"Whenever you think you are giving it all you have, give just a little bit more"

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

An experience of a lifetime

It turns out running a marathon is a lot like eating Thanksgiving dinner. It takes hours and hours of preparation for it to all be over before you even blink your eyes. I feel like I just flew into Boston but I am already home with missing toe nails, swollen ankles and sore quads to prove to me it actually did happen.
Luckily for me my life is so hectic with the kids and work that I decided not to fly in to Boston until Saturday night. Sure I had second thoughts on this being a good idea. but in the end it was the best idea for me. I tend to freak myself out going into races so it was best for me to avoid all the excitement in town by just hanging out with my family. It didn't take me long after arriving to come to this realization. Just going for my Sunday shake out I could feel all of the energy in the city. I did my best the rest of the day to avoid too much excitement.  I spent most of the day laying low but made sure to catch up over coffee with Bryce from Elliptigo and my all time favorite race director Richard Fannin over dinner. After stuffing myself full I laid in my room for the night thinking about the race the next day. Not knowing what would happen in the race or really who I should key off of I decided to just go out at the pace I had been training at and see who ended up around me. Those would be the people I would run with. Yet as I sat there I felt like this race should be about more. I wanted to really make sure I took it all in! In most races I couldn't tell you a single thing about the course from start to finish I get so zoned in to my race plan that nothing else matters. So I promised myself no matter how the race was going I would just enjoy the day! Take it all in and get the full benefit of Boston.
Well before I knew it we were at the starting line and the gun was going off. Immediately I was taken back by the crowds. I have never experienced anything like it. The whole time I kept thinking "Ok we are going downhill just relax do not get excited yet. Feel the pace just like a workout" Luckily my body has grown to know the pace and I hit mile one in a comfortable 5:38 and found myself with two girls. We could see the lead pack and the chase pack but were comfortably behind them. This was a good thing I had been worried I'd run the whole race by myself. By mile two I was already feeling a little off which told me this was not going to be like my first 2 marathons. In my first two marathons the miles were just flying by with ease, I almost didn't know how far I had left to go. Unfortunately on Monday I knew at mile 2 I had 24.2 mile to go. My first thought was you have two options here mama. Either give in and settle back or fight for every mile and hope your body comes around. Of course I picked option number two. I had a couple girls to work with so I figured I would just fight for every single mile and let the crowds help me along. The strategy worked pretty well. I went from moments of thinking I'm never gonna be able to finish this, to moments that I thought I'd be able to actually break 2:30. At mile 12 I got a little carried away. I was giving high 5's to the crowd and really enjoying myself when I looked up and noticed all of a sudden a couple people were getting closer to us up front. That little bit of possibility got the best of me and I ran a 5:32 mile. A little too early in the race to be throwing down a mile below pace but the energy from the crowd just took me over.
Long story short I ran the way I had planned from mile 1 through about 17-18. I knew the Newtons and heartbreak were coming up but that's not what was bothering me. After taking my gel and liquids at 30k we hit a downhill and I could tell my quads had had enough. It became a relief every time I saw an uphill giving my muscles a switch in gears. Oddly enough the last few miles my fastest was going up heartbreak hill. I have always been a much better uphill than downhill runner. Shortly after coming down heartbreak hill my quads started cramping up and by now I was all alone. Once you are alone and hurting in the end of a marathon it becomes harder and harder to keep out the negative thoughts and hold yourself together. By 23 I started praying with every step that my quads could sustain themselves and not just give out. I wont lie with 1k to go you dip down under an overpass and when I saw the little bit of downhill I almost started crying. Going into Boston I heard a million people say "Train for the downhill" but I didn't take it very serious. I figured it couldn't be that bad. Boy was I wrong.

Luckily I finished the race and was even able to hold on to a 1:36 PR with a time of 2:32:49. After getting my cramped up quads a massage I found my phone and was greeted with many congratulations. Some people wondering if I was ok with the time. Most of you that know me know I get my head set on one time and if I don't get it I tend to feel defeated so I understood the questioning. However going in to Boston I knew to expect anything from a 2:29-2:34. To me Boston was a win. No I didn't reach my ultimate goal but I got a new PR on a day that I had to work and fight for every single mile. The marathon can be funny like that. There are going to be days it is easy and there are going to be days it is extremely hard. I was handed a hard day and I fought to make it a good day. I never gave up or completely fell apart. I dealt the hand I was given on the day and managed to come away 19th overall female and 5th American woman. In years past my time would have put me a lot farther up in the standings but non of that mattered. I was part of an epic day! I placed 19th on a day that the women ran fast enough for a new course record. I ran on a day when Boston took marathon Monday back to a beautiful memorable day! Most importantly I had a decent day on a day when an American man won the Boston marathon for the first time since the 1980's. Plus it wasn't just any man, it was Meb. Most of you know I am a big fan and athlete for Elliptigo. Elliptigo is a company I am so honored to be connected to. Not only because they have this great device that is so invaluable but because they are the most amazing people I have dealt with. It started out as this little company that has grown into an amazing thing. these guys go out to coffee with me when they are in town, they invite us into the warehouse and give my kids t-shirts (which anyone with kids knows that kids really dig free stuff. so it made their day), they check in on me to see how training is going, they go out and do a 24 mile workout with me just so I am not left alone and they buy me a beer at the airport to congratulate me on a new PR. So to see one of their athletes do so well really makes me happy! Plus Meb is 38! In running years many would have started to count him out, but clearly he is still very much in the game running 50 second PR's! It gives me hope that there are still many more successful years to come!

