2016 #BESTNINE

 

Happy New Year!
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Accurate picture of what some of you may have looked like last night so don’t even laugh! 

After a not-so positive previous blog post, I am super excited to get rolling on this one because it is the opposite of depressing and negative.  2016 was amazing for SO many reasons and I can’t wait to share!

I discovered my love for marathon running in 2015 and was hoping it would not be just a 2015 thing.  I am so fortunate and grateful that my passion for the distance not only carried over into 2016 but was taken to another level of competitiveness.  Running the Boston Marathon has been a running goal that I have had for years.  This year was the first time in 4 years that I was not glued to computer screen on Patriot’s day and was on the Boston roads running the incredible race.  Finishing the race was an accomplishment in itself but setting a PR, having to fight through some rough conditions and seeing familiar faces in the crowds to pull me through those rough patches made it even more exceptional.  I started the race in athletes village with Bethany and Katie and finished with a new PR, my parents at the finish line and word that my brother was the First American.  It really doesn’t get much better than that.

So on Instagram I saw people posting nine photos with the hashtag #2016bestnine.  I wasn’t sure how it was generated so I took it into my own hands and generated one myself by scrolling back on my Instagram and deciding on MY favorite 9 photos of the year and created a collage haha.  I later found out that Instagram generates the best nine based on ‘Likes’ (that should have been obvious since the IG world is all about LIKES) 😂.  SO, I will show you what the Instagram world views as my best nine and then MY best nine.  It was actually cool to see both and how a photo that didn’t even cross my mind as a top actually had an impact on those around me.

INSTAGRAM BEST NINE

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Instagram, I would have to agree with you on most of these.  I am going to talk about the pictures Instagram chose as a top 9 that did not make it into my top 9.

The pre-marathon FLAT MEL (middle 2) – I am not sure if I should take it personal that you prefer my outfits when they are on hotel room floors rather than on my body 😂 but I am just going to use those two pictures to justify all my clothing purchases because apparently they are helping me with my Instagram game!  But seriously, I would have never picked my pre-race FLAT MEL pictures as my favorite but when they popped up on my #bestnine, I realized that Instagram has a point.  One of the best parts of a marathon is that nervous but exciting feeling you have the night before a race. The moment you lay out your pre-race outfit and fuel is a pretty special feeling – it is that final piece of preparation after months of hard work.  It solidifies your readiness.

My first day of school picture (bottom left) – (insert Mean Girls quote)…..”So you think I am pretty!” …Just Kidding. Maybe the first day of school picture just means summer vacation has officially ended and that is a bitter moment so it did not make the cut as a favorite for that reason but I would agree that the start of every new school year is special.  I get the opportunity to make an impact on 70 new students.  It is another year of students that push my buttons but ultimately teach me the importance of patience and help me better myself.

Thanksgiving 5k PR (bottom middle) – I did not chose this one because the 5k distance has really slipped down the list of interests over the last two years.  However, I did write a sub-19 5k PR for 2017 goals so I really should have been more proud of this moment.  More importantly, this was the first race that I did under a coach.  Granted we were only about 3 weeks in and just slowly building up, but it was nice to PR and see even just the 3 weeks of training pay off.  It fueled me and made me feel like this coaching plan was the right decision and made me excited for the next 6 months with McKirdy Trained.

The Random 6 mile Night Run (bottom right) – This one took me by absolute surprise. Maybe it’s the beautiful Saucony Kinvaras or maybe the reflection makes it look super insightful and reflective.  Regardless, thank you Instagram for liking me at my best moments and liking me at my slow and steady moments!

 MY BEST NINE!!!!!

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I will save the THREE that overlap for the end because they overlap for a reason…they are so close to my heart and hold so much value!

Disney Princess Challenge (top left)- I do not know why you Instgramers did not chose this one!! Come on, our skirts are so darn cute!!!! Disney will always be at the top of my list because it is week of spending time with my Mom, doing what we love, running around the parks like kids again and relaxing by the pool.  Unfortunately, we are not doing the challenge in 2017 due to Boston 2 Big Sur expenses…and my dad HAD to buy a new mini van just as we were thinking of jumping the gun and making a spur of the moment last minute trip 😂!  There is no doubt that I will become a little depressed come February when @runDisney posts a ton of pictures but I know we will have a wonderful trip to Big Sur and she is running Boston!!!

Crossfit Competition (top middle)- I knew this wouldn’t be an Instagram favorite because not many runners are into Crossfit but it was for me.  Not necessarily the competition itself but what Crossfit has brought into my life.  I have gained lifelong friends through Crossfit and it has always been that place I can go when I need a break from running. My coach is incredible – she yells at me, she pushes me but lets me have a melt down on her shoulder when you have those moments in training when you’re overwhelmed, overtired and everything is hard.  There is no doubt that sometimes I fail at balancing Crossfit and running and that can hinder my performances in both arenas but overall, I think each sport makes me stronger in the other.  I have been taking a break from Crossfit workouts to focus on Boston 2 Big Sur but I still go to the box to do my running strength exercises and just to annoy my friends while they workout. 😉. I also chose this photo because I see strength.  I will never look like the elite runners.  That is not my body type. But that is OK because I know that my strength is what helps me prevail in races and makes me an all-around athlete rather than just a runner.

Union College 5 Year Reunion (top right) – My 4 years at college were some of the greatest years of my life.  I still have moments when I get down and miss those 4 years.  I miss having my best friends live right down the hall.  I miss when life was just about learning.  I miss my lacrosse career. Oh man, I miss a lot about my collegiate career, I am tearing up typing this.  BUT, life is about growing and growing is what I have done.  Going back for my 5 year reunion was refreshing.  There is nothing better than being reunited with some of my best friends and living the college life for 48 hours.  After 5 years of growing up, adulting and learning to love just curling up with a good book or a good movie on a Friday night, 48 hours of college was all I could handle!  Union College is my roots and gave me the greatest things in life – an education, unforgettable memories and the most amazing group of friends.

18 Ithaca Summer Miles (bottom left)- Ithaca runs are always memorable because they are beautiful and so challenging.  This particular run was just beautiful and less challenging as usual.  I remember the miles just passing by as I took in the scenery.  Later that day, I had to drive to Buffalo for one of my best friend’s wedding.  A day full of friends, family and beautiful runs is always memorable.

The Stud – Oh yes, can’t forget about that stud on the left 😎 I’ll keep this short – you make life fun, you keep me calm when running makes me anxious, you may not always understand my passion for running but you try and your lack of passion for running keeps me grounded. Boy, you are the the yin to my yang.

