Amerithon Challenge

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I saw something cool on Twitter a couple weeks ago. Kara Goucher, an Olympian whom I adore, posted something about the Amerithon Challenge. She was wearing a cute tech shirt and and said to use the code KARA for $5 off. So I went to the website, and it’s a virtual challenge where you try to walk, run, bike, swim, pogo stick, etc. your way across the United States. That’s 3,521 miles. You can do it by yourself or with a team. They send you a wall map, a little passport book with stickers, and a medal that consists of 4 pieces that you earn with each segment and put together along the way. I think it’s really a cool idea for keeping people active, so I’m signed up and my package of goodies arrived yesterday. My Garmin is synched to the tracker they have set up, and I’m on my way across the country! I’m not sure how long something like this will take me, but it something different to try. I like that it doesn’t focus on your speed or strictly running; any activity you want can count toward your total. The challenge started July 4th, but there’s no time limit and people can still register and take as long as they need to finish.

Currently I don’t have a race on the calendar until next spring, but I am virtually making my way across the United States. First landmark, Bay Bridge.

Amerithon Wall Map

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It’s all about the shirt

Dorothy shirt

I’m running the Garmin Marathon next weekend, April 21, 2018. Why am I running 26.2 miles during ridiculous spring weather on a boring as hell course in Olathe, KS? For the shirt, of course. I mean, look at this thing! That logo is just the best. And the medal isn’t too shabby either. As soon as I saw the video reveal for The Year of Dorothy and that logo, I knew I was in. I’ve been feeling good, and my knees haven’t been bothering me since my little scare after the Holiday Streaking back in January, so I opted to stick with the full.

Right now I’m in full-blown panic mode. Like my heart has been racing and my chest getting tight every time I think about what I’m doing next weekend. I thought maybe writing would help calm me down. (It hasn’t.)

My mom is really, really sick right now with some kind of throat-closing virus that is not strep. So I’m worried I’m going to get it too. I’m stressing about how much to run or not to run this week. Worried I’m going to injure myself somehow between now and Saturday. Worried my shoes have too many miles on them (even though I checked my log and they don’t). Worried about not getting enough sleep, even though I always get enough sleep. Worried my addiction to Easter candy and tendency to stress-eat are going to leave me carrying around extra pounds on race day. Worried about lemon-lime Gatorade in my guts. Worried because it’s been a long time since I’ve run that far. Worried about the weather, even though I have no control over that. Worried because the other 2 times I’ve done this race (the half) it has poured rain. I’ve done pretty much all my long training runs in freezing temps, wearing leggings, long sleeves/fleece/headgear, but it could be 80 degrees by next weekend, and I’m not ready for that.

P.S. I’m so over this snowing in April shit. And the wind. So over it.

Over it

So over this weather.

That being said, I’m trying to remember that I did have some great long runs. I did 21 miles a couple weeks ago with my friend Allison and felt amazing afterward, even though I fueled like an idiot. On that run we ended up having to beg a high school kid running a concession stand to give us a Powerade with the promise we would return and pay for it because neither of us had any money, the water fountains were not turned on, and we ran much further from our cars than we anticipated. We were fluid-depleted because I can’t do math or read a map. Funny story now, not so funny in the moment. Another amazing long run was an 18-miler in Washington, D.C. while I was there with my friend Lori and my parents for the March for Our Lives. Running around D.C. is pretty much my favorite. And while this is not a picture of me on that run, this is an excuse for me to post that Marine Corps Marathon image I recently purchased at 50% from the fine folks at MarathonFoto.

MCM 2016 Capitol

Somewhere around mile 18 of the Marine Corps Marathon, 2016

See, I’m a marathoner. Nothing to be scared of. So why the panicky feeling?

I think it’s the taper trap. The taper madness. I hate it.

My DVR is set to record the Boston Marathon tomorrow, so I’m hoping that watching all those badasses battle through will get me excited about my own race.

And hopefully by this time next weekend I will be posting a picture of me in my sweet new shirt.

The Dreaded DNS

I should preface this by saying I understand that what I’m about to write is some serious “first world problem”, privileged bullshit to most people. I understand that my personal crisis pales in comparison to many things happening around the world right now. I know that in the grand scheme of things, this is not that big of a deal. That being said, this is my personal journal, and I think that I will want to have this to look back on some day.  

