I’ll do the best I can to not drone on forever.
1. Decided to run a marathon For the first time.
2. Signed up for Wineglass in Corning where all the awesomeness recently took place.
3. Trained through a 15 miler in spring
4. Realized I’m insane, I hate racing, always have hated racing, hate any mile over 13, planned to drop to the half at Wineglass, can’t drop down - half is full, decided I’d still go and cheer, I’m good at cheering.
5. Find house of my dreams, proceed to purchase it, issues complicated things, things get expensive, closing delayed, plan to close on race weekend, closing delayed to October 12, ran out of money, cancelled out of race completely.
6. Wallow in self pity and cry over not seeing friends and celebrating their awesomeness. Life goes on.
Started Crossfit in May of this year and love it more than I’d ever imagine. I run 3-4 days a week in addition to Crossfit and I’ve never in my life has this level of positive feeling about my body and how great it is. If you’ve met me you know I’m not a dainty framed woman. I’m built to be strong and powerful but never thought I should because I was raised to think skinny is optimal even if you’re frail and sickly. Screw that. I can power through hills and distances like never before. I’m still a slower runner but that’s my build. I’d rather be slower and powerful than starving myself to be someone else’s image of what a runner looks like to them.
This winter I hope to get many miles under my x-c skis since I have excellent trails just 10 minutes from my new house.
And I’m growing my natural curls out... never embraced my waves and curls in my hair before.
Thats the Cliff Notes version!
Howdy Loopsters!!! Wow, this is so easy! Thanks Dave for getting this going. You da best!
So let's see. I did my first 100k last month. Woodstock. Everything that could go right did go right. It was so easy and I stayed positive the whole time! Weird!
Anyways, I took a few weeks off, then ran a few, then had eyeball surgery last Friday. I just ran my first post-op run. It was kinda hard! On my run I saw the two neighborhood zebras that make appearances at a little horsey paddock once in a while. They must be babysitting. Zebrasitting? I didnt have my phone, so since there are no pics, it might not have happened.
My next race is rnr Savannah Marathon in November with some local RBs.
Heress a pic of my pirate eye. Arrrrr! I don't have to weear the patch but it helps once in a while.
I can't wait to actually read some bloops again!
Well hello there new Loop. MK here. I was a regular around the old Loop parts oohhh 5+ years ago... but that was seriously a lifetime ago. I'm sure I'm more likely an unfamiliar face nowadays than a familiar one, but I'm hoping to get back at it. Although, as much as I'd like to contribute more often, I will probably be sticking more so to a lurker status, as running has taken a huge backseat to life.
Right now, this is my current status:
He won't let me put him down, but I'm learning he's totally fine with me typing while holding him. #MomLife, am I right?
Anyways, this little man is Crosby. He's my second. I also have a spunky 21-month old, Finley. I didn't know it at the time, but Finley was actually with me during my last Loop meet-up. That was back in May 2015 during the mitten challenge (I did not do the mitten challenge, just one half marathon. I was mostly just along for the ride). That was also my last race. I discovered early on that I carry my babies low, making pregnant running not so much fun for me. I was able to CrossFit through my pregnancy with Finley, but after she was born, we quickly learned that parenthood is busy! I did try to do some stroller miles from time to time, but 8 months after Finley was born, I became pregnant with Crosby (because everyone told us how easy 2 under 2 was ). Once again, running pregnant was a bit difficult on my hips, and besides I was getting a workout chasing Miss Fin around (she began walking at 9 months, so we had our hands full!)
During my pregnancy with Crosby, I was committed to start running again once he was born. I missed my active lifestyle and I really wanted to get back into races. But life had different plans for us. Crosby was born the end of May. The labor was hilariously perfect, and my gosh this boy was scrumptious. But little man was born with no T-cells and no NK cells. We found this out 6 days after he was born and he's been in the hospital ever since. His official diagnosis is Severe Combined Immunodeficiency or SCID. This basically means he was born with no immune system (think bubble boy), and it would be too dangerous for him to be out in the world, so instead he's been tucked away in his safe, hepa-filtered, sterile hospital room. I could write a novel about the past 4 months, but I'll spare you the details. The big news is that last week Crosby received a life-saving bone marrow transplant. Now, we wait. We'll find out if the transplant is successful in about 100 days. He's been doing really well, he's so strong, and I'm optimistic that these beautiful donated cells are going to grow. If successful, we should be able to bring little man home in January. I'm looking forward to his second welcome home. During Crosby's time at the hospital we are expected to have someone with him 24/7, so between balancing hospital life/home life/work life/parenthood, running has been pretty nonexistent. I have gone a mile or two here and there, and despite being seriously out of shape, it felt amazing to just get back out there. So I'm going to try my darnedest to sneak it nuggets of time and hit the road every now and again (I mentally need it). If so, I'll try and bloop about it (do we still say " bloop"?). If not, I'll continue to lurk and comment (I do have a lot of time for that while little man sleeps and this platform really does make it so easy! Nice job Dave!).
Anyways, I just wanted to pop in and say hi and give you an update on me - although, I do apologize for my messy life dump (I hope it wasn't too much). I've missed the Loop and I'm hoping to be able to catch up with/get to know you all.
"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.
Yesterday was less than great. Glad I only had 4 miles. Probably because it was over 80o again. Did you see what I just did? Superscripting text - that alone makes this better than the old Loop.
After the run I did some lunges - something I figured would be a good idea to help overcome the lack of hills around here. Forget now who posted about it . Right hamstring didn't like it, apparently. Seems a little better today. Hope this doesn't require time off. Not interested in that.
Bought a rear stabilizer link on the way home from work. The replacement went OK, but it seems a little shorter than the original. Leaves me with a little nagging in my head that it won't last as long as it should.
The last part for the broken mixer came in the mail, so I installed that as well (5 minute job). Didn't work.
Mrs. Dave's oral surgery follow up didn't go well. She's very upset - worried about looking like she's from a holler in the Appalachians for the next six months. Worse, I was all wrapped up in the car and the mixer repairs that I forgot to ask her about it and console her properly. (what's wrong with me? I forget everything)
Then she asked me if I had the pictures of DS2 and his dog that I promised to take while I was in Louisville over the weekend. Um, that would be, no. (what's wrong with me? I forget everything)
This morning she asked me if I wanted the green checkbook or the maroon checkbook. Why do I need any checkbook at all? OMG - the Hood to Coast application has to be postmarked TODAY! (what's wrong with me? I forget everything) Left for work early to drop it off at the post office because I'm sure I'd forget by the time I drove home this afternoon.