My Mom’s 2016 Marathon (bottom right) – MY 61 YEAR OLD MOM QUALIFIED FOR BOSTON!! She is incredible.  I don’t even care that I shared her age because it is nothing to be ashamed of.  She accomplishes more than most people half her age can accomplish.  She has been raking in age group cash money ever since she hit the 60 year old age category😏!  For a brief moment, I was going to do this marathon but it was so close after Boston and I had a Crossfit Competition planned the day before.  I decided last minute to do the half despite being super sore from the competition.  The half was rough and as soon as I was done, I jumped in the car and went to cheer on my mom.  When I saw her at mile 20, I only planned on running a few minutes with her but when she saw me she said, “Your staying with me until the end right?” 😳 …how in the world do you say no to that.  My legs would have to be falling off before I say no to helping my mom finish a marathon.  She was tired, miserable and a tad bit cranky (as anyone would be at mile 20) so I let her air out all her crankiness and negative comments when I tried to push her.  It was probably one of the best 6 miles I have ever run because you can’t NOT laugh at the craziness people say in the final 6 miles of a marathon.  “I THINK I AM ON TRACK TO QUALIFY FOR BOSTON!”…2 minutes later ..”UGH I DON’T EVEN WANT TO QUALIFY FOR BOSTON, I DON’T EVEN CARE!”…2 minutes later (looks at her watch)…“I THINK I CAN QUALIFY FOR BOSTON!”….Yes Mom, You WILL qualify but for someone who claims she can’t breath, you are wasting a lot of energy discussing this 😂.

TOP 3 PHOTOS!!!!

My top 3 photos (or the 3 that overlapped in both #bestnine) are the finish line pictures at all 3 of my 2016 marathon finishes. Regardless of time, place or experience…a marathon finish should always be a top moment.  You are either on cloud 9 after a killer performance or you are heartbroken with the way the race went after months of training for something that slipped away within hours.  No matter what the immediate reaction is or how the race played out, you are happy and you are proud.  Happy with your time or happy that is over. Proud that you PR’d or proud that you mentally and physically fought the unfortunate obstacles that unexpectedly decided to show up on race day.  Boston and Chicago were definitely what I described first and San Francisco was the latter.  San Francisco hurt.  Thankfully, I had no real expectations and did not train long for it so I did not feel like all my training was a waste but it was a rough experience.  I cried, regrouped, cried, regrouped and said every mantra in the book.  It’s a low and uncomfortable place to be but I am so glad I had that struggle.  I held on for so darn long and kept trucking along despite wanting to give up.  You need to struggle and hit a real deep low to discover new strength.  Another reason I love the marathon! 

Those three pictures also display the amazing people I have supporting me!

  • My parents at the finish of Boston while my brother was being interviewed with his girlfriend by his side followed by a big family lunch.  When you are in the moment, there is so much to take in, your brain is still exhausted from 26.2 of being on your mental game and you don’t always fully embrace the moments.  But when you look back, it is so vivid and engrained in your memory because it was so special. I will never forget that post Boston lunch.  I was so proud of myself and so proud of my brother.  My parents were happy for the both of us and it was all over their face.  They want us to excel in our races just as much as we want to. When we hurt, they hurt. When one has a great race and the other doesn’t, it is hard to manage both emotions.  But to be in Copley Plaza enjoying lunch after we both had great races is a rare and pretty great moment.
  • BETHANY!!!!! Ah.  I think I said it all in the Chicago recap.  This girl has been my training partner from afar.  She makes marathons so fun.  When the race unfolds the way it is planned to and we get to run side by side for 26.2 miles, it is incredible.  Two people with two completely different training schedule, living in two different areas come together, run 26.2 miles side by side, push each other without really ever saying more than 4 sentences throughout the entire race…that’s a special bond!
  • San Francisco….it is a solo shot but it was taken by my friend from college, Abby,  who made that marathon weekend so awesome!  I remember just breaking down when I saw the finish line and then I heard my name, looked to side, and there she was.. her crazy, cute self in a SF baseball hat yelling her head off.  It was perfect.

 

I could keep this blog post going because these posts are my favorite but I’ll end it here.  Have a wonderful 2017 everyone!  While most of the world is kicking off the new year with all the running goals and fitness ambitions, I am starting the new year off with a rest week because if there is one thing that I continue to struggle with, it is listening to my body and learning to rest.  I decided to spend vacation doing a ton of cross training and snuck back into Crossfit workouts when I should have been resting my knee so now I am paying for it.  I decided January 1st would be a good time to use the “new year, new you” to encourage me to be smarter and wiser and do the one thing I struggle most with…rest!  So I mean it when I say I could keep this blog post going all day 😉

HERE WE GO 2017! Embrace the good times and let the bad times run their course so you can be a better and stronger athlete and person!

Taking Injuries One (Slow) Step at a Time

The time has finally come….Winter Vacation is here!!!and now almost over, what!?!  I have been putting off blogging until break because the few weeks leading up to this week off were insane and the insanity turned into stress and panic mode.  If I were to explain the month of December in the most dramatic way possible, it would look like me hanging to a rope and the rope was fraying with each passing day until it was a thin thread and I just needed that tiny piece to stay intact until Friday the 23rd at 11:25am when the school bell would ring for winter break!

Aside from that depressing analogy, December was full of wonderful moments that were simply overlooked by two very large collegiate projects due, many math department documents that needed to be worked on, and my job as a teacher.  It felt like there were not enough hours in the day to get everything done.  This is the part where a bystander would say, just get work done after-school and don’t go home to run and workout.😑  

Yes, that would seem like the logical answer for solving all my problems.   But I’ll take the stress to fit in time to do the one thing I love most.  Running and working out are the 1-2 hours in the day that are sacred to me.  They keep me balanced and sane.  It is in those hours that I can relax, calm down and devise a plan for handling my workload.  The adrenaline energizes me and gives me the clarity I need to go home and tackle the long checklist of tasks.

After a paragraph describing my love and need for running, I will tell you that there was a week in December where the weather got the best of me and runs were becoming dreadful and getting out the door was becoming a challenge.   During the week of the 12th, the weather was either in the single digits or there was a snow storm.  I spent Wednesday evening driving around to find a clear track or just a flat space to do 400s, Thursday I had to change to a rest day due to a night class and early morning low temps. Friday rolled around and I was eager for the weekend but was not eager to finish the school day with a 60 minute run in single digit temps.  I dreaded this run all day.  I didn’t even go home after school because I knew it would just procrastinate the process of getting out the door.  After the bell rang, I put on every layer of clothing I packed (pretty much my entire closet) and got going.  To my surprise, it wasn’t unbearable and the miles were passing quickly.  My negative attitude changed and I told myself to use this run as a future reminder that most dreaded runs are not as bad as they seem once you just get going. This positivity slowly slipped away as I was turning onto my street and was minutes away from finishing the run.  My knee suddenly had an aching pain on the inside.  I was a bit worried but was more overjoyed that the dreaded run was over.  My happiness of being done trumped the fear I had with knee.

