Almost Time

So everything is moving pretty quickly. All the sudden things snuck up on me and I realized that it’s almost time to move! Because it’s my life and all, nothing has gone according to plan and some pretty sharp curveballs were sent out way the past couple of weeks. But I’m ready to do whatever it takes to make this move work. Including…going on vacation next week! Hopefully we’ll do some more packing this weekend (we’re actually doing a pretty good job so far) and then I’m off to my family home in Newport. I’ll get some relaxing time to myself, see some family, and pay tribute to my Uncle Phil who will finally the East Coast remembrance he deserves.

My exercise routine has been all over the place recently. Seeing that we live in a swamp, the weather has been tortuous (hot and humid to the 100th degree). Because of the stress in my life, I’ve been itching to run a lot. But even my nighttime runs outside at 9pm are still dreadfully hot (we’re talking in the 90’s). I’m getting ridiculously bored in the gym, to the point where I’m alternating between the bike and elliptical in the same hour because I can’t stand being on either (I do enjoy the bike but with my frame – well there’s not a whole lot of cushioning and after 30 min my butt gets real sore). But I’m trying to remind myself that in a few weeks I will no longer have a full gym, downstairs. I’ll have to take a bus to get to a gym. So I might as well make good use of it now.

On one of my recent night runs I decided to stop off at a middle school I pass and see if there was a track. I don’t know why I haven’t done this sooner. There is in fact a track, a nice one too, and man, my feet were so happy to be off that hard concrete and on a rubber track. So the next night I got the “brilliant” idea to stop off there once more, run a mile, and then go barefoot. Which was pretty interesting. My feet turned black. And my toenail finally came off. But I really enjoyed myself. I’m only doing half a mile at time. I don’t want to push myself too much. But it’s interesting how much my form transforms. Mid-strike is perfect. Knees are better. Stride is shorter and much easier to contain. But most of all it was fun. And it makes me look forward to trying many more new things, fun things like exploring a new city on foot.

Below is a video Pete took of me running barefoot on the treadmill in our gym. I’m actually on the balls of my foot more than I usually am, but I think that’s because there’s a slight incline on the TM. Pete tried to coach me. I tried to resist his coaching, even though he *usually* knows what he’s talking about. So don’t mind the convo.

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Born to Run

There’s something so universal about that sensation, the way running unites our two most primal impulses: fear and pleasure. We run when we’re scared, we run when we’re ecstatic, we run away from our problems and run around for a good time. – Born to Run

So, as I mentioned in the last post I just finished Born to Run by Christopher McDougall. And wow. Loved it. I don’t know why I haven’t read it sooner. Well maybe I do. I have an affliction to trendy books. I don’t know why. It’s kind of a stupid, elitist thing. So when this book came out and became the most buzzed about book in all the running circles, I decided to stay away. But obviously I didn’t stay away forever and I’m very happy I decided to give it a shot.

First impressions: I highly prefer to read non-fiction, love reading a journalist’s writing, and I like books that take on an anthropological view. Oh, and it’s about running, which is kind of my thing, so how bad could it be. Second impression once I began reading it: Man did it take on a million directions. Like I said, I love journalistic writing, but this seemed like one ADD reporter if you asked me. But I trusted him. I trusted that he was taking me on a journey and setting me up for something. And I liked that this “something” was something that I didn’t see coming. Looking back I realize that maybe it was somewhat obvious, but for me, the moment I was totally hooked was when I realized “Shaggy” was Caballo.

Before I go into anything else, let me just say that while I’m still slightly skeptical, I’m becoming more and more sold on the idea of barefoot/minimalist running. So much so that I intend to begin a slow regiment of barefoot running in Newport next month, being extremely mindful that this is something that should be done gradually. And I’m not ruling out the Vibram Five Fingers being a part of my future. Pete’s brother has them and seems to love them. But I’d like to hear from some women who wear them first. The arguments the book makes are very compelling. And as someone who has been battling injuries, much of what is said about shoes and form really speaks to me. For example, until it was pointed out to me I never noticed that I’m a little “knock-kneed”. When I run my knees brush past each other on almost every stride, and even when I’m walking I have noticed it happening as well. But without shoes? Nope, not so much.

