Quick Pop Quiz

The truth is, I am in the mood to blog but my thoughts are such a mess.  Between Jessica passing away a week ago and my friend Will being so sick, I am just so over-emotional.  I took off today because I am having furniture delivered and I am looking very forward to a long afternoon workout.

 

For now, this.  Which I stole from Andrea.

 

1. FUEL: Shot Bloks, GU, Energy Chews, Candy or Other?

The only fuel I use during runs is GU.  And it has to be TriBerry.  Nothing else has worked as well or as consistently.  For tri’s I use Bloks in transition, but still GU on the run.


2. Race Length: 5k, 10k, 1/2 Marathon, Marathon, Ultra or Other?

My favorite distance is 10 miles and I do not think there are near enough 10 mile races.  The only one close to me is the Broad Street Run which I haven’t ran since 2009.  The race has gotten so out of control, I cannot stand the thought of running it.  This year, they capped it at 40,000 people.  No thank you.

3. Workout Bottoms: Skirts, Running Shorts, Capris, Pants or Other?

Depends on the weather, but I HATE running in pants.  I train in shorts but love racing in skirts.  So I guess skirts are my favorite 🙂

4. Sports Drink: Gatorade, Powerade, Cytomax, you stick to water when you run or Other?

During a race, I might use Gatorade, but I mostly depend on water.  Post-run, I love chocolate milk!


5. Running Temperatures: HEAT or COLD?

I run much better in the cold.  So, as much as I hate it, I definitely have to say cold.


6. Running Shoe Brands: Saucony, Mizuno, Nike, Brooks, Asics or Other?
I ran in Brooks Adrenalines for 5 years.   Honestly, I never imagined I would run my marathon in anything but Brooks, but when the 11’s came out, I didn’t like them.  Switched to Saucony and haven’t looked back.
 
7. Pre-race meal: Oatmeal, Bagel, Banana, Eggs, Cereal or Other?
English muffin with PB.  Always.  And sometimes a banana too.

8. Rest Days: 1x per week, 2x per week, never ever ever or other? 

Generally speaking, Saturday is my only real rest day.  My full-time job is Monday through Friday.  I workout two-three nights a week and on Sundays.  I also waitress two-three nights a week and sometimes on Sunday.  The only day I never waitress is Saturday and I try not to work out that day either.   And anyone who thinks waitressing is not exercise, has never done it.  On average, I walk 4-6 miles a shift.  Not necessarily a work-out but definitely not a rest day!

 

9. Music: Have to have it or go without it? 

On the treadmill, definitely.  Running alone, never.  Racing, sometimes.

 

10. #1 reason for running: stress-relief, endorphins, you love to race, so you can eat all the cupcakes you want, weight-loss, love running for social reasons or other?

I love what running has brought into my life.  The fitness, the confidence, the people and the ability to do things I never imagined.  I have never regretted a single workout.  I have never regretted this journey.

Racing in 2013

Last year, my race schedule was anything but a schedule.  The few races I did were mostly last minute decisions and I bagged quite a few of them last minute.  That doesn’t mean this year was without its highlights!

-I was 5th in the swim at the Life is Good Tri!

-My relay team took first place overall at the Belmar Tri!

-I finished the Philadelphia Half-Marathon with little training and was NOT injured!

With everything that 2012 was, I am glad it is over.  2013 has started off quite nicely in the fitness field.

-As a kid, and a teenager, I always wanted to take dance.  I never did but in December, at age 31, I began taking ballet classes. I love it!  It is an adult class and NO we do NOT wear tu-tu’s!  I am also doing Barre Fit and it has been amazing for toning up and getting fit.  I see such a difference!  I go two or three times a week and it is great.  Not only is it whipping me into shape but it is really helping with my core, balance and flexibility as well.

-In addition to the ballet and barre classes, I have been hitting the gym two times a week, no matter what!  Between two jobs, that can be difficult, but I know I want to get back to a fitter and healthier me this year.  One of the additional motivations to stick to this schedule, is that in March I will be heading to Mexico for a friends wedding and I need to be in bikini shape three months earlier than I am used to!

-I have been base building for my April half-marathon.  Short but quality runs, building back up my endurance and getting my legs back into gear!  The real training schedule starts this week.  I am really looking forward to nicer weather so that I can complete all my runs outside and only have to worry about the gym when I want to swim.

-I am continuing to see my Sports PT every other week or so for ART and Graston.  I use the foam roller every night and use a LAX ball for trigger point a few times a week.  I thought the foam roller was the enemy but as it turns out, the LAX ball is the devil!  It is worth it, though.  My very biggest goal of all, is to stay injury free!

-I am done doing triathlon.  Yup.  Done.  You know what…I really gave it a good try; I really wanted to like riding a bike.  But I just hate it.  I did four years of triathlons.  And I enjoyed it and I was good at it.  Except the biking.  And I don’t even want to be good at it, because I don’t even like it!  You know what I do like?  Running and swimming.  Relay tri’s are still going to very much be a part of my life.  And I am determined to find more Splash and Dash races so that I can still compete in both sports I enjoy.

I feel like for the first time in 5 years, I am doing everything right.  Looking back, I feel like something was always off.  There was never a time where everything was on point.  This year is going to be different; at least I am giving it my all to be that way.  Sticking to a strict training plan, increasing my core and flexibility, keeping my nutrition plan together and continuing ART and Graston to keep from getting injured.

