been trying to find a similar group at home. Miles 4-6: 10:48, 12:14 (water stop), 11:34. Slightly after this, we hit the turnaround and also the relay exchange point, so there was an amazing crowd, cheering everyone on. We both felt pretty darn good at this point, and we both were wondering when things were going to feel hard. For the first half, we'd been running in the shades of the cliffs, but the sun was up and over most of the terrain now. It was bound to get hot, right? Miles 7-9 ticked by in 12:01 (water stop), 11:04 and 11:26. We both kept making comments about how things still felt easy. Should they feel easy? There was a surprising amount of shade, and the wind was still blowing, keeping us relatively cool. Every now and then, I would glance down at my watch and see us nearing 10:00 pace, but then I would get scared and back off a little bit. Seriously, I need to stop running scared. LITERALLY. The last few miles I could feel myself tiring. It was a mix of emotions, because I was getting tired, but I knew I was doing well. I also knew M was full of energy and could have jetted off easily, but she stuck by my side, staying slightly in front of me to "drag" me along. UGH. Push, push, push, dig a little more. One last water stop and onto the finish. As we neared the finish line and hauled it in, I just felt all kinds of emotion welling up inside me. Tears were already forming and we hadn't even crossed. When we finally did, I just lost it. M's watch didn't have 13.1 yet, so she went off to "finish" her mileage and that was fine with me. I just needed to be alone in the crowd, half crying, half trying to not cry. I hadn't stopped my watch right away, but was thrilled by the time: 2:32.16. My previous PR was 2:35 and change. I actually did it. I finally broke that PR - set all the way back in my first half marathon. I was looking forward to seeing the official results and getting my actual chip time. Guess what? This race doesn't do chip time. Only gun time, which had us at 2:33 and change. Slightly frustrating, as I won't know my true PR. But hey, it's at least 3 minutes, maybe 4. Not too shabby. PS - this race has the best snacks Will I do another half marathon? Eh, I don't know. I know if the opportunity presented itself, I would do another race in Moab that is done by this race company and I would probably be willing to tackle this specific course again. After the race, I told M I'd love to actually be able to race her one day. She smiled - her goal is to get faster, too, so I may never catch her. But I'll have fun trying. BTW, girls trip came on the heels of a very exciting time in my life. The BF and I celebrated one year of dating ... and he asked if he could call me by another title for the rest of our lives. I said yes.
  6. 17 points
    A few years have passed since I first visited a running store and bought my first running shoes. A few years have passed since I decided to hit the road and run those initial calf-burning, lung-searing miles. A few years have passed since I once again fell in love with the endorphin rush that washed over me in the wake of cooling sweat, thundering heart rate, taut, quivering muscles quieting into total body relaxation (yes, I’m talking about RUNNING here, kids…). You can experience this stuff all over again, though. Find a brand new runner. Someone who said “I’m not a runner!” as recently as a few months ago. Someone who talked about seeing runners on the road with just the slightest hint of amusement under the tone of voice, like… yeah, those people. Someone who joked about being chased if you saw him needing to run. Someone who played all the real sports like baseball, basketball, golf, etc. But maybe that someone starts realizing how much running has been a part of your life, your makeup, your history. The difference it made. The way your eyes shine when you talk about a BQ, a marathon, about training. The way your face becomes a study of resignation and pain when a race that was your goal is a bust… but then the way your face came alive when you accomplished it and could talk about it in terms of victory. How you speak of the things that plagued you before running, and how different it is now. And your friend starts thinking. “Maybe I should start running?” He asked it quietly, suddenly, the almost-always-sad eyes sparking with just a little hope, a shred of motivation. “Do you think it would help me?” I tried hard not to show the surprise that I felt. That was a quick turnaround from “I’m NOT a runner.” But desperate times call for desperate measures. And losing a marriage of 12 years, with all the ongoing pain and conflict and emotional upheavals it brings, along with trying to be a dad to two kids, staying afloat financially, struggling with depression and loneliness, and daily battling the taunting clutches of former alcoholism (4 years clean as of Summer, 2013… not a drop since)… well, those are desperate times. Life gets hard. Nights get long. Everything comes crashing down. Sometimes you just need some solitude and sweat and the wind in your face. Sometimes you need to get physical with the ghosts of your pasts and the demons of your present. Do you think running would help? He asks. Um, YES. I do. It helped when I was alone and desperate, when I wanted to take my own life. It helped when I was trying to process what had happened to me as a child versus what was happening to me becoming a woman. It helped when I hated my body and started starving myself and throwing up. It helped when I went through my first heartbreak, and when my then-best-friend betrayed my confidence and told my secrets to many. It helped when my relationship with my father was practically nonexistent. It helped when people called me “wild”, improper, unladylike, not find-a-husband material, and immodest for my love for the outdoors and my thinly veiled yearning to be free. Yep, even way back then, on the dirt roads, in an ankle length dress, in shoes I had to spray paint black to make them acceptable to my father the Bishop, and in doing something I didn’t even know the proper name for (we called it jogging). And it helped me when I left my culture behind and sought my way through a labyrinth of changes in a strange new world. It helped me beat back depression, leave an eating disorder in my past, learn to respect and love my body, and gain confidence and poise. It helped me learn strength and resilience when I struggled through the dark time of running injury. Running helped. Within a week or two of the initial conversation, I took my friend to his first running store experience. He saw the rows of shoes and the racks of tech gear. He had his gait analyzed. He put on about 7 different pairs of shoes before choosing well (Altra Torins), trying them out on the small track in the store. Then I ran his first 2 miles as a runner with him, just as the winter sun was sinking low and we finished in the shades of dusk. He takes to it comfortably; a relaxed, natural stride. The background in sports shows up and will be a benefit. 8:03 pace for the run and he’s not even gasping. And he likes it. He might run a race sometime. He wants to try trails next summer. He talks about “needing a run” when he’s up against a particular stressful, conflict-filled day. He’s a runner. I made up a beginner’s training plan and emailed it to him, happy to have added another convert to the shared fellowship of finding peace on the open road and secluded trail. Running helps, for sure.
  7. 17 points
    As you're probably aware, Florida is hot. Most of Florida really doesn't have "seasons." Down south they have "my face is melting" and "oh, it'll take me 20 minutes to get a sunburn" as their seasons. Way up here in the panhandle, just south of the Georgia border we actually have something more akin to seasons. It's not like up north, north, though. Our fall basically just means that there's much less humidity and the temps are only gonna reach 85-88. The mornings, though, are quite awesome. we'll get down in the lower 70's. We have 3 DK9s. A short, stocky, blind dachshund; a mutt we were told was lab-border collie mix; and a Great Pyrenees. The GP is a 120 lbs. giant, white, hair-shedding, lovable fluff ball. When we adopted her nearly 11 years ago, we had no idea what we were getting into...I mean, the interwebs explained to us that she wasn't going to be an obedient dog, so we knew that much. But, we didn't think about the mountains of hair she would shed in a week or the fact that afternoon walks in the summer just wouldn't be any fun for her. I've tried to be the dog owner that walks there dogs for a good hour every day (except the little dachshund, and hour of walking for her is roughly the equivalent of you or I running a marathon). I learned during the first year of having the GP that walking her after work in the summer was pretty mean. She didn't lay down and collapse in neighbors yards, but her tongue would become roughly as wide as my wife's Kia Soul as she panted her way through the walk. I decided that subjecting her to that was more akin to punishment than it was enjoyable for her. So, the dog-walking was switched to before work. Ever since, I've been getting up at 5 a.m. to walk the big dogs. I think they've enjoyed not being subjected to the summer heat...and I've learned to love that early morning solitude. For years, the walk was a half mile loop to the west of my house; then, just before the intersection of the street before my street, at a storm drain, we'd turn for a three-quarters of a mile loop to the south. Sometimes, we'd zig-zag up and down a couple of side streets to add a little extra if they were feeling it. The years have gone by and the girls have gotten older. The GP has developed arthritis; and it's slowed her down quite a bit. I talked to her doctor about walking her, and he still wants her walking as much as she wants to. He said to just let her dictate the walks. The lab mix, though, is still strong and happy. Most of the time now, the GP will continue to head towards home; but, sometimes, she'll stop at the storm drain just before the intersection where we've turned onto the south loop for the last decade. She'll either start pulling that direction or she'll just stop and look, apparently longing for the days gone by when she would walk and sniff her way around that loop, before deciding to continue towards the house. On the days that the GP goes home early, the lab mix and I head back out, after dropping the GP off at the house, for a brisk walk on the south loop. This week has seen a return to fall for us. It's been warm, but comfortable, in the afternoons and nowhere near as humid as it has been for the last several months. The mornings have been gorgeous, with a refreshing breeze. The skies have been clear and the stars beautiful. The other day, the GP wanted to turn towards the south but I was in too much of a rush to be able to take the extra time. I stopped, petted her head, and promised that, if she felt like it, I would take her to do that loop before the end of the week. I was sad that I didn't have the time to do that extra loop with her. It was pretty again this morning and I spent most of the loop going to the west looking at the skies, wondering, thoughts wandering, and letting the DK9s walk and sniff 'til their hearts were content. As we made our way back toward the house, we arrived at that storm drain and stopped. She sniffed her usual spot right next to it as I stood and watched. She pulled at the leash, wanting to cross to the south loop and I smiled. The three of us wandered slowly around that loop, I enjoyed the stars and the breeze and they enjoyed walking, sniffing, and just being dogs. When we approached the street that we normally turn on to do our zig zag, the GP gently pulled that direction. I let her slowly, gently lead the way. The first part up that street is a pretty steep uphill, especially for her now. But, she continued to slowly climb it; content with her pace. As we made our way back up our street, she slowed. It wasn't that pained, lumbering slowing down that she does as she nears the end of what she can do for that day. She was dilly-dallying, hoping to extend the time that we could be outside. As I left to come to work, I told my wife that she had done the whole walk. She knows when we're talking about her, and she lifted her head to listen. She smiled a tired, but content smile and laid her head back down on the flloor. It was a good morning.
  8. 16 points
    Oh goodness, where to start? The New York City Marathon was so much more awesome than I ever imagined, and I’m sure I won’t do justice to the experience here. But that doesn’t mean I won’t try! I left DC on Thursday via Amtrak (my favorite way to travel anywhere on the I-95 corridor), with coffee in my hands and manic excitement in my eyes… I arrived at NY Penn Station around noon, and walked the handful of blocks north to the Port Authority bus terminal, where my mom was due in at 12:30 from MA. We walked another handful of blocks together up to Hell’s Kitchen, where our (definitely illegal but super convenient) AirBnB was located. Checking in was fast and easy, and within a little while we were on the move again, this time south towards the Javits Center where the expo was held (with a quick stop for lunch first; a girl’s gotta eat). Entering the expo was SO EXCITING and a lot less hectic than I’d imagined. We got through security quickly and were free to wander the many, many aisles of NYC-branded running-related goodies. But first, I just had to pose in front of this huge blow-up of one of my favorite race pictures ever: In the small section of the expo not dedicated to blatant consumerism (no judgement; I succumbed) there was a HUGE tabletop map of the marathon course. This this was practically life-size! On Thursday evening, Mom and I went to the New York Road Runners (NYRR) Marathon Pavilion located next to the finish line in Central Park, because I’d reserved us tickets for a screening of the Boston Marathon documentary that was released in April. The Pavilion had the ginormous wall of names of *almost* all the race entrants (sorry Jay-Zee). Thanks to Mom for spotting me! Seeing the movie again was so great, and definitely stoked some fires in my goal-oriented little mind. I think Mom enjoyed seeing it too, as well as getting a preview of what a ridiculous blubbering mess I’m going to be should I ever be lucky enough to qualify for and run Boston. As a special treat, Bill Rodgers was in the house and did a Q&A after the film! He was a bit spacier than I’d expected, and didn’t so much answer questions as reminisce about races of yore… But who can blame him? He’s Bill-freaking-Rodgers and can talk about whatever he wants. On Friday morning, I woke up early-early to go get a fresh bagel at 6:30am. Because, New York City. Then at a more civilized hour, I made my way to the NYRR Run Center to join a marathon-focused running tour of some of the historical sites of Central Park! There were about 20 people in the tour group, and the leader kept the pace to a nice and leisurely 10:15-10:30/mile. While we were hanging out in the Run Center waiting for the tour to depart, guess who walks in. Emma Coburn!! You know, the World Champion and American record-holder steeplechaser. #steeplepeople I didn’t talk to her or anything, but let me tell you, she is just as gorgeous in person as she looks on tv. Anyway, the tour got underway and we made it to the Park! One of the places we stopped for a story was on Cat Hill, so named for this cool bronze statue of a mountain lion-type kitty perched on the side of the road ready to pounce on unsuspecting runners and cyclists. Another place we paused for some stories was at the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir, which was just beautiful: Thankfully it was a nice warm day, because we stopped for stories and pictures about every quarter mile, which would have been torturous had it been cold! One of the last places we stopped was at the marathon finish line, where this guy was hanging out for the weekend: This is Fred Lebow, founder of the NYC Marathon, standing watch over the finish line ready to click off your time on his watch. Normally he lives over at the 90th Street entrance to Central Park, but the NYRR move him over to the finish line for race weekend. I imagine he appreciates the gesture. On Friday afternoon, Mom and I did some wandering around Manhattan. We visited Washington Square Park, walked around Soho, window shopped along 5th Avenue, did some top-notch carb loading… We paid a visit to the finish line in Central Park so Mom could see it (she would be avoiding that insanity on race day): Then on Friday night we had dinner with my cousin and his wife, who live in NYC, and then saw Kinky Boots on Broadway! What an incredibly fun, uplifting show that is!! If you have the chance, I highly recommend seeing it! On Saturday, we did some more wandering around the city, because it is just too wonderful not to enjoy! NYC architecture blows me away, whether it’s huge skyscrapers or gorgeous little details that are too easy to miss. On Saturday evening, Mom and I met up with the other Loopsters running the marathon (plus a local one - hi christine.eliz!) for a delicious pasta dinner. After dinner, we managed a group photo in the craziness of Times Square. I needed to be at my bus to the start line by 5:45am the next morning, so we called it a night very early on Saturday. But not before getting Flat Caitlin ready! (wow, three pages in and the race hasn’t even started yet! #sorrynotsorry #doallthethings #yolo) My alarm went of so very early on Sunday, but I bounded out of bed with all the energy I seriously wish I had on speedwork mornings. I left the apartment to walk over to the library where the bus would take me to the start line on Staten Island. It was about a 20-minute walk from the apartment, which I normally wouldn’t recommend at 5:15am, but it was one of those special race experiences because I was accompanied by so many other throwaway clothes-clad runners! As I walked towards the long line of buses, I looked up and saw the Chrysler Building in all its Art Deco glory: Quickly enough, I was settled in on the bus and ready for the hour-ish long drive to Staten Island. I noshed on my bagel and peanut butter, drank some Gatorade, and dozed a bit during the ride. Eventually the sun came up, and shortly thereafter we arrived at Fort Wadsworth on Staten Island, and I tried to figure out where I was supposed to be in this massive runner village. It was pretty exciting to see the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge off in the distance, and know that I’d be running over it so soon! I passed the Dunkin Donuts truck and got my awesome orange and pink fleece hat! It was chilly enough that the warm hat was a nice bonus while sitting around. I found my way to the Orange Village, and settled into a comfy patch of grass near the corral entrances to hang out for the 3ish hours before my wave was called. I ate a bit more of my bagel, as well as a fun-sized Snickers left over from my parents’ Halloween stash (which Mom very nicely brought with her to NYC), and passed some time by reading the race program. There are always so many compelling human stories in a marathon. I laid down on my foil blanket, wrapped snuggly in my throw-away sweats and blanket, and actually managed to fall asleep for about 45 minutes. I awoke abruptly, and lost at least 5 years off my life, when I heard the sound of an explosion seemingly right next to my head! Having just watched the Boston documentary, which prominently featured the 2013 bombing, and given the truck attack that had just occurred in NYC earlier in the week, I was apparently VERY on-edge, and awoke in an absolute panic thinking that something unconscionable had happened. No worries! It was just the first start canon, signaling the beginning of the professional wheelchair division at 8:30. I did not get back to sleep after that… And I jumped every time the cannon subsequently, which it did numerous times before my own start (Achilles handcycle and disabled athletes start, Footlocker Five-Borough Challenge start, professional women’s start, and Wave 1 start). Finally it was time to start my own migration towards my corral (which luckily had portapotties in it since we have to be inside 45 minutes before our start time!). I made it through the three bib checks and into the corral, where I hung out some more and chatted with a woman from Ireland and a man from England. And took a selfie, because why not? FINALLY it got to be almost 10:15, time for Wave 2 to start! The ropes were dropped, and the corrals started moving slowly towards the starting line on the bridge. We got to the staging area just before the bridge, and could hear the announcer introducing the wave. They played “God Bless America” over the loudspeakers, and then Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York,” which some German guys behind me tried to sing along to, with hilarious results. Being in the middle of this crush of enthusiastic humanity was absolutely electric. And then the cannon sounded again and we were off! It only took me a couple of minutes to cross the start line, and then I was running on top of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge! I think I spent the first two miles just whispering “this is really happening; I’m running the New York City Marathon” to myself. I barely noticed the incline of the first mile on the bridge because I was too busy enjoying the moment and soaking up the view from the bridge, foggy as it was. I tried not to look at my watch too often because pace wasn’t important to me today. I had no time goals for the race, and with so many people around me at all times it wasn’t going to be easy to maintain an even pace anyway. We got off the bridge at Mile 2ish, made a couple of turns, and started up 4th Avenue, which would take through Brooklyn all the way to Mile 8. And this is where the real fun started, and didn’t let up for the next 24 miles. The crowd was absolutely deafening. I thought I was prepared for raucous crowd support, but I had no idea. I’m SO GLAD that I put my name on my shirt for this race, because I felt like a freaking superstar the entire time. There wasn’t a single mile where I didn’t hear multiple people yelling “Go Caitlin! I see you Caitlin!! You got this Caitlin!” at me, and it was AWESOME. A friend of mine happened to be visiting Brooklyn over race weekend and she took this picture of me somewhere along the course. I didn’t see her and certainly didn’t know she was taking a picture, but I had this goofy smile on my face the entire way because it was so much fun! I stayed along the left side of the route so that I could more easily high-five everyone within reach. Tangents be damned. My watch registered a 26.8-mile marathon but it was totally worth it. I kept waiting for the fatigue to set in, or to get annoyed by the constant press of runners around me, or to get to the mental state of just wanting the race to be done with. It never happened. I felt so strong and fresh the whole time, and every new cheer from the crowd and high-five from a group of kids or police or firefighters gave me a new burst of energy. Literally the only stretch of the race where I felt just a little bit tired and cranky was on the Queensboro Bridge from Miles 14.5-16. We were on one half of the lower level of the bridge, so it was narrower than the course had been previously, and created a pretty bad bottleneck that slowed everyone down, and being on the lower level was kind of dark and gloomy. I also had a near-collision with the people next to me when someone who had stepped off the course to the left decided to step back onto the course directly in front of me *at a walk.* #rude But no one fell over and everyone seemed pretty chill given the crowded conditions we were all trying to navigate. I knew that my mom would be near mile 18 at 93rd Street, so that was a good motivator to get through the bridge section and the first couple of miles up First Avenue in Manhattan. I ran over to see her and give her a hug, and hand off the Dunkin Donuts hat that I’d been hanging onto for 18 miles! The crowds in Manhattan were awesome as well, although I think Queens and the Bronx are tied for loudest, rowdiest spectators. The stretch through the Bronx was short but memorable thanks to the enthusiastic support of the crowds. At Mile 21, we reached the Madison Avenue Bridge leading back into Manhattan, and proceeded south on Fifth Avenue. I saw my cousin and his wife at 110th Street, and they’d even made a sign for me, which was such a fun surprise to see at Mile 22.5. I knew that we entered Central Park at 90th Street, so I was counting down the blocks until we go there. There was some uphill along Fifth Avenue, and it gave me a nice mental boost to pass people this late in the race AND going uphill #sorrynotsorry #yougotchicked We entered Central Park at 90th Street, just before Mile 24, and proceeded down the hill we’d run up during my NYRR tour of the park. We exited the park a bit past Mile 25, and ran along Central Park South nearly the whole width of the park. The crowds here were still awesome and loud, despite the fact that it had now been raining for about 3.5 hours and wasn’t the loveliest day to stand outside. I kept passing people here, and made a special effort to pass a dude in a full-length Superman cape. I was determined not to have some big red cape ruin MY finish line photo! We jumped back into the park off Columbus Circle and passed the Mile 26 marker shortly thereafter. I started getting really emotional as I simultaneously pushed towards the finish line and tried to soak up every last second of these final moments of the race. This was my 15th marathon, and the first time that I’ve ever been sad to cross the finish line. Of course I was also super happy with my experience, and completely thrilled to have finished well under the 4-hour mark! Official time: 3:52:16 I got my medal, and immediately stopped to capture the moment. A few minutes later I got to the foil blanket distribution, which was much appreciated because the chilly rain felt a lot less good while hobbling along than it did while running. I had opted for the post-race poncho option rather than bag check. I’d heard such wonderful things about these ponchos that I was pretty excited to get mine! The walk to where the volunteers were handing them out was considerably longer than I’d expected, and it was uphill. #notcool But about 20 minutes after crossing the finish line, a lovely volunteer finally wrapped me in the warm, waterproof, insulated poncho and life was grand. I walked for a few more minutes to wear Mom and I had planned to meet. I saw her waiting for me, and the first thing she said when I reached her was, “SHALANE WON!!!!” My approximate reaction? (thanks to Corc-o-rama for the image) It was such a perfect cherry on top of an already perfect marathon sundae to learn that Shalane finally got her so-well-deserved moment of glory! And knowing that I crossed that very same finish line 90ish minutes later was so cool! On Monday Mom and I had a lovely breakfast at a cute little diner near our AirBnB, and then headed back towards Port Authority and Penn Station to catch our respective transportation home. But first I needed to get my hands on the Marathon Monday edition of the New York Times! I really can’t say enough good things about my New York City Marathon experience. It was impeccably well organized for such a huge event (over 51,000 finishers!), and the people of New York completely floored me with their energy and support through every mile of the race. I’m so thankful that I got to have this experience this year. Marathon #15 is definitely one that I’ll never forget!
  9. 16 points
    I’m not really sure how to explain New York. Let me go back. 2015 I had to defer. It hurt. A lot. I devoted to day to being there for someone I was sort of in a complicated situation with. His race blew up and I supported him through a five and a half hour finish. It hurt not racing. There were a lot of emotions with him too. I was honestly afraid the race would always be associated with this going forward. 2016 I ran the first 16 before a planned drop. I tried to wave at my friend from the 59th St Bridge to cheer him up. I was grateful that fivestarks had chosen that year to come up and cheer the race and graciously offered to trip me if I decided to try to finish. I was overwhelmed by all the support I got, people that checked in, well wishes and encouragement. I’m pretty sure that money changed hands when I actually dropped where I should have. 2017 I just PR’d at Wineglass. No one needed my support. No one was holding their breath about my race. It was for me. No clock. No expectations. I was here to have fun and do what I wanted. Not finishing the race the previous year had left it like an itch in the back of my brain. That feeling of a stuck sneeze. Or smoking only half a cigarette. I needed to finish it. I needed to cross that finish line. But that’s all I had to do. Everything else, between the start and the finish, was up for grabs. Dr Whiskers had suggested that I run it in a costume which was an amazing idea. I quickly nixed the luchador because running with a face mask quickly becomes like waterboarding yourself. I looked at a few other options before deciding to just run in a tutu. I knew this race was going to hurt, I might as well not make myself to uncomfortable too. Plus, I looked cute in it. So that’s how I found myself, running down 4Th Ave, high fiving every child, grown up, and teddy bear (I counted four) that put their hand out. It was liberating not worrying about my time. Brooklyn is in my blood. It's my favorite part of the race. I love soaking up the cheers of the crowds. People are there for YOU. They love YOU. And the streets are narrower than elsewhere so you get a lot more interaction with the crowd. I let myself truly enjoy the day. If I started to feel like I was racing, I'd pull back. I walked through water stops, stopped for pics, stopped to pee, walked parts of the 59th Street Bridge, and just did whatever I felt like. I made sure to high five all the little ones who may have been getting overlooked. I don't think I ever realized how much fun relaxing could be. It started to hurt around mile 18. That’s really when it stopped being fun. Or rather, when it stopped being just fun. It still had it's moments. I let myself walk the first minute of every mile and through every water stop. I briefly regretted the tutu because I was getting a lot of attention and every time I started to walk, someone would call out to me from the crowd with words of encouragement. I felt obligated to react even though I just wanted to be alone with my pain for a bit. After a few repetitions of this, I decided that I’d respond with a smile and/or a high five. I realized that it was actually helping to have to smile. Yes, this hurts. Yes, I’m happy. Yes, this is fun. I remember making it into the park and wanting to walk it in but also not wanting to make it take longer to finish. Everyone was really loud but I don’t remember a lot of it. Why are these miles always so difficult to remember? I thought I was on mile 24 when I was on 25 which was a nice surprise at that point but also shows where my mind was at. My garmin was pretty much useless since the bridge and was an entire .6 short. The finish line is fuzzy. Somehow I crossed and got my medal. I was soaked, nauseous, in pain and I couldn’t stop smiling.
  10. 16 points
    Today at 5 pm I walked through my loan documents for my house. That's right, I'M CLOSING ON MY HOUSE! The official deal goes down on Monday at 2 pm eastern time. Things look very good. My taxes will be much lower than anticipated because I will claim homestead tax base and the current owners are both in long term care homes so they have the home as "non homestead" on the tax roll. I'm not sure if other states do this but we do in Michigan. It's a 30-40% reduction in taxes if it's homestead vs. non-homestead. My cash needed to close is almost $1000 less than expected and I got a 4% interest rate locked in so I'm thrilled to say the least. Hopefully by 4 pm eastern time I'm walking in the door of MY HOUSE. MINE. MINE. MINE!!! Thanks for everyone who sent me notes and crossed fingers for this to happen. It was looking like it was going down in flames last Friday but it got pulled from the burning embers on Monday when I got an email at 4:58 pm that said "clear to close" on the 30th. I'll be sure to share some pictures once I get settled a little. I won't be able to move my stuff in until Friday the 3rd due to work commitments and the wait is going to be tough!