Vibram FiveFingers

But ok, with my support and interest clearly stated, I must say that there are a few counter arguments I have. I guess the first regarding ultramarathoning: I simply don’t think just anyone can run an ultra as is implied (even though I know he’s not saying that ANY person RIGHT NOW can run one). I’m just saying that there are certain things that I believe takes super-special athletic ability and that’s one of them.

I also don’t think that barefoot running is for everyone, or that running shoes affect every person’s stride in a negative way or any way at all. Listen, I recognize in the tone of the book that he’s not arguing that does. I just felt that there was way too much generalization being made. What worked for him, doesn’t necessarily mean that it will work for everyone. I think the arguments are there, I think the examples and evidence are there, but I can’t help but think that it’s all that simple. But maybe it is.

One thing that I thought was interesting was a little anecdote he told about a great ultra runner who loved to run in his old sneakers. Then he went and tried to buy new shoes and it didn’t turn out well. So he went back to his old shoes that had hundreds and hundreds of miles on them, but didn’t cause him any injury. Well I guess first of all this seems to me to be an example of an individual story and not something that can necessarily translate to the general population. It’s like the line from He’s Just Not That Into You: You’re not the exception, you’re the rule. BUT, let me just point out this: I began running 4 years ago. I had no idea what I was doing really. I bought a random pair of New Balance xtraining sneakers and for almost three years I ran 3 miles on the treadmill, seven days a week. But then I decided I wanted to become more serious. So I bought a new pair of shoes, followed a training plan, and voila…I became a much better runner; and a distance runner at that. But let’s also put this in perspective: I haven’t been able to run seven days a week in who knows when. I’m constantly injured. I feel like I barely run anymore. I’ve been to a million specialists, had my feet examined, bought shoes that are supposed to help me, ect. It’s pathetic, but running 3 miles at a 10 min pace, seven days a week seems like I dream I could never reach. And so I have to wonder, what if I went back to those old beat up New Balance cross trainers…hmn.

Last point because I know this is getting a little long: A lot of people say Born to Run is a book about barefoot running. It certainly is. It craftily weaves science with storytelling. But I think there’s a whole other element of the book which, to me, was even more powerful: The joy of running, which is ultimately the greatest lesson we can learn from the Tarahumara. I love the stories about ultra runners, really good ultra runners, seeing the Tarahumara pass them at some un-godly mile, laughing and smiling. Of course they were tired. But their ability to enjoy running, their joyfulness, is what makes them the greatest runners on Earth.

I feel like I’ve left a substantial amount of information out, so I urge you all to go pick up a copy and read for yourself about the wonderful runners in the Sierra Madres.

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A Summer’s Day in VA Wine Country

It’s been very busy lately, but I’m hoping that the next two weeks will be slightly calmer. After that, well then it’s crunch time because we’re moving really really soon.

I’ve been running *a lot* lately. A lot for me at least. Considering I haven’t been able to run consistently in the past year, it’s been wonderful to get out there and run 3-4 miles a couple times a week. There’s no pressure on these runs, which makes it nice. And I love how it’s been so light out lately, because it means I can do my 9pm runs outside. I learned this past winter that for some reason I really enjoy running at night. Not just the time – I already know my body is better in the evenings – but in the dark. Of course where I live it is never exactly dark and that’s cool with me. I live on a very well lit street, run on the sidewalk, and there are always people out biking or walking their dogs at that hour. Still, it’s the allusion of night running that I really enjoy.

This weekend I picked up “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougal. I don’t know why I haven’t read this sooner. I’m almost done (I hate reading a good book so quickly) and have a lot to muse about. I know many people see the book as an ode to barefoot/minimalist running. And I do too. But I think it’s so much more than that. Not only is it an anthropological study, but above all it’s a testament to the virtuousness of running. More to come later.

