Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Another Birth Story

Well, seeing as I haven't published a new post in an entire year, there is a LOT to catch up on! I'll keep the year long summary short, as this post is intended to cover the birth story of our newest family member.

After my October marathon in 2014, the plan was to start trying to have a baby in hopes of a fall 2015 delivery with plenty of time to bounce back and train for the 2016 Boston Marathon--I know, family planning around marathons, I'm insane. Thankfully after a few months of trying, I took a pregnancy test a few days prior to my missed period and on January 21st, we found out we were expecting baby #3! I was quick to call the doctor and schedule lab work as well as obtain a prescription for additional progesterone hormone--2010 was the year of miscarriages and the last thing I wanted was to repeat that heartache. So, just as I had with Caroline, I began taking Prometrium every day for the next 12 weeks to ensure this pregnancy had the right amount of hormones to survive. The worrying and praying for a healthy baby was constant, and I am so grateful that God used me to create such a strong, healthy baby.

We got to see our little sweetie via ultrasound at 10 and 20 weeks, and decided not to find out the gender this time, a surprise baby would be fun! The first 4 months of the pregnancy were filled with lots of nausea, way more vomiting than I'd experienced in all of my pregnancies combined, and slow easy miles of running to try to maintain my sanity. It was hard to see my pace slow so quickly, and to experience difficulty running so early in my pregnancy, I had hoped to run until I delivered. I ran a 5k (7weeks), the GO! St. Louis Half Marathon (15weeks), the Freedom 4 miler (27weeks), and a sprint triathlon (29weeks), and finally had to call it quits after my 30th week of pregnancy due to pubic bone pain. I decided to be smart and remain injury free, I mean, I have a marathon to run next year and all! So the last 9 weeks of the pregnancy were filled with walks, squats, stretching, and lots and lots of contractions.

The baby had been transverse (laying sideways) for most of the pregnancy, so at 32 weeks I started seeing a chiropractor that was skilled in the Webster technique of aligning the pelvis so that the baby could turn. At 34 weeks we had our last ultrasound and got to see a 3D picture of the baby's face. My husband was convinced it was a girl the entire pregnancy, I thought it was a boy. The baby was still transverse, not to mention huge. At 34 weeks the baby was measuring like a 36 week baby, weighing approximately 6lb3oz in the 93 percentile already! My first baby weighed 9lb12oz so I knew I could birth a big baby, but I was hoping that by running so much I would have a 'normal' sized baby this time, no such luck. By my 35th week the baby had turned and was head down. Braxton Hicks contractions came and went, and by 37 weeks I was contracting for hours at a time on a daily basis, constantly wondering if it was the real deal. At 38 weeks the doctor said my cervix was 3-4cm dilated and he suggested inducing me then, but I preferred to wait. By 39 weeks I knew I couldn't last much longer, I'd been having contractions for 3 days and was nervous that my water would break and I would have an impromptu home birth--refer to Caroline's birth for reasons why I assumed I would go fast.

...On to the good part, the birth story!...

On September 25th, 2015 I was 39 weeks pregnant and planned to be induced. I had been having mild contractions still through the night and morning, but nothing as regular and aggravating as in the days prior. We headed to the hospital and arrived at 0530 to begin the induction. It always takes time to admit a patient, start an IV, obtain lab work, etc. So it was no surprise that the induction medication wasn't started right away. By 0715 the day shift nurse had checked my cervix, determined that I was still only 3cm and had placed a dose of Cytotec next to my cervix to induce contractions and cervical ripening. I started having more noticeable contractions within 15-20 minutes of the medication being inserted, but nothing that was painful. 90 minutes of fetal monitoring went by and then I was allowed to get out of bed to walk. We walked and climbed the stairs, I did lunges and rocked on the birthing ball. I spent as much time out of bed as possible in order to hopefully progress this labor.

By 1100 it was time to check my cervix. Even though I was having contractions, my stubborn cervix hadn't made much change. So at 1115 I got a double dose of Cytotec and spent 90 more minutes in bed to monitor the baby and my contractions. The baby looked great, and my contractions were coming every 3 minutes or so, but still didn't hurt. At 1245 I got out of bed to get moving again. By 1500 I had done a ton of moving, but was still 3cm. My cervix must be made of steel! I was having enough contractions, so the doctor chose to wait and see if my body would keep it up on its own. The nurse listened to the baby a bit and then I got moving again. I walked inside and outside, up hills, and up stairs. I took the stairs 2 at a time, climbing them sideways, anything to hopefully get this baby positioned correctly and to move this labor along! After at least 30 minutes of walking, I got in the shower and started doing squats and swiveling my hips with each contraction. I had a lingering suspicion that this baby was OP or sunny side up based on where I was feeling baby move and needed baby to turn its head in order to have an easier delivery. After 30 minutes in the shower I moved to the bed and used a birthing ball to support my upper body while I rocked back and forth on my hands and knees in another attempt to move this baby. My husband used a scarf and did an exercise called rebozo sifting, where he supported my belly with the scarf and jiggled it back and forth, he called it shining a bowling ball. Whatever he called it was fine, it felt good to relieve some of the pressure and weight and it helped to do this through the contractions.

By 1645 or so, the nurse wanted to monitor the baby and my contractions, and the doctor had decided to plan to come break my water by 1730. The contractions were actually starting to hurt a bit, and after a short time in bed I got on the birthing ball to wait for the doctor. Shortly before 1730 the contractions made a change, they finally hurt! I could rate them on the pain scale and I was happy to finally feel like I was in labor. My husband and I sat together and talked while listening to some OAR and watching the monitor as the contractions ticked by. I was having to hang on to the bed while I rocked because some of the contractions were really started to pinch. By 1800 the nurse came in and said the doctor would be here soon and that they were filling the waterbirth tub with the assumption that I would progress quickly after my water broke. My sister had arrived shortly before 1800 and I was happy to see her, knowing that she was excited to be there for the birth of her third niece or nephew.

Around 1830 the doctor came to my room, checked my cervix and said I was 4cm (was hoping for more progress than that!), and then he broke my water. Within minutes the contractions were stronger and I did not want to be in that bed. I listened to my marathon playlist on my iPod and counted down the minutes until I could get in the tub. By 1835 the nurse came in my room to see me moaning through contractions and knew I needed to get out of bed and into the tub. She checked me once more and determined I was still a tight 4cm but my cervix had thinned out and the baby was very low in my pelvis.  I got out of bed, and started the trek down the short hallway to the room where the birthing tub is. I went to the bathroom one more time before getting in the tub and the pain was so intense I didn't think I'd be able to get up. After the contraction ended I hurried up and got in the tub, on my hands and knees to let my belly rest in the warm water. The staff was wonderful, they got me a fan, some cold washcloths for my face and neck, and they all stayed nearby to keep encouraging me through each contraction. Anette, the nurse who had been with me for most of the day, stayed near the tub as I moaned with each contraction. I felt like I must be progressing fast, as I was feeling pressure with contractions soon after getting in the tub.

