Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Lake Effect Half Marathon 2015 *womp womp*

I was very excited about the first race of 2015, a race that I know, with friends I couldn't wait to see. It was my first race since Memphis, and first race representing Zensah and Honey Stinger. Did I want to come out of the 2015 gates with a bang, you bet. Did it happen, not in the least.

I controlled everything that I could. I relaxed the day before, ate and hydrated like normal and got a decent amount of sleep. I was up on time race morning, got there early and wasn't rushed. I was prepared with clothing for every weather situation, and brought my trail shoes for extra traction. I ate a bagel on the road, and drank my bottle of UCAN with it. I warmed up and did my strides, and I took my honey stinger gel during just as planned. I ran 13.1 miles, like I was supposed to (albeit 7 minutes slower than I wanted). I controlled what I could, well...I could have controlled my attitude better but I'm working on it.

While driving into Syracuse I can see part of the course from the thruway. "Where is the pavement?" was my initial thought as I slowed down the car a little. A few minutes later I parked and got my bib and did everything as I should. I ran into Megan who told me that it wasn't plowed and she was going to go jog out and see how bad it was (she wasn't running the race).

The weather was not bad, it was cold (well, low 20's felt warm) but little wind and wasn't snowing. I opted for shorts/calf sleeves, and a two long sleeves. I am most comfortable racing in shorts/tank top but knew that would be too crazy so I opted to at least let my legs move freely.

I chatted with a few people at the start, and minutes later we were off. We quickly went into single file and took advantage of the clear spots, but I knew coming back would be harder (double out and back course). About a mile and a half in, the course conditions started getting worse. The further West we went, the more snow there was. I saw my paces drop quick, and my trail shoes were barely helping the traction. I threw any time goal out very quickly.

The frustration set in almost immediately. Why didn't they plow? This snow came down last night, not this morning. They had time! My stabilizer muscles kicked into overdrive and I made the first loop slow but not too bad. I got to high five friends and cheer on the way back and tried to stay positive. It didn't work well. I wanted to stop. I wanted to DNF (this is not something I consider lightly), I wasn't having fun and I was running far slower than the effort I was putting in.
Let's not discuss the form.
*Side note: Last year I ran Syracuse Half marathon in March and was able to adjust my goals before the race, stay pretty positive despite the blizzard that hit that morning (unexpectedly). I think my biggest issue with LEHM this year was, the snow came the night before and they had time where as at 'Cuse there was no time for it. But again, I should have been more positive this year and adjusted my attitude*

I didn't have a good reason to DNF. I wasn't hurt, I am not coming back from an injury I need to be weary of, and it wasn't SO bad that I feared injury (as long as I was careful). Because I was frustrated and couldn't change my mindset from negative to positive (which I'm usually good about these days). But you know what, I am not a pro athlete. This wasn't about a paycheck for me. This race wasn't going to make or break a sponsorship- did I want to do well for the companies I represent, of course. But I would have kicked my own ass for DNF'ing, and I respect the pro's who finish races even when fall off time (See: Meb, NYC 2013). DNF'ing because you are hurt, legitimately concerned, or other such things is valid in my eyes. I didn't have an excuse, so I kept running.

I spent the second time heading West, in fear of what the back half of the course was going to look like after 500+ runners had gone through. It was worse, that's for sure. The first time hitting the snowy sections my pace slowed about 40 seconds/mile, the second time I actually slowed over a minute/mile. I remember laughing at one point because I legit couldn't make myself move any faster, every step was slipping 3 inches backwards.
Thanks Craig for the photo! Death by ponytail whipping.
When I finally got back to the clear section- I was toast. Luckily I was not far behind another girl which helped mentally kick me back into racing mode and I passed her with less than a half mile to go.
Sticking my tongue out at Heather in the last little bit of the race
1:34:35{5th female, 1st AG}, officially my slowest half since 2012 (Excluding any halves I was pacing someone or the half within the half-iron triathlon that I did). Also 10 seconds/mile slower than my current marathon PR pace. Oof.

You guys, I was a 2 year old about the whole situation. I whined, I complained, I stomped my feet (no, I literally stomped the snow off my feet as I walked into the bar begging for a beer after the race). I initially had a very crappy attitude about it all, no denying that. But, I spent time afterwards with good people, good food and great beer (If you like dark beer---> Black Magic Stout, and The Local Grind). I sang songs and talked it out to my steering wheel on the hour plus long drive home, and then ate/slept the evening away.