For Pete’s birthday yesterday (summer solstice) we had a rare day together. I’m lucky if I see him for 15 minutes right before I fall asleep at night. We live and work on completely different schedules, and we have for a couple of years now. It’s been hard, but I think/hope we’re tougher for it. But yesterday we both took off from work and headed into western Loudon County, Purcellville to be exact, to visit some wineries. A few weeks ago we were talking about things we want to do in DC before we leave. The funny thing was that we couldn’t really think of much. Except for golf. Pete wanted to play on more courses. But after a few days it came to me: we’ve never been to Virginia wine country. Part of Pete’s job is to learn about wine. I know he’s taken a couple of courses and really enjoyed it. He loves that stuff. And considering I only drink wine, but am embarrassed my lack of knowledge in the area, this seemed like a perfect idea. Pete agreed.

Me and the Birthday Boy


It took about an hour to get there. Which really wasn’t that bad, especially since it was the same route I used to take to go ride Charlie. Not only is it wine country out there, it’s horse country. I of course have to point out every horse I see along the way, as if I’ve never seen a horse before. The first place we went to was called Breaux Vineyards. It got great reviews, but I’ll be honest: the New England girl in me was drawn to their logo of a lobster. Except that it wasn’t a lobster, I learned, but a crayfish. The winemaker was originally from Baton Rouge, so that made more sense. Because it was a Monday we were the only ones there, which was great because I could ask a million questions. This was by far my favorite winery, and I even bought a bottle for myself. Pete’s favorite was the 2008 Nebbiolo Ice …After the tasting we walked around and took in the gorgeous views.

Breaux Vineyards in Purcellville, Va

Our second stop was Hillsborough Vineyards. Another spectacular view. Only Pete partook in the wine tasting here (I was the one driving afterall), but he enjoyed it. Our pourer wasn’t as engaging as the first one we had though. So we sat outside for a little while and then decided to move on.

Our third and final stop was Sunset Hills. I felt like I was driving up to the stables going up their winding driveway. And sure enough, there were two barns! The one on the left for horses, and on the right was the winery. I of course said I’d go see the horse and meet up with Pete later, but he convinced me to come in with him. Out of the three this was the most bustling of places. There were several couples there for tastings, and the wine was delicious. I’m partial to Chardonneys, which seemed to be their specialty. The building/barn was incredible too. Totally added to the atmosphere. I expected someone to walk a horse down the aisle at any minute. As much as we enjoyed it here as well, I think what I really enjoyed about the first place was the variety of wines that they make and offer.

Oh, and I learned something about myself: Apparently I prefer wine that is from a stainless steel barrel. I don’t know if I’m phrasing that correctly though. Maybe, “I like steel barreled wine instead of oak barreled?” I guess if you know anything about wine you’ll know what I’m trying to say. All in all this was a wonderful day and I’m so glad we were able to get out and try something new.

2007 Jolie Blend Virginia Seyval Blanc

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G’bye Humid DC, Hello Hilly ‘burgh

It’s been a very busy few weeks, and I imagine it will only continue to become more hectic in my life. So I’ll do my best to update this blog, but it might be a bit sporadic.

Pete and I are moving to Pittsburgh in August. I think I’ve alluded to that here and there on this blog but now I’m finally allowed to come out and say it officially. I’m leaving my job that I enjoy, leaving the nation’s capital after more than 6 years (10 for Pete), and entering into years of debt. I sometimes think I’m crazy for doing this. But I’m also ready for this; ready to go back to school. Ready to change my career and probably change our lives quite a bit.

The day before my marathon in Pittsburgh we found a perfect house in Shadyside and signed a lease on the spot. The next step is to pack up our house here and find Pete a new job. I think Fox and Taz should pick up a part time job to help out, but they won’t hear any of it. The one thing that hasn’t quite sunk in yet, but I’m sure it will in no time, is that I will be running hills. A lot. Yikes.

Speaking of running, I haven’t done much in the past month. Just 2 miles here and there. Last Friday some things happened and I found myself at 8:30pm filled with anger and rage and way too much energy. So I said, “fuck it, I’m going for a run.” And I did. And it helped. I needed a release, and truth be told this is one of the reasons I began running in the first place. I know I’m not supposed to run much right now, but I felt like I had no choice. I had to run.

So how are my legs? Um, it’s hard to say. I have a lot less pain in every day life. But I don’t feel like I’m really ready to begin running again. I would like to continue with my Graston sessions but I don’t know if that will be able to happen. Why it costs so much money to stab me in the shins with metal utensils makes no sense to me.

