• 50 Years of Reflections,  Marathons & 1/2 Marathons,  We Run 50

    My First Boston Marathon…An Unexpected Ending, 2013

    If there’s one thing that I never expected to witness in my life, it would be an act of terror.  I certainly didn’t expect to witness such an act after I crossed the finish line of the Boston Marathon in 2013.  What a tangled, twisted, emotional day that was and for so many reasons.  I was having a hard enough time mentally and emotionally at this time in my life; both when I qualified and when I ran it.  I had just lost my Dad a month earlier (stage 4 renal cancer, undiagnosed).  I didn’t have support from my family because of my pending divorce.  To top it off, I went and injured myself two days before the race by pushing through a run when I experienced sharp hamstring pain.  Depsite all the negatives, I was hell-bent on enjoying this experience because I had actually given up on the hope that I’d one day be here.  I had accepted that I would never be fast enough to be here.  Well, never say never.  It’s amazing what you can do when you have the right mind-set and determination.  It’s true what they say, that running is 90% mental.  I’m here to tell you, it really is!

    Okay, that was all the bad stuff.  There’s always a silver lining if you look for it.  I choose to focus on the good stuff and let the bad stuff be the catalyst to moving forward and to healing.  Jamison was with me every step of my training journey and on the “day of the show” when my dream became a reality; that’s my favorite part of all of this.  He pushed me through so many runs when I didn’t want to push and sacrificed his own training to help me succeed.  It meant the world to me having him by my side.  He even went to the finish line super early to get a good spot and proceeded to sit there all day…8 hours waiting for me to finish–4 before I even got to start the race and then the 4 it took me to finish.  My friends and running partners Brandon & Carla also ran their first Boston and Carrie ran her 7th with her husband John there to support her.  We had tentative plans to celebrate afterwards, but that never happened because we were told to go to our hotels and stay put.  Flights were grounded too, so we couldn’t head back home early if we wanted to.  We felt safe enough staying in our room.  We watched TV for what seemed like hours trying to figure out what happened.  There was a high-rise mall across from the hotel and we did go and eat at PF Changs.  We had the restaurant to ourselves; not a common thing to see after a huge race like that!   We did later meet John and Carrie for a drink in the bar since we were staying in the same hotel. None of us were much in the mood for it, but we dragged ourselves down.  It was so good to see them since it was hours before we knew that all of our friends had made it out safely.

    Words cannot describe the feelings and emotions of crossing that line feeling on top of the world and then 10 minutes later, feeling nothing but fear and anxiety as we worked our way (3 miles on foot) back to the hotel.  In the blink of an eye, the city seemingly shut down.  No subway, no busses, just people making their way away from the race course in what I called “controlled chaos” and calling their loved ones in a frenzy to let them know they were ok.  I couldn’t get my phone to work, but I did have 33 texts and voicemails and at that moment, I knew that there were people who truly cared about me.

    No one really knew for sure what was happening and that confusion made it even worse.  It wasn’t until we walked past the hospital, near our hotel and saw all the ambulances unloading the injured victims, that it finally hit us that this was real and that what we heard were indeed bombs.  I was not present at the spot where the bombs went off, but Jamie was. In fact, he sat in the very spot waiting for me, where bomb #1 was placed.  I don’t take that we escaped injury for granted; not one single day.  I think about it all the time.  Had I been 2 minutes slower with my finish, my story may not have had a very happy ending for either of us.

    I found it hard to discuss the details of the race itself afterwards.  For the first time since I’ve run, I didn’t care about my splits, my pains, my time; we didn’t even take any pictures other than the ones that Jamie captured as I was approaching the finish line.  None of that seemed important anymore.  I can say this now…despite the horrible hamstring pain, I pushed harder than I’ve ever pushed in any race and I did manage to run my second fastest marathon time ever.  I will just leave it at that.