I'm feeling better about it as time goes on. I controlled what I could and that's what is important. While I didn't enjoy the race (which, to me sucks more than the time aspect), I did enjoy seeing friends and spending time with them afterwards. These girls were the best part of my day!
I didn't get the puffy coat memo. Sorry ladies!
Britt, Me, Meg & Heather
I won't regret the race or not stopping (I did for a little while), because it was good dose of mental reality check. I'm usually pretty 'mentally tough', and I'm usually pretty good about being positive. I didn't have either of those abilities at LEHM and that is a problem. I need to screw my head back on straight before Boston, positivity will get your butt to the finish line a lot faster than negativity will.

So, I move forward from an off race (that in the grand scheme of things, means nothing) relatively unscathed. I say relatively because apparently glide can freeze (or wash off with snow/slush kicking up) leaving me with the worst chafing I have EVER had. Because you really wanted to know that, I'm sure. I'll be fine, just walk like an idiot for a few days- my punishment for acting like a toddler because I didn't get the time I wanted.

Moving on, back to the grind...and the positive coffee. beer. chocolate. puppies. Unicorns.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Lake Effect Race Weekend & My '2015 Team'

It's officially my first race weekend of 2015, it's insane to me that I haven't pinned on a bib in over 10 weeks. Training has been going well though, and I'm excited to see what this weekend brings. The race is however, in the winter. Needless to say we are expecting some snow and chilly temps- but at this point anything will be better than what it is right now. {Forecast right now is a little snow, and temps in mid-20's which will feel like a heat wave!}

Unfortunately the race course was altered due to construction (Minor change from what I understand), but will not be certified. Obviously this bums me out a little because, barring any CRAZY weather I was thinking a PR could be realistic. But non-certified course technically means no official PR. I already have one unofficial half marathon PR (1:27:XX) from a tempo run I did in training leading up to Memphis, which is faster than my current official PR of 1:28:XX. Who knows, either way I am excited to race and excited to see Heather & Britt again! (Hollie, we will miss you at brunch this year. I'll be a nice friend and drink your mimosa and eat extra food in your honor).

In addition to this being my first race of the year, it's also my first race representing two really awesome companies. I mentioned before in a vague post that my 'team' was growing a bit. No, I don't have a bun in the oven and I didn't go find hubby in a Vegas Casino.

Running is individual but also a team thing in my eyes. I couldn't do what I do without the support from my 'team' of friends, family, my coach, teammates, and awesome companies who make gear that I use in the process. I'm lucky enough to have the opportunity to add two companies whose products I love and already use to my 'team'.

Zensah compression sleeves were the first ones I ever tried back in 2011, my collection has grown since then and so has my love of the brand. Super excited to work with them, and the other awesome people who will also be representing them. You can also expect to see my collection grow even more, although I think my neon pink tie-dye calf sleeves will always be my favorite. Besides the calf sleeves, they also make very functional (and cute) running/workout clothing----> Zensah

As for Honey Stinger, it's another brand I have used off and on since 2011. Fueling is something I have been working on fine tuning and the products they have are organic, taste yummy, and don't mess up my stomach (we all know how hard it can be to find gels that sit just right!). If you haven't had their waffles or gels, you don't know what you are missing!----> Honey Stinger

So first race weekend of the year, and first race with these two companies- a lot to be excited about (assuming I don't turn into an icicle between now and Sunday). I'm thrilled for the training and racing to come this year- onward and upward :)

Moose is already rocking the gear just like I am :) 


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Boston/Winter Training

Boston is less than 70 days away, I really don't know where time is going. I DO know that I am already feeling much better about the race this year than I was last. Mainly because my calf & shin aren't being "grade A jackasses" like they were last year during training. The other part of it is, I have a kick ass 'team' this year. Coach and I have been working really well together, and I love the new workouts he has been giving me. Add in all of my friends/family and the support I have, yeah I feel pretty damn good about things right now. My 'team' has also grown a little with some extra outside support, but more on that another time (I know it's killing you not to know, just hold your horses please).

The first 4 weeks of training were pretty lackluster. I had some good workouts and runs, don't get me wrong it wasn't ALL bad. But I also had a failed Christmas day tempo (which I assume was my punishment for being a royal scrooge for the holidays this year), and also spent a week of January being sick and sucking down orange juice and hot toddy's like it was my job. I still ended the month with 178 miles so it was some good base building.

The end of January and beginning of February have felt much more like marathon training to me. More longer runs (16-18, and 20 this weekend), and harder workouts. I'm enjoying it though, new speed and distances to change things up which helps prevent physical and mental training ruts. It feels good to be getting into the 'thick' of training again, and feels even better that my body is adjusting well and I can see/feel the progress.