Sorta random, but I also wrote a book review for Jon Krakauer’s “Where Men Win Glory”. You can read it here on my mother’s website.

Lastly, I won my first contest (ever!) a few weeks ago. I’ve literally never won anything. Of course I was upstaged later that week by Kate won multiple things throughout the week, the sweetest being front row VIP seats to Bethesda’s Front Row runway show, plus tons of swag (including autographed books, and a gym membership I think). I was lucky to be her guest but I wouldn’t let her forget that I won a $25 gift certificate from Swanson Vitamins thanks to Lauren!

So what did I get with my $25 gift certificate? Quite a lot actually. Their prices were extremely reasonable, and their selection online was vast. I didn’t know where to begin. After much thought (I’m not being sarcastic, I really spent a lot of time strategizing about how to use my big prize), I settled on 3 bottles of vitamins (calcium for my bones; B-12, and D), foot cream, and an all natural bone for Fox.

My Swanson Vitamins Prize

The vitamins I needed. I used to take a multivitamin but I’ll be honest, I haven’t kept up with that habit. So it’s time to go back and help my body out.

The foot cream, well if you’ve seen my feet then you understand. I have two black toes, one worse than the other but both are pretty bad. And wheras some people get black tonenails that then fall off after a few days, mine have been known to stay on for months. Just to add to my grossness, the soles of my feet are cracked, and in some places there’s blood a bunch of layers down that just hasn’t left since a blister first brought it out. Lovely, I know. So I finally figured that maybe it’s time. And you know what? I think it’s working a little. Every night I’ve been scrubbing my feet and putting on the lotion. It smells pretty funky (peppermint-ish) but I’ve noticed a difference. The cracks are beginning to close. 

And the bone? Well, when Fox remembers he’s a dog and that dogs play with bones he loves his new one. But sometimes he just doesn’t know what to do with it. Silly dog. Overall, I’m very impressed with Swanson Vitamins and encourage you all to check them out.

http://www.swansonvitamins.com/

Twitter @SwansonVitamins

Fox and his new bone

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Healing My Legs Through Torture: The Graston Technique

So I’ve been reluctant to share what I’m going through lately, simply out of fear that it won’t work. I’m still reluctant, and I truly hope I don’t jinx anything. But I figured that it’s time to talk about this procedure.

If you’ve read my blog before you’re fully aware of my persistent battle with shin pain. Stress fractures last summer. And then the fact that I’ve been plagued by shin splints for the past year. You’re probably thinking, “shin splints for a year?” I usually get a few responses when I tell people this, even though they don’t say it aloud I can tell what they’re thinking. 1)Shin splints don’t last a year. At worst maybe like 3 weeks. 2)They’ve had shin splints and yes they’ve been annoying but c’mon, they’re just shin splints. They’re not THAT bad. People usually nod, or say “that sucks” and move on, and I know they’re probably thinking I just have a really low threshold to pain. It’s because of these reactions that I’ve chosen to try and ignore the pain. But lets face it, I’m only running twice a week and am in pain constantly, even sitting at my desk. There may have been a day or two here and there that I’ve felt totally fine, but for the past year I have had this nagging pain in my lower legs.

When I met my current doctor at a open consultation seminar at my running store he told me to come in and he’d break up whatever was in my leg. I put it off for a few weeks, but went in last week for my first session. During my consultation he had concluded that there was an immense amount of scar tissue built up on my bone and that this needed to be pulled away and broken up. He also warned me, multiple times, that this was going to hurt…a lot. I told him “ok, fine”. But I don’t think he pegged me as someone who could handle the pain. Like most people, I think he doubted, ever so slightly, the level of my condition. He told me he would be using Active Release Technique (A.R.T.) and the Graston Technique.

A.R.T. is a “state of the art soft tissue system/movement based massage technique that treats problems with muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia and nerves.” http://www.activerelease.com/# I’m familiar with the technique. I’ve heard good things. And I’ve heard it hurts. But let me tell you, it has nothing on the Graston Technique. And lucky me, we’ve been primarily using the Graston Technique in all my sessions. This technique uses what I like to refer to as medieval torture instruments to break up the scar tissue.

