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!


Monday, March 24, 2014

Misery loves company

My long run last week was just that, miserable.  And as much as the misery would have loved company, I had to traverse all 20 miles solo...hence the main reason it was so darn miserable! 

But I'm looking on the bright side, I ran 20 flippin miles, all by myself, never stopped to walk one time, and I did it faster than I could have ever run in the past.  20 miles is the farthest I have ever run without stopping.  In my first marathon I had to start walk/running at around mile 16ish I think (it was 10 years ago, gimme a break, I can't remember for sure). So aside from my legs protesting, my GI system hating me, and my poor feet aching, I'm quite pleased with my first 20 miler in preparation for my upcoming marathon.  I have another 20+ miler planned for March 30th, thankfully this time I'll have my awesome hubby and sis riding along on road bikes to keep me company as we utilize a local bike/running path to get the job done. 

For those of you interested in the misery that comes along with a 20 miler, or those of you who can easily relate, let me break it down for you. 

I ran all over my home town and the neighboring town, ran more hills than I would prefer and had to repeat loops over and over to get it done because the area we live in is rather small as far as safe running roads go.  Look at those hills!  Especially between miles 2-4 and again right after the 8 mile mark.  Whew. My legs hated me!  Quite thankful that in our planning we chose a flat course!  Our marathon will have two real hills per the course elevation, yay!

Now onto the mile splits and the complaining...

Mile 1: Feeling great, this is going to be a good run, 8:07, that's way too fast for 20 miles. I have 19 more to go!  Slow it down a little, come on, don't burn yourself out in the first mile
Mile 2: 8:36, that's better, try to keep it right around there.
Mile 3: Oh shit, here comes that horrible hill.  Well just try to maintain effort and don't worry about pace. 8:44, not too bad for conquering that hill.  Keep it up, the hills not done yet!
Mile 4: Ugh, will this hill ever end?!  It's getting hot, gotta take these arm warmers off, stuff them in my waist band.  Can't wait for mile 6 for refueling, must conserve Gu and water. 8:41, not bad, keep it up.
Mile 5: This is miserable. I'm only 1/4 of the way done, seriously? I hate this, why did I do a long run today. It's too hot. 8:45.
Mile 6: Okay I guess I'm not going to die.  Finish this mile and I can take my first Gu and drink some water finally. 8:43, I'll take that.
Mile 7: The people in cars are staring at me like I'm nuts, I am nuts. Why am I out here in this heat?  It's 70 degrees by now, my body is used to 20-30 degree long runs. I may very well collapse from heat exhaustion, not even half way done.  Off with the shirt, please stare some more people.  Yes I'm running in a sports bra and shorts mid-March, it's like a sauna out here! 9:09, crap!
Mile 8: Can't let that happen again, no more 9 minute miles, keep it under 9. You can do this Jessy.  You have to do this.  8:40, okay that's better. You rock. Don't give up.
Mile 9: I was wrong, I don't rock. I suck. my legs are rebelling, no more hills please.  I can't believe I have 11 more miles to go. 9:12, suck suck suck.
Mile 10: On with the down hill. Try to make up some time. Gosh my legs hurt. It's harder going down hill than uphill on these tired legs! Ow ow ow. 8:24, okay I'll take that. That makes up for the last mile that sucked. Half way done, woohoo!
Mile 11: More crap. I feel like crap, my legs are crap, my time is crap.  Thank goodness I'm atleast half way done with this crap. 9:15.
Mile 12: More of the same, my mind is now on auto-pilot. This run sucks, I just have to accept these awful mile splits and get used to 9 minute pace. Why did I think I could qualify for Boston? All I want to do is finish, screw 3:35! 9:13, I hate you Garmin.
Mile 13: As much as I hate this, I feel a little better all of a sudden.  Another Gu taken, one water bottle empty, working on drinking bottle #2. 8:38. Okay maybe I can keep this up. 7 miles to go.
Mile 14: Nope, nope, nope. What was I thinking, all I can do is survive the rest of this run.  Picking up the pace isn't an option. 9:26, ugh.
Mile 15: 3/4 of the way done, Hallelujah! I can do this, the end is near.  I can survive 5 more miles. 9:09.
Mile 16: My water is all gone and I have 4 more miles to go. I'm going to sweat to death.  Dripping in sweat, no water and 30+ more minutes of this hell.  Must refill water bottles!  I'll run home and fill up at the garden hose. Oh no, huge hill to get to my house, legs don't fail me now.  10:12, I don't even care, please just give me water!
Mile 17:  Okay Jessy, pick it up. 4 miles. You do this all the time. Quit being such a wimp. Quit complaining so much.  You chose this, you are tough. You can do this.  8:26, holy cow, that was awesome.
Mile 18: Approaching my previous longest long run finish line, but I have to keep going.  I said I was doing 20, I'm not quitting. 8:44, I'll take it.
Mile 19: It's so hot!  Water bottle #1 is already empty again from drinking and dumping it over my head.  Little girl and her momma stand at the end of their driveway jumping up and down and cheer for me to keep going.  What a boost that was.  I smile and say thank you, shocked that my face still knows how to smile at this point.  I will keep going, thank you! :)  My legs don't want to move but I make them.  I think of Josee and convince myself to keep going. Josee Hope, Josee Hope, Josee Hope. My new mantra with every step. 8:31, I rock.
Mile 20: Last mile, suck it up and run. Don't wimp out.  I'm about to finish the longest run of my life. I can't wait to be done!  Legs are on fire, feet are aching in exhaustion, dripping in sweat, water is gone again, no one around to cheer me on now, must finish. Josee Hope, Josee Hope, Josee Hope. My watch beeps for the 20th time: 8:08!  Whew!
I can't believe I survived 20 miles.  A year ago I was running a couple miles at a time trying to revive my previous passion for running. Now I'm out running for 2 hours, 56 minutes and 51 seconds, all for "fun".  :) 
Afterwards I took an ice bath to help my legs recover, and wore compression socks and compression shorts for 24 hours.  My legs felt totally fine the next day!  3 days of rest afterwards because I needed it for sure!  Prior to that I had run 18.35 miles, 4 miles, 13 miles, 4 miles and then 20 miles, all in the last 6 days, my legs needed rest. Today I'll get back at it. I'm already prepping for my 20 miler next week.  What can I say, I'm a runner, you already knew I was crazy. :) 

