I’m baaaaaack!

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Hey there Blogland, it’s been awhile, hasn’t it?  Earlier this week, this little reminder popped up on WordPress, along with a reminder in my inbox that I’d soon be charged for domain renewal:

Hmmmm, to re-up, or not to re-up?

Hmmmm, to re-up, or not to re-up?

Since I’ve had trouble sitting down to post for a good 6 months or more, I hesitated and thought maybe I’d just let it go, but then started reading my posts from last year as I prepared for Chicago, and loved having all of those thoughts, observations, ups and downs to read back through.  It was really helpful to remember some of the details of where I was mentally and physically.  And I SERIOUSLY regretted not having that documentation of my preparation for the Chicago Marathon this year.  Also, I’ve missed a lot the the interaction with the blog world that made it so fun in the first place!

So, all of that is to say, I’m back!  And I’ll be back with more of a post shortly, but here’s what’s on my mind today:

1 – This quote.  I remember reading it, being struck by how perfect it was, writing it down, and sticking the stickie on my computer monitor sometime in the last year.  I look at it every day and it helps keep my eye on what’s important, in running and just generally.  I sit up a little straighter whenever it comes to mind.  I just googled where I found it so I could give credit where credit it due.  Thank you Angela!

Every Day Inspiration

Every Day Inspiration

2 – This happened in Chicago.  I’m beyond thrilled with this result.  I’ve been consistent and persistent this training cycle, and it paid off in a major way.  It hasn’t been perfect or easy, and I wish I had documented more of the details to refer back to, but oh well.  Live and learn.  More on this soon!

Goal = Crushed

Goal = Crushed

So that’s that for now.  If anyone is reading this, hi!  Thanks for coming back!  Hopefully I’ll be back more consistently!

Backing off of Goals – It’s For the Birds

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It’s so easy though, isn’t it?  You put a goal out there, then things aren’t just exactly perfect (when are they?), and it’s so easy to make up excuses and explain why you didn’t get to the goal before you even do or don’t.  Just me?  What’s up with this hedging?

I put it out there that I wanted to run a 1:45 half several months ago.  I was excited to have a goal that would really challenge me, and excited to really go after a time goal that might not be possible on the first try, or even the fifth try.  I was excited.  In theory.  Then I had a few weeks that weren’t easy for a number of reasons, and I started making up all kinds of excuses for why it was OK that I wasn’t going to hit the goal.  Started re-evaluating how I’d attack my first half marathon of the year.  Generally started spending way more energy thinking about why it was OK that I wouldn’t hit the goal rather than just doing the work I needed to do to get there.  WHAT?!  That’s a silly waste of energy, and absolutely no fun.

I had a good run this weekend.  It wasn’t as far as the plan dictated, but it was at a good pace, a reasonable distance, and I was able to speed up into the finish.  I ran with people.  I talked.  I had fun.  I also realized that I had at least partially completed every workout I had planned for the week.  And it all was so much more FUN than worrying about why I wasn’t going to run a 1:45 half in March.  Good grief, take a chill pill Betsy.

SO!  I’m going to try to remember this during the harder weeks.  Pushing hard hurts but it’s fun.  Working toward the goal is fun.  Re-evaluation of specific races might be reasonable if training hasn’t gone according to plan, but don’t make up excuses two months before the race; instead, focus and re-evaluate when necessary, if necessary.  But freaking go for it, don’t be a wimp or a wet blanket for yourself.  GEEZ!

So, with that in mind, a little recap of week who knows of whatever number of weeks of training (I did just look it up and I have 7 weeks left till Tom King.  But then I have 5 weeks till Raleigh, and then two weeks after that till Country Music.  I’m re-embracing this philosophy and not counting the weeks so meticulously.  Planning but having fun.  Going with the flow a bit more.  Lots of cracks at this nut throughout the year).

I've decided to start the whole Daily Mile thing.  Be my friend?

I’ve decided to start the whole Daily Mile thing. Be my friend?

Training Recap, Week of 1/14/14:

Monday: 3 miles on the treadmill because it was rainy and gross out.  Kind of painful but got through.  Average 9:36

Tuesday: Homemade/iPhone pushup app – dictated mini strength routine.  Push ups, squats, sit ups.  I’m a weakling.

