Saturday, April 30, 2016

Spreaglet's Getting Big

Mom life is center stage around here these days.  With the big move, I have had an increase in travel, single parenting, and making our days work.  I dream of big training and racing.  I really do.  I feel it coming for me right around the corner.  But for now, it is all family, family, and family.  (Sometimes I sandwich a 30 min run between work and daycare pickup.  I am trying to keep something going during this transitional time!  And while I hate to dream and not take action, I know this downtime is probably exactly what I need!) Here are the latest snaps of #Spreaglet :)
 
Parenting fail- Isla got a hold of my makeup...the expensive powder kind Sephora (thanks to my generous sister).  It was all over her and the floor.  But so cute too!
Whose child is this?  My girlie girl picked out her own accessories and a purse before going to a party.
We had some good days picking blackberries at Mema's house.  
My animal lover explored the duck area at City Park.  
I gave her a full ice cream cone for the first time (a bit of bribery for a good ride from New Orleans to Memphis).  I can't believe she didn't get it everywhere.  
I took Isla to the showing of "Kiss the Rock" featuring my friend Billy, 10 x Hard Rock 100 finisher.  
All of the other kids were quiet and calm...but not mine, as usual.  She was running around, wrestling me, melting down.  And, we left little early, as usual, when the battery ran down to zero.  My sister said the other day that no one posts about their kids acting up, melting down, misbehaving, etc..  Well, let me just say, and anyone that has been around us can attest:  my child is work.  She is awesome, but she is not an easy going, chill child.  She is full on, wants what she wants, and throws fits constantly.  I don't even flinch anymore when she throws herself on the ground of a restaurant because she pottied four hours ago and doesn't feel like going again.  Isla is brilliant, kind, beautiful, smart, loving, and amazing.  She is also headstrong and can whine with the best of them.  So, for all of those parents needing reassurance from other parents- here it is!  You are not alone.  

But- the coolest thing we have done lately...horseback riding lessons!!!  Aunt Bekah gave us some horseback riding lessons for Christmas.  The instructor did not think Isla, at 2-years-old, would get on a horse and complete a session.  Well....she is my child after all! Here are pictures from her first lesson. (And boy do I really, really need a camera.  My old broken phone camera is no good!)


I knew all of those nail painting sessions at home would pay off.  
First lesson- learning to sit tall and stop a horse without help.  
And not sure how this happened, but my 2-year-old practiced the jump position.  Seriously??!!!  
My horse girl



And then we had lesson #2

Ready to ride!
Blurry pic of my girl having fun.
Isla practicing her up/down position with trotting.
Oh, a 2-year-old on bareback- why not?  
We invited her cousin to come watch the horses, but he wanted to just play in the puddles.  Of course that is where we ended up too.  

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Boston Marathon 2016

Well, the Boston Marathon IS all it is cracked up to be.

I wasn't overly impressed with the expo and pre-race activities.  I mean, the expo was decently big.  There was a lot of overpriced Adidas clothing, which I bought.  And basically you got a race shirt in your bag like every other race.  I was sort of expecting this huge bag of goodies, lots of handouts from booths, etc.  But, really, it felt like just another race...with lots of serious people, but not that special.


But then #MarathonMonday happens.  And from the moment I lined up for the buses, I became impressed.  The logistics of shuttling 30,000 people to the race start of a 26.2 mile point to point race is pretty gnarly.  Gina was absolutely giddy as we made our way to the buses.  Her enthusiasm was awesome!

Ever want to know how far 26.2 miles is really?   Drive it right before you run it to get the full effect. It is a little scary.

And then we entered Athlete's Village, and I continued to be impressed.  The first thing we noticed were the military men on the roofs of the the buildings with their sniper rifles.  That was a little sobering, but also pretty awesome to know that you were cared for in a very serious way.  And the village is just this sea of people waiting for their wave to be called.  Gina and I basically stood in the bathroom line the entire time.  It took 25 minutes to get to the front of the line, so by the time we peed, we figured we might as well just get in line again.  We were able to go 2 times before it was time for us to walk to the start.

And I felt the sun.

And this is an important point to the day.  While Boston was calling for 60 degree weather with a headwind, it was in the 70s where we started with full sun and a ENE wind.  I pay attention to things like wind- direction, force, etc.  It was dry and hot.  Not THAT hot, mind you.  I have raced in 90 degree weather many times, even for a full Ironman.  70 doesn't compare.  It wasn't that bad.  But, I still know what heat can do to a race, and you have to respect the sun.  I felt the sun from the moment we got off of the buses and immediately started looking for sunscreen.  I KNEW this would play a huge part in the day.  The thing about my longer triathlons is that I am racing in the middle of the day, so I know what burning skin can do to your race.  Your body can only fight so many things at once.