During my first session, the doctor began working on my right leg first (my better side). He got about a minute into it and stopped and looked at me. “Wow. You’ve got a lot clumped in there. This must be really painful.” “Yes,” I replied. “And that’s my good leg.” When he began working the left one we started to hear a really weird noise. He once again stopped and looked at me, “you realize you have a lot of fluid in there? That’s not good. Can you hear it?” I said I had no idea it was there, and frankly didn’t understand why or how fluid could be there. He gave me a look, which I appreciate more than anything, that said, “I get it now. You really are in pain. This is real.” The danger with the fluid where it is, as most runners know, is compartment syndrome. I don’t want to get to that stage. And where on the right leg we’ll be able to make progress right away with ridding the scar tissue and fascia, I need to get this fluid out of my left leg.

Second session: When I get these procedures done I sit on the table, legs out in front, sitting up but leaning back on my wrists. And I’ll be honest: This Graston technique business hurts like hell. But I stay still. The doctor stops at one point and says, “you’re allowed to scream if you want. You can yell, scream, do whatever. I know this must hurt.” I said thanks but this actually works for me. We talked about it more today. I was telling him that I know it sounds weird but I actually need to meditate on the pain. I need to focus on it so strongly. That’s how I can get through it. Weird, I know. He said that that’s actually a response you see in a lot of endurance athletes. Which I guess makes sense. I’m actually proud of myself that I can hold it together like that. I mean, don’t get me wrong, if I stub my toe I scream and yell and curse the corner that jumped out at me. But unbearable pain like this? I’m stoic. When I told my mother about this she said that she’s the same way. I think we’re wired to remain strong and concentrated under immense pain and pressure. In fact, it never occurred to me that I could scream until he brought it up.

So I guess you’re wondering how this all happened and what do we do now. That’s what I was wondering at least. Yes, shin splints were probably the root of the problem. But this was injury on top of injury on top of injury that contributed to this amount of scar tissue. And it has to get broken up if I ever want to run, or even be pain free. This isn’t stuff that just goes away with time. As I’ve discussed before, I fit none of the characteristics of someone who is chronically affected by shin splints. My pronation is fine, everything is neutral. My arches are normal. My strike is fine. So what on earth is wrong with me? Well this doctor offered a suggestion that I hadn’t ever considered before, but makes perfect sense: I’m running with my lower leg. My power is coming from my calf and knee. My inability to do a proper squat began to confirm this theory. On Monday we’ll be working on my stride and re-learning how to run. In the meantime I’ve been working on my squats at home, icing like it’s my job, taking soothing baths in epsom salt, and I just purchased some compression socks that will hopefully help work this fluid up towards my heart and away from my foot.

I’m reluctant to share all of this simply because I’m afraid it won’t work. This is not a cheap process, and I would like to just quickly say that our health care system is extremely flawed. I’m extremely grateful to my mother who is helping me with this, and I can only hope that this is worth it. I hope it is, and I’m willing to do whatever it takes to help ensure that this process works. This past Monday left me in excruciating pain. The bruises on my leg back this up. But today wasn’t so bad. It still hurt while he was jabbing metal utensils into my flesh and scraping my bone, but I’m doing pretty well a few hours later. He said I should begin to notice a difference next week. Check back later, and hopefully it’ll be true.

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Shoes. OMG. Shoes

Got my race photos back! I’m beet red in them, but for the most part I don’t think I look as bad as I know I felt. Pete took a video of me finishing, and even in that I look like I’m a little tired but nothing out of the norm for someone who’s just run 13.1 miles. Except that I know I was in complete agony. Maybe my body knew I was being videotaped/photographed and instinctively pulled it together. If I figure out how to get the video posted here I will. I might have to ask Pete, which is ironic considering he’s totally not a tech person but I know he’s done it before for his blog, AStonesThrow09