Saturday, March 15, 2014

A thousand miles later

My running life has come and gone a few times over the years, but one thing has always remained, my love of lacing up my shoes and moving forward with a finish line to reach.  My love for this sport was revived during the last 12 months. 

Don't get me wrong, I never quit loving the run at all, I just lost the passion and drive it takes to technically be "a runner" (even though I never quit calling myself one).  I got married, moved away, went to nursing school, had babies, and did very little running from 2005-2008, and again took a break from 2011-2012. My sister asked me to run a 5K with her last March, so we signed up, froze our butts off and ran the race.  An old high school teammate was at the race and mentioned a sprint triathlon that she thought we should sign up for.  It was the perfect race to motivate me and get me training harder than I had in years. 

The year started out slow as I slowly got back into shape and my legs remembered their love for running as well.  I had injuries, took breaks, ran lots of races: 5k's, 10k's, 10 milers, half marathons, tried new things by racing in triathlons, made lots of new running friends, ran through 100 degree days and 12 degree days, rain, horrendous wind, snow, ice, and sleet, in the dark mornings before work, (note: today's 15 miler started at 0430!) as the sun went down after work, pushing a stroller with 80+ pounds of kid in it, with friends, and many many solo miles, 4 pairs of shoes, tons of Gu, training for another crazy marathon, began running for my sweet Josee Hope in Australia, and over 1000 miles logged in my online running log book.  Through it all I've become so much stronger, mentally and physically.  A 10 mile run once seemed like the longest run ever, now it's a mid week run that I can't wait to conquer. 2 hours of running alone used to seem like torture (who am I kidding, sometimes it still is) and now I log 2 hour long runs almost every week.  A mile under 7 minutes was a figment of my imagination a year ago, now I can run a 5K in 7 minute pace!  Hard work and stubbornness has contributed to most of my success, but the one thing that has gotten me through it all is my love for running.

I LOVE meeting runners, talking about running, visiting running stores, racing and seeing all the other funny, quirky, speedy runners from all around the area.  The fall of 1997 started my journey as I went out for cross country for the first time in 7th grade. Now, almost 17 years later, I can't imagine giving up this sport ever again.  It has always been a part of my past and who I am.  As I begin my 30th year of life tomorrow, I hope that running will always be a part of my future. 

I hope all of you awesome people find what you love and never stop doing whatever it is that makes you happy and makes you feel alive. 
"I don't run because I love the feeling of running. I run because it makes me love the feeling of living."  (and I love the feeling of running too!)  :) 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

When will it end?!

This winter I have spent a lot of time whining about the cold. I am in no way claiming that I plan to quit whining either, I hate winter and I hate the cold.  It is nearly impossible to convince my body to step out the door on those freezing cold days, I can't wait to run outside in a sports bra while dripping in sweat! Call me crazy (most people do), I'd much rather whine about the heat than whine about the cold. ;)

This past Sunday the weather man said we would be getting 7-10" of snow along with plenty of ice too...just in time to ruin my long run plans. I tried to tell myself it would be okay, I could do the long run on a weekday, and that it wouldn't affect my training much. But then I thought about all of the people who live in much colder conditions than I do, and they somehow manage to train all winter. I told myself I was going to be super crazy and run in the ice and snow. Thankfully the 7-10" was wrong, but the roads were covered in ice and slush and it was still coming down. I layered up my clothes more than I ever have for a run...two pairs of socks, compression shorts and tights, two long sleeved running tops (one with thumb holes, woot!), and an outer shell/jacket to be a wind barrier. Plus ear warmers, gloves and a neck gaiter to cover my face when necessary. I was warm! Until I stepped out into the 12° feels like -5° weather along with wind and freezing rain. I told myself I would just do 3 miles, 4 tops, my husband kissed me good bye and off I went. To make a long story short, it.was.awesome. it was horrible and cold and my nose was dripping like a faucet but I loved it. One man was out in his driveway and yelled to me, "Now that's dedication. Get it girl." And I got it. :) I was cold and the weather was getting worse so I knew staying out too long wouldnt be smart but I managed to get in 6 miles and I earned my first pair of icicle eyelashes,  something every girl dreams of, right?

It may have been one of the most badass things I've ever done, aside from childbirth.:) As much as I loathe this time of year, I was excited to finish this run and say I did it. I didnt let the weather or my excuses stop me. After all, this marathon isn't going to train itself. No one said it would be easy.

Since my run people have called me "crazy, cray cray, awesome, insane, dedicated, stupid" and plenty of other complimentary names. Whats the craziest thing you've trained through?Happy running! :)