Wednesday: “Tempo” on the treadmill.  Supposed to be 3 miles of tempo at 8:00 pace, made it 1.5, non consecutive, probably around 8:20 average tempo miles.  Tempo workouts are probably my biggest trigger of doubt about my goal, but they’re also a good barometer of where I am physically and mentally – can only go up from here.  Also, 1.5 hours of tennis Wednesday PM.  The tennis court really is my happy place and this rounded out a great day.  Jawbone also tells me I took about 19,000 steps today, which is a big-time record!

Thursday: 2 quick miles at 8:35.  Felt super duper.

Friday: Another round of the homemade strength routine.

Saturday: 7.4 miles with a local running group, which meant great company.  Started out fast up some hills but locked into a smooth and talkative pace for most of the run and the last 2 miles were 8:30 and below.  Probably too fast for a long run, but it felt good to push at the end and still be able to carry on a semi-conversation.  Talking about these guys always keeps me going:

Crazy Kids

Crazy Kids

Sunday: Pure barre.  Further confirming I’m a weakling, but can also tell it’s oh so good for me!  Planning to make this a Sunday staple.

Feeling good about my consistency, now just to practice what I preach.  No more backing off.  I actually CAN do this, and I enjoy doing it, so why should I spend so much time thinking of reasons why I can’t?  Silliness!

Out with a bang

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For me, 2013 ended quite literally with a bang.  As in, on Tuesday morning, December 31st, 2013, I backed into my CEO’s car in our work parking lot.  It was exactly as awesome a moment as you’d imagine, and seemed pretty fitting considering I’d declared myself very ready for 2014 just the day before.

Luckily, that gloomy attitude had started to lift earlier that day as I forced myself to reflect on the full year, not just the last few weeks.  While December had its rough patches, 2013 was actually pretty great as a whole, particularly when I think about my running goals.  I mean, I ran a marathon, and I had a reasonably fun time doing it (as much fun as you can have considering the pain of 26.2!).  Had you asked me at the beginning of 2012 whether that would ever happen I would’ve laughed.  Hard.   I’ve come a long way!

Worth recycling beause it reflects the start of 2013 quite well - happy, ambitious thoughts to start the year!

Worth recycling beause it reflects the start of 2013 quite well – happy, ambitious thoughts to start the year!

One of the best surprises of the end of the year was looking back at the post I wrote on New Year’s Day 2013.  That day, I sat down to think through my running goals for the year, and upon reflection, I actually did a pretty good job of achieving them.  They were honest and simple, and mostly came from the happy, at ease attitude I remember embracing while sitting on my couch on that chilly but cozy day last January.  I had just spent a quiet but fantastic New Year’s Eve with T, participated in what ended up being a really fun 5K, and was taking that day to relax and reflect, to slow down and think about my year ahead.  It’s not something I do often, and the frenetic pace of the end of this year found me once again not taking the time to reflect, or really even to think about, whatever I was doing in the moment.

Enter backing into the boss’s car.

Tears and a broken bumper to end the year.  Luckily the bossman's wasn't as bad.  Moving on ....

Tears and a broken bumper to end the year. Luckily the bossman’s wasn’t as bad. Moving on ….

It was a pretty literal reminder to take a deep breath, pay attention to what I’m doing now, and remember that if I don’t, whatever’s in the now is not likely to go very well.  Not that I’ve done a good job of heeding this warning in the past two weeks, and the year feels like it’s careening off to a wobbly start.  Since I didn’t take the warning two weeks ago, I’m using today, the day I’m picking up my repaired car, to re-think and re-set.  I’m of the “goals not resolutions” mindset, and the running ones will be a bit more structured this year.  Hopefully I’ll be no less successful in their achievement, or at least the enjoyment of the pursuit.

So, without futher ado, the Literal B running ambitions of 2014:

1 – Run a sub-1:45 half marathon.  I’ll need patience and persistence for this one.  Originally I planned to aim for it at the Tom King half in early March, but I’ve taken too much time off to make that realistic.  I do believe this can happen though.  My likely first shot will be in April, and I look forward to really giving an ambitious time goal a go.

