MCM 2012 Recap – a day that could not be bad

Sunday morning as I stepped up to the start line of my 10th marathon, I knew in my heart that it could not be a bad day.  No matter how things went down, I was going to hold my head up high and be grateful for the privilege to run my 10th marathon.

Yes, PRIVILEGE.

I am truly grateful for the GIFT of running.  For my healthy body.  For my strong heart.  For the wonderful friends it has brought into my life.  I am grateful to have such a passion – one that is not only essential to my well being and to my inner balance, but one that is also good for my physical health.  No matter how much I struggled that day, and I was sure to struggle, I would come out on top.  I would come out a stronger, happier, more alive version of myself.  This is one of the most valuable lessons of the marathon.  It is about the journey, not the destination.  It is about how you appreciate the highs and grow through the lows.  It’s about how you handle the toughest moments and celebrate your victories no matter how tiny they may seem in that moment.  It’s about the people in your heart – the people who you love and who love you – your “pack.”  It’s about so much more than crossing a finish line with a certain time on the clock.

I’ll be honest though, I wasn’t arriving at the start line that day feeling my very best at all.  I was off emotionally – really off – and trying to collect myself, clear my head of the things that were bugging me, and cheer myself up before the race even started.  Needless to say that wasn’t how I wanted to be feeling going into a 26.2 mile race I had trained so hard for.  But it was what it was and right away I knew that the only person who was in control of me was me.  So I stood there with my good friends so near to me and I reminded myself:

This is who I am.
This will not – and in fact cannot – go badly.
This is my passion and a privilege.

And then it was time to go.

The first 8 miles of this race are pretty much all hills.  I didn’t tell myself to run a particular pace on them.  My plan was to have it feel easy through the hills and really through the first 10 miles.  It just needed to feel SO easy.  I didn’t look at my watch much at all.  I wanted to dial into myself, to not lose myself, and for it to feel effortless.  I was just “going for a run” at that point – no racing, no pushing, no hurting.  As I ran along it was just how I wanted it to be – I felt like I was holding myself back.  I felt completely in control.  I was having fun and soaking it all in.

Miles 1-10:
7:37, 7:50, 7:19, 7:06, 7:28, 7:20, 7:46, 7:18, 7:24, 7:10

Miles 9 and 10 bring us into and through Georgetown, which is a really special part of the city for me.  This was my 4th time running MCM and this is absolutely always a favorite part of the race for me.  I have a lot of great life memories in and around Georgetown (I went to high school there, I lived and worked there, my husband proposed to me there…) and it always just brings a smile to my face when I arrive there.  From here we loop around by the Kennedy Center and then make our way towards Haines Point, which is a very dreaded part of the course for most people because it can be extremely windy even on the nicest of days.  Suffice it to say, the day before a hurricane the winds were INSANE on Haines Point this year.  Once I realized just how strong they were, I decided that I would not fight it.  I was not going to spend a ton of energy pushing against the wind.  I decided I would rather slow down and let it feel easy than suffer so soon in the race.  Ducking behind people when I could, I eased up and did not worry about my pace. I would need the energy for later, when things would likely be even tougher than this.

Miles 11-17 (Haines Point)
7:28, 7:28, 7:29, 7:41, 7:43, 7:37, 7:26

Mile 17ish

When I finally turned out of Haines Point I was relieved – I could turn my jets on in just two more miles.  I was excited because my legs felt amazing.  I had survived a really tough 7 miles and my pace hadn’t slowed all that much through there even though I wasn’t pushing to hold it. About halfway through the 18th mile though a wave of nausea washed over me.  It was the strangest feeling – one I had never before experienced while running.  I was very aware of it but it went away as quickly as it came so I decided not to worry about it.