Remember that time I trained for the Twin Cities Marathon and then didn’t get to run it? Yeah, about that…

Turns out there’s a running term for it, because of course there is. It’s DNS, or Did Not Start. Which is a close cousin of the DNF, or Did Not Finish, which is certainly what would have happened if I had attempted to run the marathon after both Dan and I were struck with Otto’s stomach bug within an hour or so of landing in Minneapolis. A co-worker helped me out with the term for what we had: diabarfarrhea. That’s when your guts liquefy and violently propel themselves out of your body using any and all available exits.

It was miserable. What’s a more intense word for miserable? Wretched. Pathetic. Woeful. We were staying in the Aloft hotel downtown, which has small, studio-style, modern rooms featuring a pocket bathroom door that doesn’t even close all the way, and a toilet area with no fart fan. The bed was right up against the “bathroom”, and there was no escaping the noise and chaos of what was happening to us. We just took turns dragging ourselves from the bed to the bathroom all night/morning long. We were powerless to stop it. Diabarfarrhea 2017 kicked off Friday afternoon, and since the race wasn’t until Sunday morning, I was clinging desperately to this little glimmer of hope that the bug would be quick and I would still be able to go to the race expo late Saturday, pick up my bib, and be ready to run on Sunday.

HA! I was delusional. A marathon is daunting under the very BEST of conditions, and there was just no way that I could hydrate/fuel myself back up to where I needed to be to run. A text from my friend Allison sealed the deal when she shared that her ultra-fit husband (who has run like 100 marathons) once tried to run a marathon a few days after having a stomach bug and had to leave the course by ambulance at mile 17 because his body ran out of fuel and he couldn’t continue. Yeah, I’m not anywhere near the athlete that her husband is, so I tried to accept my fate and the DNS.

Saturday morning/afternoon Dan went on a pilgrimage for fluids and eventually we got out of the room and walked across the street for a bit. I was winded and needed a nap. But I also desperately needed clean sheets and towels, so I practically begged the guy at the front desk to get housekeeping to come to our room first instead of the rooms that were checking out that day, as is their standard procedure. We couldn’t stay awake long enough for the season premier of Saturday Night Live. We watched Pitch Perfect 2 on FX, complete with commercials and not in HD, and called it a night. Sunday morning was cool and crisp, pretty perfect running weather to start. Every local news station was covering the marathon. Our backs were aching from spending so much time in bed. We walked to get coffee, which I could barely drink, and I continued sulking and generally feeling like a pathetic pile of crap. It did get progressively more windy as the morning wore on and eventually a cold, pouring rain started, so it would have been a pretty tough race to finish.

We ended up going to the Vikings game in the new stadium a couple blocks from our hotel. I’m really glad we did that (even though I just wanted to stay inside and sulk), as it was the only thing we got to experience outside of our sick room that whole weekend. I own 37 purple shirts and somehow managed not to pack a single one. So that just annoyed me too. Sunday afternoon worked out much better for Dan, who was sitting in great seats, all cozy inside a gorgeous football stadium instead of standing out in the cold rain somewhere in St. Paul waiting for me to finish a marathon. The Vikings ended up losing (shocker). And we got to see Ahmad Rashad get added to the Ring of Honor in a special ceremony. I couldn’t eat ballpark food or drink beer, so it was still kind of a bummer.

Dan was stuck with miserable Tiff for quite awhile. It took well into the next week before I felt 100% physically and perhaps I’m still not 100% emotionally. The final kick in the gut was having to come back and explain to class after class of inquiring sophomores how my marathon went. And while I obviously couldn’t help it, it was still embarrassing to admit that I didn’t get to run it. They had to have a substitute for 2 days for nothing.

It was such a waste. A waste of money (flights, 3 nights in a hotel, race registration, etc.). A waste of time. A waste of all that miserable training. I’m still having a hard time shaking it. I know I’ll bounce back, and yes, there is a lesson here somewhere, but I’m still kind of bitter about the whole ordeal. Some people are asking if I can just sign up for some other race, and it doesn’t exactly work that way, at least not for me. Because of tapering, my last long run was back on September 9. Since then I haven’t run many long runs, and then the sickness just wiped me out for over a week and set me back to what feels like zero. I did 6 and 7 mile runs the last couple of weekends and felt ok. I’ve still been doing 4-5 before work a few days during the week, and I could probably do a 10 mile run, but certainly not a marathon.

