Twin Cities Marathon Training Update

I’m already five weeks (!) into marathon training, and I’ve hardly written about it at all.

Eep!

Eep!

Like I have previously, I’m once again using the Run Less, Run Faster program. (This method combines two sessions of cross training per week with one interval run, one tempo run, and one long run. I’ve written about it more here if you’re interested.) Let’s take a looksee at how these past few weeks have been:

Week 1: A strong start! I nailed the interval and tempo run, and felt solid on my 8 mile long run. I actually added this week because I knew I’d be on the road when training was supposed to start. I’m so glad I did this! It was a mental boost to start off on the right foot.

Week 2: Kick butt interval run, shortened treadmill tempo run (I was out of town in Dallas for a work conference and had to squeeze it in), sucky 8 mile long run the night before we left for our big vacation.

Week 3: Interval run on a treadmill at the Grand Canyon, Tempo run on a treadmill at Zion, and no long run. I did two really long hikes, though. Does that count?

Week 4: 6 miles of hills in Moab, 10 mile long run, 4th of July 5k.

The view on my Moab run. What a treat!

The view on my Moab run. What a treat!

This week

Interval: I was kind of dreading the interval run. It was 5 rounds of 1000 meters. 1000 meters is .62 of a mile. It really bothered me (probably to an irrational level) that .62 makes for every uneven numbers. I prefer my intervals to be even, like .5. (OCD much?) I worked out all the math before the run and wrote it in a note on my phone. This made it so I didn’t have to do any math on the run. Because I was not excited about this work out, I did it first thing in the week. I’m so glad that I did because I destroyed it! I kicked off the week on a high. I felt awesome, the intervals, for the most part, went by quickly. I hit my goal pace or very close to it every time. Success!

Tempo: The tempo run was rather simple. One warm-up mile, which I ran with Geronimo, 4 miles at 9:07, one cool-down mile. This was my easiest run of the week. I was able to zone out and really enjoy myself. The gorgeous El Paso sunrise didn’t hurt either.

Geronimo. Checking out the sunrise or refusing to pose for a picture mid-run? You be the judge.

Geronimo. Checking out the sunrise or refusing to pose for a picture mid-run? You be the judge.

In fact, I’m finding that I love waking up extra early to run. I’m not sure what will happen when school starts. My school day is very early (I usually arrive around 6:45, and the first bell is at 7:30), and I just don’t think that I have enough time to run, shower, etc. and be at work as early as I like. Hrm.

Long run: 11 miles. Part of me feels like I should be running farther by now. The other part of me (the smart part!) is saying to trust the plan. So that’s what I did this morning. I headed out the door by 5:30, I followed the prescribed paces exactly, and I ran 11 miles. The humidity nearly about did me in. I think it should be illegal for it to get to 90% humidity here. I live in the desert! I didn’t sign up for humid weather! I was sweating a lot, and I was very hungry by the end.

Obligatory phone on the ground timer pic.

Obligatory phone on the ground timer pic.

Cross-training: I got in two hours of yoga, 1 hour on the stationary bike (11 miles!), and 30 minutes on the rower (I hit 5k!) I’ve never been so consistent and focused on cross-training ever. I don’t feel any difference in my running now, but I’m hoping I’ll see long-term benefits.

I’m still working out my fueling. I’ve been using the Waterlogged app to keep tabs on my hydration. I love a good graph! Pre-run, I usually eat pb toast, and that’s working well. My issue is more with what to eat during my run. I’ve tried an assortment of chomps, chews, and beans. I like them, but I don’t love them. On my most recent run, I finished feeling hungry. That won’t do! I’ve used gu in the past, but my stomach isn’t a fan any more. I also did the Swedish Fish thing, but I’ve eaten so many, I don’t know if I can bring myself to eat any more. This will definitely take time and trial and error. (Feel free to throw any suggestions my way!)

I’m also thinking about the logistics of race day. I booked my hotel in Saint Paul! That makes it feel much more real. I’m anticipating that there will be a fair amount of time from when I leave my hotel and to when the race starts. I want to replicate this at least a few times in training. (I didn’t think about it during El Paso Marathon training, and it threw me off on race day.) My plan is to drive across town for a few long runs. That extra time driving to my destination will be as close as I can get to the waiting around on race day.