So what is on the agenda for 2013?

Rutgers Half-Marathon

Spartan Race

Atlantic City Half-Marathon

Philadelphia Half or Full Marathon  (I’ll be deciding this for sure after the RU half.)

I am still looking for a May 10-miler and I know there are a few tri’s I will be swimming for as part of a relay and there is a possible 15k in the fall.  And of course some local 5k’s that will be week or day of decisions.  I am excited to be training and I am looking forward to racing, but the last thing I want to do is overwhelm myself.  I have to constantly remind myself that I am, in essence, starting over.  I don’t want to push too hard, or race too much or risk burn out or injury.

How is your 2013 shaping up?  Are you doing anything new this year?

2013 Resolutions

I don’t really like the idea of a resolution.  To me, we should be resolute about changing our lives whenever the need arises.  If I waited until January 1st every time I wanted to make a change, I have a feeling life would be very different.  So while I am calling these “resolutions” they are really things I have been working on or want to start working on this year.  They are more lifestyle changes, than simply goals I will achieve.

But in the spirit of the new year and tradition…I give you, my resolutions:

Read more. I love to read. Growing up, I was the only kid without a TV in my room.  My mom wanted to instill a love of reading in me and knew I would replace reading with watching TV.  And she was right, because when I did get a TV, my reading time went down.  In school, I studied English, so I was ALWAYS reading.  As an adult, I still love reading…books, magazines, newspapers, articles…anything.  I love learning so I tend to read autobiographies, biographies and historical books but I also love a good Jodi Picoult book.  My favorites of all time?  Go Ask Alice, Perks of Being a Wallflower (and I refuse to see the movie), My Sisters Keeper (movie not even close to as good), Nineteen Minutes and  Yes, I have a lot of favorites!

Complete one house project a month.  I still think houses should come with a landlord!  Keeping up with a three bedroom house alone can be daunting.  And I bought a fixer-upper.  Still lotsa fixin to do!  If I do one thing a month, even small, I will feel accomplished.  This month, I would like to take down my Christmas decorations.  Yes, they are still up and yes, it is a project!

Keep blogging. I didn’t realize how much I missed blogging because I wasn’t able to see how much I actually missed life in general.  Getting back to blogging (both reading and writing) has been great.  I remember now why I started this blog in the first place: to keep a journal of my progress and my journey.  The friends I have met along the way are a great bonus.  But truthfully, if no one ever read this again, I would still keep writing.

Pay it forward more.  It is as simple as leaving a note for someone.  Paying for a coffee for the guy behind you.  Just something that says, “not everyone in this world sucks” because sometimes it is hard to remember that there is so, so, much good behind all the bad we hear about and read about on a daily basis. 

Compliment 3 people a day. I love when I get a random compliment.  I have a feeling everyone does.

Live and let live.  I am not too proud to admit, this will not be easy for me.  I lose patience way too fast, not stopping to think about what might be going on in someone’s life before I get annoyed with them.  Examples: slow drivers, waiting in lines and screaming kids in stores/restaurants.  Recently, this guy came to speak at our school.  His message was simple and clear.  And I am trying every day to just live and let live.

Let go of past failures.   Likely, this will be hardest for me.  But I am working on it.

Take care of myself.   I gave up a lot when I was with R2.  I constantly felt bad for how much my training and second job took away from us time wise, that I didn’t do other things I would have liked because I would have felt even worse.  For so long, I did not put myself first.  And I still don’t at times.  I still have trouble saying no or carving out time for the things I need/want.  I need to think more about my mental and emotional health when making decisions.

Appreciate every day.  I used to write three things I was grateful for each week.  Now, I am writing down three things I am grateful for every day.  It is not always easy to come up with three things, but I am learning a greater appreciation for even the smallest things. 

Pay off my credit card debt.  This one is HUGE.  But totally doable as long as I keep picking up extra shifts waitressing and stick to my budget.  I have been in cc debt for 6 years and it doesn’t feel good.  And by general standards, I am actually considered to be in really good shape.  However, I hate having to spend so much money every month paying things off.  For the last six months (with exception of a few internet purchases) everything has been paid for with cash.  I am really proud of that and cannot wait until I have extra money every month to add to my mortgage principle instead of sending to credit card companies! 

What were some of your resolutions?

Life Is Hard- My Most Honest Post Ever

I always pride myself on having an honest blog.  I am who I am and try not to waver from that on this blog.  That is why, when things really just got too hard, I stopped blogging.  I couldn’t be honest, at least not completely.  Oh, and I was broken.  Literally, physically, emotionally and mentally.

So, if you are still here…if you are still reading…park it, because this is going to be a long post.  But when it is all over, I know I will feel better and I know I’ll be ready to blog again.  It has taken over a full year, but I am finally finding my way back to me.  A better me.  Which makes everything I went through, worth it.  I wouldn’t want to go through it again, ever, but I can at least take comfort in knowing I have come out on the other side and I am okay.  Better than okay.

So you know the basics if you were a reader in the past…broken foot, broken heart, crazy roommate, etc…etc…ETC!