And, I really think this blew apart races for so many people that didn't respect it.   I don't think this was an overly hot day, per se.  But I don't think people made adjustments in their prep, clothing, strategy, etc.  The conditions were great for the elite start.  But two hours later for the mortals....things had changed.

So, sunscreen on.  (But apparently not enough, because I am still burned.  GRRRR!!!  Next time I have to remember my Zealios, and I have to slather it on.)

Then it was time to walk to our corral.  It is a bit of a walk to the start line, and it is lined with cops and barricades.  The whole process is just really cool.  We made one more porta potty stop, where I saw blogging friend Eileen Swanson!  What are the chances?  I gave her a big hug and then it was time to go!

What was our plan?  Gina and I thought maybe 9 minute miles would be appropriate, but we were willing to adjust as needed for heat and lack of fitness.  The first part of the race is a net downhill, but that is really deceiving because you are going up hills the whole race.  But, with the pull of 18,000 people in front of me and 12,000 more pushing behind me, I could see how it is easy to get caught up at first and burn your race out.  Gina and I were steadfast in going easy.  We didn't waiver and let everyone else race past at the beginning.  Gina and I adjusted for the heat and really kept the first miles slower and calmer- it was a smart decision.

And the reality was- I was not fit.  I knew this.  I knew I was not fit, not strong, not fast.  My 1:39 half was really not an indication of my marathon fitness.  I have been sick, off of the bike, out of the pool, moving my family, yada yada.  I was out of shape.  I was real with myself.  Because I didn't have a goal to re-qualify, I thought the best use of my day was to run with my friend.  And I was right.

We also had some decisions to make up front about how to run together.  I didn't want to hold her back with my lack of fitness.  We have both been through various injuries and set backs the past few months.  My hip is doing better than her foot.  But she has put in many more miles and long runs.  We don't know who may slow first...and we try to make a plan for when to be together and when to separate.  We want to run the whole thing together, but we also know that we may have to separate. We don't have any hard fast rules for this, but I decide that we will run at least the first half together no matter what.

5k- 27:07/ 8:44
I am extremely comfortable.  We seem to be holding around 8:45-9:00 pace.  We are taking the downhills very easy.  Everyone seems to be overdressed, and I am confused as to why people are wearing pants, long sleeves, etc.  Over 40 degrees and you better be in shorts and singlet.  Why are people in lots of clothes?  I predict there is going to be carnage on the course with people overheating.  Gina feels great.  I watch a lot of people go out really hard.
Here we are, little happy campers.   
10k:  27:19/ 8:48
I am feeling wonderful and light.  Gina and I are making sure to cross every timing mat exactly together so anyone following us will know we are together and doing well.  We are a bit at odds with pace.  I think she would have been happy to run 9:30s, and my body wanted to be at 8:30s.  We keep adjusting for each other and try to stay around 8:45-9.  The course is full, but I don't feel crowded or annoyed with it.  I like having everyone around.  I am really enjoying myself.
You can't really see Gina in this picture, but this was how the first half went.  We were chatting- checking in with each other- and assessing the situation.  

15k:  27:28/ 8:51
I am still feeling good and getting a little antsy to go a bit faster.  I am loving the course and the hills.  The crowd support has just been amazing.  The course is beautiful.  It is hot with a headwind, but I feel overall fine as I have raced in far worse conditions.  I am hot and constantly drinking at every station, but managing very well.  I have done this so many times in the past few years, and I know what to do in the heat.  Gina is wondering when to drink, and I tell her immediately.  I can tell the heat is hitting her harder than it is hitting me.  She also says she never wants to do another marathon again, and I know we need to adjust our pace because she is in a rough patch.  She tells me to go on, but I tell her we are staying together till the half.

20k:  28:24/ 9:09
We deliberately slow.  I can tell Gina is slightly annoyed with me pulling her along...not because she is annoyed with me, but because she just needs to run her own pace.  We are almost to the half marathon point here, and we talk about separating then.  She is having to start walking here and there, and I am waiting for her but it is getting a bit harder to wait and navigate.  We see another friend, Heather Price, on the course and chat for a minute.  And then, it is time for me to go at it alone.  Gina needs some space without having to feel like she is keeping up, and I am ready to experience the Boston course.  We give each other a big dose of encouragement, and I continue on.

Half Marathon check point:    1:56:02
I have dropped down to 8:20-8:30 pace.  I am not sure what to do here.  My first half was too slow to run a marathon PR or hit a BQ.  I contemplate it for a minute, but realize I would have to drop the pace insanely to pull something like that off, and I know that with the hardest part of the course still to come and the effect of the weather, I won't be able to pull back the time I gave away the first half.  I still have the Newtown hills ahead, I am only half way done, and the heat is on....so I had to think about what might be reasonable for the second half of my journey.  I decided that an even split or negative split would probably be fine, and I am happy.  I have passed the Wellesley girls...what an experience!