By 1900 I was really hurting, moaning and crying out with each contraction as my husband sat in front of me, holding my hands and rubbing my shoulders as I survived each contraction. I remember looking to my left and dropping and F bomb, telling Anette how much it hurt. She knew what I was dealing with, she had 5 babies of her own without epidurals, and she kept telling me what a good job I was doing. The night nurse had arrived and suggested she check my cervix to give me an idea of where I was in labor, so shortly after 1900 she checked and said I was 7cm! As expected, once my water broke I got down to business.  My body doesn't 'move' through labor, it blows through it in less than an hour--intense doesn't come close to describing the way I felt at this point. I did a lunge in the tub with my right leg forward, as they said my cervix was thicker on the right side. One contraction later and I was already feeling a ton of pressure. The nurses stepped out to call the doctor and within another minute I was yelling at my husband to get them back in the room because I had to push. He yelled, "she needs to push!" and they all came barreling in the room and throwing gloves on to catch a baby. My daughter had come in two pushes, so they were prepared to catch a baby without the doctor. I began pushing with everything I had, yelled out in pain once and cried to my husband that it was so hard and that our daughter had been so much easier to deliver. He held onto my face and told me I was doing great as I pushed and moaned. The burning I felt was so intense, I reached down in hopes of feeling the baby's head crowning. It wasn't but I could feel the baby just inside as it was ready to make its way out. The doctor came in the room after a few pushes and I heard my husband say, "The doctor's in the house! First time they've ever made it!" (both of our other kids had been delivered sans doctor thanks to my pushing efforts) Everyone laughed, except me, and then another contraction came. I think I was fairly delirious thanks to the adrenaline and the pain, because it all became a blur after that. The doctor tried to help stretch my skin as I pushed, to which I apparently replied with another F bomb, yelling at him, "F*ck that hurts!" He quickly stopped and apologized, which wasn't necessary. I was just in so much pain, I didn't know how else to respond. With the next strong push the baby's head began to emerge and as the head was delivered, the staff turned me from my hands and knees onto my back so the doctor could finish helping the baby out. After the head was delivered I remember feeling such relief, and not wanting to push anymore. One of the staff members got close to my ear and told me I had to push with everything I had. The staff pulled both of my legs back, I tucked my head down and pushed as hard as I could as the doctor freed the babies shoulder from under my pubic bone and the baby delivered into the water at 1917. Doc then lifted the baby up and put it on my chest. I cried out in relief and the baby cried immediately. Covered in a wet towel I lifted the baby off my chest to finally find out the gender and yelled out, "It's a boy!", to which my husband smiled and grabbed his face in excitement. He was like a little kid on Christmas, so surprised to have another son. He quickly came around the side of the tub to get a better look and we decided that he looked like his big brother. After a 12 hour induction, with only 2 hours of what I would consider active labor, our big new boy was here. After we let the cord pulse, and decided it was time to deliver the placenta, they clamped the cord and took the baby off to the nursery to check some vitals and allow me to get cleaned up. As I was getting ready to head back to my room, my husband came in and told me the BIG news, the baby weighed 10lb0oz! No wonder that delivery was harder than his 8lb sister!

At the end of the day, exhausted and elated, I had delivered another sweet baby in the water without pain medication. I had relied on my ability to push through the pain in my previous marathons in order to survive one of the toughest 'marathons' I'd ever endured. Connor Mattis was finally here and our family of five couldn't be happier.

Monday, October 6, 2014

MO' Cowbell Marathon Race Recap

Beware, this is going to be long, I may skip around a lot and ramble on and on. I want to get these thoughts and memories down before I forget some of them. :)

The preparation for this marathon was like nothing I had ever done before.  After the Christie Clinic Marathon and the Med City Marathon I knew I had to do something different. My brother told me I needed to be running 60-70 miles a week and told me he thought my 3:54 and 3:51 were about the best I could expect out of the training I had done.  I was slightly offended because I thought I had worked my butt off and trained hard for those races.  After I thought about it I decided maybe he was right and I needed to try upping the miles and training harder if Boston was ever going to happen.  I knew I couldn't jump right into 60 mile weeks so after Med City I took a couple weeks to regroup and heal my legs and then I slowly started building the miles. June was a decent month back with 151 miles and a peak week of 44.3. I knew I had a lot of work ahead of me for the summer. During the beginning of July I decided to buy the Hanson's Marathon method to see what this plan was all about.  It called for heavy miles like my brother said I needed to run but also had key workouts with prescribed paces, which was something I felt like I needed. I needed a guide to tell me what paces to run in order to hit my goal, I thought physically and mentally this would help. So I erased my entire training plan and started over.  In July I ran 214 miles with peak weeks of 50, 53 and 56. By this time I was feeling the fatigue but knew I only had 6 more hard weeks and then I would start tapering.  So on to August I ran. August was full of tough long runs, strength and speed work and plenty of miles. I did a mile repeat workout and ran my last mile on the road in 6:20 which is a (post-baby) PR. 227.5 total miles for the month with peak weeks of 60 and 56. I got sick in August and ran a half marathon with a head cold.  My time was no where near what I had hoped for but I managed to hang on to some low 8 minute miles even when I felt like crap so I told myself I would remember how I felt when things got bad during my marathon. September was to be another high mileage month but I knew I didn't want to push it too hard and leave my best miles on the roads. 206 miles in September was all I could manage. I pulled back on the reigns during my taper and didn't run as much as my plan called for because my legs were feeling extra fatigued. I followed the advice of some seasoned and very speedy runners and decided that all the hard work had been done and running high miles at this point wouldn't help me. My last week of training included one race pace run and the rest were easy, relaxed runs.  I was nervous, excited and slightly terrified for October 5th to get here but was also relieved that the tough summer training was over and now it was my time to see if it had worked...

