RunNerdier

musings on running, life, and everything in between


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Denial is not just a river: Boston

It’s been awhile…I’ve been slightly in denial and slightly overwhelmed. There are some things going on¬†outside of running that are taking up a lot of emotional energy and time. There’s barely been time to process that Boston is in less than 4 days. I get on a plane in about 24 hours. I haven’t really thought about packing or logistics or anything. This is despite the fact that Jen and Patty (mostly Patty) have been blowing up my phone with messages about Boston weather, packing lists, more weather, expo pick up, more weather…I have been only partaking in reading in small bursts. Cuz I. CAN’T. EVEN.

To my credit, part of of the reason is that I was immersed in professional nerd-dom in our nation’s capital. I attended the major educational research conference for 4 days last weekend. It was good to get away, and I got some time to run with cool people and see some more cool things. Still, it was an intense 4 days.

My favorite monument run this time was the (newer) Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Memorial. I shrink at sentiment, but I was surprisingly moved by the memorial. It’s a beautiful piece of sculpture/architecture, and I couldn’t help but feel the importance of King’s legacy and the ongoing fight for racial and economic justice today. There is still so much work to do. And it can feel overwhelming at times, but none of us struggles alone. Others have gone before us, others struggle alongside, and others will come after.

The King portion of the monument almost looked like a breakaway from a larger concrete mountain. Somehow, I failed to take a picture of that part. However, surrounding the main monument was a long wall of quotes. There were some amazing ones, and it inspired me to go back and finish a book of his essays I’ve had forever. A lot of people were taking photos, and I had trouble choosing just one. This one seemed timely, though, in terms of the importance of all of us speaking out against injustice even if it’s not comfortable.


I also did a very convoluted route (partly because I got lost and partly because it was a long run) past the Lincoln Memorial, the Jefferson Memorial (which is on a funky island/peninsula bit and totally reminded me of the Simpsons episode where Bart talks to the various monument/presidents), and meandering over into Virginia.

This tree was beautiful and strange. A cork tree! It actually looked dead, and there was a sign asking people not to climb or touch it so that it wouldn’t be damaged. While the majority of the cherry blossoms were gone, there were still some trees with blossoms so it was a pretty run.

I have to say that there was some strange criss-crossing back and forth across the river to try and get back from Virginia to DC. It makes it more delightful to find hidden little spots like this one, though!

I ran out of miles on that run, though. Right when I got to Theodore Roosevelt Island, I had to head home, so I dragged some of my friends back there Sunday. I wanted to see the island and get some trails under my feet. It took some convincing to get them out there as they were concerned I would be too fast, but I was tapering and more concerned about enjoying the run with friends than speed.

Tracey makes a second appearance (middle bottom), though still only in DC ūüôā Laura, top middle, also works with me. And Susan, far right, is the awesome friend that sent me lipstick a little while ago. We also make it a habit to purchase beauty supplies when traveling together. Hey, can’t be nerds all the time!

The island wasn’t very big, just over a mile running the circumference. In the middle of the island was a big carved out section with little bridges, water (though it was drained for the winter still), and a big Theodore Roosevelt monument. We asked a fellow runner to take our picture, and we went with the Black Power fist instead of the regular one hand up in the air that Teddy was doing (the photographer didn’t seem to get that we wanted Teddy¬†in the picture also so you’ll just have to imagine it). We all do critical work, and it jived with the theme of the run as we also saw the MLK memorial (a second time for me, I couldn’t get enough!).

Us, in nature.

This last picture is of my friend, Ramon, who I HAVE run with years ago. However, he said he tends to cycle on and off with running, and he has NOT been running for a bit but wants to start again. I am putting his picture up here to publicly shame/encourage him to start running more regularly. So, if you know Ramon Martinez, make sure you ask him about running!

Work this week has been really rough. I got a chance to do an early, very therapeutic 4 miles this morning with Jen. I was greeted by this awesome sign from the amazing, supportive ladies of Best Foot Forward. It helped remind me that I’m NOT doing this alone, and these girls have helped support me every step of the way. Onward and upward!


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Playing catch up, the solstice, and trying new things (including signing up for my first ultra)

Well, it’s been some time since the last post. And I still owe you a race recap of the Hateya Trail race. Sigh. I have to confess, though, that between the depression and the holidays, it’s been rough. I had assigned a ton of symbolic meaning to the winter solstice and my deep need for the light to return. I can’t recall the last time the solstice was so close to Christmas either. I had even planned a tiny solstice party with friends, which was to include my first attempt at an pineapple upside down cake. Both attempts were botched. The depression was at its zenith those few days, and I couldn’t get myself to rally the effort. This was what made me decide to change some things around medication, including quitting the birth control I had been on the last two months. I’ve had depressive reactions to the pill before, and while I was depressed before starting the pill, it did seem to get worse after starting. Considering I had started the pill to help stabilize hormones and emotions, it didn’t seem like it was doing its job.

The change up in meds has started to help make a difference.  Finally.