That put me in the parking lot at work a half hour early. Time to read a little or take a quick catnap. As I'm setting the iPhone alarm, I notice that I'll need to switch the hour from 7 to 6 after I set the minutes. After I wake up at 7:22, I wonder why the alarm never went off. Because it was set to 7:55. That's right, I'd never reset the hour. (what's wrong with me? I forget everything)
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.
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!
Just putting this here while I finish up my Wineglass RR... stay tuned. This was written in early summer of 2016.
Someone (supposedly Einstein, but that's debateable) said insanity is doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results.
Yet that's precisely what I'm doing. Laying it on the line for a goal, hoping this time it doesn't turn out like the last 3 times. Going through the training, the speedwork, the intervals, the tempos, the long runs. The 4:00am alarms, early bedtimes and long morning runs on weekends instead of sleeping in. The blisters and chafing. Fatigue, sore muscles and endless hunger.
The blood, sweat and tears of marathon training.
In chasing my dream of Boston qualifying, it hasn't been easy, and it still hasn't been accomplished.
Not for lack of trying, though. God knows I tried. My husband, who saw me struggle through those planned race days that became stay-at-home-to-nurse-an-injury days, knows better than anyone that I tried. The Loop, who saw me go through both victory and defeat in every race distance I've attempted, knows that I tried.
Having run my first and only marathon in late 2013, the minute I crossed the Rehoboth finish line, I knew. I wanted that minus-12 minutes for a BQ. I would not give up until I had it, from that day forward.
It's a good thing I didn't know how severely “from that day forward” would get tested. That was 2.5 years ago. If I make it to BOS2018, my current goal, it will have been 4 years since I started my very first BQ-attempt training cycle.
4 half-marathons: DNSed. 2 marathons: DNSed. 2 marathons: DNFed. 3 season-altering, sometimes season-ending, injury stints lasting from 10 weeks to 9 months. I'm no longer sure where my comebacks end and my “I'm-backs” begin; they blur together in a roller coaster ride of renewed hopes and dashed dreams.
This word became my mantra, my anchor, my something-to-aspire-to in every journey back.
Be the fiercest you can be at something else if you can't run. I learned how to swim. I biked and spent time in the gym.
I'm on the other side of injury again, the circle complete. I just wrapped up my highest run-mileage week since September, 2015 (+ 55 miles on the bike).
I want to believe.
I want to envision myself succeeding.
I want to be positive.
It's hard when you've been burned, though. I'm on the brink of this thing, I can almost taste victory. But I can also remember limping home from a 7 mile easy taper run, 2 weeks before Marshall Marathon last fall. Crying because I knew my dream was deferred again.
What if I have to go through what I did the last two seasons… God, I cannot endure it again. How many times would it take to defeat me? How often will I repeat the lunacy? How insane am I willing to be?
Oh, I'm not scared of the training itself: the miles, the sacrifices, the pain, the fatigue. That's the easy part. In a sense, I've trained for this goal several times over already, an endless training cycle that bore no fruit.
But the skeletons of injuries, the ghosts of DNFs past… those are what haunt me. Battling and defeating the demons of fear and failure is a bigger task than any miles I must run.
Because I know how quickly things can go so wrong. How the tides of fate and (mis)fortune can wash up on your shores and obliterate your meticulously constructed sandcastles. How every shred of running fitness can wither away and your identity as a runner feels misplaced and abandoned. Experiencing not just weeks or months of setbacks, but years of chasing something that eludes you. Watching your friends achieve the dream... a bittersweet triumph that rejoices with them while a quiet longing inside cuts open and bleeds.
You almost cease thinking about finishing the marathon of your dreams because you desperately want just the chance to begin it.
My chance to set foot on the start line unbroken and healthy has begun. It's wreathed in fear, baptized by the tears of previous disappointment, but it's starting. I breathe daily a hopeful, anguished prayer: one more run, one more week, one unbroken training cycle. Please give me my shot at this. Please don't break my heart again.
2.5 years of trying, for a goal that's nearly 2 years in the future, boiled down to the next 14.5 weeks. Trying something that has thrice failed me before. Running the miles, putting in the hours, taking the risks.
But if it's insanity, then I am in good company here on the Loop. We have 5kers and marathoners, ultrarunners and people who run for 24 freaking hours and for over a 100 miles. We have people who overcame all the odds and all the obstacles and found their freedom through running. People who run for the challenge and people who run for the fun and people who run for the peace. We are all kinds of runners, we are a bunch of crazy people and we love it.
Because you know what's worse than insanity? Mediocrity. Complacence. Life lived without challenge, adventure, quest.
The golden unicorn beckons. I close my eyes during a run and envision finishing the 2016 Wineglass Marathon with that number on the clock. The sweeping strains of "Sweet Caroline" coming across the sound system at the gym moves me to tears. I could no more abandon this dream than I could stop running altogether.
And I would rather have a dream deferred a hundred times than never have a dream at all.
I planned two big races this year, a 50k in July and the Wineglass half.
I ran the 50k to get tons of time on the trails during training and to see how good I am at enduring several hours of suffering. It didn’t disappoint, with almost 8 hours of mind-numbing sloshing through the mud. I discovered shortly after that the many long runs and weekend doubles I used to train for the 50k increased my speed. In the weeks that followed, my speed workouts were MUCH faster than ever before, making me reconsider my goals for Wineglass.
I ran this half to focus on a race for speed, the only time I’d do that this year. Maybe not the wisest thing to do, putting all the eggs in one basket and relying on everything to work out right for that one moment, but what the hell. I ran this half previously in 2015 with a PR of 1:43:33, so my initial goal was to PR, with a number of 1:40 secretly in the back of my mind. When a couple really fast tempo runs happened, the goal changed to 1:40 with a secret goal of 1:38. I’m too big of a weenie to announce any goal that is remotely stretchy. Everything was going really smoothly.
Until I stepped in a pothole. (had to try it out)
As is chronicled in a lost episode of the Loop, the wonky ankle and strained quad went from barely walking to no pain faster than expected, and I still had 5 weeks to prepare. Once again, all was well. I just had to hurry up and get back up to speed.