Race morning we (hubby and little sis were running their first half marathons) woke up early, and hit the road to our race. I was happy that this race was in town, we had a 45 minute drive but I got to sleep in my own bed the night before and I think that helped. I wasn't super nervous before the start, just excited for my race and for Jordan and April to race their first 13.1.  It was quite chilly at the start, mid 40's and I was thrilled. I had been praying for cold weather because I know how my body reacts to the heat and I know how bad that can be on me mentally.  So we met up with friends, went to the bathroom multiple times, then headed to our corrals for the start.  As the Star Spangled Banner played I closed my eyes and held my hand on my heart, feeling my heart beat fast. I slowed my breathing down and prayed to God that He would help me to remain calm and just have fun.  This was just like any other run. Enjoy it.  They sounded the air horn and we were off.  I kept telling myself to slow down, don't run comfortably, try to run slow.  I knew it wouldn't be slow enough but I didn't want to blast out of the starting line and burn up my glycogen too early.  My iPod was playing some awesome tunes and I was smiling for the first three miles as I found my place in the group of runners and maneuvered around the early part of the course.  I missed my first few mile splits but based on my overall time I knew I was running around 8:00/pace. I had considered running slower 8's at the start and then picking it up as I went but when I fell into the low 8 high 7 range I decided I'd just try to maintain.  Around mile 5 a gal in a grey sweatshirt was running next to me, as she had been off and on for the first 5 miles.  I looked and saw her bib was the same color as mine and decided to ask if she was running the full.  She said yes she was and we talked about our plans for the race.  We both were hoping for sub 3:35, more like 3:33, trying to maintain even splits.  We were happy to have someone to talk to and knew it would help the miles fly by.  We talked about past races and found out it was both of our 4th marathons, we both had a PR of 3:51 also.  We thought it was too good to be true to have found a running buddy mid race.  Then I said, "Hey, what's your name?" (good info to know) She responded, "Jessie" and I yelled, "My name's Jessy too!!!"  Haha.  The people around us were listening and had heard a lot of our conversation I guess because a few people turned around and smiled at us.  We decided it was fate and we were going to get through this together.  Around mile 8 I managed to rip my bib # half way off my hip as I maneuvered a grate in the road. I was able to twist my body around, remove a pin and repin at least the top back corner back onto my shorts, all while maintaining a 7:53 mile! Nothing was going to mess today up! We kept even splits up and down the hills around miles 9-11 and knew we were getting close to the Katy Trail. At mile 12 we split from the half marathoners and headed out on the gravel chipped Katy Trail that would take us out 6.5 miles and back to the finish line.  I was still feeling great at the 13.1 mark as we crossed in 1:47:54. I had told myself before the race that if I crossed in 1:48 or less I knew I could still BQ.  We ran and chatted some. Jessie mentioned that she didn't know if she could keep it going for the rest of the race and I kept telling her, "one mile at a time, we aren't giving up, stay positive, we can do this." We met some male runners that were shooting for 3:30 and 3:35 and talked to them about their paces and splits. I kept saying, "we've got plenty of time, we're going to do this." I was determined to keep pushing and not let up this time around.  I didn't run 200 mile months all summer to let the last 26 miles slip away from me!  The trail was beautiful as we ran through the woods along the Missouri river and the weather was absolutely perfect. It even rained on us a little and I was happy to have the heavy cloud cover.  Jessie and I kept chatting at intervals and I listened to my music between our talking. I don't remember a lot of my thoughts between miles 12-17 other than to keep pushing. My brother had told me to run smart the first 16 and race the hell out of the last 10, so in the back of my mind I wanted to try to do that. I remember seeing 2:15 on my watch and smiling, knowing that Jordan would be done with his race, I couldn't wait to see him at the finish line and hear how his race had gone.  At mile 17 I looked at my grace band and saw a name that meant so much to me and I took off. I didn't really mean to and I inadvertently left Jessie behind as I sped ahead, which I felt bad for but I knew this was my time to race and I just had to go.  I kept praying to God for myself and for the people listed on my grace band.  As I pushed through the leaf covered course, my watch was keeping decent track of the miles and was only about 0.1 miles off up to this point. I saw a few 7:50's and a few 7:30's at this point and felt like I was absolutely flying. At mile 18 I had 8.2 miles to go around 2:24ish on my watch. I was thinking about my pace and what I could do to still get the job done. I figured 8 minute miles, 64-66 minutes (with the 0.2) would get me in under 3:30. Not sure that I could do it I listened to my music, prayed and kept pushing.  I almost started to cry as I thought about the finish line but I yelled at myself and told myself to pull it together and keep pushing. Throughout the miles I ate my chomps and grabbed water at nearly every water station. As I neared the turn around I unzipped my back pocket to remove my ziplock pouch of chomps and the zipper wouldn't unzip. I yanked hard and got it to open but half of the plastic bag was stuck in the zipper. I yanked on the bag and managed to get the chomps out while the top of the ziplock stayed attached to my zipper. With a handful of chomps in one hand I reached back and pulled hard to free the plastic from the zipper. I kept moving and got a few chomps down before the next water station.  I had tried to memorize all of the water stations ahead of time so that I would get my fuel in with plenty of time to chase it with water.  I stuck my ripped up bag back in my pocket and grabbed some water. As I hit the turn around I felt relief as I knew I was headed to the finish now. I saw Jessie not far behind me and gave her a high five as I passed. I hoped she wasn't mad at me for leaving her but she was maintaining an awesome pace and I really wasn't very far ahead of her. No time for feeling sorry, I had to keep moving fast. I grabbed another water, sipped and pushed. My plan at this point was to hit the 20 mile mark and then start charging hard to the finish. My watch started acting up and was hitting the mile marks nearly 0.25 ahead by the time I hit 20 miles, but all of my miles were still coming in pretty fast and I was doing the math in my head as I passed the actual course mile markers. I was still right on pace as I hit the 20 mile mark right under 2:41. I had never run 20 miles this fast before and I was on such a huge high. I felt myself slow down a bit during mile 21 but knew I still had plenty of time to make it up. I passed another friend around this time who was heading out on the trail and I yelled her name in desperation as I passed. She clapped her hands at me and high fived me with a very serious look on her face, telling me to go get it. She helped me so much during that mile as I was praying for relief. There weren't a lot of people around and I had been counting the women in front of me prior to the turnaround, knowing I was sitting in the top 10 at this point. That brother of mine always lectures me about racing my watch and tells me I'd do better if I raced the people so from mile 20 on that's what I did. I just kept working on the next person in front of me. Mile 21 was in 8:13 and I felt happy with that. I had passed quite a few men still so I knew I hadn't slowed much. I hit 22 miles on my watch in 2:55 but the course mile marker in 2:56 and some change, which is what I had done an awesome 22 miler in during the spring. I knew at this point, with 4.2 miles to go that I was going to BQ. Now the question was by how much. I knew I wouldn't let it slip away. Only 4.2 miles stood between me and my 3:35! That thought gave me a bit of energy as I pushed on and glanced at my grace band for the next person to pray for. I kept praying hard for what each person needed and smiled as new and fun songs came on my iPod. "Don't stop believing" by Journey came on during mile 23 and it was perfect timing! My watch said that I hit the 23rd mile in 7:37 and I knew that was way off, I wasn't running nearly that fast but I couldn't focus on the watch at this point. I had to keep turning over my legs and pushing forward to that finish line.  Jessie passed me at mile 23 and I told her she was kicking ass. She told me she wasn't but I knew better. She was going to BQ too!  She and one other man were the only two people to pass me on the trail, which ended up being a huge highlight to my race experience.  I kept my eyes on her back and tried to stay close to her.  We were passing other men as we pushed on, no women were in sight at this point. Mile 24 came in around 3:13 overall time and I told myself I could run 2.2 miles in 20 minutes and still have a big cushion for my BQ attempt. I told myself a 10 minute mile would be okay, but then I thought about all my hard work, how bad these 24 miles hurt, how exhausted I was, and how much I'd regret if I didn't run the best race possible. So I didn't let myself slow down. I wanted to so bad, I felt like I might be running a 10 minute mile but surely I wasn't. My watch really geeked out at this point and said I ran a 7:09 for mile 25 which I knew was way off. At the 25 mile mark my watch said 25.47 so it had gotten messed up somewhere along the last couple of miles. Who knows what that mile split really was, maybe it was 9 minutes, it didn't matter. I only had 1.2 miles to go and I was done. I told myself I could run hard for 10 more minutes and then my day would be done, I could rest in 10 minutes. I started to catch up to Jessie and a few other people and I could see through the trees the finish line ahead. I knew that we left the Katy Trail and hit the finish line on the road but didn't know when that would be or how far on the road we would run. All I knew was I could see that finish line and I was running.  Someone that must have known Jessie was at the end of the trail yelling at her that she was almost there, and another women said, just around this corner now and you're done.  I took off at this point, made a quick right turn off the trail, and then a quick left and I could see the 26 mile marker.  I caught up to Jessie and yelled at her over my music to go, I yelled at her, "Come on, let's do this, you can do this!" and then I was passing her. My eyes focused on that finish line and I ran as hard as I could, I felt like I was going to puke and started to slow for a few steps but then I saw a friend who had done the half and she was cheering for me so I started pushing hard again. I looked at the clock and the finish line and the hugest smile spread across my face. I heard them say my name over the speaker as I crossed the finish line and I couldn't stop smiling! I stopped my watch and stepped forward to get my medal. I found my sister first, she grabbed me and hugged me tight and I let out a huge loud sigh of relief and almost started crying. Then Jordan grabbed me and hugged me tight and sounded like he might cry as he told me how proud he was of me.  It was then that I finally looked at my watch and saw my time 3:31:47 (official time was 3:31:45). An equally huge accomplishment was my decision to race the people instead of just worrying about my splits. Pushing to catch the person in front of me paid off, especially since my GPS got off and my miles were a little wonky. Pace would have done me no good if that was all I was worrying about. I placed 2nd in my age group (The winner was in my age group and they didn't pull the top three places out of the age group awards) and I got 7th overall which was so huge for me!  And I'd run a negative split! The first 13.1 in 1:47:54 and the second 13.1 miles in 1:43:51! None of the pain mattered, the cramps in my legs, the torn ziplock bag, the torn race bib, none of it compared to the relief and happiness I felt by finally hitting my goal. I cannot believe I did it. I'd hoped and prayed that I could pull it all together, terrified of failing again.  I was in such shock all morning and so happy that I had my family there to celebrate with me. Jordan and April had both done awesome as well, each hitting or beating their goal times, which made the day that much sweeter. I sat in line for a massage and talked to another man behind me who had also qualified for Boston by 1:40 and told me that I was going to love running the Boston Marathon. :)  He saw my grace band on my wrist and yelled, "Hey, that's my company!" He and his wife own and had made my bracelet the week before. He took a picture of me and my band and congratulated me again on my finish.  It was just so funny how so much came together on this day to make it a perfect race. My family and friends cheering me on at home was so awesome, the weather was perfect, I met and made an incredible running friend mid race and we both qualified, she ran a 3:32! It was a perfect day and a race I will never forget.  