But what you may not know is this…I was jealous.  And generally speaking, I am not a jealous person.  But I was raging with jealousy.  That is the dead ugly truth.  Every blog post I read was about someone running, getting engaged or married, having a baby, losing weight, finishing a race and generally loving life.  Every damn post was so damn happy.  And I was so damn sad.  Angry, sad and seriously jealous.  I wanted to be running, getting engaged, losing weight and loving life.  (Notice, I did not say I wanted a baby!!!)  I couldn’t do it anymore.  I couldn’t open my reader to all the happiness.  In some odd way, it only made me more sad and more angry.  Like everyone in the world was happy except for me.

Here was problem #1…I didn’t even know who “me” was anymore.  I was 30 years old and a lost little girl.  I had to give up a life I planned and find myself again.  I had to admit that I was the only one in a relationship working on said relationship.  I had to swallow the most bitter pill of all:  I loved someone who didn’t love me.  It is so easy when you are in a relationship to only see what you want to see.  To pretend the bad things aren’t there or that it will get better.  And damn, let me tell you…when it came to R2, I was wearing the rosiest of rose-colored glasses ever.  And I wish I could say that it all became clear to me after we broke up…but it didn’t.  And because of that, I spend the next 5 months or so holding onto something that wasn’t there.  Something that was never there.  The break-up, the break, the separation…everything was dramatic, difficult and painful.  And look, this is a not a public forum for me to bash him and I won’t do that.  But I will say this…it was not all sunshine and flowers and the damage my relationship with him did to me is going to take years to overcome.  I have been in therapy for months.  There was a time when I never would have admitted that publicly.  I didn’t think I “needed” help.  Well, turns out, this help was the best gift I could have given myself.  I have learned so much.  Of course these are lessons I wish I had learned before going through so much pain, but at least I have these lessons in my pocket now.  I’ll never be as blind as I once was.  With that said…as much as I blame him…I also blame myself.  No one forced me to put with it all.  No one forced me to keep going back when I knew I would only get hurt.  And trust me, forgiving him was much easier than forgiving myself.  Much.

Problem #2 was that my release for stress is to work out.  Broken foot=no working out.  I was stuck with my pain and had no way to deal with it.  And then, when I could run again, I just didn’t want to do it.  I was too far gone.  The hole was dug too deep.  And in the midst of all of this, I was moving out of my condo with my psycho roommate and looking for a place to live.  Thankfully, I was able to stay with my aunt until I found a house.  But I had to find a house.  It was all I could do to get out of bed.  I struggled to get through each day; work was actually comforting because at least I knew my mind would be busy.

Problem #3 was that even when good things happened, I couldn’t actually be happy.  I mean, I was happy, but I couldn’t celebrate it because everything was so overwhelmed by my feelings of loneliness and sadness.  Everything was a reminder that I was alone. It took everything I had in me to get ready for a night out.  I would be exhausted before I even arrived.  Even the biggest and best thing to happen to me, buying a house, served as a reminder that I was doing it alone.  I just couldn’t get out of the damn black hole.

Then something happened.

I started solving my problems.

I started letting go of the shit that made me sad, so that I could be happy.

First up, R2.  He had to go.  He was inhibiting my ability to be happy and I was letting him.  The process of letting go was not easy; even though he didn’t want to be with me, he didn’t let me go easily either.  (Let’s hear for making difficult situations more difficult!)  From the time I first walked away and tried to cut him off, until we finally stopped communicating on a regular basis was six months.  He still wanted to be friends.  My argument was that he wasn’t someone I wanted to be friends with or have in my life.  But I kept giving him chances to make it up to me, apologize…anything.  I wanted the time I had spent with him to be validated.  But it was just a sick cycle.  I would cut him off, he would fight me on it, we would fight, we would make up, and repeat.  And repeat.  EXHAUSTING!  Oh, and ridiculously unfair.  It wasn’t until a few months ago, that we were able to talk openly.  He finally apologized (sincerely) and I was able to really let him go.  Since then, no communication and none intended in the future either.

It is a funny thing when someone stops taking up so much space in your head.  I started having space again for other things.  I started remembering how much I loved to swim and run.   I ran the Philly Half-Marathon in November.  I barely trained and the race was brutal, but I did it.  And at some point, I knew I would run another race.  And another.  I started remembering how much I really loved be with my friends.  Taking road trips.  I appreciated my house and saw it from a completely different point of view…I was doing something on my own, that many people couldn’t do with two people.  Things in general just because more clean.  I am not always happy; this is a major work in progress.  Sometimes…ok, quite often, I still feel lonely.  But I am no longer feeling alone. And for the first time in a very long time, the good days are outweighing the bad days.

I have a job I love.  I have an amazing family.  My friends are awesome.  I own my own home.  I have four races planned for this year.

I am back.

Updates…

I haven often said I had many reasons for taking a blog break.  The truth is, with so much going on, I just couldn’t write.  I really didn’t have anything good to talk about and I was feeling so down.  It has been a rough couple of months- BUT- I am finally feeling on the upswing and ready to dive back into life!  Here are some updates to clue you in and give you an idea of why things were so tough!