Today, in an attempt to get out of my funk, I volunteered as a course monitor at the Kansas City Marathon.

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I had a lot of fun cheering my head off and making people chuckle with my sidewalk chalking and signs. I was between miles 17 and 18. Today did not convince me to run the KC Marathon though. I’ve only ever done the half, which must have many more participants than the full. It gets pretty lonely and desolate out there on the marathon course. From the leaders to the back of the pack, it was not unusual to have lone runners for blocks at a time. There were virtually no spectators in the residential area where I was stationed, which was annoying/disappointing to me because it was a beautiful fall morning. C’mon rich people! You live on the marathon course. Drag a chair over to the curb, drink your coffee and cheer a little. I blasted music from my Rav and did my best to keep my energy consistent.

Side note: The KC Marathon does something terrible at the end of the race. If you’re the last person, not only is a police car slowly following you (pretty normal), but you are also being followed by 3 street sweepers, some kind of water truck, AND 2 dump trucks. Like huge, loud, city vehicles crawling along behind you at 5 mph as you walk along trying to finish your race. I thought for a minute they may all be trying to get to a construction site as the roads were opening back up, but no. They were on the heels of the last marathoner, ready to literally sweep him off the road. And it was only mile 17!! I get that they need to clean up the course, but could they not hang back a bit? Like give a guy a block or so so you’re not breathing down his neck with your truck rumblings and squeaky brakes?!? He couldn’t even hear the people cheering for him over the noise of the heavy machinery. I was so sad for him.

I did sign up for another race, not a full, but the Liberty Hospital Half Marathon on March 3rd. Maybe that will get me into some kind of spring marathon mode, but I’m not so sure. My past experience is that spring marathons = constant rainy long runs. Not my favorite. But we’ll see. I’ve also registered to be a Holiday Streaker, which means I will be engaging in at least 15 minutes of intentional exercise every day from Thanksgiving Day to New Year’s Day. (If you miss a day, you have to do 50 burpees, which would take me most of a day to do, so I will not be missing a day.) For $25 you get a fun shirt, most of your money goes to help needy families, and you can track your progress and keep tabs on your friends/co-workers. If you’d like to join, check them out: holidaystreakers.com

I’m tapering and I’m cranky

I’m sick and tired of it being so damn hot. It’s the first day of fall and it’s absolutely sweltering and miserable here in Kansas. I’ve been home with a puking kid for 2 days on near constant bucket vigil, had a rough night without much sleep, and I’m tapering. That means I’m cranky as hell.

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Tapering is that period of time 3 weeks before a marathon where you cut your mileage way back so that you can heal your body before you absolutely destroy it on race day. I plan to absolutely destroy my body on Sunday, October 1st in Minneapolis, MN at the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon. Actually, most of the destruction will probably take place somewhere in St. Paul, MN since that’s where the race finishes.

My training for this marathon has gone ok. Not great. Not everything I had envisioned it being. I haven’t strength trained like I should. I haven’t done any speed work. I haven’t had a weekday run longer than 5 or 6 miles. I still walk up most of the hills I encounter. I didn’t really ride that bike I bought and thought would be so great for my cross training. I’m 7 or 8 pounds heavier than when I ran my last marathon. I’m just feeling pretty “blah” about it right now. I had a pretty solid running base going all summer, started going to November Project workouts, and even did the Hospital Hill half marathon, where, (surprise!) it was hot as hell and miserable and I thought I was going to die. And then I successfully did my long runs of 14 miles, 16 miles, 6+11=17 miles, 18 miles, and 21 miles (but really it was barely 20 because I walked the majority of the last couple miles). I was absolutely melting over in Shawnee Mission Park. Have I mentioned I’m so over this heat? But, yeah, I thought I’d be more seriously prepared for marathon number 5.

Last weekend I did 13 miles, this weekend I will do 10, and then I’m done. And right now I’m just feeling done. So done. Done with the heat. Done with prepping for runs. Done with thinking about runs. Done with being 100% drenched at the end of a run. Done with freezing and carrying water bottles, figuring out which energy gels won’t make me gag, which route to run, how early I’ll need to get up, etc. And now I’m worried I’m going to get this stomach bug and have the pukes heading into the race (though that might be one way to drop those 7 or 8 pounds).