Thursday, September 4, 2014

Magnificent Mile Women's Half Marathon

I am a slacker beyond all belief when it comes to blogging. I can write like crazy about running on my Mom on the Run Facebook Page but can't manage to hash out any blog posts about my training.  So incase you're interested in my months of marathon training and all that goes along with it, stop by my Facebook page or follow @momonthe_run on Instagram. To see my daily and weekly mileage you can stop by my RunKeeper tab. {Lots of ways to keep up with my running insanity}

This past weekend me and the family headed up to Chicago for the Magnificent Mile Women's Half Marathon. I saw the race info on Instagram back in July, thanks to a fellow Oiselle flock member and couldn't wait to tell the hubby about it. I joked to him that it could be my anniversary gift, 10 years baby!, and that Lauren Fleshman would be there and I'd love to meet her.  He instantly said yes and to my surprise I was signing up for the race that very evening.

So fast forward to August 30th, we arrived in Chicago and settled into our hotel. After a quick bite to eat we walked to the packet pick-up where I nervously awaited meeting Lauren Fleshman. She was super nice and talkative but I was too nervous to think of anything important to ask.  She asked me what my race goals were and my long term running goals so I told her about my hopes to break my 1:39:45 (training run) PR for the half marathon and that my ultimate goal was to BQ in October.  She told me she believed in me and then signed my race bib: "Jessy, Go Fast, Take Chances! -Lauren Fleshman".  A quick picture and then I was off to meet up with my family outside.  I was so excited that I had to take a picture of my race bib immediately.

Onto the race report. Sunday morning I woke up around 5am, ate my granola bar and fruit snacks and got ready for the race. I had a fever a few days prior and still had the lingering symptoms of a cold, including immense head pressure and the feeling of fluid build up behind my eardrums.  This should have been clue #1 that I needed to rethink my race plan. But I went along, thinking I would be fine, still planning to put the hammer down and try to crank out a shiny new PR.  I woke Jordan up around 6 and he headed to the starting line with me. 
I met up with @blonde_bun_runner, my fellow flockmate and the one who I found out the race info from, and @mahaney2 a soon to be flockmate and awesome running inspiration of mine who planned to pace me to that shiny new PR.  Sarah (@mahaney2) is racing a marathon in less than two weeks so she had no intentions of racing and said she would hang back with me and help to keep me going. Thank goodness for that, I may have quit without her!
At the starting line we were greeted by Lauren Fleshman again as well as Coach Jenny and they gave us some words of wisdom to train and race by. We listened as the National Anthem was sung and then Corral A and the elite women were off.  My plan was to try to PR and my crazy brother told me to break 1:35...not a super realistic goal but I've been known to surprise myself so I wasn't ruling it out. 
It was warm at the start, in the 70's with 100% humidity so I should have gauged my pace based on that, not on my projected finish time.  But, foolishly I did not. You live and learn. We started out at a moderate pace and I felt great running up the Magnificent Mile. Sarah and I passed the 1 mile mark around 7:30 and I thought, "Good, keep it there for now." But I'm terrible at gauging pace and usually when I think it's getting hard because I'm tired it's really because I've drastically sped up.  Mile 2 was in 6:54 and Sarah asked how I felt.  "Terrible, we've gotta slow it down."  And we did. Barely.  Mile 3 was in 7:10. I told myself I wasn't going to look at my Garmin splits and I was going to race based on how I felt, so I tried not to let myself get scared when we crossed the 3 mile mark close to 22 minutes {5K PR is 21:30's!}.  We crossed the 4 mile mark under 30 minutes and I was starting to really feel fatigued but maintained my calm for the time being.  I was trying to convince myself I could keep pushing, but with 9 miles to go and my head starting to hurt I felt like I was running out of gas already.  We ran the next few miles around 7:45 pace and by mile 7 I was feeling totally dead.  I started feeling chilly, like I was overheating, when the wind would blow and knew I had to be careful.  I wanted to finish but I didn't want to risk my future training because this half marathon was not my goal race. I still had to make it through September before my marathon!  I told Sarah I thought 8 minute miles were about all I could manage and she kept encouraging me and telling me I was doing a good job.  She ran ahead of me but would slow and wait or turn around and run back to catch me, always reminding me that I was sick and I was strong for pushing through. I felt like I was failing her and myself and started feeling really sorry for myself around the 8 mile mark.  Jenn (@blonde_bun_runner) passed me somewhere after the 8 mile mark looking really strong.  I tried to hang on to her as she passed by but it was short lived and I had to let her go or risk not finishing.  Between mile 8 and 9 we turned around and I was so relieved knowing that I was heading towards the finish line finally.  Fleshman was pacing the 1:45 group (8 minute/mile pace) and she was still behind me.  I was hoping to stay in front of her group and stay under 8 minute pace.  After the turn around I saw her running towards me, not having reach the turn around herself yet, so I stuck out my hand and she smiled really big and stuck her hand out, slapping mine as she passed.  THAT was AWESOME!  I sped up with some renewed energy and ran mile 9 under 8 minutes.  I was still running low 8 minute miles after that, but by mile 11 I was feeling dizzy, had the chills and was running with my eyes closed part of the time.  The sun was beating down on us as we ran along the Lake Front path; it would have been a beautiful run if I hadn't been feeling so miserable.  Sarah reminded me that I only had two miles left and so I tried to push forward and get my legs moving.  Mile 12 was my slowest mile in 8:21 but as soon as we passed the 12th mile mark I knew I had 1.1 miles to go and I pushed as much as I could.  As we rounded the last turn Sarah yelled at me to RUN and pointed to the finisher's clock telling me to get in under 1:44.  I ran in agony and sprinted to the finish line, coming in at 1:43:48.  I wasn't thrilled with my time or my performance.  Sarah reminded me again over and over that I had pushed through and hung on even while feeling so shitty.  I ran my last half marathon race in September 2013, finishing in 1:48:10 so I beat my time by almost 5 minutes, something to still be proud of. 
Things I learned from this race: 1. DO NOT START OUT SO FAST!  2. Listen to my body and respect the weather/other factors that I cannot control. 3. I am tough and I can hang on to those low 8 minute miles even when I feel terrible.  I will have to remind myself of this pain and how I pushed through and hung on if I start feeling bad during my marathon next month. 
Ahh!  I have a marathon to run in a month!  :) 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Med City Marathon