  11. 16 points
    So I was lying in bed the night before the race. As one does, I mentally went over the course - all the turns and hills and how I should feel at different parts of the course. Strategy and splits. Often this leads to nerves and many minutes of restlessness and anxiety. But this time, I wasn't feeling any pressure. This would be the 17th time I've done this race. The 103rd 10K of my career. I knew what to expect. I had goals, but they didn't seem to matter that much. I quickly drifted off to sleep. My low-key summer of running went well. The last month of increased miles went well. I was still injury-free and feeling good! My goal was to beat last year's time of 44:28. even though I didn't figure to be in as good condition. Then I thought I would really like to go under 44, or get close to 7 minute pace (43:24) if possible. My old man PR of 42:58 (on an easier course) seemed out of reach. So I planned to go out about 7:15 and hopefully pick it up and see how it went. But again, no pressure. I really just wanted to enjoy the race, not suffer too much, finish strong and do my best. Oh, yes, I also hoped to place top ten in my AG and get a medal. At 55, I was the youngster in my AG, and figured I had a shot, although this race attracts all the fast folk and it's very competitive. I have yet to medal here, although I got 11th four years ago and 15th the last two years. So it's a beautiful morning. A little warm, as it would get to 85 later, but at 7:30 it was still cool enough and lots of shade. This was the 40th anniversary race and had a record crowd of 3,600 people (including 50 who have run all 40 races). Our running club was out in force, as this was our hometown race; Probably 50 of us in our matching shirts. Said hi to many of them as we warmed up. There were one guy and gal specifically that I train with that are very close to my speed. So another goal was to beat them. Got in my usual spot about ten rows back, and off we went. The course has a bunch of turns at the start and lots of rolling hills. Then at mile 5 is a killer hill before you get to come down to the beach for the last mile along the coast. Plus you get to finish here. The start was smooth. Not too crowded. I found a comfortable pace around 7:25 the first quarter mile, then gradually got into race pace. Mile 1 came through in 7:07, which seemed about right, and easier than 7:07 should feel. I told myself to hold back, stay in control. The key on this course is to save something for mile 5. A too fast start makes those little rolling hills very painful. So I was practicing restraint and just going with the flow. Not that it was easy. It was still work. But in a race, 7:07 in mile 2 feels a lot easier than say running 7:07 in a tempo run. I controlled my breathing up the hills. Opened up my strides on the downhills. Restraint was my mantra. Controlled speed. Long way to go. Mile two was another 7:07 and I was passing all the fast starters, including several from my club that had no business being ahead of me anyway. Mile three is a long straight stretch with a few ups and downs. Most years I am suffering pretty bad at this point. I remembered last year thinking "Why do I do this to myself?" at this point. But this year I was not suffering. I was feeling pretty confident! Oh, there was pain, but I felt under control. Mile three was another 7:07! Well! (I thought) It looks like you are going to beat your goals! Some quick math told me if I could just get over the hill without collapsing, I could do my usual fast finish and be under 44! Once I cleared the little hill at 3.2 and still felt good and did that math, that boosted my confidence even more. Mile 4 is a big downhill and I could see I was sub-7. Still I tried to restrain myself. My breathing was getting heavier and I was coming up on the big hill, so I tried to dial it back a little. But I also passed my coach (and rival) here and that gave me a boost. Mile 4 was 6:53 and I still had some juice in my legs. Good thing, because that hill goes up about 90 feet in 0.3 miles. I obediently shortened my stride, put my head down, and tried to maintain momentum without straining too much. By the top I was gasping, but the lactic acid build-up wasn't too bad, really, and I shook out my arms and worked on regaining oxygen while I cruised down the backside. Mile 5 was 7:05, which I think is the best I've ever done that mile. (Yes, I checked. Usually I am over 7:30 in mile 5.) So I hit the long beach straightaway with 1.2 miles to go, and for once I wasn't already completely toast. I slipped into a faster gear and steadily picked off stragglers. Then I saw my friend and rival, Cathy, up ahead. She had beat me by ONE second in our last race on July 4th. She was about 20 yards ahead and I was gaining, so I knew I could get her. That helped me push on through the suffering which had finally come on board. Now I was heavy breathing and working and the legs were starting to get heavy and falter. But you know, not as bad as other times. I knew I had a good time and a shot at a medal so I tried to pick up every second I could. Mile 6 came through in 6:41, and I was accelerating. I blew by Cathy right about mile 6 and beat her by TWO seconds. The last stretch I was at 6:06 pace and I finished at 43:31. Just a hair over 7:00 pace. Almost a minute faster than last year, and only 17 seconds off my old man course PR of four years ago. My age-grade was 72%, which must be one of my top scores. So I was very happy! Not only for the time, but because I ran the perfect race. Moderate start, fast finish, limited amount of suffering. Now I just had to wait and see how I placed. I found my other rival. He had beat me by 11 seconds. Good for him. Finally results were posted...and I got 11th. Whomp whomp...My rival was 10th and got the last medal. Five of the ten were from my club. One just turned 55 this week! I was 171st overall (of 3600). So I was disappointed, but not too much. Because what's one more medal - I've got a wall full of them. But the feelings of running a perfect race and nailing a good time - well that's better than a medal anyway. Here are my rivals, Cathy, who I beat by two seconds, and Bartlett, who got me by 11 seconds. Until next time! So I'm optimistic and excited to keep on increasing my mileage. Next race is only 5 weeks away - a half in Ft. Lauderdale during my annual golf buddy road trip. Already thinking of 1:37? 1:36? Life is good.
  12. 16 points
    Hello All! I have to confess, I’ve been a lurker for YEARS (probably somewhere around 2012), and enjoyed every minute of reading about the ups and downs of your running adventures. I lack confidence in my writing ability and meeting new people, but I thought with the new format, I would try to come out of the creepy lurking shadows and at least let you all know that I exist. I was quite crushed when I read that RW was removing the loop, and I’m not much of a “Facebooker,” so that wasn’t going to be an option for me even if I introduced myself before the end. I tried to read a few other blogs about running, but nothing was nearly as interesting as the Loop, and, of course, I felt like I knew all of you…even if none of you had any clue I was reading. I just want to THANK YOU all for the great reading and the motivation over the years, and for driving my desire to get back on the training train treadmill these past couple of months. I found this page by lurking my way over to Dave Shultz’s blog, in an attempt to find any information about PEGLEG’s BQ quest, and it worked! I was hoping and praying for her with every attempt. When I finally found my way over to this forum, and read her race report, tears of joy were streaming down my face! CONGRATULATIONS PEG!!!!! This complete stranger is so happy for you! Now, since I feel like I know so much about all of you, here’s a little information about me: I ran a couple of 5 and 10Ks back in my teenage years while playing a lot of soccer, and I decided that without any additional training, I would run a half marathon. Not the smartest thing I’ve done (not the dumbest either). I managed to finish with minimal walking (ahh to be young), and an EXTREMELY painful week of muscle soreness. However, I was hooked and decided that I would run that race every year. I tortured myself similarly by not training for the next few years. Then, towards the end of college, I decided recreational running was fun, and that year, my time dropped dramatically and the week of pain never occurred. At the time, I was utterly amazed at what a little training could do. The following year, I trained a little more seriously and ran several other races. It was a very emotional run when I first clocked a mile under 8 minutes in the middle of an 8K! With two miles left in the race, let’s just say I learned that crying and breathing at the same time is difficult. I completed my first marathon in 2006, and have since completed 13 more, qualifying for Boston at the 2009 Flying Pig. Unfortunately, at the time, I wasn’t interested in running Boston. I now regret that decision. I fell off the structured training wagon for several years until two months ago because other life is sometimes more important. It feels amazing to be following a training plan again and I hope to set some PRs in the future (and maybe work on getting that BQ again - maybe)! Right now, my A goal is for a 10K under 45 minutes at a race on 11/4/17 <--- I figured putting a goal out there will give me something to blog about in the future. I know it’s blasphemy to some, but now that it is dark at all the times I’m at home, I am an almost 100% gym treadmill runner. I am completely ok with the brain zone-out for an hour or two. It just makes it hard to guess at where you really stand in terms of outdoor speed during training. Since I have had difficulty finding information on this, I'm going to try to include my training treadmill paces, and resulting outdoor race pace, in an attempt to help others that may be looking for this info. I’m sure that’s more than you all care to read and thank you to anyone that read this far! I hope to add to this wonderful community, and like some others in the past have said, I am sure it will be nice to have a place I can geek-out about training and running since it’s just not my DH’s thing. He's a good sport about it, but i can tell he isn't really interested in the amount of detail I want to discuss. P.S. – To all the other lurkers that have made it over here... HI!
  13. 15 points
    I’ve been doing a lot of writing here - for myself mostly because it’s pretty mundane. But maybe someone has a lot of free time on their hands and enjoys sifting through my mess. And my return-to-running training log is here for the spreadsheet lovers. Week 1 - 2 Week 2 - 5.6 Week 3 - 12.4 Week 4 - 18.4 Week 5 - 23.7 Week 6 - 19.5 (10 miles on Monday of Week 7) Week 7 - 39.5 (10 miles from Week 6) Week 8 - 28.2 Week 9 - 26.3 (taper-ish for Augusta 13.1 race) Week 10 - 66.1 (Hinson Lake 24 Hour - lots of walking) Week 11 - 21.0 (reverse taper) Week 12 - 42.6 Week 13 - 38.7 Week 14 - 27.0** projected Week 15 - 39.2** projected race week It’s been years since I’ve felt truly invested in a marathon cycle. The first Boston Marathon I ran in 2015 was likely the last time I truly had a focus on marathon-specific training. After getting into ultras, the specific workouts of road racing were speckled throughout my running, but I relied mostly on mileage and experience to get me feeling confident at the start line of a 26.2 mile race. I am excited! When reflecting (& reading) about how I felt in late March and mid-July, I wish so badly to go back and tell myself it will be okay. Even the time between boots were filled with trepidation. Things weren’t clicking. And if I really reflect back about consistently feeling good about my training, it was late spring of 2017. 18 months is a long time to feel eh about running. Sure, I had some fantastic races and great experiences in those 18 months, but I also remember it just not feeling as good as it does now. I’ll pin the blame on overracing and overtraining, but that doesn’t mean I’d change any course of events. I’d hop in my Delorean and do the exact same thing. Stupid? Maybe. But I am not apologetic about my experiences that led me to today. Back when I was still in the boot, I made a couple of versions of my training plan to get to the start line of the NYC marathon. I gave myself plenty of fluidity in mileage, time frames, and workouts. They were all modified versions of the lowest mileage Pfitzinger plan - the same one I used for Boston 2015. The podiatrist said it would take about 5-6 weeks for things to feel good again. And up to a year of random injury site pain - some real, some phantom. It was hard to navigate the first few weeks because I became anxious with everything that didn’t feel great. And honestly, a lot of things didn’t feel great. Slowly, things started to return to normal. I noticed the first day I stood at the sink and brushing my teeth felt normal. I noticed the first day that I walked across the gym and my stride felt normal. I noticed the first day that I lifted weights and I could bear weight on both legs. I cross-trained between running and walking. I ran paces that were 3-4 minutes slower than my typical training paces. I exercised as much patience as I could stand. And things started to change. I felt stronger and happier. My stride returned to normal. Things were clicking again. Every milestone in the recovery process has seemed almost like the first time I’ve done it. Workouts that I’ve done hundreds of times suddenly gave me butterflies. And I loved having that feeling again! 20 milers were a dime a dozen in 2016 & 2017. But suddenly I had to remember how to do them again! Do I bring gels? Do I bring water? Is it better to do 2 out-and-backs or 1 longer followed by 1 shorter? It was like falling in love with running all over again. And here I am, less than 2 weeks from standing in Staten Island with 50,000 other runners, feeling ready to tackle 26.2 miles.
  14. 15 points
    So I ran another 5K, and I feel the need to post a race report. This was just a small, local race. About 800 people, many walkers. I just got back into training, so I didn't have serious expectations. But you know, it IS a race. So I had a few goals. 1. Sub 21:00 2. Top 3 in my AG 3. Beat my coach Ed I arrived early and chatted with the usual friends from my running groups. Nice long two mile warmup felt pretty good. The course is almost flat, with just a couple small rises. Two 360 turns, but otherwise straight and fast. My plan was to go out about 6:50, and then drop down to 6:45 and 6:40. Started conservatively and was right on track. Ed took off fast as usual, and opened up 20-30 yards on me right away. But I figured he would fade. I stuck to the plan. As I neared mile 1, Ed still had a good gap on me, so I felt the need to push it a bit. Glad he was out there for me to chase. The familiar 5K pain was kicking in. But experience tells me what I can handle and so I trusted my instincts and tried to embrace the suck. Mile 1 was 6:48. In mile two I continued to pass people who went out too fast; The usual assortment of kids and weekend warriors. Ed was slowly coming back to me, which made it easier to accept the growing fatigue and the heavier breathing. At the turnaround at 1.5 Ed could see me closing on him. It was about a five second gap still. Work to do. But I knew he was gradually getting closer. I was in full race mode as I reeled him in and caught him just before the mile 2 sign. I passed with authority and without a friendly comment or wave. I know he is a serious racer and would expect nothing less. Plus I could barely breathe. Mile 2 was 6:36. Now I had no one to chase - no one I personally cared about anyway. And the piano climbed on my back. Still a long way to go, but I tried to maintain. It looked like I would get my sub-21, but I had to stay on pace. I didn't know of anyone in my AG ahead of me from my group, but I could see a bald head up ahead that could very well be in my AG, so I tried focusing on him. Unfortunately, he was running strongly and I could not gain on him at all. Still, it gave me something to chase. The suffering was pretty bad, and I basically was just holding on. I figured Ed wasn't likely to catch me, but it was possible, so I kept the hammer down as much as I could. Finally the finish came in sight and there was a slight downhill for the last 0.2 miles and I cruised in - but took the time to pose for the paparazzi. Still flying. Mile 3 was 6:45, and I finished at 6:08 pace which got me in at 20:47. Check. Ed came in at 21:10. Check. Bald guy WAS in my AG and beat me by 8 seconds, but I got 2nd, which was good for $15 at the local running store. Check. 47th overall, and met all my goals, so I was a happy runner. Good to be healthy and feeling good. Now I'm going to keep ramping up the miles and building base.
  15. 15 points
    It was cold, windy, snowing. Perfect conditions for a race, especially one where I told myself beforehand that I would not and should not PR. Two 10-mile loops on the trail in early April is just about where my fitness is right now. This was my kind of bare bones race: No awards, no medals, no shirts. $30. The fire in the fireplace at the start pavilion was enough for me. And lots of food. All you could ask for at the start/finish, and a well supported aid station at the halfway point. God bless those people. Racetime temps were in the mid-20’s, and the 18mph wind made it “feel like” something else. These folks were up on top of the hill, where the wind felt really nice. Somebody made a nice 3d print of the course: The 50 or so in the 50k took off 30 minutes before us, and the 10-milers left a half hour later. I started at the rear of our 25-person 20-miler pack. In my runs on these trails leading up to the race, there was still quite a snow pack on some sections that would have been awful. But we had a good melt during race week, and all the snow was gone. The overnight cold froze the ground up nicely, though, so there wasn’t even any mud. I congratulated the RD on his impeccable timing. Just a nice dusting of snow on the ground, plus whatever was falling during the race made it quite pleasant. The trails in this park are all runnable, but the RD made sure we hit all the hills, and it added up to 1100 ft per loop. Enough to make sure I did my share of walking. There was a perfect mix of roots, rocks, grass, and woodchip running. And no standing water - I finished with dry feet. Let me know if you ever need tips on bib-pinning I ran with a couple others for the first loop, then pushed it a little to finish. I didn’t get too crazy, but made sure I never stopped, ran all flats and downhills, and did my best powerhiking on the ups. Finished in 3:42. Not sure if that’s good or bad, but a finish means I did something over the winter. Next up is a charity 13.1 in June, then a Last One Standing trail challenge shortly after. Keep running 1.2 mile timed loops until you can’t. Also $30. That should be a fun one.
  16. 15 points
    “Today’s the day,” he says. “The four minute mile.” Roger just died, so he’s hanging out with me. He’s tired of heaven (gold roads and no cinder) and wants to be back on the track. I guess mine’s as good as any. It’s a cool day, slight breeze, feels fast. He says I should do it. I MUST do it. Four-minute mile. He can live it again one more time, vicariously through me. I am skeptical. A four-minute mile seems a bit ambitious. I have no spikes. My track is metric. And I’m lazy and slow. Roger is undeterred. “Four minutes,” he insists. “Unlikely,” I reply. “You can do it,” he tells me. “Did you know more people have climbed Mt. Everest than have run four minutes?” I’m not sure if he’s thought this line of reasoning as an incentive through entirely. But it was maybe the greatest run of all time, and he’s never asked anything of me before. It’s worth a try. We line up at the SCC track. There are only a few people here to witness the event. Three football players are running drills on the grass we’re not allowed to go on. A fast guy is running 400s in lane 1. I have chosen lane 9 for my feat. Or my feet. Since four laps in lane 1 isn’t a mile anyhow, I figure 9 is as good a place as any. We count down, the imaginary gun sounds, and we’re off. There are no spectators, but Roger says it doesn’t matter. “The spectators fail to understand — and how can they know — the mental agony through which an athlete must pass before he can give his maximum effort,” he tells me. I try to remember this as I come through the first lap. I’m in trouble. I’m already breathing too hard. My lungs are burning, my head is screaming what the hell. We head into the second lap. I mention that I’m only a quarter of the way in and death is already imminent. “The man who can drive himself further once the effort gets painful is the man who will win,” he replies. I had no idea driving was allowed in the mile. This explains how he was able to do it so quickly. I finish the second lap with my lungs on fire. Note to self: Avoid the jalapeño GU before extreme exertion. The third lap looms. I desperately want to quit. “It is the brain, not the heart or lungs, that is the critical organ,” he says. I’m thinking it’s way easier for him, given that he’s dead now and appears to be trying to take me with him. But I look for the next gear. Lap three lasts an eternity. The world is a blur. I’m no longer able to think rationally. I’ve never hurt this intensely. My mind flashes to Cassidy in “Once A Runner,” but all I come up with is David singing “I Think I Love You.” 400 to go. Roger says I can do it. “However ordinary each of us may seem, we are all in some way special, and can do things that are extraordinary, perhaps until then…even thought impossible,” he assures me. I grit my teeth and push for the last turn. Onward to the impossible. Between gasps, I ask him what the finish was like for that first sub-4. “Those last few seconds seemed never-ending,” he says. “The faint line of the finishing tape stood ahead as a haven of peace, after the struggle. The arms of the world were waiting to receive me if only I reached the tape without slackening my speed. If I faltered, there would be no arms to hold me and the world would be a cold, forbidding place, because I had been so close. I leapt at the tape like a man taking his last spring to save himself from the chasm that threatens to engulf him.” If I wanted a cold, forbidding place, I’d live in Michigan. I kick it up a gear, one last battle against the pain. After forever, the blessed finish line approaches. The chasm engulfs me. I hit the stop button as I throw myself across the line, gasping for the oxygen that has suddenly been drained from the track. I look down at my watch. I haven’t dared peek at it till now, not wanting to know my splits. All or nothing, I figure. Did we do it? Did I finally shatter the four-minute barrier? Almost. 12:48.7. Sooooo close. I trot around the track, cooling down, trying to process. So painful to push that hard and then fall short by only eight minutes and 50 seconds. But Roger seems OK with it. “Failure is as exciting to watch as success, provided the effort is absolutely genuine and complete,” he says. And that makes it all worthwhile. My effort was absolutely genuine and complete. You line up, you give it your best, you go get a Frosty afterward. That’s all you can do. We all have our four minute mile. Or maybe our Everest. Maybe the numbers aren’t that important. You just gotta keep climbing. RIP, Sir Roger. You’ll always be my favorite James Bond …
  17. 15 points
    2017, 2017, 2017..... Full of highest highs and lowest lows, one long blog post about it just touches the surface. I set a boatload of running PRs. I traveled to 9 countries and 9 US states. I volunteered at 3 races and completed 2 pacing gigs. I watched Adam give everything he had on Boylston Street and felt my heart break when he couldn't go on. I felt ashamed and broken with my job loss at the end of June. I spent the summer chasing course records - finding a new sense of grit and determination. I started a new career and happily found myself less stressed and more balanced. My body aches a bit more than it used to, but my mind is the strongest it has every been. Shoutout to Megan for the awesome racing nail art! Strava stats - 2,600 running miles, 2,828 including walking/hiking miles. Race stats GUTS Fatass 50K - 5:16:24, 1st female, 4th overall Miami Marathon - 3:20:34, 10th female, 4th AG Mercedes Birmingham Marathon - 3:19:15, PR, 9th female, 3rd AG Snickers Albany Marathon - 3:13:58, PR, 7th female, 1st AG Rock 'n' Raleigh Marathon - 3:43:56, 24th female, 6th AG, pacing the 3:45 group BAA 5K - DNF* Boston Marathon - 3:13:54, PR, 373rd female, 327th AG Midsummer's Night Dream 6 hour - 39.3 miles, PR, course record, 1st overall, 5th in North America in 2017 Merrill's Mile 12 hour -70.3 miles, PR, 100K PR of 10:13:45, female course record, 1st overall, 5th in North America in 2017 Hinson Lake 24 hour - 115.917, PR, 100 mile PR of 19:07:??, female course record, 1st female, 3rd overall, 17th in North America in 2017 Sphinx Greenville Marathon - 3:54:12, 26th female, 4th AG Rehoboth Marathon - 3:27:47, 19th female, 7th AG Ameris Bank JAX Marathon - 3:17:35, 8th female, 1st AG Resolution Run 6 hour - 40 miles, PR, 50K PR of 4:32:21, 1st overall *Adam has a recorded time of 1:12:19, but I'm not listed as a finisher? January I returned to run the G.U.T.S. (Georgia Ultrarunning & Trailrunning Society) 50K a week after I had completed a 6-hour race. It was 16°F at the start and I spent a good bit of the race in the mental pain cave. But, I ended up 1st female, 4th overall, and improved on my time from 2016 completing the race in 5:16:24. A few weeks later, I got a terrible sinus infection and actually took a few days off running. Adam & I flew to Miami to visit his parents that weekend and I naturally jumped on the chance to run the Miami Marathon (again). The extra taper must have helped because I had a huge negative split - a 1:42:01/1:38:33 with a finish of 3:20:34. I felt so good that second half! February Feeling pretty good about my fitness, I decided to run the Mercedes Birmingham Marathon 2 weeks later. Typically it is cool and while the course is a bit hilly, it is still reasonably fast. However, it was humid on race day and I ended up feeling the complete opposite of Miami in the second half. But going out fast paid off with a 7 second PR - 3:19:15! The best part was the mini road trip with Megan & Frank. They let me crash in their hotel room, drove me to the start, and came to cheer me on at the finish! Plus, we took a mini tour of where I used to live in Vestavia Hills and filled up on Milo's before we left town. March Albany had been in my back pocket for awhile. A lot of the local tri people I run with had touted it as fast and flat. So I did a couple of tune-up workouts and 3 weeks later, I was racing my 3rd marathon of 2017. This time I was nervous, but confident that I could pull off a sub-3:15 marathon if it was my day. I had recently found out that I didn't get into the lottery for the NYC marathon so I was extra-motivated to get a time qualifier. Everything went perfect. 3:13:58! While there were other silly challenges I partook in, my favorite Muskrat Challenge Event involved eating a pie (1/3 per mile) and running 3.14 miles. I'm proud (??) to say I ate an entire pumpkin pie AND ran 3.14 miles in 27:40. And I didn't puke! April I did my version of a girls weekend in early April. Jenster hosted myself, Angie, and Caitlin in Raleigh. We spent 5 hours Saturday helping at one of the Umstead 50/100 mile aid stations and paced/raced the Rock 'n' Roll Raleigh marathon Sunday. I was lucky and saw both Casey and Jay while we were doing a short run at Umstead! Then I got to see John (running) & Casey (spectating) at RNR. I paced the 3:45 group and we came in a little fast at 3:43:56! There was lots of beer, food, and laughing and I was super sad when I had to leave Sunday afternoon. After Raleigh, there was BOSTON! We traveled north on my 35th birthday and I celebrated the day with 35 selfies. Saturday, Adam and I walked the BAA 5K. I still haven't posted my blog about it yet - it's been 8 months, but it still hits me in the feels when I think about it. We covered 2.62 miles before he collapsed for the final time just beyond the marathon finish line on Boylston. You know when you love someone so much and all you want for them is to be happy & healthy? And you are so insanely proud of them for having the courage to try? I'm not crying, you're crying. The following Monday was my 3rd Boston Marathon. It was warm, but there was a tailwind. I raced hard from the beginning and the Newton hills chewed me up at bit. But I pushed hard again the final 10K and ended up with a 4 second PR - 3:13:54! May After years of taking vacations that centered around running, we celebrated Adam's (belated) 40th birthday by taking a trip of a lifetime. We traveled to Amsterdam via London and spent the night in a tiny little town near the airport. I shook off jet lag with a run of course. We then traveled to Copenhagen where we hopped on a cruise ship and traveled to Latvia, Estonia, Russia, Finland, Sweden, Lithuania, and back to Denmark. We spent a few days in Copenhagen before returning home and I got in a few land runs after nearly 2 weeks of the ship treadmill. Highlights were crossing off a bucket list item (seeing the Hermitage Museum!) and meeting a fantastic group of people that we shared dinner with each night. Keeping my marathon-or-more streak alive for one more month, I somehow managed to run a solo 26.2 on the Greenway a week after returning from our trip. June I went on a solo camping trip for about 36 hours in early June. I ran/hiked 50 horizontal miles and 2 vertical miles. It was definitely one of my year highlights (aside from losing my bear vault) - falling asleep exhausted just after sunset on the side of Tray Mountain was truly awesome. I entered the Midsummer's Night Dream 6 hour race in hopes to grab some mileage and get some overnight running in as a kickoff to my buildup to Hinson. I felt better than the prior year and ended up with 39.3 miles total, a first place overall, and beat my own course record! July After losing my job in late June, I was having a hard time figuring out what running need to be in my life. An outlet? A pain reliever? A way to control something? It kind of took the brunt of all of that which was fortunate because I was all signed up for the 12 hour race at Merrill's Mile. Cooler temperatures and a new sense of grit made it possible to complete 70.3 miles, beating my own female course record and taking another overall win. I set a 100K PR in the process - 10:13:45. August I started my new job in late July so I just racked up the miles in August. I was running half marathons on Tuesdays as training runs and loading up my weekends with back-to-back long runs. The point was to get myself used to feeling exhausted for Hinson. It worked. The weekends on the trails were tough, but I had a lot of fun too. September I went to Chattanooga early in the month to watch Jamie compete at the World's 70.3 Championship. I also managed to see Gary and hang out with some of the local tri people as well. I am kind of obsessed with watching Ironman's (sp?) on YouTube as motivation when I run so it was extra awesome to watch a world class event in person. I volunteered at an aid station at the Georgia Jewel for about 8 hours - a really fun way to be a part of the race without having to run! I went into the year thinking I could touch 125 at Hinson, but I reset my goals over the summer and decided to just focus on a PR instead. The weather was a zillion times better than the previous year and I was actually really calm and really relaxed through most of the race. It did get hard and painful as these things do, but my ability to cope was far stronger in 2017. I ended up setting a female course record and came in 1st female, 3rd overall with 115.917. Though it was only my second time hitting 100 miles, I did also set a PR of 19:07 in that distance. October I knew I wasn't going to be in any capacity to run the week after Hinson so I decided to take part in the inaugural Bull Mountain run by volunteering. Anthony and I spent the morning and early afternoon swapping stories as runners came into Booger Holler. He brought his 2 BT mixes with him which naturally made us insta-friends. Adam and I celebrated our 9th anniversary by forgoing the usual fancy-but-forgetful steakhouse dinner and visiting 9 Taco Bells. Ridiculous? Yes. Ridiculously memorable? Also yes. Thanks to my good pal Matt, I dropped into the Greenville Marathon at the end of the month. Still feeling pooped from Hinson, I donned a beer stein costume and ran with the 4:00 hour pace group for about half the race. I found my groove and ended up finishing in 3:54:12. November I joined Sam and Dan at Pinhoti 100 to pace & crew John. I started the pacing at mile 55, Adams Gap and took him 10 miles through Clairmont Gap and traded off with Dan at mile 65, Chandler Springs. In a few hours, I jumped back into pace at mile 79, Wormy's Pulpit and brought him to the last aid station at mile 93. I was supposed to be done for the day, but I ended up pacing the very last finisher 7 miles to her first 100 mile finish with just 6 minutes to spare. Truly a day to remember! December For the 5th December in a row, I made the trek to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware to run and drink beer with my favorite internet hooligans. I had pulled my hamstring so badly on the Wednesday prior that I left November with 197 miles. By race day, I felt like I could run again, but I was totally psyched out. The first 10 miles were good, the middle 10 were horrible, the last 10K was great! I finished in 3:27:47 and earned myself a BQ for 2019! 2 weeks later, I was toeing the line with a much happier hamstring and a little bit of extra pressure as I was running in my company's marathon! The Ameris Bank Jacksonville Marathon was super duper flat - flatter than Shamrock, flatter than Myrtle Beach! Race day temps were perfect and I was ready to push the pace hard. I felt really, really strong through 20 miles and then held onto in the last 10K for a 3:17:35 finish. My 3rd fastest marathon ever! The last race of the year was yesterday - a very last minute decision to run the 6 hour Resolution Run in Greenville. The top of my foot had felt bruised from the JAX marathon so I laced my shoes super weird and taped it up. I actually had zero pain in my foot the whole race, but my hamstring acted up from miles 15 to 20?? I was thisclose to calling it a day when the pain just kind of disappeared. Aside from that, I felt pretty good the whole race. My biggest issue was boredom and as Angie reminded me at Hinson, boredom is good - that means nothing hurts! I was super smart about my caloric intake and hovered in the high 8s for the most of the race. I ended up with a 50K PR of 4:32:21 and a 6 hour PR of 40 miles. I have no huge goals currently for 2018 by comparison. Sure, I'm racing - I'm committed to Boston, Hinson Lake 24, NYC (assuming I get in with my time qualifier), and Rehoboth. I'm quite certain I will fill in the gaps with new running adventures. I'd like to volunteer and pace a few times, go on a 2+ night camping/running/hiking adventure, run a "real" 100 mile race, strength and stretch 30 minutes a week (baby steps, baby steps), and prepare financially and physically for running the Everest 2019 Marathon. If I've shared miles, races, "liked" your FB posts, double-tapped your Instagram pic, gave you kudos on Strava, or bantered with you about running via text, thanks for sharing this silly sport with me. Thank you for sharing your stories and inspiring me to not only be a better runner, but a better human. Despite a few woes, 2017 was outstanding and I am lucky to have so many incredible people in my life. For 2018, let's be in the moment. Choose to be happy. If you woke up healthy with a roof over your head and no worries about where your next meal will come from, remember just how lucky you are!