2 – Run with other people 4 times a month.  I love the company when I make the effort to make it to group runs, but I often use the excuse of my inconsistent schedule to just do my own thing.  This will will take a bit of extra effort since I’m not joining the Fleet Feet half marathon training group this spring (too much weekend travel to make it worth it).  There are many other options though, and I intend to make it happen at least once a week.  I’m always happy when I do, and I look forward to more than erratic involvement with the local running community.

3 – Strength training!  (/injury prevention).  Yoga, barre, or just my homemade pushups/planks/clamshells/other stuff routine once a week.  Should do it more, but let’s not get crazy.  If I can establish a once a week habit that’ll be WAY more than I’ve done in the past.

So that’s it!  I’m resetting and refocusing, excited to enjoy the run in 2014, and hopefully not break any taillights or bumpers in the process.

There’s Work to Do

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I ended up running that 10K on Thanksgiving.  And it went fine.  Yes, fine.  There wasn’t a whole lot of enthusiasm happening during the run, but I did it, and the bar is set.  And I have work to do.

The race?  The Sam Lapidus Memorial 10K in Birmingham, Alabama.  My first ever race in the ‘Ham, so it was fun to experience the hometown running vibe.  Unfortunately I didn’t have any friends planning to run it this year, and I surprisingly didn’t run into anyone I knew, despite recognizing several names when I was looking through the results.  That could have something to do with hiding out in my car until shortly before the race and hurrying home soon afterward.  Didn’t spend much time looking around for people since it was a bracing 22 degrees! Also good: the fact that I got there.  I was having serious doubts the night before, and downed a huge bowl of Santa Fe Soup, probably thinking I wouldn’t actually do it – not exactly the best thing to eat the night before racing.

The Good: It was very well organized – apparently it’s the 37th year for the race – something I was maybe vaguely aware of growing up, but thought people were crazy for getting up and running on Thanksgiving.  No thank you, I will be enjoying my break from basketball practice and will instead be busy making pumpkin pie.  Anyway, packet pickup was super easy, and the shirts were long sleeved, which is always nice.  And despite being cold, it was a gorgeous morning, and felt great to get Thanksgiving Day started off with a run.  And it didn’t start till 8:30!  Nice to sleep a little later than usual before a race.

The Bad: It was 22 degrees.  Which is darn cold for Alabama on Thanksgiving.  I think it was 29 by the time the race started, which actually felt good once moving, but it was hard to get warmed up (actually, I didn’t even try.  Just started cold and went with it.  My feet thawed by about the second mile.)  The course was kind of boring – an out and back along a very familiar but not very scenic road, and it was sneakily hilly.  Mostly downhill on the way out and a long slow uphill on the way back, with a sharp , short little uphill right at the end – killer!

photo-2

Also bad – Poking a hole in my finger with my safety pin – ouch!

 

The Ugly:

Perfect Splits!  Or Not...

Perfect Splits! Or Not…

That’s what it looks like to crash and burn in a 10K, folks.  I should have expected it – I had barely run for 2+ weeks, and I went out way faster than I intended.  I had been warned that the second half of the course was brutal, but I decided to just run (and walk some, apparently.  The work I have to do is as much mental as it is physical).  So, there you have it.  3+ minutes off of a PR, but I haven’t been doing speed work, or much running at all, so I’m glad for the kick in the butt to remind me that to run fast, I have to run.  And then run fast.

All in all, glad I finally spent a Thanksgiving morning Turkey Trotting, and I’m pumped to get back on a training plan and to actually make some progress / hopefully not feel like death at the end of a race that I ran much more slowly than what I know my potential is for the distance.

And I’ll leave y’all with a video that’s making me smile these days.  Remember my stress over acquiring a kitten the week before the marathon?  Well, he’s still around and I’ve admittedly grown quite fond of him.  While living at my house I think he’s decided he’s a dog, or at least that he can take on my dogs.  So that is what I get to witness nightly – it’s endlessly entertaining: http://youtu.be/EwQaaYBhAoE

Chillin’ Out Maxin’ Relaxin’ all Cool

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Ok, not really :)  I also haven’t been shootin’ any bball outside of the school.  But I’ve been quite a bit more laid back in my workouts.  I’ve run a little bit, revisiting the gorgeous and horrendously hilly trails through the park near my house, but I’ve also spent time at hot yoga, Studio Novo (the Lagree fitness method?  new to me, but I think it’s basically the same thing as one of those pilates classes with machines.  All I know is I’m kind of terrible at it because I’m so weak, but I love it and how sore I am the next day), and I just bought a deal for Pure Bar, so I will be returning there soon.  It’s cross training time apparently!