Foot- my foot is actually finally (FINALLY!) starting to feel better!  This has taken way longer than I would have liked and even though I still don’t think/feel 100%, I am happy to report that it does feel good after a long walk or short run.  I have been running with my softball girls and on my own a few miles a week.  It’s been hard starting over and I am frustrated much of the time.  People told me I would bounce right back and I expected too, but I didn’t.  This is honestly like starting over from day one again.  I don’t love running right now, but I remember how much better my life was when I did, so I am hoping to get back to that real soon.

Work- my job is still awesome.  It is the one thing I could count on when everything else was falling apart.  It really is hard to be in a bad mood when I work at a place so beautiful.  The job comes with the same stresses as many jobs, but there is also so much good to even some of those stresses out.  Additionally, I have been coaching softball and even though it makes for long days, I absolutely love it.  The girls have come so far since the first practice and we have a 5-2 record so far!  That is really exciting given that I have 5 girls who never played before and because of injuries I only have 11 girls on my team.  They have really stepped up to the plate (no pun intended) and have made me really proud!

Right now, on top of the day to day work and softball, it is insanely busy with end of the year stuff.  But at least my days fly by.  Tonight is the 8th grade dance and in the month of May we also have the overnight 8th grade trip, a field day and a community service day.  We are about 5 weeks from graduation.  I love these kids but I am definitely ready for summer!

House Hunting- I moved.  Again.  My roommate was CRAZY with a capital C and I couldn’t take it anymore.  Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t like when people leave their shit in the toilet, leave food stuck on pots/plates in the kitchen sink and don’t take the trash out for 4 weeks.  I am also not a fan of her naked boyfriend running around my living room.  Gross disrespectful pig.  Yes, I just publically blasted her.  And I am being nice.

Anyway, I am now house hunting and although the prospect of buying is super scary, this is also a very exciting time.  I have been looking for a little over a month.  I have found some places I love and some that I don’t so much love, haha, but it really has been fun.  My goal is be a homeowner by the fall so fingers crossed!

R2– in the weeks that followed my marathon, as I  tried to come to terms with a broken foot, I was hit with a huge blow.  R2 broke up with me.  It was devastating to say the least.  And I had no outlet.  I felt like my training contributed to some of the problems…but I really had no idea he would just up and call it quits either.  Especially since my race was over and life was going to get a lot calmer.  R2 gave up a lot for my training-  my training didn’t affect just me.  He gave up late nights, opportunities for group dates and other things as well.  He stood by me through all the training…he was with me every step of the way.  If you could have seen his face when he saw me during the race.  He was so proud.  I just couldn’t see how it all could end.  Or why.  All I wanted to do was disappear from the world- swim some laps, run the roads for miles…and I couldn’t.  I had a broken foot and a broken heart.

You may be wondering what happened.  I would tell you, but I am still wondering what happened.  One of the hardest things about the break-up, was that nothing actually happened.  At the end of the day, I can only be the best person I know how to be and if someone doesn’t want to be with me, there is nothing I could/can do about that.  Nothing.  And despite the fact that we tried to maintain the friendship, I was still finding myself often wondering what happened and looking for closure.  I came to realize that it is a closure I will never get.  I have to find it myself.  And I can’t be friends with him in the process.  R2 is a good guy, and you won’t find me trashing him here…but for right now, the best place for him to be is out of my life.

Training- you could hardly call what I am doing training.  Seriously. It’s rather pathetic.  But, I do have a half marathon in August and since I am basically starting over with my running, it is time to get back on a training plan.  What I want most is to get toned again.  I really liked the way I looked last year and between my foot, the break-up, the move and other variables, I really just let myself go.  It is due time to get back on track with my eating, my training and my life!

Hello? Anyone out there?

Well, it lasted four months.  That’s how long it has been since I blogged.  In the words of Pearl Jam…”everything has change…nothing has changed” but recently I have been thinking about how much better I felt when I was blogging.  And after a few months away, I noticed I still get over 100 visits a day to my blog.  A few weeks ago, I got an email from a girl who found my blog after googling about wetsuits and told me she read over 100 of my posts and was sad to see that I had stopped blogging.  The truth is, I am sad I stopped blogging, too.  It just got so out of hand- I began to feel like I had to keep up with the Jones’s for a lack of a better term.  I was overwhelmed with life and coming off of a marathon training cycle that truly burned me out.   Recovery from that race was not pleasant and neither were the months that followed for me.  Blogging was the last thing I wanted to do.  I felt like I was losing my voice as a blogger and in the grand scheme of things, it just didn’t take precedence.  Personally, mentally, emotionally and physically, it was a very trying time for me.  Honestly, most days it still is.  I know I am being vague, but if I am going to get back to blogging, I am going to get back to getting real too.  Not sure how often I’ll be writing, especially while I try to find my voice here again and get back to why I started this blog in the first place.  But you can definitely expect some updates over the next few weeks.  You know, if I still appear on your reader 🙂

It’s Been A Good Run (No Pun Intended)

Dear Interwebs,

I wish I could make this short and sweet.  I wish I had it in me to just say “it’s been real” but I have always been a woman of many words and this is no exception.

I started this blog in February of 2009 with no real expectations except to journal what would come to be an extraordinary journey.  At the time, I was only a few months out of a relationship that left me eating way too much breyers and drinking way too much pinot grigio.  I had woken up one day in December with a renewed sense of energy, yet no idea with that to do with said energy.  I was always someone who went to the gym- a few days a week to bike, lift or take a class here and there.  I was in relatively good shape prior to the break up but within six weeks I went up a solid three sizes.  Let me repeat that for you…six weeks, three sizes.  Working out was really only keeping me from completely blowing out of control.  So it was time for a change. 