Some random things about training thus far:

I NEVER thought I would be one to like mile repeats, but...they're growing on me. I've done them a few times so far this year, and it's fun to see and feel the difference each time as my body gets used to those paces. I have 4 x 2 mile repeats on Thursday though, something tells me that won't be quite You can look for me in roadkill position on the ground after.

Winter and these stupid storms are really cramping my style. In the last 2 weeks I have ran outside ONCE. There were a few times I know I could have, but didn't. But beyond that, trying to do my tempos or interval workouts on 3 feet of snow, or on icy roads just isn't something I see myself doing. Consider me partly cautious because I don't want to fall/injure myself, and part being a damn baby- it's freaking cold. There's also the whole...I can't crank out my tempo runs or intervals at prescribed paces when I'm fighting the snow or dancing on ice. Luckily I have a gym membership, and also a good friend who has a fantastic treadmill in her garage. Workouts, long runs, easy runs, whatever- I get 'em done...even if it means plodding away on a hamster wheel and banging out runs to episodes of Chicago PD on my kindle {or blasting the most random collection of music through the speakers}.

Definition of Snow: Gigantic piles of white stuff crowding my streets and sidewalks, doubling my commute (but also giving me fantastic arm workout from shoveling/cleaning off my car)
Alternate Definition of Snow: Upstate NY alternative to winter ice bath after a tempo run.

There is no doubt that I am better about strength training in the winter. This weather keeps me cooped up much more than normal, so I am notably better about doing the 'extra stuff' during this time. I love the way it makes me feel, and know that it makes me stronger- although I'm sure Hans and Frans would critique me as bad as they do Aaron Rodgers. I also recommend a good regimen of 'coffee curls'- Britt is demonstrating for you below. We also did some 22 oz. curls the night before.

 {fabulous girls weekend with----> Heather, myself, Hollie and Britt}

For the better part of last year, my focus was on getting into consistent patterns with running. Consistent miles, consistently challenging myself with workouts, consistently staying on track more than anything else. The benefits I saw from this, were incredible. This year I am focusing on gaining that consistency in other areas related to training; nutrition being a key factor. Consistently practicing my fueling, HYDRATING more than a bottle of water every other day, and consistently making better food choices. Currently, I trick myself into drinking more by leaving water bottles EVERYWHERE. Fuel wise I've cut back on the obvious big bad stuff (ordering dominoes regularly) and have incorporated consistently better fuels. Higher quantity nutrient dense foods combined with high protein snacks. Basic nutrition stuff.

First race of the year is in a week and a half. WHAT? Lake Effect Half marathon is less than 2 weeks away. Prior to running LEHM last year, I had already raced a few times as I was doing our local freezeroo series. I am not involved in that this year, so the half will be my first race since...Memphis. This could be interesting. Last year mother nature was tame and gave us a good running day (Good running day for Syracuse, in February, next to the lake....) and I was able to PR(this isn't my PR anymore, but whatever). A big part of me doesn't think we will be THAT lucky 2 years in a row with weather- but either way I am looking forward to toeing the line and seeing what I can do right now. I'm also looking forward to the time with friends and going to a Jazz brunch again afterwards. Priorities.

Okay, time to mosey out into the tundra and make my way to a treadmill for a workout. Stay safe & warm people, and if you live in a warmer climate- we can be friends again in a few months.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Training, Scheduling & Life

It's been a few weeks since I actually posted something on my little corner of the web, but one word for you.....LIFE. I was so looking forward to the holiday's being over to get back into routine and life settling down, and I almost feel like the opposite happened! It's been just as busy, but not centered around tree's and presents and food. Okay, the last one's a lie- I'm a runner...everything is centered around food. Anyways, moving on.

We are now a few weeks into the new year now which means I am a few weeks into a new training cycle. Kind of nice how it works out the two go hand in hand, training for Boston begins at the same time as a fresh start and a new year.

I'm excited about this training cycle in general for a lot of reasons. First, it's BOSTON. Second, it's bound to be smoother than Boston training last year. Third, this will be the first full cycle with my coach {We had 8 weeks together leading up to Rochester, and another 11 weeks before Memphis}, so it's time to see what can be done when we aren't feeling rushed. It also terrifies me as there is more time to give me newer and harder workouts; terrifying yet exciting.

A few weeks into the year and the training cycle, also means we are a few weeks into Upstate winter training season. Like many Northern US regions, this turns weather/running conditions into a game of odds. Guess what, odds are- if it's single digit temps, the wind chill is probably making the weatherman tell you it 'feels like' -XX outside{how he says these numbers without dropping F-bombs is beyond me}. Odds are, if you get ANY amount of snow- you're going to be having sore ankles and stabilizers from uneven footing{You'll also fall on your ass at least once}. Odds are, if there is a day that is actually nice enough to not wear every piece of clothing you own to run- it will be a scheduled rest day for you. That's just life in the north. You live and learn; you also invest in a lot of warm clothing and a gym membership.