    This experience made me even more determined to go back in 2014 (my qualification was good for both years).  2014 was not a good training year for me with more injuries; and mentally I struggled with continued family issues, so my heart wasn’t in the training.  I hobbled my way through the 2014 race with my slowest marathon time to date; but I don’t care.  All that I can say about my second year back was that I ran it with my heart 100%; my legs had nothing to do with it.  I wanted to go back and experience the good and not let fear, evil and hate win.  I will qualify again one day and I will go back and run that race with purpose and intent, but until then, I will do what I can at the moment and be content with all that I’ve experienced and learned.  #BostonStrong

     

     

  • Marathons & 1/2 Marathons

    50 States Racing: Michigan – Charlevoix Half-Marathon 2016

    BibRave Race Review

    The area is beautiful in general, but you don’t see much of that on the course as it’s mostly on a bike trail. The expo is a small tent with maybe one vendor, but it’s also a very small race, so not a big deal. We stayed in Petosky at a hotel there, but there is a small hotel at the finish line if you can book it early enough.

    This was state #15/50. It’s definitely one of our coolest race shirts, which is a good thing because if we can’t run/race well right now, we might as well look good in our shirts!

  • 50 Years of Reflections,  Marathons & 1/2 Marathons

    Ode To My Sub 4:00 Marathon

    I WILL refrain from smart-ass comments & eye-rolling when my family & friends ask me “how long THIS MARATHON will be.”

    I WILL go to bed early every night during marathon week. No more “insomnia” marathons for me!

    I WILL eat healthy all week; no crap, not even the left-over Easter candy, including Peeps :o(

    I WILL stick to a taper this week & not overdo it just because the rest of my friends are running 50 miles & I’m jealous.

    I WILL take the wall charger for my Garmin with me to Cleveland even though it clearly says 100% charged (dead Garmin pre-race panic attacks suck).

    I WILL NOT wear any running attire for the race that I haven’t trialed on a long run already; chafing bites!

    I WILL NOT put Quench Runner’s Gum pieces in my sports bra & forget about them, only to have post-race photos taken with the pieces still there, making me look like a freak of nature.

    I WILL NOT over-hydrate on race morning. Anything more than four porta-john trips before the race is unacceptable.

    I WILL jog a warm-up & properly stretch 45 minutes before the race (I promise Carrie).

    I WILL NOT go out of the starting chute like I stole something; I WILL keep my first mile @ least 8:30.

    If I have to pee, I WILL stop & go, no more holding it the entire race & focusing on not peeing my pants.

    I WILL fartlek (aka pick up the pace) to the next fluid station so I can afford the time to properly drink & not have electrolyte aspiration; it really hurts when Gatorade comes out your nose!

    I WILL NOT run & simultaneously eat PowerAde Gummy Chews while chasing them down with water. Those also hurt when you choke & they get stuck in your nose. I WILL stick with gels.

    I WILL NOT engage in lengthy conversations with other runners because talking increases my heart rate & makes me run slower.

    I WILL NOT be a baby & walk the long uphills. A slow jog will cost me less time, even if it hurts.

    I WILL NOT take the downhills like a barrel over Niagara Falls, it’s not worth it come mile 20.

    I WILL refrain from pissy comments & dirty looks when people at the 22 mile water stop say “you’re almost done.”

    I WILL NOT be snarky about the woman in front of me who weighs 50 lbs more than I or who is 20 years older & beating me (this one will be a little hard).

    I WILL NOT put adhesive toe warmers in the back & front of my sports bra for warmth before the race & forget about them until after; they WILL burn me.

    I WILL NOT overdress & be stuck with my favorite long-sleeve race shirt around my waist after the first half mile, to flap & annoy me the entire time. I WILL suck it up at the start line because I WILL eventually get hot & forget all about having been cold in the first place.

    I WILL pray, for people I know who are going through a tough time, every mile instead of mentally making fun of peoples’ choice in race attire; or lack thereof.

    I WILL have a great race & not act like a spoiled brat if I miss my goal & just be thankful I CAN run a marathon at all!