I decided that morning that I would run a 5k.  And by run, I mean jog.  And by jog, I mean walk.  I started walking on the treadmill four days a week.  It never really occured to me to run .  But then something weird happened after a week or so…I had the urge to run.  Unfortunately, my lungs did not share in the urges.  The thing is, I was a smoker.  Running and smoking don’t mix.  At all.  So one had to go.  Bye, bye smoking.  Hello running 🙂

Since I was working my way to finishing a 5k, at some point I felt it was necessary to actually find a 5k.  I began searching the internet and found triathlon.  Hmmm….I thought to myself, “I can do that” and without another thought, I signed up.  I actually signed up for my first tri 7 months in advance, having not known how to ride a bike and without being able to run more than 1/4 mile without stopping.  It took me 15-17 minutes to finish a mile, I DIDN’T KNOW HOW TO RIDE A BIKE and yet…there I was signed up for a triathlon. 

I learned how to ride a bike and with a lot of hard work and dedication started running 9-10 minute miles.  I got back into shape and felt amazing.  And I started signing up for races.  I became a runner and a triathlete.

And that my friends is how it all began

I have completed:

Ten 5k’s

Six 8k’s

One 15k

One 7-miler

One 10-miler

Six Half-Marathons

Two Duathlons

Thirteen Triathlons

ONE MARATHON 🙂

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

And this my friends is how it ends.

Today, it’s almost 4 years exactly since I woke up that morning ready to change my life.  Running and triathlon have done exactly that- my life has been forever changed in ways I cannot accurately put into words.  And whether you have been reading my blog from the beginning or only recently, you have been able to follow me in this amazing journey.  I wrote my high highs and my low lows.  I met amazing people.  I faced insane challenges.  I fell and rose above.  I never faltered on my one mantra: Finishing is Winning. 

And I am not done yet- this journey continues.  I have at least one ten-miler and three half-marathons planned and I am looking to do the Tough Mudder all in 2012.  There may be a few more tri’s left in me- relays for sure- but I don’t know.  I do know I will never stop running. 

But, it is time to stop blogging.

This blog has taken me so many places (the best of which were Florida and Boston) and through here I have “met” and met so many, amazing and  wonderful people.  There were times when this blog is what kept me going- your comments are what kept me honest about who I was and what I was doing.  Your support was always with me– during training and in every raceYou were all there.

But this blog has run its course.  (Again, no put intended)

The dead truth is this- I have decided to take back my personal life.  Throughout my marathon training I was facing some tough stuff.  Things have gotten a lot tougher in the weeks following the race.  And I am at a place in my life where I cannot keep this blog and NOT talk about my personal life…and I just can’t be THAT open right now.  Or maybe ever again.

For every post you ever read.  For every comment you ever left.  For the awards.  For the encouragement.  For the friendship.  For being a part of what made me feel human again.  For everything.  Thank you.

With love,

Onelittletrigirl ♥

(I have email and facebook! Please keep in touch 🙂 )

Best Time Of My Life! Philadelphia Marathon Race Report!

Back when the marathon was only a wee dream I had, I always said that if I ever did one, it would be Philly.  Having grown up in South Jersey, just over the bridge, I have always felt as though I related with Philly.  I grew up taking my class trips there, spent my high school years walking around different parts of the city and yes, even spent a few years in the “club” scene.  When I turned 21, I spent many a nights partying it up on the streets of Philly.  It was only natural that when I started running, I would race in Philly.  First Broad Street, then the Philly 8K, followed by the half-marathon two years in a row…and then…the marathon!

I started planning to do the Philly Marathon back in 2009- but the truth is, I just wasn’t ready.  For a number of reasons, I just didn’t think it was the right time for me.  Round two, I planned for 2010.  Then I got hurt.  The injury took away my entire spring racing season and as a result I packed in racing all summer and was burnt out by fall.  I completed the Philly Half last year and consider it to date my best half- marathon.  When I finished that race, I knew 2011 was my year for the marathon.  And when it came time to register on April 1, I clicked marathon.  And,I knew the third time would be the charm!

So fast forward a few months from signing up and the training began…and it was not easy.  As always, I was fighting through injuries.  There were many moments where I questioned what the hell I was doing and if it would all be worth it.  But I kept training.  In the rain, on the treadmill, without music and always alone.  I knew from the start that it would be vital to me to be mentally prepared for hours of running.  To be mentally prepared for anything and everything.  I knew from my first long run…really long run…that none of this would be easy.  But I was determined to make it fun.

And then it was November.  And before I knew it, it was race weekend.  One of the best decisions I made in this process was getting a hotel room.  We had a room for my parents and R2 and I had a room.  This could not have worked out better.  I was .5 miles from the expo and .8 from the race site.  Perfect!  The expo was good but fast for me.  I was disappointed that the K-Tape people weren’t there as I hoped to get my calves taped, but they weren’t and I got over it quick.  We were at the expo for about an hour and then for me it was back to the hotel for rest, rest and more rest! After getting all my things laid out, some dinner and a bath it was time for sleep.  I was stunned to have slept as well as I did.  I woke up feeling calm and ready to go.