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I woke up Saturday morning to unplowed and icy roads and realized that my speed work was going to have to be pushed to Sunday.  I thought Sunday’s 45 minute run would be manageable for Saturday in the snow.  It was slow and the snow was about 5 inches deep but I kept chugging along.  I almost called it quits at about 25-30 minutes but I plow truck came through so I figured clear roads would get me through the final stretch.  That’s when I felt my knee again.  I tried to shake it off but it wasn’t happening.  Luckily I was just doing quarter mile laps around my Crossfit gym so I wasn’t far and just walked back.  I was frustrated and felt defeated.

It was a week of trying so hard to make this running plan happen despite wanting to just skip runs and go to Crossfit.  I stayed true to my schedule and kept persevering only to be handed a lovely injury.  @Katiefitscript said it perfectly in her post about her hamstring issue – it is so frustrating when you just want to compete and train at the highest level and your body isn’t letting you do what you want.  That could not be more spot on.  I am not someone that goes out for a 4 mile run and is like, yay done for the day, what a good workout. I want the intensity, the sweat and the adrenaline.  That is what fuels my love for Crossfit.  A workout may be only 6 minutes but that 6 minutes is hell.  This love and need for adrenaline, speed and strength is what leaves me feeling fatigued and tired in other training cycles.  Part of the reason for getting a coach to train for Boston 2 Big Sur was to have structure and guidance.  I needed to learn how to find comfort in the intense/painful workouts.  But really, I needed to find comfort in just going slow and short.

Fast forward through some car cry sessions, lots of strength work and Crossfit sessions, 2 weeks after I first felt my knee…

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Yay!!! I am happy but still remaining weary and patient.  In the 3 runs that I have had knee pain, it flared up after about 35 minutes and this run was only 33 minutes so I haven’t ventured into danger zone yet.  Right now, I just need to get my confidence up and need a good running day.  I went to ART after this run and she did a phenomenal job releasing all tightness around my knee.  I do not have a doctors apt. until the 3rd but I am hoping that this is all a result of tightness surrounding the knee and some ART work and a slow buildup will help get me back on track.

It is safe to say that injuries SUCK.  They not only derail your training but they mess with the mind more than they mess with the body.  You are upset but trying to put on a strong front because deep down, you know that a little knee pain after 35 minutes of running is far from depressing relative to the issues that most people deal with.  But the selfish and pity-party side of you wants to curl up in a ball, cry and say WHY ME (even though its not just you!).  Tina Muir has said it multiple times on her podcast and from past and current experiences, I 100% agree – injuries keep us grounded and they give us additional knowledge that we need to improve our running.  I have been working with mini-bands and weighted ankle weights for the last few months to help strengthen my hips.  These short but effective drills have caused past hamstring issues to subside by improving muscle imbalances.  My knee injury taught me that I need to focus on strengthening my quads and the muscles surrounding my knee cap by incorporating wall sits into my strength.

Poor biomechanics and muscular imbalances that become clear with each injury help with future injury prevention and provide us with tools to make us stronger and more effective runners.  However, the humbleness that comes with each injury is far more powerful than the muscular insight.  That troubling week of running leading up to my knee pain was frustrating and I had moments of just wanting to throw in the towel and stick to strength and Crossfit.  I questioned my ability to tackle the demands of my training plan even though I felt the strongest I have ever felt as as runner.  The weather was beating me down and I was starting to crumble.  This injury gave me the chance to spend two weeks doing strength, Crossfit and cross training indoors and away from the cold. Yet during those moments, I would have given anything to be able to step outside, all bundled up and run.  Marathon training is mentally and physically draining and that is the exact reason why I love it.  It tests my ability to ward off negative thoughts, remain positive and stay grounded and grateful.  These qualities and lessons learned (hopefully) transpire into my personal life and make me a better and stronger person for when life’s obstacles are far bigger and taxing than running injuries.

To lighten up this blog post, I will just give everyone a friendly reminder of what Christmas in the 90’s looked like for a family of runners…yay for watches that start and stop!!!

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It is a bit sad that this generation of runners will never know what it’s like to make your parents drive around and clock the distance of your running route. Haha 😂

 Have a fabulous New Year’s Eve and stay tuned for a much more positive and fun New Year’s post reflecting on all the incredible moments in 2016. It will be a long one because this year was incredible! 😁

Thankful for a Thanksgiving 5k PR and a Family Affair 10k

I am thankful for much more than a PR but I guess that was the start of a great Thanksgiving Day and Thanksgiving break so I thought I would start with that! img_0842

It’s only a 2-second PR but I will take it.  Stuff the Pantry 5k was an all around great race (festive and charitable) with a solid pack of women fighting hard.  I was supposed to run this race easy and save my energy for the 10k I had planned on Saturday butttttt I may not have listened to the plan for a couple of reasons.  I just mentally felt ready to race Thursday morning and was excited to feel the rush and the fatigue that comes with digging deep in a race.  I just felt confident and ready and I wanted capitalize on this feeling.

There are many times I show up to local races just not in a race mood.  The competitive side kicks in as soon as the gun goes off and I manage to pull it together and put up a decent time but the fight was never really there.  Thursday morning the mental game was on and I wanted to prove to myself that when the mental aspect is on point, I am capable of fighting for a time that may not even seem possible.  The gun went off and I took off with 3 other women.  The pace felt fast but manageable.  I remained relaxed and just tucked in with the pack.  At mile 2, my super speedy teammate (If you are reading this from Facebook, HI!!) took off and I just told myself to go with her.  It was fast, but I was ready to just hang on and see where it would take me.   I wasn’t totally sure where the other two females from our 4 pack were until one of them surged in front of me at about 2.75.  At that point, I just told myself that I came ready to fight, I have already put up a good fight, GET GOING…so I took off and in the push, I realized I could potentially fight for first but with a second between us, my teammate had a well-deserving win! It was a race where everything fell together perfectly. The leading females set a solid pace that was manageable but I definitely had to work, my mental game was in fight mode rather than, “mhmm maybe I’ll just run kinda fast and settle for 4th”, and my legs were ready and willing to go along with it all! 🙂 …kind of an important piece.