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Sometimes you enjoy the sunflowers and the sunrise. Other times you want to murder people.

I need it to be cold in Minnesota. You hear that, Minnesota? Frosty and crisp on October 1st. You can do it. I know you can. I simply cannot propel myself any more miles in 70+ degree temperatures.

I need an attitude adjustment. I need a good night’s sleep. I need to step out my door into a cool morning. I need to stop eating so much candy corn and peanuts.  I need people to leave me messages on that Motigo app again so I can listen to them during the race.

In fact, here’s the challenge: download the Motigo app (yes, it’s kind of annoying to set up a user name and password, but just use the same one you do for everything else), search for the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon, find my name, and then leave me a message explaining what you need. Are you cranky too? Then let’s commiserate. Hit record, vent your frustrations, and then drop that baby at whatever mile you see fit. If you’re not in need of an attitude adjustment like I am, then here are some other suggestions: read me an inspirational quote, explain to me why running is a good thing or bad thing, quote a line from a favorite movie/show, tell me a dad joke, tell me how you’d rather be spending 5 hours on a Sunday morning, read me some positive news headlines, talk about a memorable time we spent together. Anything.

Now that I’ve got that out of my system, it’s time for some candy corn and then straight to bed.

Boston, baby!

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I got to go spectate the 2017 Boston Marathon. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while. I went with my friend Lori. We flew out of Kansas City on Friday and came back Tuesday. In the process of doing this, I learned several things.

  1. It lives up to the hype. It’s a magical thing to be in that place during that race.
  2. Some of the greatest stories on the Boston Marathon course are happening on the sidewalks after the course has closed and they’re tearing down the barricades.
  3. If you’re a runner and you go to Boston the weekend of the Boston Marathon, people will think you were running the Boston Marathon.
  4. Most people don’t know jack shit about marathons (see #3). There’s no way I would be running the Boston Marathon because I would need to have a qualifying time fast enough to make me eligible to register (3 hours 40 minutes, you know, just an hour or so faster than I’ve run one before). We did run the B.A.A. 5k on Saturday, so I could see how the pictures of us in running gear might have caused confusion.
  5. If you’re a runner and you go to Boston the weekend of the Boston Marathon to spectate, you will feel a teensy bit left out and jealous of all the stripey jackets and general badassery that you’re not a part of.
  6. I suck at subway navigation. How can I have a master’s degree and still not quite grasp the whole “the place it says on the front of the train is the end of the line in the direction that one is heading” thing? I’m always a frazzled mess getting on a train. I’m from the midwest and I don’t travel much, so I guess that’s an excuse. From the ticket buying and inserting/scanning/turnstiling, to knowing the difference between inbound and outbound, to trying to hear the announcements, I’m stressed.
  7. I’m a full-blown marathon fan. I’m watching them on TV. I’m flying across the country to watch them live. I’m watching recorded marathons on TV that I saw live. I’m following multiple pro runners on social media. I’m following blogs about running. I’m reading books and magazines about running. I’m listening to multiple podcasts about running. I only want to shop for clothes that are for running. I’m in it. Deep. I feel like I should be a better runner with this level of investment.
  8. Not everyone is a marathon fan. I forget this sometimes. In fact, on a podcast I listened to this week (yes, a running podcast) the guest said that most people on the street could probably name 10 pro golfers even if they have no interest in golf, but couldn’t name 10 pro runners even if they have no interest in running. That’s probably true. And I think that’s kind of a bummer.
  9. The Courtyard by Marriott in Brookline, Massachusetts is the perfect place to stay if you plan to spectate the marathon. I have no basis of comparison, but I stand by that claim.
  10. I don’t understand the love for the Green Monster at Fenway Park. To me it just looked like a big, ugly, green, wooden wall with a few advertisements. There may be some functionality I’m not aware of, but I don’t get why they don’t just have seats there. It looks weird. And they should have more seats in that place because they sell the standing room. Seriously. And it ain’t cheap.
  11. I need to learn more American history. Walking the Freedom Trail in Boston made me wish I knew more about all the Revolutionary shit that went down there. But I also made a resolution for 2017 to know more about actual kings and queens than I do about characters in Game of Thrones, so I’m not sure when I’m going to have time to do all this studying.
  12. Patriot’s Day is a real holiday in Boston. People have the day off and everything. Also, Bostonians aren’t aware that Patriot’s Day isn’t a thing anywhere else.
  13. I would go back to Boston again in a heartbeat. Marathon or not, it was an incredible place to visit.
  14. I really want to run another marathon.