Last fall I decided to train for a marathon, within days after the race I was already picking out my next race.  I failed to mention to everyone that my crazy ass decided to run another marathon 29 days after my previous race. I just hated the thought of starting over, and wanted to "use" some of my training for my first 2014 marathon to pull me along through marathon #2 of the year.

So on April 29th I started talking to lots of runners via Facebook, asking their opinions, if it was possible, if I would fall flat on my face and regret making such an insane decision.  I decided I would go for it, but planned to see how my legs felt for a couple weeks before actually coughing up the $80 registration fee. I talked with the race director and he said that even if the race cap was reached before I registered I could call him back and he would let me in.  Awesome!  So I ran the alumni mile 10 days post marathon, 6:25-6:26ish, legs felt okay. I ran a 20 miler 2 weeks post marathon, holy leg cramps--to be expected still.  Then after my last "long run", a 13 miler, one week before the race, I finally registered for my 3rd marathon, only 3 weeks after completing my 2nd. 

I had prepared myself mentally much better this time around.  I didn't have an INSANE goal of 3:33. I didn't have all the pressure of performing up to a certain standard. I hadn't told very many people about the race, so I didn't feel like I would be failing anyone.  (I know, I'm irrational, you all think I'm crazy for running marathons, regardless of my time, hehe)  I told myself it was just another run, don't fret about every bite of food I take, how many miles I do or don't do, how much sleep I get, JUST RUN! 

Friday I had to work, so we woke up bright and early Saturday morning and hit the road for our 8 hour road trip to Rochester, MN.  I was pretty excited because the race was right near the Mayo Clinic, and me being a nurse, hello--that's awesome!  The hubby and kids came along this time, as did my awesome running buddy, race super fan--my sister, April.  We got to Rochester around 2:30, got my race packet and headed to the hotel to rest.  After a yummy carb loading session at Olive Garden we headed back to the hotel to rest up.  My sister-in law and her soon to be husband drove down from Minneapolis to watch the race and visit with us, so we stayed up a bit late hanging out with them at the hotel pool. I didn't swim, just sat on the side of the pool and chatted.  We finally climbed into bed at 11pm which didn't bother me at all because I figured I wouldn't get a ton of sleep anyway.  I passed out and slept like a rock for about 3 hours, then tossed and turned for the next 3 hours waiting for my alarm to go off at 5am. 

Off to the drop off area we went.  I had to catch a bus from Rochester to a town called Byron that was about 6-8 miles outside of town. April took me to the drop off area and my nerves were okay. We snapped some prerace photos this time.

For my Josee girl in Australia. Spreading DS love all over Minnesota.

A Memorial Day Marathon in memory of my incredible friend Andy Habsieger who was KIA in Iraq in 2008.
This little girl inspires me every day!

Minimalist today, no arm warmers, no calf sleeves or compression socks. Prepared to beat the heat!
So off to the starting line I went, chatting with other runners and waiting for marathon #3 to get on it's way.  The National Anthem played, I closed my eyes and managed to not cry as I waiting for the gun to go off.  Then we were off! I started with the 3:45 pacer, not because I planned on caring about my pace (I didn't use my GPS, just my stopwatch, as to avoid any satellite glitches like last time), but because I just wanted to make sure I didn't bolt out of the gates too fast.  The first five miles were super hilly, up a huge hill, down the backside of it, back up, back down. For five miles it was up and down a hilly country highway.  We ran past farms, the smell of cow manure filling my nostrils, and I was happy.  I felt awesome.  I know my first mile split was 8:15, the rest are all just guestimates because my watch wasn't spitting them out at me this time.  Up the last big hill at mile 5 I told myself how much fun I was having. I wasn't sweating yet, I wasn't breathing hard, I was just out for an awesome run with a lot of other awesome people!  Then we descended the massive hill, I tried to let my body glide down the hill without increasing my effort.  The plan was to ease into the first 13 miles, hang on for 3 more, then try to pick it up for the last 10 miles.  It was already high 50's at the start with the high temp reaching 80, so I knew I'd have the heat to contend with later in the race. 
As we got closer to Rochester I got more excited about seeing my family.  We ran past a lot of pretty lakes and creeks, through parks, on nice paved trails, over bridges, under overpasses. It was a beautiful course.  From about mile 7-12 I don't remember much because I was just running. I wasn't thinking, I wasn't getting worked up about any of it.  I sipped my first Gu from mile 6 to 7 and drank water at all of the water stations.  I crossed the 10k around 51ish minutes.  I didn't care. I knew I had 20 more miles to enjoy.  As I got closer to the 12 mile mark I started to get a little anxious about seeing my family.  Then there they were, yelling for me, waving flags, clapping and cheering my name. Woo! I threw my arm up in the air and ran past, almost half way done!

At the half way point I was around 1:51ish. I hoped to run even splits or even negative splits. It was getting hotter.  By now I had started taking two cups of water at each water station and had taken my second Gu.  This is where the race got interesting.  I knew I'd see my cheering squad again around mile 15 so I kept looking forward to that as we ran through the sunny streets of Rochester.  At mile 15 Jordan stuck his hand out to give me a high five. I still felt strong and wasn't dreading the next 11 miles at all.