25k:  26:24/ 8:32
I am still running pretty well.  I am just absolutely loving the course.  I love the crowd, the people, and the actually course itself.  Since I don't have any time goals or pace goals, I just try to run what feels good.

30k:  27:23/8:49
I am still rolling along.  I complete the first of the big hills with no problem.  Head down- ease up. So many people are walking.  I am really surprised at this point to see it happen, but my prediction with the heat has happened.  We have 3 more big hills coming up.  Then I complete my second major hill.  No problem.  And then, my garmin dies.  SERIOUSLY?  at 18.1 it just loses signal.  I have never been able to complete a full marathon with a garmin the whole time.  It is the weirdest thing, and this is a brand new garmin.  How can it keep signal in the woods, but lose it in a city with wide open sky?  Okay, so now it is just me and the road.

35k:  28:27/ 9:10
I am running with no clue what mile I am on or what pace I am running.  This is annoying, but kind of comical.  Maybe that is how it should be.  I complete hill #3.  People are all over the place- walking, getting help, weaving.  Other people are fighting through- fighting for every second possible.  It is fun to watch.  I am getting water or gatorade at every station.  I am on top of nutrition and salt.  I take some vasoline from a spectator for my arm pits.  The crowds are just amazing.  I wave a lot, do fist pumps, and keep the crowds going.  I feel like a dork, but I am having fun too.   I hit Heartbreak hill- it is no big deal to run over it.  I am happy I didn't have to walk any of the infamous hills.  I am also tired.  My quads are shredded from the ups and downs of the day.  I keep thinking about Star Wars and the dark cave scene where Luke asks Yoda what is in there?  "Only what you bring with you."  This goes around and around in my head x 100,000.  I am in the last miles of the marathon and all I can think about is Star Wars and how I am now ready to be done running.
40k:  28:12/ 9:05
Marathons are hard.  I have no clue what pace I am running, but I am sure it is slow.  I hurt.  I don't even know what mile I am on anymore.  I ask a girl what mile we are on, and she gives me a blank stare and says she doesn't know.  But she doesn't smile at all, and I realize that while we all are hurting, maybe I am in a better place because I am still happy.  Kind of.  Did I mention I hurt?  I still see people really pushing to get everything out of themselves.  I wonder why I can't push it anymore and be tough like them?  And I will say, this is where you HAVE to have a goal for a race.  If you have a goal, you find a reason to push.  If you don't have a goal, there is no reason for you to dig to your deepest depths.  So, I had no time or pace goal, and I can't use it to my advantage here.  But I let it roll- I was not fit for a good marathon and I accept that.  I am still 100% loving the crowds.  LOVING it.  I am ready to be done with this marathon, but I decide I still want to run the Comrades in South Africa.  If I can just get through this one first.  I run into one more Memphis runner, Sarah Harris, somewhere in this section and give her a big hello.  She is ready to be done too.

to finish:  9:13
I am so done.  I can't pick up the pace.  There is no sprint to the finish.  When did a mile become much longer than a mile?  I don't care how slow I am.  I don't try to pass anyone.  I just want the finish line to appear.  I am drained inside and out from the tough course, the heat, the wind, the emotional love from the spectators.  It has been a great 26.2 miles, and I am ready to be done, get my medal, and get a drink.  Today drained me more than any ironman, and I didn't even run faster than I do at Ironman.  I raise my arms at the finish.  Barely.  There is not much celebration, except in my head.  I loved my experience and had a great day.
Barely moving...
overall:  3:53:16/ 8:54 pace
overall place:  14866
Differential from 1st half marathon to 2nd half marathon:  + 1:12 .... not too shabby.   A bit of a positive split, which I don't love to see, but pretty close to even, and not bad for having no sense of pace for the last 8-9 miles.
 I immediately down 2 bottles of water.  I am freezing from the sunburn and wind, dehydrated, and happy.  I just need a little rest and then I am fine.  I am amazed at what the body can do with years of training on it.  I did not have good preparation for this marathon, but my body has reached a point where it can hold a steady pace for a long time thanks to prior years of experience.  I am grateful.
Yes, the Boston Marathon is all it is cracked up to be.  It is an incredible course.  It is a challenging course.  I also think it could be a really fast course on a good day if you are fit and ready to go for it.  Out of all of the marathons I have run, I rank this as my #1 for sure.  I rank it 2nd in overall experiences behind IMWales.  I will absolutely aim to run this again in the next 5 years, and next time I will bring my family with me.
And that is that.  It was an honor and privilege to run the 120th Boston Marathon.
Finishing up my marathon at The Warren Tavern- oldest tavern in the state est. 1780