With that said, the first few weeks of Boston training have been going well- and have included my fair share of treadmill AND outdoor miles. We took the first few weeks easier with regards to mileage but am now building back up, with fun new workouts to boot. January is shaping up to be a good starter month, even with a sick week thrown in the middle of it- I'll recap January training and first few weeks of Boston training this weekend:)

I finally started writing out my race calendar for the year (new tab up top!), and it's shaping up to be 3 races between now and Boston. I'm excited to run Lake Effect half next month, and then get a 5 mile race and another half in March. Beyond that- I won't commit 100% to any races until after Boston. I want to see how it goes, what my time is, and where my head is at before I think about what my focus will be the rest of the year. I have a few ideas what I would like to see during racing season this fall- but those will stay under wraps for a while until some more final decisions are made. Maybe I'll run another marathon, maybe I'll tackle an ultra, and maybe I won't do either. Boston will be the biggest determinant of this, so plenty of time to mull it all over.

Life outside running has been par for the course- hectic and busy. I live and die by my overly organized, very color coordinated Google calendar. Work schedules, training schedules, appointments, to-do's, even simple things that I just need to remember (like, hey my teamie has a big workout tomorrow I better make sure I text her!). I'd lose my head if it wasn't attached to the damn calendar (it is indeed attached to it, Google avatar).

My calendar is essentially the adult version of Tetris. The sound the game makes when a line is completed, is the same sound as me breathing a sigh of relief when it's time to go to bed each night. Most of the time I manage it all pretty well, but there are days (like yesterday) where I was simply beyond frustrated and just wanted to erase everything from the schedule for a month and plant my ass on a deserted island with a margarita and no communication with the world. Luckily my friends handled me acting like a child with class and are still talking to me today.

As luck would have it, the timing of my tantrum yesterday was pretty good. Because my Google calendar for this weekend looks less like Tetris and more like GIRLS WEEKEND. There are lots of exclamation points on it, lots of meals out planned, beers to drink, cake to eat, running to be done and laughs to be had. We planned this a long time ago and now it's finally happening. A weekend with Heather, Hollie and Britt- if you see all of us go MIA on social media please bring bail money and come rescue us.

So there's a few updates for now, I didn't forget about this little blog of mine- but living my life and writing about it can't always happen at the exact same time :) More to come soon as I have some fun drafted posts :)

Anyone else feel like life didn't settle at all after the Holidays?

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014: The Breakaway

I'd like to think I have the ability to be good with words. I love learning, I read more than most, I could spend hours and hours analyzing quotes/lyrics, but none of that has given me the ability to find any adjective that could remotely come close to describing this year. The lows and highs were so incredibly personal, they left marks that will ALWAYS be there- but words to explain that to anyone who didn't live through it with me....there are none. Even for those who were there- I fail to help them comprehend just exactly how those moments truly felt. Maybe it's something that isn't meant to be understood by anyone other than ourselves- but I do know that the people in my life have seen the effects those moments have had on me this year.

I actually had fun spending the 30 seconds mapping out this year on paper. It was interesting to see after the fact that without planning it- I drew my lows in the second half of the year, at the same point as the highs in the first half. I'm no expert but I'm pretty sure some mental health professionals would eat that right up.

I giggled as I drew my 'new home' because that's truly about the size of the apartment I moved into at first.

 I felt my heart beat a little faster thinking about everything that Boston meant to me- that weekend reminded me that there is so much more out there.

My stomach growled thinking about NJ with the girls- and how Hollie's Fiance decided it would be a good idea to meet her best friends by greeting them with the largest red velvet cake EVER (smart man).

I'm grateful for Buffalo this year- the feeling of FINALLY breaking 90 in the half but then being able to go back and run some friends and family members in as they finished 26.2 mile treks.

I smirked thinking about the lemon drop martini's I drank while stranded in Chicago, and the shots of Whiskey I did in the airport on the way home from that same Midwest trip.

I even laughed at just how bad the month of July felt for me running wise- worst 5k and 10k times in YEARS. Humbling yes, but a good catalyst for change.

I remember how nervous I was doing my first few big workouts that coach gave me, and how invincible I felt after succeeding at them.

I can still see Britt and Heather jumping up and down like they were doing Zumba cheering for me along side the Erie Canal during Rochester Marathon. I am still overflowing with pride running the last bit of the marathon with my sister and watching her crush her PR and nearly BQ.

I choke up thinking about the home stretch of Empire- and how overwhelming it felt in every way possible. I can still feel the thick tape consuming me as I crossed the line.