    **The above have all happened to me in one race or another**

  • Marathons & 1/2 Marathons,  Memories

    Reflections of the Boston Bombing…A Timeline From That Day, April 15, 2013

    I was going through my emails and files this morning, organizing and came across this timeline that my husband Jamie created following the aftermath of that dreadful day that we will never forget.  I wanted to put this someplace safe; my blog made the most sense.  I ran the race that day…Jamison was my support crew of one.  I had just lost my Dad to undiagnosed renal cancer the prior month and dealing with some pretty intense personal issues as well, so I was already an emotional wreck.  This certainly did not help.

    Jamie was in the perfect and unfortunate spot to have been badly injured or killed that day…so was I as it turned out.  They say timing is everything.  In this case, it rung true.  While I ran a decent race (my second fastest full marathon in 8 years), I was slowed down significantly by a recent injury and had chosen to walk for a mile towards the end of the race when the pain became almost unbearable.  It’s a very good thing that a mile was all that I walked of the 26, because we were just minutes from being right in the thick of the bombing rather than a half a block away from it.  Here’s the timeline that Jamie wrote in the hours following the bombing to put everything into perspective:

    6:00 am:   Got on subway (Lechmere Station) with Deb to Boston Commons so she could be transported to start line.
    6:15 am:  Arrived at Boston Commons, left Deb so she could get on bus, I walked to finish line to find a spot to camp at.
    6:30 am:  Got to finish line, no one was camping yet so I had ability to take any spot I wanted. Chose spot #1 because it was as close as I could get and still see the finish line.
    6:45 am:  Wasn’t happy with the location due to the fact that the fence in this area was actually 4×5 scaffolding, and it was hard to take pictures over it. Plus I wasn’t sure if I was allowed to be there. At this time the country flags were not up yet.  I decided to walk a bit and see if I could find a store to buy a chair at.
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    Jamie was originally sitting where the American flag is (site of bomb #1)
    6:50 am:  As I was walking I noticed that just 100 ft away, at Exeter and Boylston St (spot #2 on map), that there was just the standard metal fence up, with a great view. I decided that would be my spot, and I continued on to find a chair.
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    7:05 am:  Found chair at Walgreens just up the street, went back to #2, and sat down. There were a couple of people starting to do the same now, but I got my spot.
    7:05 am – approx 12:00 pm:  Sat there just zoning out. Occasionally followed race on iPad.  Area gradually filled up. A trio of college girls sat to my right, and older couple to my left. The college girls told me I could use bathroom at Starbucks just up the street (spot #3).  I went several times, but not after runners started coming in at noon.
    Noon:  After Kara Goucher finished, the college girls packed up and left. I watched all the runners come in and it started to get dizzy from seeing so many people run past.  The area filled up with people standing. I got crowded and couldn’t leave to pee for fear of losing my spot. So I held it.
    2:31 pm:  Deb ran by and I took her pictures.  I decided I had to pee so bad I couldn’t wait, so I decided to walk back up to Starbucks to go.  (Jamie was following my progress and new when I’d be crossing the finish line)
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    2:38 pm:  Got to Starbucks after fighting crowd.
    2:42 pm:  Finally got to pee after waiting in a short line.
    2:43 pm – 2:48 pm:  Walked to finish line to start the process of finding Deb.  Passed the area where the first bomb went off (spot #1, also the first place I sat) around 2:48.  Very crowded area.
    2:50 pm:  Stopped at spot #4 to try and figure out how to get to family meeting area. Boylston st and Dartmouth St were fenced off for the finishers. As I was standing here the first bomb went off. I could feel the concussion but didn’t see anything. No smoke at this point. All the people standing around just looked at each other.  No panic. Heard no one screaming.  One person said maybe a canon, another thought an electrical transformer. I started walking up Dartmouth when I heard the second one. No one knew what was going on, and there was no panic.
    2:50 pm – 3???:  Things gradually got chaotic as sirens started going off, lots of cops started running.  Cellphone wouldn’t work and couldn’t figure out how to get across Boylston. It was fenced off for blocks.  Heard people start to talk about a bombing.  Saw some people crying.  Got a text from Deb saying she was at bank on corner of St Charles and ?.  Finally got over there after another 20 minutes.
    Walked perhaps an hour more back to hotel as subway had been closed.  Gradually it became clear from chatter that there was a bomb at finish. Ran into someone from hospital that said people were being bought in with missing limbs.
    In spite of all that, everyone was extremely calm, leisurely walking out of Boston Commons.  It was very surreal and hasn’t really sunk in that if Deb had been 2 minutes slower, and had I done the same bathroom break, I would have been right on top of #1.
    I guess it’s not my time, and we never know when it will be, so I need to live life in that manner.
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  • Marathons & 1/2 Marathons