Race morning started at 2:30 getting dressed and anti-chafing items in place. I was on the road by 3:00 with cup of coffee and doughy bagel for the in-car breakfast. In the days leading up to a race my focus on everything is razor sharp. I'm not sure if it's game day nerves or what. This was intensified even more on the drive to Corning going through some dense fog. I’ve never been more awake at 3:00.
I was able to park, pick up my bib and get to the bus to the start before the masses. Yes- I realize 3,500 is a small race, but I prefer the 150 runner trail race where you have more than 2 ft² to do some final butt-kicks and high-knees at the start. I generally like people, but not that close.
Weather was perfect. 38F with a fog that stayed until my finish. Slight breeze at our backs.
I probably started too far back. I didn’t want to start with the 1:40 pacer, since my starts are always sucky, and the space between him and the 1:45 pace lady seemed way too close. So got in front of Mr 1:50. The first miles didn’t feel like any of my typical runs, where my feet, ankles and achilles are cranky for at least two miles. Everything was smooth. Still slow navigating the traffic, but smooth. Maybe that’s the difference between rolling out of bed to run and 5 hours of walking around and driving before a race.
First two miles: 8:19, 7:37
Then I created my pacing plan. Excellent time to do that, huh? I thought if I could catch the 1:40 group by the midway point, I’d hang with them for a while, then empty the tank after mile 8 or 9. I bumped my pace up to an comfortably uncomfortable level, and everything still was feeling good. I surprised myself when I saw I was running these catch up miles at a stupid fast pace for me. I was even with the 1:40 pacer before mile 6.
Mile three 7:11
My next decision was when to start being stupid again.
I have to mention how well organized and supported this race is. I got there super early which made it quick, but the race day bib pickup was right at the base of the parking garage filled with cheery volunteers, and the busses were lined up within blocks of that. There were plenty of water stops and tons of people supporting you going through the neighborhoods. One high school was especially raucous and gave a good energy boost around mile 7 or 8 where I had my gel and washed my face with their water. I was amazed that high school kids were even awake at 9:00.
I gave myself a couple miles to figure out when I was going to leave the 1:40 group. The 7:35 pace seemed too comfortable, but pushing too soon meant dying sooner, and I didn’t know when that would be. I had never seen these paces before. I pretended to do math, and came to the conclusion that a 4 mile gasser would get me close to my secret goal.
Mile six 7:30
The struggle started in mile 11. Just a 5k to go, and they’re supposed to be painful. It was time to summon the mental toughness acquired at the 8 hour mud slog in July. Through a few more neighborhood streets and a couple more high 5’s with kids before scaling a little bridge that felt like Everest before the finish.
1:37:41. A 5:52 PR. And 6th out of 100 for M45-49. I may be catching up with the fast geezers.
Times are trending down since my first 3 years ago:
Here are my mile splits compared to 2015. Eerily similar shapes to the lines.
Then I got to meet some really cool Loopsters, all with amazing stories to tell. Each finish more amazing than the last. My first taste of Loop magic was pretty sweet, being witness to that many epic finishes. This was the first time I’ve been able to talk to people after a race about the race and they understood what I was talking about.
Maybe all Loopsters are this awesome, but HPS, KRG, J-Zee, Slow_Running and Peg turned a good race into a great day.
Well, that was embarrassing.
I signed onto the new Loop on Saturday night, shortly after enjoying one adult beverage. It was fairly simple. Just fill in all the fields, upload a picture, press enter -- then OMG -- I SPELLED MY FREAKING SCREEN NAME WRONG. COMPLUSIVE? Really? You, the English major, the writer, the proofreader can't put the letters in the right order? What the hell is wrong with you?
Determined to fix things before anyone noticed, I started toggling and googling like a madwoman. But in the end it became clear that only the administrator could solve the problem. It took a couple of days before I could connect with Cliff, but he came through and now I can stop loathing myself. (The last time I was this embarrassed about a spelling error was in 7th grade when I was about to be crowned the school champion, but took my eye off the prize just long enough to get robbed by my 5th grade brother. On an incredibly simple word. I swear the judge said "eightieth" not "eighth." Still cringing from that one).
Anyway, a brief running recap.
Injured in March, had to abandon Boston training.
Resumed in May or so. Back to about 25 mpw. No speedwork, just easy miles.
Used my downtime to get a little more compulsive about strength training. Pretty consistent now, thanks to a small group in Loopville, some of whom just killed their fall marathons.
Really inspired by last weekend's marathoners and ultramarathoners. Googling spring marathons now, but not sure my body can handle it.
Seeing a new massage therapist who's working on my terrible posture (which is probably a key contributor to my injuries).
Had to wear full tights, mittens, earband and two layers on top this morning. Not ready for that.
Planning to "race" a double (5K +10K) with Chris (NC Athlete) in November. There will be pie afterwards.
Having a ton of fun encouraging a friend who's running her first-ever half marathon in November. She's 56 (just a kid ) - and never believed she could do something like this. It's such a kick to be there when she hits new milestones.
That's about it for now. One last thank you to Cliff (if he's reading this) for helping me put my world back in order.
Disclaimer: This post is a bit raw, but you get nothing but real shit from me.
I couldn’t sleep last night… I was tossing and turning and couldn’t get my mind to shut down. I had just read some really inspiring race reports, and posts of PRs, that happened over the weekend. Instead of drifting off into an inspired sleep… I was pissed off. I had a lot of things that I wanted to write down so, I got up out of bed, grabbed a notebook and pencil, and wrote this two page blog. Part of me didn’t know if i should post it all. Would I sound like a whiny bitch? Do I really need to say THAT? Will anyone even read this? So what. The point of a blog is to write down your thoughts, feelings, experiences, bowel movement frequency…basically whatever the hell you want. If no one reads it, fine! Just write it.
So it begins like this…
I’m pissed off…
I had really high expectations of myself going into this run. It was different to be nervous for a 10K, because it’s just a 10K. I was feeling good about sticking to my training plan (or at least getting in all of the runs), and I’d had some really great speed workouts that I was proud of. I’d looked at the race results from the previous year, and knew I would be able to competitively race this thing.