My heart still melts hearing my nephew recognize me as 'woo woo', I'll actually be sad when he can pronounce it properly.

I can still feel every emotion from Memphis. Finally meeting a great friend and training buddy in person. Images of the race, the taste of the BBQ, Beer and Bourbon while celebrating, and the sound of my dad and I laughing hysterically.

I remember the hug I got the following day, from an old friend turned new friend...a hug that reminded me of the same one she gave me in 2011.

These are the things I'll look back on this year and remember. The other stuff is just white noise.

What actually changed from last year to this year?
Living with someone in a house--->Living in dorm room sized apartment--->Creating a HOME in a new place

{"Now put ya hands up"}

Inconsistent in most aspects of life--->Consistent in quite a few aspects of life 
{Creating/Keeping GOOD Habits}

Working 1 Full time job 40 hrs/week--->Working Full time & Part time jobs totaling 50-70 hrs/week 
{I thrive when I stay busy}

Limited family time---> Regular Family time
{Love these crazy people}

In Running...
3:13 Marathoner--->3:04 Marathoner 
{2 Minute drop/7 Minute drop}

Self-Coached Athlete----> Coached Athlete 

1573 Running Miles---->2093+ Running Miles 
{Helllooooo consistency}

1241 Biking Miles---->200+ Biking Miles 
{Cut out Triathlons this year to FOCUS on running}

90+ Half Marathoner--->Sub-90 Half Marathoner 
{FINALLY broke that barrier!}

I can't wait to see what challenges, changes, and choices 2015 has to bring.

Happy New Year:)

Thursday, December 11, 2014

St. Jude Memphis Marathon Recap 2014

After finally comprehending some of the 'Sentiments from Memphis', I think it's finally time to purge the race thoughts and start wrapping my head around the race itself. There's also like 50 million photos of me running, I'm sorry.

The usual marathon recap disclosure: crack a beer and get comfy, it's gonna be long.

The night before the race, laid everything out as I normally do. Puttered around in compression, going through checklists in my head, not once but more like three times. We were all stalking the weather debating if the rain would hold off, was it going to be too warm or too cold? You know, all the things we want to know but obviously won't until it's actually time. Of course, this is about the time I realized my 'luck' of being a girl. Cue the "are you kidding me?" followed by plenty of raging F-Bomb texts. But, the show must go on...or something like that.

Race morning went smooth getting ready, I managed to get down a half of a bagel with my cold coffee. Packed up race gear, crossed my fingers I wasn't forgetting something and started drinking my bottle of Generation UCAN before hitting the road. It wasn't a bad morning, tad muggy with some wind but the cooler temps (High 40's) were where I needed them to be. I also knew enough that the amount of turns in the course would make it so the wind couldn't possibly change directions as much as we did.

 We made it to the race pretty easily, maybe a 15 minute drive as we were staying out by the airport. Once we got close we simply followed the cars with the run-brag stickers(not knocking 'em, I have it too).  Once we got there and parked, we made our way over towards the start, a few obligatory Beale Street photo ops and then said our goodbyes.
Me and great friend/fellow kick ass runner Luke

No doubts about me being cut from this cloth.  Love you Dad!
I then made my way up to the suites in the park to put my things with the other elites. I know that most of my times, while fast are not typical elite standards but I was very grateful for this chance. They took wonderful care of us, warm place to stay before the race, with food and water and a place to leave our things.

The suite only had a few athletes left in there, as most had made their way down to the start already. I put my bags down and introduced myself to some of the others, who were all incredibly nice. I spent some time talking to two of the other female marathoners, and we decided it was time to walk down together.

We were concerned about waiting in bathroom lines, but knew we needed to go one more time. When we got to the start, we told the elite coordinator and she showed us to a bathroom set aside for us. We said good luck and chatted a little more, bouncing around in the corral. I did a few strides to loosen up while taking inventory of how I was feeling. I took off my jacket and grabbed a last bit of water from the EC again and then it was time. Luke was in the first corral behind me, we said good luck one more time and smirked like the goofy people we are as we fist bumped leaving seconds until go-time.

The first mile was mentally rough, I mean ROUGH.  All of us in the elite corral took off 2 minutes before the rest of the field, I almost instantly found myself in the back all alone. Out of the marathoners I was the slowest, and obviously all of the elite half-ers took off like bats out of hell. I felt like I was losing the race already. Then we got to the first few crowds of the day and I pushed the negative thoughts away. Going down Beale street around mile 3 was great, the crowds and the energy were such a boost. I knew that I couldn't get too wrapped up in it though, I focused on breathing easy and keeping my form in check.

