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!

    15338865_10104147949952009_5435052041789237858_n

    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.

    15232133_10104147950984939_430903428832001515_n

    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.

MCM Musings (Part 2: The Story is the Voices)

Physically I was ready to run 26.2 miles. Other than a sore lower back and the fact that I probably spent too much time on my feet sightseeing in DC the day before, I was feeling healthy and strong. I had dropped a few pounds, been going to yoga, and even clocked some sub 9 minute miles during training. My long runs had been successful and uneventful. My recovery from them had been smooth. I had even run the KC half in my fastest time ever two weeks prior, finishing under two hours, with a PR of 1:58 (which I realize now I didn’t even write about). With the experience of 2 prior marathons, I felt I was as prepared as I could be for the race.

I was not prepared. I wasn’t fully prepared for what it would be like to run shoulder to shoulder with people for 4 hours and 42 minutes. This race had close to 30,000 finishers (and I finished 7,683rd overall and 551st out of 1,511 women in the 30-34 division. Proof here). There were times when I thought it was pretty cool, but mostly I was not a fan. It’s exhausting both physically and mentally. There is near constant adjusting of your stride, pace, and position so that you’re not bumping into people. In every other race I’ve done, things are usually crowded for the first few miles and then everybody spreads out and finds their own groove. You eventually  have room to move and breathe and settle in. There was none of that at the Marine Corps Marathon. Maybe it’s different for the speedsters at the front, or the way back of the pack, but when you’re part of the Clyde Army running 10:30 miles, somebody is all up in your business for pretty much the entire race. For the first couple hours it was possible for me to adopt an attitude of: “Yay! We’re all in this together! The People’s Marathon. This is cool!” But after bumping and jostling and jockeying for position at water stops and dodging walkers that were sometimes teams of people 5-across, with no open spaces in sight, my attitude was  much more, “For fuck’s sake! Get the hell out of my way, dumbass!” I know, I’m awful. Here’s a link to the photos of me taken on the course. See? So. Many. People.

Oh, and it was also beastly hot. Like 80 degrees when we finished. The sun really came out around mile 18 or maybe it was before that. I have no concept of time or distance really. People were suffering immensely. I read that they ran out of cups at some of the water/Gatorade stations and if you didn’t have a water bottle or hydration pack with you, Marines would just pour water straight into your mouth from gallon jugs. Yikes. Glad I wasn’t in that predicament. I did run with my little magnetic holster water bottle for the first time during a race. Mostly because it keeps my Flipbelt from riding up, but those precious 8 oz. came in handy between stops and I refilled it multiple times along the way. Early on, perhaps mile 6 or so, I felt like I had to pee, but each bank of porta potties I passed had a huge line of people and I didn’t want to wait. The sensation eventually went away; this is one of the great mysteries of distance running. Once again, lots of dudes in line for the potties, which I sort of respect, but I am hoping/assuming if you’re a dude taking up a precious spot in that line, you desperately have to shit. And you’re having a bad time. And I feel sorry for you. Because men were peeing everywhere. Literally hundreds of them bounding into and out of the tree lines and grassy areas, sometimes with little coverage. Like I am seeing urine streams as I’m running. I’m slightly disgusted, but mostly just jealous. Runners are gross.

Between miles 15 and 19 I was suffering from some serious fatigue. Not in my legs, but in my brain due to sensory overload. Having trained alone for months on empty roads and trails, the constant noise of all the screaming spectators and cowbells and bands and people was starting to wear on me. At Grandma’s Marathon they bus you 18 miles away from the city and you basically run back along a deserted highway. So I was not prepared for the wall of people and noise that would nearly the entire course. It was like a finishing chute for 20 miles. Sometimes I draw energy from the crowd, but at this race it was like taking them all in was sucking the energy from me. This was a huge bummer because this was the stretch through what I think was a cool park (but I couldn’t see it through all the f-ing people) nearing the Smithsonian museums and heading up Constitution Avenue.  There were a few blissful open spaces like this one, where people weren’t allowed next to the course. The other time that happened was on a long stretch of bridge, which took me over to Crystal City where our hotel was, and where Dan would be somewhere trying to spectate in this madness.