I spent a lot of the course giving kids, adults and fans high 5's. I waved to people screaming my name and I thoroughly enjoyed myself more than I ever have in a race. Boston is a magical place! I wish I could do it justice and put the energy from there into words but all I can say is if you ever get the chance to run Boston make sure you do it!

Once I am able to get my quads to function and my toes to go back to normal size I am going to tackle getting fast again. I'm not sure what the next marathon on the horizon will be but I'm sure it'll be soon. For now I will be getting in some good quality miles on my Elliptigo and recovering with a few too many beers!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Turn your brain off!

I woke up today thinking WTH!?!?!?! I have prepared for Monday April 21st with hundreds and hundreds of miles. 12 weeks, 84 days, countless hours, 12 massages, hours in my Normatec boots, miles on my Elliptigo, too many minutes with my R8, sacrificed races and many social sacrifices just to go to bed last night and dream that I DROPPED OUT OF THE BOSTON MARATHON!!! Those of you that have read this blog know that I have some serious issues upstairs when it comes to racing. It is by far the biggest obstacle I have to over come. However last week I sat down and looked through my training log for this cycle and came to peace with the fact that I did all I could. I ran some great long runs and workouts in some crappy conditions. I did more than 24 miles on more than one occasion on the trusty treadmill. After reading it all back I realized you know what I had a great build up! I'm ready to go no doubting yourself now. UNTIL apparently my sub conscious wanted to freak me out just a little more and give me that wonderful dream last night.

Here is the deal. Monday will be marathon number 3, in the grand scheme of things I am still a marathon baby. It is going to take a lot more than 2 or even 3 for me to perfect (as much as one can when some things are out of your control) the marathon. It's time to reflect. I am going to be totally real with you, the last 9 miles of Twin cities was the most physically miserable I have ever been in my life. Which isn't taken lightly...I have had TWO babies naturally and while just short of three months pregnant with the second I had an emergency appendectomy. I have been miserable. I have dealt with pain.  I lost my mom in my early 20's I know how to deal with the worst kind of emotional pain. So When I think of all these things I think....BRING IT ON BOSTON!!! I've dealt with so much worse. Boston will be fun!

 It is completely natural to get nervous or scared leading in to a marathon. As runners we put months and months in to one race hoping that on race day everything we have done will pay off. That is the easy part, some things are simply out of our control. Will our bodies cooperate on race day? Will the weather cooperate? Did we taper just right? Did we eat, drink, sleep enough? So much goes in to this ONE day and this ONE day will take so much out of us it will be fall before we can come back for our next duel with the marathon. So yes all these thoughts are normal. Looking at social media I know I am not the only one thinking these thoughts.

Truth be told though. If Monday doesn't go well it'll suck. Those that don't meat their expectations will feel defeated, like they let people down, like they are failures. This could not be farther from the truth. No matter how Monday goes ALL of us out there running whether it was great or awful will have learned something. We will all be better marathoners as a result and life will continue. Regardless of how anyone does Monday we are all able to run and push ourselves. There are so many people who would kill to be running a marathon in sub 2:30, 2:30, sub 3:00, 3:00, 3:05, 3:30 sub 4:00. The list goes on and on. As much as I wish I wasn't away from my family on Easter weekend it does give you purpose. Think of how blessed we all are to be here, living the life we are so lucky to have. I plan on going out there and running with joy. Thanking God for giving me this talent and life that may not be close to perfect but that I enjoy to it's fullest. No I'm not going to win on Monday but I am going to do my absolute best to set a new PR in this race and every other marathon I start. I'm ready and while anxious I am excited to be at one of the best marathons there is!

Like the quote says......in the race when you start doubting how much farther you can go remember just how far you have come! THIS is the fun part! GOOD LUCK TO EVERYONE IN BOSTON!!!

                                          The sweet limited addition Adidas Energy Boost !