    50 States Racing: Florida

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    Gorgeous and fun race series – ran on an injured hamstring.
    Day #1: 15k and 5k back to back…kept these at an easy pace 9:28-9:37
    Day #2: Half Marathon and 8k, back to back, 3min: 1min run/walk ratio then 1min: 3min walk/run ratio for the 8k.  This is definitely a race series I cannot wait to do again when I’m healthy and fit again!  Jamie nailed his series with a great comeback, our friends Barbara had a flawless half and Melanie ran a near PR for her half marathon!  Barbara now lives in Florida, so it was great to get to see her again and Melanie was there to race and visit Barbara so we spent a day exploring St. Petersburg, eating and visiting the aquarium.  Jamie and I were supposed to depart on a cruise on Monday, but it was cancelled due to the ship being stranded at sea 20 miles offshore in fog.  We were really looking forward to relaxing and celebrating, but instead, found ourselves without plane tickets back and a rental minivan instead.  So much for great planning!  The 5 medals are a nice addition to our bling collection. One for each race and one big one for doing all 4!

  • Marathons & 1/2 Marathons,  We Run 50

    50 States Racing: Twin Cities Marathon – Minnesota 2014

    BibRave Race Review

    Well, here’s marathon #3 for 2014 (4 for the last 12 months) in the books…and 4th one done with this dang achilles tendon knot. I am of course, not proud of what is my 4th worst marathon time to date (all 4 having been in the last 12 months) but I set a reasonable goal of 4:30 and stuck to it quite easily actually, running a very consistent first half and then backing way down the second half to the point that I could still continue enjoying the run.

    The course was very nice, the scenery pretty, the weather COLD (37 at the start) and this marks my 12th state off the bucket list!  We stayed near the starting line and rode a bus back (provided).  The course is basically a circle with a switchback at mile 19 to the finish. It’s called “the most beautiful urban marathon in the country”.  It starts in downtown Minneapolis, goes around the lakes, through neighborhoods, along the river and ends at the state Capitol.

    I didn’t put up a very good time as I have been battling a huge knot on my achilles tendon that I can’t seem to get a handle on. We are having a fantastic time doing this despite the setbacks…no one ever said they times had to be great, but the memories and the fun do…and they are!!!  Check out the map and elevation and add this gem to your racing goal list.  Oh…and the Hokas are really helping with the achilles pain. The knot is still there, raging and larger than ever, but the pain is more manageable.

    Next up is the Gasparilla Michelob Ultra Challenge (4 races in 2 days) in Tampa, Fl in Feb. 2015.  Now that my mileage is starting to improve as well as my pace again, I am hopeful that I will be in decent racing form come February or at least close to where I had been in 2012-2013.  The goal is to knock out 5 more states in 2015 (Florida, Michigan, Arizona and not sure which other two) with my awesome husband.

     

  • Marathons & 1/2 Marathons

    50 States Racing: Maine

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    Pre-race on the bus up the mountain wearing our “throw-away” clothes
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    Post race-never so happy to be done run-walking a marathon!