I have my eye on the Twin Cities Marathon the first weekend of October. Haven’t pulled the trigger and officially registered yet though. Not sure what I’m waiting for.

Finish Line

Lori and me at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. It was part of the 5k course, so we briefly stopped to snap a picture before finishing our run back at Boston Common.

Route 66 Marathon: PR, baby!

On November 20, 2016 I ran my PR in the marathon. I finished the Route 66 Marathon in Tulsa, Oklahoma in under 4 hours and 30 minutes, with an official time of 4:29:55. I didn’t set out to get a PR; in fact, I had initially thought I would be lucky to finish injury free since this marathon was just 3 weeks after the Marine Corps Marathon. I wasn’t sure if I had totally recovered from that one. But I had a fantastic day and an amazing race, beating my previous time by 12 minutes. I’m so glad that I decided to do it. And I’m kicking myself for waiting like 2 months to write about it. Today we have a preventative “ice day”, meaning it’s supposed to get icy at some point, so they cancelled school, and I have no excuses for not writing today. Here were the major factors in my success:

  1. I got to just relax and hang out with my family before the race. We stayed at Adam and Laura’s house and my parents came to Tulsa as well. Since this wasn’t a race I had trained for, there was no pressure. I was really rested.15355578_10104147949487939_6633290063930050124_n
  2. I had a start line sherpa. Adam drove me downtown, parked us a block from the start, and waited with me in the cold, holding onto all my stuff while I used the potty and waited for the last wave to start. No hours of shuttle riding, standing in line, or waiting around for the start. (Oh, and he also picked up my packet for me at the expo the Friday before the race.) It was nice to have someone to talk to and soak in the ceremony of it all. Route 66 has 4 start waves, each starting a few minutes apart, and they are kind enough to fire a confetti cannon for each wave, even us in wave D.  Last to start, first in my heart!

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    This is what the back of the pack looks like, folks. I’m wearing the gray hoodie and sunglasses.

  3. Wide open spaces! (Cue the Dixie Chicks song.) Man, it was nice not to run shoulder to shoulder with people for 26 miles. I didn’t want to murder anyone. I didn’t even want to curse at anyone on this course. I don’t think I had an ill thought about anyone that day. In fact, after the 13 mile mark where the half marathoners peeled off, it was super-roomy. Making that right turn to go on the full marathon course instead of continuing straight ahead to finish the half marathon was a really neat experience. Only my first full back in Fargo offered a half option. Making that split was really energizing for me. I switched from podcasts to music at that point because I wanted to fully embrace the badassery of the moment. There were only 1500 finishers in the full marathon and I finished 514th . There were only 684 women who finished, and I finished 165 out of 684. And in my new age group (35-39), I finished 24th out of 111. I am not typically a results gal when it comes to races, but I’m extremely proud of this.

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    There’s no one around me, hooray!