Overall, I feel solid. I wanted to throw myself completely into training this summer, and I’ve done that. I have fallen back in love with speed work. I’m enjoying cross-training, which is a totally new phenomenon for me! I go back to work a week from Monday (yes, already). I know that will throw a wrench in things, but I know that my foundation is strong. The biggest challenges will be fitting everything in and giving up napping! At this point, though, I’m too determined to be defeated.

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4th of July 5k race Recap

We interrupt your regularly scheduled blogging to give you a race recap! And to wish all of you a very happy and safe Fourth of July. This used to be one of those holidays that I was all “meh” about. In the last few years, however, I’ve changed my tune. The 4th is one of my favorite. (No pressure to buy the perfect gift, beautiful fireworks, and all the summer foods I can eat. Sign me up!) This time last year, Stephen was in Afghanistan. This time three years ago, he had just come home from his first deployment.

Gratuitous welcome home picture from 2012.

Gratuitous welcome home picture from 2012.

When my alarm went off at 5 am, I let Stephen keep sleeping as I tip-toed out of the bedroom.

The Up and Running 4th of July Run starts at 7:04 on the dot (so appropriate, right?). That meant leaving my house before the sun came up to make it across town. I had plenty of time, and got to spend a good half hour chatting with my Wear Blue buddies.

wear blue

Jennifer, seated, just came back from a DENTAC deployment to the Pacific! Welcome home, Jennifer!

My hope for the race was to beat last year’s time of 25:30. With marathon training, I’ve been doing lots of speed work (read: 2x a week). However, I didn’t consider the fact that I haven’t been doing much (read: zero) hill work. I guess I tend to be a greedy ambitious runner. If I’m racing, I want to place or PR. My 5k PR of 24:21 is 3 years old (!), and I haven’t come close to it since the day that I earned it. (Maybe I was body snatched during the race.) Yet some part of me thought that maybe I could go sub 25 today.

Mile 1: 8:08

After a stirring rendition of the National Anthem and the countdown to begin, I took off like the dickens. I mean, I hauled my cookies like nobody’s business. It took me a quarter of a mile to realize I had probably gone out too fast as I was hitting a 7:00/mile pace. That will only lead to crashing and burning. I tried to reign it in to as near to 8:00 as I could. Of course, then the hills appeared. Some of the people I had passed in the initial starting sprint had already passed me right back. I knew I wouldn’t PR, and I doubted I could even beat last year’s time.

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Mile 2: 8:16

I ran a little slower, but I actually felt good during this mile. Perhaps because it has more of the downhill. :) I even walked a bit to hit the water stop before I continued on. I have yet to master the ability to run and drink, and I needed that water! It was actually cooler out this morning than I anticipated. It didn’t even make it to 80 while I was on the course. The cloud cover was a nice touch too, but that means humidity – my nemesis! 50% humidity plus hills = way more challenging than I was prepared for.

Mile 3: 8:26

I’m convinced that the final mile of any 5k is mental. I repeated over and over in my head “One more good mile. Just one more good mile.” I also used this time to puzzle over the fact that my half PR was on a hilly course. How did I do that? I felt like I was sucking, but I was still passing people. I thought I might have been going fast enough to at least beat my time on the course, but I wasn’t sure. I couldn’t quite seem to figure out the math – all my brain power was going toward convincing myself not to quit.

finish

The final .25 is uphill (damn hills!). I gave all I had left and ended up with final .1 at a 7:26 pace.

My stats:

  • 3.1 mile finish time: 25:17
  • Average pace: 8:09

13 seconds faster than last year and good enough for 4th in my age group. I was immediately disappointed. I feel like I’m faster than I was last year, and I worked a lot harder than “just” 13 seconds faster. Alas, the clock doesn’t lie. Stephen reminded me when I got home that my goal isn’t a 5k PR; it’s a marathon PR. #Truth. The next race I run will probably be the 10 Miler in the Heat, another repeat race. Once again I’m going to aim to beat my time from last year. I’ve got plenty more marathon training between now and then to prepare me. But I’m keeping my eye on the real goal: Twin Cities.

I want to once again wish everyone the happiest of holidays. Thank you to all those who have fought for our freedom. If your loved one is in harm’s way, know that I see you and I’m praying for you.