Around mile 7 I think


Finish Line

I bought new shoes this weekend. Brooks Ghost 2. I had about 400 miles on my Asics Gel Nimbus 11’s, which I loved, but I decided after my race that it was time. I probably can still get a few more miles out of them – and I probably will. But after carrying around that extra weight in my feet from all the rain and puddles the week before, all I’ve been thinking about is getting my feet into something lighter. So I went to my running store, Georgetown Running Company in Chevy Chase and picked up these:

Brooks Ghost 2


I did a six-miler in them yesterday at Great Falls (C&O). I like the shoe. It’s a little different but not too much. I’m still using my Superfeet inserts. But my shins hurt. Both of them. Adding to my frustration was the general consensus at my running store that I do indeed have a neutral foot – no over or under pronation, and my arch is just fine. Which means that whatever is wrong with my shins can’t be easily blamed on the biomechanics of my feet and therefore can’t be that easily corrected. Ugh. I’m sure that part of it is because I’m in a different shoe so my feet have to get used to them. But that’s not enough of an excuse for me so I’ve decided it’s time to take a stronger course of action. On Wednesday I’m going in for a consultation to have Active Release Technique (A.R.T) used on my legs (is A.R.T. a verb or a noun? Can’t figure out how to use it exactly). I’ve done my research. I’ve already met the doctor. He’s already informed me it’ll be painful. I’ve already said, “fine, whatever. Just make the long-term pain stop”. I feel like I’ve been putting this off because I feel like it’s really my last stop. I don’t know how else to deal with my shin pain. Everyone seems stumped as to why it’s so bad with me and why it’s constant. I’m just hoping it really is just a ton of scar tissue that can be moved around. I’m ready. I just wish it wasn’t so expensive. Hopefully it’s worth it.

Oh, and if you haven’t seen Liam Kyle Sullivan’s video, Shoes, please do. It’s one of our favorites.

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Pittsburgh Half Marathon Race Report

Well, this was quite a race. It was a run that I didn’t prepare for. Not in the sense that I didn’t train enough. It was a mental race. I’m not quite sure if I won or lost it actually. And it was more physically demanding than I ever imagined. I finished the half marathon at 1:54:11. More than 14 minutes FASTER than my previous time a year before. But I collapsed seconds after crossing the finish line and was taken to the medical tents…but don’t worry, I still got a Smiley cookie.

Despite a grim forecast and higher temps than we all would’ve wanted, I was pumped Sunday morning. I was singing in the car and totally high and excited about the race. So much so that I couldn’t sit still in the car when we were stuck in traffic so I got out and walked the rest of the way to the convention center, leaving Pete to find parking. I was torn about what to do about pace groups. I wanted to run under 1:55 but I knew that was a pretty lofty goal. The only half marathon pace groups I saw online were 1:50 and 2:00 so I couldn’t figure out which to join. I know you’re supposed to start out slow, but I couldn’t resist the faster group. Afterall, I like to be pushed. In the end the starting line was so crowded that I had a hard time finding the right group. I settled next to the 8:35 min/mi marathon pace team.

Pre-Race at Dawn

The sky was overcast, and the air heavy, but when the starting gun went off I didn’t seem to pay much attention to the dark clouds above. I ran with the 8:35 group for a few miles, but I kept hearing people telling their leader that they were going too slow. But it was so crowded that it was difficult to meander in and out of people while keeping the group together. By mile 2 it began to pour. Shortly after that I left the group behind me. I had my Garmin on but I try really hard not to look at it too much. I don’t want to become obsessive about my pace. But maybe this time I should have. I think I was running too fast.

A few things that went wrong, physically: 1. I think I started too strong. I don’t think it was the downfall of me, but I definitly think it made an impact on my overall performance. 2. I didn’t expect the hills. Last years course wasn’t very hilly. At all. But I guess they changed the course and it is my own fault for not having looked at it closely enough. When I train on hills with my group we push hard up and recover down. It’s pretty standard. So I’m used to that. But here’s the thing, we do two maybe three hills over the course of six miles. All the sudden I’m pushing up a hill, recovering for a minute and then pushing up another, then recovering as I go around a turn and then going up another. One hill after the other. It began to wear down my legs. By the end of the course I would tell myself “Last hill…this is the last one.” I would put all my thoughts and hopes on that “last” hill. And then another came along. 3. Pete pointed this last one out to me today and I think he’s right. It was pouring out there and I ran through a bunch of puddles. That’s just what happens. My shoes became really heavy and carrying around and extra 2lbs in your feet did not help my legs recover from the bridges.