I started out conservatively because I knew how hard the hills would be for me, and I didn’t want to blow up. There was a stream crossing in the first half mile and I hear a lady in front of me say, “Oh wow. Really? Ok…” Do you NOT read course descriptions, lady? I blew passed her and even (unintentionally) splashed her a bit. I knew the hills were coming but didn’t think they were until later (I never found an elevation profile). Right after the stream crossing was Mt. Carbon. Shit. The Mt. Carbon climb was over a half a mile long and went up about about 200′ in elevation; that’s a decent amount for half a mile. I ran as much of it as I could, which wasn’t much, and hiked the rest. I was one of the first ones to start walking and most everyone behind me did as well. When I got to the top, I was spent. However, you run right back down the other side and can fly! BUT as soon as you get down, you basically start going up the second biggest climb of the race. My legs felt dead and my lungs felt like they were going to explode. I was already out of gas and I still had half the race to go. When I crossed the finish line, the clock read 55:xx. Yes! I had no idea what my time was, and was expecting it to be much slower. That was around the time I was hoping for!
I found William, grabbed a beer and pancakes, and sat on the ground to enjoy them. I spotted two guys, from the course preview run a couple weeks back, that I had hoped I’d talked into signing up for the race. They did! I went over and talked to them and then they came over to stand with us. They had mentioned that they checked out their finish times, so I immediately went over to look at mine.
55:43 Official time. 33rd overall…AWESOME! 11 out of 232 women….NICE! 5th in the F30-39 AG….. HUH?? How could I not have placed?! What the hell?
I brushed it off (or so I thought), went back over to the guys, and then we left shortly after. I got home and sulked a bit, especially after reading some amazing PR posts. I just sat there, not feeling proud of myself for what I had done. I was able to FaceTime with my BFF (Erin) which really made me feel better. I was over it. But I hadn’t dealt with it.
I got home yesterday and it was raining cats and dogs. AND it was cold. I was supposed to run five mile but was just not feeling it. I backed out and ran it this morning. Backing out of that run because it was raining just added fuel to the fire within my head.
While I was lying in bed, I finally replayed the events of the last 36 hours.
Let’s see… you’ve been training consistently now for what? Three months? THREE MONTHS. THREE damn MONTHS. You are pissed off because you didn’t place in your age group after training for THREE damn MONTHS? REALLY? You didn’t place because all of those other women were BETTER than you. They have most likely put in WAY more training than you and you probably didn’t even deserve to finish where you did. All of those inspiring PR posts that you read were made by people who have worked their asses off for MANY months, even years. Don’t you dare feel sorry for yourself. Get tha fuck outta here…
I am realizing that I am being too hard on myself and am being too competitive. I’ve always been competitive and always will be, but I’ve brought it to the Monica Gellar level. It’s OK to be competitive but I need to give myself some time. I also need to stop wishing that I was 2011 inspiring badass Chris. Maybe I’ll be that badass again someday; maybe not. Maybe I’ll be even more badass than 2011 Chris. I just need to allow myself to get there at a realistic pace.
My new motto: Just run. And chill the fuck out.
I have a lot to be proud of and thankful for. Days like yesterday really can bring things into perspective. You never know when it’s going to be your last day or the last day you will see a loved one. My thoughts are with everyone affected by the event that took place in Las Vegas yesterday.
Thanks for reading…
Checking in from Derby City.
Today was my first run in 4 weeks. I was training for the Kentucky History Half, but I got sick and couldn't run for four weeks without having some kind of relapse, be it epic coughing or a return of fever. So, I didn't.
I needed the run. I needed to pound the pavement. My father is very sick. Part of it can be cured. The other part...well, we're not sure what it is. He had an MRI yesterday and will speak with an oncologist next Wednesday. Hopefully, whatever it is is treatable. I'm not ready to lose him, and that is my greatest fear. So I've been in tears most of the last few days and doing the bare minimum at work.
But today's run was good. my pace was 12:40ish but it felt comfortable and that's where I am right now. My RBFF was with me and did a good job distracting me from my worries. It's also my birthday, so I'm glad I got to run today. I feel more like myself and less... like a drifter, just making my way through the day in a fog. I told her I wanted to run a marathon next year, but I want to take a long, slow training cycle so my body can be ready without dropping off the immune cliff four weeks before the race. I'm looking at Indy Monumental or Marshall.
I hope to be around more often as I get back into running. My oldest will be four on Saturday and my youngest will be one next Wednesday (yes, the day my dad talks to the oncologist and it also happens to be his birthday). Hopefully my youngest starts sleeping through the night in the next few months so I can put my running plans in motion.
Nice to see some posts here from runners who haven't posted in a while. Yeah, I'm guilty of that too. I think this is the same profile pic from the Loop (RIP) and the same name, so hopefully I'm recognized by someone. The Wineglass RR won't be up for a few days while I clear off my desk and get caught up. Long live the Loop!
Quick note to say I’m here, I’m running, and I’m hopefully settled into my new house the weekend of October 14th. I’ll try to get a full update posted before then but no promises. All my stuff is in boxes at my parents home and I’m living in their basement till I close on the new house on the 12th. They live well off the beaten path so staying connected is hit and miss.
Thanks to everyone for getting this new site rolling!
New house picture included in this post. 😎
I wrote a draft of this a couple weeks ago, but never got around to proof-reading or editing or posting it. Given what I titled this and why, when I heard the news about Tom Petty today, made me want to get back to it. Which may have been a mistake on taper brain. Sorry Tom, you deserve way better than being associated with this sloppy thing. Also,I realized I put a race report not in the race report folder. Oops.
A lot of people say they perform best under pressure, when the stakes are highest. Most of them are full of shit and are either stroking their own egos or justifying procrastinating until the last minute to do whatever the task at hand happens to be. Just because you get things done under pressure doesn’t mean they’re any damn good. I mean, if I pulled a knife on you and told you to draw a self portrait in 10 seconds you could probably get something on paper, but it would be terrible. Unless you’re one of those caricature artists on the street who failed out of Pratt or something and draws those things up as people walk past then harasses them all the way down the train platform trying to sell it to them for $10. But if you failed out of school you probably can’t claim to be good at performing under pressure anyway so the point is moot. Regardless, I fall squarely in the camp of procrastinators. I’m not lazy or anything, I just loathe most of what makes up my inbox on any given day and the things which I find least interesting or most unpleasant to deal with get handled at the last possible second so I don’t have time to dwell on the misery of the task in question. The ol’ rip off the band-aid technique.