Twin Cities, Here I Come!

Happy National Running Day! I kicked off my day with a sweaty 7 mile run. Seemed appropriate. Hopefully wherever you are, the weather is nice enough for some miles.  Now I want to dive right in to some running talk!

I’m officially signed up to the run Twin Cities Marathon on October 4th!
I'm so excited! I'm so excited! I'm so...so scared!

I’m so excited! I’m so excited! I’m so…so scared!

I mentioned before that I was kicking around the idea of a fall marathon. After my hiatus from distance running and being bitten by the marathon bug when I volunteered at the El Paso Marathon, I sat down and thought long and hard about a great many options. Things I knew for sure:
  1. I wanted a fall marathon. I’ve read that these are ideal for Personal Records because you train through the heat of the summer and (probably) race on a cool day. My current full marathon PR is from a spring race, but I think that’s due to where I was in my running life and the fact that my only fall race was my very first.
  2. I wanted to race during a particular window of time. Since the school where I teach is year round, we get two weeks off during the fall. That gave me three possible weekends to work with.
  3. I wanted a mostly flat course. Even though I’ve done well on hills before, the majority of my training here takes place in flat areas. I don’t want to battle inclines (or descents!).
  4. I will go anywhere in the contiguous US.
All those factors combined to lead me straight to Twin Cities Marathon in Minnesota.
A good looking course!

A good looking course!

The race takes place smack in the middle of my time off, so I can arrive days early or stay days late. There’s no rush. (I’m even considering extending the trip a bit to hop over and visit my family in Michigan.) The race is billed as the most scenic urban marathon. A beautiful course was not a requirement, but I love that Twin Cities is unique in this way.
According to the race website:
This point-to-point course begins near the future location of the new Minnesota Vikings Stadium in downtown Minneapolis and finishes at the Minnesota State Capitol in Saint Paul. The course winds around four beautiful lakes and along both sides of the Mississippi River. The course contains a few rolling hills; but with a starting and finishing elevation of approximately 840 feet and no climbs over 100 feet long, it’s nothing you can’t handle. The final stretch races past the clanging bells of the Saint Paul Cathedral and downhill onto the spectacular view of the State Capitol and the finish line!
tc
I feel 100% about my choice and I can’t wait to run it. That said, I’m really freaked out. I’m committing myself to a huge goal. (<–That’s always scary.) I don’t want to just run the race, I want it to be my best race EVER! That’s a tall order when there will be a lot out of my control (as there is with any marathon), and I’m going to far to get it. I’m keeping my PR goal conservative by only aiming to take 5 minutes off. That’s not too much to ask, is it? (My current PR is 4:24:54. I’ve got my heart set on a 4:19 finish.)
My fears:
  • Bad weather on race day
  • Travel issues
  • Injury during training
  • Perfect travel, perfect weather, perfect health, but no PR (not the worst thing ever, but it would be disappointing)
Training starts later this month and even though I feel mentally ready, I’ve already hit my first speed bump: knee pain! It came out of nowhere, and I think it was related to my shoes. I’ve since bought 2 new pairs (I know – I’m ridiculous). I’ve run a few times since getting the new shoes with no issues. Fingers crossed!
If that wasn’t enough, I also signed up to run the Austin Marathon in February. I am in fact crazy. I know what I’ll be doing for the next 9 months: #marathontraining! 

Post-Bataan Hodgepodge

The thing about a big event like Bataan is that even after it’s over and I’ve talked about it non-stop, I still want to talk about it! Today I’m offering you a salmagundi of all the Bataan related topics that I didn’t get to yesterday. Feast and be merry!

Race Prep & Ensemble

  • I wore exactly what I planned to wear, and I’d say it was 85% successful. Biggest win was the hat. I thought it might bother me or fly off, but it stayed on, and I loved it. Wearing two SPIbelts was clutch. Why have I never done that before? Double the storage and it didn’t weigh me down or bounce obnoxiously.