We left about 30 minutes before the race start and headed down for some photos.  The nerves were kicked in and I was feeling stressed out- but before I had too much time to think about it, the race was starting.  My mom and R2 headed down to mile 1 where I would see them first and I got in my corral.  The plan was for my mom and R2 to see me at Mile 1, Mile 6 and Mile 14.  My dad and teammates would meet up with them at the finish.  Knowing when I would see people made getting from point to point a lot easier.  I think the best way to break it down is to go a few miles at a time.

Miles 1-5:  I totally missed my mom, R2 and my friend Brian at Mile 1.  I wasn’t too concerned though as it was the beginning and I was feeling great.  I had started with the 5 hour pacer but realized quickly that (probably due to my training) I wanted to run alone.  Around Mile 2, I saw a few teammates and I was so happy.  I wasn’t even listening to my IPOD at this point because the energy from the crowds was so awesome.  I skipped the first water stop and headed into Mile 3.  I took my first walk break at the second water stop.  My plan all along, like my training, was to walk the water stops.  At least for the first half I was hoping to do no other walking than through stops.  At the same time, I also told myself that if I had the urge to slow down or walk, that was okay too.  Mile 4 was uneventful except that I had to pee.  I tried to ignore it but I knew I had to stop and go.  I saw my chance at the next porta-potty and felt thankful that there were only three other people in line.  I was glad I stopped because I felt a million times better having gone.  As I headed into Mile 5, the magnitude of what I was doing was starting to hit me.  I could feel that I was going to fast and I started to feel overwhelmed.  The 5 hour pacer passed me and I had a moment of feeling like I needed to catch up but then quickly determined that if I did that, I would not be running my own race.  So I stuck to my guns and kept moving at my solid, comfortable, slow pace.

Miles 6-10: I received a text from my mom letting me know where to look at Mile 6 and before I knew it, I was there.  I spotted her sign like four blocks away!!!  I threw them my jacket, flashed a smile, got a pic and kept on moving.  I was feeling AWESOME!  The awesome feeling stuck around until just into Mile 7 when I started to feel a blister.  It would have been too easy to focus on the pain so I stuck my IPOD in and put it out of my head.  Miles 9 & 10 were the toughest for me in the first half…I was running slow and I had to stop again to use the bathroom…but I was feeling good and running happy.  By the time I reached Mile 10, I could hardly believe I only had 16.2 to go.  I was trying to take it all in, but the time was ticking fast!

Miles 11-15: The person who designed the split at mile 13 should know that there is a special seat in hell waiting for them.  Not only do we have to head the guy on the megaphone tell us “You are almost there!” as he yells out to the half’ers but the split is on an UPHILL and I had to watch as not only the half’ers finish but as the marathon leaders come into finish as well.  This was mentally the most difficult part for me.  I was so thankful that I had decided to have my mom and R2 at Mile 14.  I went through the half point at 2:38 and was thrilled.  My goal was to get through the half by 2:45 so this was a huge boost for me.  (My half PR is 2:23.)  Just before the Mile 14 marker I saw my mom…and to my surprise my Uncle Mark was there and my best friend Jessica.  What a great surprise!!!!  The other surprise was that R2 was not there- I felt crushed…I immediately started to get upset.  He went to get food and I could not believe he was missing me.  Knowing I wouldn’t see him again until the finish made me so sad.  Luckily, my mom had texted him and he was able to get back in time.  I took this opportunity to take some advil, eat a banana and take a few photos.  I was so glad I did this- not only did I need the real food but it was such a lift to see everyone.  As they sent me into Mile 14, I felt so strong.  It was getting hot out (high of 64!!!), my feet were tired, I was tired, I was sick of GU already but still, I felt strong.  Mile 15 was a run/walk mile and it was here I met Kristy.  It was also her first marathon- and her plan was much the same as mine.  We chatted for a few minutes and then went on running.  Meeting people along the course would prove to be one of the most helpful things for me getting to the finish.  Especially as the time progressed.

Miles 16-20:  As I headed into Mile 16, I became emotional for the first time.  It dawned on me all I had left was a Broad Street Run.  It was also when the 5:30 pacer passed me.  I had held them off for 16 miles- that was the bright side.  And in this race, there was nothing other than bright sides.  Into Mile 17, I met Donna.  Donna was running Philly for the 19th time.  She was older, and had come into the race wanting to BQ as she had a few times in her past.  At Mile 12, she got a cramp and watched as her pace group passed.  She was still so happy to be running, so energetic and still loving the run.  She was, without knowing it, reassuring me that I was running the right race for me.  I ran with Donna for a little over a mile, mostly quietly but chit-chatting at times.  Eventually, we came upon her husband- she stopped and I went on.  Miles 18-20 were tough.  As I headed downhill into Manayunk, all I could think about was the uphill back out of Manayunk.  I was slowing down even more, and for the first time starting to feel down.  That changed real fast when I realized that at Mile 20 I was entering uncharted territory.  I had no idea what to expect beyond Mile 20 but I knew I needed to snap back into my strong mental game.  The timing was perfect because the energy in Manayunk was great and I was really feeling it.  I texted my mom, “I think I’ll for for a 10K today :)” and put my positive mental game into overdrive!