After the first few miles I started getting caught by the second corral. I knew this was going to happen but man oh man, having half marathoners fly past you was mentally challenging. I got passed by some marathoners too (basically guys who were going to go sub 3). I kept telling myself to run my own race, it helped....a little.
Being hunted down by the half marathoners
I saw my dad for the first time right outside the St. Jude campus, I smiled and waved and held up 2 fingers- that was my goal, hold second place. After talking to the girls before the race, I knew the one girl was planning on going out at 2:50-55 pace which told me I would be fighting for second.  Maybe it sounds pessimistic that I didn't even THINK about winning, but going out at 6:30 pace and trying to hang with her would have been grade A stupid move on my part. Maybe someday.

Going through the St. Jude campus was by far one of the best parts of the day. So many people, children, signs, cheering, music- I couldn't help but get choked up. I high fived as many kiddos as I could, and soaked it all in. I was surrounded by children who are stronger than I will EVER be, and caught myself thinking about little ones I know and love in my own life.

After that, I realized my garmin was already reading long(shitty tangents by me) and I needed to not use the pace setting.  A female marathoner from second corral had caught me and I heard her telling guys near her that her goal was 7's. I started instantly questioning if I was way off pace and had a million negative things going through my head. Then I realized I wasn't that far off pace, and that group was going far faster than they thought. For my own hot headed sanity I picked up the pace to stay in front of them anyways. I never saw her again.

Shortly after that I heard my name yelled, cranked my head to the left to see Katie! I knew she would be out there but didn't expect her till 21,  I was sooooo happy! I smiled and waved and I have to say it was a GREAT time for a boost. I think I was excited to see her, judging by my reaction :)

Going into the race, I had made my goal to go out at the first half around 1:32-1:32:30. Because I couldn't trust my garmin I was relying more on the race clocks and mile markers. I knew that I couldn't wait that long to start figuring out where I was at, so I told myself get to mile 10 and do the math to see where I was at. I then made my plan to keep adding 7 to that to know what I needed to reach each clock at. I hit 10 a little over 70, and then told myself to get to mile 11 before 1:17. I ONLY allowed myself to think about the number I needed for the next mile so I wouldn't get ahead of myself. I locked into that pace and was truly running by feel and not a slave staring at my watch. One mile at a freaking time, that works REALLY well- no wonder people preach staying in the mile you're in.

Around mile 11, I was cruising faster than I should have been but felt good and had a strong mental kick that I was missing before.  I think I also was singing a little bit here as a song popped into my head and wouldn't leave --"If you could see me now would you recognize me? Would you pat me on the back or would you criticize me?" Leave it to The Script to invade my brain mid-race.

I saw dad at mile 12, I told him I was right on pace and he told me to keep going and to kick ass. For once I was going to try and do what he told me to, first for everything right?

We broke off from the half marathoners at this point, and I was happy to be out there with just marathoners even though it meant less people around. I needed to focus on my race and not the others. Based on my mid-race formed plan of focusing on multiples of 7's, I needed to hit mile 13 at 1:31 and I was a little ahead. I smiled big when I hit the half at 1:31:42, which was a little faster than my pre-race goal but not so much faster that I feared a big blow up later.

I wasn't expecting to, but around mile 14 I saw my dad again. He was easy to spot far away and I could tell he was on the phone, when I got closer he held out the phone and told me to say hi to mom. I yelled "Hi mom I love you" at the top of my lungs, everyone around us laughed. Even from 1000 miles away I knew I had amazing support back home.

I stuck to my plan and was reaching each clock before the 7:00 pace time and had built a small buffer. Silly enough I was proud of myself for sticking to that plan and the fact that it was working for me. Miles 14-19 FLEW, I tackled the rolling hills as best I could and tucked in tight when the wind picked up.  Around 19 I was starting to feel my left IT band aching. The roads were pretty banked so I moved more towards the middle trying to find flatter section, which helped a bit. I cruised through 20 right around 2:20 which was exactly where I wanted to be at that point.  I was hurting, but fought the mental battle as much as I could. "You've come this far, you can't lose it now." and LOTS of "Just hold on like hell". 

Knowing I would see Katie again at mile 21 helped give me a small goal to focus on rather than the fact that I was still 5+ miles away from being done. People were confirming what I knew along the way "You go girl, 2nd Female!!", I had no idea what sort of lead I had which kept me pushing. I passed 21 and then saw Katie and her husband cheering- I yelled "It hurts", and she quickly responded "I know, just keep going- you're awesome and on pace for 3 hours!!!!" I was so grateful to have her out there- true runner out supporting others! Clearly I was less chipper than the first time I saw her, as per photo proof. Oh  what a difference a few miles makes.