    This race was my second full in a month!  And yes, my Achilles is still injured BUT, it’s getting better. The knot has decreased in size and the pain has been bearable and some days, non-existent.  This was a beautiful, mountainous, scenic course with a net elevation loss that is touted to be fast, but in all honesty, there’s plenty of uphills to offset it.  The downhills look significant when you are driving the course, but on foot, they didn’t do much to help me.

    I was able to run up through 16 miles before I had to incorporate some walking, which is better than Boston was last month.  I took it smart and easy, so not to tick off my achilles. I’m also completely out of shape so I set a 4:30 finish goal for this marathon.  (I set a sub 5:00 for Boston).  Crazy, since my whole running career, I set my sights on sub 4:00’s and hated anything over that! It’s funny how your perspective changes in the face of injury or what could be a lifelong running setback!  Jamie and I are enjoying our running journey of knocking off the 50 states and I’m very proud of him for running his second full marathon!  We are both re-setting our focus’ and preparing to make our comebacks this summer, with our next state being Minnesota this fall!  Oh…I made my first ever “pit-stop” in the weeds during the race.  Let’s just say the one and only gel that I consumed did not agree with my stomach.  I toughed it out as long as I could and never saw a porta-pot on the course aside from earlier on, so the first dirt road I saw, I veered off.  Thankfully, this race only had less than 800 runners and I was near the back of the pack, so no one busted me!! The weather was picture-perfect too. It was in the upper 40’s at the start and low 70’s at the finish, partly cloudy with peeks of sun, the slightest breeze.  The worst part was that after about 4 miles, they opened the roads back up to traffic so it was not pleasant having to run on the crumbling and uneven edges and dodging from road to edge…that might be what accounted for my extra distance on my Garmin.  While my time agreed with my chip-time, the distance a good mile more!  The finish was in front of a lumberyard in the small downtown of Kingfield and it was congested and tight with traffic, parked cars etc.  That was the only place there was crowd support aside from the water stops along the course, making this a peaceful and serene run (aside from the semi trucks and cars that buzzed by us!)

    The whole state of Maine has about the same population of Franklin County, Columbus, OH, so it is very clean and unspoiled.  The mountain air was fresh and the altitude not bad enough to make it a struggle.  We stayed in a gorgeous, new Bed & Breakfast that was right on the course and just a few miles from the ski resort where you pick up your packet and hit the busses for the start.  All-in-all, a wonderful trip that included a scenic and long drive back via Canada.  I’m happy to have Boston and Maine behind me now and am looking forward to faster and less painful running days ahead this summer and fall!

  • Marathons & 1/2 Marathons

    50 States Racing: Louisianna

    IMG_1345This was a toughy for me. With a big knot on my left Achilles, temp of 65 degrees at the start, 100% humidity and thick fog, acclimating to the heaviness of the air and warmth coming from sub-zero temps was a challenge.  You won’t find a flatter course, that I can guarantee!  I had good intentions of simply staying sub 2:00 so this was a shock.  Honestly, come mile 10 I simply did not care how I finished.  The Achilles pain was manageable as long as I didn’t try anything cute. I went out fast and maintained a decent clip for the first 5 miles.  Every time I felt the pull, I slowed way down.  The pain didn’t come until mile 10 and at that point, I just jogged it in.  I have no regrets about my pace or performance as I cannot and will not put my Boston marathon in jeopardy.

    I have only 12 weeks left and my priority is healing this Achilles.  I seem to have gotten the piriformis under control finally…10 long months of dealing with that agony and sadly, cutting back on the miles and distance was the only way.  That cost me my fitness, stamina, endurance and about 15 lbs!  Jamison and I had a fantastic time exploring New Orléans and knocked off another state from our goal list.  He’s already ran here twice, so this was a repeat performance for him.  We had fantastic weather the entire long weekend until Monday when it got wicked cold.  Then 60’s-70’s on Fri., Sat. & Sun. was a welcome relief, so I will not complain about the race day weather!