And then, about 10 seconds later, I knew I was in trouble.  I needed a bathroom IMMEDIATELY.  There was a water stop ahead and I was so grateful because that meant there would be porta potties and I could make it quick.  But there were no bathrooms to be found.  None.  I stopped running and walked, feeling so worried but knowing there was nothing I could do except move forward.  My awesome friend Maddie was spectating the course and had hopped in with me to see how I was doing.  I told her I was really worried – I really COULD NOT RUN in the situation I was in.  She helped me stay focused and I tried to run again.  Nope, not happening.  Finally I just got desperate.  I crossed the 18 mile marker and saw a tree off to the side of the road.  I cannot believe I did this – but I literally ran behind that tree on the downtown mall of DC and took care of business in broad day light in the middle of the marathon.  I have no idea if anyone could see me, but I didn’t care.  I knew I lost time but I tried not to worry about it.  I hoped my stomach would feel better and tried to find my pace again.  The next few miles were a major struggle for me.  My stomach did not feel better, in many ways it felt worse, but it was okay enough to keep running.  My pace didn’t feel natural and my breathing was way off and LOUD.  I got back into the 7s for miles 20-21 over the not-so-fun bridge but towards the end of the bridge I felt really off again.  My stomach was really unhappy with me.  I couldn’t believe it but as I neared the end of the bridge I literally stopped – dead in my tracks.  I stood there and said out loud to myself:

Hold it together, J.

Do not give up.

Ever.

Collect yourself.

You have a marathon to finish today.

Miles 18-22
7:52, 8:41, 7:49, 7:50, 8:07

I willed myself, out loud, to keep going.  I told myself that if I needed a bathroom again, I would deal with it.  I mean heck I had already done pretty much the most embarrassing thing possible on the downtown mall, how much worse could it be!?!  I would take it one step at a time and deal with it if and when I had to.

I came into Crystal City and heard the cheering of my lululemon wonderfuls.  The sound of their energy and music and support from up ahead brought tears to my eyes in the best way possible.  I had been looking forward to this moment – to seeing them and hearing them and feeling them.  It was an amazing moment.  Their awesomeness lifted my spirits and helped me find my wings again.  They helped me remember why I was there.  Because I love it.  Because I am strong.  Because I am passionate.  Because I am blessed.  Because I am not a quitter.

Mile 23:
7:31

Mile 23 Rejuvenation ~ Photo by Bobby Gill

I felt like I soared through there, and when that mile was completed I only had 3 more to go.  And then my stomach lurched on me again.  I scanned my body and knew my legs had so much more in them than they were giving.  My legs felt amazing.  They were not cramping or exhausted at all.  The trouble was with my stomach.  It felt so very off.  I felt like I was jogging the last three miles of the race, and though I knew I was coming through triumphant and strong with a new PR on a tough day, it was a strange feeling to finish with so much more to give in so many ways.  I have now had GI issues at mile 17/18 for three out of my last four marathons!  It is embarrassing but it is a reality for me.  One that I have to figure out how to correct.  Soon.

As I ran those last 3.2 miles, I began to reflect on the day already – on the race and on how I had handled all of it.  I felt proud of myself – there were so many moments during those last 8 miles when I really could have thrown in the towel.  Goodness knows so much of me wanted to quit – GI issues are zero fun to deal with and losing so much time because of it was mentally SO HARD for me to deal with.  I wanted to hold my head up high though.  I told myself – just keep running – who cares how fast or how slow you have to go – just keep running.

Miles 24-26.2
8:22, 8:28, 8:40

When I crossed the finish and made it up past the medals, I saw Dorothy right away.  She gave me a huge hug and told me she was so proud of me.  It could not be a bad day, no matter how hard it was.  I PR’d on a tough day – I toughed it out – and I should be proud.  And I was.

friends in running & in life

No marathon is ever easy.  They are ALL hard.  Harder than hard.  But no matter how you do – no matter what the time on the clock is when you cross the finish line – you are triumphant.  You come out of it a stronger person.  You learn things about yourself and about your character.

On Sunday I learned that I can endure pretty much anything.  That perspective matters more than you realize most days.  Reality is always going to be whatever it is going to be, but we make choices every day about how we see it and about how we deal with it.

I am proud of the way that I handled things on Sunday.  I finished the race in 3:25:20.  This was a 9 minute PR for me and 16 minutes faster than I ran the same course one year ago.  It was my 10th marathon.  I was the 115th female to cross the finish and 13th in my age group.