  18. 15 points
    Back in 2016 when I trained for the Fresno Marathon in November, I was in the best shape ever and ready to go for sub3...the race came, the weather was perfect and the miles passed by until mile 21 when my hammy had enough for the day....on 2:55 pace, I booked my first DNF, oh well. Fast forward, a 50 miler and a 3:02 training marathon later, I started training for the California International Marathon in August. The training cycle was mixed. Besides moving from Seattle to altitude in Denver, I had some issues with left lower hammy in October. The hammy/knee eventually improved but I missed 2 of the so important MP runs and adjusting to the Denver altitude took about 5-6 weeks. My confidence was boosted when I ran a +20 miler with 15 MP miles 3 weeks before the race, followed by a brisk 14 miler a week later at the same pace as in Seattle with less effort. I tapered well but honestly had no clue what would happen. I mainly put my hopes on the altitude bonus and the fact that I certainly had the training volume. I arrived in Sacramento on Friday afternoon, already on a carb high since my carb loading phase started that morning after a 5 day fat loading phase. I picked up my packet and consumed way too many of these delicious coffee latte cans they gave out at the expo. FWIW, I consumed about the equivalent of 9 espressos on Friday and 12 on Saturday... Later on Friday, I met for a late lunch with Kyan Matz. I got some good sleep from Friday to Saturday and headed to the hamster wheel in the hotel before 6 am....I wasn’t the only or the first one in the gym. No wonder, CIM served as the US Marathon Championships this year and the elites were staying at the same place... I ran 3 miles and finished my workout at 6:11 pace, further giving me a confident boost; maybe this altitude bonus is for real. Later that day, I met Sara, Dan and Donald. As I waited for Dan and Donald to head out for a pizza dinner, I saw Ryan Hall in the lobby. It was kinda funny, while current athletes were stopped for pics, Hall was in the lobby for 30 minutes and nobody cared. Dan, Donald and I got pizza and headed back to the hotel lobby. Dan’s buddy Eric joined us. The guy was blazing fast and ended up winning the Masters category on Sunday in 2:17, punching his 3rd OTQ at age 40. Damn! On Sunday, I got up at 3:30, had my bagel, gel and coffee before getting on the bus at 5:00. Everything was really well organized. I started my race with a 59 year old from Canada. The first 4 miles were strangely easy but I was running at 6:30 - 6:40, I decided to abandon my cautious racing plan to run 2:58-2:59 and just go big. The miles clicked away and I was on 2:53-2:55 pace, passing the half in 1:26 and change. Mile 15 came around and I realized for the first time that sub3 is mine if sh$% didn’t hit the fan. I decided to bank time until mile 20-22 and continued to run on pace...As I approached mile 22, I got super nervous: Would my leg hold up or blow-up again out of the blue like last year? Of course, I started to tire around mile 20 like all people do if you race and gun for a PR but I felt great and nothing hurt. A quick calculation and I realized that I could run 8:00 pace and still come in below 3 hours....Instead of pushing, I took some pace off, still running at sub3 pace for these miles but 15-20 seconds slower than before. The finish ended up more dramatic than expected, in the last curve, my left hipflexor cramped, a few seconds later I was across the finish in 2:55:07. I kneeled down to stretch my hipflexor and couldn’t get up...I tried but it wasn’t meant to be. Two volunteers arrived plus a third with a wheelchair...:”I am not getting into this thing, just put me back on my feet.” The two volunteers helped me to get up and I hobbled off while one volunteer ensured that I don’t hit the pavement in a few feet.. I got my Boston Cream Pie Cupcake from the Whole Foods stand and made my way back to the hotel. The race, while not easy, is fast. The field is usually deep, this year especially. I instantly fell in love with this race, of course the 5 minute PR helps but I really enjoyed the varied course, the supportive crowd and the great organization. I will def. be back.
  19. 15 points
    The Rehoboth Half Marathon was the last race on my calendar for 2017 and I had planned to race it. Really, what else can you do with all that left over endurance from marathon training anyway? The weekend started around 2:30 Friday afternoon when I arrived in Rehoboth and met up with Gwen, Carissa and Eric at packet pick up. After a quick stop at the house we made our way to Dog Fish Head to catch up and enjoy some beer. Slowly others trickled into town and we gathered at the house while Chris made lasagna for the pre-race meal. Soon it was time to get some sleep. The alarm went off at 5:00 AM. I dressed and went down to the kitchen where the others were already gorging on bagels on coffee. There’s nothing like the smell of body glide, coffee and nervous perspiration to help get you pumped for a race. We talked about the perfect racing weather and pace goals. Soon it was time to make our way to the start. Caitlin found a super nice house, and we could walk to the start in just a few minutes. It was a chilly 40 degrees but we were so close that I didn’t even need a throwaway. Here we are at the start. After some announcements and the National Anthem the race started. My goal was to beat 1:50 (8:25 pace) so I started with the 1:50 pace group. Sounded convenient. The plan was to run with the 1:50 group and hopefully have enough energy to pick it up for the last mile to finish under 1:50. The Marathon course splits off around 3 miles. The pace was feeling easy when my watch beeped 4 miles. Actually, it felt like the pacer had slowed. He had already announced that he wasn’t looking for a negative split and wasn’t going to come in early at all. Excuse me? That’s really all you need to hear when you’re feeling good - so I dropped him and settled into around an 8:10 pace. The trail section was in great shape this year and was completely dry. The pace felt steady and when I reached asphalt again I knew I was going to beat my goal by a minute or two. Some other runners around me started picking up their pace just before mile 12. I let them go, content to run my own race and beat the goal, happy and healthy. Around mile 12 Chris caught me and said “Come on – let’s go!” I picked it up with her and asked “We’re going to do this now?” “Yeah, let’s go!” So we hit it as hard as we could from mile 12, taking turns yelling at each other to keep pushing. That was the longest 1.1 miles I can remember, but soon enough we were rounding the last corner and we could see the finish line. My watch read 1:47:11 after crossing the finish line, a PR by over 4 minutes! The tracking company email says I ran 1:47:08. After a quick change of clothes several of us went back to cheer for the others who were still on the course. Then it was time to get the party started. The after party is mostly in a large tent at the finish line, but the beer tickets also work at the bar across the street. There isn’t gluten free beer in the tent, but we found GF beer across the street. Soon I was ordering bottles of GF beer across the street and sneaking them out in my pants and back to the tent where we spent most of our time goofing around and dancing. On the third trip I bumped into the RD and had to converse with her for a few minutes with beer in my pants. Fortunately, she didn't notice that I had beer in my pants. The next morning we said our good byes and started traveling home, looking forward to the next time when we can do this all over again. Thanks everyone! This was the best weekend since my last Rehoboth and I have a shiny new PR to chase next year.
  20. 15 points
    Things are coming down to the wire. We had our last completely free weekend and now are faced with a baby shower, birth & CPR classes, picking a pediatrician, going to the police department to make sure the car seat is installed properly, a late Friendsgiving/Festivus celebration and other general holiday things to take up the last remaining weeks. I'm slowing down, too. Walks are still happening but definitely no running. The pressure of gravity is uncomfortable even when stationary so I don't really want to experience it when I'm bouncing all over the place. I did scamper down the driveway to take out the trash and that was okay but no further. We met some new local people our age, R & E, through a mutual friend and both encounters have gone well so I'm crossing my fingers that we can manage to stay in touch. They have a 5 month old baby and a dog and like to go hiking and live about 10min away so really, what's not to like? Even socially resistant DH was getting into it towards the end of the second hangout. The first time we met up was to go on a hike with the puppies and they seemed eager to let me pick the place so I chose a nearby park that is humongous but has a relatively short off leash loop. I still have no idea what constitutes a non-runner's idea of acceptable distance for this kind of thing, a fact DH constantly points out to me ("you said a couple miles... FIVE IS NOT A COUPLE") so I decided to play it safe and used my knuckle on the trail map to roughly check the distance. Just under 2 miles. That's ok, right? We met in the parking lot. I'd met R before and she looks pretty fit; E was no exception - a tall and wide dude who does Crossfit, apparently. We suited up and headed up the hill that begins the loop. Oh right, the hill. The pretty long and kind of steep hill. On the way up E was asking if I'd started feeling more tired or out of breath yet going by his wife's experience just a few months prior. I was saying yeah, kind of, it's not too bad though... and he'd reply something like well, if you ever need to slow down just let us know, it's no biggie. And I know it sounds obnoxious but it really was said in a nice way so I didn't think anything of it. The hill kept climbing and climbing and R and E were both dragging a bit and I was feeling totally fine and had to keep pretending I wasn't waiting for them, like oh look at this interesting tree! off to the side of the trail. E had to stop a few times because the baby carrier was adjusted too low and pressing into his stomach making it hard to breath and I thought, well, I have the same thing but can't adjust it.... We finally got to the top of the hill and settled in to a nice walk on the flat loop part. The dogs loved it. They weren't 100% comfortable letting their dog off leash but we let Chewie off because his legs are too short to let him run full tilt into the leaves and underbrush so he's pretty well confined to the trail. Turns out E works in the medical field so I FINALLY had someone to talk to about biology stuff instead of all this financial jargon the males in our other circle of friends seem to make up every time we hang out. Turns out FI-nance and fuh-NANCE are different terms?? On the way back down the boys & Chewie kept getting further out ahead and I was having a nice time chatting with R but was getting a little anxious as we got further apart. I never liked getting strung out from a group and her dog didn't like it either and kept trying to pull us forward to return to the pack. She'd respond by going slower. Omg. If you've ever run trails with me you know my favorite is the downhills and I'm pretty confident about foot placement. I won't ever rush someone who's concerned about tripping but... !!! Come on woman! We finished the hike up in about 1hr 45min and said goodbyes in the parking lot. The next day I returned and power hiked that thing with Chewie in 57 minutes. I guess that competitive streak is still there... The next hike we picked was with all six of us and a ton easier, more like a woodland stroll. I'd learned my lesson, ha! But honestly it's nice to meet some new people and at least they enjoy that kind of thing. We went over to their place afterwards for lunch and had a great time chatting and getting more comfortable with each other. You know how it is. DH played with the baby on the floor for more than half the time and it was seriously so super cute. <3 Somehow the conversation turned to being in shape for birth and R was saying how she was in pretty good shape and still had a tough time, which made my heart kind of sink. And then that little sneak DH brought up my past ultra experience and their eyes kind of bugged out. I had to explain to them what exactly I'd done (no hundos, please, don't assume THAT! just a couple 50ks) and to me it's really not a big deal because I mean come on, it was like... what, three years ago at this point? But E loudly exclaimed, "Okay, now I don't feel as bad about getting roasted by a 7 month pregnant lady!!" and I couldn't help it and cracked up. So that made me feel a little better. Sigh. I just hope I have enough time/motivation to get back into it after the whole shebang. Gotta get me a jogging stroller! I took Chewie to a nearby beach park to scope out the road/trail and it seems solid enough to navigate a hefty stroller... definitely a possibility.
  21. 15 points
    NOTE: This is an updated revision of a bloop written eight years ago. Because of all the specialized running jargon, I felt it would be a fitting celebration of the Looptionary painstakingly constructed by Dave et al for our new Loop. 1. To train properly, you must do intervals, tempo runs, hill repeats, maintenance runs, ladders, fartleks, yassos, and recovery runs. LSD will definitely help, but just say "no" to junk miles. On rest days, do some XT, isometrics, and plyometrics. 2. Three weeks before the big race, savor the taper, flex your flexibility, stretch your hams, and load a few carbos. 3. On race day, wear a tech shirt, split shorts, and Hoka Hoka One Ones. Protect your privates with Under Armor. Wear an old brimmed hat with a few holes for ventilation. The holes are also quite handy for storing stuff! 4. Remember to apply sunblock, chapstick, Body Glide, and Udder Creme for safe measure. 5. Attach your chip, pin on your bib, check the batteries in your heart rate monitor, calibrate your Garmin, adjust your I-pod, put some GU and Gatorade in your fuel belt. 6. For superior race results, do not pronate, supinate, urinate, or defecate. 7. Try to get a BQ, or at least a PR, shoot for negative splits, draft when you can, steer clear of the wall, remember to kick, never be a DNF or DQ, and please don't bonk! 8. Avoid stress fractures, shin splints, plantar fasciitis, tendinitis, side stitches, runner's knee, blood blisters, and runner's trots. 9. After your race, always take an ice bath ASAP, followed by a hot bath. Then alternate Biofreeze and Tiger Balm as needed. Alleviate with Aleve. 10. If you get ITBS, remember RICE, roll it with a roller, and call a PT. 11. There's a cheap trick for dealing with piriformis or gluteal pain. (HINT: It's also good for a cheap thrill.) Sit on a tennis ball and swivel your hips in a circular motion to experience quick relief. CAUTION: Do not position ball near any body orifices unless wearing at least one layer of clothing. Best to avoid use in areas where anyone can hear you or observe your facial expression. 12. If you come in last and lose your ass, fix it fast with Butt Paste! 13. ALWAYS HAVE FUN! Affectionately, SeniorRunner P.S. Kindly post your race report on Loopsters.org, and BTW, make it PDQ! ...and you can never have too much Butt Paste!
  22. 15 points
    Hi there friend, why the long face? Are you feeling a little down? Unhappy with your job? Having financial troubles? The news cycle making you want to gouge your eyes out and self immolate? We’ve all been there. Today’s world is full of stress and fear and depressing goings on every single day; it’s easy to feel hopeless. Luckily, you don’t have to face the challenges of living in this world alone. There’s a group of people just like you, fighting their way through life one day at a time. How do they do it, you ask? Well, allow me introduce you to the Church of the Hungover Angry Run(TM). What is the Church of the Hungover Angry Run(TM) you ask? Well I’m glad you, uumm... asked. As a frequent congregant, I’m happy to tell you all about our community and how it’s helped me hang on for dear life as I struggle to survive the insanity we call “the human experience”. The Church is made up of people, just like you and me!, who spend each day on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Most of us try to deal with the crippling anxiety in a healthy way, by going to therapy or exercising or prescription pharmaceuticals with dangerous side effects or some other wholesome and healthy activity. But too often we fail, and end up trying to escape our painful realities through non-prescription pharmaceuticals with dangerous side effects and alcohol. We wake up with a dry mouth, pounding head, and swollen sense of shame. You know that shame, don’t you friend? That’s where the Church of the Hungover Angry Run(TM) comes in. We take that self loathing, anxiety, and anger at the world and pound it out on the pavement. I know what you’re thinking, “But Brother Gonzo, it hurts to think, how am I possibly going to run???” Hahahaha, well Jimmy, I didn’t say it was going to be easy. But I will say that through the suffering, you will find redemption. Lace up those shoes, wipe that smeared mascara off your cheeks (you too guys), pop some ibuprofen, and drag yourself out the door. You will hurt, your sweat will smell like a fraternity basement, and you will probably vomit. Several times. But those disgusting eliminations and discharges will carry with them all the poisons rotting your body and soul. All the anger, all the fear and anxiety, all the stress and shame will pass from you as you focus on finding a hedge or alleyway no one is watching to have a violent emergency bathroom break. You will be expelling pure evil from your pores and other bodily orifices, and when you finish, you will say to yourself “If I can survive a 3 mile run puking in every unattended trash can I pass, I can surely survive whatever bullshit this world can throw at me today!” That, my brothers and sisters, is the power of the Church of the Hungover Angry Run(TM). Now, while you’re welcome to attend services with us, in order to become a full member there are several sacraments in which congregants must partake. These involve embarking on a hungover, angry run after the following life events: Ending of a romantic relationship Waking up and realizing you drunk-dialed an ex Waking up and realizing you drunk booty called an ex A work happy hour where you awkwardly hit on a coworker’s/boss’ wife/girlfriend Quitting/being fired from a job An existential “What am I doing with my life” crisis Your child telling you how much they hate you Watching cable news for too long Attending an Irish wake Like many Churches, we observe several High Holy days. These celebrate instances when times of great stress and occasions for binge drinking intersect, and the likelihood of spending a teary booze-soaked Uber ride praying you get home before the pitcher of sangria comes back up is highest. Those are the times we need the Church the most, and the times when the Church is there for us. Our High Holy days are: January 1 (The Feast of the Failed Resolution) - services commemorate the passing of another year devoid of accomplishment and remembering unfulfilled goals for personal growth and development March 18 (The Feast of Green Dye No 3) - to seek atonement for the shallow misappropriation of another culture’s rich traditions May 6 (Día de Sentirse Como Los Muertos) - also to seek atonement for the shallow misappropriation of another culture’s rich traditions Thanksgiving (All Ex’ Day) - a day of trying to figure out what unresolved issues led you to hook up with your high school/college ex while back in your hometown on Thanksgiving Eve There are also special services, some on set days and some to be attended as needed by the congregant. These include: February 15 (Lonely Hearts Day) - a day of contemplation on why the coworker, friend, or relative with the crippling social awkwardness/offensive body odor/lack of gainful employment/excessive body hair has a romantic life partner and you don’t. This service can also be held on the day after a wedding in which you sat at the singles table. Family Day - can be celebrated after any large family gathering. Includes time for reflection on uncomfortable family discussions around: Why certain conservative/liberal family members accuse you of being a communist/terrorist/fascist Why you’re not married When you’re having children The usefulness of your college degree in your current profession and how the student loans can’t be helping the fact you're not married or childless Why that cousin with the basket weaving degree makes more than you with your PhD in mechanical engineering Failure of Humanity Day - a day of mourning and reflection after the latest horrific and tragic preventable loss of life in favor of politics and money Like any Church, we also have our sacred scriptures. These include: Born to Run Once a Runner What I Talk About When I Talk About Running Daniels’ Running Formula The Joy of Mixology The Collected Poems of Dylan Thomas Unlike most Churches, however, we don’t have hymns or sing much. Singing and hangovers rarely mix, after all. And lastly, what would a Church be without the breaking of bread together as a congregation? Our traditional communal meal consists of bagel sandwiches and bloody marys, however each local congregation may choose an equally appropriate meal consistent with local traditions. I hope you found this informative, and look forward to seeing you at our next service! They start every morning promptly at 6am 7am 8am 8:30am 8:45am ugh fuck it we’ll be calling in sick to work and going at 9:15am. Welcome to the Church of the Hungover Angry Run(TM)!
  23. 15 points
    If you’ve been on the Loop for any amount of time you have either read about Garbo’s famous Muskrat challenges or taken part. His challenges usually consist of monthly acts of silliness while running such as Remember the Ala Mode Pi Pie Run. The rules were simple: run 3.1 miles and eat an entire 8-9” pie while carrying a piñata and wearing a Dave Schultz mask wearing a mustache. Many of us Muskrateers still cannot look at a pie more than 6 months later. 🤢 A lesser known fact of Garbo’s Muskrating is that each month every participant must complete a Random Act of Kindness of their choice. To date money has been donated to different causes, coworkers have been brought doughnuts, dresses have been made for little girls in the Dominican Republic just to name a few. When Hurricane Sandy hit my little part of the U.S. people from far and wide sent money, clothing, blankets, space heaters and food. Our tiny little church became a warehouse to receive and distribute all of these donations. It was truly amazing how giving the people of the USA were. This is how Nicole and I met. Hurricane Sandy threw us together. We unloaded trucks, gave out flood buckets and even installed insulation in a house during a snowstorm. We’ve been fast friends ever since. When Hurricane Harvey hit Texas I felt so awful for everyone affected. There is just nowhere for 36-40” of rain to go. The flooding in Texas covered an area roughly the size of my home state of NJ. Catastrophic. I wanted to immediately send money or items to the people of Texas. I made a monetary donation but it just didn’t seem like enough. Nicole sent me an email saying she knew it was late notice but could I go on a mission trip to Texas with her for Hurricane Harvey relief in less than 2 weeks. Ermmmmm....hmmmm...let me see what I can do about work. Must’ve been meant to be. Two people flipped their lives around so I could go. Suddenly I had my November RAOK that was sure to win me points with Garbo. Garbo used to live in the part of Texas that was devastated. N and I set out Sunday night from Newark. We arrived in Houston at 1:00 am due to a delayed flight. Snug in our sleeping bags on air mattresses in a youth room watched over by scary Jesus by 3:00 am we managed a few hours of sleep. With too little sleep but fueled by large Starbucks Americanos we set out to Miss Dorothy’s house. Miss Dorothy is a beautiful 80 year old lady originally from Louisiana but a Texas resident since 1971. Miss Dorothy- center When we arrived at her house the drywall had been cut above the flood line and all of the carpet and kitchen cabinets had been removed. We were to finish gutting the interior, rewire the electric that had gotten wet, insulate and drywall 2 rooms. One of the saddest sights - her ruined closet with only 4 pairs of shoes hanging in it. I almost broke down at how much she had lost. We were a group of 7 virtual strangers. One was competent in wiring, one was competent in carpentry and then there were the 5 of us who brought not much more than a desire to help and some muscle. Day 1 we gutted 3 rooms of the remaining drywall and the ceiling in the living room. It was 85* and swampy with humidity. We pounded and pulled, scooped and dragged all day long. Did I mention it was hot?! The house was empty and the curb was full. A shower never felt so good. For dinner we had Garbo’s recommended dinner from Whataburger. No Texas trip would’ve been complete without it. The next morning I woke early and felt good enough to get a run in before heading over to Miss Dorothy’s. Hard to believe but Houston is flatter than New Jersey. After seeing my run’s elevation profile on Strava I could understand how so many houses got flooded. The water just came down and since no area is lower than any other it just filled the streets and then the houses. At Miss Dorothy’s the 2nd day I learned how to tack up electrical outlet boxes and then we insulated the walls while others were insulating the living room ceiling. Ms Dorothy bought us sandwiches for lunch that day. Each one of us just loved her more than the other. In the afternoon all of the men left the worksite to go to Home Depot or for a bathroom break. The ladies ruled the site!! After dinner three of us found an ice cream shop called Marble Creamery (or something to that nature). I got a medium sized bowl of peanut butter and chocolate ice cream with Reeses and peanut butter mixed in. It must’ve weighed a pound!! Everything truly is bigger in Texas! The ice cream was so amazing after another 85+* day. Day 3 dawned early again and I covered another 3 Texas miles a little slower than the day before. I blame this on offloading drywall from Home Depot (a perfect Spartan exercise). The house was ready for us to install drywall. Once again 5 of the 7 of us were newbies to this. Cullen gave us a quick lesson and Pastor Tom, Nicole and I made “quick” work of Ms Dorothy’s bedroom. Posing in front of our work. We moved to the living room where the other crew was using their heads to put up the ceiling. Nicole, Tom and I started on the walls but didn’t quite manage to get the living room finished by the time we needed to head out. I hope the next crew loves Miss Dorothy as much as we did. A fitting send off for this well worn pair of beloved Zantes (also beloved shoe of Garbo - 2nd only to his Piranhas) If you ever think Garbo’s Muskrat challenges aren’t for you perhaps you should think again. The world will be a better place for it. Peace out.
  24. 15 points
    "We're going to run this whole way" I say to PegLeg. "Yep" she says. "That is so stupid." We’re on the bus with slow_running on the way to the start. It feels like we've been on the bus forever. How can you go this whole way on foot? Why would you want to? Earlier I had sat down in PegLeg's car and immediately something was wrong. My ass was cold. No-wet. Why is my ass wet? I felt under me and realize that I sat on the hose of my hydration pack and soaked myself and the seat. This is a perfect metaphor for the lead up to this race. PegLeg and I are talking about the race and paces and I think she's calming me down. We both have a nervous energy but also a fatalistic sense of calm. Wineglass has been poop theater (trying to keep the new loop family friendly) for everyone. A third of the people cancelled. Those of us who came all had injuries and twinjuries and sickness leading up to it. Our goals were all over the place and came with many asterisks. I'm nervously checking my phone every few minutes to see if HPS has responded. We make it to the start, make the first of many trips to the POPs and stake out seats in the tent for J-Zee and HPS. I'm worried about her. We were supposed to meet at the buses but we got there insanely early and decided to forge ahead to get seats. She hasn't read our messages and I'm scared she may still be sleeping or something. Eventually we find HPS and J-Zee and we take turns guarding the seats and visiting the POPs. J-Zee politely listens to my nonstop nervous chatter. I can hear myself talking but it’s mostly to distract myself from the fact that for some reason I told everyone I know that I’m going to run a marathon and it’s too late to back out now. *** I'm coming into mile 18 and I feel myself starting to falter. My legs hurt. I want to stop. I know that I'm in trouble. I'm telling myself to just try to hold on. It's okay that it hurts. I knew that it would. I try to make myself little bench marks. Little things to look forward to. At 20, I'll put my headphones on. At 21 I get to eat another gel. I'll get a boost then. Am I drinking? Have I been drinking? I taste water in my mouth but I can't remember. Why did I think it was smart to run the first half sub 9? What is wrong with me? Can I keep this going now? Yes. So I keep going. Mile 20 hits me like a newspaper hits a roach. I want to be done. I put on my music and I hate every song. I am angry at everything. I ignore the crowd. I want them to be quiet and let me concentrate. I want them to cheer louder so I can get some energy. I do my best to not project anything because I know I really appreciate them but everything hurts and I am not reasonable. Mile 21 I take a gu and I need it. My legs hurt. My shoulder hurts. A truck goes by with a sign taped to the side cheering on someone named Laura. I know in my heart of hearts that if I were Laura, I'd hop right into that truck and call it a day. I think about quadracool and tell myself to woman up. She’s running multiples of what I am and I’m sure she’ll hurt and I’m sure she’ll want to stop so who am I to complain. Mile 22 this is just stupid. Effing stupid. I am never doing this again. I am throwing my shoes out the second I cross the finish line. I know everyone says that but I mean it. I am never doing this again. I hate this. I want to be done. I hate that nothing will make me feel better. I am toast and I am so stupid. Mile 23 Literally left my body. That’s all I know about this mile. Mile 24 I can run 20 minutes. I can do anything for 20 minutes. Oh look at that bench. Maybe I can sit on it until the race is over. No one will miss me. I’ll be fine. Mile 26 I want to walk. I took two micro breaks earlier. One for a few seconds while I drank a cup of water. And once for even less while I tried to drink water but really just poured it down my face. But not now. Not in this mile. I will not walk. IS THAT A FUCKING BRIDGE!?!? .2 There's the finish line. Am I running backwards? Am I running? I can't feel anything and yet everything hurts. I cross the finish line and I'm vaguely aware that the announcer mispronounced my name. It's a blur and then there's J-Zee. I give him a big sweaty hug choking back tears. I'm babbling at him again. I ask about PegLeg. I show him my watch. He says something about sub 4 and I'm glad to hear the verification. Did I really finish? Did I really run a sub-4? I realize I didn't ask about him. He tells me his time. I congratulate him. I ask about HPS and NavEng. I'm taking it all in in that super slow on the uptake post-race way. Just slow_running after me and I'm anxious for him to come in. A few minutes later, I'm sitting on a row of camp chairs with Peg. "I keep tearing up." I say, feeling my face start to scrunch up again. "Me too." She says and for a second we're both sitting there, our eyes welling with tears, unable to articulate any further.
  25. 14 points
    The year has rolled into October and the next marathon is around the corner. Training is done, for better or worse, so it's time to taper and consider how this last cycle went. Well, it's gone pretty well, I'd have to say. Certainly not optimal. Not my best training. Not my most miles, and definitely a little slower. But I'm looking on the bright side: It's only the second time I've done two marathons in one year - so the risk of injury was higher. I came out of LA in March with a tweaked butt that never really healed, just slowly got better. My knee started hurting in April and never went away - but it didn't get worse either, and I managed to get in almost all my miles. I'm on track for a new old man PR in total annual miles. And after bagging a BQ in LA, the rest of this year is really just gravy. I averaged about 40 miles a week for the last 3 months. Not a recipe for a PR, but considering everything, I'm happy with that. Plenty of good runs in there, many with my running group that keeps things fun. So I don't really have a goal for NYC, per se. My real goal is to enjoy the experience, smile throughout, high five a few hundred people, and finish another marathon. But seriously, I'd be a lot happier if my time were under 4 hours. And I'm telling people my goal is 3:45, so there's that. Sub 3:35 for a BQ is a long shot, so I'm not even going to try for that. My secondary goal is to practice restraint - try to keep my pace ABOVE 8:15 for the first ten miles. Then hopefully I can maintain or beat that to at least 20 before I start to fall apart. I'd love to see what it's like to negative split a marathon. I'm really just hoping I can finish without too much walking. And of course I'm looking forward to seeing about 6 very special Loopsters, before, during or after the race. Life is good.