I felt myself fading. I was holding on for dear life and talking myself into getting to the next mile. Just one more mile. Suck it up. Okay, one more mile. I literally willed myself those last few miles with everything I had. My left leg was hurting, I was wheezing a bit and I just wanted to get to the finish. On the other side of this 4 lane road, marathoners were still heading out and I could hear them screaming for me, I have never heard "you go girl" so many times. I had some flashbacks to Empire Half from October, and I reminded myself how AMAZING it felt to hold on and win. I knew I wasn't going to win this race, but I also knew if I held on I was going to have a top 2 finish and a big PR. I didn't deserve this, I was earning every second of it though.

Somewhere in the last few miles I started cutting it close with the 7's, I knew it was happening but didn't care. Just keep going. I was so excited to get to St. Jude again at mile 24- while there was far less  people than the first time, it was still inspiring and helpful. I came around one corner to a HUGE crowd that did the wave as I ran by. I was half in tears from EVERYTHING going through my head, the good and the bad. Pain train 101, crying doesn't help. I sucked it in and just kept moving trying not to pay attention to time.
Second Pass through St. Jude.........Hot Mess Express.
The last 2 miles were the longest 2 miles of the day(literally, slowest of the day). I didn't have many people  around me and I was just struggling to keeping going. It was a weird feeling, I didn't want to stop but I didn't feel like moving either, we'll call this the wall.  I hit 25 knowing there were a few turns ahead and then the finish.

When I got close to the ballpark, there were bigger crowds as expected. The course narrowed as the gates got closer together and I felt the energy of the people surrounding me. My calf seized up just like it did before final turn for Rochester and a group of people saw me wince and encouraged me the best they could. I needed that, I was so grateful for the liars telling me how good I looked.  I made the sharp left and went down the ramp and squinted to see 3:04 on the clock, this was happening.

3 Hours. 4 Minutes. 40 Seconds. 
2nd female, 7 minute PR.

Within 30 seconds of the finish Jessica, the elite coordinator was hugging me asking me what I needed. Lots of photos taken, getting my medal and then also got to see Alyssa who was the first place female. She ran a 2:52 which was a new PR for her as well, her second marathon and second win- incredibly awesome. 

Then I looked up and saw Luke standing there, I know I had a very confused look on my face. He just said it wasn't his day and proceeded to give me the biggest hug he could. An incredibly strong person who set aside his own rough day for that moment in order to congratulate me and be a kick ass friend.

The finish area was, a CLUSTER. I'd actually say this was the only thing about the race that was lacking. They only had a quarter of the stands open for spectators, most was blocked off with gates, which created big bottlenecks everywhere. Most spectators(including my dad) couldn't even see the finish line.  I knew it was going to be hard to find him in the mess.

 I somehow squeezed through and got up to the suites to get my things so I could call him on my phone to find him. There were a few of the elite men waiting in there, they congratulated me and chatted about where we were from briefly (Including the typical NY does not necessarily mean NYC conversation).  I turned on my phone (which promptly blew up, thank you I love you all) and called dad. I took us another 20 minutes or so to find him after that because of the crowds and security. But when I did see him, biggest best dad hug EVER. He was telling anyone around us, "my daughter got second!"- he's allowed to do that, he's a dad.

Most people knew I wanted a PR and sub 3:10 going into this race, but I'll be very honest in that I didn't go in with JUST that goal. Coach and I had talked about 3:03-4, based on my training and strengths in racing/pacing. While I came in the first half ahead of pace, I didn't the second half (1:31:42 and 1:32:58). I'd say I was right where I wanted to be until about 22/3. I lost it in those last few miles- but I hesitate with that word LOST. I faded, I rode the pain train, but I held on like there was no tomorrow. Someone needs to tie me down and have a serious talk with me about tangents though, 26.5 miles- an extra THIRD of a mile due to my inability to run straight.

Marathon #10 is in the books, a shiny new PR and a second place finish. While those things in itself are huge personal successes- I find my biggest pride from this race was the progress I made in the 11 weeks since Rochester. A shorter gritty cycle, that had me tired and begging for taper but turned me into a stronger more confident runner. I went into the race being as prepared as I could be. I had my fuel and my gear. I had the training and the miles. I had the workouts and the confidence. I studied the course, read many posts and knew what to expect for hills (and yes, that over/underpass combo late in the race does suck going down more than it does going up). I knew what I needed to, prepared for what I could, and worked through everything else. This race wasn't a fluke, it wasn't a stroke of luck- it was simply preparedness with a push. 

Cheers to successes big and small & to chances well taken. 