I am grateful for and proud of those stats, but MUCH more than that I am beyond grateful for my journey in life, and for the fact that running marathons is a part of the path I am choosing to take.

what crazy looks like: marathons 2 weeks apart

This is what life is like after you run a marathon and as you get ready to run another marathon 2 weeks later.  I signed up for the Richmond Marathon several months ago.  I haven’t been talking about it much because, to be honest, I know it is all sorts of crazy and I wanted to see how I was feeling after MCM before making any major decisions about what to do.  After assessing how my body feels and also talking with Dorothy who just did marathons two weeks apart, I have decided that crazy as it may be, I am going to go for it.
I’m really excited to go to Richmond on Friday.  My sister Jodi is racing it too and we are going to have so much fun.  I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I am to hang out with T and G and to meet the rest of their amazing “posse” that I enjoy hearing about so much on their blogs.  I don’t have a race plan just yet.  My main goals for the race right now are to (1) enjoy myself and (2) listen to my body and not push too hard — no injuries allowed!

So, as I get ready to do this crazy thing I want to document what these two weeks are looking like for me:
 
Recovery Week:

Last week I did a whole lot of nothing.  Recovery was my middle name and I took it very seriously.

What my recovery week looked like:

  • Ice Bath:  After getting home from the race, I hopped in an ice bath and chilled myself out for about 20 minutes.  It was cold, but necessary.  I filled the tub with cool water, put on my fleece jacket, hopped in and then Robert dumped tons of ice into the tub.  Brrrrr.  We set the timer for 20 minutes and I distracted myself by chatting with him and playing on my phone.  After the 20 minutes were over, I got myself into a nice warm shower and then dressed my three kids up for some Halloween fun as we paraded around our neighborhood that afternoon.  It was good to move my legs and I was still on a major high from the morning’s race and my major PR. 
  • Yummy Food: That night we had all of my family over and pigged out on pizza.  I later had my favorite dessert of Soy Creamy Vanilla ice cream (from Trader Joe’s, yummmm) topped with peanutbutter cups.  Deliciously sinful and hard-earned.  I am not kidding when I tell you that during those last miles of the marathon I was seriously dreaming about that meal and my dessert.  Whatever gets you to the finish line, people!
  • Self Massage:  After dinner and getting everyone to bed I had a romantic date with my foam roller and Tiger Tail stick.  It hurt and I could feel some pretty major knots in my quads and hammies but I got through it.  I am a firm believer in the benefits of myofascial release techniques.  My “torture devises” as I fondly call them, all reside permanently in my living room.  In the weeks leading up to MCM and all last week while recovering I dedicated myself to a minimum of 20 minutes massaging out my muscles even if they weren’t feeling particularly tight or sore.  After MCM the main culprits for me were my hamstrings and quads, but I also made sure to roll out my IT Bands, calves, shins and the bottoms of my feet.  By the end of the week I was feeling really good and stretchy.
  • Movement:  I didn’t go for any runs all week until Saturday, but as a mom of three I didn’t sit around on the couch all week either.  Walking my daughter to and from school, chasing after a very active, crawling baby and doing my normal chores around the house kept me plenty busy all week. 
The Weekend:

By Saturday I was feeling good and VERY ready for a run.  Especially mentally – I missed my outlet and craved a run.  Saturday morning I hit the trail for 8 beautiful miles.  I felt strong and was happy that I maintained an average pace of 8:43/mile with ease and comfort.  It was a lovely way to return to running after my marathon.  After my run I stretched and rolled and was feeling very good.  I took the day off on Sunday and spent the morning watching the NYC Marathon on TV, following runners on my computer and tweeting up a storm – it was a blissful way to spend a Sunday morning!  I love this sport called running.

NYC Marathon on the TV, runner tracking on the laptop and my cute baby eating lunch
This Week:

I am treating this week just like any other taper week.  Even though my legs are feeling fresher and I’m itching for a run, I am going to take it very easy.  The week before MCM I ran a total of 9.5 miles all week.  I will not do any more than that this week, possibly even fewer miles.  I am going to hydrate like crazy, sleep as best I can and continue to have those regular dates with my foam roller.  The marathon is on Saturday morning so we will head to Richmond on Friday mid-day. 

As the week progresses, I am going to think more and more about how I plan to actually run the race.  I am really excited about my Spring marathon (March 17 – Rock n Roll USA here in DC) and I’m intending to get my BQ at that race so I want to make sure that I head into that training cycle feeling strong, rested and confident.  Training begins in December so after Richmond I will be easing up A LOT for a solid few weeks before starting a new training cycle. 