I told myself to stay calm and collected for the next mile, then I was planning to get after it after mile 16. I wasn't going to race my watch, I was planning on chasing the people in front of me and racing hard for the last 10 miles.  I hit mile 16 in the sun and couldn't move much faster.  The end of mile 16 through the beginning of mile 18 were pretty shaded and the shade brought sweet relief from the bright sun.  It was in the low 70's by now and there wasn't a cloud in the sky. In the shade I worked on picking people off.  I knew the half marathoners were gone so I was chasing marathoners, 20 milers, or the ever peppy and energetic relay runners.  As I would pass someone I would get a surge of energy and kept telling myself I was rocking this race, even if I wasn't moving much faster than last time.  It was such a mental game. I was out there all alone, running 26.2 miles, trying to redeem myself from the misery I had experienced a month ago.  As I left the shaded creek path and headed up a hill I saw the 18 mile mark. It was so hot, the sun was a killer, I told myself to just keep moving. No walking, no giving up allowed. I trotted on, the 3:45 pacer was still behind me at this point, but not far behind. I was trying not to get hung up on time but I also knew I wanted a 3:40's finish if I could help it.  I tried to push but the miles were getting hard. If I was going to mention "the wall" it would be between miles 18 & 19. Thankfully I saw the fam again after mile 18, shortly before I had to dodge the traffic of church goers letting out, and April ran a little way with me, telling me I was doing good and to keep pushing on.

That SUV had me pissed off, I didn't care if they hit me or not at that point.

April had just finished running with me and snapped a few pictures as I gladly approached mile 19.
So here I am, 8 hours north of home, fighting the same battle again a month later.  Dealing with the heat, wishing I didn't like marathons so much.   I thought, "If I can just make it to mile 20, the last 6.2 will be in the bag."  Mile 19 may have been my slowest.  I think it took me 10ish minutes but my mind was foggy from the heat so it was hard to keep track of the stopwatch time.  I was sad that I wouldn't see anyone again til the finish. It was hard to keep pushing on knowing I was alone for the rest of the race, but I reminded myself how bad I felt after I gave up last time, and I refused to let that happen again.  I kept focusing on other people and trying to catch them. By this point the 3:45 guy had passed me, I was unaware, but he was a couple minutes slow for pace (Jordan asked him) and so it wouldn't have mattered anyway.  I just kept pushing.  Kept drinking water, and "picking them up and putting em down" as Jordan had yelled for me to do at mile 18.  :)  Quite the motivator.  I tried to sip my last Gu around mile 20 but it made me feel like puking so I only got half of it down and then pitched the rest. {Thank you volunteers for cleaning up my mess} Miles 21-25 were a blur of heat, foggy thoughts and desperation for the finish line. We were doing a lot of running over bridges and under overpasses, so the small constant hills (small inclines, barely a hill but they seemed huge at this point) were aggravating and my hamstrings were hating me at this point.  At one of the water stops during this point I reached for a cup and the kid/volunteer wasn't ready for me. He didn't have a single cup in his hand and I wanted two.  I snapped, "I need two" and he quickly grabbed one as another grabbed a second for me.  I hated to sound mean, but gosh dang it, I'm running a marathon, GIVE ME WATER! I had to pause for a split second as I waited, and could have slowed to a walk but kept trotting along through the water station, pouring it over my head and sipping it as I went along.  Jordan told me after the race that he saw this happen from afar and was laughing because he could tell I was annoyed and crabby about it even from far away.  They saw me but I never saw or heard their cheers at this point. 
As I passed the 24 mile mark a woman sitting in a reclining lawn chair yelled at me to "pick it up, you're almost done. 2 miles left. pick it up." She was trying to be encouraging. I wanted to kick her.  I ran by and grumpily told myself to pick it up.  After the 25 mile mark I was almost in tears in search of the finish line. I saw a woman who had been running with 3:45 guy at the beginning. She was wearing a yellow "Marathon Maniacs" top and a running skirt. I had stayed ahead of her almost the entire race and she passed me somewhere between 18-21 miles. I decided I wasn't going to let her beat me. I'd been staring at her yellow top for the last 4 miles, trying to reach her, and now was my time. I pushed hard, caught her and kept going, I didn't want her to hang on to me. I pushed down a hill, up the next hill and around a corner before I looked back and saw she had let me go.  I slowed a bit but then I saw Jordan around the bend, waiting and yelling for me.  He started running with me and telling me I was almost done.  I responded, "I'd better be!"  I'm a crabby marathoner apparently. Haha.  I begged him not to leave me, so he ran about a half mile with me and then let me run the last stretch alone to the finish. I rounded a corner and heard lots of people yelling my name. The rest of my family was on the corner, and must have told the other spectators my name because they were all yelling for me. "Come on Jessy, Come on you're almost done!"  I was never so happy to make the last left turn to the finish line.  I hadn't run a 3:33. I hadn't qualified for Boston, again. I hadn't run a 3:35 or a 3:45, I was worried I wouldn't even PR, but I had ran the entire marathon. All 26.2 miles. I didn't give up on myself. I didn't let my head give up. I ran with my heart.  As I crossed the mats and the announcer started saying my name I could do nothing but laugh as he tried to pronounce my hometown, Herculaneum. "And here comes Jessy Beard from Hercu-whoa! Hercu, Hercu-lay, Hercu-lAy-knEE-Yum, Missouri." It was hilarious. I crossed the finish line, stopped my watch and grabbed my knees. I wasn't out of breath but I was SO tired! My legs cramped immediately as I stumbled through the finisher's shoot to get my medal and my finisher's shirt. I looked at my watch: 3:51:46. PR!  (Official time was 3:51:44) A wonderful woman opened a bottle of water for me, I chugged it down as I searched for my family. April had been at the finish line to take pictures and I saw her first. The rest of the family caught up quickly as I was moving slow by now.  We found a grassy area and I fell to the ground, legs turning into tight balls of exhausted muscle. I couldn't move any farther. But I had done it, I was done. I had finished two marathons, 4 weeks apart, PR'd and learned more about myself during those 26.2 miles than I had in all the months of training leading up to the race. 
I thought about never doing another marathon again, but that thought left me quickly. I'll be back for more, when the weather is COOLER! :)
And I leave you with the remainder of my race pictures, thanks to my super fan, April.  If you read that entire thing, you rock. Thanks for taking the journey with me, painful as it may have been. :)


Thursday, May 1, 2014

Christie Clinic Marathon

I don't know how to start this post or what to really say about my race without sounding ungrateful or like a sore loser.  I've had so many words of encouragement before and after the race, reminders of what an inspiration I have become for some people, and I am blessed to have this gift. So I will attempt to avoid sounding awful during this post.

In the days leading up to the race I paid extra attention to every bit of food or drink I put in my mouth, every ache or pain or twinge I felt in my body, I was drinking fluids like a mad woman, and critiquing every step of every mile leading up to race day.  I studied the course, I made plans for my race, I wanted everything to be perfect.  Guess what, life isn't perfect.  A race is rarely perfect.  26.2 miles, there is no way that can always go perfectly.  What I should have been doing was training my head to adapt and overcome when things DIDN'T go perfectly instead of expecting everything to fall into place.  My last long run was a huge reminder that I am capable, but I forgot how to adapt to things I cannot control during my race like I had done during that long run.