I may have also disobeyed my schedule because Fleet Feet gift cards were prizes and Thanksgiving was also my mom’s birthday!!….In case the 6 bottles of Ithaca wine wasn’t enough, I wanted to have a gift card ready to throw in 😉

Moving forward, I wanted to prove to my coach that I don’t always break the rules when I run races so I promised to not race the 10k on Sunday and keep it the progression run that we now had planned.  My intentions were genuine, but darn…progression runs are not easy to gauge and do not mix well in a race when the first mile is usually the fastest. haha.  

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The progression run wasn’t super specific but I have a feeling 7:02.4 to 7:01.5 was not the progression coach had in mind.  In the midst of semi-failing in the progressing aspect, I was getting overheated so I planned to ditch my undershirt at a specific spot around mile 3-4 so I think I was getting over-excited to shed some layers and unconsciously sped up. And of course, in the process of ripping my shirt off, I hit the pause button on my watch and didn’t realize for almost a quarter mile so everything was thrown off.  It was actually comical how hard I tried to follow directions but was failing in every way.  haha.  I even chatted with Beth (@babfitrunlife) the morning of the race to get her advice on how I should tackle it and we agreed on a strategy.  By the second split I just had to laugh because I knew Bethany was going to be like MEL WHAT DID YOU DO???..THAT’S NOT EVEN CLOSE TO WHAT WE TALKED ABOUT! haha.  Oh well. It was such a fun race and one where my brother, my mom and I were all on the course and my dad was at the finish.

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..these races are not as often as they used to be but they are the best races! 🙂

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In addition to being a little family affair, there was also a solid South Hadley Cross Country Alumni showing!

Adding to all this Thanksgiving running stuff, GapFit is killing it with running attire and I took full advantage of the 50% off Black Friday sales…

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GapFit leggings are the best and my mom can attest to that after I bought her a pair for her birthday and found myself back at Gap 24 hours later getting her another pair.  So YES, the Fleet Feet gift card stayed in my possession because I found something else to complement the wine.  The Neon vest was another GapFit purchase and was intended to be worn during dark, early morning and evening runs but I couldn’t help throwing it on for 4 easy miles when I saw how well it matched my Kinvaras!

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My Boston 2016 jacket does not match as nicely but it always feels nice to throw it on and be reminded of the accomplishment – especially during last Sunday’s longer run in the wind.  I can’t wait to see what the 2017 colors will be!!

Lastly, my favorite pre-run snack or breakfast has been a Frothy butter coffee with Collagen Peptides (blend up coffee, Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides) and almond butter & banana toast.  Quick, easy and full amino acids, energy, fats and carbs!

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I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving and took a moment in the midst of the all the Turkey Trotting to be grateful for having the ability to run!

Starting Fresh..with a Coach!

Last weekend, I returned to my absolute favorite place to run…

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I was so excited to hit the hills and just get lost in the scenery. Some of my all-time favorite trainings runs have taken place on the Ithaca roads and I was definitely in need of a one those good runs. 60 minutes later.. I got exactly that! It left me feeling thrilled, refreshed and ready to take on week 4 of training.  Despite a 10 min first mile up hill, my legs felt great and my mind was in a peaceful running place.  I was able to reflect on this training cycle, finished the run with 7 miles under my belt and a better outlook on the upcoming training week and the next 5 months.

So lets back track as to why I was in need of a good run.  After Chicago, I was on that running high.  The wheels in my brain were turning and for the first time in a LONG time, I wanted to focus on JUST running and was eager to find my full potential in the marathon.  I always want to improve my running but I have never wanted to give up my Crossfit.  For the last 2 years, I have been willing to settle with average times for the sake of keeping Crossfit in my schedule.

Well, here I was contemplating taking my running to another level and found myself researching running coaches.  My initial searches steered toward runners with a Crossfit background. I contacted one coach but it pretty clear that this was not a coach with enough running background to take me to where I wanted to go…this was just a Crossfit coach that can run.  This is where my subconscious feelings surfaced and I knew that if I truly wanted to find my potential, I needed to come to terms that Crossfit and running do not mix in a marathon training cycle that would adequately prepare me for what I had in mind for Boston and Big Sur.  It was a realization I knew was true after having a real difficult time trying to balance it all in my Boston training cycle last winter. My coaching search continued and I was immediately drawn toward McKirdy Trained because of the raw honesty.  This is what I need. I will push the limits and over-train if given free rein to do so.  I need someone to pull me in and teach me that it is OK to just run short and slow some days.  A couple of days later I made the jump and fully committed to 6 months of training with McKirdy Trained.  I knew I had a long 6 months ahead of me so I asked to start the following week.  I need more time to digest this next step and come mentally prepared and fully ready to start a training cycle that will be entirely different from what I am used to.

A week later, I received my first week of training and was thrilled.  The first week was short and easy miles.  Something I rarely do!  It was a bit challenging to force myself to slow my pace but it felt good knowing it was for the better and in my best interest as I continue recovering.

img_0665So lets talk about week 3.  Still easy runs and just a tad longer.  Monday was a rest day so I started on Tuesday.  I went out in the morning hoping for a nice sunrise run but I failed to look at the weather report and my outfit choice made for a freezing cold and miserable run.  Thankfully I only had 30 minute on the schedule so I only had to hate my outfit choice for 30 minutes.  Thursday’s 45 minute was also not very enjoyable and unlike Tuesday’s run, I felt like someone put 1o843 layers on my body and sandbags in my sneakers.  In a less dramatic description – I felt tired and my legs felt heavy. I couldn’t help but think/dread that I still had 3 more days of running before rest day and my legs already felt dead.  I tried to stay positive and reminded myself that Friday was a holiday so I could sleep in, get some rest, have a nice stretch before getting out for my run which usually helps my mental and physical game.

img_0718It did.   But dang, 4 miles still felt long. What is wrong with me.  Saturday was just a 20 min warmup and since I was in Ithaca, I went to a gym and did it on the treadmill followed by some strength. Nothing to complain about but I was panicked for Sunday’s 50 minutes.  The sheer thought of being panicked for a 50 minute run made me feel even more uneasy. 50 minutes is usually a short run for me!  I was not only confused but also embarrassed and ashamed.  I have barely hit 16 miles this week…why is this SO hard.  I finally reached out to my brother’s girlfriend (they are both elite runners).  Her response was everything I needed to hear.  She told me that the numbers mean nothing.  My body is adjusting to running 5 days a week as opposed to 3 days a week.  I went from having no back-to-back running days to 4 in a row.  This is a complete schedule change and my body needs time to adjust.  She was so right.  I was focusing on the numbers and not trusting the process.  My body needs to move backwards in pace and mileage in order to move forward. It may not be high mileage at the moment but it is a big change in my training structure and that has a major impact on the body.  Her words and feedback were exactly what I needed to help relax my mind and mentally prepare for the 50 minute run I had planned.  With a more refreshed mental outlook, I was ready to do what I love and embrace the beautiful Ithaca roads. It was a mild, sunny and beautiful day.  I climbed up the first mile and reached the top feeling all sorts of happiness.