I began to encounter some problems around mile 7, but everything would change at mile 9. At that point I was beginning to shuffle. People started to pass me. When I saw the number “9” I saw “omg i still have 4 more miles” instead of, “one more, and then three more”. My mind began it’s slow battle.

Post-race...I made it

I’ve heard people talk about mind games and exhaustion and cramping before. Hell, I’ve had some really tough runs over the years. But now I get what people are talking about. It was brutal. I couldn’t get control and I couldn’t focus. I’m well aware that these races are like 70% mental. And I tried to keep telling myself that but it didn’t work. I couldn’t grab hold of a mantra. I couldn’t really grab hold of any thoughts. All time goals went out the window. I just wanted to finish. And I didn’t want to walk. That was the only thing that seemed to stick. Don’t walk. I would pick up the pace a bit and then slow back down. I was already huffing and puffing. Now I began grunting. And talking aloud. “Don’t walk” I kept saying aloud. I knew that if I didn’t walk, and I finished, that I would be proud of myself. But if I walked I would have nothing to show for myself. So I kept shuffling. Barely. The 8:35 pace team that I had left in the dust an hour earlier came up and passed me. I was moving so slowly that they were out of my sight line real quickly. My eyes were now closed quite a bit. The rain stung and I couldn’t bare to look ahead at how many miles I had left. I was begining to feel defeated. How did I go from being on top of the world a few hours earlier to this.

If I could have produced tears I probably would have. At mile 11 a guy ran up beside me. “Are you ok?” he asked. “No, I’m really tired,” I mustered. “Do you need help?” he said, referring to medics. “No, I’m tired.” I didn’t want intervention. Or I did, but not yet. “Are you a runner?” he asked. “Yes,” I said, nodding my head. “Ok. Runners run through pain. You can do this. Good luck.” And with that he kept running. So did I. His words helped a bit, but I found myself slowing back down. I had started to recognize the course from last year but then it changed. And there was no one along the streets cheering. I know now that was because there was a bomb scare at the finish line, and the course was moved and the finished line moved as well. Which meant less people cheering at the spot I needed them the most.

Right before mile 12 a girl in a black tank top came up to me. I think she first asked how much longer. I had the watch so I told her we were almost at 12. I owe everything to this girl. She was the one who got me to the finish line. I wish I could repay her somehow. She talked to me. I told her I was going to stick next to her if she didn’t mind. And that I didn’t want to walk. She said that’s ok. I grunted…a lot. I started saying “just a few more minutes. Just a few more minutes,” aloud. At one point I almost stopped, and fell back a few feet behind her. When I looked up I saw her hand motioning for me to rejoin her. So I did. When the finish line came in sight I said “go” and she sped up a bit in front of me. I wanted to so badly to walk, but I didn’t.

I ran right over the finish line, stopped, and then got really dizzy. I reached out in front of me and grabbed the girl-in-the-black-tank-top’s shoulder and then fell to my knees. Thank you to all the volunteers that morning. Really, they were just wonderful. A woman caught me and grabbed me up and told me to keep moving; I wasn’t allowed to stop. She was taking me to the medical tent. An officer quickly came and grabbed my right arm as she grabbed my left, and they led me through the crowds. When I got to the tent they asked me if I knew where I was. I said, yes. I finished! They put a cold towel around my shoulders and took care of me. I was dizzy and crampy, but within a few minutes my heart rate came down to 85 and I started to feel much better. They stretched me out, and were so helpful and kind and really, I couldn’t have been placed into better hands.

I’m still reflecting and I think there’s a lot to learn from this race. I don’t want to be fearful of running. I don’t want to be afraid of doing another race and having an experience like this again. Just like in riding, I need to get back on the horse. So I will. I’m thrilled about my time. I still have no idea how that happend. But I’m more happy that I didn’t walk. Simply that I finished…And got my smiley cookie of course.

Smiley Cookies!

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