We headed out to Champaign, Illinois after an easy 3 mile run with two of my favorite people and my race companions, Erin and April.  The ride up was fun and we talked the whole way about life, running, racing and plenty in between. After we got to the expo and picked up our packets, had some supper, and settled into our hotel, the nerves really set in.  I laid out all of my clothes and gear for the next day and April helped me write my prayer list on my arms for the next day.  I had 26 names for 26 miles of prayers, with plans to run this race for someone other than myself. 

I did not get a wink of sleep that night, with my alarm set for 4:45am so I could eat my breakfast ahead of time and be ready to leave the hotel at 5:30am for the 7am start. I last looked at the clock at 1am, it was a useless night of sleep. I tried not to let my lack of sleep bother  me, I'd rested well all week and I really felt fine when I woke up the next morning. We headed off to the starting line after multiple potty breaks, and Erin and I talked about the race and our plans and goals. We went to the bathroom 4 more times once we got to the starting line area, what can I say, I have race day IBS.  And then we headed to our corrals.  I gave Erin a hug and told her good luck! and gave April a hug and told her I'd see her in a few hours.
Trish and Izzie (fellow running buddies) and I found our spots in Corral B near the 3:35 pace group.  Our goal was to start with the 3:35's and try to catch the 3:30's pace group, since our goal was 3:33. We listened to the National Anthem and I almost cried.  There were no more nerves, only feelings of happiness and readiness, I couldn't wait to start.  The race started, we crossed the starting mats and started our watches and we were off.  I tried to focus on effort and not pace, but ultimately failed at that.  I run best when I ease into a pace instead of pushing a pace from the beginning, and that just isn't how I started the race.  We weaved in and out of people because the start was crowded with all of the 8 minute mile pacers for the full and half marathon.  We were always in front of the 3:35 group and caught the 3:30 group by mile 5.  The first 10K flew by and I mentioned that we were half way done with the half way point. We crossed in an overall average pace of 7:56/mile.  Too fast to maintain for 20 more miles.  I was trying not to let myself get discouraged and tried to ease into a little slower pace, but the heat was picking up and I was already feeling tired.  I gulped as much water as I could at the water stations, which made my stomach hurt instantly.  I tried to sip but it was so warm and I had cotton mouth pretty quick so all I wanted was water.  Around the 8 mile mark we headed into a park with a small path to run on.  Trish and I looked for Izzie between 8 & 9 miles and couldn't see her anymore.  We kept pushing forward and hoped that we'd see her again but knew that we  had to keep moving to stay on pace ahead of pace.  Around the 9-10 mile mark I felt myself slowing and I just couldn't keep that 8 minute pace anymore.  The 3:35 group was right behind us Trish reminded me, and we needed to push ahead.  I couldn't do it, so I told her to go on and I would try to hang with them.  I stayed with the 3:35 group until close to 11 miles and then fell off of their pace as well.  More than anything I should have ran a couple slower miles, drank and ate my Gu's and recomposed myself, I still had plenty of time to regroup and run the rest of the race well.  Instead I just got pissed. But not a good pissed that fuels the fire, a pissed that ruins the day.  I started throwing myself a pitty party, complaining in my head about the heat, and how the starting pace was way too fast, and how the whole race was ruined. 
I saw April at the half-way point, with my "Jessy runs for Josee Hope" sign and the sign she made us that said "Boston Bound" and I just wanted to cry and quit the whole damn thing.  I smiled at her but rolled my eyes and told her so much for Boston.  I was totally defeated and gave up before I was even halfway there.  What a fool I was for giving up so early.  The next 7 miles are a blur of negativity.  Around the 15 mile mark I was running with another guy and we talked about our goals for the day, I told him I had set out to run a 3:33 but that wasn't happening anymore. He encouraged me and told me we had just run an 8:30 mile and that is still a 3:45 marathon so to not give up.  That made me feel better and worse all at once because 3:45 was still so far off of my goal.  I should have listened to him.  Instead I listened to the a-hole behind us who quickly remarked, "3:33?! Well you can kiss that goodbye!"  Thanks dude, I was unaware that I was running a shitty race, your reminder woke me up from my daydreaming.
Around the 18 mile mark I remember feeling really sorry for myself.  I had 8 miles to go, and it had been 8 miles since I dropped off pace and the suffering had begun. I didn't want to go any farther.  I kept looking at my arms, all of these people I had promised prayers to, and they are what kept me going.  I prayed for each one of them during their assigned miles, but also spent way too much time feeling sorry for myself when I should have just focused on those prayers and moving forward. 
The heat was terrible. Starting around mile 14 I had begun drinking a whole cup of water and dumping two over my head at each water station.  By mile 20 I was soaked, running through every mist station and enjoying all of the awesome people who were spraying their garden hoses in the street.  It could have rained like crazy and I would have been happier than the heat I was enduring. It was in the high 60's by mid-race which doesn't sound hot, but there wasn't a cloud in the sky so we were running in full sun after training the entire winter in freezing temps, my body just wasn't ready. 
My Garmin was acting like a fool and said I had run 23 miles at the 22 mile mark.  I wanted to rip it off my arm and stomp on it at that point. If my thoughts had been audible there would have been a lot of F-bombs flying I'm sure.  We had 4 miles to go and they seemed to drag on forever, partially because I was running/walking so much slower than I had trained.  With a 5K to go I tried to give everything I had left.  I pushed forward for all of those people on my arms and for the hope that a finish line would eventually come into sight.  Mile 24 included the one real hill we had to climb and I tried to use the downhill to my advantage while it lasted.  The spectators and signs were awesome and they are the one thing that brought joy to my race.  People kept screaming my name (it was on my bib) and I smacked as many hands as I could find.  I gave a thumbs up to the camera guy somewhere between mile 25 & 26.  The end was near.  My Garmin froze at 24.96 miles and never moved forward after that, remind me to never rely on technology again. As I crossed the 25 mile mark, knowing my last 1.2 miles was all for Josee, my feet began to fly.  I probably wasn't running very fast but I felt like I was and I was passing people like crazy.  Someone yelled "Good push purple (color of my tank), keep it up!"  I finally felt encouraged and was going to give it my all for the rest of the race, short as it may have been.  The last 0.2 miles seemed WAY farther than a lap around the track but as soon as I entered the stadium and saw the finish I felt sweet relief.  I ran as fast as I could, almost cried, and crossed the finish line of my second marathon.  3:54:14.  A far cry from my 3:33.  I hobbled forward, received my finisher's medal, patronized the volunteer handing out medals until she agreed to give me a second for Josee (I had already gotten permission from the race director via email but she wasn't around to give the okay at the time) and found April in the stands.  A hug and a cry, a quick picture and then I went to find the other runners. 
I was thrilled to hear that Trish had qualified with a 3:35:05 (she needed 3:40 to BQ) but was worried to hear she was in the medical tent.  I flopped down on the stadium turf and pulled out my phone to text my husband and inform him of my failure.  I posted a picture online with my feelings of defeat and cried.  What I received after that was beyond anything I could believe, 118 people "liked" my picture and over 40 people responded with words of encouragement, reminding me that I had done what most people cannot fathom. I had run a marathon!  26 point freaking 2 miles. 
The days following the race have been hard.  I've made every kind of excuse in the book, beat myself up like crazy, and crabbed endlessly to my family.  But in the end, I simply didn't have it on April 26th.  I didn't run my race. I let myself give up.  Two of the best comments I've received after the race were from some online friends. One said, " i know you're disappointed you didn't qualify for boston, but you should be proud of yourself. i think you did an amazing job, and i love reading about your running adventures. boston isn't going anywhere, so there will always be another chance to qualify"--thanks Erin Morgan! :)  Another reminded me, "So you didn't run a 3:33, so what.  You ran an awesome time and this will just give you more fuel for next time." True story Kate, this gives me even more incentive to bust my butt and not give up next time.
Was it a good race?, hell no. Am I glad I did it?, Of course.  Practice makes perfect, right? I will qualify and I will run Boston.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