img_0772When I saw this view, I couldn’t help but think about the climb and how it reflects this entire running journey.  Every run in Ithaca starts with embracing the unavoidable, painful first mile hill in order to reach the insanely beautiful views. In this training cycle, I am going to have to embrace the painful workouts and the rough runs in order to grow into an even stronger runner.  The transpiring of these thoughts are easier to embrace and believe when I am just running easy, carefree, and staring off into the Ithaca views.  However, it is a mindset and a mantra I need revert to and repeat when times to get tough in order to improve my mental game.

To help ensure that I utilize this mindset during the hard times, I made sure to write it down in my newly received Lauren Fleshman “BELIEVE” training journal.img_0797  I dove right in and put my goals down on paper.  I love how this journal incorporates the reasons and steps. Reaching goals is more than just following a plan – it’s about being stronger than your negative thoughts.  My steps toward reaching my 2017 goals are much more than just running.  It is about toeing every start line feeling fearless and confident regardless of who is lined up next to me or how a run went earlier in the week.  Not every run will be easy and enjoyable.  The times when you want nothing more than to just throw in the towel but keep your goals in the forefront of your mind and fight – these are the times that grow your mind and body and separate you from the competition. I want to make sure the rough times never impact my confidence and I never lose sight on why I love this sport. Most importantly, I never want to forget how lucky I am to just have the ability to lace up and go.  The ‘steps’ are far more important than accomplishing the ‘goals’. 

So here is to changing things up, embracing the ups and down, trusting the process and loving my body for taking me through this journey 🙂

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Chicago Marathon Race Recap!

“When the wall hits, you climb over that wall.”

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..and climb we did!

Chicago Marathon – you were amazing.  The crowds, the runners, the volunteers, the view, the flatness…everything was perfect. A great races will always feel good, but they feel even better when you go into them with fears and can use the achievement as a reminder to yourself that bumps in the road are just bumps – they are not dead-ends – keep fighting to get over them and use the setbacks to propel you forward.

“The course is is flat and fast! It’s a PR for sure!”

I heard this sentence numerous times, and although intentions were good and meant to be inspirational, I could not help but feel more and more overwhelemed and worried every time I heard it.

What if I don’t PR? Is it embarrassing to not PR in Chicago? Oh, the pressure.

I ran a 5k two years ago that was hyped up as the ‘fastest 5k course’ and was basically a PR ready to happen.  Naturally, I thought that meant you can just start off in a sprint.  Funny thing about that is, a 5k is still THREE MILES, not a nice little lap around the track.  I may be able to run 26.2 miles but that does not mean three miles feels like an 800. If my sarcasm hasn’t sold you on what happened, let me help you out by saying…I DIED….like at mile 1. So I had 2 lovely miles of hating myself for that decision and basically feeling humiliated by my initial thought process and now the fact that I was getting passed left and right.  So yes, the phrase “It is so fast!!”…does not bring back the best of memories.  I also like to think that my muscular body and strong legs give me advantage on hillier courses.

Fears aside, I arrived in Chicago ready to race, embrace the challenges, and fight to stay with the lovely Bethany (@babfitrun). We discussed our race plan on Saturday and I was ready and willing to take on the challenging pace because I wanted, more than anything, to replicate Philly where we pushed each other and did not stop fighting for the sake of the other person.  Running for yourself is one thing, running for someone else is something far greater and is an indescribable experience.  And that 3:15 is something I was not letting go of and was going to continue to fight for regardless of how San Francisco went.

I gave myself plenty of time the morning of the race to get ready, eat and stretch.  In my last post, I touched on the importance of keeping everything as rush-free as possible so that you are not stressing and wearing down your mental game before the race.  Going along with my plan to keep everything stress-free, the first thing on my morning to-do list was to treat myself to some high-class dining for breakfast…

img_0529…so I took my oatmeal in the hotel hallway and sat down on the floor 🙂  My fancy breakfast came to an end along with my kindness of being quiet so my boyfriend could continue sleeping.  It was time for the most important part of the race…THE OUTFIT.

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After I put on my super cute outfit that was planned to match Bethany, played a fun game of ‘Twister’ in an attempt to apply my KT tape to my backside, and made sure to snap pictures for my parents, Snapchat story and Instagram story, I was ready to catch an Uber and make my way to Bethany’s hotel.

img_0555In the midst of stretching and taking more pictures, we talked about how amazing Philly was and how ready we were to do it all again.  We are never sure how it is going to unfold once our legs get moving but we never speak those thoughts.  What makes our friendship so special is our ability to push each other and keep each other confident.  We do not train the same but we trust that our training is what works for us and trust that no matter what the other person is doing, we will show up on equal terms – two strong, motivated and determined girls ready to fight for ourselves and for other person.img_0534We made our way to the start line and had plenty of time to hit the bathrooms and chat with other runners.  You know it is going to be a great race when you talk to multiple people who casually say, “this is my 10th Chicago!”..making even more excited to run the streets.

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 The gun went off and we were on our way to embark on the 26.2 journey.  There is so much uncertainty of how the remaining 3 + hours are going to play out and this uncertainty is what makes the marathon so intriguing – it’s scary, concerning, exciting, beautiful, fun, awful all at the same time.  It is 26.2 miles of staying in constant check of your body and mind and consistently self-regulating.

A few days prior to the race, I listened to my favorite Running to the Top podcast with Tina Muir  while doing some yin-yoga and the speaker said that the best advice she had ever received was, “You just take negative thoughts throw them in the fire.  You just gotta keep throwing these negative thoughts out of your head and into that fire for it to burn.  I know there is nothing poetic and fancy about that statement when you read the words but when you think deeply about the meaning and the action, it truly is so powerful.  Negative thoughts can make or break a race.  In order to excel in the marathon and life in general, you need to have strategy for how you will bounce back when you feel yourself getting knocked down.  This was my strategy on Sunday.  I was not going to succumb to any of those thoughts.  Every time I heard myself saying something doubtful or negative, I literally was like “NOPE.  Crumple up…into the fire….GOODBYE”.