  26. 14 points
    Last December I was at the grocery store and I heard someone say, "Gwen, I've been hoping I'd see you!" Me? It was a friend's boyfriend. His name is Jim. Jim had been losing weight after a health scare. He said he had a challenge for me. He wanted to race me across the Ocean City bridges. He would be walking the bridges once while he wanted me to run an equivalent amount of time. I explained about my hamstring but said we would talk later. I saw Jim again in March and he was beyond excited about the bridge challenge. I on the other hand was more worried than ever about my silly leg. Jim's infectious excitement made me realize come hell or high water I'd be racing Jim across those bridges. Jim has been using a nutritionist at the hospital to lose weight. When I saw him in March it was the day before he found out he'd lost 100 pounds. The hospital did a big story on him and he told them about our race. Jim and I decided on June 6th for our race not even realizing it was Global Running Day. I kicked my butt to get ready for the race by combining Crossfit and intervals. Jim walked at the gym and even completed the bridge twice. Jim was starting in Somers Point and I was to run from Ocean City to Somers Point and back. The goal was for the winner to claim the bench first. We each had an official starter. My husband was with me and our friend Charlie was with Jim. I was way more nervous than I should've been. Jim confirmed he was too. At the word go I took off like a shot. The weather was perfect- 60 with little humidity. Up the first bridge and my calves were grumbling but my breathing was good. My husband had brought his bike and got some great shots. Coming down the backside of the 1st bridge - a flying shot! I just kept cruising along not really sure what pace I could manage. Mile 1 clicked in at an 8:42. Holy cow! Mile 2 is flat at the beginning and then there's another bridge at the end. I got about 2/3 of the way across and stopped to ask my husband if he saw Jim. We finally saw him coming down the 2nd bridge (His 1st bridge). Jim admitted later when he wasn't further along when he saw me he got worried. We high fived when we passed each other. Another friend tooted and cheered as she drove to the finish line so she could grab some pictures. I cruised up to the top of the 2nd bridge still feeling strong. Mile 2 was an 8:40. I bemoaned the fact that as soon as I hit the bottom I'd have to turn and immediately start climbing again. Suck it up, butter cup! How lucky am I to be out running with a friend when nearly a year ago my running came to a screeching halt with a torn hamstring? Up the bridge again. Climb, churn, go! I crested the top and still felt fantastic. My husband would talk to me every now and then and I eventually had to wave him off. Every time I looked at him I would almost trip on the concrete curbing. I'm still favoring my left leg due to the injury. Not sure why because my left leg is almost as strong as my right. Mile 3 was an 8:21. Hell yeah! The wind was at my back. One more bridge to climb! My DH was keeping an eye on Jim and I'm still not sure if he was keeping an eye on me so I didn't win. I had to slow on the final bridge as Jim was only 6 light poles ahead. Look at him! He was loving life! I came flying down the final bridge just amazed because without Jim's prodding I would have never figured out how to train while still rehabbing. Mile 4 - 8:33. Hell yeah, baby! Jim and I both set bridge PRs on Global Running Day! Both total winners! 37 minutes and change! We are setting up another showdown for a 6 mile race. Stay tuned!
  27. 14 points
    I've been really quiet on Loopsters. A couple of things have kept me from coming around-- the fact that my injury continues to linger and the fact that someone questioned my injury if I could run several miles. KRG popped into Muskrat2020 today to see how everyone was and I posted a ‘pictures’ reply. Hmmmm, seems I've been up to more than I thought. In January my friend C and I participated in Winter Warrior for the 3rd straight year. It was -7* on January 1st! It wouldn't stop snowing or being cold the whole month! One day I did a mile worth of high knees....in my jeans on a snow covered track. I went to the Eagles’ Super Bowl Parade. The smell of marijuana was everywhere!! Because I'm optimistic I convinced my friends to run a marathon relay with me. Two weeks before race day (sometime in February) I realized there was no way I was going to be able to run 2 legs for a total of 13+ miles. I enlisted my eldest son to take one of my legs. We....I had a blast! It was pouring rain with sideways wind and freezing!! The organizers changed the format to release the legs every 10 minutes because they didn’t want people to stand around and freeze. We did a quick shuffle of leg assignments. C ran legs 1 & 4, my son ran leg 2, N ran leg 3 and I ran leg 5. The wind was blowing so hard I had to take my hat off and stick it in my jacket before it ended up in the Connecticut Sound. I was pretty pleased with my splits in the wind and rain. I signed up for several 1/2 marathons after running Rehoboth because I thought I was on my way back. March was my 1st one. It was the Philadelphia Love Run. My friend C signed up also since it fit into her schedule. Race morning was cold so we donned our best racing apparel. A lady in the parking garage asked to take our picture! Sadly along the course we saw a person having CPR performed. Crazy scary. I searched the inter webs the next day for more info. Couldn't find anything so I'm hoping he's okay. The race had some good climbs in it. I managed to run them well - a goal of mine after blowing up on the hills at the Philadelphia 1/2. I told C I would stay with her because my leg had really been feeling horrible. By the end of the race she was slowing and all I wanted to do was get to the finish and stop the pounding on my leg. The struggle was real. Lol. At this point I decided to have an MRI on my lower hamstring because I was in so much pain. Guess what. Not one thing wrong there. Doctor gave me another prescription for PT. I haven't done it because I really don't think there's anything else they can do. I already had 2 rounds of PT on it last fall. I do think when the PTs massage the scar tissue that makes a big difference. At $100/week I’m not ready to recommit. At this point I decided I’d try giving up everything but running. So I cut out all lifting and crossfitting. The 1st week was awesome! I managed 25 miles and even threw in some speed. The injury sight has a bit....lot of difficulty with speed, but look at the beauty of those 8s!! My calves decided there was too much speed and miles in that week so then I had to sit myself down again. Harrumph! For Christmas I got my kids and husband each a race with a training plan included! Awesome, right?! As each person was opening a gift they were warning each other "Don't open the small ones!!" Lol First up was the Drake Relay 1/2 in Des Moines, IO. My husband and I flew out this past Friday. It was so great to see my son. I haven’t been able to give him a hug since Christmas! He's doing really great in his job and had just received a promotion and raise that week! With work and only 10 months married he didn't exactly follow the training plan I gave him. My DH, DS and I ran together. I tried to talk to DH and DS but both were wearing headphones. Sigh. As flat as you think the Midwest is this course went up and down. I tried running the hills at a good pace while trying to stay with DH and DS. At the start: At the finish: I've got a whole new PW but a PB of 1/2s that I've run with my son!! That pretty much catches you up! One other piece of big news is that I tried riding my bike for the first time in 9 months. (Last time I tried I ended up practically in tears.) I managed 10 miles and no tears!! I'm going to try to slowly add that back in. That’s all for now! Stay tuned for more ridiculous races I’m not trained for!
  28. 14 points
    Ok, TL;DR version to reacquaint: I used to do ultras, I started CrossFit to get better at them. I stopped running and did CF exclusively. I'd threaten periodically to start running again. It never happened. I haven't run in eons. I hadn't done much of anything since November. Last Wednesday, I get a text. We chat...usual convo. Then, outta nowhere, "You wanna run Saturday?" followed by a link to her church's website. I follow the link. First year race...5k and 10k option. 5k plus the shirt is $15 (See @garbanzo a gogo, there are still cheap races). It supports Friend's church's preschool. Her church is within a 5 minute walk. Crap. How do I say "no?" Neighborhood is one of the hilliest places in town to run. It's beautiful outside. So, I text her and ask what the route is. She tells me. It's simple and I know the roads well from all of my running around the neighborhood in prior years. I explained how I haven't run in forever, but told her that I would run it and get back to her. When I got home, I opened the brand new stick of Glide that I had gotten when I had planned on trying to run again months ago. Like at least before September (but, might have even been longer than that). I broke out the running shoes that I got nearly a year before and had yet to take them on their maiden voyage. I knew it was gonna suck, but what the heck. Let's try and do 5k. So, off I went around the race course. Physically, I got tight quickly and lost my wind easily. So, I took walk breaks. I think I ended up with 4 walk breaks over that 3.1 miles. I finished it in like 40 minutes. Despite being slow and out of shape, I was very happy as I walked back to the house in the great weather. Ahhh, endorphins. I decided not to text my friend back until the next day. I mean, you don't not run for a year, and then go out and do a 5k run walk without tearing something or breaking something once you're passed 40. The next morning, I felt pretty good. So, I sent her a screen shot of my Garmin 205. I told her that I "might manage under 40 minutes." She replied back that she wasn't worried about the time, just that she was out trying to help her church. I paused and procrastinated in registering, hoping that Friday would come with an incredible case of DOMS. But, no such luck. After thinking it all through.... $15, tee shirt, walking distance, friend, I couldn't say no and I couldn't procrastinate anymore. I registered online. I woke up early Saturday due to the DK9s, which worked out great, I had time to let them out and feed them, and get myself a cup of coffee. When I arrived at the church, I found the registration table and my friend. She had a bunch of gals with her that she was socializing with, so I went off to get some fresh air. In no time, we were standing at the starting line. Beautiful temps, fresh air, a girl singing the national anthem and we were off. There were only about 50 runners total. I started with my friend and decided that I'd just see what happened. We ran, we chatted, we took walk breaks occasionally. Most importantly, we stayed together the whole time. It was an absolutely great time. The course was well marked, cops were directing traffic, they had appropriately placed water stations for both the 5k and the 10k. It was a great first year event. We finished under 40 minutes, which was the only real "goal." We weren't pushing it...just two friends out running. I missed it. Oh, and I am running another one this weekend, but that's with another friend...and free beer.
  29. 14 points
    For the sixth time in nine years I left Dodger stadium at dawn to the sound of Randy Newman's "I Love LA". Goals were the same as the last four times; Run 8-minute pace or better as long as possible, try to break 3:30 and BQ. Luckily I'm older now, so I really only needed 3:37 or so, but I just kept those 7 minutes in my pocket for bonking insurance. Because I have a pattern. I was up at 3:20AM, out the door at 3:30 for a ride with my club running buddy, S. We got to the finish area in Santa Monica at 4:00 and got right on the bus - no lines! So we were at Dodger stadium by 4:30 with over two hours to kill. It was cold - 47 degrees - but no wind, and I had plenty of throw-away clothes to stay relatively warm while we went into the stadium and used the facilities and grabbed a seat near the first base dugout. I ate a lot and relaxed. Headed to the corral and didn't strip down until after the national anthem. Perfect conditions. No excuses. Time to make it happen. Having done this course 5 times already, I wasn't nervous. I knew exactly what was ahead. Just had to go do my thing for 20 miles, and then bear down and grit it out when it got tough. First 1/4 mile I stayed with the crowd and worked my way up out of the stadium lot at 9:20 pace. Then it was downhill time. It's hard to control the speed on this long downhill, but I did better than last time. Miles one and two were 8:20 and 7:25. Which was 48 seconds slower than 2016. I found my other two club buddies and we ran together for a while. Felt good. Controlled. Flat miles 3-4 were 7:34 and 7:26. Too fast. Sigh. Just can't help it. Miles 5-6 go over a few big hills and I kept the effort steady and relaxed going over them. 8:02 and 7:55. So. I was basically right where I expected to be, entering the easy flat, fast section of Hollywood. I was in a groove that's hard to get out of. Plus I like being in the groove. It's racing! I have not figured out how to treat a marathon like a training run and slow the fuck down. 7:32, 7:36, 7:48, 7:30, 7:30, 7:30, 7:36 through mile 13. I had my cheering section of DW and DD (!) at mile 10. So of course that helped motivate me. It's nice to have something like that to focus on and look forward to. I had about 4 minutes in the bank at halfway. EXACTLY where I was two years ago when I finished at 3:31:32. I was starting to feel it in my quads, but I put faith in my higher mileage this year and still hoped for a stronger finish. Just needed to stay mentally strong and keep plugging. I had pulled ahead of all my club buddies at this point. Because they're not stupid. The next section wasn't as bad as other years. Still felt pretty strong through Beverly Hills and Rodeo Drive and up toward mile 19 where DW and DD awaited. But the quads were really getting sore. And I was just feeling tired. But I kept plugging. 7:46, 7:26, 7:38, 7:52, 7:45, 7:58 to 19. Just keeping the pace under 8 was work now. But I had to look good for the fam, right? This is where it gets tough. Time to grind. I had close to 5 minutes in the bank as I approached 20. Which really meant 12 minutes in the bank for the BQ. So that's 2 minutes per remaining mile, so if I can keep it under 10 minute pace I got this. These were the thoughts going through my head much of the next few miles. No problem, right? I grabbed a Clif Gel at mile 20 (8:03) and took my first walk break to ingest it. Quads were screaming now. But I got going again on the long gradual uphill of mile 21 and kept plugging all the way over it, despite REALLY wanting to walk some more. Both club buddies passed me here, and I couldn't hang with them. They both cruised on in to a 3:25 finish. Mile 21 was 8:47 with the walk break. I re-did the math and kept plugging and managed to get through 22 in 8:37 before taking another walk break. That was as fast as my legs would allow now. And I still had over a mile of uphill ahead before the last 2.5 miles were downhill. But the math was good. I could still stay near 10 minute pace with walk breaks and that would be good enough. I still kind of wanted to break 3:30, but I had to listen to my body. What I really wanted was to just walk it in, but that wouldn't cut it. So I committed to more suffering and kept running. Well, jogging basically at this point. My run pace was barely under 9. But I made it over the hill to 23 in 9:10 and figured I had this in the bag. But I still needed to do it. Saw a friend on the course here and that helped a bit. I took 6 walk breaks in the last 4 miles. Each time I counted 30 steps, just enough to get my breath back, and then forced myself back into trotting mode. 24 was 9:27. 25 was 9:25. My other buddy, pacing the 3:30 group, passed me here. I knew 3:30 was gone. But I also knew the BQ was mine. And DW and DD said they would be there to see the finish for the first time (logistics there are tough). So as the finish line came into sight I got a little emotional. Not like the first BQ, but still. The sense of pride of finishing the 6-month plan and reaching that goal - it's still pretty special. And the sense of relief that the pain will soon be over is pretty nice too. I managed to run the last 1/2 mile or so without stopping. Mile 26 was 10:04 and I finished at 9:15 pace, which is as fast as my legs could handle. But no cramps, no grimacing, no blisters, no bleeding nipples. Crossed the finish in 3:33:02 for a nice BQ minus 6:58. It was good for 25th in my Age group and 67% age grade. And I hit my goal of the top 1000 (out of 20,000 finishers) finishing 996th overall. Walking afterward was brutal. I walked about 8 blocks to get to the car and that was worse than running. For my quads anyway. But I was happy to see these guys. Marathon #15 done! Goal accomplished with BQ #3! Now I can rest for a while. I have only one race on the schedule: New York in November. I'll need to cut back a bit first for a mental break before I jump back into marathon training. But I still look forward to doing it again. Conquering the pain is invigorating. Yeah, we're nuts. Life is good.
  30. 14 points
    I took all that time off, post-Wineglass. Months. I slept in and redecorated my house and painted walls and spent time with friends and watched a lot of baseball and football. It was good and it was necessary. It was eye-opening to realize that there are other things to find joy in. But the goodness and necessity of time off ran its course. I started feeling restless lately. Like something wasn’t there that belonged there. I didn’t think it was running, because I didn’t have a sudden raging desire to run all the time. I spent a month or so after the New Year in a sort of funk. Some other struggles and difficulties that are normally just a part of my daily life suddenly looked mountainous. My birthday came and went and I had some low days of feeling panic… I’d hit my mid 30s and even though I wasn’t miserable or unhappy, I also wasn’t exactly happy. I felt bland, mediocre. Like my life was a car on cruise, driving through flat, boring, changeless scenery. Coasting. I’d lost my joie de vivre. I’m sure you already know what that means, a French phrase for “vivacity”, “exuberance” and, more completely: “the joy of living”. Not just life as a noun--- people, places and things, but life as a verb, and action. It’s entirely possible to love life- the people and things in it- while being completely bored and complacent with all the acts and experiences of living. And that’s where I was… lacking the joy of life in action, feeling nothing where I used to be lusting for living… being alive, acting alive, feeling alive. And one day, after a particularly difficult series of days that had nothing whatsoever to do with running and everything to do with living, I remembered running. Racing, especially, and what it did for me. It brought me confidence, strength, poise, courage, the lessons of testing my physical limits and pushing through them. It purged me of so much uncertainly and hurt and self-esteem issues, bringing me to love myself and my body for what I was capable of. When I raced and ran, I felt free. I was living… breathing in air and sunshine and wind and wanting more. Always more. It was time to recapture that. I started by making plans. Marathon plans. Memorial Day weekend. Buffalo. Flat (mostly) and fast. Two hour drive from home. Run the marathon Sunday and have a Monday vacation day to recuperate before heading back to a job that requires me on my feet for 5-6 hours straight. Yes, it might be hot and humid for an end-of-May marathon, but that’s part of the gamble. There’s always another marathon around the corner. Of course the goal is to shave another few minutes off that 3:38 time… 3:34 is what I’d feel comfortable with, sub-3:30 is what I have tucked away in my wildest-dreams corner. But life is full and there are not enough hours in a day! I work 25-30 hours a week… DH works upwards of 50, which means I have all the housework and all the loose ends stuff with the kids to tie up on my own. Kids… as they get older, the time involved does not lessen. Suddenly, they have their activities and things to get to—and are still young enough to need parental oversight for almost everything. We’re increasingly involved in our church and community. We have an active social life with lots of wonderful friends. I love all that, because my friends are awesome and my faith is very important to me... but yessssss, it takes up chunks of time in which I don’t run. But you fit things in the best you can, keep your priorities straight and hope it’s enough for the running department. I know that when I toed the line at Wineglass, I was undertrained and lacking confidence. BUT, I managed- on heart, determination, and enough experience with marathon defeat and failure to push a little beyond where training had taken me. Maybe this time I’ll be lucky enough to get 90% of the runs in, escape injury, and get to Buffalo with more confidence and my victory at Wineglass to build on. We’ll see what the next 12 weeks bring! So now I’m at that early stage in marathon training where I’m easing back into hard workouts and longer runs and increased mileage and dang, everything feels really tough but at the same time, SO GOOD. l look at my little 4 x 1200m workout that completely exhausted me and think, how am I ever going to run 6 x 1 mile repeats and 3 x 2s? Then I run a strong 8 miler with 6 miles of tempo on the treadmill… starting at 8:00 pace and ending in the sub-7:40s… and think, MAAAAAAAYBE? After all, I’ve been through this a few times and I know how it happens: Training. Consistency. Hard work. Determination. Sacrifice. And a whole bunch of luck, good or bad: injuries, illness, life events and circumstance, weather on race day, blah-blah. Marathoning is a gamble, one that can make dreamers and fools—and eventually, maybe, if the sun shines on us, victors- of all of us. I already made it through a 3 week session of bronchitis and step throat and sinus infection crud just before training started, so let’s hope I got all the bad luck out of the way. In the meantime… remember my last post? How to Lose A (Non-Runner) in 10 Days?> https://loopsters.org/index.php?/entry/294-how-to-lose-a-non-runner-in-10-days/ Did any of you wonder if it lasted, if the guy stuck with it, if he ended up truly joining the fellowship of runners… or if it just wasn’t the thing, it was too hard, it required too much… ??????? Well, that’s my friend C. He’s running his first race on St. Pat’s Day and chose the 10k for his racing debut. He ran 26 miles this past week, his highest week… including a 24:47 5k on an easy run, a 3 mile tempo at 8:00 flat and today, his longest run of 8 miles. Last weekend he went to his local high school track all by himself and ran an 8x400m workout when I told him to run 6x400m. One day a couple weeks ago he texted a selfie… him out there running with this satisfied look on his face, and the words: “Just ran my first 10k.” On his own! Lately he bought some running gear on one of my Running Warehouse orders … a long-sleeved tech shirt, running jacket, beanie, tights... couldn’t hide the grin when he came around for the next run in his sleek, legit running gear and neither could I! He'd also had the sickness crud I did, only a week or two earlier, and whined about all the fitness he’s missing in one week off. Gotta get back to running, he says. And on one of our last runs, he mentioned something along the lines of “once I run a marathon…” !!!!!! You know there’s no coming back once that thought is planted. Yep, C.’s got it, and got it bad. And I am proud as punch. He’s MY protégé. I made a runner out of him! Except… he’s the one doing the work. I’m just motivating and coaching. But strangely, it’s helping me, too, in this whole ‘joie de vivre’ hunt. It's like going through that exciting new-runner phase all over again. There have been days when I could have found an excuse not to run, but meeting up with C. meant I got it done, or did some extra. Miles go by faster when you’re chatting; it’s fun having a local running buddy after years of training mostly alone. And I’m already discovering how much fresher my legs are for speedwork days when I run inbetween/easy days with C, because our conversational pace is where I’m actually supposed to be doing easy runs at!! At the same time, we’re both extremely competitive... so there we are on the gym treadmills, eyeing the other’s paces during speed sessions and bumping up our own. Or racing the last .2 of a run outdoors. He’s playing basketball once a week and doing some boot camp on the side as cross training and told me recently he’s feeling great physically as well as more positive mentally. Which is exactly what I hoped to accomplish with getting him started running. It helps that my husband and I are friends with him… he is like a brother to us. He goes to our church, hangs out with our family, shares meals at our table, watches TV and movies with us on weekends. Going thru a divorce is rough, one of the hardest things in life... but friendship helps, maybe? And running. Running always helps. So my next race(s)?! The local St. Pat’s Day race is a 5k/10k double header. I plan to race the 5k moderately hard to see what I can do after not racing a 5k since last May (holy crap, it’s been that long!). I am both nervous and stoked to race again. I will then pace C. for the 10k, which takes place an hour after the 5k start. My fervent prayer for that is to have enough left in the legs to pace him properly to the goal of a sub-50 minute finish. I’m confident he has that in him if the weather is favorable. He has the grit and competitive spirit of a good racer. Yes, there will be a race report! The past months have solidified for me: running and racing is just part of who I am, it is stitched on the fabric of my soul. In being away from it, I slowly lost a part of who I was. Only to wake up one day and find that niggling nudge turned into a full-blown ache. I missed it, the running and racing… the nerves, the pain, the finish-line feeling. I missed long runs. I missed the wind in my face. I missed the hard leanness of my body when I am fully trained, my leg muscles ripped. I missed the invincible feeling of running for hours, stamina fed by sweat, heart pumping, elevated heart rate, multiplied blood volume, and expanded lungs. I missed the sweetness of total exhaustion. I missed the deep sleep and the insatiable hunger that lets me eat large amounts of food and have it all burned back into energy. I missed the sparkle in my eye, the bounce in my step, the vitality. I missed the intoxicating rush of endorphins after a tough workout or a race where I left it all out there. I missed my old self, too. The badass, competitive, passionate Peg… with too much laundry and endless pairs of shoes cluttering the stairs and always worrying about a tweak or a twinge that might turn to injury. The Peg that loves filling in all the miles on spreadsheets and obsessing over Strava data and plotting races and blogging about running. The Peg that lives and breathes the joy of life, the lust for living… the “joie de vivre”. The Peg that is always scared of her goals and overthinks everything and has a vicious race kick. The Peg that ran. But she’s here again. 44 miles for this week, including 2 speed workouts, and a long run of 10 miles. Legs that ache with fatigue. Invigorated mind and spirit. And a race in 2 weeks. That’s more like it.