I know the decision to run Richmond 2 weeks after MCM is insane.  As a coach I would not advise people to do this – but let’s face it we are runners and the sheer nature of being a runner and running marathons at all is a bit crazy if you ask me.  Sometimes we do things for emotional reasons….and this is one of those times for me.  I am going to do it and do it in the smartest way possible.  But trust me, I do know that I am crazy.

Have you ever run back-to-back marathons before?  Have you ever made a “crazy” decision with regards to your racing schedule?  Tell us about it!

MCM 2011: The Recap

I’ll tell you right now, this is going to be a long one…

I woke up on Sunday morning at 3:30am.  The alarm was set for 4:04 (4s and 44s are special numbers in my life), but baby Gus woke me up earlier than that so I nursed him, put him back to sleep and decided it was time to get ready.  Though it was a half hour earlier than I was planning to wake up I was actually relieved because it meant I could nurse the baby and not worry about pumping before heading out the door.  He went back to sleep in his crib easily and I tiptoed back to my room to get ready for my 8th marathon.

I laid my clothes out the night before and had everything ready to go.  It was going to be a cold one – a high in the low 40s at the finish of the race and temps only just in the 30s at the start – so I decided to wear my lululemon capris instead of my running skirt.  I also had my Saucony arm sleeves, my awesome new Saucony beanie, and my lululemon tank.  It was the perfect outfit.

race day outfit ready to go!

Also, my simply AMAZING niece, Ellie, made me an awesome name tag to wear for the race.  In years passed I have tried different things: colored duct tape with my name on it, writing on my clothes with permanent marker, and even ironing on my name.  But this year I had not yet raced wearing my name because all of the above methods either didn’t stay on or ruined my article of clothing.  This year I’ve opted to wear my lululemon running tanks (which I feel strong and comfortable in) instead of wearing my name on a shirt I don’t care about.  Ellie came up with a new plan for me.  She is 14 years old and very artistic and creative.  She used a piece of old white fabric and puffy pens and made me a name tag that I easily attached to my shirt with safety pins.  It was perfect.  I was excited and thankful especially for this race because none of my family was going to be able to be on the course to cheer me on and I knew it would be helpful to hear my name from spectators.

purely awesome name tag made by a purely awesome niece

When I went into my bathroom to get ready for the race, I noticed that Robert had left me a little “love note” next to the sink.  He must have made this when I was sleeping the night before.  Right away, my race day nerves were calmed and I had a huge smile on my face.  Robert has supported me always and he has sacrificed a lot to help me achieve my dreams.  I do not know how to tell you how much he means to me – how thankful I am to live this life with him by my side and in my heart.  He is the most loving, caring, giving, creative and supportive person I have ever known.

everyone could use a q-tip love note!

After getting dressed I headed downstairs for my morning routine – a little coffee, a banana, a luna bar.  A glass of water.  My sister Jodi texted me: “Hip Hip Hooray, Today is OUR day!”  We were both so excited the day we had been training for for months had finally arrived.  At about 5:00am our buddy Paul (who was dressed up as Elvis for the race!) picked up Jodi and my dad and then me.  We were on our way to the race!  All of us were feeling good and giddy with excitement.

We planned to drive to Rosslyn which is right near the Finish Line.  This race is an extremely well organized event, but I did not want to deal with the Metro crowds again.  There are LOTS of parking garages in Rosslyn with plenty of spaces and you do not even have to pay to park there on race day morning.  If you don’t have to check a bag, I highly recommend parking in Rosslyn so your car is nearby when you finish the race.  It is easy to walk to the start from there.

Jodi, my dad and me

We were the only car in that garage until our friend Justin met us there.  When Justin arrived, we all made sure we had everything we needed, took some goofy pictures, and then headed on our way to the nearest Starbucks (a few blocks away) so we could use the bathroom in warmth one last time.  I have gone to this Starbucks before race starts before – they are so super friendly there and are happy to share their bathroom.  At least they act happy anyways!  It is way better than the porta potties, though of course I had to use those before heading to the start, too!

It was cold and dark outside and there were definitely some icy spots on the streets.  We were all dressed in warm throw-away layers (I had on an old pair of fleece pants and a sweatshirt, gloves and hand warmers).  We met our training buddies and coaches at the Carillon Bells and then by 7:30 we all walked to the race start.  The sun was rising as we walked down the hill that we would later have to muster every bit of strength to run up to reach the Finish Line.  It was beautiful and surreal.