When I did the Boston and San Francisco Recap, I grouped the miles in the sections based on feelings and how/when things unraveled because in both races, I did find myself unraveling.  In Boston, I was able to hold it together a bit more than San Francisco.  Chicago was different.  I felt like it was a consistent 26.2 miles. We stayed relatively composed and consistent just about the entire time.  Our GPS watches were not very accurate with our pace so there were times where we weren’t completely sure if we were too fast or too slow, but we did out best to go by feel in those moments.

I will do my best to group the miles, but these are loose grouping because there really were no points that stood out.  Miles passed, doubt came and went, and we just kept pounding the pavement.  We both admitted to feeling moments where we weren’t sure we could hang with the other person but what it came down do was sacrifice.  I was willing to risk hitting the wall to stay with Bethany.  Attempting to PR involves risk-taking.  I took that risk in San Francisco and was smacked in the face by the hills.  In Chicago, I took that risk and it paid off.  Miles passed by and I never really felt myself letting go. In fact, there were moments I had to tell myself to GO. You’re not hurting, you feel better than at any other marathon, you’re prepared for this..why are you holding back? If you want it, you NEED to get out of this comfort zone and step it up.

Miles 1 – 13: Things felt good.  I had minor little aches that ignited some fear but I brushed them off and kept going.  The City was beautiful, I was doing what I love, I was keeping my mental game on point, and was doing consistent ‘body scans’ to make sure nothing was tensing up.  (A tactic I read from the book ChiRunning)  I would consider these miles, the ‘vigilant‘ miles. You just got to hit your splits and can’t really think/plan too much because it is still too early to make moves.

Miles 13 – 18:  My stomach was beginning to act up and I was getting nervous about potentially having to stop.  I was bummed that I was running into this issue again but I just told myself to ignore it and keep pushing.  Bethany and I caught up to the 3:15 pacers which was exciting because we started behind them meaning we were running a sub 3:15 gun time.  At mile 17/18, I told Bethany that I did not want to pass the pacers until mile 20. As soon as that statement came out, I felt a bit ashamed. I knew it wasn’t because I wasn’t feeling ready to pass them, it was because I feared that San Francisco would repeat itself.  This wasn’t San Francisco and I needed to run without being tainted by that experience.

Mile 19 – Well that didn’t last long. I was so sick of being elbowed by the people in the pace group so I sprinted out of that pack and in front.  Bethany – despite being confused and probably despising this abrupt change in speed – followed!

Mile 20 – 23:  These miles were spent talking myself up.  You need to start to go.  6 miles, 5 miles, 4 miles…this is nothing.

Mile 23 – 26:  I went.  Feeling pretty good at mile 23 with no cramps is something a marathoner does not experience very often.  I knew that this was a rare occasion and if I didn’t capitalize on it now, I would 100% regret it.

26 – 26.2 – A HILL. REALLY!?  I surged, grunted, surged, yelled and did just about every other embarrassing thing I could do approaching that finish line….Needless to say, I will not be buying the race photos.

The finish line was incredible.  I DID A 3:13.52!!! I was shooting for a 3:15 so this was just unbelievable.  Making this even more unbelievable was seeing Bethany cruise in seconds later for a 4 minute PR.  Everyone is deserving of a PR but she deserved this more than anyone I know. She spent winter, embracing the snow and embarking on long, cold runs..only to be confronted with heat at Boston causing her to run conservatively.  Admirably, she took that day with pride and fought on.  She spent the summer, fall and the 26.2 miles through Chicago fighting for something she earned on April 18th and she got it!

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Race photos and I just do not get along.  I really do smile and wave!

I feel blessed more than I do proud.  I could not have achieved this time without having Bethany by my side pushing me to keep and hold the pace.  Celebrating the final product and the entire experience was so fun and I can’t wait to do it again soon!

Chicago Marathon 2016 – you were unforgettable! 🙂

 

Chicago Marathon Weekend

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Chicago Marathon weekend was incredible for so many reasons. The Friday morning 2am wakeup and 5:30am flight was not one of the reasons but after a great night of sleep Friday night, I felt much better and the fun really began!

I tackled the expo Friday afternoon while we were waiting for our room to be ready.  We were dragging after an early wakeup, packed flight and long Uber ride to the hotel but the loud music and the awesome Nike fired me right up…and lit a hole in my wallet.

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The Expo was exciting, fun and not too crowded.  It was the perfect amount of craziness – crazy enough to get you pumped up and race-ready but not elbow-throwing crazy.  Once I got my bag, made my rounds for the free-samples and justified my expensive Nike purchases with “But it’s the Chicago Marathon so I need it…”,  we were back in an Uber back to the hotel for a much-needed, shades drawn, relaxing afternoon.  We had reservations at the highly recommended restaurant, Summer House – Santa Monica, and tickets to a Comedy show for Friday night.  The comedy show was one of my attempts at making this weekend with my boyfriend not all about running because sometimes you can’t rely on free-samples at the expo to make a race weekend sound appealing 😉  Needless to say, an attempt was all it was… we walked out halfway through because I was exhausted and didn’t want to be out late.  At least the first half was hilarious and we were able to walk out knowing that we got a solid 60 minutes of laughter!

Bethany and I initially planned on joining a group for a shakeout run but after a long day on Friday, sleeping in and getting some much-needed rest took priority over an early, group shakeout run.  A good night’s rest and coffee in bed later, I was ready to get back out on the Chicago streets and made my way to Bethany’s hotel.  3 miles under the beautiful sun and along the water was perfect but not enough time to catch up on everything since seeing each other in Boston.

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We spent the rest of the morning catching up over coffee..and water.  I eventually made my way back to the hotel to slide into my Normatec boots, read, hydrate and relax.  I made dinner reservations at 4:30 because I was not about to repeat my mistake at San Francisco of eating too late.  I also switched to pasta and plain tomato sauce rather than pizza.  I will talk more about additional small changes that can and should be made within my pre-race nutrition to hopefully assist in eliminating my GI issues that I have been experiencing.

An early dinner gave me plenty of time to hit the fitness center in the evening to do some light foam rolling and stretching to loosen up and flush out my legs, as well as, relax my mind.  7:00pm on a Saturday = fitness center to myself to just play my music loud and do every obnoxious/awkward yoga pose.  Just having the time to myself, relax and give my muscles some last minute TLC was already giving me confidence and making me mentally ready for the race.  In San Francisco, I did not get home until about 9:30 and was frantically running around getting my stuff together.  The negative thoughts were already seeping in and I hadn’t even made it to the start line.  In an event so mental as the marathon, preparing your mind is just as important as preparing your body.  You need to be ready to fight and ward off every negative thought.  Being ready to fight that battle, for me, requires a good night sleep, time to myself to stretch and relax, time to lay my gear out and just chill out in bed with a good show to take my mind off everything before I go to bed.   The confidence I felt from just allowing myself some “me” time in the evening was so great and something that may seem so small but evidently makes a huge impact on my performance.