Post-marathon, I felt better than I thought I would.  My legs were ready for some short, easy runs, and I loved getting out in the fall weather.  I even put together a plan to train for a Thanksgiving 10K in Birmingham that would hopefully result in a PR.  I’ve only run one 10K before, and it was over a year ago, so felt very doable.  I loved pushing through the first few workouts, getting my legs moving faster again, and thought I loved being back on a plan.  Then, I just … didn’t.  Work was demanding a lot of my attention and time, after work activities popped up that I didn’t want to miss, and I needed to just do what I wanted to do rather than feeling like I was checking off one more box.

So I’ve been getting up for a pre-work run when I want to, and sleeping in when I need to.

Post-Run Sunrise.  Peaceful start to my day.

Post-Run Sunrise. Peaceful start to my day.

I’ve been playing tennis, and going to classes that hopefully strengthen my hips and glutes so that I won’t have to spend time in PT the next time I attempt a marathon.   I’ve been sitting on the couch and playing with the dogs.  And enjoying not sticking to a plan for the fitness part of my life, at least.

But don’t think I’ve jumped off the training and goal chasing bandwagon.  Oh, no.  2014, I’m coming for you.  The new training journal I ordered came in the mail last week, and I’ve already written my first goal race.  March 8th, I’ll be making my first attempt at a 1:45 half marathon.  So, for the next few weeks I’ll be preparing for the holidays, enjoying whatever type of exercise I want, and figuring out what the training plan will look like.  Then, it’s time to get moving again, and I can’t wait!

Journal Montage

 

 

 

“Congratulations” from my pest control man

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Since I wasn’t sure how I’d feel the day after the marathon, I took last Monday morning off from work, and then worked from home for the remainder of the day.  Our pest control guy came in the afternoon and, as always, was super chatty.  At least for the first part of his visit.

 

After some other chit chat, he asked me if I had the day off.  I explained that I had run a marathon and gotten home around 10:30 the night before, so I decided to lay low and recover for the day.

 

Pest control dude: “Congrats, what place did you get?”

Me: “ummm, well, there were 45,000 people, so I wasn’t really gunning for a top spot or anything.  I’m happy with how I finished, but no clue what place I got.”

Pest control dude: “cool.”  Continues to walk through the house doing his thing.  Gets to another room and yells “so hey, how many miles is that?  Two?  Three?”

Me: “26.”

Pest Control Dude: “oh.”

 

And there, the conversation ended.  I wasn’t exactly sure what to follow it up with.  I didn’t mean to shut him up, but I’ll admit it did make me feel pretty awesome!

It’s Time to Begin

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Thought I’d pop in to report on a lovely little jog through the Windy City last weekend.….

Just a little Chicago jog

Just a little Chicago jog

HA – understatement of the century!  I’m having a hard time controlling the sugary sweet enthusiasm, but honestly, my first marathon went better than I ever could have imagined.  I mean, those last 6.2 miles were painful, but top to bottom, it was an incredible experience, things came together in a way that I couldn’t even have wished for, and honestly I’m pretty proud of myself for finally accomplishing this goal.  Chicago, you were wonderful.  Thank you.

Friday night’s flight was really the only not so great part of the weekend, and at 1.5 hours, our delay wasn’t even really all that bad.  Instead of drinks with friends, we ordered brownies and ice cream from room service and watched a few Homeland episodes.  I was so looking forward to sleeping in the next day …. until I woke up at 7:30 and completely failing to fall back asleep.  Guess I was a little amped up?

The wakeup was perfect though, as I wanted to jog over to the starting line to check out logistics, get a feel for how long it would take to get over there in the morning, and just enjoy the excitement that was already building.  And Tom was being so so supportive about the whole weekend that I knew I didn’t want to drag him on that adventure as well, so I was glad to leave him sleeping while I set out for a bit and enjoyed the gorgeous day and hundreds of runners doing the same thing.