Miles 21-26.2:  Just before Mile 21, I saw my friends Greg and Dee.  They had planned to run with me and I couldn’t have been happier to see them.  It gave me such a boost and we all started running together.  Then came Mile 22 and the unexpected- a foot cramp.  I had been prepared for hip pain, knee pain, ITB pain, PF pain and shin pain.  But this was the top of my left foot.  Hello marathon curve ball!!!  The pain was so bad, I couldn’t run.  At all.  I was relegated to walking until I could get it out.  Greg gave me some advil and we kept going one foot in front of the other.  Greg and Dee were amazing- kept telling me how awesome I was doing and kept my spirits up by asking me about the race to that point.  Eventually though, I had to stop.  My foot was screaming.  It happens that Greg is also my podiatrist (lucky me!) and he was able to assess quickly after I took off my shoe that it needed to be re-laced.  I was swelling so bad that my show was cutting off the circulation in my foot.  From this point I did almost all walking.  It was a tough pill to swallow but having come that far already there was no stopping me.  I was going to finish!  At Mile 25, I decided come hell or highwater, I was running.  And run I did…for the last 1.2 miles.

The finish line: It is hard to describe how I felt at those moments.  The experience was bigger than myself.  I could see my friends, parents and R2 all at the finish, screaming with excitement for me.  It was a long journey but I had done it.  There really is no feeling like it.

The best thing I did for myself was mentally prepare.  I relied on that many times throughout the race.  The other best thing I did, was go in without a real time goal.  I mean, of course I did have goals, but I truly did not care.  I wanted to finish happy.  That was most important to me- to cross the line with a smile.  Because of my mental preparation and my desire to have a fun race, I took all the pressure off myself and was really able to enjoy the journey.

All my goals were met.  I did have fun.  I finished running and with a smile.  It was truly the best time of my life. I have zero regrets.

Oh and also, I have no itentions of every doing another marathon!

 

PS- for some reason, WordPress is not letting me upload photos; hopefully soon!!!

Marathon- Almost There!

Two more sleeps.  Or should I say, one more sleep and one try to sleep!

Honestly, I am having a hard time putting my thoughts together.  I cannot believe this weekend is finally here.  I know I have prepared- it hasn’t been the most ideal training cycle, but it was my training cycle.  The long runs are done, taper is in full force…now, all I have to do is get to Sunday.  In 48 hours from now I will have already started my marathon. 

A lot of people have asked me what my goals are…what my plan is…how my race looks when I visualize it.  I do have goals, but they are simple.  I definitely have a plan but it’s mostly logistics so that I can see my family and friends.   And I have been visualizing this run for weeks now every night before I go to bed, and sometimes randomly throughout the day.   Yet, I still find it tough to verbalize how I am feeling when it comes to all of this.

But, I’ll do my best.

The pre-race plan: My routine every night this week has been to eat a good dinner, take an Epsom salt bath, elevate/ice legs while drinking tea and try to sleep as well as possible.  I still haven’t managed enough hours a night, but I have gotten in more than usual and have slept great all week.  Tonight, I am hoping for 10 hours.   Tomorrow morning my parents will meet up with R2 and I at my house and after a good breakfast we will head into Philly.  After we park at the hotel, we will all head on down to the expo.  It’ll be kind of fun to see my dad and R2 at the expo since neither have ever been to one.  After what is likely to be an obscene amount of photos, I’ll pick up my bib and make it officially official!  We will head back to the hotel to relax (and watch Notre Dame for R2) and then have some dinner.  There is a pizza/pasta place around the corner from the hotel which is great- my parents and R2 can have whatever they want and I can be content with my pre-race pasta!  My hope is to be in bed early- which I don’t anticipate sleeping much, I at least want to be resting.

Race-Day Plan– The more I think about having gotten this hotel room, the better I feel about it.  I am less than a mile from the start.  I can stay in the comfort of my room, stay warm (high of 62 [!!!] but it’ll still be a chilly morning) and best of all, I will have my own toilet.  This makes me happy in way only athletes can understand!!!!  Before I know it, it’s going to be start time.  My plan is very simple: start out slow…stay on pace as best as possible, make sure to look for family/friends at planned check points and finish.  One foot in front of the other for 26.2 miles.

Goals– I would be lying if I said I didn’t have a time goal.  Of course I do.  I have a pace group I plan to stay with for as long as possible and I definitely know when I want to cross the line.  However- and I am dead serious- time goals come last to everything else.  The first goal is to finish.  Second to that is the finish happy and knowing that I did the best I could, no matter how long it takes me to do so.  Therefore, if in the end, I don’t make my time goals…that will be okay.  It doesn’t take away from the fact that I will have become a marathoner.  And at the end of the day, it is an automatic PR 🙂

When it comes to visualizing the race, I always picture myself happy and running.  If the stars align and I can just feel good at the start, and throughout the race, I will be happy.   I am not worried about the first half- I have done seven of those.  I know to take it slower and pace myself and I a ready for that- it’s the whole pass-the-finish-line-at-the-half-mark that makes me most nervous.  I have never had to go left to Mile 14!  I have my mom and R2 stationed to see me about half way through mile 14- it will give me incentive to breeze through the half mark like I own it!  I visualize the second half being a lot slower, with walking…but I still picture myself as happy.  I know there will be pain- pain like I have never felt- I know I am in for some hurting.  But I am committed to being focused on the positive.  I am committed to saying “I can” when I want to say “I can’t” and I am committed to saying “Keep going” when my body says “stop” because I know it is temporary.  I am know I am stronger than I ever imagined.  I just want to take the whole race in- take note of the spectators, thank the police staff and volunteers and smile a lot!  And finish.  And when I picture the finish line, I always see myself crossing it- happy.  And crying.  I have a feeling there will be tears!  And photos.  Tears and photos galore!