IMG_3444

  • I should have gotten gaiters! Everyone told me I should, I agreed that I should, and then I just didn’t. All me to smh at myself. Not much sand got in my shoes, but the sand that did was destructive. Even with stops to shake out my shoes and eventually change my socks, the sand still managed to blisterfy me pretty badly.
  • Another failure y’all warned me about: sunscreen. I took a big bottle of the good stuff and went to town before the race. I was so thorough. I’m talking the eyelids, backs of ears, I was the sunscreen queen. Except for the part where I didn’t put any on my arms because I was wearing long sleeves before the race! D’oh! I didn’t realize how burned I was until I got home. I think the cool breeze during most of the race distracted me from the sizzling of my flesh.
Can you tell where I was wearing my spare hair ties?

Can you tell where I was wearing my spare hair ties? The redness goes all the way up to the middle of my upper arm. A nice farmer’s burn, if you will.

Fueling

  • Before the race, I ate a bagel. Normally I go for toast, but sadly, toast is not portable. I ate my cinnamon raisin circle of deliciousness in my car while killing time.
  • During the race, I carried 1 bottle of Nuun, a baggie of Swedish fish, and a baggie of goldfish. I had no clue how that would work out. The verdict: excellent! Hat tip to everyone who suggested taking something salty. The goldfish were the best thing I ate! Well, besides a cookie at mile 24. Excellent choice by that aid station.
  • Aid stations were almost exactly every two miles and all of them (that I recall) offered bananas, orange slices, mystery sports drink, and water. I took water and oranges at quite a few. My tummy never complained.
  • This misting station at mile 10/18 made me very happy:

IMG_3858

Fellow Marchers

  •  It was really inspiring to see many people wearing signs or shirts for someone. We are removed enough from World War II to put out of our minds what that generation experienced, which we shouldn’t do. I read a book by a survivor earlier in the month. The book was just okay (and I wouldn’t recommend it), but even so, I was blown away reading the first-hand account of Bataan and the POW camps. I also listened to multiple podcasts on the subject. I almost feel like I can’t learn enough about it – I had never even heard of Bataan before this. If you aren’t familiar with the events, I urge you to read about them or listen to a podcast. I’d be happy to make suggestions!
  • Although it’s a silly sign, this one may have been my favorite:
I can relate.

I can relate.

  • Remember the people I met before the race Paul and Buck? (They were the ones who protected me from the wind.) I didn’t see them after the race started, but I checked out their results. They finished in 7:10. Pretty good if you ask me, and if I recall correctly, faster than they did it 3 years ago.

Post-race & Recovery

  • After crossing the finish line and drinking in my runners high, I started heading for my car. Except, my car was nowhere to be found. I remembered very clearly where I was parked in relation to the start. Too bad the finish was in a different spot. Every building on an Army post looks like every other building, cars were everywhere, I was turned around, and I was probably also disoriented from fatigue. It took me a good 30 minutes, maybe more, of wandering around aimlessly.
  • Once finally reunited with the Gold Nugget, I completely changed my clothes. I packed a bag of fresh stuff and my race shirt for this very purpose. The best part was the extra water bottle that I had. I was able to rinse of my nasty feetsies.
  • 1 point for my mother-in-law: she suggest that I buy a bag of ice (for the inevitable ice bath) from Sonic. For $2.50, I got me 10 pounds of the stuff and I didn’t even have to get out of my car. Oh-la-la!
This last about 5 minutes.

This last about 5 minutes.

  • I’m sore, but it’s not terrible. I don’t feel like I’m substantially worse off than I was after any of my other full marathons, other than my feet. My feet are so jacked. Damn you, blisters! I’d go for a short run just to see how everything feels if the thought of stuffing my toes into running shoes wasn’t so repulsive.

If you have any questions about the race, the prep, the post, throw it at me in the comments. I’m not kidding when I say that I could talk about this all day long.

Sprint to Bataan: Oh Crap!

In two days I will be running/marching/walking/limping/crawling my way through 26.2 miles of sand/wind/hills. I can sum up how I feel about it pretty simply: I am not prepared.

Remember when I said I was loosely going to follow Hal Higdon’s 4 weeks to Marathon plan? Well, I kept it reallllly loose. I wasn’t doing the best job staying on top of my running, and then I took a week’s vacation. My running nose-dived to a total of 4.5 miles last week. You’d thinking running a marathon a month ago would have me raring to go and totally ready, but a person can lose a lot of endurance in a month’s time. Gulp. The good news is that, yes, I did run a marathon a mere month ago. I know that I am capable. My body, however, is no longer in endurance mode. I’m going to have to really dig deep on Sunday.