Up Next: Bottoms up....the Memphis Weekend Shenanigans.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Sentiments from Memphis

I've sat here for a while now staring at a blank screen. How can I possibly describe the 72 hours of my life better known as December 5, 6 and 7th 2014? There are no words, but I'll try to find some.

As most of you know, this year has been full of challenges in my personal life as well as my running. Don't get me wrong, we all have struggles and I certainly don't expect any year of my life to be without fault. This year though- the one that left me cracked in many ways, but could have broke me if I had let it. More importantly, the year that would have broke me if others had let it. The pieces of me were held together by the people around me, their kind words and actions that were the super glue I needed after the bull went through the china shop.

 For a big part of this year, I chose not to feel things as a defense mechanism. I didn't want to feel the anger, sadness, bitter and loneliness that was trying to consume me. A side effect of this, I wasn't able to feel the positive emotions either.  I wasn't living I was just maintaining, it isn't life without the ups AND the downs. So piece by piece as time went on this fall I started taking down the wall one at a time. Maybe that was my problem at Rochester, I wasn't ready for the wave to come crashing in on me. Heading into Memphis, my confidence was at an all time high. The workouts were there, the miles were done, the support from others had allowed me to become comfortable and I finally started to feel things again. I think at Empire Half in October, the emotions from the PR/Win put a dent in the wall....while in Memphis I wanted to bust through the rest like a damn wrecking ball.

Some of you may never understand why this was so important to me- and that's ok, YOU don't need to. This weekend was the culmination of the hard work I have put in for years, but more specifically the last few months with my running. I made the choice to take things to the next level, I made the choice to forget about the fear and lay it all on the line for something that I desperately wanted. What I wanted had less to do with a specific time, and more to do with feeling something. I wanted to feel in control, I wanted to feel the push, the hurt, the drive and the emotions- believe me when I say I felt all of that. Every single one of my race photos I look the same, very focused and you can tell I'm reminding myself to breathe. If only I could have recorded the thoughts in my head during those photos, it was the kind of dialogue cheesy inspirational YouTube videos are made from (In my head, I picture 'Rise and Shine'). The mind really will give out far before the body if you let it.

This weekend was also the proof that the relationship with my Dad (which, admittedly hasn't always been the best, mainly due to my own faults), is light-years beyond what it was. I love that man to pieces, but in my 27 years this was the first time we did something for a weekend the two of us. Not to mention the fact that it included travelling 1000 miles so he could support me in a race. For the better part of 3 days we talked and laughed like friends, not just father and daughter. The pride in his face when he found me after the race, the hugs and the words...still bring tears to my eyes. I will NEVER forget that. Ever.

This weekend reminded me just how many great people are out there, despite the naysayers and the pirates. Whether it be in real life, or virtual- the relationships that I have are beyond words (I was so grateful to turn a 'virtual' into a 'real life' one this weekend though, more about that in a weekend recap). Good luck charms and cards with nothing but encouraging words, people who went out of their way to make things easier for me. The list of things the people in my life did for me in this short period of time alone- could wrap around the world. Twice.

By now you probably know that Saturday I ran a pretty damn personally epic race. If you follow me on ANY form of social media- you're probably tired of being blasted with things about it-- here's where I insert #sorrynotsorry. You know what, it happened and I am going to enjoy every second of it. This is what I have to share about my life like others do with their children, marriages, homes, and successes- my current life allows my running to be my child, to be the thing I'm married to, and to be the home I find comfort in. Someday that will change, someday I will be proud of the sound of my heels walking down the aisle or the sound of my kiddos bitty feet pitter pattering around- but in the mean time, I'm going to be proud of the sound of my feet hitting the pavement for a little over 3 hours. Everyone has things they want to share and be proud of, I love seeing the similarities and differences in that. We all deserve a chance to share that which we love.

Going into Memphis I knew that those 26+ miles would most likely be the last ones I ran in 2014- if you knew that, how would you run it? For 3 hours, 4 minutes, and 40 seconds- I ran like it was my one shot to prove something. The good news, it wasn't my one shot at anything- it wasn't the last time I will EVER run, and it certainly won't be a limit for future running adventures. I can look back and say I ran like it was though, so there's that.

Coming home on Sunday there was no dread. There was no sadness walking into my own place, I was proud. I came back to a place I call MY home,  to relax and then make my way to an evening of friends and fun. I was lucky enough to come home to celebrate friends getting married- to end an already amazing weekend, with even more love and emotions than I was already overflowing with.

There will be a recap of the race up soon- but I think that it was important for me to remember what I wanted out of this race first. I felt what I needed to and I earned what I wanted...and more.

In the mean time forgive me while I go dry my eyes- something seems to have been permanently stuck in them for a few days.

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