  • Marathons & 1/2 Marathons

    50 States Racing: Virginia

    BibRave Race Review

     

    This was a tough race for me for a few reasons.  First, we drove all night Thursday after I worked 3-11 to get there Friday.  We tried to sleep, but couldn’t, so we went to eat twice with packet pick-up in between.  What was nice was being able to get up at 6:30 and walk out our hotel to the start and be there by 7:15 for the 7:30 start.  My fast times of 2012 and early 2013 landed me in the “B” corral for a nice starting position, although as you can see by my finish time, I wasn’t all that deserving of it!  I had no appetite, so didn’t eat a thing other than a few swigs of orange juice and a few pieces of dried fruit.  I’ve had a sinus infection and bronchitis for the last few weeks, so I ran accompanied by my pet elephant on my chest.  My legs felt like lead just walking so I knew I was in for a tough race. There was a light drizzle but 50 some degrees, so the rain wasn’t much of a burden.  I’ve battled major piriformis issues since April and so I wasn’t sure what to expect honestly since that pain all but killed my marathon just 6 weeks ago. I took off conservatively, which is unusual for me since I always go out like gangbusters.  My legs were super heavy and it was a chore to move them plus I was flat-out exhausted.  My right Achilles was throbbing but my hamstring and piriformis played along nicely.  I decided pretty early on, that as long as I stayed under 2 hours, I would consider this race a small victory.   Jamie has been having calf pain to the point that we thought he had a serious strain, so we weren’t sure what the day held for him either.  Thankfully, his calf behaved and he was able to run about where he’d anticipated. He started in coral “A” so we were able to go to the start together.

    We both have had one heck of a year with setbacks (injuries and lack of adequate training) so we have been just having a good time knocking off our 50 state challenge and letting the chips fall where they may while putting no pressure on ourselves other than to rebuild our endurance. I guess you can’t have all good, fast and productive racing years and setbacks are to be expected.

    The race itself, it was well-organized and all 3 distances started in a different set of corrals, at staggered times so there was never the first bit of race congestion or people-dodging to hold us back.  The course had some hills and grades, definitely not flat, but not what I’d call hilly either.  The finish is a kick-ass, swift downhill for about 1.5 miles so you can really make up some good time there if you have it in you.

  • Marathons & 1/2 Marathons

    Columbus 1/2 Marathon course partially recovered 13.21 mi 01:54 08:37 pace

    2 weeks after our full at St. George, who would think we’d feel up to running 13 miles? Well, it was a last-minute effort and despite 4 hours of sleep after being at a Halloween party, I put my best foot forward with my hubby Jamison R. and we both towed the line and decided to see where we were training/injury-wise. We are signed up to knock Virginia off our list of states in just one month via the Richmond 1/2 Marathon so this was a “see what we need to work on” run. I had no goal in mind other than to NOT run another stupid 1:58 like I did at Presque Isle half last month and the split of my marathon 2 weeks ago (PR is 1:46 just one year ago), so with a 1:52 in the works, I kept chugging along until my piriformis begged me to back off. It did good for the most part and that’s thanks to there being few hills, which it cannot handle quite yet. It was super cold at the start but we stayed in the car for the most part and in Jamie’s workplace building for another 20 minutes, so we were only in the corral for like 15 minutes before we took off and by mile 3, I was plenty warm and shed the gloves and by the 10k, I was shedding my jacket. So many friends ran this event, too many to mention, but I do want to extend special congrats to Carla Jo C. for her first half marathon début of 1:44 (she did 3 fulls before ever doing a half, crazy girl!). My goal for Richmond will be to get back under 1:50…not a PR, just back to the high 1:40’s. We are also signed up to run the full in New Orléans in February and then I have Boston in April. I need those big goals to force me to work harder and get this injury under better control, which I think is happening, s-l-o-w-l-y!!!

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