image1-1I managed to spot him sometime after mile 21 I think. It was a pretty uplifting 6 seconds. The Pentagon/Crystal City stretch sucked ass. Yes, there were animal crackers to eat, and a big misting fan set up on one street, but even louder, more annoying techno music throughout the “family festival” with bounce houses and whatnot made it somehow more obnoxious. Plus with lots of turns and out and backs, it just seemed like they tacked on those miles because they needed to make the course longer. The sun was really beating down. I ran the whole race with my $2 plastic sunglasses from a Piper senior project (because I forgot to pack the ones I typically run with) and I was eventually glad I had them, despite being annoyed by them the first few miles. Dan texted me shortly after I saw him and said that he would just meet me back at the hotel, meaning he wouldn’t be going to the finish line like we had talked about. At first I was pissed. I’m running 26.2 miles and you can’t get on the Metro and find your way to the finish? Then I got to the finish and I was so thankful he didn’t go there. He was advised not to attempt it by the wise souls he met drinking morning beers at Buffalo Wild Wings.8123162007_08664a9a38_o

So the last 3 miles I completely kicked ass. I was a running machine. Powering forward. My Garmin clocked my fastest miles at this point. The people around me were a wreck. The walking wounded. Everyone was walking. Everyone. They were like zombies in a movie. If they weren’t walking, they were completely stopped on the side of the road trying to stretch or pull themselves together. I appeared to be blazing through them, an elite powering through the pack, dodging miserable people left and right. I did feel like a total badass in that home stretch. Being slow and steady had paid off. Yes, I was tired and hot and frustrated, but not injured, sick, cramping, or experiencing the level of hurt  and misery of the people I was leaving in my wake. I felt great. I’ve since read several race recaps of people having their worst marathon ever that day. I had my best. Go, me!

The race ends with (what seems like) a big hill up near the Iwo Jima Memorial (The Marine Corps Memorial). I knew this. I mentally prepped for it. I was not stopping. I powered past Arlington National Cemetery, past more screaming fans, and turned the corner, attacking the hill. I had my head down and halfway up the hill, the dude in front of me comes nearly to a stop and decides to walk the rest of the way up. I have to stop short to keep from plowing into his back, and as I plant my right foot down hard, I feel my second toenail come loose in my right shoe. I was horrified. I could see the finish line at that point, so I told myself to just keep running and I would deal with it after I finished. I tiptoed gingerly over the finish line and began the long walk through the finishing chute to get my medal, fluids, foodbox, and selfie with a Marine. My Garmin said I ran 26.9 miles during that race. I kicked ass.

img_1340Then it was Operation: Find the UPS trucks. I didn’t want to stop at a first aid tent and unleash the horror of my feet until I had my sandals to change into, and the sandals were in my gear check bag. I walked. And walked. And walked. No trucks. I ate some watermelon. I drank some Gatorade. I got handed a koozie and a string bag. I was fully engulfed in the Finish Festival in Rosslyn complete with a beer tent and booths selling insurance and sub sandwiches and finisher shirts and the all new Hyundai. I had zero desire to be at the Finish Festival. More noise. More crowds. More walking. Near the stage featuring some kind of Marine Corps band, I finally asked someone holding a gear check bag where the trucks were. Back down a block the direction I had just come, and then over one more block. Of course. So I walked some more.

 

img_1343img_1339-1

I found the trucks. I got my bag. I went into a first aid tent. I took my shoe off. I braced for the worst. My toenail was still attached and intact. No need for first aid today, gentlemen, thank you very much. I texted Dan that I thought I’d like some chips and guac from Chipotle, and possibly some chicken tacos too. Now I had to find a way back to that god forsaken Crystal City. There were supposed to be shuttles to take us back over, and since the morning shuttles to the start line were so awesome, I had high hopes for a return trip. But I didn’t know where the hell to find the shuttles. No signs anywhere. No specifics listed in the MCM app. I walked another block or two, and with no buses in sight, I went into the jam-packed Metro station, where everyone and their kids were trying to buy Metro cards. I took the stinkiest escalator ride ever down to the platform and waited with hundreds of others for a train.