On top of the world

"Running is a mental sport, and we're all insane." --not sure who said this, but gosh is it true.  We had this quote on the back of our cross country shirts in high school and it still holds true for me to this day.  As you all will remember, my first 20 miler was quite the challenge. It was hot, I was alone, and I had a less than stellar attitude about the whole thing long before I took my first step.  My mentality is what played the biggest factor in my first 20 miler turning out less than what I had expected. I was determined to make sure that didn't happen again on my next long run. 

I had 10 days to prepare for my next attempt at 20 miles and I had it planned out perfectly.  My husband and sister planned on riding road bikes next to me while I ran on a local bike path.  They would carry water bottles on the bikes, and cell phones for musical enjoyment, and I would carry my Gu/fuel. The plan was to see how many miles I could cover in 3 hours.  I figured on around an 8:27ish pace, so told them that we would be likely riding around 7.0-7.3 miles per hour. The bikes have speedometers on them so they would be able to keep track of that if they wanted.

I planned my outfit based on my projected race day attire, but it was chilly so I went with a tech tee and a wind breaker type jacket to start.

Love my CEP socks, Oiselle arm warmers, stride shorts, KT tape for my sore knee, and my fabulous Mizuno Wave Creation's!
We got to the trail later than planned due to a pit stop along the way, and then flat bike tires that took awhile to get aired up.  But I was staying positive no matter what. I wasn't going to let my mind win. I wasn't going to let anything mess with this day and this run.  This was my last chance to prove to myself that I belong on that starting line, I belong in the marathon, and I AM capable of qualifying for Boston. 
Just before we got started.
So off we went.  The first couple of miles were fine, easy even.  I was running in the low 8's and kept thinking that I was going too fast, but with Jordan right beside me and April right behind me, I had the momentum to keep going at that pace so I didn't even attempt to back off.  Jordan mentioned a few times what our mph were and would tell me if I had sped up at all.  After a few of the announcements I told him I wasn't worrying about mph or pace, and I was going to run the rest based on effort.  I finally started ignoring my watch around mile 5 and just let the miles fly by.  We had some Beatles, Michael Jackson, Disney music, Avenged Sevenfold, Greek Fire, and plenty of other awesome tunes to help me forget about the length of time I was going to be out there.  I never listen to music when I run, but it helped so much.  It never distracted me from my run or my pace, but it helped pass the time faster since I couldn't gab the whole time due to my increased effort.  I was able to talk and didn't feel out of breath but didn't want to waste energy so I kept the talking to a minimum.  Around mile 7 (I think), April took my jacket because I was getting hot.  My miles were flying by at this point, I was passing people on the trail, smiling or giving a little wave, feeling awesome the whole time.  I looked down at my watch one time and saw a 7:20 around mile 10 and couldn't believe it.  I could feel myself pushing the pace some of the time, but still had so much energy at the halfway point.  I was getting excited to see what my 13.1 time would be.  I crossed the 90 minute (the true half way point) mark having ran 11.6 miles! I was running sub 8 pace at this point and knowing that just gave me the momentum to keep pushing. I wasn't looking at my watch at every mile mark so I had no idea just how good I was doing most of the time, I was just running on effort, something I hadn't done enough of through my training.
April took a video of me, it's posted on her Facebook page for those of you that are friends with her.  I crossed 13.1 miles in 1:43:20, my second fastest attempt at the half marathon distance, during a 3 hour run!  I crossed the 15 mile mark in 1:59, my fastest 15 miler ever.  I set out on 2 hour runs most weeks with the goal of reaching 15 miles in under that time, today was the first time I made it in under 120 minutes! :) The trail we were on was 8 miles long, so we turned around to head back out at 16 miles and I immediately felt the fatigue start setting in.  I ran an 8:48 and a 9:02 for miles 16 & 17, but considering many of my miles had been under 8:00 I didn't feel too bad about this.   
Miles 18 & 19 were foggy and my Garmin was acting up, but we turned around at the 19 mile mark with 3 miles to go.  I told myself not to wimp out and to push the last 3 like it was a regular every day 3 mile run. No big deal.  The music was rocking, the bike wheels were turning, my legs were aching and I felt like my feet were flying.  April set out some motivation for me and I attempted to catch people in front of me like she told me to do.  It looked like I might make 22 miles in under 3 hours and I told myself I would stop at 22 miles, that would be enough torture for my legs for one day.  The last mile I pushed and I pushed.  I swung my arms faster when I felt like my legs might fail me.  The elation I felt, knowing I was going to finish this run in almost the same time I'd done 20 miles the week before, is what helped me finish so strong.  April yelled out, "I don't know how you're doing this!" As I picked up the pace for the last 1/2 mile. Jordan said I was running way up over 8 mph for most of the last mile. He kept telling me to push it, to not give up, reminding me of the distance left the closer we got to my "finish line". My watch beeped for 22 miles, the last mile in 7:45!, and I slowed to a stop and looked down at my watch.
Holy cow! I'd say I beat my goal of 8:27/pace!
I was so happy, and so sore and stiff. My gait was terrible as I held my hips and hobbled to the car.  April pushed her bike next to me as we talked about the run and how things had gone.  I was in shock.  To qualify for Boston I have to run 8:12 pace for 26.2 miles.  Today I ran fast enough to allow myself 37 minutes to complete the last 4.2 miles and still qualify, more than doable as long as things kept going right. 

10 days prior I was ready to throw in the towel, say to heck with marathons and just survive the rest of my training and finish this race.  After those 22 miles I was on top of the world, knowing I am meant to run this race, and plenty more marathons if I put my mind to it and run with my heart.
My Josee Hope was on my heart the entire race.  When I would get tired I would glance down at my hand, where I had written her name before the run, and remind myself to pick up my feet and push harder, for her.  For all of the Down Syndrome sweeties like her.  She is such sweet motivation and I can't wait to race for her in 18 days!