The energy in the air was amazing – so vibrant yet so calm.  I gave my sister, my father and my friends hugs and we all wished one another a great race and then went to our starting spots.  This race doesn’t do a wave start or assign corrals, but it works out smoother than most races I have ever run.  There are signs with projected finish times.  I went to the 3:20-3:40 section.  My dream for today was to run to the very best of my ability, which I believed to be under a sub-3:40.  Putting myself in the right section to start took courage and belief in myself.  I giggled at the thought of knowing that this was where I belonged because I had worked to hard to get here.

I said a prayer and looked up at the sky and smiled.  I was going after my dream and I knew in my heart that God was with me.  No matter what the time on the clock, this was going to be a wonderful day.  At that moment I turned my head and who did I see but my dear friend Dorothy only yards away!  I’m sure many of you read Dorothy’s blog and that you find her very inspiring just like I do.  She happens to be one of my very best friends in addition to being a runner I admire.  Dorothy has encouraged me, advised me, inspired me and believed in me in so many ways.  When I saw her before the start I was so thankful – I rushed over to give her a quick hug and then zipped back to my section before the start.  A hug and a smile from a best friend who completely believes in you and “gets” you on marathon day is more valuable than words can say!!  Also, Dorothy was running the race with a good friend of hers who happens to be a favorite blogger of mine, Lauren from Health on the Run.  I was giddy to get to meet Lauren in person!  It was so neat to be with them before the race start, if only for a moment!

Minutes after getting to my section again, the start gun went off and it took just about 2 minutes for me to cross the starting line.

My race had begun.

The first several miles of this race are HILLY.  That, combined with the fact that I wanted to start out conservatively anyway, meant that I wanted to run the first few miles of the race at much slower than goal pace.  I wanted my average pace for the race to be somewhere between an 8:15-8:20, so I should have run the first couple of miles closer to an 8:45 or even 9:00 pace.

It just didn’t happen that way.

Miles 1-13:
8:11, 8:28, 8:04, 7:36, 8:13, 8:02, 8:30, 8:18, 8:04, 7:59, 8:13, 8:18, 8:16

I was aware that I was running faster than I planned, but I was feeling very relaxed and even on the hills my pace felt so comfortable.  I was mentally and emotionally so strong and calm.  When I arrived in Georgetown somewhere in the 9th mile I was just gliding through the race, soaking it all in.  When I hit Haines Point and the halfway mark I decided not to speed it up though.  I knew I had made a rookie mistake possibly going out too fast though I felt good and I didn’t want to risk bonking later in the race by speeding it up.  I was now going for even splits instead of negative splits.  I was fine with that – I knew I could hang on to this.  My stomach was fine and my nutrition plan was going great.  Things were working in my favor.

The next 5 miles continued to feel great as we ran along the National Mall and around some of my very favorite monuments…

Miles 14-19
8:15, 8:16, 8:22, 8:19, 8:27, 8:06

Then, we came to the 14th Street Bridge.  It was a loooooooong, gradual hill.  It is quiet on that bridge.  Nothing but the sounds of footsteps and people dropping like flies stretching out cramps, walking.  I have run this bridge several times and I always hate it.  I was determined to not let it get to me.  As I approached it I told myself I would hold strong.  I would be in Crystal City soon and there would be spectators and fun happening there to distract me. But when I got to Crystal City around mile 22, I was NOT so excited about it.  I do not love this part of the race – there is an out-an-back loop and I could see everyone on my right getting ready to hit Mile 24 and I got quite pissy at them.  I couldn’t see the turn-around point and I knew it must be close but it just was not close enough!  These miles were hard for me.  But I kept going.

Miles 20-22
8:41, 8:30, 8:40

When I hit the Mile 23 marker I knew I was going to come so so close to hitting my BQ time of a sub 3:40.  That every second would count.  But I could not worry about it.  I decided to throw my handheld water bottle out at that point.  It was irritating me.  I also decided I would not look at my Garmin anymore. I kept telling myself “The best you can do is the best you can do” and reminded myself to be PROUD of my accomplishment no matter what the time on the clock was, BQ or no BQ I was running an incredible race.  I was not going to give up.