I texted Dan that I was getting on a train and my phone was at 20%. Of course I stood for the whole train ride back to Crystal City. And then had a 3 or 4 block walk from the station back to the hotel. Despite slightly limping along in my flip flops, carrying 2 clear plastic bags full of assorted food, beverages and gear, that walk was awesome. It was actually one of my favorite parts of the day. I consider that my victory lap. It was finally quiet and calm. Since it was Sunday afternoon the streets were basically empty and I was the only person on the sidewalk, still moving forward with purpose. Feeling strong. Wearing my sweet ass medal. Even texting some friends and family members with my leftover battery life. Two guys walked by at one point near the hotel and congratulated me. Thank you. I did it. Holy shit, I did it. All by myself.

The coolest part of the race for me personally was not the PR,  or the fact that I finished with all 10 toenails, or the monuments, or the spectators, or the Wear Blue Mile, or the Marines, or the funny signs, or the countless inspirational stories you could see unfolding throughout the course. The coolest part for me was the fact that so many people had taken the time to leave messages for me using the Motigo app and I got to listen to them at every mile along the course. Plus there was some narration from the Marine Corps race organizers where they told me what to look for in certain areas of the course, sort of like a guided audio tour. The app is basically a voicemail box that works with your phone’s GPS, and so when I would pass a certain mile mark, like mile 5, the messages that were left there for me automatically played in my headphones. (It ended up being off by about a half mile, but that didn’t really matter.) It lowered the volume of my podcast and I just got to listen to all these wonderful people saying nice, funny, encouraging things. It was like an episode of “This Is Your Life” (was that a real show or just something that was made up for TV?). I almost cried multiple times. I laughed out loud multiple times. I realized at like mile 4 that this was going to be the story of my race. This app, these voices, these people, how it was making me feel, would be what I remembered most about the day. And it was. And so perhaps I should have started writing about it sooner.

Lori was doing a joke of the mile–cheesy middle school principal jokes. So funny. Beth was chiming in all over the course. Sara was doing StuCo camp inside jokes and Earl punchlines. Kimmy was playing random clips from pump up songs and movies like Christmas Vacation and Napoleon Dynamite. Otto’s teacher, Jenny had recorded him saying what mile it was at nearly every mile (she had him record them all at recess at school). My parents also had Otto leave me special mommy messages along with recording ones of their own. Kathy left me the Phoebe running with Rachel clip from Friends. Vickie and Deb and Tamie all left some encouraging words and reminded me why I love my family. The podcast guys that I adore left me not one, not two, not three, but SIX different messages complete with How Was Your Run Today? theme music. And they live in Boston and have never even met me! Teri got both Taylor and Blake in on the action and they had way too much fun, reading fortune cookies and even recreating a dramatic scene from Friday Night Lights. Ashley found me a great quote. Cory came on three different times to give actual running coach advice about form and stride. Dan made a joke about buying fake Oakley sunglasses as I ran by the National Mall. Allison came on at mile 23 to support me the way she always has and say what I needed to hear: that for whatever reason mile 23 is so much closer than mile 22. Megan and Darcy reminded me of how far I’ve come as a runner. Adam got Evan to say sweet things and reminded me my phone could die at any moment. Former student Fallon complimented me and reminded me of why I like my job.  Jess popped in from Fargo and I was blasted back to how I felt after my very first half marathon back in 2010.

The cheers started at mile 1 and continued non-stop. It was amazing. It was overwhelming. It was interesting how I transitioned from not feeling worthy of such attention to accepting it and owning it and feeling worthy as the miles went on. In some ways it was better than having spectators on the course because there was no stress about having to coordinate and spot them in the madness And the app saved all the messages so I can go back and replay them as many times as I want. Thanks you guys, you rock.

After a shower, Chipotle, ibuprofen, blister popping, and a nap, we got ready and headed back into DC to Union Station to board a trolley for a Monuments by Moonlight tour. It started to sprinkle as we were waiting, but the rain held off and we had a great night of sightseeing. It was totally worth all the extra walking and staying up past my bedtime.
img_1362It’s now a week later and my toenails are still hanging on, though I suspect I will eventually lose two of them. I turned 35 this week. (Holy shit, right?) I did some walking, light running, and yoga this week and did a 7.5 mile run yesterday and felt really good. It was nice to be alone on the road with my podcasts on a beautiful fall day.