  31. 14 points
    My 2018 running year is off to a great start, and I think it’s time to share my Big Goal with you. Putting it in writing for consumption by an audience other than my mom and a few select friends who have gotten previews is absolutely terrifying for me, but I think it’s the good kind of terrifying. Which is largely how I feel about my goal for 2018 in the first place. In 2018, I want to BQ minus 5 minutes. That will be a 3:30:00 marathon. A PR by 15 minutes and 21 seconds from last October. And I want to do it at Rehoboth in December. Excuse me while I go breathe into a paper bag for a few minutes… Ok, I’m back. Like I said, 2018 is off to a great start. I’ve run two 5Ks and a 10K in the first two months of the year, and I have a half-marathon coming up this Sunday. In New Orleans! Yay! When I decided that pursuing a BQ was going to be a real thing this year, and not just something I passively wanted but didn’t do anything in particular to accomplish, I knew I needed to step up my training game. I’ve been following the Hansons Marathon Method training plan for the last couple of years, and have had success with it, but I knew I wasn’t really making the most of it. I talked myself out of about ⅓ of the interval and tempo workouts in any marathon cycle because I didn’t like doing them, and it was easy to come up with reasons why I should just do an easy run instead. I still made improvements in the marathon, and ran them pretty well, but I wasn’t seeing anything like the improvements people were posting about in the Facebook group and I felt like my fitness was plateauing. Just being accountable to myself wasn’t cutting it, so I decided last fall that after Rehoboth 2017 I would sign up for Hansons Coaching Services and bring in reinforcements. Knowing that I was paying someone every month to get the Garmin data from each and every workout seemed like an effective way to make sure that I did each and every workout. Signing up for coaching also meant that my training plan would be customized not just to my running abilities and goals but also to my race plans and travel schedule. Since I’m me, by December 2017 I’d already registered for three marathons, a half-marathon, and a 10-miler for 2018! That is definitely more racing than Hansons recommends with their off-the-shelf training plans, so I was excited about working with a coach who could shape a training plan around the things I already wanted to do, and still aim for the Big Goal in December 2018. And so far, it’s been everything I was hoping for and then some! My coach, Melissa, is awesome and was completely unfazed by both my ambitious (some might say audacious or even flat-out ridiculous) goal and the excessive amount of racing that I like to do each year. I only get 2-3 weeks of workouts at a time, which is VERY helpful for me as I am definitely prone to looking ahead in a training plan and getting all psyched out over the paces and distances in the later weeks. It also allows us to adjust the plan easily if anything comes up, like illness, injury, ridiculous winter weather, or work travel to places where running outside is a no-go. And every time I finish a run, my Garmin data is automatically uploaded to the Final Surge app, where she can see every last detail of my run. Because of that, I haven’t skipped a single run since we started working together in mid-December. That’s HUGE for me. In addition to the added accountability making a difference in my consistency, having a coach tell me how fast I’m supposed to be doing speed and tempo workouts and the races I’ve done so far has been AMAZING for my confidence. For the first few speed workouts she had me do in January, the paces made me look like that bug-eyed emoji face and I was like, “Omg no way can that be my target pace! I can’t run that fast! What is Coach thinking?!?” But you know what happened? I DID run that fast. As part of my ongoing realization that running is so very much a mental game, having Coach prescribe target paces that I thought were beyond my current abilities has made me faster. I might start out a workout with some doubts, but I also tell myself that I have to at least try because Coach told me to. And then I run the first interval or first tempo mile and absolutely nail the target pace and say to myself, “Oh! I CAN do it!” 2018 so far has already been vastly different than it would have been if I hadn’t gotten a coach. One thing that I’ve avoided like the plague has been racing short distances. I’m a marathoner! Why would I race a 5K? Those things hurt! Well, because Coach said I have to. And it turns out that they’re actually kind of fun in a weird, masochistic way. Kind of like speed work, as I’m also discovering. So over MLK Day weekend, I ran my first race of the year: a small 5K along the C&O Canal Towpath out in Maryland that was organized by the DC Road Runners. This was intended to be sort of a benchmark race to see where my fitness was. I’d only been back to normal running for a few weeks after recovering from Rehoboth and had done just one very short speed workout beforehand. My 5K PR from last July was 23:54 (7:43 pace), but since that was set in an evening race in the heat and humidity of the DC summer, I was pretty sure I could beat that time in a small, flat race in January. The only daunting thing (you know, other than the entire idea of racing) was the wicked 20+ mph wind that day! But the race was an out-and-back, so I’d really only have the wind in my face for the second half. I positive split the race like whoa, but that was pretty much inevitable with that wind. I went out a little bit faster than I probably should have, but the first half of the race felt surprisingly good (albeit tailwind-assisted). I finished in 22:56, a PR by 58 seconds! That race was a major confidence booster for me, and I spent the next few weeks ramping up my workouts a bit in preparation for back-to-back race weekends in February. First up: the Love the Run You’re With 5K on February 11th, organized by my favorite LRS Pacers Running. I had hopes of another PR here, but I really should have looked at the course first. I made the mistake of assuming it was flat. It was very not flat: So I gave up on the idea of a PR early in the first mile when I was panting my way up that first hill. But even though my pace was not what I was hoping for, I did manage a lovely negative split for this one: I finished in 23:48, which I’m actually pretty happy with. I didn’t realize until now that it was a faster time than last summer’s PR on a flat course, despite the hills. My coach also helped me realize that with there being so little room for error in a 5K, it’s not necessarily helpful to compare results from different races/different courses at that distance. So for this course, she was really happy with my pacing. The weather was something of an improvement over the January race: low 50s and pouring rain instead of 20s and howling wind. There was a photo booth at the start line, so I hopped over to get my souvenir picture before we started: The following weekend I ran the By George 10K, which was another very small race put on by the Potomac Valley Track Club. It was held down at Hains Point, which anyone who’s run the Marine Corps Marathon or Cherry Blossom 10-Miler will be familiar with. On the plus side, it’s very flat. But it’s sort of the Mt. Washington of DC - whatever weather the city is having, it’s amplified at Hains Point. Luckily on race down, it wasn’t tooooooo windy, so the wind down on the Point was only around 10mph. The 10K course was a double version of the 5K course, which meant a double out-and-back. Not the most interesting course, but that was ok. It was actually kind of fun to get to see the other runners so many times during the race. This was the first 10K I’ve actually raced. My only other time at this distance was the TinkerBell 10K that I ran/walked with my mom in Disneyland in 2014. I was pretty sure I could PR this one! My strategy was to go out at a controlled pace and hold that for the first half, and then see if I could bring it down for the last three miles. My target for the first three miles was 7:40ish, and then I was hoping that I could get down to 7:30 in mile 4 and then closer to 7:20 for the final two miles. I didn’t quite manage that, but I’m still happy with how this race went: The first three miles felt great, though mile 3 was back into the headwind, which I blame for the slight uptick in pace. While miles 4 and 5 weren’t quite as fast as I’d hoped, I was happy to see my pace dropping. But then mile 6 was back into the headwind, and I was spent. I was hoping for a final mile under 7:30, but I’m comfortable with the knowledge that I gave it all I had. And my 47:40 time was good enough for 2nd in my Age Group of 30-39, which earned me an apple pie! Next up: the Rock n Roll New Orleans half-marathon! I was originally planning on running the full, because it was there. But I’m trying to be more strategic this year and think in terms of the long term and the Big Goal. While I have no doubt that I could finish the marathon, I haven’t been running anywhere close to normal marathon training mileage since Rehoboth so it would basically just be a 26.2 mile easy run that would still require a solid couple of weeks to recover from before I could pick up with the intense training again. I decided that there wasn’t really a benefit to running a “fun run” marathon right now, whereas if I dropped to the half, I could race it, because my mileage and workouts have been much more in line with that distance. And I’m discovering that I really like pushing the pace! So that’s what I’m going to do. Based on how the 10K went, I’m planning to target a pace of 7:50-8:00 for the half and hopefully come in right around 1:45:00. This would be a 7ish-minute PR, so it’s definitely a lofty goal! But more importantly, I’m going to really focus on race strategy and pacing rather than a specific pace target. I want to negative split the race and practice being patient in the first half and then picking it up on tired legs. Basically the opposite of how I’ve run almost every race ever. Not-so-coincidentally, 8:00 is the pace that I will need for that 3:30 marathon, so if I can hit it in a half right now, I will feel really good about building up to that for a full by Rehoboth. After this, I have a goal 10-miler in April (the GW Parkway Classic, which I loooooove) where I’ll definitely have a goal time that will probably be informed by how New Orleans goes. Then at the end of April is the inaugural National Women’s Half-Marathon, which will just be for fun and where I’ll be joined by Keep Running Girl AND SLCAthena! And maybe NCAthlete and ASchmid who are coming to the area for a 50K the day before! Then in May I have the craziest part of the year: the 39.3 Challenge at the Maine Coast Marathon. Coach definitely thinks this is nuts. I think it’ll be fun! Plus, I’ll get THREE different mermaid medals! But needless to say, both the half and full that weekend will be run at easy paces! This is the 2nd annual HPS Mother-Daughter birthday weekend race experience; Mom will be running her 3rd half-marathon that Saturday! On September 1st I’m running my first international marathon: the Dingle Marathon in Ireland! I’ve been planning on this race since my first trip to Ireland in fall 2016, but it turned into a family vacation when my mom discovered that there was a half-marathon too and my parents invited themselves along! I’m not complaining though; it’s going to be amazing! But as the coast of the Dingle Peninsula is crazy hilly and this course is not USATF-certified, this will be another “just for fun” marathon rather than a goal race, followed by a week of recovery in Ireland. I know it’s tough, but someone has to do it. I’ll probably (be forced to) do some more short races in the summer and early fall as tune-ups for the REAL marathon training leading up to Rehoboth. After the Dingle Marathon, it’ll be time to get down to serious business! I’m not thinking too much about what that’ll look like yet, but based on the last 10 weeks or so, I have all the faith in the world in my coach’s ability to guide me to my Big Goal. I’m so excited for what this year has in store! #Rehoboth2018 #BQorBust #Chasingtheunicorn (Please tell me when my obsessing over BQing at Rehoboth becomes insufferable and I’ll try to tone it down. Maybe.)
  32. 14 points
    After I reported my race time, a friend quickly informed me that I had sandbagged on my goal of this race. I REALLY did but it was completely unintentional! Saturday was a magical day for me and all of the stars aligned perfectly. It was one of those races that you dream of having. Although it wasn’t the best race time of my life, it is definitely on the top. I flew into DCA on Friday, and after a really fun road trip to Rehoboth Beach, I had volunteered to make lasagnas for the 15+ running friends I had waiting at the house we’d all rented! I’d never cooked for that many people and was in a hurry to get them all cooked at a decent hour, as we were some of the last to arrive. I was hoping I’d make enough and that it would all settle well with everyone. It wound up being a success which I’m really thankful for! After chatting with everyone, most of us settled into bed around 10pm. I was sharing a king-sized bed with two other chicas. I wound up only sleeping for 3 hours that night! It wasn’t because I was sharing a bed, because it was huge, but I have the habit of sleeping with background noise (a fan) at home. It was crickets quiet in there and I just couldn’t fall asleep. I finally grabbed my music around 2am which gave me the few hours that I got. I felt like a zombie when I woke up and didn’t want anything to eat. I sipped on a little water and finally had a Nature's Bakery fig bar right before we headed to the start. Those fig bars are amazing, by the way! Sam’s club has them by the case and that’s what I’ve been getting. The case is half blueberry and half raspberry. Our house was perfectly located really close to the start and finish. We left about 15 minutes before the race start so we didn’t have to stand out in the cold for too long. I had on: capris, my Team RWB tee, arm warmers, head-band, thin gloves, and calf-length socks (Stance). I was pretty comfy actually. At the start line I was using my phone and Strava app (follow me here!) to track the run and for some reason, I started it as soon as I heard them start the race. I didn’t even start running for some time after. I didn’t look at my phone one single time during the race, so it didn’t matter anyway. I’ve written it in another post, but I love running “blind” and feel that it has actually helped me run faster in races. I started off fast which I hadn’t intended to do but just kept going with it. I felt like I had slowed it down a little bit after the first couple of miles, but I hadn’t. We went around a round-about at mile 3 and right after, the half and the full split up. I did not feel that I was running that pace! I had heard someone behind me at one point saying they were running 8:20 and I was shocked! I can’t remember exactly, but I think I passed the 1:50 pacer around mile 4 and never saw them again! Miles 1-3: 10:05 (early app start), 8:18, 8:17 Around mile 7, we got on a packed(-ish) gravel trail that most people said they hated. I am a trail girl at heart so I LOVED that part. I think around mile 8, there were flags hanging over the trail. I’m guessing it was flags representing all the states/countriesImage result for thin blue line flag race runners were from. There was also a Thin Blue Line flag hanging, which supports police officers. I raised my hand and brushed it as I went under. I think one of the photographers got a picture of me doing it so I hope to see that later! I also brushed the NC flag as I went under too! Miles 4-8: 7:54, 8:07, 8:12, 7:58, 8:01. WOW!!! At mile 9, we turned around on the trail and headed back. I knew I had been running fast and I was actually waiting to hit the wall. I was certain that it was going to happen, but was doing my best to prevent it. I had decided not to carry a water bottle because I figured I could just use the aid stations. This turned out to be a great idea because they had ice cold Gatorade at each aid station which tasted PERFECT. I had brought one Cliff Shot Blok (citrus) and slowly started eating that around mile 7. I only had one blok each mile until about mile 11. So the only fuel I had the whole race was one packet of Shot Bloks, and a few cups of Gatorade. I did have one cup of water somewhere in there. About mile 11, I was starting to feel the speed I’d been running. It’s kind of a slight uphill from the turnaround until you get out of the trail around mile 12. When I saw the 12 mile marker, I was already proud of what I’d done all race and knew that I wouldn’t be hitting the wall after all! I could feel emotions coming but I didn’t cry. I felt like I did in 2011 and 2012 when I was getting all of my PRs. Even though I knew I wasn’t getting a PR (1:42:xx), because the 1:40 pacer was no where in site, I was overwhelmed with how good this race was going. I still had no clue where I was going to finish but wanted to keep pushing it until the end. Shortly after the 12 mile marker, I hear someone behind me say, “Chris!” I turned around and it was John P! I hadn’t seen him when I went by but he spotted the red, white, and blue I was wearing. I waved for him to come run with me and came right up beside me. I said, “Come on! Let’s go!” So I kicked it a little, which turned out to be a bit early. We still had about 3/4 of a mile to go and I thought I was going to pass out. I started to slow a bit but John kept yelling, “Let’s go! Don’t you slow down on me! Come on!” These are the moments I freaking LOVE. Just when you think you don’t have any more in the tank, someone else motivates you and you just burn everything you can. If it hadn’t been for John, I wouldn’t have finished it quite as hard. Miles 9-13: 8:08, 8:02, 8:02, 7:45, 7:31. Look at those negative splits, BABY!!! Hell yes! Finish time: 1:47:10 / 8:11 pace I gotta tell ya. I really didn’t think I had that in me. I honestly thought my 1:55 goal was a stretch because I just haven’t been doing much speed work in the last month. You can look back at my training on Strava and see that. Maybe the altitude training does help at sea level. Maybe the extended taper I did helped. Or maybe I’m just fucking bad ass. I felt like I was running in someone else’s body again, because I just haven’t had that powerful feeling in so long. I needed this race and that feeling. Man, I needed it so bad. And I got it. I hope to prolong this high as long as possible. I’m 36 years old and I’m still a bad ass bitch. We partied in the beer tent until it shut down, then hung out at a karaoke bar for a while (Randy sang Genie in a Bottle!!), then went to Conch Island and danced until it shut down! It looked so sad when we left yesterday morning… That was the best weekend I’ve had in a while. Great times with great people. Can’t wait to do it again. Thanks for reading, Chris I borrowed this pic… Awesome medal!
  33. 14 points
    That was running and me, for the last 7 weeks or so. It has been years of on again, off again training for marathons. Between and within the ebb and flow of training cycles were all the half marathons, 5ks and 10ks, triathlons, duathlons, bike races, and fun runs with kiddos. Exhaustion, throbbing muscles, poring over data, endless entries in training logs, planning for the next race, speedwork, long runs, weekends of trying to balance life, sleep, and training. I need a break from you, running/racing. I love you. I’ll always want you. But I just need a little space. I don’t think I’ve ever had the luxury of taking an extended break from running. There were so many injuries, ones that I tearfully, impatiently and sometimes angrily waited out. There were brief recovery lulls after races, ones I endured simply because I knew I had to gear up for the next training cycle. Sometimes rest IS a luxury. This time it was. I went to work, came home from work. I cooked comfort food for my family and sometimes had friends over to share. I watched the World Series, football, I kept up with a couple favorite shows. I spent an entire Saturday afternoon and evening doing a local wine tour with my husband and a good friend, Travis, right here in our rich, grape-growing region. 12 wineries altogether- tasting wine and eating food. It was so much fun and we are already planning on doing it again soon. The next day, instead of running off that wine and food, I slept in… went to church with my family… and spent the afternoon crashed in the living room at a friend’s house, watching football. There was Friendsgiving… a collection of young couples and a few single people we are close to within our church and community… at the home of one of our best friends. There could be so much to say about that evening, but I’ll stop short at memorable. What happens at Friendsgiving stays at Friendsgiving. I read books and shopped and spent a lot of time in conversation. I had coffee with a running friend who moved away a few years ago and came back to visit. I also had coffee with one of my closest friends who stopped by on the Wednesday afternoon before Thanksgiving, just because… and there are not many things in life more comfortable and enriching than talking life and love and struggle and victory at a kitchen table. I spent an evening of laughter with our favorite couple, the kind of couple that we can say literally ANYTHING to and with… and we ate jambalaya and told stories of our wild youth. Okay, our not-so-wild youth and their wild youth. I spent Thanksgiving with my family and my husband’s family, part of the day at each place. I snapped a discreet, rare photo of my 5 brothers, on my cell phone. I was struck, later, in thinking how so much of my life was both shaped and broken by the men seated around the table. I had brothers who were kind and gentle and who still form my criteria when I befriend other men in my life… and then I had brother(s) who broke me in ways that will follow me always and alert me to the kind of men like them. I ate wonderful food. I tasted and drank dozens of different kinds of wine. I hired a friend to take family photos, and got some of them on canvas and prints to put on my walls. I sang in my church choir. I volunteered at the City Mission, making new friends and seeing familiar faces. I celebrated my son’s birthday and hosted a sleepover for a couple of his friends. I worked, too, including applying for and getting hired at a branch (same position, same bank) close to my house which means I will now, starting next week, have a 3 minute commute versus a 25 minute- stretching to 30+ as winter commences- commute. I painted and decorated my daughter’s before-unfinished bedroom, all in pinks and whites… and re-did the décor in parts of my house. Modern farmhouse is my jam. I spent a lot of weekend mornings lazing in bed with my husband instead of rushing off to run, and there is much to be said for that but I am going to leave it unsaid. I LIVED. And you know what? I am the richer for it… restored, relaxed, rejuvenated. You know what else? I didn’t get cranky without running, I didn’t gain weight, I didn’t get depressed. I ran a few times, when I really wanted to, and it was glorious, but I never forced it. In the middle of it all, I discovered something powerful. I told my husband, “I never thought I could actually be happy without running, but I can be”. This doesn’t mean I’m going to stop running. Just because I can be happy without running doesn’t mean I won’t maybe be a little happier with it. But that knowledge is so freeing, so comforting, so wonderful to me. I think I’ve enslaved myself just a little in the past by thinking I can’t NOT run. Ever. But I can. Doesn’t mean I’m not a runner or don’t want to run, it just means I can stop and breathe and relax and enjoy life and it won’t hurt me as a runner. It might actually help. I am so, so blessed with things that define me outside of running… my husband, my kids, my faith, my job, my home, my friends, my church, my community. And whether I run or now, I am happy. Maybe happier than I’ve ever been. On the flip side of that happy-without-running stuff, I plan to get happy with it, too. I'm excited to get back on the horse after the long break. Tomorrow is going to be an unseasonably warm November day. I’m going to run and I’m expecting to enjoy every step of it.
  34. 14 points
    I'm standing with Sarah, hunched into each other against the cold. We're as close to the start as we can get. It's packed full of runners, walkers and run/walkers of all types. Some in groups. Some in costume. Some bundled up and some, like me, barely covered. It's 35* but I'm going for a PR so I'm just in my team jersey and shorts. I wore some heavy duty arm warmers with cuffins but my hands are still freezing. I shiver and Sarah gives me a semi-worried, semi-reproachful look. She's in capris and a LSS with her jersey over it. She's let me know that she doesn't approve of my outfit a few times already. "I'm just going to drop to pace as fast as I can," I tell her, bopping up and down to try to keep the blood flowing. "We'll all meet up at the finish." My sister, also named Sarah, and nephew Dan are behind us somewhere. They are going to run/walk it together. "Yep. I'm not even trying to keep up. I'll see you after," she replies. She's had a tough season. I know she wants to be able to drop me like a bad habit in this race but it's not going to happen today. Next season, if she commits to Put In The Work, she'll be a force to be reckoned with but for now, I have a few seconds per mile on her. We are super supportive of each other and slightly competitive. It's a great mix in a training partner. The gun goes off and, as usual at this race, the first half mile is a mess of weaving through people. You get a lot of walkers and first timers who don't know or don't care how to line up properly. It's annoying but not enough to turn me off to the race. I'm weaving. Bobbing and ducking and trying to find a groove. It isn't until I'm almost at the mile marker that I fall in with a rhythm. I feel good but my lungs are starting to protest. As I come into the second mile, my back and my ribs start to hurt. I know intuitively that this is somehow related to being sick and having asthma symptoms all week but I've never felt this kind of thing before. I'm in pain. I back off a little but just a little because I want this too badly. I hit The Hill at about the halfway point and lose all hope of getting my lungs back under me. I'm trying to hang on. I know this hill much better after the summer. It was my nemesis in my 5K series. I try to take it steady and just focus on moving but as I start to near the top, I start picking off people as they give in to the incline. I refuse to back down to it. I charge the crest. Thankfully we turn downhill and I can make up a few seconds as I come into the three mile marker. I'm starting to feel a little better. It's hard to breathe but the pain is subsiding. I start to put my foot on the gas again. There's some nice downhill here and I intend to use it as much as possible. I try to remember the feeling of necessity from my 5K's here just a few months ago. I think I'm going easier on myself and that annoys me. I try to push just a little more. I hit the four mile mark and I try to assess what I have left. I don't think I can gun it but I think I can hold on. I want this race to be over. I want that finish line. I am angry at myself for already being tired of being uncomfortable. I try to propel myself forward with that. I refuse to make this easier on myself but the edge I'm looking for remains just past the reaches of my will power. I know this last mile intimately. It's my least favorite section of the park because it's the last mile of EVERY race here and I associate it with this feeling of just trying to hang on. I'm trying not to look at my watch. I just want to get there. I start seeing runners doubling back with their medals, already finished. I'm getting close but I'm not there until I hit that last turn. Then I see the finish and steal a glance at my watch. I'm within second of my goal time and I try to find another gear. I am running ugly - face contorted, breathing loud, sweating as I cross the damn line. 42:36 - a :31 PR! It takes me a few minutes to collect myself enough to start worrying about everyone else. The medal feels so sweet on my neck. I take a moment to reflect and to be thankful before turning back to see everyone else in. The gang Double PR's!!! She was nervous. I am SO proud of her!!! My sister and our cheering section. Obligatory race swag pic.
  35. 14 points
    PRE-RACE Saturday morning 5:00 - wake up; get running stuff and warmer stuff to wear on drive to start 5:30 - check course map and reference Google maps to find a parking lot with easy in/out about midway between start and finish 6:00 - get in car and drive toward downtown (aka uptown) Charlotte 6:35 - park in previously scoped empty, free parking lot; walk to start 6:40 - make small talk with another runner about start; he's not running though and had to defer; told him that's what I did last year 6:45 - walk into open lobby of sponsoring bank where they have shirts and food setup; but not packet pickup; "That's at the finish by Memorial Stadium"; "That would have been good to put in the email," I reply. 6:50 - Warm-up run ~1 mile to finish area; 7:00 - get packet; bite tongue about location of packet pickup because they can't change it now 7:05 - porta-potty 7:10 - another porta-potty 7:15 - walk back to car; shed layers; pin bib; sip water; eat half of banana 7:25 - walk to start; get asked by lady pointing toward finish, "Is bib pickup this way?" "Yes, keep going and you'll see it." She is cutting it tight. 7:33 - short warm-up run from start line to see what first couple of turns look like 7:38 - hear announcer say we're about 5 minutes from start; hmm, one more bathroom visit? 7:40 - no porta-potties by start; take elevator up with others to 5th floor for office restrooms 7:42 - short line to both men's and women's, partially because some women were using men's room 7:43 - use urinal while women wait for stalls; think to self, "I'm probably going to miss the start." 7:44 - skip elevator; rush down stairs; go out one level too high but see out window that race has started 7:45 - get to bottom level, run around corner to start line and make U-turn to cross timing mat behind everybody ROCKTOBERFEST HALF MARATHON 7:45 - 7:59 - Miles 1 & 2 - pass hundreds of runners by hoping on sidewalk on right and then going far left after first turn 8:00 - 8:12 - Miles 3 & 4 - check pace - 6:50ish - hold and conserve; see "Chafing the Dream" poster; show off air guitar skills during guitar solo of "Beat It" as DJ waves to runners 8:13 - 8:26 - Miles 5 & 6 - up down up down left right right right left right left right; passing slows down, but still picking them off; take a gatorade 8:26 - 8:39 - Miles 7 & 8 - mostly downhill mile 7 ends with a steep up from a paved trail back to road; uphill mile 8 slows pace to 6:56; spill a gatorade 8:40 - 8:53 - Miles 9 & 10 - holding a 6:48/49 overall average so far; another runner says, "You must have started late. You're blowing through everybody." I reply, "Held up in bathroom; I'm on about a 1:30 pace so far." He says, "Awesome, there's only about 15 people ahead."; take a gatorade 8:53 - 9:06 - Miles 11 & 12 - pass a few more; see shirtless, muscle, tattoo guy up ahead that beat me in a 10k last year; tattoo on back or a target?; pass him in middle of mile 12; note that he's carrying at least 50lbs more than me; good runner; on the other hand, short, overdressed, older guy who I thought was 12 years old from behind tries to pass me back, hangs for about 100 feet, then fades; take a water 9:07 - 9:13 - Mile 13 - pass many walking/jogging the shorter 9k race (yes, 9); one lady tells me, "You're number 9. Catch that guy!" See the finish line from almost .5 mile away and try not to look at how slow it seems to be getting bigger 9:14 - Mile 13.1 - hear footsteps closing behind me but hold them off and not worried about it because I started more than a minute behind anybody in the front Near end - shirtless muscle guy is now behind me. Other guy provided the footsteps that I heard closing in at finish line. POST RACE 9:15 - get medal, water, banana, Which Wich sandwich slices; throw bean bags at cornhole board getting one in to win a t-shirt and water bottle; grab OVI hydration juice; tell shirtless, muscle, tattoo guy that I had been chasing him a long time; he runs in clydesdale class 9:25 - slowly walk to car, skipping awards because son needs to be picked up and errands need to be done 9:30 - change to dry clothes in car; check results to see 1:29:45 official time, 7th place overall and 1st in age group; text wife and running buddies; 9:35 - leave
  36. 14 points