Now despite my admitted proclivity towards procrastination, I do think I have an uncanny ability to rise to the occasion when the stakes are high and the odds are stacked against me. As Exhibit A I submit to you my racing history, which is full of surprise PRs. You remember the beer and kimchi fueled 5K I somehow crushed (was gonna link to the bloop, but…). And there was the 5+ minute PR in the pikermi I ran on residual marathon training fumes and muscle memory (again with the missing link to the dead bloop). And this same race last year (oh yeah, BTW, this is a race report), where I went from too exhausted to warm up to channeling Raging Bull on the way to another unexpected PR (yeah...no bloop). None of these races should have gone well given the lackluster training or exhaustion or hangover, yet all were PRs. So even though my legs were still recovering from a 16 miler 36 hours before and I was awash in accumulated Hansons fatigue, I quietly held onto some hope for this year’s Big Peach Sizzler 10k (which was on Labor day, but procrastination remember?).
The dead legs I had to drag to the train station for our ride up to the start line were a constant reminder that yes, I was in the middle of marathon training. Any commands to move my lower extremities felt like they were being transmitted south from the brain via tin cans and string. As we milled around the start line I eschewed all of my usual pre-race routines out of sheer exhaustion, not once thinking about paces or doing my neurotic shoe retying routine. When I had put my Chicago goal time into a race predictor it had spit out a 43:29 10K time, and even though this was supposed to be my fitness check race I hadn’t give pacing or goals much thought as we toed the line, waiting for the national anthem and countdown to the start. I was entertaining myself trying to turn “toed the line” into a Toad the Wet Sprocket joke when I saw the starter, without saying a word, raise his arm and fire the starting gun. Everyone looked at each other for a confused half a second, then took off like we were charging into a Best Buy on Black Friday. I guess we weren’t feeling very patriotic, which bummed me out because I’d worn my American flag socks. See?
I avoided the mistake I had made last year starting too far back in the pack and was able to quickly find some running room for myself. I finally started thinking about pacing and remembered how this race had gone last year. I was equally exhausted and hobbled by worn out legs then and I had also not done much of a warm-up, but after a slow first mile I had somehow managed to crank up (down? whatever, make faster) the pace and even kick at the end to a big PR. So I decided to see if lightning would strike twice and tried to keep up what felt like a decent effort for the first mile. And for a moment, I started to feel almost good. The legs were still a little creaky but I felt like I was moving at a good clip and wouldn’t have that far to push to get to what should be 10K pace. Then the Garmin announced a 7:31 first mile. Well, the plan WAS for a slow start, so I guess I nailed it.
Given the disconnect between what my pace felt like and reality, I started to do the usual status checks to see where the problem was and realized I wasn’t really working all that hard. My breathing wasn’t that labored, my heart rate wasn’t in the “racing” zone, and I wasn’t even hurting that much. My legs just didn’t want to respond. So I got mad and started swearing, because that’s what I do when I’m mad. Some of the runners around me didn’t seem to appreciate it. I didn’t appreciate their judgmental side-eye, so I figured we were even. To get myself going I started to pick out nearby runners and focus on reeling them in, one at a time. I concentrated on my stride, struggling to lift my legs out of the marathon shuffle and into some semblance of a running gait.
First victim up was a hipster looking guy who in no way appeared to be in good enough shape to be ahead of me. He had the full Brooklyn barista look going, with the sides of his head shaved but long enough hair on top for a man bun, the retro looking sunglasses, and even a handlebar mustache. He definitely wore suspenders and sleeve garters to his job as a mixologist at a speakeasy with an idiotic password like “funicular” and rode his fixed gear bike home to the loft apartment his parents pay for while he “finds his path in life”. I passed him just before we got to mile 2, which was 7:01.
I reassessed things, and still felt as if I’d go as far as I could drag my legs. (Brilliant assessment in a foot race, no? I was going to change this but it’s such a bad line I decided to leave it in as the highlight of this hack job of a race report.) So I kept pushing up the small hill in front of me and prepped for the mostly downhill mile 3. I had my aim set on an older guy whose graceful, effortless, metronomic stride was a far cry from my desperate uneven lashes at the pavement. As I passed him and looked for my next target, I saw the 45 minute pacer about 150 meters ahead. My first thought was I don’t recall ever seeing a pace group for a race this short. My second thought was DAMN IT I didn’t think I was going that slow. The sight of that 45:00 flag launched another wave of profanity, and further sharpened my focus. Properly motivated and riding the slight downhill I was hoping for a fast split in mile 3, so was disappointed to see a 7:06.
I again checked my heart rate and breathing, and again neither was where it should be for a race. What the hell was wrong with me? Why couldn’t I get my legs and lungs aligned? I passed the halfway water station, but the temperature was only in the low 60s and I didn’t think I deserved water anyway, so I skipped it. I remembered listening to a recent interview with Des Linden where she talked about her upcoming training goals. She mentioned that with so many years of nothing but marathon miles and paces, she wanted to get some speed back into her legs and do some shorter faster running. I wondered if I was suffering from the same phenomenon, and if I’d just forgotten how to run fast. I looked up again and saw the 45 minute pacer, still well out of reach. I was at the bottom of the last little hill on the course running behind another hipster, but one who actually looked like a runner. I knew I was running out of miles and was apparently way behind where I should be, so I got mad again. Really mad. I released a new stream of violent cursing and pushed myself to what felt like an all out sprint.
The mini-hipster tried to stay with me, and matched me stride for stride up the hill. I kept the hammer down as the course flattened out, and as the pace started to drop so did my mustachioed companion. Mile 4 passed in 6:58, and I momentarily cracked a smile. Then I became infuriated again when I realized it took me 4 miles to get to what should have been my goal pace, and I kept focusing on just driving myself forward, step after step. A new mantra suddenly popped into my head. They were playing Tom Petty’s Runnin’ Down a Dream at the start line, which on some background channel in my brain behind all this other nonsense somehow got me thinking of the album “Damn the Torpedoes”. That’s not even the right album for the song, and I don’t know how my brain had the ability to subconsciously make that connection and suggest a wholly appropriate mantra in the middle of a race, so I just went with it and every time my legs would protest the pace, my inner monologue would scream back DAMN THE TORPEDOES. I closed in on my next target, and was right on his heels as we entered the high rise canyon of the Buckhead business district. The road here turns slightly to the left, and I maneuvered to pass him on the inside and keep the tangents tight. I ran through another status check and was happy that my cardiovascular system had finally joined the effort, but kept wondering if my legs could hold the pace. And then, the bastard I was passing moved over and cut me off, almost tripping me and even giving me a track-worthy elbow. I suddenly forgot about my legs, and vowed to destroy this sonuvabitch and feast on his withered soul.