Let’s do this!!!!!

 

Thoughts On The Marathon- One Week Till Go Time

Here I am, one week away from marathon day.  This time next week, I will be recovering with the biggest margarita ever and a lot of ice cream! Maybe at the same time, who knows 🙂

And now for my favorite kind of post- list post!  Here are some of my thoughts with one week to go:

  • Taper sucks! I never felt this way with half-marathon or triathlon training, but I feel it now.  I am going out of my mind!  For one, everything hurts.  Bones and muscles I didnt even know I had are hurting.  I am having nightmares of the most ridiculous nature; showing up naked being the most popular, I constantly think I am sick if I so much as sneeze and all I want to do is eat and sleep!!!  I am totally over taper!
  • My 20 mile run was easier than my last long run yesterday.  I was completely beat before I even started the run and I struggled through the whole thing.  I was downright exhilarated when the run was over!
  • I am so excited for this week- I know it is going to crawl by but I don’t even care.  I am just happy to only be working two nights.  I have plenty of time to rest, elevate my legs and sleep, sleep and sleep!
  • I have officially become obsessed with the weather.  I check it one or two or ten times a day.  Yesterday it said 57 and raining and I was angry.  Today, it says cloudy and 54 and I am all about it.  I know God is busy with things like the Superbowl, NBA lockout and the Oscars, but if he is listening, I would like it to be in the low 40’s at the start with it getting no higher than mid-50’s by the finish.  And if I can be really picky, partly sunny.  Whatever the weather, please please please NO RAIN, please!
  • I have three outfits picked out.  I will probably pack a weeks worth of stuff for one night.  Possibly more.  And I bet you, I will still forget something.
  • I am staying overnight in a hotel.  I live less than 20 minutes from the start line. I don’t care.  I know I will feel so much better if I am there when I wake up.  Not only will I not have to leave until 15 minutes before the start but I will have my own toilet to poop in; there really is no better reason!
  • I am starting to get very emotional when I think about the race.  Anxious, nervous and emotional. I’ll probably cry like a baby when I cross that line.
  • When I start to feel worried about race day, I go back and read past race reports.  Especially, Philly half from last year.  It helps immensely.
  • I am looking insanely forward to my massage this week. Ridiculously. Like, I cannot describe.  I am looking even more forward to my post marathon massage.
  • I have worn Brooks Adrenalines since 2007.  I hated the new ones that came out and needed new shoes.  I have officially been running in Saucony’s for the last 5 weeks.  Still, there is a part of me that wants to run in my Brooks on race day.  I am sure they have 26.2 miles left in them 🙂   Let’s face it, I’ll probably pack both!
  • So many people are so excited for me, that I am getting so excited.  I know that no matter when I cross that line, my family and friends will make me feel like a winner.  And I am, because I have them in my life.
  • I have taken more Airborne and more vitamins in the last 8 weeks than ever before.  Next to getting injured, getting sick has been fear #2…I have 6 days to go, so lets hope my body stays with me on this one!!!
  • I have gained weight and quite a bit of it.  Gaining weight while marathon training…of could I would! 
  • This is hands down the hardest thing I have ever done.  I can honestly say, without a doubt, this has never been fun.  I have been thrown so many curve balls- having first planned for run a marathon two years ago.  When I am training for half-marathons and tris, I actually have fun.  But these last 15 weeks have tested in me in many ways.  I have sacrificed a lot to get here- and I have worked so hard.  I didn’t always get my work outs in, and I went three weeks in a boot hardly working out at all…a lot of people told me I should bag the race…but I kept at it.  I decided as long as I had my doctors blessing, I was only going to listen to myself.  I worked hard to get healed and picked back up my training.  I trained in rain, I trained on boring courses without music, I did long runs on the treadmill (seriously, there is nothing fun about 16 miles on a treadmill!!!) and I trained alone most of the time.  I did all of this while working a full time job and a part time job.  I did this while changing full time jobs.  I did this with some personal stuff happening.  I did this with still maintaining a social life as much as possible.  But it should be noted, I could not have done this without the unending support I have received from my parents, R2, my friends and my amazing support group here.  My parents and R2 have definitely felt the hit of my training personally- my time with them is much more limited, they deal with my nerves, self-doubt and anxiety and they have changed their schedules to work around my long runs when needed.  No, marathon training has not been fun for me…but it has taught me so much and I know that all the hard work will pay off when I cross that finish line.  And I cannot wait!!!
  • And last but not least…the most important thing I must always remember…my mantra for race day…

What has been your greatest lesson while training for an important event?  What is your favorite mantra during tough parts of the race?