Scoping it out

Scoping it out

The rest of the day involved a trip to the expo complete with braving the horrendously crowded (but surprisingly fast moving and efficient) Nike area for over-priced but worth it Chicago Marathon Nike gear, football watching and delicious dressed up bar food at Public House, and a nap in the hotel after perfecting my playlist while watching more football.  After 5 hours of sleep (stupid Homeland has me sleep deprived after catching up on the first two seasons in less than 2 weeks …)

Public House

The wings were devoured before I thought to take a picture – that BBQ sauce was amazingly delicious and yes, I tried to eat what was left with that fork so I didn’t have to lick my plate in the middle of the restaurant.

Since several people recommended it, I managed to snag a reservation at Quartino on Saturday, and we had a delicious Italian meal and a couple of glasses of wine.  Veal meatball sliders, a couple of different pasta dishes, and lots of bread dipped in olive oil and vinegar – perfection!  After stuffing ourselves, it was no question that, despite wanting to rest my legs, walking back to the hotel was absolutely necessary. We even walked by multiple frozen yogurt places and weren’t attempted to stop – that’s some sort of record.

Lots of bread!

Lots of bread!

Once back at the hotel, I busied myself pinning my bib to my tank top, organizing and re-organizing all of my stuff for the morning.  And reorganizing and checking.  Until Tom asked if I was almost done and it was clear I was obsessing/driving him crazy.  Time to try to go to bed.

I tossed and turned, dreamed some crazy dreams, but did sleep some.  And then my alarm went off.  Fortunately we were only about half a mile from the hotel (W Chicago City Center – PERFECT hotel for this whole adventure), so I didn’t have to wake up too early, but I wanted to make sure I ate enough, took care of business, and wasn’t stressed about time.  A big bottle of lemonade nuun, 2 bananas, a granola bar, and a couple scoops of peanut butter later, I woke Tom up and we headed out.  It was incredibly sweet of him to walk me to the start, and I’m so glad he did, because it helped me keep my emotions under control.  As we parted at the gates though, I definitely teared up as the emotion of the morning hit me.  The atmosphere was amazing, and the excitement, nervousness, and fulfillment at just making it this far hit me.

starting_line

It was a perfect morning – a little chilly, but warm enough to shiver for a little bit in just a tank top so that I didn’t have to worry about discarding a long sleeve somewhere along the way.  I had decided to move back to corral E to stick with the 4:10 pace group, and it was a perfect decision.  I picked my way through the corral to find the group, and squeezed into a spot about 7:10.  Boy was it crowded!  I tied and re-tied my shoes, listened to the chatter around me, and then somehow struck up a conversation with the woman next to me.  Turns out it was her first marathon too, that 4:10 felt ambitious but she liked the idea of hanging with a pace group and didn’t want to back up to Wave 2 for the 4:25 group, and that we had basically the same goals – #1 finish, #2 sub-4:30 would make us super happy, and anything close to 4:10 would make us absolutely ecstatic.  We talked nerves and music strategy (how long we thought we’d roll with crowd support before plugging in), and exchanged good lucks and hopes to keep seeing each other along the course.  Teresa, wherever you are, thank you!  You helped calm me down, and I loved making a new friend!

Before I knew it, we were off!  The start moved quite quickly and I was across the line and going in about 10 minutes.    I sort of remember the details, but honestly, the whole race is a bit of a blur.  I wish I was one of those people who could recount every mile, but you know what?  That would probably be really boring, and it all really runs together after awhile anyway.  So!  I’ll stick with the memorable moments:

Under the bridges at the beginning – warm, crowded, and thank GOODNESS I didn’t twist an ankle.  A lot of the roads throughout the course had plenty of potholes and uneven spots.  I’m not one to usually keep my eyes down, but I really felt like I had to, particularly at the beginning when it was crowded.  But no matter, being in the middle of that energy was AMAZING.  The crowds at the beginning were the thickest, but there really wasn’t anywhere on the course that lacked fans.  THANK YOU city of Chicago for all of your support – you fulfilled that requirement I had for a first marathon and more.  I didn’t even consider turning my music on until mile 14, and didn’t even listen for the whole second half, because I didn’t want to miss out on the crowd energy.  Truly amazing.