I moved right behind him, breathing down his neck and almost clipping his heels as we ran through the gentle turn. The road immediately curves back the other way, and I knew this guy would try to move over to follow the tangents. So as soon as we hit the inflection point in the twisting road, I moved to his shoulder and blocked him. He looked over at me with a clearly annoyed look on his face, to which I responded by throwing my own elbow, and pulled away from him. I didn’t realize that we’d passed the mile 5 marker in 6:54, and didn’t even have time to check my watch for pace because just as I passed the jackass, I got passed. I recognized the passer as one of the employees at our LRS who we’ve become friendly with over the years of biweekly visits. From The Wife’s stalking of race results I knew we were about the same speed, so I tried to hang on to him as long as I could.
As we continued to weave through the canyon of post-modern glass towers, my LRS friend was slightly pulling away, but I noticed we were both finally gaining on the 45 minute pacer. I tried to do one last status check, but gave up when I realized that I didn’t have the mental energy for it. I was drooling on myself, my form was a disaster, and despite the 60 degree temps I was flinging flop sweat like a dog shaking off after a bath. So I swore out loud one more time since that seemed to be working and kept on the gas. We turned off of Peachtree Road and I passed mile 6 in 6:36. Both my LRS friend and the 45 minute pacer finally looked as though they were running out of steam, and the thought of catching them on the last downhill stretch helped me maintain pace. When I caught LRS guy I glanced over and nodded, and he looked at me and said “you got this”. Now, and I don’t know how or why, but when he said that I suddenly thought to myself “yes, I do” and took off. I had no idea where this extra gear came from or how long it would last, but it felt like I had jet fuel pumping through my veins and I rode it down the hill and through the last turn. Don’t run like this at home kids:
I ran the last quarter at a 5:43 pace, passed the 45 minute pacer right before funneling into the finish chute, and crossed the line in 43:29. Which means the 45 minute pacer finished in something like 43:35. Perfect. This also means I really should get better at runner math if I couldn’t figure out they were that far ahead. I mean, it’s not like I took 6 semesters of calculus or anything. (It was only 5)
I caught my breath and realized I had hit my predicted time to the second, and had repeated last year’s race almost exactly. Just faster. I stumbled around on gummy legs waiting for The Wife to finish and thinking about how I had somehow again delivered when I had no business running fast. In my post-race daze, all I could come up with was that I must have some kind of superpowers to keep pulling this off. When I told The Wife what I ran she got mad and started yelling something about perfect training never working for her but I can show up hungover or sick or so tired she has to help me tie my shoes and I somehow PR anyway. I tried to tell her about the superpowers, but she only yelled louder. Which meant that all the people trying to hand us flyers and sell us crap as we walked through the train station were terrified of her and left us alone, which I think might be her superpower.
As a fitness check race, this was a resounding success. I finished right in the middle of the window which predicts a 3:20 marathon, and the remainder of training went extremely well, so I’d say everything is on track and we’re all systems go for Chicago this Sunday. I also thought about how awful I felt on race morning, and how awful I’ve felt for so many of my best races, and started planning for my pre- marathon routine. Deep dish with extra sausage for dinner the night before with a couple pitchers of beer oughta do the trick. Maybe hit the clubs a bit and roll straight from the velvet ropes to the starting line. That seems to be how I activate these superpowers, so I may as well go all in.
Or maybe, ya know, it’s just the training.
Hi new Loop! I had fallen out of the Loop for the last year or so. Its been a long year. Plus I haven't been running. But the energy of this new space is exciting and I'm hoping I'll keep coming back to read and post regularly(-ish).
This year has been...rough. The biggest thing was last November my dad was diagnosed with cancer. I spent about 5 months driving 40 minutes to the hospital almost every day to see him. I'll spare everyone the details but he quickly got worse and died in March. That was much faster than any of us expected and it was really hard to watch my dad go through everything before he passed. And just not something I was prepared to go through in my late 20s. Since then I've been learning about how grief affects me, so that's something. Grief is hard and confusing.
But for some good news, I got married in May!
That was fun, except when it started pouring right before what was supposed to be an outdoor ceremony. But it still turned out just fine. Also Charlie just forced himself in to the guys photos because he's just one of the guys obviously. It is my favorite.
We went on a low-key honeymoon and then I really started getting back into working. I was lucky enough to do minimal work when my dad was sick. I could not concentrate on grad school and my boss and advisor were very nice about it. This has definitely pushed back when I'll probably finish my PhD but that's ok. This summer I had a few good months of working on my getting my first first-author paper out (its still not out though). Lately work has not been going great but just gotta push through and hope things get a little better soon I guess.
My mental and physical health have also not been great. I'm working on it. Been going to talk therapy and been seeing doctors trying to figure out the physical part. Doctors appointments can be quite frustrating but I won't go into that.
So that's the main things. Oh plus my dog Charlie tore his second (out of two) ACL and had knee surgery almost a year to the day after the same surgery on the other knee last year. Really weird coincidence. So the recovery added some stress that is finally dissipating since he is getting closer to healed each day. And he is all out of knees to tear so fingers crossed he won't need another surgery for a long time.
And so my running partner has been sidelined since July. I've tried to start running again a few times but each time the runs were mostly horrible, being pretty out of shape and having extremely tight calf muscles. I stopped each time after a handful of runs when my foot would start feeling too tight, since PF is what stopped my running way back in the summer of 2015. I've been keeping up with my stretches and exercises and rolling my feet recently trying to keep that at bay!
Last week I went to the running store in town and got new shoes. I liked them better than the new version of the shoes I had been wearing. Since then I've done a whole 2 runs (well run/walks with lots of walking!) So I've got a good streak going . But the best part is that my legs have not felt nearly as tight with these new shoes! Could be extra stretching too but I also have worn the shoes for a few of my daily dog walks and my calves are much less tight walking the hills around my house! I am liking these shoes!