I’m not sure what’s next for me, but obviously it will be something because I’m hooked. I’m watching marathons on TV, for crying out loud. I’d like to volunteer at a race and repay the favor, and hopefully it won’t mean pouring water down people’s throats.

The Route 66 Marathon is in 2 weeks in Tulsa and I am considering running either the half or the full. It’s not very often that I have “marathon fitness” that I can supposedly carry over to another event, so we’ll see. It is a race that also uses the Motigo app. Oh, and my adorable niece lives there too, which is a definite plus.

There’s so much more about our DC trip, but since this is 27 chapters long already and supposed to be a running blog, I’ll bring this to a close. I’m so appreciative of my body, of my family, of my friends, and of my country. I adored the fact that walking around Washington DC, not only was I surrounded by fellow marathoners, but by people from so many different countries and backgrounds, speaking different languages, often with their kids, all just wanting to experience or make a living in our nation’s capital. It was one of the most diverse places I’ve ever been and it was absolutely beautiful. Just a few days from election day, feeling like we’re more divided than ever, it was the reminder I needed that America is great. Not perfect, but pretty great, just as it is.  Cheers!

img_1370

MCM Musings (Part 1: I haven’t even started running yet.)

Holy shit, I ran a marathon. Sorry for the language, but that’s what I keep thinking and what I kept thinking along the course of the 41st Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, DC on Sunday, October 30, 2016.  Holy shit, it’s freaking hot out here. Holy shit, that’s a lot of people. Holy shit, is this a hill at mile 2? Holy shit, people keep leaving me messages! Holy shit, that’s a lot of cups. Holy shit, that’s The Capitol. Holy shit, it’s hot. Holy shit, my toenail just fell off. Holy shit, that was hard. Holy shit, I did it.

I got up a little after 5:00 a.m. after a crappy night’s sleep. I got dressed, had half a cup of hotel room coffee, used a wooden coffee stir stick to smear peanut butter onto a cinnamon raisin bagel (it was all they had at CVS) and tossed it, along with a banana and some Cheerios, into my clear plastic gear check bag. Then I continued to check and double checked my gear check bag, trying to make sure I had everything I would need for the day. Flip belt. Water bottle and holster. Headphones. Ziploc baggie. Kleenexes. Target bags. Shot blocks. Sandals. Pretzels. Cliff bar. Sunglasses. Dry shirt. Metro card. Money. Hotel room key. Trail mix. 5:45 a.m. Let’s do this.

I took the elevator to the lobby and joined the throng of other runners who were walking from various hotels to the shuttle stop just a block away. I could see a line of 9 or 10 nice chartered buses all in a row with some Marines in uniform standing next to them. Score. I’m in the right spot. I saw a short line near the parking garage next to the shuttle stop. I figured I’d hop right in the back of that line and then hop right on a bus. Nope. Underground line fake out! That short little line I saw from a distance snaked its way down and all throughout the parking garage, engaging a tiny flare of panic as I kept walking and walking, trying to find the end. Turns out the Marines and their well-organized fleet of plush chartered buses had us moving in no time. I waited maybe 10 minutes underground and soon boarded a bus to the Pentagon, with Mike from Savannah, GA, who was running his first marathon, and thousands of other runners.

It was a quick ride over to the “Runner’s Village”,  where we disembarked and then walked the half mile or so to what is really just a series of parking lots with hundreds of porta potties, a few wedding reception tents, and a sound system featuring a way-too enthusiastic-for-6:15 a.m. announcer yelling over techno music.Getting through security was a breeze. It seriously took me 30 seconds (and I totally ditched Mike from Savannah, GA because I didn’t have the energy for more small talk). I guess last year security was a nightmare with 2 hour lines, broken metal detectors, and people missing the start of the race.They got that fixed. So once inside the porta potty pavilion, I got in line for a bank of just a couple that were kind of out of the way. This was a great move. I waited mere minutes; it was not stinky, and there was TP and hand sanitizer. Score.