I’ve tried to figure out what I’d advise me to do if I wasn’t me. Would I encourage me to drop to the half? Perhaps.

The course

The course. The half totals 14.2 miles and is just the lower loop.

That’s still an option. The split between the full and the half is at mile 8. It can be hard for me to be completely honest with myself mid-race, but if I’m sucking or hurting by mile 8, I won’t attempt to continue for the full. Knowing me, though, if there’s no injury, I’ll keep going, however slow that may be.

Y’all offered such awesome advice last week, that I’m feeling strangely (inappropriately?) more confident this week. Since there’s a not much more I can do physically (other than hydrate and carb load), my best hope is to get my mind right. That’s the biggest challenge with races like this, right? Mind over matter.

My goals:

  • Time: There is no time goal for this race, other than to finish before 8 pm when the course closes. I might even strap my Garmin to my SPIbelt, so I can’t see it. I’ll be going the distance, however long it takes.
  • Strategy: I want to listen to my body and respond accordingly. It won’t be any fun if I get injured. I’m still planning to run the first 7 miles and play the rest by ear. The challenge will be to make good decisions in the heat of the moment (not my forte!).
  • Attitude: Thinking about the meaning of the race- honoring those who marched at Bataan, those who were POWs, those who perished. This is a race about others, so I want to encourage my fellow marchers, display gratitude toward the volunteers, and thank the survivors.

Every time I check the race website my stomach starts to hurt, a sure sign that I am nervous! This one is going to be a doozy, y’all. Wish me luck!

Run Less, Run…Slower?

My review of the Run Less, Run Faster program!

If you’ve been around for a while, you’ve heard me go on and on about RLRF. I trained 2/3rds of the way through the program last year for a race I didn’t end up running. (I abandoned ship when I realized that running a marathon the week before moving internationally wasn’t a great idea.) I made it all the way through the plan in the train up to the EP Marathon.

A quick refresher (or intro for those not in the know). RLRF has you completing 3 runs a week:

  1. An interval run (repeating sprints of distances between .25 mile and 1.25 miles)
  2. A tempo run (4-8 mile runs with fast middle miles sandwhiched between an easy warm-up and cool-down)
  3. A long run (between 7-20 miles at marathon pace + so many seconds)
A portion of the RLRF training plan.

A portion of the RLRF training plan.

All the runs are pace specific, and the program instructs you to aim to run them as closely to those times as possible. It should be comfortably difficult, which I found to be true of almost every single workout. They were a challenge but not impossible. You are also supposed to complete cardio cross-training (swimming, cycling, ellipticalling, rowing, whatever) twice a week. I don’t much like other forms of cardio, so I would do yoga and walk my dog instead. Not exactly what the plan suggests, but it’s what I wanted to do. This was my only real deviation. I followed the running workouts to about 95% accuracy. There were a few missed or shortened runs, a few times that I threw my pace out the window, but mostly, I did as I was told.

With all that you, you’d think that I would run faster. Did I? No. Sunday’s marathon was 5 minutes slower than my PR, and 8 minutes slower than what I was training for. But but but but but this in no way reflects on the plan. I felt totally prepared in terms of my training. My 18 mile and 20 mile runs were both cake, and I know I have a faster marathon in me. <–That right there is the problem.

Interval run, run less run faster

Notes for a particularly tricky interval run.

The book specifically warns against aiming for a finish time that is faster than what you are capable of at the time (they have a pages and page of charts to help you figure out what time goal is appropriate). The authors point out that runners have a tendency to get hung up on arbitrary goals. Damn you, tantalizing round numbers! (I was training for 4:22, but tried to reach for 4:15 on race day.) I read that part of the book thinking, “Yes, this is logical. I should set a realistic goal based on my current abilities and run an evenly split race. I should ignore the round numbers.” But then I didn’t.

I think my downfall, if you will, was three-fold:

  1. The 5 miles of downhill at the start of the race gave me a false sense of myself. I felt so good that I kept pushing the pace until I gased out. Even if I hadn’t pushed it, a 1,500 foot elevation drop at the start of a distance race makes even splits tricky.
  2. I didn’t show up to the starting line with the intention of running the paces I’d trained for. I didn’t just want to finish, I wanted to smash my PR! Instead, I got smashed.
  3. My plan (fueling, hydration, walk breaks) was abandoned from the get go. I don’t even have a reason why. Endorphins? Foolishness?