My plans are hopeful but flexible. In the last 2 years I've done I think three 5K's, not all-out by any means. My last big run was the slog that was the 50K at Bandera.
That feels like so long ago. I miss doing stuff like that. I would love to be able go slog in the Texas mud for hours right now.
My run on Saturday was in perfect fall weather, 50-some degrees, bright blue sky, and it went well. Afterward I was standing in my backyard and it seemed like so many beautiful fall days in years past when I would be running 20 miles to train for a marathon, or getting up before the sun to go run a trail race. I want to get back there. Or as close to that as I can get. I'm not exactly the same person I was when I joined the Loop. Running brings me joy but will probably not be as big a part of my identity as it used to be. I'll see where my body and my schedule takes me. Maybe I'll only have it in me to run short distances and I'm hoping that after so long away I'll be able to appreciate being able to do that much. But who knows maybe I could fit in running a half or farther. I'll just have to wait and see!
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.
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:
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.
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!
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.
The first two things I had for lunch. The last thing I had for a run/walk/hike/whatever the heck it is I'm doing these days.
Gratuitous nature shots!
I ran a bit less than I was hoping but didn't stress out about it. The weather was perfect and I saw only one other person so it was really relaxing. I lost myself a few times just chugging along and thinking... love it when that happens.
Something that didn't quite work: I may need to get some new shirts sometime soon because this whole situation seems inappropriate.
Something that totally worked: Chewie is a good boy and knows how to use the hydration pack.
Totals, charts, splits and elevation! I didn't hit pause for any Chewie potty breaks but I'm not trying to impress anyone with my blazing fast times, haha.
I had it in my mind to do this today and found myself waffling midafternoon whether to do it or not. Then I thought about what I could post and immediately went and got it done. So this new site has at least one confirmed positive effect!
Well this has been quite awhile.
Early next month I'll be running my 3rd marathon this year and my first in a new age group. The course record for my new age group was set last year with a 3:15. That's my goal is to break that and keep all of us old guys honest!!
It's good to see a bunch of the old group here.
Runners make the BEST friends!
Yesterday, my husband Bruce challenged me to a 1-mile race this coming weekend. Bruce has a completely crushed meniscus in one knee that prevents him from running, but he might be able to last for a mile. Me? I've been slacking big time. Since nasal surgery back at the end of March, I have had a chronic cough that makes it hard to breathe when I run, and if I try to run more than 3 miles, some nagging injury crops up. So I've been doing threesies for the past few months, maybe 2 or 3 times a week. I was starting to think I would never race again, and I'm okay with that. I'm 63 years old, after all.
You might think I would have an easy time racing a non-runner, but Bruce is no ordinary man (and I would say that even if he weren't my husband, I swear I would!). Bruce is 6'2" tall, and most of his height is in his legs, which are superhero long. And he works out on a NordicTrak every single morning for 50 minutes, so the muscles in his legs are like he's a professional tennis player or something.
I don't know if he has issued this challenge to renew my enthusiasm for running, or if he just thinks it might be fun. We play board games and cards, and he hates losing, so I think he plans to win. And he probably will, because I have never been a sprinter. And I have already won at things I did not even realize were a competition until it was too late to lose, so I think I really should just let him win. Not sure I can actually do that. I'm pretty competitive too.
But my easy threesie pace has been around 11:00 mm, which is pathetically slow. It might not be slow for a newbie, but it is embarrassingly slow for me. And yet, I'm okay with that, because . . . whatever, at least I'm running a little.
I think even if I lose, I win. Stay tuned . . .
I considered starting out with a big nostalgia piece about the death of the Loop on Runner's World Online. But I figure I've written enough nostalgia-themed blogs over the years that it would be sort of redundant. On top of that, last week sort of snuck up on us all (thanks so much, RW). When I got the note from Cliff about hosting us on a new site, I jumped aboard that train as fast as I could. The smart thing might have been to do a bunch of research and have discussions with various Loopsters and then come to a consensus on something. Don't think any additional explanation is necessary. Everyone knows my history when it comes to doing the smart thing. At any rate, here we are in the "new" Loop, with our very own domain name no less. At the very least we have a place for our blogs to go and we can keep our community alive. We also have control over our destiny. We can evolve and grow as we think best, and that's really what any human being (runner or not) wants, isn't it?
So, let's keep what we've always had - love, support, positivity - and add some creative energy around our new home, making it bigger and better than it was before. Pass the word to old and new runners friends about where we are and what we do. I'm looking forward to seeing some fun stuff. Not from me, of course because I'm boring, but most of you are, so get busy. Got to figure out how to do pics and video and other interesting stuff.
And one more shout out to Cliff for hosting. Whether this is your hobby or side business or your full time gig, your work is greatly appreciated. (everyone show Cliff some Loop Love) You should write something by way of introduction. I doubt any of us know much about you. I saw you're a cyclist more than a runner (which is OK, I guess).
Hey, so I guess at this point I'll get on with a report on my latest adventure. This was a short weekend at my DS2's in Louisville. He's had a rough several months and needed some serious support. We'd have had him come up to the house, but it seemed a better idea for me to go there. I took off work early on Friday, and Abby and I made the drive down I-75. Funny that whenever I drive now I think about Loopsters, mentally waving as I zip by anywhere near someone's home base. There's RunningLoopy around Dayton, RunnerGuyMark in Findlay, Lawrenceaa in Cincinnati/Florence (I think she moved to the other side of the river). I also like to try and hook up with Loopsters in my destination city, but there was no time for that this weekend. There was always the chance I'd randomly run into one. Scoff if you like, but it's happened before, in Louisville. I literally almost ran into n2runningbad (a.k.a. Dean) early one morning on 3rd Street.
Anyway, this was almost the best drive I've ever had on I-75. Through Ohio, it's always under construction. No idea why. This time I only lost a half hour going through Cincinnati. Until I got near Louisville, where there was a big accident a few miles to the east of town, exactly in my way. I hopped off the freeway and called DS2 and he guided me in on the back streets. That still took quite a bit of extra time, but at least it was a pretty drive through the suburbs. I don't get to L'ville often enough to avoid feeling mostly lost whenever I go there. And Siri has pretty much ruined the sense of direction I used to be so proud of having. In total the drive took me an hour longer than normal. Should have driven through Indiana.