Then it was time to stake out my piece of pavement for the hour plus wait until the start. Ugh. I settled on a spot near some chain link fence so I could have something to lean up against. Turns out the fence was to separate the VIP area, where those who paid extra at registration gained access to a large tent and a “private” set of porta potties that weren’t accessible to the rest of us regular bib bums.  I spread out my Target bags and set up camp. I slowly choked down my breakfast despite not being hungry. I tried desperately to resist passing the time on my phone because I didn’t want to waste any of my precious battery life before I got onto the course. I didn’t want to waste precious energy trying to socialize with strangers either. And I wanted to save my podcasts to listen to on the run. So I just sort of sat there and stared. Alone with my thoughts. Like in the olden days. Just waiting and doing nothing. I tried to take it all in and marvel at the magnitude of the event, or be present and appreciative and meditative and zen-like or whatever. But mostly I just wanted to get this show on the road.

img_1329

Using precious battery life to post a selfie to Facebook. The VIP’s are behind this fence.

Announcer guy was really into it and finally started calling for people who were planning to go sub-three hours to start heading to the starting line. Sub-three marathoners? These are not my people. Not even close. With the scary warning emails they were sending about the anticipated high temperatures, I figured I’d be doing well if I finished sub-five. So I stayed on my Target bag for a while longer.

I don’t know what time it was when I finally decided it was time to leave my homeless encampment on the pavement. At this point I did briefly visit with the man sitting next to me, who had run 19 Marine Corps Marathons before, but was actually doing the 10k that day instead. His race didn’t start until 9:00 a.m. and he was there already!! Wow. When I asked him if things had gone more smoothly this year as far as security and getting there and whatnot, he said yes, but that with this race, “It’s always something. There’s always a glitch.” He said sometimes the finisher’s chute, sometimes the start, sometimes security, etc. There’s always a glitch. So with that less than encouraging thought reverberating in my skull, I headed off to the squadron of UPS trucks that were ready to haul my gear to the finish while I tried to haul my rear to the finish. Found truck 16 and handed off my bag. Got in line for one last potty stop. This line was considerably longer

img_1331And then more walking to get to the starting line. Because why not? So a stroll under a bridge and down the road and…Holy shit, that’s a lot of people. And where do I go?  Guess I’ll just follow these folks. Are we filling both sides of the road? Yep. Ok, we’re moving. Go with the flow, Tiff. Ok, so now I’m passing the 4:30 pacer over there on that side of the road. Dudes are just peeing over there, huh? And now I’m cruising past the the 4:00 pacer over there. This doesn’t seem right. Why do we keep moving up toward the start and the other line over there is standing still? Am I in the right line? Those people look serious. I look like this.

So there’s no way I could have tried to line myself up in the “correct” corral or whatever at that point. There weren’t corrals anyway. Just yellow banners with finish time ranges on them that really didn’t apply and I still don’t know what the hell happened, but there were 2 starting chutes. Race started with a flyover and then the cannon fired at 7:55 a.m. I crossed the starting line at 8:10 a.m. And I felt tired already. Here’s a link to a quick video of the start of the race. https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fcsnma%2Fvideos%2F1319977268036456%2F&show_text=0&width=560” target=”_blank”>

101031-M-7997R-166mcmstart

 

Course Support

Here’s the Fitbit data from today’s long run. Can you spot the miles where I needed to “call” for help? Yep. Miles 11 and 12 were rough.