    His name was Otto Lam and he was yelling every 5-6 steps. “Go, Go, GOOOOO…. PASS ME… YOU HAVE TO GO FOR IT… DON’T STOP…. RUN FASTER… GET AWAY FROM ME.” He was the 3:40 pacer, and he was 10 steps ahead of me and he was running a solid 8:20 pace. The sign he carried had a world of significance for me. Let it get out of sight and my dream of qualifying for Boston was gone. I was 1.5 miles from the finish and I had been falling apart for the last 5 miles. I could not believe this was happening. Not only was I not going to qualify- again- I was going to have the pain of watching the golden unicorn gallop past me in the homestretch. Boston. Bangle had put the thought in my head the year I started running, 2012, at the Marshall University half marathon. It was my first half. “You’ll be qualifying for Boston before you know it” he said. When I went on to complete my first marathon in 2013, it was all I thought about when I thought about running from that day forward. Getting that ticket. Hitting the benchmark. A dream was born. Of course, back then the qualifying time for me was 3:35. So I set my sights on it, Somehow I thought that it wouldn’t be the hardest thing in the world. After all, it was only 11 minutes less than my first marathon time of 3:46. It wasn’t the hardest thing in the world, but it was hard. In 2014, my troubles with the marathon started. Here’s a timeline, for some of you who may not be familiar with my ill-fated history that I’ve been told is like a Greek tragedy of running tales. Fall, 2013. Ran first marathon. Set my sights on a BQ in 2014 for BOS2015. Spring, 2014: Two weeks after beginning marathon training, acquired a Hamstring tear(??). Benched for 9 months. Lost ALL fitness (and I mean all…). DNSed Erie Marathon and Marshall University Marathon. Winter, 2014. Started running again, very slowly. Eventually came back to 5ks, 10ks, and a half marathon. Summer/Fall, 2015. Trained for Marshall University Marathon, again. Had a great training cycle. Ran a 1:39 half 3 weeks before race day. At 2.5 weeks out, injured my IT band on a routine easy run. Tried to run Marshall anyway, dropped at Mile 11 when I could no longer walk. Devastated. Winter, 2015. Injured. Had a January birthday that gave me 5 more minutes for BOS2018, moving the barrier to a sub-3:40. Spring, 2016. Started running again, with the sights on a fall BQ at Wineglass. Did some tris and duathlons, ran races. Summer, 2016:. Had a strong marathon training cycle until August, when I dislocated my cuboid (it’s a bone on your foot, I didn’t know I had one, either) during a trail Ragnar relay. Was out for about 5 weeks, the most important 5 weeks of marathon training. Made the decision to defer Wineglass to 2017, and go for the later marathon at Philly. Fall, 2016. Made it to Philadelphia Marathon. Race day dawned with some of the worst running weather imaginable… a 30 degree drop in temps, 25 mph wind at the start gusting to 50 mph at the finish. Made it to Mile 18 before I crashed and burned to a 3:56 finish, more than 20 minutes slower than my goal. Winter/Spring, 2017. Nursed a mild case of peroneal tendonitis before firing things up again, this time for a spring BQ at the Glass City Marathon in Toledo. Started working a new job a couple of months before Glass City, caught the mother of all plagues and was sick for a month. Lost 4 weeks of running, plus my body was completely run down for about 6 weeks. Dropped to the half at Glass City. Summer, 2017. Trained for a BQ at Erie. DNFed by Mile 13 at Erie after inexplicably straining my IT band. Sept/October, 2017. Ran very little, between Erie’s taper and getting the IT band healed. October 1, 2017. BQed at Wineglass. Except I came to Corning with low and daily plummeting expectations. I had run less/tapered more than recommended in the final weeks leading up to Erie, but tried to tell myself that the rest would help. Then Erie happened… the bizarre muscle strain, the DNF, trying to regroup and get my head back in the game. I ran little between Erie and Wineglass; my only quality workout was one 16 mile long run. So I was running Wineglass after basically a 5-6 week taper. NOT optimally trained at all. I left my house Friday evening to drive up to Corning, about 2 hours and 50 minutes due east. It’s a pretty drive- nothing but scenic countryside and little villages tucked into calendar-picture backdrops- and the weather was perfect. After arriving, I met up with Liz (KRG) at our podunk little hotel room that we snagged last minute when other lodging plans fell through… and were extremely lucky to get! We heard that Caitlin (Hot Pink Sneakers) was already in town with her parents, so we arranged to meet at a nearby Applebees for drinks. Before we got there, though, we had some interesting interaction with a lonely and obviously “seeking” pipeline worker from Tennessee who was 2 rooms down from us… and was toting a 10 week old puppy. His puppy ploy did not work on us as we announced our plans to meet up with friends and hastily exited. I started the race weekend and Loopfest with a margarita. YOLO! We are the Comeback Queens!! And I was starving so I had steak quesadillas and they were divine. One thing I did well in the 2-3 days leading up to this marathon: eating! Back at our hotel, Liz and I caught up with each others’ news before calling it a night. I slept long and well, which was a huge plus seeing as I don’t sleep well the night before the race. I’m all about banking sleep 2 nights out. Caitlin, Liz and I had a shakeout run planned for Saturday morning, so we met up at 8:00am for that. It was drizzling and a little chilly. Perfect for running! The next day was a fun succession of activities, friends, and food. Brunch at a local diner, packet pickup, touring the glass museum, getting souvenirs for my kids, seeing more running friends who were arriving into town. We even got in some artsy wine glass designing... Eventually we ended up back in Corning for a delicious pasta dinner at an Italian restaurant. And a glimpse of the next day’s finish line. What a beautiful town and street… just charming and pretty. I felt my heart thud with anticipation looking at it. Would I sweep beneath that banner in triumph or defeat? It’s the gamble of the marathon. Back to the hotel room for (hopefully) some pre-race shut-eye... Liz is a great sleeper and was off to dreamland in no time. I, however, was awake and tossing. I distracted myself by texting my husband and a couple of friends, which helped until about midnight when I started getting sleepy. Race morning! Ughhhhh. I don’t bounce out of bed happy and excited on race day. The butterflies are gnawing, the nerves are rattling, frankly, I’m kind of a mess. I choked down a banana, some cookies, and started sipping Gatorade. The bus ride to Bath was calming. Even more so was the location the race starts in. We were just up the road from a farm surrounded by rolling farmland, cow pastures, and trees. Upon arrival, Liz and I were relieved to see a huge white tent set up with signs and announcers telling us to go inside to stay warm. It was just under 40 degrees at about 6:30am. There were heaters being blown into the tent and 100 yards away was a long row of porta potties so everything was easy and convenient. Huddle in the tent, hop out to use the porta-potties, hop back in and warm up again. Our group started dropping in one by one… John P (slow running) Jonathan (J-Zee), Caitlin. We took some group selfies to commemorate the occasion. The arrival of the 4:20 pacer caused a bit of a stir. Young skinny fellow with normal running gear on top… and nothing but a Speedo from the waist down! I guess he was really committed to distracting and motivating his pace group. He promptly found a spot near the middle of the tent, jovially chatting and seeming to thoroughly enjoy seeing everybody trying hard to, you know… pretend we don’t see. On one of my porta potty trips I happened to pass just behind him as he was exiting the tent… one poor lady who was sitting down was staring off into space when Speedo guy passed directly in front of her, squeezing through a narrow space between the lady’s face and another person’s backside. She suddenly realized that his um… package… swathed in Lycra/spandex was maybe 6 inches?? from her face. I had to put a hand to my mouth to suppress a giggle at the look on her face as her eyes widened and she recoiled. Like, whattheheckdidIjustseeOHMYGOD. Yes, ma’am, we’re all thinking that. The minutes ticked down and suddenly it was time to toss checked bags into the trucks (again, so organized and easy!) and amble to the start. We exchanged hugs and good luck with everyone as we headed to our respective pace groups. I found a spot by the 3:35 pacer and shed my throwaways. The 40 degree air felt crisp… the sun was partly hidden by a thick cloud of fog hanging over the rural countryside…hardly any wind… perfect fall day to run!! So we ran! My goal for the first 10 miles was to keep things easy. The best way to do that, I figured, was to stick to the pacer. I was behind him like glue for about 5 miles. He chatted with some of the group, so I listened to that. Everything felt good. Easy. Not much effort. Just right. There was a hill just before Mile 6, but not a bad one, and I took a gel thereafter to put some more zip in my system. Not a complaint from the IT band. Not a complaint from anywhere! I was gradually pulling away from the 3:35 pacer and by Mile 7-8 I had lost him a good half mile behind me. Still reeling in mostly 8:00-8:10s. Feeling OSOM and cheesing for the photographer... Continuing on, miles 7-14 were my fastest of the race, all between 7:58 and 8:10 pace. They still felt easy. I was in a good, good place. By now I knew that my IT band was not going to give me a repeat of Erie, at least not nearly as quickly, since Erie already had me feeling pain by Mile 9. Although some people don’t like a race course that is fairly quiet and isolated, I am a country girl… green grass and trees and mountains give me peace. I absolutely loved this course. There were animals in pastures and stately farmhouses and the smell of earth in the air. High rolling hills or baby mountains behind the picturesque tableaus, still covered in the fog gave it an ethereal feeling. Every few miles we would enter a quaint little town or village, and it would be a nice pick-me-up to have spectators. There were kids high-fiving and people sitting on their front porches. At one church we passed, the parishioners and clergy came out to cheer as a group, dressed in their robes and church finery… wearing out their voices for us before even beginning singing and praying! One barnyard had about a dozen people spectating… they had set up tables with coffee and a variety of snacks, and were holding out plates of cookies for the runners. I didn’t see anyone taking any cookies or coffee, but I figured if they’d done this before they knew they’d get plenty of love from the later runners who were more about the experience than losing a few precious minutes at a snack table. For just a second, I wished I was one of those today… I wanted a cookie!! Eyes on the prize, Peg… cookies afterward. There were lots of wine references in the handmade signs spectators were holding. “Pain Now, Wine Later” “Hurry up, there’s wine at the finish line” “Just get to the finish wine”. The wine theme is, hands down, one of my favorite things about this event. I got the sense throughout the whole weekend that the areas the race runs through, and Corning, especially, are very proud of their reputation with this race. Everywhere we went, folks were accommodating, friendly, and intent on making a good impression. Mile 15-17 8:07, 8:06, 8:08. I was so happy! Being in such beautiful surroundings, feeling good, doing something I love. I was also getting excited that everything had gone well up to this point and envisioning finishing well. I was in single digits going home, the majority was behind me. At the same time, oof… 9 miles is a long way. And then, bam. In a big way. I suddenly felt fatigue creep in, and not just a little. I needed another gel, so I decided to slow down a little, walk through the water stop, assess how I feel, etc. This is the point where, if everything went perfectly, I hoped to pick things up a little bit. I don’t know if taking a little moment killed my momentum or if it just happened that the miles were taking their toll on my legs after so much time off from running. But I went from feeling amazing to feeling like crud. I became very aware of a dull ache in my hip, up where the IT band attaches to the bone… the spot that had been sore ever since Erie. Knowing I was still way ahead of the 3:35 group and on 3:32-3:33 pace, I gave myself permission to just scale back a bit. Take a mile or two and breathe. Walk through the water stop, drink plenty. Mile 18-19: 8:27, 8:22. Nope. Not getting better. In fact, the hip pain was now traveling down my leg to my knee, the one that had been all the trouble at Erie. Mile 20: 8:41. I was taking walk breaks. Mile 21-22: 9:02, 9:04. Full on bonk and pain and hurting everywhere from the waist down and having my energy drained away like water in sand. Somewhere in here the 3:35 pacer passed me. I tried to glue myself to them, maybe I could just pull together enough to stick with them? But the steady 8:12 pace was too much and I fell back. Mile 23: 9:11. I was sick at heart. Mentally and physically done. Every now and then I tried to kick up the pace and hold on to something in the 8s, but when I did my heart rate would soar up to 180-185 (which is 5k effort for me), pain would take over, I’d be a hyperventilating mess and have to walk. Run… die… walk… recover… run… die…walk... RINSE. REPEAT. Mile 24: 9:15. It’s over, I thought. My knee and hip is killing me with every step and I am bonking. I’m lucky to finish with a 10:00 minute pace and maybe a tiny PR? I’d banked enough time that a PR was still going to happen. But I didn’t come here for a PR, I came for sub-3:40! Mile 24.5. Where I had The Moment. You know how when something high-stress or particularly intense triggers all kinds of crazy in you and you break down and maybe cry and go into a place so dark it feels like you will suffocate… it only lasts a few minutes… and then you snap out of it and are like, “sorry, wow, I just really had a moment there.” ?? Well, that was me. I heard the 3:40 pace group in the distance. I took off running, hoping I could get back into some momentum. Instead, I fell apart a little. I swore, I started crying, I prayed, I just HAD A MOMENT. Now the darn 3:40 pacer was coming up alongside of me as I was run-limping off to the side. I glared out of the corner of my eye, sobbing quietly under my breath, my brain a fog of defeat and pain. I couldn’t do any math anymore, so I had no idea where I would finish. All I knew is that the number on that sign was the barrier. The bridge. The dividing line between what is and what could have been. You can’t be doing this!!!! You CANNOT LET IT GET AWAY. Peg, you are an idiot. No matter how much pain you are in, no matter how little energy you have, this is a choice you have to make. Faces and names started flooding my mind, breaking through the fog of negativity. The people who had been texting, calling, talking to me in the days and weeks leading up to this race… sending me their positive energy, their prayers, their wishes, their love for my race. My running friends in Erie. All you people on the Loop. My husband, who has been my most faithful fan and wanted this for me badly. A couple of non-running friends I’m close to who have been amazing in supporting my crazy hobby even if they don’t fully understand it. Looking back, I feel like God put those people in my mind to carry me through the final stretch. It was as if all their collective voices were in my head saying, “Peg, don’t let us down now… don’t let yourself down.” And Otto Lam, the 3:40 pacer! Bless his heart, he was yelling and trying to get his flagging, tired group of about 3 runners to stay with him. PASS ME, PASS ME! He bellowed. GO GET IT, YOU PEOPLE! DO NOT FALL BEHIND ME! LEAVE ME! PICK IT UUUUUUUUUP!!! Seriously, it was like a nightmare in which Roger (ocean101), Loop pacer/sadist extraordinaire, suddenly became Asian and developed the ability to project his voice to about 3 times its current volume. Then you would have Otto, the bellowing 3:40 pacer of the Wineglass Marathon. I snapped out of my moment, thanks to Loud Otto and the mirage I just had of all the people I loved and envisioned urging me on. Whatever pain I was feeling and whatever energy I was not feeling… it would not compare to the pain if I let that 3:40 slip away and finish just seconds or minutes behind it. Seriously, in that moment… though I know that’s overly dramatic, but c’mon, I was an emotional mess at this point, melodrama is inevitable… my thought was that I would not be able to live with myself coming so close and failing. Gathering myself together, I prayed one last time to be able to bear the pain, to not pass out, to not fall down or end up in an ambulance (I’m fine with a hospital right afterward, Lord, just let me finish first). Then I dug deeper than I ever have before and started running. By now, I was at 24.75. The Moment had lasted a quarter mile. I never stopped again for the next 1.5 miles. I closed the gap between myself and Bellowing Otto. He screamed at me to pass him and I did. I was gritting my teeth, breathing hard, feeling stabs of excruciating pain on my left side with every step. Along with, you know, everything else that hurts in the last miles of a marathon. All I thought was YOU WANT THIS, YOU WiLL GET THIS, YOU WILL NOT LET THE MARATHON CURSE STRIKE AGAIN. And you can finally make the people who believe in you proud. Mile 25: 8:38. As the next mile started, I didn’t know if I could hang on. I knew I wouldn’t stop on my own will, but I wasn’t sure that I would not pass out or collapse from exhaustion. Well, so what, at least then I’d know I tried and died with my boots- er, running shoes- on… Hardest mile of my life, though. I’ve had painful sprints to the finish, lots of them. In 5ks, halves, etc. But none that carried this combination of fatigue and pain and desperation. And none that lasted for an entire mile and a half. I could still hear Otto yelling for a little bit and I was scared that maybe I was not running as fast as I felt I was. I could not bring myself to look at my watch. Maybe he would still catch me? Maybe I wasn’t even close to coming under 3:40?? Refuse to feel anything physical right now, I told myself. Stay in your mind. Just RUN. Then there was a mean little bridge, just before turning into the final homestretch. It hurt. Which is probably why they put a photographer there. Sadists. After what seemed like an eternity, I reached the final turn. I couldn’t hear Otto anymore. But I could see the finish line. The entire length of the street was lined with people. There was music and sunshine and flowers everywhere… the most beautiful finish line ever. Adrenaline, just about the purest, hardest shot of it I’ve ever had, kicked in and my mind kept screaming that I am DOING IT! My face kept wanting to crumple with the emotion I felt about doing it and it was hard not to bawl my eyes out the entire length of the street but dang it, that takes energy and I gotta run! I couldn’t feel my legs anymore, everything seemed kind of hazy and floaty and AMAZING. I didn’t even realize that I went from crying to smiling just before the finish, but the photos prove it: My eyes never left the arch with the huge FINISH words on it. Except just before crossing when I saw the clock reading 3:38 something. I realized that my long-sought dream of years and miles and sweat and tears was coming true, right here, right now, in this beautiful moment... oh my God, this is real? This is happening?! I threw up my hands in some fashion of a victory salute… it’s ½ Bangle-Pump, ½ my-fist-clenching-my-heart-because-I-am-so-overcome-right-now-that-I-can’t-breathe. My last mile? 7:49. Desperation, desire, and adrenaline. And joy, for the last 100 yards. So much joy. I alternated smiling and crying my way through the chute, taking my heat sheet, trying to say Thank You to the volunteer who handed me a medal, hardly able to fathom what happened. My legs completely shut down on me, of course. Normal marathon lock-down plus being unable to bend the right knee thanks to the now livid and throbbing IT band. But I loved that this time, the pain was what brought me to the goal. Not just today’s pain, but all the disappointment, defeat, and injury I’ve accumulated since I started dreaming of qualifying for Boston. Yes, I know it won't be enough of a cushion to get into Boston, but being a Boston Qualifier is something no one can take from me. A huge mental block is lifted from my mind... I know I can do it now, and do it again faster soon to get those 2-3 extra minutes. 4 years. 4,800 miles of running. And here I am. PS. And a huge shout out to all the OSOM Loopsters who were there… who made the weekend so enjoyable… and who smashed their own races with amazing performances. You all rock. A special thanks to NavEng/Tim who found me in the crowd and was the first Loopster I saw right after finishing (and survived seeing me ugly-cry and babble, it’s a wonder he stuck around to see the rest of us after that). The 6 of us all came into Wineglass with sub-par training and lost fitness because of illness or injury… but we all PRed. It was a great day to be a runner!
  37. 14 points
    My brain is foggy. I will forget parts of the story - some temporarily, some forever. A runner who saw me finish my 100th mile last year recognized me and I had no recollection of our conversation. I apologize to anyone who I have forgotten to mention in this journey. I am satisfied, but always in pursuit. Maybe it seems unjustified to never be done. But I see it as a reason to keep learning. And to keep running. When it starts to ache and my mind goes to dark places, I do question my pursuit. I seek relief from the pain, but the will to push my limits is often stronger. I ask myself to just run to that tree, finish this lap, get to the next big benchmark. It isn't about the entirety of the race - I cannot fathom the 115+ miles as a whole. It is too big. But it is manageable in parts. Experience was bittersweet in my second 24-hour race. I knew the highs would be like no other, but the lows would be as well. It is in some regards far easier to fight the beast if you don't know how hard she punches. I was not feeling great about running 4 weeks ago. I had logged so many miles and hours of running that I was teetering on burnout. So I ended up starting my taper early and hoped that reduced mileage would help me feel good again. It was slow to come, but my mojo (& VO2 max) slowly returned to normal. By race week, I was getting antsy that I hadn't been running as much so I knew something was in my favor. My training and game plan were under control. Pretty much nothing else was though. I realized on race week that all of my Hoka Challengers (the 1s that are long ago sold out) had at least 400 miles on them. My first pair, though encrusted in a casing of mud, seemed to have the most tread left so they became my race shoe. I had 1 Huma gel left from a box I got about 6 weeks prior so I made a pit stop between work and a run on Wednesday evening. Megan came over Thursday night after I frantically threw a bunch of gear together - re: overpack to the max. She came up with the best Minion/banana nails yet and even better, we finally caught up a bit. She left me a card that she said came from my former coworkers and I told her I would save it for mile 90. Adam wanted to watch a TV show with me after she left and so I decided to forgo the alarm in the morning and get whatever extra sleep I could muster. Too excited to sleep, I got up at 7:00 a.m. and was on the road by 7:30ish. I got gas, I got Starbucks, and then I got a dead battery. Fail. In Gaffney, South Carolina, I stopped to used the restroom at QuikTrip and came out to a dead battery. There was a slight panic and I quickly ran through my backup options if I couldn't get my car started right away. Luckily, I was able to get a jump from the people parked next to me. They ended up being super cool and reassured me that I would be okay once I got going again. They had college football magnets posted all over their car and of course I had to buy one! Thanks FlippyMagz for rescuing my day. Once I was on the road again, I was afraid to stop. So I powered through to Rockingham and pretty much sprinted to the restroom as soon as I got there. Jenster was talking with Irene who makes the beautiful pottery pieces for the race winners and is the most badass lady in her age group. 72 years old and did 50K at Hinson and is running Chicago this upcoming weekend! Talk about an inspiration. After Angie arrived, we went to Wal-Mart to pick up more supplies and I was able to wolf down some hummus and tortillas in the car as a really late lunch. Matt arrived to the campsite soon thereafter and we sat around in the shady afternoon, drinking beer and trying to relax. We went to the lodge for dinner where $8 gets you a heaping plate of spaghetti, bread, salad, and a slice of cake. I ate every bit. Mornings can be hard to top off the calories so I tried to get as full as possible. The crew went back to the campsite and we made preparations before heading off to sleep. Luckily, I slept pretty well and the noise was minimal. I woke up around 6:00 a.m. and decided to just take my time getting ready for the 8:00 a.m. start. I ate a couple of pieces of raisin bread, drank half a bottle of cold brew, and prepped all my stuff so it was easy to access. About 15 minutes until the start, I ate a mini Snickers (tradition!) and a Huma gel. I talked to Jay for a few minutes before the start and then lined up near Matt. Ready, set, go. I knew that 10-12 minute miles would be the pace to aim for through at least 100K. Too fast and I risk blowing up. Too slow and I risk not being able to catch up. It felt comfortable enough the first lap and I tried to just settle into a pace that seemed doable for a long, long time. Matt and I ran together for the first couple of laps, chatting and enjoying the morning. I peeled off my tank early knowing that I didn't need it and would be more comfortable. After the 3rd lap, I decided to grab a gel and a mini water bottle from my cooler. On the 4th lap, I decided to just put my handheld on and deal with it. Luckily, it kept me hydrated all day and didn't annoy me too much. By mile 10, I noticed that I actually still felt really comfortable. The temperature was really nice outside and it was partially clouded that morning. Runners and walkers were happy and chatty and I listened to the conversation snippets around me. I was happy to just be there - it took me by surprise that I felt so good. Into the 3rd and 4th hour, I really just zoned out. In a happy way, I lost track of mileage and time. At one point, I was trying to guess if I was on mile 15 or 16 when my watch buzzed and it was actually 18! Sa-wheet!!! As we headed into the heat of the day, I tried to make sure I was eating lots of salty stuff like Goldfish crackers, pretzels, and pickle juice. I really wasn't too interested in sweet solids the entire event. It might be because after about 3-4 hours of doing half Gatorade/half water, I decided to try half sweet tea/half water. OMG! It was so good. I'm not even much of a tea person, let alone sweet tea, but this was so good. Plus, I was hoping the caffeine would stave off some of the sleepiness. I hit a bit of a slump in the 4-5 hour mark. Physically, I was okay, but I got super emotional? On the verge of crying and I really didn't have a good reason for it other than perhaps the impending 20 hours of running left. Someone ran with me (Laurie? Jay? Tim? I can't remember...sorry) and kicked me out of my slump. At the marathon and 50K mark, I tried to just ignore the time and focus on the distance. As I crept closer to the 40 marker, the day grew considerably warmer. I put ice in my sports bra a few times and noticed that my shoulders, neck, and face were caked in salt. I kept reaching for the salty foods and refilling my bottle every lap. Though I was worried I was losing time stopping each lap, I knew that spreading out my food and drink was much better for my tummy. And I wasn't hanging out, I was grabbing my stuff and eating while running or walking. At some point, a girl shot out from a 10x10 tent and started running alongside me. She was spectating and said that she had been challenged to see if she could keep up for one lap with the women's leader. I laughed and welcomed the company. We talked for 1.5 miles around the course and it was great to just take my brain offline for 20 minutes or so. The afternoon wore on and the crowds started thin out on the trail. When I hit 50 miles in about 8 hours, 40 minutes, I was surprised that I still felt reasonably okay. My major problem was boredom and like Angie and I talked about, boredom is okay in ultras. Boredom means that nothing is too painful. Right at that 100K mark, everything got a lot harder. In retrospect, I stopped eating as much by that point - I was just not really interested and it seemed like too much effort to decide. And though my mind and stomach seemed to be cooperating, my legs and feet were aching really badly. Yes, that isn't so surprising with 62 miles on them, but I recognized it as more of a bonk pain. I tried to remedy the situation in the upcoming miles with chicken broth, ramen, etc. In any regard, I knew I had my "rewards" all set for miles 70, 80, and 90. I originally was going to call Adam at 10:00 p.m. like I did last year, but I was at mile 70 over an hour before then. It kind of put things into perspective at that point that I was actually having a really good race. I am sure I sounded like a mess on the phone because I craved any sort of motivation I could get at that point. We talked for a couple of minutes while I walked and then I hung up so I could shuffle on. I originally planned to give myself music at mile 80, but then I wasn't in the mood to mess with it again. I think that was when I finally put a shirt on? I honestly don't even remember. I do remember thinking that it was a long time between miles 70.5 and 81. And that I needed a jolt of caffeine. Though I risked a revolt from my tummy, I did sip a little bit of cold brew. My first Garmin died at 89+ miles. Here's the data: 1 10:23 10:23 2 20:55 10:32 3 31:37:00 10:42 4 42:00:00 10:23 5 52:00:00 10:00 6 1:02:27 10:27 7 1:13:05 10:38 8 1:23:28 10:23 9 1:33:40 10:13 10 1:43:47 10:07 11 1:54:23 10:36 12 2:04:42 10:19 13 2:14:51 10:09 14 2:25:15 10:24 15 2:35:30 10:15 16 2:45:42 10:12 17 2:56:09 10:27 18 3:06:57 10:48 19 3:17:03 10:05 20 3:26:49 9:46 21 3:36:44 9:56 22 3:47:42 10:57 23 3:58:23 10:41 24 4:08:47 10:24 25 4:19:12 10:25 26 4:29:54 10:42 27 4:40:09 10:16 28 4:50:19 10:10 29 5:00:58 10:39 30 5:11:23 10:25 31 5:21:39 10:16 32 5:32:26 10:46 33 5:42:52 10:26 34 5:53:48 10:56 35 6:04:37 10:49 36 6:15:11 10:35 37 6:25:33 10:22 38 6:35:38 10:04 39 6:46:21 10:43 40 6:57:06 10:45 41 7:07:41 10:35 42 7:18:02 10:20 43 7:28:43 10:41 44 7:38:32 9:49 45 7:48:31 9:59 46 7:59:12 10:41 47 8:09:59 10:47 48 8:20:14 10:15 49 8:30:40 10:25 50 8:41:32 10:52 51 8:51:57 10:25 52 9:02:28 10:31 53 9:15:08 12:39 54 9:25:53 10:45 55 9:36:51 10:58 56 9:49:06 12:15 57 9:59:51 10:45 58 10:11:50 12:00 59 10:23:48 11:58 60 10:35:05 11:17 61 10:47:36 12:31 62 10:59:53 12:17 63 11:12:02 12:09 64 11:24:41 12:38 65 11:37:39 12:58 66 11:49:56 12:18 67 12:03:30 13:33 68 12:16:21 12:51 69 12:28:09 11:48 70 12:40:10 12:01 71 12:51:22 11:12 72 13:04:42 13:20 73 13:18:13 13:31 74 13:29:44 11:31 75 13:42:40 12:56 76 13:55:21 12:41 77 14:06:14 10:53 78 14:18:12 11:59 79 14:31:06 12:53 80 14:42:27 11:21 81 14:55:10 12:43 82 15:08:36 13:26 83 15:20:17 11:41 84 15:32:38 12:21 85 15:45:48 13:10 86 15:57:01 11:13 87 16:09:33 12:32 88 16:22:49 13:16 Luckily, I had planned to read my card at mile 90, so I connected to GPS with Garmin #2 while I read the card. All the feels and exactly what I needed to read. This took less than a minute and I was ready to plug on until 100 miles. 10 daylight miles on fresh legs can go by pretty slowly. 10 nighttime miles on legs with 90 miles feels like infinity. The course was pretty much a ghost town at this point. There were maybe about 30 people out trudging along. The timing guy and the aid station volunteers were the only non-zombie people around. Again, my recollection is terrible, but I do know I was running with someone (I think it was Aaron) at that point for awhile. We ran into Matt and by the time we looped back around, he kind of unknowingly took over pacing me the last 2 laps to get to my 100 mark. I was happy for a huge PR and really grateful that I was able to cross that mark with a friend by my side. Too tired to be emotional about it, I collected myself and allowed 10 minutes of chair sitting. I took off my shoes for the first time and changed into a different pair. My legs were just too sore at that point to push for more running, but I was determined to keep moving. So at 3:30 a.m., after running 100 miles, I began power walking. Matt agreed to come with me and so we spent the next 3.5 hours walking and keeping each other company. The only thing I remember us talking about were the constellations at one point on the bridge when we turned off our headlamps. He was going full-on NPR-mode with the stars and typical me, yeah, those are nice, let's keep walking. (Deano/Matt, if you guys read this, know that your dude soulmate is out there) I felt like we were really walking hard and was just about to ease off our pace when both of us started cooking up ideas on the fly. Delirious from lack of sleep and too many miles, I decided I could still hit my PR. Then we had to hit 50 laps for him. Then I remembered the course record was like, 115 or something. My competitive nature came out and I grabbed my phone the next time we went by our campsite. I confirmed it was 114.6 and made Matt do a bunch of runner math to see what kind of pace I needed. Shortly thereafter, he realized he could hit 80+ if he ran the last hour. I was in no place to keep up with sub-9 miles, but I encouraged him to go for it! He took off and I shuffled along at a 16 minute per mile pace. I got my banana a lap early and grabbed my phone again to get a picture. Once I crossed over the timing mat with 115+ miles, I walked with my banana to our campsite and placed it in the pile nearby. Done. Here are my lap splits. 1 15:26 10:16/M 1.50320 2 15:56 10:36/M 3.00640 3 15:33 10:21/M 4.50960 4 15:27 10:17/M 6.01280 5 16:06 10:43/M 7.51600 6 15:31 10:19/M 9.01920 7 15:47 10:30/M 10.52240 8 15:30 10:19/M 12.02560 9 15:29 10:18/M 13.52880 10 15:18 10:11/M 15.03200 11 15:39 10:25/M 16.53520 12 15:45 10:29/M 18.03840 13 15:39 10:25/M 19.54160 14 15:44 10:28/M 21.04480 15 16:30 10:59/M 22.54800 16 16:06 10:43/M 24.05120 17 16:02 10:40/M 25.55440 18 15:42 10:27/M 27.05760 19 15:31 10:19/M 28.56080 20 15:55 10:35/M 30.06400 21 15:33 10:21/M 31.56720 22 15:38 10:24/M 33.07040 23 16:11 10:46/M 34.57360 24 16:02 10:40/M 36.07680 25 15:00 9:59/M 37.58000 26 15:16 10:09/M 39.08320 27 15:57 10:37/M 40.58640 28 15:44 10:28/M 42.08960 29 15:43 10:27/M 43.59280 30 15:06 10:03/M 45.09600 31 16:01 10:39/M 46.59920 32 15:40 10:25/M 48.10240 33 15:34 10:21/M 49.60560 34 15:49 10:31/M 51.10880 35 15:53 10:34/M 52.61200 36 18:15 12:08/M 54.11520 37 16:35 11:02/M 55.61840 38 17:39 11:44/M 57.12160 39 17:59 11:58/M 58.62480 40 18:02 12:00/M 60.12800 41 18:12 12:06/M 61.63120 42 18:54 12:34/M 63.13440 43 18:27 12:16/M 64.63760 44 19:42 13:06/M 66.14080 45 19:36 13:02/M 67.64400 46 18:51 12:32/M 69.14720 47 18:00 11:58/M 70.65040 48 18:45 12:28/M 72.15360 49 20:09 13:24/M 73.65680 50 18:45 12:28/M 75.16000 51 17:53 11:54/M 76.66320 52 17:40 11:45/M 78.16640 53 18:33 12:20/M 79.66960 54 18:15 12:08/M 81.17280 55 19:32 13:00/M 82.67600 56 17:49 11:51/M 84.17920 57 18:52 12:33/M 85.68240 58 18:09 12:04/M 87.18560 59 19:07 12:43/M 88.68880 60 17:10 11:25/M 90.19200 61 22:08 14:43/M 91.69520 62 18:51 12:32/M 93.19840 63 21:14 14:08/M 94.70160 64 20:17 13:30/M 96.20480 65 19:57 13:16/M 97.70800 66 19:53 13:14/M 99.21120 67 19:26 12:56/M 100.71440 68 36:48 24:29/M 102.21760 69 28:25 18:54/M 103.72080 70 27:48 18:30/M 105.22400 71 27:41 18:25/M 106.72720 72 26:07 17:22/M 108.23040 73 27:02 17:59/M 109.73360 74 23:59 15:57/M 111.23680 75 23:31 15:39/M 112.74000 76 24:09 16:04/M 114.24320 77 25:01 16:39/M 115.74640 Jenster and Angie were already huddled in their camping chairs trying to stay warm. My body temperature dropped almost immediately and I could barely move to get pants on. I grabbed my sleeping bag for warmth and sat in the chair shivering. When the horn sounded, everyone dropped their banana and the race was over. With the happiest and worst pain, I hobbled to the timing mat for the awards. I found a very pointy rock to sit on and waited for the men's winner to come over. I talked to Ron, last year's winner, for a few minutes. He had been tearing up sub-8s all day and came in 2nd place overall. Mark ran 136+ miles for the win overall and still looked amazingly upright. On the other hand, I was trying to figure out what camera to look at. Crawling into my tent passing out for over an hour was amazing. By the time I woke up, pretty much everyone had left except our little group. I broke down all my stuff and with millions of miles on their own legs, they helped me carry everything to the car. I followed Matt to Charlotte where we had noodles and then took naps in our respective cars for a half hour. I was so glad he suggested it because I was exhausted after eating half a bowl of macaroni. After the 2nd nap and a cup of crappy gas station coffee, he peeled off to go home to Greenville and I carried on to Georgia. Home sweet home! Takeaways: Food early, often, & don't stop. Ginger chews and sweet tea are amazing. Dilute the soup and ramen with water to eat quickly. Walk for a couple of minutes to allow for digestion. Drink until you have to pee. If you haven't peed in awhile, hydrate. Ice in the sports bra when it gets hot. A clean shirt works miracles when temps drop. Use more Vaseline than you thought you should. Don't forget your butt crack. Mojo fixers: run with a friend, run with a stranger (who is now your friend), pet a dog for 20 seconds, get a high five, run through a mister, fake a smile until you have a real smile. When you want to stop, find the thing that made you start going in the first place. Remember that nothing ever lasts and that you are capable and brave. It's been a rocky few months full of extreme highs and lows. Rudyard Kipling's poem If has this great line, "If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster and treat those two imposters just the same". So thankful for all of my support, every day. It's a cheesy repeat from last year, but must be done. To all my former work peeps who check in with me, signed my card, etc., thank you - it really means the world to me and I miss you guys every day. To my new work peeps - the fun is just getting started! My Loopster network - this kind of crazy stuff never would have happened if you guys hadn't planted the seed. Jenster & Angie - I can talk to you about squirrel nut butter and puking up ramen like most girls talk about fashion and diet fads. Your badassery is my favorite kind of cray. Top 10 bitches!! Matt - thank you for so many hours of running this weekend and countless hours of runchatting. You are such a good human. Congrats on 81 frickin' miles! To all my Hinson people (sorry if I forgot anyone!! #ultrabrain) - Jay, Tim, Laurie, Ron, Paul, Aaron, Nathan, David, Bill, Irene, you make me want to run in circles every year because you are my people. To my local running peeps - Dan, Hal, Casey, John, Sam, Sean, Sarah, Deano, Kevin, John, Nikki, Brandon, thank you for making mornings suck less and being there when I needed you this summer. Thank you to Megan for not only the nail art, but being the best BFF ever. I love you fierce. Thank you to my family for being proud of me even though you think I'm nuts. And of course, thank you Adam. For putting up with the long days away, the grumpy nights after training, the stinky clothes, runger/hangry moments, etc. You support my crazy dreams and give me inspiration to keep moving when things get tough. You are the first person I call in both Triumph and Disaster. I think they call that love.