Miles 23-26
8:33, 8:38, 9:01, 8:43

I could feel my pace slowing but I did not stop.  My legs were feeling heavy so I just stopped thinking about them.  I focused on my arms and my posture and just.kept.going.

My watch beeped at 26 miles a few minutes before I hit the 26 mile marker.  I peeked at it and knew at that point that I would not BQ today.  I still had more than a half mile to run and I was going to just barely miss my BQ time.

When I passed the 26 mile marker, and saw THE HILL up ahead of me I was determined to give it everything I had in me.  This hill is a MONSTER, you guys.  It is steep and it is brutal.  You can see the Finish Line but it is soooo much farther away than you think it is.  My quads were like jelly.  Everything burned and everything hurt.  As I plodded up that hill I heard my mother’s voice: “Jessica!  You are so beautiful honey!  You are doing it!!!  GO!!  I am so proud of you!”  Or at least that’s what I think she said.  She was right there, I could have reached out and touched her.  I wanted to just collapse into her arms in that moment.  I could not even say hi to her though.  If I stopped there, I would not have made it up the rest of the hill.  So I kept going and I crossed that finish line.

I finished the race in 3:41:56.  A 28 minute PR.  Less than 2 minutes from a BQ.

After I got through the finish chute a very nice Marine gave me my amazing medal.  It is the most beautiful race medal I have ever earned.  These are not great pictures of it, but it is incredible.  The middle part rotates – it is impressive!

I made my way towards the spectator area and heard Robert call my name.  I have never been so happy to see him!  He was there with baby Gus!  My wonderful niece Ellie stayed home with our two older children so that Robert could come meet me at the Finish.  Again, another reason I am so grateful for my sweet niece.

As soon as I got to Robert he gave me the biggest hug and told me how proud he was of me.  I was so happy, so in awe of what I had just done, and yet to be honest I was also still trying to process the fact that I had come just SO CLOSE to my BQ.  I wanted to qualify for Boston so badly and there was this piece of me that was sad that I hadn’t gotten it that day.

I knew though that I could not let that take me down.  Just as I had to move through my pain in order to keep going in those final miles, I had to move passed those feelings of disappointment about not BQ’ing so that I could celebrate and enjoy what I had just accomplished!  There was no other option in my opinion.  I was going to celebrate my race!

Not too long after that, Robert got a text to his phone that my sister Jodi had finished.  Jodi PR’d also with a 3:56:23 — 16 minutes faster than her last marathon!  When I saw her we were both all smiles – laughing and crying at the same time and jumping for joy on the sorest and most tired legs ever. 

happy marathon sisters

 
We made our way over to the massage area – this was something neither of us had ever done before and we both wanted to give it a shot.  I had two people working on me at one time, for free.  Seriously?!?  Thank you very much, MCM.

When I got home I took an ice bath and then a shower.  My neighborhood was having our annual Halloween parade that afternoon at 4:00 and my kids were anxious to get dressed in their costumes and have some candy.  The parade is a .75 mile loop walk around my neighborhood.  This is the same loop I ran on when I first returned to running after having baby Gus.  He will be 9 months old tomorrow.  I could not think of a better way to begin my marathon recovery than to walk this loop with my beautiful family that afternoon.

After we paraded around the neighborhood we all celebrated in the park for a little while.  It was such a incredible day for me, filled with more blessings than I can count.  I feel like I have been floating ever since…

If I can do it, so can you

MCM 2011

Yesterday I ran my fastest marathon by 28 minutes.

Time on the clock: 3:41:56.

I was 414th out of 8,530 female runners.  My name was even in the Washington Post this morning (they published the top 500 men and top 500 women).  This may sound silly, but when Robert showed it to me I jumped across the kitchen (sore legs and all), giddy with excitement, to see.  My kids cheered for me and it was a really happy moment for all of us.  I was beaming.  Still am.

I will save this forever.

I can’t wait to tell you guys all about the race and I will post a full recap soon.  I gave it every bit I had in me.  To do the story justice and describe my feelings will be hard – almost as hard as the race itself – because it was just that incredible.  I will be on my marathon high for a long long time.