I was stupid. I didn’t enough breakfast before I got out the door today. I just couldn’t stomach it. That, combined with the fact that I didn’t get as much sleep as I normally do, and my legs were already kind of shot after a long Friday of homecoming shenanigans (where I had 20,000 steps without even working out that day) and a Saturday night of chaperoning a dance (another 17,700 steps),  I hit a rough patch at like mile 10. My stomach started gnawing at me, the course was hillier and hillier, and though I had plenty of water, I had already eaten my way through my energy chews and was fading fast. I felt like doo doo. I started walking and thinking about how far I had to go to get home. I was just so stinking hungry. I texted Dan a plea for nourishment along with a dropped pin of my location and he and Otto came to my rescue with a banana, granola bar, and water. I love those guys. I felt bad because I had kind of worked my way through the rough patch by the time they found me, and was feeling ok again, but I definitely still needed the food. It kept me from completely bonking. I will never leave home with an empty fanny pack again. I really should know better by now. Also, my friend Allison, who is running the Berlin Marathon next weekend, was nice enough to put a cooler filled with icy water, Powerade and pretzels at the end of her driveway, which I was able to access around miles 3 and 14. And I got to bump into her and her husband who were out for their run, so that was a nice boost too. I ran my fastest mile at mile 15 because the stretch of  Donahoo road that leads to home doesn’t have any sidewalks and there was so much traffic coming at me that apparently I was speeding up. I just wanted to get away from the cars. After a shower, some fluids and food, I ended up feeling really pretty good, though not as great as my last 2 weekend long runs have been.

 

Last weekend was my 13 mile Tour de Piper, where I ran 6.5 miles around the neighborhood, ran over to the middle school for the start of the Community Festival 5k, did the 5k, and ran home. A car load of middle school cheerleaders hopped out of an SUV at one point and started cheering me on, apparently thinking the race had already started, but really I was just some lone nut, wearing a bib number, and out for a neighborhood jog. I told them the race hadn’t even started yet and they seemed disappointed and got back into their car.

img_1146

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The weekend before that was earthquake day, and I ran a really fast (for me) 14 miles down at the Mill Creek Streamway path. Also, Beth came to stay with me and we got to go to Lawrence and see amazing college friends and it was one of the greatest weekends I’ve had in a really long time for reasons I don’t have time to go into right now because I’ve already written too much as it is and am in full-blown run-on sentence mode.img_1122

At some point I’m thinking of trying out a supported group run. I love the idea of someone else putting out water and Gatorade for me on a marked course. What I don’t love, is the idea of getting down to the KC Running Company Store in Leawood by 7:00 a.m. on a Sunday in order to join up with said group run, so I’m not sure if that’s going to happen.

41 days until the Marine Corps Marathon!

83 days

The Marine Corps Marathon is 83 days away. I guess that seems sort of close, but not really. I haven’t had to ramp up my mileage and start “really” training yet. That’s one of the great things about being a back of the packer and having a “finish injury free” goal instead of a time goal. This summer has just been about maintaining a basic level of fitness, which is pretty boring. I guess that’s why I haven’t felt the need to blog for a while. I’ve been getting up to run at 5:15 a few days a week all throughout the summer (with the exception of the week I spent at StuCo camp depriving myself of sleep and stuffing myself full of pizza). I’ve also been taking long walks while Otto was at his speech and occupational therapy appointments, eating more vegetables and less sugar, and I started going to a yoga class. I really enjoy the yoga, even though I struggle to do many of the poses. My sweet husband bought me my very own yoga mat after I ended up with the smelly one from the pile of gym mats a couple of times. It’s tough to relax into your child’s pose when you’re deeply inhaling the stale scent of sketchy stranger sweat.yoga memes

I drove out to my trusty trail and ran 10 miles yesterday and felt pretty good. It was my first double digit run in quite a while and I consistently clocked 10 minute miles the whole way. The first 4 or 5 miles were rough, and I had my doubts about doing 10, but something clicked and my body settled in, pushing past the suck, as it has so many times before. Lots and lots of bikers out on the trails yesterday. I’m not sure if they’re training for something in particular or if the Olympics is inspiring people to get out or what. I ran past the lake in Shawnee Mission Park and was shocked at how many people were out so early on a Saturday morning. Parking areas were packed. Paddle boarding, kayaking, fishing, biking, dog walking, running, it was a great day for activity and people watching (and since it’s been raining for most of the day today, for once I chose wisely). I saw a dude bicycling in a helmet that covered his entire face, like one designed for riding 4-wheelers or dirt bikes, so that made me chuckle. And there were a pair of ladies desperately trying to save a night-crawler from the path before a pack of bikers ran it over, which I thought was sweet. After months of solo, desolate, dark, early morning runs, it was nice to see other people out there with me, especially runners, even though our interaction was minimal. I’m signed up for the Kansas City half marathon on October 15th, which is 68 days away, and two weeks before my full marathon, but now I’m feeling like I should sign up for a couple more fall races and use them as the first 13 miles of a long run. While I hate paying money to do a long run, there are a lot of advantages to doing so. Clearly I’m craving some running camaraderie.