Seeing Tom right around mile 2 – a very unexpected surprise.  We had staked out an exact spot at mile 13, but the crowds were so deep I didn’t expect to be able to pick him out earlier, despite knowing the general area he’d be in.  Right around the second mile, I was running with one of the 4:10 pacers and he shouted to the crowd “let’s hear it for the 4:10 pace group!” I looked to the left at the cheering crowd and there was my cheerleader/photographer/supporter extraordinarie.  THANK YOU TJB!

Also, this dude, who I saw early, and then I passed at mile 26.  If you're wearing a speedo, don't walk.

Also, this dude, who I saw early, and then I passed at mile 26. If you’re wearing a speedo, don’t walk.

After that I tried to just settle into a comfortable pace and not get ahead of the pacers.  I would get a little excited and was feeling good, but had to keep reminding myself there was a long way to go.  I faithfully ate a margarita shot block every 15 minutes, and took water at each aid station.  This consistency proved to be a fantastic strategy.  My energy stayed constant, and despite moments here and there of realizing how much time was left, I felt calm and steady through the first half.  Teresa and I checked in with each other from time to time as we met up throughout, and I was glad we were both hanging in there and feeling good.  I loved running through the neighborhoods of Chicago, and fed off the energy.

I’m super proud of how steady and consistent I was through the first half.  It’s not my forte, but I stayed fairly consistent, and I actually didn’t look at my splits during the race as I never once heard the mile beep.  I’d look down to check if it was time for another chew, but didn’t sweat the mile splits.  Strange for me, but good,I think.

Miles 1 – 13: 9:13, 8:30, 9:13, 9:00, 9:13, 9:23, 9:36, 9:24, 9:31, 9:29, 9:16, 9:16, 8:45 (excitement to see Tom and to be halfway there!)

Mile 13 Tom sighting and water bottle exchange –

Thanks TJB!  Guess what, NO HIP PAIN!!

Thanks TJB! Guess what, NO HIP PAIN!!

I was THRILLED to actually spot him at the pre-determined spot, since it was super crowded and I got a little nervous that I’d miss him.  Should’ve known that he’d pull out excellent spectator chops and make sure he caught me.  He switched out my water bottle as planned, which was actually my one mistake of the day.  I thought I had come up with this brilliant plan to switch off so I’d have cold nuun for both halves of the race, but the new water bottle I bought for the second half was a different type tht was hard to drink out of and bigger, so it was heavier than I was used to.  I dropped it before mile 15.  Waste of $25, but oh well.  Better than carrying it another 11 miles and cursing it the whole time. There were PLENTY of aid stations, and luckily switching to Gatorade every other water station was no problem for me at all.

The next several miles are not too memorable, other than starting the playlist and hearing those Imagine Dragons lines that were as perfect as I had imagined to pump me up:

 So this is what you meant

When you said that you were spent

And now it’s time to build from the bottom of the pit

…..

It’s time to begin, it’s it?

 Yes, it is.  This is where it starts for real.

I LOVED the energy of the charity village, but other than that I just remember trying to stay steady.  I got a bit ahead of the pace group, but just tried to stay comfortable and stick to the plan – chews every 15 minutes until I ran out, walk a bit through each water stop, stay happy.  Keep building.  Stop fearing that the hip pain will keep in (it didn’t?!)

Miles 14 – 20 were just that, though it was getting a little hot: 9:27, 9:26, 9:29, 9:23, 9:17, 9:38, 9:37.

Still really happy with my consistency here.  Mentally, mile 20 was a little rough.  I got a little scared, realizing that I was in uncharted territory, and strangely, my ankle started acting up.  I’d get weird twinges every half mile or so, and kept waiting for the big one that forced me to walk.  It was an easy excuse to let myself stop.  And I did, a little, but only through water stops.  And that is my proudest moment.  After mile 20, it was a mental battle, as I know it is for everyone.  I wanted to walk, and I walked full water stops instead of just part of them, but that’s all (luckily there were water stops every mile …) I kept telling myself I could run 5, walk 1, but I never did.  I kept powering through to the next water stop.  I was afraid of cramping, so the bananas were a life saver.

I kept trucking.  I tried to smile.  I kept not believing I could keep running, but I kept running.  I was vaguely aware of my pace, and that it was still in the high 9’s.  I kept running.  I kept negotiating with myself.  I kept running. I kept running.  I walked and poured water on my head.  I kept running.