  4. Adorable spectators. Dan, Adam, Laura, and my parents were kind enough to bundle Evan and Otto up and bring them out to the course. They found me over at the University of Tulsa campus, which is somewhere around mile 20. This was the campus where I attended a conference that time I got T-boned at an intersection and totaled my car. I gave a fist pump to a special parking lot and reminisced about Adam bringing me my personal belongings that had survived the wreck and loading them into the rental car. Good times. So I spent some time reflecting on how far I’ve come since getting smashed up. I remember feeling so battered and bruised up and angry and violated the last time I was on that campus. It was nice to let go of that and instead appreciate my family and my health. Not only did they show up, they also made me awesome signs. Seeing them was a great boost and it does make the home stretch a bit easier knowing there will be people who love you at the finish line.15203300_10104147950321269_4790209467486956898_n
  5. Motigo messages. My family and friends came through once again and I had over 90 voice messages to listen to along the way. It still floors me that people would take that much time to encourage me. My wonderful co-worker Leslie took her phone around the school and had teachers and students leave me cheers for this race. It was unbelievably nice, and pleasantly distracting. I forgot how hilly Tulsa was, having run the half marathon as my first post-baby race back in 2012. The Motigo cheers helped push me over some of the tough spots.
  6. It actually felt like a fall marathon. Cooler temperatures probably deserves the number one spot on this list as far as why this race went well for me. Finishing with temps in the 50’s instead of the 80’s makes a huge difference when you’re running for over 4 hours. It was so chilly at the start, in fact, that I had to borrow an old, throw away sweatshirt from Adam and was digging in my car for some gloves. People were not walking and fading and looking like death as we got close to the finish the way they were in Washington, D.C. I ran past a guy around mile 23 who was wearing his ridiculous olive green Marine Corps Marathon 2016 mock turtleneck, and we bonded over doing these suckers back to back. We talked about the weather, the difference in the races, and then I left him in my dust.15350714_10104147949832249_8128687261498412814_n
  7. Girl Power! This race was post-election, and my other marathon was pre-election. I’m not going to get into all that. I think maybe I wanted to prove something about Nasty Women and what we can do. I was sad, angry, scared, and still am to some extent. I knew my niece would get to see me finish, and even though she’s probably too young to remember this, at least there will be photographic evidence of the experience. I am strong. I can do difficult things. Maybe 2016 will be remembered the year I ran two marathons instead of the year the country elected an angry megalomaniac covered in Cheeto dust.

 

 

 

 

Overall  it was a really well-run event with plenty of fluids and fuel on the course and just the right amount of spectators. Neighborhoods tried to make it a bit of a block party event, complete with plenty of unofficial aid stations offering everything from bacon and Jolly Ranchers to donuts and beer. Plus there was a spot that passed out thousands of  Jell-O shots and one house where a very insistent man smoking a cigar draped me in a Hawaiian lei. Very festive, indeed. The quarter zip jacket I got with my registration fee is probably my new favorite race shirt.

I’m not sure what will be on the 2017 race calendar. I know I want to do the Brew to Brew relay run from Kansas City to Lawrence in April, so I’ll need to figure out the logistics of getting a team together for that. I might finally do Hospital Hill, though just thinking about that June run makes me feel sweaty and miserable. I’ve also decided I’m going to go to Boston to be a spectator at the marathon this year. Woo hoo!

Back to Back

I did it again. I signed up for another full marathon. It’s next weekend. This means two marathons 3 weeks apart.  Why? My motivation for this one is basically greed and laziness. I want to have all the highs and warm fuzzies and feelings of accomplishment of finishing a marathon again, but I don’t want to have to train back up to get them. I was all hopped up on running vibes after watching the New York City Marathon on TV last weekend and it played a part in me believing this was a good idea. So I got online and registered. And supposedly I’m still carrying all my “marathon fitness” from DC. It’s not very often that I have that. I’m still chasing that high, and I really hope it’s worth it. There’s a real possibility that I’m not fully recovered from the first one and this is a terrible idea and that I could slowly but surely break down along the Route 66 Marathon course in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I did 13 miles yesterday and felt pretty good, but my tootsies did start to get sore toward the end (and I’m stiff and tight today). If they were already sore at 13, it’s going to be pretty dreadful by mile 20. I’m not going to push so far that I injure myself, and the Route 66 course is set up in such a way that I could bail at the halfway point if I needed to. I don’t intend to though. I do not have a time goal in mind for this one. I will probably take more walking breaks and I just want to finish injury free.

Being in Tulsa brings the advantage of staying at my brother’s house and a ride right to the starting line. No waiting for shuttles or sitting in the Pentagon parking lot for hours. It will also offer a finish in a park where I can hopefully see my family and I won’t have to walk miles after finishing. I’m hoping it will also allow me to run in some wide open spaces without someone all up in my grill the entire way.

Am I nervous? Yes. Am I scared? A little. Am I ready? Nope.

But I’m a badass runner. And I do dope things. So I’m hoping my body heals up and powers up this week and can carry me safely over the finish line on Sunday.

And if you’re someone who reads this, please leave me a message on that Motigo app. I’ll be using it again for this race and I will need even more distractions this time.