I go back to work this week, so I guess I should get my training calendar together before I get swept up in a flurry of back to school activity. Here’s to doing race research.

Blazing Speed

I got a new PR at my race today! (That’s a personal record, people.) I never get a PR. Mostly because I run really consistently and consistently slow. Over the past few weeks though, for whatever reason, I’ve been feeling good and picking up the pace a bit. (I even clocked a sub nine-minute mile a couple weeks ago. For real.) So when my half marathon running buddy ended up in a boot and unable to run and chat with me for today’s ScoutStrong Challenge race at the Kansas Speedway, I decided to run a little faster if I was feeling good.

IMG_0612

I set up at the start line behind the 2:10 pace group but ahead of the 2:15 pace group. My last 3 half marathons in the fall (on back to back weekends, I might add) were all around that finish time (2:16:46, 2:12:57, 2:09:33). It was really chilly and windy this morning, like low 40’s at the start, and I stupidly ditched my long sleeves while we were still in the Speedway infield. But despite being a bit cold, I felt really good. I picked up the pace after mile 8 over in WyCo park. After mile 10 I caught the 2:05 pace group and ended up passing them around mile 11. At that point I was feeling like it would be possible to get a PR because my previous one was 2:04 something.

That previous PR was set at an absolutely miserable race, the Gobbler Grind, at Corporate Woods the year it was 14 degrees, none of the volunteers showed up, there were virtually no water stops, and the ones that existed had frozen cups of slush instead of water. So I ran fast, without stops, in an attempt to end the misery and felt absolutely sick afterwards. Like bordering on hypothermia with serious nausea and never wanting to run again.

That was not the case today. Was I tired? Yes. Did I run faster than was comfortable for me? Yes. Was I breathing heavily? Yes. Was I cursing the length of a NASCAR track? Yes. Were my hip flexors screaming at me? Yes. Were my calves tightening into tiny balls with every step? Yes.  You betcha. But I also passed a couple people on that last lap of the track and I saw Dan and Otto, Otto looking so cute in his hoodie and Royals cap near the finish, and after I slapped him a high five, I finished in 2:03:53! Hooray! It felt horrible and awesome at the same time. Pretty much perfectly encompassing what distance running is all about.

IMG_0619IMG_0618

My parents, bless their hearts, tried to make it to the finish, but couldn’t find their way to the infield in time. You know, on account of my BLAZING SPEED! They met us back at our place and treated us to breakfast after I showered.

The race was finishing up as people were arriving at the soccer stadium next to the Speedway for the funeral of a KCK police detective and Piper resident who was shot and killed in the line of duty this week. It was both sad and uplifting to see all of the police officers and motorcycle dudes with flags, lining the streets in the area where the service was held. I did not know Detective Lancaster or his family, but obviously his death has had a huge impact on our community. Even that doesn’t sound right or do it justice. I keep trying to write something here and I can’t come up with anything that doesn’t sound like the same old cliches and time-honored platitudes that everyone rolls out when these things happen.Thoughts and prayers are great. Moments of silence are wonderful. Changing a profile picture and posting words of support for people in uniform is a perfectly nice gesture. Somehow it doesn’t seem like enough though, does it? But what do we do? I guess that’s how lots of people feel. Helpless, sad, angry. Really freaking angry. This has shaken people to the core. A bad guy with a gun shot a police officer in broad daylight. Somebody’s daddy. A good guy. It’s just not right. Kids are scared and asking tough questions. Teachers and parents are trying to comfort these kids and help them work through all of the feels. Families are reminded again of how dangerous the work these guys do really is. Neighbors are wondering how the street they live on will ever feel the same.  It sucks.

So my personal victory today is somewhat tempered by the public tragedy and it’s helping me to continue to keep things in perspective, appreciate my health, appreciate my friends, and my family, and just keep on running.