When pepping me up prior to the race, a few friends told me, “run your race!” I thought, “yes, yes I will!” In my brain, though, that meant, “I’m going to go for it! I’m going to run the hell out of it!” instead of probably what they meant “run the way you trained. Run your pace. Don’t be stupid!” Whoops.

Would I recommend RLRF? Yes! Absolutely! The book is loaded with more information than you’ll probably ever need (how to train for an Ironman, how to BQ, how to stretch, how to cross-train, and on and on and on), and the plan is sound. It is scientific, it is specific, and it is effective. You know, as long as you don’t blow it on race day.

Where my other RLRF peeps at? What other training plans do y’all love? After only running 3 days a week, I’m not sure I could go back to 4 or 5.

El Paso Marathon Race Recap

I’m not a big fan of suspense, so let me cut to the chase. Yesterday I ran my 3rd marathon. It was hard. I went out too fast. It got hot. I got tired. But I managed to pull out a finish time that I am proud of: 4:30:20.

The Garmin don't lie!

The Garmin don’t lie!

Now for the fun part – details!

The race is point-to-point, starting at the top of the Franklin Mountains and winding it’s way through Fort Bliss all the way to downtown. I was late to the only other point-to-point race that I’ve done (one must allot extra time for transit to the start!), so I woke up crazy early (3:00 am) and arrived crazy early (4:30 am) in order to ensure that my butt would be on that bus with plenty of time to spare.

I spent the 90 minutes that I had before the race started alternating between waiting in line for the porta-potties and staying warm on the bus. It was a cool 50-something and windy; nice for running, not so nice for standing around in a tank top. Eventually the sun rose and it was time to start.

During mile 1. I love a good sunburst picture.

During mile 1. I love a good sunburst picture.

  • Mile 1: 9:06
  • Mile 2: 9:19
  • Mile 3: 9:23
  • Mile 4: 9: 38
  • Mile 5: 9:36

I loved the first 5 miles. They were completely downhill, so what’s not to love? I decided to not worry about time during these miles and instead run at whatever pace felt comfortable. Fewer than 400 people were attempting the full, so it wasn’t too crowded. It was still cool out, and the views were gorgeous.

  • Mile 6: 9:33
  • Mile 7: 10:26 (my first walk break)
  • Mile 8: 9:40
  • Mile 9: 9:48
  • Mile 10: 10:06 (another walk break)
I love running!

I love running!

You’d think it was a good thing that I didn’t take a walk break until mile 7. In reality, this was poor planning. Those first 5 miles + adrenaline had me feeling good. So much so that I took my normal approach (walk every 4 miles, fuel like clockwork) and instead had a “just wing it” attitude. I also decided that “just PRing” wasn’t enough. I wanted to aim for a sub-4:15 finish. That meant a 9:45 pace. Seeing as this isn’t my first rodeo, I should have known better. Alas, I did say that I wanted to push myself and not run conservatively. Besides, I felt so good. What was the harm? {Foreshadowing!}

  • Mile 11: 9:59
  • Mile 12: 9:50
  • Mile 13: 9:46
  • Mile 14: 10:07

The wheels started to fall off around mile 14. I could already tell that my body was tired. (To bad I didn’t run the half! I had an awesome entire first half!) The previous 13 miles + plus the rising heat + my poor pacing + my lack of following the fueling/walking plan had taken it’s toll. Even though my pace was still decent at mile 14, I know myself well enough to recognize when my running is taking a downward turn.

IMG_3240

  • Mile 15: 9:53
  • Mile 16: 10:57
  • Mile 17: 10:39

Miles 11 through 17 were all on the same road with almost no turns. Turns, in theory, are annoying and dumb. A straight road sounds great. Except that it was so empty. No spectators, no pretty scenery. Nothing to distract me from my dwindling energy. Mile 17 was such a welcome sight. That was where we entered Fort Bliss. It was also the location of a Walking Dead themed water stop complete with people acting like walkers (seriously scary), an old RV, and volunteers with plastic cross-bows. The woman who high-fived me here was an angel in an earth suit. She gave me pep in my step, and I actually started to get a second wind. (As much of a second wind as one can expect after 17 miles of running.)