  38. 13 points
    Isn’t it great when non-runners look at you crazy for being excited to run? We pretend to be annoyed by their silly comments. I don’t even like to drive that far! I only run when something is chasing me! I run… to the refrigerator! Everyone laughs and then we go on about our respective lives. But I imagine that most runners secretly hold in the pride they feel when they hear such things. Pride because of the joy it brings us. Pride because of the sense of accomplishment we feel. Pride because of how it influences us to make better decisions in other areas of our lives (usually). We wonder if they are envious of our physical abilities or do they actually think we are certifiably nuts? I had this notion a few years ago that I was never going to run a 100 mile race. That just seemed, well, ludicrous! My body was just not the type that could manage to finish something like that, let alone train. Yet, here we are. And the more I listen to stories of people accomplishing amazing things in running, the more I believe that it really is possible to do things we never thought we’d do. I have been lucky to follow the journeys of so many fantastic runners. We won’t always get faster and we may not always run further, but challenging ourselves is what (in my opinion) sets us apart from the hobby joggers. I have no big races to report on. No big workouts to share. Assuming I’m playing the comparison game of course. Comparing to other runners. Comparing to 2017 Carissa. But I just completed a huge workout! 4 miles in the rain. I was thinking about my metatarsal and my tibia probably 80% of the run. Worrying if my gait was okay. Worrying if my cadence was okay. In a constant flux of am I doing enough or too much? And it may seem silly to say in the midst of all this worrying that I was somehow also really, really happy. It was humid and drizzling after a thunderstorm rolled through. I almost drove home, but decided very last minute to stop at the track. The high school football team was pouring from the main building to the stadium and I almost bailed at the thought of sharing the space when them. But they were getting in their $50,000 cars and driving home, leaving me to the track by myself. I laughed a bit thinking how perfect the conditions were if I were at the top of my game. But why couldn’t I appreciate it while coming back? So I fired up my Spotify “Comeback” playlist and laced up my new shoes labeled “Nike Pegasus Turbo The Comeback Shoe” and walked 400 meters before I started to run. You know how a summer rain run almost feels like you getting away with something? Like it’s a crazy little secret that’s yours. And you don’t want to tell too many people how awesome it is because what makes it great is that you usually have the running space to yourself? Yeah, so I’m acutely aware of the possibility that someone might see the shit-eating grin on my face as I shuffle around and around. There are the moments that I’m able to forget. I get lost in my thoughts briefly and when I’m jolted back to reality, I’m almost angry that I slipped back to consciousness. Because those lost-in-my-thoughts moments are great on any run, but they are especially great when all I can think about is my stupid injury. The rain picks up a bit and I look around the empty field, not at all surprised that I’m the only person in my vantage point. And I’m kind of happy that no one is in on my little secret today. At some point, I realized running circles in the humid rain alone might sound awful. But I’m lucky I’ve returned to my happy place.
  39. 13 points
    Well, it's like this. I killed off Facebook and Twitter because of their political implications. I'm wrestling with Instagram, but I don't know how I could rationalize it. I have a blog that has been overtaken by a guy from Estonia. And yet, I need to write. Always, I need to write. So here I am. I have entered the third act of life. I'm still working, but out of a small sweatshop being run out of our spare bedroom, so I never have to wear pants, which is a bit distressing for Mr. Pants. I'm growing a Letterman beard and forcing the cat to stay awake for a second hour of the day. But basically I never leave the apartment these days, except to bask in the glory of the SCC track. So that's what I've been doing. I got in an even 20 miles this week, which is the distance I always tell my oncologist I'm running, except now I wouldn't be lying. Except I have no oncologist visits scheduled in the near future, forcing him to bill someone else so he can afford his exotic mountain bike equipment. Mo has grown suspicious of my track obsession. I just walk, after all. What difference does it make? I don't know. It's just the feeling of the place. Some people love trails, some roads. Me? I'm at home in Lane 9. We've been talking about moving to Flagstaff. Does she pitch the mountains, the trails, the leftist vibe? No. "You know they have a really great track," she says. Mo is wise. It's been 150 degrees or so here lately, so mostly I have the place to myself. But today there were football guys and burrowing owls. There's been a long snapper working out here forever. He takes a big trash can, counts off 8 yards or so, and smashes a football into it over and over and over and over and over. I have thought a lot about how it would be more efficient to have a second guy. Yes, that's what I think about when I think about running, Mr. Murakami. Today, HE HAD A SECOND GUY! They took turns, one snapping to the other, then turning around, then going the other way, then back again, until they both pass out. This seems terribly boring to me, but then I'm walking in circles at a 14:50 pace. So ... The OTHER thing that drives me nuts is wondering who these people are. This track has everyone from Olympic gold medalists to ummm, me, so I'm always curious, but too shy to ask. AND THEN! The second guy today had his backpack on the bench, which gave just enough info for an intrepid journalist to uncover. He's the starting long snapper for the University of Utah. Sophomore, apparently quite good. Now if I can find out who the wide receiver with the white gloves is, I can sleep tonight. Or maybe hard apple cider. Yeah, that second one. Being a recluse makes the daily outing a huge deal. I'm pretty excited about the future. Miles is miles, yeah? I hope to get up to a decent weekly mileage and hope my body gives in and starts to speed up a bit. If not, that's OK. It's good to be alive on a sunny day. And so I will write inaccurate headlines, go out for a daily jaunt, and file here on a daily basis. Yes, you can ignore me. I just need a place to write without fear of Estonian retribution. It's what the late Dave Schultz would have wanted. It's good to get back on track ... my work posse. no, they’re not talking to me. yet.
  40. 13 points
    It has been almost a week since our Mt. Baker summit which left lots of things swirling around in my mind – about mountaineering, Mt. Denali, and being a part of this team. Respect I’ve been an athlete a long time and I understand the importance of respecting a sport. The sport itself, those who paved the way to make the sport what it is, and those who are experts or highly experienced/successful in that sport. I realize that I am not a mountaineer. Just because I’ve been learning lots of mountaineering skills, and making some pretty awesome climbs, does not make me a mountaineer. Mt. Denali is not a Colorado 14er. That mountain has taken many lives and will probably take many more in the future, so it deserves very much respect. I can ensure that I show this mountain and sport the respect that they deserve by being as well trained as I can be by next summer. I need to take all training seriously, listen to all the coaches and respect their decisions, and practice, practice, practice. Grateful Having the opportunity to be trained by actual mountaineers, Nick, Chris, and Nate, is such a privilege and honor. They have already taken so much time out of their lives to create this team and make it what it is today, and we still have almost a year to go. They aren’t getting paid to do this, and the only thing we’ve had to pay for is some personal gear and getting ourselves to each training. They’ve also made so much effort to get so much amazing sponsored gear for us. I am grateful to Veterans Expeditions and our many sponsors for making this trip happen. I am grateful to family and friends for their support as well. This truly feels like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I don’t want to take anything for granted. Fear and Self Doubt While we were hiking into base camp at Mt. Baker, I was really doubting myself and my ability to be on this team. It was the first time I really felt out of place and way over my head. I was upset that the training that I had been doing, wasn’t helping me at all. Then, our first night in camp, Nick had a talk with all of us. He went over one of the more recent cuts from the team, and told us all to really think about whether we wanted to be on the team and to climb Denali. At that time, I was thinking… Do I really want to keep putting myself through this? Parts of this just seem too hard and I don’t know if I can keep doing it. I feel like I should be having fun doing this. I am scared that I won’t be able to do this. I don’t want to let my team down. I should just bow out now. I don’t think extreme endurance sports are supposed to be fun 100% of the time. Actually, I think fun is only lightly sprinkled in, like a dash of cayenne to your favorite chili recipe. As an ultra-runner, this should already be imprinted on my brain. For some reason, I hadn’t allowed my brain to shift over to that mentality for mountaineering. Mountaineering is BY FAR much more challenging than ultra-running, mentally and physically. I never thought I’d find something that challenged me more than running 50 miles, but here it is. If you are the type of person that likes to push to your limits (and beyond what you think those limits are), it’s never all that fun until you are finished. These types of things are supposed to break you down, take you out of your comfort zone, piss you off, fuck you up, and then put you back together a much stronger person. You couldn’t accomplish that by just having fun all the time. The Team Being a part of this team and our (hopeful) summit of Mt. Denali, will no-doubt be the highlight of my athletic life. I feel so honored to be able to share this experience with so many amazing and inspiring women. I have deeply missed the camaraderie of being in the military, but I certainly get a lot of it out of this team. I still want to learn a lot more about each of these gals, and spend more time with them outside of training. Candice: She’s our fearless leader and has been doing an amazing job at leading this team. I’ve been lucky enough to have her as my rope team leader the past couple of trainings and she has done an amazing job. She’s the only one of the group that is still active duty (Marine Officer!), and has also been on Denali. I feel 100% confident that she can lead us to a safe and successful summit. Shanna: I already have a soft-spot for this woman. She is so amazing and inspiring in her daily life, and always has the right things to say at the right moment. She is also an ultra-runner. She always checks on me when I seem to be struggling and always tries to carry things for me. She was a big help on Mt. Shavano when I had my unsuccessful summit attempt, mentally and physically. Harmony: She brings lots of outdoor leadership experience and is also one of our rope team leaders. She always says things that makes me laugh and does an incredible job at helping to plan our trainings. She is already super strong on the trails and is certainly an inspiration. Don’t let that 5′ stance fool you! Stephanie: Reminds me of a bad-ass shield maiden with all her tattoos and always kicking ass on the trail! My favorite tattoo, and one that I just noticed on this last trip, is a jalapeno holding a gun with a flag coming out of it that says, “Pew!” I love it! She is always very methodical and is such a great asset to the team. Go engineers! Amy: I’ve had talks with her about also struggling on the trails, but she never lets it show. I think her feet were more torn up than mine were after Mt. Baker but you never would have known. She is way more bad-ass than she thinks, and I know she will have no problem on the mountain. All of these ladies 100% deserve to be on this team, including myself, and I can’t wait to get to know them even more. I definitely see some life-time friendships being built. Accomplishment Each training that I complete with this amazing groups, leaves me feeling more and more accomplished. The struggle of climbing for 11 hours on no sleep, then packing up camp and hiking out for three more hours, on tired feet and a worn out body, is all part of being broken down to be built back stronger. All parts of these each training, not just climbing with a heavy pack, are going to make me better, mentally and physically. Each time I proudly look back and think, Wow! I did that! For Denali, we will be carrying everything on our own (backpacks and sleds), and making our own way up the mountain. We will be calling the shots and making decisions – as a group – that will get us to the top (with the help of weather reports from rangers on the mountain, of course!). I wouldn’t want to climb this mountain any other way. Moving Forward While I’m a runner at heart, and have a marathon in December, I really need to focus more on becoming a stronger climber. I haven’t taken nearly enough time to hike in the mountains now that the weather is nicer. It becomes increasingly more difficult to get to the mountains (no 4×4) when the weather is bad so I need to get on it. The only way I am going to get better is to put that pack on and go. I have accepted the fact that this is a little scary! It’s ok to not be 100% confident and it’s ok to have moments of self-doubt. I understand that Mt. Denali will be the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life, and I still have time to prepare for that, mentally and physically. I’m not going to allow myself to have I’m not good enough for this team thoughts anymore, because I am good enough. I am a member of this team. I am excited that I have unlocked this new level of myself. I really had thought that I’d “been there, done that” plenty and that I didn’t need anything else to truly challenge me. I will be a changed person after Denali, and I will be a better runner. I just hope this doesn’t spark the feelings of wanting to try longer ultra-marathons again. I really think I’m ok without it…haha! Purpose (in my opinion) The purpose of this climb and our team is evolving, in my opinion. First and foremost, we want to encourage other women veterans to join in on trips with Veterans Expeditions. They offer so many trips and just don’t get that many women participants. I do think this will help get the word out more about the organization, and draw the attention of more women. Secondly, I think this will inspire women push their limits and try what they think might be impossible. You don’t have to be a seasoned mountaineer to climb Mt. Denali. With adequate and safe training, it is possible! You also don’t need for a man to guide you up the mountain, or lug around all your shit for you (but many props to those of you who do that for a living!). Lastly, there can never be too many role models in this world. The times are crazy and there is so much scary news out there. I don’t want younger generations to lose sight of the great things waiting for them out there. I want my nieces and nephews to be proud of me and excited to talk to me about this in the future. I have a “favorite bad-ass aunt” status to earn! Thanks for reading, Chris
  41. 13 points
    (*except for Rehoboth, which is really in its own category of everything) There are some sure signs of spring’s arrival that I look forward to each year. Birds singing in the mornings again. The sun coming up before I’m done with my pre-work run. Daffodils and tulips poking their colorful heads out, even through the snow sometimes. Cherry blossoms of course. And the George Washington Parkway Classic 10-Miler! This was my very first double-digit run back in 2012 (only a couple of weeks before I broke my ankle), and I’ve run it every year since. It’s become my favorite DC-area race due to its beautiful course, reliably crisp spring weather, and well-organized logistics. It is also typically held the Sunday after the Boston Marathon, so I’m usually still a little high on all the excitement of tracking superstar Loopsters on Marathon Monday as I head to my own race. The fact that I’ve PRed there all but one year doesn’t hurt either… This year, the Parkway Classic was designated as my big spring goal race by Coach, so most of my workouts over the last few months have been aimed at this, with a target 10M pace of 7:40-7:30. This would be a good 30+ seconds per mile faster than I ran this race last year, so this felt like an audacious goal. But I’ve learned to do as Coach says, and even if things went poorly, it was “only” a 10-miler, and life wouldn’t be terrible for too long before the finish line. April 22nd looked to be another perfect spring race day: sunny with an overnight low in the mid-40s and a high in the mid-50s, with a light breeze. I got Flat Caitlin ready and made it an early night given the ridiculous time that I needed to leave the next morning to get the shuttle to the start. I left my apartment at o’ dark thirty to board the shuttle bus that would take me from downtown DC to the start line out at Mount Vernon in Alexandria, VA. It was a long ride, but I chatted with a few of the runners sitting near me, mostly about how crazypants Boston was, and about upcoming race plans. We got to the start just as the sun was coming up and illuminating the little athletes’ village on the lawn of George Washington’s estate. I like to get to the start excessively early (one year of having to sprint off the bus, drop my bag, and race to the start corral just in time for the gun to go off was enough, so now I over-correct), so I found a nice place to camp out and killed some time on social media, since runner friends are reliably up early. This was my second time running, and first time racing, in my new Nike Vaporfly 4% shoes, which look pretty darn cool with neon socks. Eventually it came to be time to ditch my warm layers, check my bag, and go do my prescribed 2-mile warmup. I headed off down the bike path alongside the parkway we’d be running on, and immediately didn’t feel awesome. There was no reason not to feel awesome: the weather was perfect, all my workouts leading up to today had been stellar, it had been 7 full weeks since the New Orleans half-marathon, and I was wearing my magic shoes. But I just didn’t have any pep in my step, and it was a struggle to get those warmup miles under a 9:00 pace. I tried hard not to dwell on that, and told myself that race-day adrenaline would kick in once I was in the company of the other runners. I made my way back to the start line, and got into my corral. A few minutes later, the gun sounded and we were heading off down the parkway! There’s a big downhill right at the start, so I made sure to keep my pace in check and tried to just stay relaxed. My plan (i.e. Coach’s plan) was to try to hit the upper end of my pace target (7:40/mile) right away, and camp out there for the first 3-4 miles. Then I would try to drop the pace by 5 seconds or so for the next 5K, and then try to drop the hammer as much as I could for the final 5K and bring it in at whatever pace I could manage (preferably under 7:30). I clicked off the first mile right on target, but the downhill start provided a big assist. Once the road leveled out and we entered into several miles of small-but-noticeable rolling hills, it was a much harder effort to hold that 7:40 pace than I wanted it to be. I tried to focus on the mile I was in, rather than worrying about how I was possibly going to drop the pace come Mile 4 when Mile 2 felt so hard. I also had the added mental boost/torture of knowing that Coach had signed up for live tracking, so she would know if I’d been able to follow our plan before I’d even finished the race. I finished Mile 4 and knew that it was time to pick it up. I told myself that it was just one mile at a time. I could run this one mile at 7:35 pace and then see where I was. I focused on the upbeat tempo of my music and dug in. 7:34. Boom. Ok self, you’re halfway done now, and the back half of the course has more downhills. You got this. And COACH IS WATCHING. Hitting my Phase 2 target right when I was supposed to provide a major confidence boost (as did finally getting to the nice long downhill in Mile 6!). Miles 6 and 7 clicked off relatively quickly, and then it was just the final three miles to go. Phase 3. Drop the hammer and race. I pretended to be the kind of runner that actually “races” during a race and started picking out people ahead that I could try to catch up to and pass. I tried not to look at my watch as much as possible during this last phase and just ran as hard as I could manage. There was one final short-but-steep hill right at the Mile 9 marker, a left-hand turn onto Union Street, and then about 0.75 miles straight to the finish line. I caught up to one of the women I’d chatted with on the bus who had been just ahead of me for the last few miles, and as I passed her she picked up her pace and we raced each other down the last quarter-mile or so (I won by a few meters). Finished!! I waited a minute for my new friend to finish (we follow each other on Strava now). We high-fived and congratulated each other as we made our way over to where they were handing out breakfast tacos (totally a step up from the usual boring snack boxes from past years!). I was eager to get my checked bag so that I could upload my Garmin data and look at all my splits together. I knew that I’d hit my target paces and had negative split as we’d planned, but I wanted to see the pretty pretty graph that proved it. So pretty! Official results: PR by 7 minutes! I went over to the beer garden and found some run club friends who had finished earlier, and enjoyed some liquid recovery. More people joined the party as they finished, and it was fun as always to rehash the race, talk about upcoming race plans, etc. with runner friends. I love this race so much. I headed out with one of the run club friends to go meet some other run club friends (who didn’t race this morning) for brunch. Obviously, such a great race called for an appropriately celebratory brunch drink. Another year, another fantastic Parkway Classic. (They didn’t start giving out medals until my third year, which was the race’s 30th anniversary, so I don’t have a medal for all my times doing it. But it is pretty cool that I have all the medals that this race has ever given out!) Next up (thanks to the time machine that enables me to post bloops about races that happened a month ago): the National Women's Half-Marathon with some Loopsters!
  42. 13 points
    This was it. The end to what I had hoped to be my epic comeback from hamstring hell. Ha! Hamstrings heal in their own time. To refresh everyone I had signed up for the Love Run (13.1) in March: The Drake Relay 1/2 in April: The Redding Road Race was a spur of the moment addition the 1st weekend in May. My friend C and I were supposed to run 3.1 & 13.1 but she had gotten hurt lifting so we cut it to 3.1 & 7. (Sorry only have pre-race pump up video from this race.) CD169510-3A2E-4969-BCFB-108AF9541AEF.mp4 And finally there was the Pocono Run for the Red this past weekend. I had signed my oldest and I up. I really wanted to run this race fast because I love, love, love the course. As the race got closer I knew there was no way I was going to PR so I decided I wanted to run step for step with my son during his first half ever! We woke up early on Sunday morning and managed to get to the race on time. My son loves mornings!! Lol I needed to use the port-a-potty before the start. They blocked off the most direct route to the port-a-pots so I had my son traipsing through the tall wet grass. Yup, sopping wet feet before the race even started. Did I mention that it rained for the past 7 days?? Oops! Race morning was a swamp fest. It wasn't super hot but the air made you feel like you were breathing through a wet sopping sweater. All the pace groups were warned to back off of their paces. We lined up behind the 10:52 pacer and before the 11:30 pacer. My son had trained some but nothing consistent. The race is a little bit up and down for the first 6 miles, downhill for the next 3-4 and then rolls for the last 3-4. We took off and I was hoping we'd be able to follow the 10:52 pacer, but between my son's labored breathing from humidity, elevation or nerves and the 10:52 pacer going out 30 seconds too fast we let him go. I've had good results from running a mile and walking a minute and thankfully S was receptive to running this way. We had a guy we were passing back n forth who was using the craziest run/walk schedule ever. Run/sprint 30 seconds and then walk. Repeat infinite times. S and I decided we needed to beat him. Somewhere in the downhill section we opened up a nice gap on him and never saw him again. If you don't know and ever ask me to pace you in a race be warned I'm one of the most obnoxiously happy, hooting, hollering, dancing pacers you've ever met. I was thanking the policeman. Getting the fans to cheer. And getting the volunteers to break into mini dance parties. Thankfully S put up with me and didn't shove me off the side of the road! Around mile 10 the roads started some climbing and S was running out of gas. We took a few more walk breaks towards the end but I pushed him so we would finish under 2:30. 2:27:27 We cruised into the finish line both as happy as could be!! He has said he *may* run another!! Yay!! So Dave, that’s what I did this weekend.
  43. 13 points
    It started as more of a heavy mist than a rain. But there was no mistaking the wind. It came in gusts, battering at our resolve before we had even begun. Each gust came without warning, or rhyme or reason, which made the situation somehow more unpredictable, more grim, like no matter what we did, there was no escaping it. We walked -- or trudged -- the .75 miles to the start, this misbegotten horde of rejects who seemed for better or worse (mostly worse) to be on the outs with society. Trash bags snapped around us, Mylar sheets pulled snug, mismatched sweat suits and tech vests starting to absorb the rain. Even the best among us were likely asking the eternal question, "How the hell did I get here?" And what's more, "Why am I here?" I bit down on the edge of my poncho hood with the desperate hope it would stay in place and keep my head dry even though I would be saturated in minutes. The wind whisked the last remnants of our conversations away, our last words perhaps? I stepped between the barrier and into my corral. The clock read 9:55, and I decided to wait three more minutes to strip down. The announcer (executioner?) did his best to buoy our spirits. I watched the seconds tick down to the unavoidable. I peeled off my poncho, vest, sweatshirt, and long sleeve. The cold started in on me immediately, and I began to shiver and thought, This isn't good. But then crack! The gun. The night before, my friend and I went to our favorite philosopher, Jonathan Beverly, for his insight and perspective: "You have to respect a distance that can reduce you to survival four out of five times, despite the best laid plans and preparation." Addendum: the distance and Mother Nature. We chatted with our coach and modified our race plans as one might do with a forecast for 25mph headwinds. In short, I knew (as I had likely known for days) that my 2:35 would have to wait. We resolved to find an effort that made sense but ultimately agreed to run the race by feel. I channeled my inner Stan Beecham and vowed to get the best out of the day. I'd like to tell you that despite all odds the day came together, that there was a singular moment where I pulled myself together, righted the ship, and, you know, dug deep. But I can't. Because sometimes you put in the work and it's just not the right day for it. But like the badass woman who persevered on Monday said, you have to keep showing up. With that in mind, I can sum the race up fairly quickly. After my initial reaction just before the gun, I started in on myself. You haven't started running yet. Relax and get into the race. And I did. For my first seven miles, the rain remained a light mist, the wind hardly noticeable. So, I settled into sub-2:40 rhythm for as long as I could and felt the miles floating by, the pace and effort coming easily. At seven, the first downpour came and transported me back to my New England college days, when the cold rain seemed denser somehow and could penetrate down to your core and chill your spirit. My singlet clung to me and did nothing to abate the wind that blew right through me as if I was a ghost. I reigned back on the pace to keep from fighting the wind and burning any extra energy, and pulled the bill of my hat down to shield my face. The Wellesley girls managed to get a smile out of me, but only just. I didn't look at my watch again until half where I came through in 1:21. From 13.1-22, I entered into a constant battle of med tent and mile marker. The downpour would come and the wind would stand me up. My teeth chattered and my thoughts fogged. For large stretches, my view of the course was the narrow sliver of road that appeared under my hat brim. The road turned to river. I splashed through puddles, now unavoidable, and managed to spray more water up my calves and into my socks. And just as the med tent would come into view, the rains and wind would slacken and I could continue. I'm not sure why or what was pulling me on. The rains mingled with a few tears because I felt downright miserable and even a little sorry for myself. I remember ditching my gloves at 15 because they were soaked and seemed to be trapping the cold. I made a fist and wrung water out of them. And at 15.1 I regretted it as the wind ate at my now raw, red, and exposed fingers. What could I do but continue putting one soggy foot in front of the other. I soldiered on. Heartbreak (the hill), came and went. Hardly the formidable or momentous moment it usually becomes. At 22, I realized I had just four miles to go, and what was another four at this rate? Hey, you might actually finish this thing. The crowds thickened and spurred me on. Quintessential Boston. Even in the worst of conditions, the crowds still came. They carried me past the Citgo sign and eventually onto Boylston. That finish line never looked so sweet. It was the end of another chapter, another Boston, and also a reason to finally say for sure, it's ok to stop. I crossed in 2:53:59. Empty. I immediately began to shiver and wouldn't stop for another hour despite dry clothing. But after a very long, hot shower, after the cold had left me, and the texts and emails and calls had been answered, I returned to Beverly for one more passage: "I've learned that even when the marathon wins--perhaps especially when it does--we discover truths about ourselves. When all goals are abandoned, when it didn't matter if I walked, crawled, or curled up in the ditch, I found a core that I still cared. I found myself still pushing through the fog toward the finish as fast as my compromised body will allow." And in that I can find solace and peace with this race. It was one to be endured. One where I continued to push my compromised body as far as it would allow. One that deepened the shared camaraderie we already share as runners. One where we had to pry ourselves open to see what was deep inside us and how much our bodies and minds could withstand. As with Bostons past, it would seem quite a lot. And what of this race in particular? Just another waypoint along the journey. Another layer of callus and of opportunity to be put toward the next one. Until then, the number in my head is still 2:35.