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I made it back in my room by 7:30, laid everything out, took a quick shower and was in bed by 8:30.  The ‘night before’ was perfectly executed and I went to bed stress-free and ready to race!

I will talk more about the morning and the race itself in my next post so lets fast-forward to after the marathon.  Bethany invited me back to her hotel to shower and hang out before I made the trek back to my hotel.  Katie (@Katiefitscript) joined in on the lounging around the hotel room and we all just hung out, drank some pumpkin beer (except for me because I am lame and just can’t stomach beer after a race), and chatted.  It is so funny how we follow each other on Instagram and virtually cheer each other on but when we get the opportunity to hang out in person, it feels as though we know each other so well and we can just talk about anything and everything.  I have said it before and I will say it again – social media can get a little crazy and we can get over consumed about others simply based on pictures they post – but then you meet people that are so inspirational, kind and fun.  These friendships may seem strange when you think about how they originated but they are real and they are what make these weekends memorable and more than just the race.  I really am lucky to have met some of these ladies and I hope to meet more because there are a ton of genuine, hard-working and wonderful people that I follow and admire.

I eventually made my way back to my hotel to meet my boyfriend and get some FOOD!  I was freezing and didn’t look up much on my way back to the hotel but I did spot the cutest bakery along the way and had to check it out.  I don’t know what sold me the most, the beautiful assortment of baked goods or the HEAT but I was not about to leave.  “Cookies” was all I had to say to get my boyfriend to join!  A celebratory mimosa, cookie and sandwich later, I was back in my hotel bed curled up and relaxing before heading out on the town for some night time exploring.

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I surprisingly felt great after the race and was eager to see Chicago at night without stressing about resting my legs.  We started off at the (packed) Nike store to checkout the ‘Finisher’ clothing..as if I realllllly needed to add to my already large Chicago Nike collection. We then ventured on to find a good restaurant.  Let’s just say, that is not an easy decision in a city like Chicago, but we chose a cute Indian restaurant. We ended the amazing day just walking around the city until we realized that our 6am flight requires a 3:00am wakeup and decided to call it a night.  I went to bed with the fullest heart and surprisingly not-so dead legs.  It was a weekend that I will never forget. I had moments of doubt in my training that led me to have thoughts of not even wanting to do Chicago and times where I thought my boyfriend would not be able to come and I would be alone in this adventure.  It feels exceptionally good to see that despite the 2 weeks of rocky training and doubt, it all came together and was better than I could have ever imagined.

This would be a great place to end this post but I do want to touch back on my pre-race nutrition for a couple reasons…1.) someone may actually care. 2.) I would greatly appreciate any advice or input on this issue and am hoping someone may reach out and provide some additional insight.

My pre-race nutrition continues to be a work in progress but the early dinner and not over-stuffing myself is certainly a step in the right direction.  I’ve done a ton of research and have listened to numerous podcasts that touch on marathon nutrition and am working to find what works for me..and then actually implementing it.  One thing I have taken away from all the researching is that carb-loading is not and should not be a night-before thing.  It should begin 3-4 days prior to race with increasing carbohydrates and decreasing fibrous and high-fat foods.  I have certainly begun to incorporate this with each additional marathon I tackle.  Most of my meals leading up to the race include oatmeal, sweet potatoes and rice cakes.  However, I could do a better job at decreasing my nuts, seeds and fibrous food intake the closer I get to race morning.   As for my nutrition in everyday life, I try to have a well-balanced, whole foods diet consisting of nuts, seeds, legumes, yogurt, a small amount of red meat, sweet potatoes and a variety of fruits and vegetables.  In the 1-2 days leading up to a race, despite knowing what I should be eating, I continue to find it challenging to break away from my standard diet and just eat a bagel, pretzels, crackers, etc.  I am certainly not saying that these foods are bad, they are just not foods/snacks that I go for or particularly want in my normal diet.  If you know me well, you know that I am a creature of habit, I like to have things structured and consistent.

I’ve probably had Siggis greek yogurt mixed with chopped frozen banana and mixed nuts just about every morning for the last 2 months.  Since school has started, my students can attest to the fact that I come into the lunch room everyday with a big ol’ salad filled with lettuce, cucumber, avocado, chopped walnuts, strawberries and a little bit of feta cheese with some balsamic vinaigrette.  When I get home from school, I blend up VegaSport protein, frozen spinach, mixed frozen berries and top it with some rice puffs.  Dinner is probably the only thing I switch up for the sake of not totally boring my boyfriend to death, but even so, I often get the “Woahhhh you’re making steak? On a Wednesday!?! You always make lentil pasta on Wednesday.” haha, I don’t even realize these small things but my brain just operates this way subconsciously.  What is comes down to is, I find foods/meals/a schedule that I like and that works for me and I don’t really find myself wanting to deviate from it. The first thing I wanted to get in Chicago was a big Acai bowl with all the fruit and nuts!!  Of course, I enjoy going out on Saturday nights for a good burger, fries, and ice cream and I won’t pass up a family dinner or night with friends but at the end of the day, I like the structure and the consistency of my diet and the way it makes me feel energized and nourished.  With all that being said, the downfall of this structure is, 3-4 days worth of changing things up is not always the easiest.  And then, of course, there is the theory of not deviating too much from your normal eating habits the days before a marathon. haha. I guess the take away from all of this is, I have had some struggles with GI issues in the last two marathons but they have not been terrible.  I do not need to make drastic changes but there is room for small changes and I need to do a better job at testing things out during training!

This marathon stuff is a constant learning experience but I love to run and I love to learn so I am in for the ride! 🙂

 

San Francisco Marathon Race Recap

Here we go…let’s tackle this race recap and all the feels in Marathon #4!

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My last post was a bit of a pity party and maybe very dramatic as I reflected back on my panicked reactions to the issues I faced before the race.   I would say that this post will be less dramatic but this marathon was an emotional roller coaster so I can’t make any promises!

Lets talk logistics –  the race was very organized and transportation to the race was readily available.  Ubers and taxis were easy to get (even at 4:30 in the morning) and were able to drop off really close to the start line.  There were a sufficient amount of porta-potties and lines were quick and easy.  Getting to the corrale was also easy and signs were clearly labeled.