  • Mile 18: 10:12
  • Mile 19: 10:43
  • Mile 20: 10:40

I went from walking every few miles, to walking every other mile, to walking every mile. Thankfully, I passed my friends’ house during this portion of the course. Knowing they’d be there kept me in motion and was another much-needed boost. I was joking with the volunteers and feeling happy. Even though the middle miles had been hard, I was surprised at how quickly I had found myself at mile 20. Only a 10k to go.

I did not take this picture. I was too fatigued at this point to even unzip my spibelt.

I did not take this picture. I was too fatigued at this point to even unzip my spibelt.

  • Mile 21: 11:18
  • Mile 22: 10:47
  • Mile 23: 11:57

We were outside the confines of Fort bliss and headed downtown. By this point, my body felt better. Some aches and pains from earlier in the race had subsided. Unfortunately, my determination started to waver. I’m sure all the people around me at this point looked as pitiful as I did. Jogging, hobbling, walking, certainly not running. A few fellow runners cheered me on. I cheered them on. I told myself that I could go slow but I had to go. I’d run to an intersection, then walk to the next one, then run again. I’ve never walked for too long, but I also didn’t run for too long at this point. It was an internal push-and pull from here to the end.

  • Miles 24: 11:29
  • Mile 25: 12:19

The 4:30 pacer passed me around mile 24. I tried to stick with her, but I couldn’t hack it. I knew my goals were long gone before I got to this point, but it still sucked to literally see my goal fly by. All day long, friends and family had been texting me. During mile 25 I was really hurting, so I took some time to read through all the messages. Oh man. Waterworks. I told myself that I shouldn’t cry and “waste my hydration” :) but I couldn’t help it. I was overwhelmed (and exhausted) and so touched. I knew I had to keep going, even if it was slow.

  • Mile 26: 10:36
  • Final .2: 2:24 (10:04 pace)
Photo courtesy of Julie. This is my last bit of effort after I realized the timing mat under the blue awning wasn't actually the finish and I had to keep running.

Photo courtesy of Julie. This is my last bit of effort after I realized the timing mat under the blue awning wasn’t actually the finish and I had to keep running.

The last mile. Finally! I knew Julie was waiting for me at the finish, so I gave it everything I had. I felt like I was running an 8:00 minute mile. Haha! I also realized that I could still come in under 4:30 if I hustled. It was just too late, and I didn’t have anything left in me.

My stats:

  • 26.26 Finish time: 4:30:20
  • Average Pace: 10:18 per mile

I made some mistakes at this race. I went out too fast, I didn’t follow my plan, I let the mental demons beat me down. It wasn’t all a loss. I did some good things, too. I ran the tangents like a pro, I cheered on fellow runners, I thanked as many of the volunteers and spectators as I could, and I ran with other people in my heart.

Remember when I said in my goals post that this race wasn’t just about me? I was thinking of a few people in particular. My mantra during training and one race day was: For Ben, For Micah, For myself.

The words that kept me going.

The words that kept me going.

I tried to channel Ben‘s positivity. (I wasn’t entirely successful, but I like to think he would have laughed at all the snarky jokes I made on the course.) From Micah, I tried to embody his determination and his wife Linzi‘s strength. Maybe my time doesn’t reflect it, but I was successful in this endeavor. I wanted to quit over and over and over again during this race. Every time I considered it, I thought about their family. How they haven’t been able to quit and instead they’ve pushed harder. Finally, I ran to prove something to myself. To prove that I could set my sights high and dream big and go for it, which is what I did.

When I finished, Julie was there to greet me. I immediately told her, “Don’t ever run a marathon!” However, on my drive home I saw some people out running, and I thought, “I love doing that.” That meaning running. For me, that also includes marathoning. Crazy as that is. So at the end of March, I’m doing another one! This one will be a little different. It’s the Bataan Memorial Death March. The terrain will be difficult, I’m sure the heat will be even worse, and there will be no time goals. In fact, I’m predicting that it will take me twice as long to finish as this one did. I’ve got four weeks to rest, recovery, get back in gear, and do the whole shebang over again!