By the time I got to the apartment it was almost 7pm, so we ate and watched a movie (Equilibrium - a 2002 dystopian treatment starring Christian Bale, sort of 1984/Fahrenheit 451 on a budget), then planned the rest of the weekend. That was going to consist mostly of putting his apartment in order. Did you know neatness is one of the first casualties of depression? True story. I can't even tell you. The work was cathartic as well as profitable. We got a crap-ton of things straightened up, cleaned up and tossed out. We also had plenty of time to talk through a lot of things. Things you can't really talk about over the phone effectively. I can't fix everything that's happening in his life, but I can be there and share a few things I've learned from stumbling my way through my own messed up version.
I got up early for my ten miler while DS2 slept in. The weather was heavenly. Clear, calm, 50-ish. The sun was just about to come up behind me. It's about a mile on a bike path across the street to some quiet neighborhoods and two good sized parks (Seneca and Cherokee). L'ville is kind of hilly. I worried about that. I haven't felt great since I started running again a few weeks ago. I worried about that, too, but I tried to make myself slow way down and just enjoy the run whatever the pace.
I think I figured out what's up with my slowness lately. Three things. First, I was overtrained for SFO and it's taking a long time to recover fully. My legs have just felt dead on so many runs. Secondly, I started this comeback (from the foot) with slightly longer runs than I normally do after a layoff. What I've done in the past is run two miles/day for a week, then three, then four, with a slightly longer Saturday (6 days running per week). This time I'm doing less days (4-5) but longer runs. And of course it was still too hot and humid for human survival. I was frustrated with my 9:30-10:00 miles on these runs, but I think I'm finally starting to chill on that. There's no reason to think I can run 8:00s right now.
So, with ten hilly miles ahead of me, I started out nice and easy. Holy moly, how nice it is to run when it's not 90 degrees! Kept the pace reigned in, slow and steady. There were walkers, runners and cyclists ALL OVER THE PLACE. There were also two 5Ks going on in different parts of Cherokee Park. Not everyone waved or nodded, but overall it was a friendly runner morning. I passed some people, got passed by others. My route was opposite both races I saw, so there was no confusion there. Remember when I was mistaken for the pikermi leader that one time?
There was a half mile past the park I had to run to get my mileage in. Beautiful old neighborhood with big homes next to the park. There was serious Code Abby event. My stomach had been rumbling off and on for a couple of miles, but Cherokee doesn't have much in the way of comfort stations. I knew there was a little play area - Willow Park - with facilities ahead and thought I could make it there (of course you never really know). Locked! Out of desperation I poked my head in the door of a building guard at a swanky high-rise condominium building. The guy inside took pity on me and buzzed me into the lobby, and not a moment too soon. I'll spare you the details, but just say that five miles from your starting point is no place for gastrointestinal issues.
Relieved, I set Hal up to take me back to my starting point. With all the winding back and forth along my route I was afraid of missing a turn on my way back and adding mileage that I wasn't ready for. Turned out there was only one spot where I was unsure which turn to take (or not take, actually, I think).
About half way back was when I realized that except for the pitstop at the condo building I hadn't had to stop or walk once, even climbing the hills in Cherokee. Ten miles. Yeah, I'm still a little slow - 9:38 pace with a few around 10:00 even - but it was a smooth, comfortable run that I actually enjoyed. It's been a while since I had one of those.
The rest of the weekend went pretty well. I think DS2 got as much as I was able to give him, and hopefully he'll continue to improve.
That's what I got for today. Except for geeking out on the Loopsters at Wineglass a little bit. But those are their stories to tell.
The 'Lounge' option disappeared - is this going to be considered the NRR spot?? Only one way to find out, eh?
So if the end of The Loop on RW felt like the last day of summer camp, it seems fitting that this fresh start in the 'new' Loop should feel like the first few days of a new school year. Everyone is all excited to see each other, catching up on what we all did over the summer break, checking out who is wearing the latest new fashions...
I was never one to be in just one clique in high school, or college for that matter - I kind of got along with pretty much everyone. Thank god social media wasn't a thing back then though. Kids could be mean enough in person, I don't envy the youth of today having to deal with cyber bullying and the such. So imagine my surprise when I realize my reaction to having been unfriended on FB - by a few people - all of which were/are Loopsters. At first I was all like . But then I was all pffffffffffft - whatevs. It's kind of embarrassing though - I'm approaching the big five-oh soon, and I feel like I've reverted back to being a teenager and my feelings are all hurt 'cuz I didn't get a Valentine from everyone in class.
Now, don't get me wrong - I know I've never met a majority of you, and those I have met in person were way back at the first Philly LoopFest and it was only for a few hours. So you really don't know me from Adam. But I guess when I dropped out of sight after my mom passed away and my feet issues stopped me from running, the fact that I wasn't contributing led to that click of the button. I know there were times when my only posts were on the negative side, but hey - it's what I was going through at the time. I'm not one of those people who only shares the 'unicorn pooping sunshine' stuff in life. That's not real life. Not mine anyways. (p.s. - who else now thinks we need a unicorn-pooping-sunshine emoji?!?)
I don't want others to feel like they can't be real with me. If you're having a shitty day, say it. It won't rain on my parade. Sometimes a good old fashioned rant is necessary. And it doesn't necessarily mean that I'm looking for any response. I don't need to be coddled. And sometimes, quiet is just as good. Maybe sitting by myself in the cafeteria and reading a book during lunch is just what I need at the particular time. It doesn't mean that you have to try to come over and cheer me up, but it also doesn't mean that I want to be avoided or not be friends any more.
Maybe I'm just being childish - WAH - someone unfriended me - boo hoo. And if so, then so be it. But who doesn't feel that way now and again? I'm just one of those people who says it out loud. By now that shouldn't surprise most of you. Old age = less filter and less given about it. (Holy moly - the emojis are big enough that I don't even need my glasses to see 'em!)
And now I have no idea where in the heck I was going with this whole thing. What can I say - I'm blonde and I'm not getting any younger.
I guess what I'm trying to say (besides thanks for hanging in there if you read this far) is that I'm not going anywhere. I may not comment, etc. on every little thing, and I can't guarantee I won't disappear from time to time. But I'm also not going to apologize for it and I'm certainly not going to let myself feel offended (anymore) if someone decides to 'pull the trigger' because of it.
With that being said - can I sit with you guys at lunch today?