In case you’re wondering, I did not qualify for Boston.  I missed it by less than 2 minutes.  I’m not upset.  I’m not disappointed.  I KNOW I did my very best yesterday and I also KNOW – without a sliver of a doubt – that I will get that BQ and then some. 

In the past 6 months I have PR’d in every race distance I have run – the 5k, 10k, 10 miler, half marathon and two significant marathon PRs (both in the last month and a half).  I have shaved a total of 54 minutes and 13 seconds off of my marathon PR.  I am not done.  My journey continues.

My first marathon was a 5:21:20.  My slowest marathon was a 5:34:26, almost 2 hours slower than yesterday.  That was before I had any of my three kids, when I was in my early and mid-twenties, almost 10 years ago.  Yesterday was the first time I have ever even broken the 4 hour barrier.  It was my 8th marathon.  Go look at my Race History if you haven’t already.  I want you to look at it because I want you to understand that my journey as a marathoner has been just that: a journey.  And that is where I find my joy.

I hope that you read this and that it inspires you to BELIEVE in yourself.  That it inspires you to DREAM and to not give up on those dreams, not ever.  If I can do this, you can too.

MCM Expo

It is freeeeezing and sleeting outside as I write this.  I’m feeling pretty thankful that today is NOT marathon race day and that the weather forecast for tomorrow looks nothing like this.  It is supposed to be cold tomorrow (a high in the upper 40s), but the sun will be shining apparently.  I really hope things thaw out before tomorrow’s run.  After months of training in high heat and humidity, it should be interesting to run in such cold temperatures.

I went to the MCM expo yesterday with my sister Jodi, my dad and baby Gus.  My father is running the marathon too – he is visiting us from Maine and this will be his third marathon!

I am so so SO happy we went to the expo yesterday and not today.  The expo for MCM is at the DC Armory which is a good 35 minute drive from where I live.  I had to squeeze the trip in between dropping off and picking up my son Will from preschool so we didn’t have much time to dawdle but it wasn’t too crowded thankfully and we were able to get our race packets with no problems at all.  Once we took care of that business, it was time for a little expo fun.  There were three additional stops I wanted to make:

1) NUUN: I was so excited to meet Jocelyn in person (http://www.enthusiasticrunner.com) and although I am already really stocked up on my nuun I also bought a tube of the elusive Kona Cola.  I had never tried it before and I’m not sure it’s my favorite but I wanted to buy a tube and see what my husband thinks.  He has become a bit of a nuunie, too these days.  Sometimes I have a hard time sharing with him.

2) BROOKS: Getting to meet Melody (http://www.willrunformargaritas.com) in real life was super fun.  I am amazed by how you can feel like you really know someone who you have never actually met in person.  I loved chatting with her and am so happy we don’t live far from one another!

Can I just say here that I am super annoyed with myself for not taking pictures when I met these ladies?  Oh well – hopefully next time!!

3) SAUCONY:  I have been trying on and toying around with the idea of owning this beanie for over a week.  It’s funny – Dorothy even posted about it yesterday after I had decided it was going to be mine.  It is seriously the cutest hat and soooo comfy and warm.  I have possibly the most sensitive skin on the planet and this hat doesn’t itch me AT ALL.  I don’t normally run in hats unless I am really really cold.  The forecast for tomorrow is my idea of frigid though and since I am not wearing much on my body I think it will be smart to keep my head warm.  I bought the hat in black and orange (since the race is the day before Halloween, I am going to be in the holiday spirit!).

As for the rest of my race day outfit, I have learned that I need to wear less than I think I do.  So the plan is running skirt, tank, arm sleeves, hat and sunglasses.  I have some throw-away gloves and a sweatshirt I will wear for the first couple of miles until I start warming up.  My husband will have warm clothes for me at the finish.

The rest of the expo was spent helping my sister Jodi find some new sunglasses.  She got a great pair that she looks awesome in.  The sales guy at the booth also thought baby Gus was very cute and gave him a free pair of blue sunglasses.  He rocked the look pretty much perfectly:

he is always making me smile

Jodi also has been having some issues with her ankle and has been wearing KT tape when she runs.  Yesterday the folks working that booth were offering to actually tape people up so she took advantage of that and is all set and ready to run tomorrow!

So …. that’s it for the expo. I am running a marathon tomorrow!  I cannot wait!!