Somewhere around mile 22, the 4:10 pace group passed me.  I almost let this act as another excuse.  I knew I could make 4:30, and almost let that be ok.  And then decided come hell or high water, I was finishing under 4:15.  No reason not to.

I continued to walk the water stops and then pick it up, but the last two miles were really really tough.  It was getting hot, we were right in the sun, and man alive 26.2 miles is a long way to run.  I knew I was getting close, but wasn’t sure exactly how close.  I let myself slow to a walk and told myself it was only for a minute.  Only a minute.  Right about then I saw the 800 meters to go sign, and I’m ashamed to say I kept walking for bit even through that.  800 meters isn’t far, but it felt like a lifetime.  I knew I needed a little break before powering through to the end.  After 45 seconds, I picked it up again, with determination.  I could do this.  I knew the hill/bridge at the end was coming, and I was ready. I turned the last corner buoyed by the amazing crowd support (wish I had found TJB in the crowd, but was too focused to look!) and powered up the hill, proudly refusing to walk (thank you Nashville for the unavoidable hill training!) and overwhelmed as I rounded the corner and saw the finish line.

21 – 26.2: 10:06, 9:51, 10:23, 9:53, 10:15. 10:07, 9:18 pace for last .2.

I couldn’t believe it.  I was there.  Crossing the finish line with my arms raised.  I MADE IT!!!!!

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4:12:45.  WHAT?!

I’m still comprehending the emotions that hit me at that point.  I was shocked that the tears that threatened at the start didn’t come, and instead I was just happy.  Proud.  Strong.  Amazingly feeling ok despite a deep tiredness in my legs.  Already feeling like I at some point in the distant future wanted to try it again and try to do better?  Woah woah woah Betsy, calm down.  That was NOT what I expected to feel, and yet it was there.  THAT is actually my definition of success.  Wanting to do it again.  Don’t get me wrong, I am SO SO happy with my time.  But I actually do know I can do better.  And that’s exactly how I wanted to feel at the end.  And I was able to enjoy my beer.  Which, after wanting nothing to do with my beer after my poorly trained for first half marathon in 2009, is strangely my definition of successful training.  That sounds super unhealthy, and my mom is really trying to understand it, but it’s true.  Maybe it means I didn’t push hard enough, but if I hit a time that I wanted and I can enjoy it?  Success in my book.

After Marathon Beer Pic

Somewhere just after the finish line, I met up with Teresa again, and was thrilled that she finished right around the same time I did, maybe a little faster.  It was awesome to hear how much she enjoyed it, and was amazed to hear that she never walked.  Go Teresa!

After finding Tom in the meetup area and offering a sweaty, enthusiastic hug, we hobbled back to the hotel.  One of the first times I’ve had to ask him to slow down, but I was moving slowly.  But moving.  And happy. And grateful for DD coffee and a blueberry cake donut.  Donuts AND marathons today!

In the meantime, texts and calls rolled in from friends and family.  I was truly overwhelmed by the enthusiasm and congratulations.  I thought everybody was a bit annoyed at my incessant chatter about the marathon in the last few months, but hearing how proud and impressed my parents, Tom’s parents, our siblings, and so many friends were …. it was truly humbling, and I appreciate it so very very much.  Much much love to you all, and thank you for the support (and listening to my marathon drivel!)

The rest of the day included a trip to the Nike Store for a finishers t-shirt, and then the icing on the cake – a devoured Gino’s pizza.  Amazingly delicious.  And sitting down by my name written on the booth!  Awesome!

Not awesome?  The 4 trips up and down the stairs to the bathroom.  Mostly the down.  BRUTAL.

Sweet gluttonous victory

Sweet gluttonous victory

Name at Geno's

And that’s that!  We flew back home that night and I had the best night’s sleep imaginable.  Took me till Wednesday to walk down stairs normally again, but now I’m feeling good.  Haven’t run yet (maybe this afternoon after the Vandy game), and I expect to take it easy for the next few weeks.  But I can’t wait to get going again.  There are goals on the horizon, and I can’t wait to tackle them.  It’s true – you finish a marathon, and you feel like you can do anything.

Thank you Chicago, it was everything I hoped for.

Pure joy

Pure joy