I stuck my throw-away shirt up in a tree because it actually wasn’t meant to be a throw away…. it was just the cheapest of my nice running shirts that I had in my suitcase, haha. My hiding skills were on point because it was still nestled in the tree after the race! Except this time my legs were not really able to jump and get it so I needed help. haha.

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Going into the race, I was confident with how my long runs were going and was not sure how the race would play out.  My training was nothing like Boston seeing as I decided to run the race 5 weeks before the race date so the idea of getting a PR didn’t seem logical.  However, a part of me felt that maybe the Boston heat impacted my performance even though I did not feel it directly affecting my performance while I was running. I doubt/hope that made sense.  I was very interested to see if my Boston training was still with me and with the additional training and good weather conditions, I could pull off a sub 3:15.  So I guess you could say, I had some goals but no expectations….Basically – My goals were high and were going to be a challenge but I was willing to take the risk because I had nothing to lose and no expectations to uphold. 

The hills.  Yes, I am aware San Francisco is known for their hills but for some reason, I didn’t recall it being that hilly last year.  In hindsight…THAT’S BECAUSE I WAS CHASING A SUB 3:30 AND NOT A SUB 3:15! **Note to self – a 30 second pace difference really amplifies everything.

Now that that’s out there, let’s move forward.  I spotted the 3:15 pacer in my Wave and made a decision – that I still do not regret – to stay with the pacer.  With such a stressful morning, I can’t tell you how relaxing it was to stay with the pacer and let him do the thinking.  My only task was to stay relaxed, keep my mind at ease and move my feet.  I did not have to worry about going too fast or too slow because that was his job.

However, (here is my dramatic line) – the one downfall with a pacer is that it is easy to feel like a goal is slipping away if the pacer gets ahead of you and that can cause some unnecessary stress at random points.  But I guess that is the same as clocking a shocking time on your Garmin ..I wouldn’t know because mine was broken in my bra 😉 haha.  Aside from that one downfall, the pacer was my savior and being with him was the most relaxing part of the day.  For the first time all morning, I did not have to think or worry.  I just had to do what I came there to do…run.

The pace felt great and crossing the Golden Gate Bridge (twice) was a scene to take in.  At mile 9/10 I saw Meredith and Jewel starting their trek over the bridge as I was coming off of it.  I gave them the biggest smile and wave.  At the moment I was the on Cloud 9 and just so genuinely happy.  I was amped up after seeing a familiar and cute face and the pace felt so comfortable even being a little ahead of the pacer.  I remembered saying to myself, “you can do this pace for another 16 miles Mel, this is your pace!”….andddd then we encountered the never ending ups and downs.  The first few climbs I was able to stick with the pacer and remained calm but around mile 13/14 my stomach was not happy with my decision to eat a late dinner.  I pushed that thought to the side, choked down Gu’s…which is totally not my style.  I am probably the only person on the course who just can’t wait for that lovely taste of sugary chocolate to hit my mouth and give me that spike in energy.  But in this case, I just didn’t want any Gu’s and I knew that with each Gu it was making the bathroom look more like a necessity rather than a choice.  (TMI for those non-runners or more proper runners who find this absolutely grotesque)  I started falling more and more behind the 3:15 pacer so when I spotted a bathroom at mile 16ish, I took the hit and said goodbye to my 3:15. I am sure it tacked on at least a minute but I felt physically better and was emotionally recharged despite being a little bummed.

Miles 16-20 were a manageable struggle but I was certainly fighting doubts.  I had to remind myself countless times that I was struggling at Mile 17 at Boston and still put up a good fight and a good time.

Miles 20-26…these miles never feel good but they felt exceptionally terrible this time around.  Approaching mile 20, I couldn’t help but think this was “the wall”.  People talk about hitting the wall and I don’t think I ever really knew what that meant and how that felt because as I said earlier, these miles are not supposed to feel good.  It was 6 miles of repeated doubt followed by positive self talk.  I had to keep chipping away at the distance, one foot in front of the other. I knew I wasn’t going to quit but there were moments I just wanted to.  I remember just stopping around mile 24 for about 5 seconds to shake out my legs but it had nothing to do with my legs.  I needed to mentally regroup.  At mile 25 I tried to push, I wanted to finish strong and I did not want to get passed by any more females.  When I saw the finish line, I was pushing to get there but also fighting tears.  I saw my friend screaming in the crowd and I used that to fuel my final kick. When I saw my time, I was shocked impressed.  I thought I was hovering around 3:25 s0 3:19 was a blessing!  But all I could do was let out a burst of tears at the finish.  I am not much of a crier and I was not disappointed with my time so I still have not been able to process why I lost it at the finish.  The only reason I can come to is that for the last 8 miles I was fighting away those negative thoughts…You know when you bottle up a cry session and then all it takes is something so irrelevant and small to cause you to break and let it go..and when you do you feel 100 times better?  That was this.  I spent 8 miles/over an hour bottling up emotions because I knew that breaking down would just waste energy and do no good.  I fought the tears away and when the finish line came I was finally able to let it out.  Yup.  Dramatic.  But thats the marathon for you.  They don’t call it 90% mental and 10% physical for no reason so I here was 90% of mental craziness! 🙂

So…..

Did I hit the wall or was I just experiencing those dreadful last miles of a marathon?  

I didn’t think I hit the wall at Boston but the final 6 miles were a real struggle so why was this struggle worse?

I think I finally have come to conclusion and can put this to rest.  The crowds and the people.  

In Philly I had Bethany by my side for almost the entire race.  Together we helped each other fight the mental battle.  Just knowing you are not alone is, in fact, extremely empowering.  I needed Bethany and she needed me so we put out own struggles aside and focused on pushing for the other person.

 In Boston, I was struggling but the crowds and seeing my friends helped me pull through.  The energy from the crowd injects you with the motivation and confidence that you would otherwise need to muster up yourself..which can be emotionally draining and add to your already fatigued state.

 In both races, I had others to help me with that 90% mental game.  In San Francisco, that 90% fell on me.  There were not many spectators and no one along the course to help me regroup, I had to stop for a second to help myself regroup.  With Bethany by my side and the crowds in Boston, stopping was never an option. 


Despite all the complaining, this race was HUGE for me. I was reminded of the importance of those final pre-race preparation details.  I realized that my mental game needs to be a little stronger but even being fairly weak, I can still persevere.  Most importantly, I learned that a 3:15 is entirely feasible.

The bathroom stop and some moments of psyching myself out were pretty evident with those over 8 paces but I am extremely confident that those errors and tacked on time can be eliminated and lessons to be learned moving forward!

I still love this distance 🙂