  44. 13 points
    I almost didn’t go. My leg was a huge question mark. Why go if I’m only going to be able to run 6 miles?? But then Thanksgiving happened which went well until it didn’t. And suddenly I couldn’t get to Rehoboth fast enough. I readied the essentials: Put on my favorite new song!! (I also really love Do Re Mi if you’re wondering) I took the land route all the way around the Delaware River to get to Rehoboth. 50 miles takes 4 hours but I guess if Bangle can come from California I shouldn’t complain 🤭. I arrived at the house and cooled my jets until 2:00 (our official check in time.) It was a beautiful sunny 50* December day. I knew Carissa was in Rehoboth and that RunningEng should be close but alas I found myself alone. Soon people started filtering in. We hit the expo, Dogfish and then back to the house. Loopsters came by the van full. Chris baked us some great lasagna She went above and beyond- vegan, vegetarian, GF and meat and cheese. We are such a needy group! My room mates (Caitlin and Sara) were stressing about their flat girls. What to wear to race in?? Me? I left the 4 sets of running clothes I had brought in my bag. I wasn’t racing so I figured I’d go for whatever I felt like in the morning. I tend to be a very laid back runner race morning. Jay (Carissa’s friend) was stressed that I was eating oatmeal 35 minutes before the race. John was threatening to pin my bib on me if I didn’t get it on by a certain time. Of course that just made me drag my feet more to see John really lose his calm with me! 😏 Love ya, John. We walked over to the start and got a partial group picture. Some did warm up jogs while I stretched the bejeezus out of my hamstring. I said a little prayer that it would hold together and that for once I would be smart. I had no idea if I’d be running 6 miles or 13 or if I’d finish in 2 hours or 2 and a half hours. My loose goals were: a) Don’t blow up my left leg b) Make it to 10 miles c) finish under 2:30 I found Bob and Vanessa in the crowd. It was great to see them. Vanessa is one of the very 1st Loopsters that I met. The horn blew and we were off. The whole race I was taking stock of how my leg felt. I really didn’t worry about my pace. I followed the 4:10 pacer for a bit. I would tuck behind people and go at their speed until it felt too slow and then I went around. I walked the water/Gatorade stops. I managed to high 5 Bangle and Sara, gave shout outs to John and Abby. My hamstring was letting me run. I made it to mile 9 before I felt any twinges. At that point I slowed for a bit before picking it back up. I’m not really sure how this happened but I ran Rehoboth in 2:00:27 after only running 18ish miles a week for the past 6 weeks (and nothing but cross training for the months before that). The after party was just so much fun!! I loved every second of it!! So much dancing and off key singing (well, I was off key). I hope the link works. That night I got to experience the Purple Parrot and the Conch. The next day I woke up feeling fantastic. I slipped on my running stuff while my roommates snoozed. Bee bopped down the stairs and was shocked to see so many Loopsters awake. I tossed out an offer to go running with me. Some sneered, some yawned but Carissa’s friend said that he’d go. We headed out and covered our one mile for streaking purposes. After lunch, ice cream and a walk on the boardwalk it was time to head home. Thanks for the Loop Healing Magic! BTW Did I mention that I KT taped Dave’s leg? That was a little #awkward! 😬
  45. 13 points
    So I tell people I traveled all the way across the country to run a race, and when they ask why, it never seems to make a whole lot of sense. What compels me to fly for six hours across two flights, then get in a van for a three hour tour of beautiful Delaware? I can race 13 miles anywhere. Well, it really comes down to the people. I had some magical memories of this frigid beach town from 2013 and 2015. And when you catch a genie in a bottle, you tend to go back looking for it. 2017 Rehoboth had the same agenda as usual. Show up late, share a huge awesome rented house with tons of favorite loopsters, eat, drink and be merry and throw a race in there too. Then party until they kick us out of multiple venues. I started it off with a red-eye flight, which meant I only slept 1-2 hours Thursday night, and zombied my way through Friday before the Saturday morning race time. The awesome Caitlin picked me up and took care of me as we awaited the others for the party van ride. We arrived to the Rehoboth house about 5PM, where Chris took care of our nutritional needs with some fabulous lasagna. I filled up with a second piece and lots of bread not too long before bedtime. I figured carbo-loading, right? But I needed to catch up on sleep too, so I was soon sacked out, and hardly moved until 6:06AM (that's 3:06 Pacific) when Mr. Bacon woke me, since, you know the race starts at 7... Everybody else was well into their pre-race routine. I managed to get dressed and get out the door about 6:35. But no breakfast. No coffee! And no pooping!! (OK, I tried, but that system had not opened for business yet). So I figured dinner would have to be enough fuel to get me through this one. Walked down to the start. Dumped a layer of clothes and did a half mile jog to warm up a bit, and then settled in to the start with Carissa and Abby who appeared to have goals similar to mine. Goals. Well originally I hoped to beat my 2015 time of 1:37:27. Then I got sick, twice, in the last three weeks and didn't feel the need to go kill myself since I didn't feel 100%. On the other hand, I wasn't sick anymore, my legs were well rested, and the weather was PERFECT. On the other hand, I was sleep-deprived, and I really just came out here for the people... Basically I decided to start conservative and just see how I felt and go with it. First mile close to 8:00, hopefully faster after that. If I felt good I hoped to eventually run 7:30's. Try to break 1:40, which would be three minutes faster than Florida a few weeks ago. That meant a 7:37 pace average. The start was smooth and pace was about 8:11 at first check after about 1/4 mile. Carissa was slipping ahead but I didn't feel I could go with her so I let her go and stayed with Abby. Later in mile one I felt a little more mojified and was picking it up a bit and passing people and saw Carissa wasn't too far ahead. So I threw a mental lasso around her and gradually reeled her in. Pace was 8:05 when I saw her, but once I caught her and hit mile 1 it had dropped to 7:49. Oh, OK then. Of course that meant we were actually moving faster than that. I stayed with C for the next 2+ miles until the marathoners peeled off. We were right behind a guy with "Kick ARS" on his shirt and his friend who matched our pace, so we settled in behind them while passing everyone else. Two and three were 7:36 and 7:35. It felt a little too fast, but not really. It felt good. So much for not racing. This was a good race effort for me, but felt manageable. Either I would hurt later, or maybe it would be a good day. Plus it was fun to run side by side with the legendary Quadracool. We've been buddies for years now, but mostly from afar, so it was great to share some race time, even though we hardly talked the whole time. I absorbed some of her mojo and then she peeled off to do her thing, and I peeled off to do mine. Which meant race harder. The "Kick ARS" guy was in the half so I followed him for a while, but I was feeling good and slowly moved by. I saw the 1:40 pace group up ahead about 100 yards, and decided I WOULD be passing them. It was just a matter of when. Once that was in my head I caught up pretty fast. Mile 4 was 7:26 and mile 5 was 7:25. I was picking off people one by one. Once I caught the 1:40 group of about 15 people I wanted to just stay with them for a while. Race smart and all... But I was comfortable at that 7:25 pace and to stay in rhythm meant that I had to slowly move on by. Which gave me even more adrenaline to stay ahead of them...Mile six was 7:19. Gradually I stopped hearing them behind me and was on my own. But there are always people to chase. One by one I targeted prey and reeled them in. But there was one girl with MildSauce hair who stubbornly stayed about 50 yards ahead of me. I chased her for about 8 miles and never caught her. Never got to thank her for the pull. At one point I thought, maybe that IS Mild Sauce! Sneaking out to Delaware to surprise us! But it wasn't. Too bad. About mile 6, dinner decided to speak up and say hello. That 3 pounds of pasta and bread and cheese was done percolating and ready to be expunged. I was concerned. No way was I stopping unless I absolutely had to. There were potties on the course, so plenty of opportunity, but, no. I was running sub 1:40 pace, and no renegade poop was going to ruin that! But it quickly became #1 in my thoughts. (Or #2!) I was still passing people but I was focusing on my colon too, and it may have tweaked my stride a bit. Plus I was getting tired. Mile 7 slipped to 7:26 (fine) but mile 8 was 7:37 (hmmm). Now we were on the trail in the forest and it got much colder, so I internally whined about that too. And the lump was still there. The sphincter was still not involved in the conversation, but I felt like I had a three pound weight inserted in my belly. I really wanted it gone, and would have stopped if it were a training run, but this is a race, dammit! I got a little adrenaline in mile 9, aiming for the turnaround and seeing the faster runners coming back (including loopster Ken who rocked it!). Nine was 7:26 and I was happy to be back under 7:30, but I was tiring now, and I saw the 1:40 pacer was still not far behind me! I definitely wanted to stay ahead of him. Mile ten was heading back on the cold trail and was the worst mile. My motivation was flagging and my pep was gone. Someone passed me. And then another one. I was cold and uncomfortable and not happy. But I persisted. Miles ten and eleven were both 7:38. I was hanging on but it wasn't easy or fun any more. But at least Mr. Hankey was staying quiet. Mild Sauce's doppelganger was still in sight so I guess she was slowing too. I just wanted to get off of this trail and back in the warm sun and hard asphalt. Once that happened, life was better. I still had some life in my legs after all. At this point I knew I had sub 1:40 if I hung on, and a shot at sub 1:39 with a decent finish. Mile 12 was 7:36, but with only a mile to go I allowed myself to step it up a bit. Reaching a toilet was motivating me to go faster. I started passing people again. It wasn't PR effort, but it felt good to run hard and still finish with a little in the tank. (or a lot, if you get my drift). Mile 13 was 7:21 and a 6:44 pace for the last block got me in at 1:38:56. and I headed straight for the pooper. Sweet, sweet relief. And then it was all fun and games for a day and a half. Had a lot of fun with a bunch of great people. Totally worth it. IMG_1597.MOV
  46. 13 points
    Marine Corps Marathon 2017 But there are times in our lives when we need to tilt at windmills, times when the scale of the quest frightens us, focuses us, and motivates us to stretch higher than before. The fact that we’ll more than likely fail is largely the point. (Jonathan Beverly, Runners World) This was my 3rd time running the Marine Corps Marathon (MCM) and my 8th marathon. Getting a BQ back in January put me in an interesting place for this marathon. I wasn’t worried about my finishing time and that meant I could just race without worrying what would happen if everything went wrong. 17 weeks of training, more miles than I had ever run before, intervals on Tuesdays, long tempos on Thursdays, no injuries. I was ready ….. but how ready? My PR from January was 3:31:25 and I was pretty sure I could go under that. Was a sub 3:20 possible? (Hint – nope) I had a plan, well maybe not so much a plan but maybe a dare – run by feel, run hard and see what happens. Glory or spectacular failure. The local running club offered a bus ride and a hotel conference room near the finish line which worked pretty well – I was able to avoid dealing with the metro system or parking and got to meet a number of other local runners. After being able to relax, use a real bathroom (several times), it was time to walk the 1.5 miles to the start line. The only worry now was about the weather – how warm would it get and how quickly. The start temp was low fifties, not bad but it wouldn’t stay there. The MCM has start corrals but they operate on the honor system – and, unfortunately there wasn’t a lot of honor going on. I lined up between the 3:15 and 3:25 pacers; and after the National Anthem, a V22 Osprey flyover and the other usual start line ceremonies, the cannon fired and we were off. Kind of. It seems like a lot of slower runners decided that they needed a head start and had seeded themselves with the 3 hour marathoners. So the first mile had a lot stutter stepping and weaving; at one point I was on the shoulder of the 3:15 pacer who expressed some frustration over the situation. (I’ve had a lot of races where there is some weaving, but this was at a whole other level.). So after a slow first mile I did the natural thing when I hit the long downhill and made up all of the lost time (not smart but it was fun to turn the legs loose). Finally settling down after the madness of the start, I started to get the reins gathered back in and settled into the race. Knowing the heat to come, I made sure to get a cup of water to drink and another to dump on my head. After romping through the early miles in Virginia it was time to spend a bunch of time in DC. First was Georgetown where I knew Caitlin would be cheering. Resulted in a nice boost in early race morale and my favorite photo from the race (and the one I didn’t have to pay for). 8:00 7:26 7:23 7:06 7:24 After Georgetown, the race took on an out and back up Rock Creek Park. Downside: out and backs mean ugly u-turns. Upside: got to see the race leaders Upside: I really enjoy running in Rock Creek Park. Factoid: Rock Creek Park was the third National Park created by Congress Bonus Factoid: it’s larger than Central Park. 7:22 7:41 7:28 7:27 7:27 After the Park we hit what is, for me, the mentally tough part of the course – East Potomac Park and Haines Point. This part has been a real hard for me in the past. There aren’t any hills; it’s actually dead flat. It’s not that far into the race; Haines Point is the race’s midpoint. I’m not sure what the problem is other than it is a bit lonely and maybe bit boring? Got through it this without having a brain meltdown and felt pretty decent this time. 7:18 7:35 7:28 7:30 7:28 Now the race started get fun as it made lap of the National Mall which is the highlight of the race. Monuments, the Capital, Smithsonian buildings. It was somewhere in this section that I started to the burn in my quads. Since it wasn’t hamstrings or hips (old injury sites) I wasn’t too worried except for just how much the race was going to hurt in the end. By now I was also starting to notice that it was getting warm. 7:28 7:25 7:30 7:23 7:33 And then the race got really hard. This where the course crosses the Potomac on the I 395 bridge. There are some really iconic bridges in DC and isn’t one of them – uphill, highway, no spectators, mile 20. And you’re on it forever. I was hoping to be able to pick the pace after the bridge in Crystal City but it wasn’t happening – for me or anyone else either. I slowed down but there weren’t many people passing me either. The heat caught up to us and the slog was on. 7:38 7:46 7:57 7:41 8:17 The final mile of the race is a slight uphill from the Pentagon toward Arlington finishing with a short and very nasty final hill to finish before the Marine Memorial. The hill hurts but you can see the finish and there are Marines urging you on – finish as strong as you can. 8:17 8:34 – 3:20:55 After shaking hands or fist bumping about 20 young Marine 2LTs after the finish I received my medal, a salute and the race was officially over. I missed my “everything goes great goal” of 3:20 but I made all the important goals and was on pace for most of the race to have crushed the 3:20. · PR (previous was 3:31:25) · BQ (needed 3:40) · Make the top 20 in the Age Group; I finished 9th! · Run aggressively. OK, I may have overdone this one a little bit. A walk through the finish area and I was soon back to the running club’s hotel convention room where I was able to clean up a little, change clothes, get something to eat and catch up with other runners as they finished their races. I finally took the Metro home and spent several days hobbling around – my legs were completely trashed but trashed in a good way. I didn’t break 3:20 and I maybe could have if I had run a little more conservatively but I’m actually happy with how I ran and how the race ended. Age-Graded Score: 71.39% Age-Graded Time: 2:52:13
  47. 13 points
    "First run in 1905, the Dipsea is the oldest trail race in America. It is run every year on the second Sunday in June. The scenic 7.4 mile course from Mill Valley to Stinson Beach is considered to be one of the most beautiful courses in the world. The stairs and steep trails make it a grueling and treacherous race. And its unique handicapping system has made winners of men and women of all ages." (http://www.dipsea.org/) The Quad Dipsea is a bit easier to get into, but still sells out pretty quickly every year (4 times the fun of the Dipsea?). This year was the 34th running of the Quad Dipsea! This was my second attempt at this race. I started this race a few years ago, only to sprain my ankle and drop after only 7 miles. So there was unfinished business to attend to. My goal was to just finish the race in the 8.5 hours we are given for an official finish. Eight and a half hours for only 28.5 miles sounds pretty easy, doesn't it? The 9200 feet of elevation gain makes things just a tad more interesting... Th The course is beautiful, despite seeing the same sections 4 times! I was having a wonderful time in the first half. I was running well and climbing well. I even blew through a couple aid stations! I got through the first half in 3:28, but I already knew that I was going to slow down in the second half. I was running well, but my climbing legs were woefully under-trained. My climbing grew slower and slower as the race went on. My legs started to cramp and hurt on the steep climbs. I was officially in survival mode, despite being able to run on the descents. On the last lap, I was scared I wasn't going to make it. The climbs hurt, and I had to take breaks going up just to keep my heart rate down. I kept telling myself to take one step at a time. I was still able to drink my Tailwind Mix in my handheld bottle, but nothing was easy at this point. One of the great things about a race like this is the people. Everywhere you go, people are cheering you on. And you get to see everyone racing on the out-and-back course, twice! When you're hurting and suffering, you can take comfort in the fact that you are not alone. You can see pain etched in the faces of many of your fellow runners. It's a reminder to keep fighting, to dig down deep and to keep moving despite the pain. Somewhere in those final miles, I must have found my limit, and ran right past it. "You must do what you don't think you can do." Isn't that one of the reasons why we run ultras? To find the limits we place on ourselves (mentally), and then surpass them? It's a great feeling! Of course, I would've had a better limit if I had trained better! Oh well. Life goes on. I finished the race in 237th place out of 300 finishers, in 7 hours and 53 minutes. The shwag was great (a finisher's patagonia jacket and long sleeve shirt)! I felt sick for hours after the race (even after throwing up). My legs randomly seized up through the night. It was all worth it, because I didn't give up and I finished. I didn't win the race. I just owned it (my own race, that is). Find your limit. Pass it. And don't look back.
  48. 13 points
    WARNING: the pictures in here are so freaking big they may cause trauma. Couldn't figure out how to make them smaller. I think I need a tutor. *** I ran a double race with NCAthlete (Chris) just before Thanksgiving—the Pumpkin Pie 5K and 10K in Denver. She wrote about it here. Fun fact: the only other time I did a double was with another Loopster – AlliKate. It was on the same course, but the experience was quite different. This time it was cold (not hot). The 5K was first (not second). There was almost no time between races (we had an hour or so last time). And of course, this time there was pie. Lots of pie – which I expected to be mediocre, but was actually very tasty. Anyway … Chris and I stayed in my warm car as long as possible, then jogged about half a mile to the start. Just enough time for a quick selfie before the gun went off. She decided to run the 5K with me. That meant she’d be taking it easy and I would do my best to keep up. I hadn’t been in a race since February and I’ve spent a good chunk of 2017 injured, so I had no goals other than running happy and finishing the whole thing in the 10-minute-mile range. We took off in a crowd, but stayed pretty chill until things cleared out. It was a narrow course with a lot of turns and kids and costumed runners—definitely not the place to get stressed out about pace. We moved along fairly quickly, (by my standards, not hers), chatting most of the time (which means I could have gone faster, but what the heck, it felt like a push to me. Note race face. It looks like I smelled some rancid pie). Sometime in the second mile, I noticed we were doing most of the passing. Of course, as soon as I said it out loud, a couple of groups came storming by us. But we kept picking people off and before long, cruised over the finish line in 28-something, somewhere around a 9:12 pace. A nice surprise for me and a decent warmup for Chris. The next race was scheduled to start in less than 15 minutes and we had to wear a different bib for that event. Those bibs were in our cars—which as I said, were half a mile away. So we made a mad dash for the pie table, grabbed a slab for Chris and hustled to the parking lot. I didn’t even try to run with pie, but was amazed at Chris’ display of speed and dexterity. Once at the car, we changed out shirts and bibs, then set off again, racing back to the start where the 10K runners had already begun to take off. We slipped into the back of the crowd and wished each other well. Determined not to bonk in the second race, I slowed down a bit and tried to keep things a notch above comfortable. I ran pretty evenly, spending most of my time as the passer, not the pass-ee. Saw Chris a couple of times in the out-and-back sections of the course – and saw my nephew too – who is a serious pumpkin pie lover, but only ran the 10K, because, in his words, “I am not insane.” (Who you calling crazy, kid? Love you too). I felt good from beginning to end – and finished in 59-something – 9:35ish pace – which was another nice surprise. By then the sun had warmed things up, so it was fun to hang out for a while, eating pie and catching up with my nephew. I was just about to leave when I heard my name announced – I’d won my age group for the 10K. The prize was a $20 gift card to the local running store. Friends. Family. A healthy body. Pie. Free running stuff. So much to be thankful for!
  49. 13 points
    The first day after I ran 115 miles at Hinson Lake, I slothed like I had never before. My body ached from head to toe and though the brain fog seemed less intense than the prior year, it was still there. I lazed around the house, soaked my feet in an Epsom salt bath, snacked, and rested. I didn't actually feel any hungrier than normal - it is strange how sometimes I feel ravenous after a race and other times, it seems to have no effect. Needless to say, running was out of the question for a few days. I was determined to be a little smarter about recovery this time around. The itch would come soon enough. Last year, I ended up with a couple of weeks of Achilles pain following Hinson Lake probably due large in part to too much, too fast, too soon. It was a beautiful fall day the Wednesday following the race and all the soreness had finally dissipated. I decided to take an easy loop on the trail near the my house. Veeeerrrry easy. It. Was. Incredible. I don't know that I have ever had a run that was so good. I knew I should only do 2 of the 1 mile loops, but I couldn't help myself. I ran 3 loops. If I could bottle that magic and sell it.... But running isn't always magical. And in the runs following that one, they have been somewhere in the 3-6 range on a 1-10 scale. Some better than others and I attribute that mostly to the fact that the weather has been far less hot and humid than 6 weeks ago. But my legs have had no get up and go and an 8:00 minute mile feels like a 7:00 minute mile. I know I should be patient in the recovery process. But I am so anxious to run fast after nearly 5 months of longer and slower. Knowing that I have been sliding more and more into being competitive in races, I needed a fun race. Last year, I ran the Greenville Marathon dressed as a donut large in part to remind myself to keep it fun. So after my friend Matt graciously helped me secure a race entry, I decided to keep it fun again this year. Adam told me he ordered a costume online that I could wear to the race. However, by Thursday night, it still had not arrived so I told him to grab me a Wonder Woman costume at Target. They were sold out of course so I went with my backup. I've been hating all my running shoes lately and ordered a pair from Amazon to arrive Friday. Except I got a notification they were damaged en route to me and were to be reshipped. So...I would be running in my trusty Clifton 1s that are now a half size too small. My feet have grown at least a size and a half in the past 10 years! I ran 1.2 miles on the treadmill Friday night in the costume to make sure I would be reasonably comfortable. The handle was my biggest concern, but my arm swing is weird and short on my right side anyway so it kind of worked out perfectly. I slept like a brick per usual on Friday night and awoke to my Garmin alarm at 4:15 a.m. I put on my race clothes, made a cup of coffee, warmed up some frozen pancakes in the microwave, and was on the road by 4:45 a.m. Traffic was nothing and I arrived to Furman University by 6:30 a.m. Matt and I eventually found each other in the correct parking lot and I jumbled around trying to get my act together. Lots of Vaseline all over my arms and shoulders as well as the usual hot spots. There was a possibility of rain in the forecast and I was determined to not have to toss my costume onto someone's lawn due to chafe. I talked with a few people as I made my way over to the start because wearing a beer stein is a pretty good conversation starter. I was probably the most calm I have ever been at a starting line because I really had zero expectations of anything for the day other than to make it to the finish line. The gun went off and as we began, a safety pin popped open on the right side. Aw, shit. So I struggle to try to run and close a safety pin within the confines of the costume. It took at least 90 seconds before I got the stupid thing shut. I could have stopped to fix it, but I was trying to not be that jerk that stops right in the beginning of the race. I was already being a jerk taking up extra room in my costume. Once I was secured, I spent the next mile catching up to the 4 hour pace group. It was the group I ran with last year and it felt like a reasonable place to be given my current fitness. Once I caught them, I tried to stay towards the back of the pack at first knowing that my personal space area was a bit, um, amplified. As we began to tick off the miles though, I slowly fell in place behind the pacer and eventually talked to her for awhile. The early miles were around Furman and a mix of sidewalk and road. A few college kids were out ringing cowbells and cheering, but it was fairly quiet overall. Once we started running off campus, it got even more quiet. This part of the course was different from last year and I didn't care for it at all. It was through a residential area dotted with huge homes on acres and acres of land. The road wasn't coned off and though I was running with a group, I couldn't help but think about the safety of those who weren't. It wasn't clear what side of the street we were supposed to be on and the road was completely open to traffic. I was feeling reasonably good and nothing was really bothering me which is always a happy thing while running a marathon. I remembered to start taking my Huma gels every 5 miles and a light, misting rain helped to keep things nice and cool. I actually got a little chilly for a bit and was kind of glad that I was wearing a non-breathable polyester costume. The course had a bunch of rolling hills and I was pretty glad that I wasn't going for a PR. Nothing that was crazy, but a far cry from flat. As we neared Furman again, I was looking forward to getting on the much more scenic and tranquil Swamp Rabbit Trail. The pacers switched off at the 13.1 mile mark and the girl pacing, Shannon, was the same one from the pace group last year. It was fun to talk a bit and then I ended up talking to Brooks for about a mile while we led ahead of the 4 hour group. He decided to slow down and remain with Shannon, but I was now kind of set on that slightly faster pace. So I just stayed ahead of the group and decided to do my own thing around mile 17. There were a fair number of cyclists out on the Swamp Rabbit Trail and it was fun to get smiles as they came swooshing by. I was feeling happy and good at this point - a strange feeling in the last 8 miles of a marathon, but I guess I just needed an 18 mile warm up? The water stations towards the end were full of cheering people and it was energizing to run through the crowd. It is hard to sneak by another runner in a beer stein costume so I tried to at the very least say good job as I went past. I ended up talking to about every other person in those final miles, asking them how many marathons they'd done, what their goals were, or how they were feeling. As I headed into the last 10K, I knew I wasn't moving super fast by my own standards, but I felt pretty good all things considering. It was a perfect fall day and a wonderful long run. There were going to be snacks, beer, and football to nap to later. Life was good. I passed a guy on a unicycle who said that is awesome and I said no, you're awesome! I actually laughed out loud when that happened because it just seemed so random that a person riding a unicycle and a person running a marathon in a beer stein costume would pass each other on a Saturday morning. The last mile had a short, but steep hill and I powered up that beast ready to take on the mile 26. Except my shoelace started to come untied as I went flying down the other side and I actually had to stop and tie my shoe with less than a mile to go. Ha! I forgot about all the uphill in the final mile and kept looking around for the entrance to the baseball field. Finally, a volunteer pointed me left and I followed a couple of runners onto the warning track on the first base line. There was a lady ahead of me who I recognized from earlier in the race and though I had a sprint finish in me, I decided to just stay about 15 feet behind her in case they were doing finish photos. Talk about worst photo bomb ever.... Crossing the line, I felt satisfied. It was still a marathon and it was still tough at times. But I felt a sense of relief that I could rise to the challenge after feeling so mopey for weeks. Having fun and running just for the sake of running was exactly what I needed. Splits if you are into that kind of thing: 1 9:02.4 8:55 2 9:07.1 9:06 3 9:01.6 9:01 4 9:04.2 9:00 5 9:01.8 8:57 6 9:10.5 9:09 7 9:00.7 8:53 8 9:08.9 9:03 9 9:06.2 9:06.2 10 9:07.0 9:00 11 9:08.5 9:01 12 8:59.6 8:59.6 13 9:03.2 8:57 14 9:05.1 9:02 15 8:59.7 8:59 16 9:19.8 9:14 17 8:58.1 8:57 18 8:46.8 8:40 19 8:40.8 8:36 20 8:38.3 8:36 21 8:55.2 8:51 22 8:46.5 8:39 23 8:29.4 8:26 24 8:41.3 8:35 25 8:23.3 8:17 26 8:30.9 8:26 27 1:33.1 1:27 Summary 3:53:50 3:53:47 26.21
  50. 13 points
    There's not much to this blog, but this letter. Whenever I have a fight with running, I find this picture of a letter written by a local boy in Minnesota to a RD of one of my favorite Spring Races called Zumbro. I'm hoping that you, too, can find some joy in the youngsters joy of trail running, and perhaps find a little motivation when times are down that when you are running, you have an opportunity to be young at heart.
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