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Hay is in the Barn?!?!?!?!

Well 2014 has been an odd one. The year started out on a high note. I went to the USA half marathon Champs with no hopes of making the World Half marathon team. The field was loaded, I was only starting to feel like I was getting some speed back and I just didn't think it was possible. Well guess what I did? GASP.....I went in to the race with zero pressure. The night before I figured what the hell? What do I have to lose? I want to break 1:12 at some point...what better day than my birthday? Well guess what the result was? I got 4th, a new PR 1:12:29 and I made the world team!!!! Sure I didn't break 1:12 like I want to eventually but honestly I knew that it wasn't going to happen in the fitness I was in. So a new PR was CRAZY!  The news that I made the team was very welcome as I received it while boarding the plane to Mexico for a fun filled few days with some of my closest friends. It gave me a few days to celebrate a big dream coming true!
                                                 Are you kidding me?!?!? I made the team!

It turned out Mexico was just what I needed to get the juices flowing again and I came back ready to roll. With just 13 weeks until Boston I knew it was time to get back to some big volume. I do have to be honest though I had a slight thought of scratching Boston and making my sole focus for the early fall the World Half champs. For me the marathon is my baby, I love it, I thrive in the training BUT when I race during my build up it is honestly a complete crap shoot! I have had both kinds of build ups. For my build up in the trials and New York I couldn't get my legs to do ANYTHING in racing. Than I had my build up to Twin Cities and I was pretty much hitting my PR's in every race. All this went in to my talks with Scott and ultimately we decided I could do both. Sadly I raced 3 times leading in to Boston and sadly all 3 left something to be desired for sure. Don't get me wrong Copenhagen was the experience of a lifetime. I learned a lot of things. One being that time changes and me do not do well together. I didn't sleep all week until I finally took a melatonin two nights before the race. The melatonin helped me get some much needed rest but still didn't make up for the days before I wasn't getting sleep. I even raided the mini bar in our hotel room the night before the race and drank half of the little red wine at 2 am hoping it would make me sleep. I mean seriously I have a glass of red wine at home and I pass out. Unfortunately the wine ended up being an expensive sleeping pill that did not work. But lesson learned! I also learned I need to not be such a picky eater. Traveling to a different country means I need to just eat what I can to get nutrition and not be a big baby!  All in all I am bummed about the race. My fitness is beyond anything it has ever been at and I couldn't get it to translate on race day. The day I really wanted to shine I was stale, flat and wanted to cry.

       Women's USA team with a 5th place finish! Thanks to the top 3 running some big PR's

Moving on I can not change anything that happened in Copnhagen. I still got to hang out with some really fun people. I got to know Clara Santucci and Matt Lano better. I must say I LOVE those two. Both are such great people with so much talent and ability. You will be seeing their names a lot in years to come! Plus I got to hang out with my teammate Mattie which is always great! Not to be sappy or anything but the group of ladies I hang out with have really become some of the greatest friends! The five girls on our team were just great and it was awesome to see Annie and Lauren run such big PR's. Oh and I got to talk to one of my long time idols, Colleen De Reuck. If there are any three people I could sit down with and pick their brains for knowledge it would be her, Deena Kastor and Meb. They have all done some amazing things and haven't let age slow them down...INCREDIBLE!
                                                     What a great team to be a part of!
                                The Elliptigo guys helping me out with some final Boston prep!

I'm finally back home after a couple weeks away and I can not believe it but we are only 13 days out from the big day! Boston is just around the corner. As they say...the hay is in the barn....all my work is done. From here on out all I can do is relax and believe in myself. This is the time that makes me laugh. I can not tell you how many miles I put in leading in to this race but with two weeks to go I always think. Oh crap I wonder if I did enough? Truth is. Yes I did plenty! I had some great workouts and long runs that have shown me my fitness is at a point it has never been before. My final beast of a workout was completed at sea level (with the help of the amazing guys at Elliptigo, Darren Brown and Bryce Whiting. I mean seriously what sponsor goes out and helps you with a 24 mile day? This company is something else!) I did 20 miles in and out in 2 hours, and I felt amazing! I know I'm ready for this. I can't wait. This will only be my 3rd marathon but I'm hoping its the one that reminds me why when I crossed the finish line at the trials in Houston I said "THIS is my race! I want to keep doing these and nothing else". To be honest sometimes I just have to remind myself how lucky I am to get to do what I do. Sure I am not the fastest. No I won't WIN Boston but I am a good runner. I have my own set of goals that will make me feel accomplished and I can not wait to tackle them! Here is to hoping Boston give me some magic!!!!
These girls are some of the greatest ladies around! So grateful for their support every single day!   (Oh and the always supportive Richard who is gonna get some Boston magic himself!)