Big THANK YOU to the following:
Enell Bras:  I just can't run without you.  Thank you!
Wattie Ink:  The Black Collection shorts were perfect.  No chaffing- pockets for gel.
Dave:  He said the kindest thing to me post marathon.  He said he is always amazed at how I make extraordinary things look so ordinary.  I found this to be the highest compliment.  And it is because I DO believe anyone can do these things.  Thanks for watching Isla, letting me spend too much $$$ on junky clothes, and taking a great trip.
My parents:  for helping with Isla and the cheers.  It was an honor to hear you tell me that I am the only one in the family that has tackled events like this.  Thank you for the encouragement.  It makes me proud to make you proud.

and GINA! I am going to miss you so much.  I can't believe 10 years of running together in Memphis has come and gone.  I am so glad the my move has coincided with us doing this great race together.  You are an amazing friend.







Sunday, April 17, 2016

Boston Trip: Leg 2/ Expo

Okay! Expo day 1 and day 2 are complete.  My bib has been picked up #18371.  I bought the jacket.  I did.  I broke down and bought the thing in all of its teal and pink glory, and I will wear it tomorrow after my finish.  And I think....where in the world will I ever wear this $110 jacket again?  Yet I bought it anyway.  :)  (I also bought a shirt, only to find out the stuff is online post race for about 40% off.  Newbie shopping mistake.

Here is my GenerOWL running crew.  These are a couple of the people that get me up early in the morning to train.  They are the ones that practically brainwashed me into running another marathon.  Without them, I may have never returned to the distance.

Gina, Bill, Damie

Obligatory photo with your race bib...

I went straight for the free beer at the expo, after saying the day before I wouldn't have another drink before Boston.  

I think you are morally required to put yourself on the cover of a Runner's World Magazine.

I found my name on the wall.


So what would I do differently, were I to come back again?
1.  I would stay in Boston Commons.  I actually don't know where Boston Commons is or what it is.  That is the thing.  I don't even know where I am 99% of the time here.  But, I do know I would stay right by the finishing line/expo area.  I am across the river, and I think that has made it hard to eat out with friends, enjoy the pre-race activities, and rest.  
But I do walk 1.1 miles from the train to my hotel with this view.  That part has been pretty awesome and peaceful.  

2.  I will come with Dave or a friend next time.  I am a bit lonely.  There are plenty of people I know here, but they are staying in the middle of the action.  Most of them are also here with their significant others or roommates.  Little ol' me over here is kind of third-wheeling it on everything.  I am walking everywhere by myself and inserting myself into everyone's plans.  It has all worked out, but I am sure there is a better way to do it.   But, as wise old Dave has reminded me, my biggest joy will come from the 26.2 mile journey tomorrow.  I can't know what I want from this experience until I actually experience it the first time.  I bet tomorrow I will see why people come back again and again.
3.  I will see more lectures/talks.  I signed up for one today with Meb, but I missed it.  I have actually missed every single talk with Meb, Desi, Ryan Hall, you name it.  (see above number 1 and 2- I was staying too far away and had trouble getting organized with friends).  And I actually really love that stuff.  The eager student in me comes out, and even if I have read every book, read every interview, and listened to every podcast, I still like to hear people talk in person.
But despite a few logistic changes that I just don't think you can know at first, I am having a great time...a peaceful time, really.  I am so happy to be running with Gina.

We became running friends in 2016, where I convinced her that we should run a marathon and qualify for Boston.  I was so sure we had the ability.  So, we picked Chicago 2007, and everyone knows about that infamous race that was cancelled mid race due to heat and lack of water on course.  Gina passed out at mile 20 and was taken to a hospital.  We had been separated, so I never even saw it happen.  I walked the last 6 miles to the finish because its as the only way I could get to my bag, while taking coke and water from spectators.  It was too bad...we were in great shape.

From there, we picked St Jude Marathon just 2 months later.  Gina held her form and qualified.  I had already peaked months back and was just burned out after the Chicago damage.  I had my most painful and sad marathon to date, and may I never have to repeat that feeling.  So Gina went to Boston, and I stayed home.

Life changes and years and babies and time off and early morning miles...and here we are.  We finally qualified at the same time.  Gina kept telling me we had plenty of time to go together, but in the back of my mind, I knew our move to Nola was coming sooner than later.  So, I decided there was no time like the present to make it happen.

So, this race is a celebration of friendship!  Miles and miles of friendship :)