It’s interesting, I was out to dinner with some old friends and we talked about depression. My friend’s wife asked me what depression looked like for me, because she imagined it as someone who could not get out of bed or face the world. And here I was laughing and out with friends. There have been times years ago where my depression did look more like that, but with two small children, it’s virtually impossible to hide in bed. For me, it’s been a sense of irritation and frustration, as if I have no ability to deal with even the smallest difficulty or trouble. I go straight to anger. There is no emotional reserve to deal. It also feels as if everything takes a Herculean effort. I have to rally every bit of myself to get dressed, go to work (and stay there), make meals. Every ounce wants to scream, “I can’t.” I am unable to focus on anything. There is a deep sense of both restlessness and inertia. I can’t focus. It all feels too much. And all that has begun to lift. Speaking, writing, and being proactive about actions to address the inertia have all been helpful. So I encourage everyone dealing with anxiety and depression to try things to address it, and get help. Interestingly, a lot of the women I run with deal with anxiety more than depressing but that’s another post…

I HAVE been running through all this, although unable to follow the training plan we had selected. This far out, it’s all just base mileage so I’m just working on keeping my weekly mileage up. The idea of doing speed work and such when I feel so heavy emotionally is unbearable. Here I am pretending to be in thei holiday spirit.

My lovely ladies did a morning before Christmas Day run. I met up with Patty and Emily to run some miles before and it was great. We even had time for coffee after. It was so perfect to get some good face time with the awesome, strong women before the chaos of Christmas. I really do love my running group.

We found it amusing that all of us wore black and then such bright shoes. So here’s my first obligatory shoefie. I will admit it was not my idea.

I also got another chance to get out to Palos and run the Bullfrog loop. Sadly, I was the one leading the group…which meant there was some map reading and general orienteering. It also didn’t help that they had updated the trail map, so I was running with a map that didn’t even have some of the colors on there–like the purple trail wasn’t on the version for the map I had. Sigh. ¬†So lesson learned. Make sure you have the most recent map before getting out there.

The ladies I ran with were awesome about it, though, and just enjoyed being out there. They were good sports about stopping and checking maps and gps phones. It was Corinna and Jen’s first time out there, and Amy had run the Palos 50k this fall but didn’t remember all the parts either. It was muddy and fun, and Corinna’s longest run in a while so she appreciated all the stopping.

Amy is also the one that has gotten me to sign up for my first ultra, the Ice Age 50k in Wisconsin in May. I figure 4 months after Boston is good training overlap. We will see ūüôā

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Anyhow friends, I hope you are running and staying sane. It just snowed like crazy last night so I might get to try out those micro spikes from Christmas after all!


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7 Things I learned from the Chicago Marathon

In no particular order

  1. It’s awesome running with a purpose and running for a charity. I ran for Team in Training through the “Your Way” option. I was already registered for the marathon so all proceeds went directly to The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. IMG_2087As I’ve talked about, my running group Best Foot Forward, lost one of its members this summer to complications from leukemia and another member’s 5 year old daughter has been fighting it since her diagnosis earlier this year. In just 3 weeks, folks stepped up and $800 was raised!
  2. I’ve read alot about runners running by feel and not relying so much on their watch (what some people call “running naked”). I was too afraid to actually do this before. However, using the pacers at the Last Chance Marathon and then approaching the Chicago Marathon as fun, I didn’t use my watch (well, that and the watched went bonkers so it wasn’t even an option in Chicago). Also, when I got lost recently in the Wisconsin woods and ran probably 13 miles instead of the 6.5 my watch said and didn’t realize it right away…I’m thinking I rely too much on technology. Interestingly enough, I also just read an interview with Deena Kastor, who just set a new women’s Master’s record for the marathon at Chicago. She did it with just a regular watch, and she calculated the splits. She wasn’t wearing a GPS watch that was ticking off each mile. And that seemed to work for her. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll still be wearing my watch for just logging miles and such, but it’s good to rethink what I’m trading off or gaining by wearing it or not wearing it.
  3. Wait for it… Running can be FUN. I know. GASP! It’s not just a “race” against the clock. Or beating someone else (well, it can still be that…ha). I technically approached Chicago with that mindset, but I was still not 100% sold on it the first 6 miles. Then I realized that I was going to hate it if I didn’t pull back and just take it easy. And then seeing Jen at mile 20 or whenever it was, and finishing the race together was awesome. AND, there is photographic proof that you can run and have fun. Us at the finish line.¬†Snip20151014_1Don’t worry. I’ll be buying the picture. And maybe putting it on a t-shirt for Jen to wear everywhere. Or a coffee mug. Or a tote bag. Or all of the above.
  4. The marathon is always such a mental thing. There is definitely the physical part of it. Most people (because there are always a few anomalies) can’t just go out and run a marathon without training at least partly for it. However, all the training in the world isn’t enough if you’re not mentally ready to do it. There’s alot of psychological chatter you have to do to keep yourself moving, to tell yourself that the pain is worth it, that all your hard work WILL pay off. Like I wrote about yesterday, I used the memory of Lauren to keep myself moving. That was more meaningful than just running for my own personal achievement.
  5. You have to run your own race. I had a friend who was trying to qualify, and it was getting in my head that I should try also. And like I said, I thought I was going to the first few miles in. But then I realized that I was tired and that this would be my third marathon this year, the second within a month. I wasn’t feeling great, and it would be dumb to push myself. A year ago, I wouldn’t have made that choice. I would have kept pushing myself and had a horrible time. Maybe hurt myself. The beauty of running (for me) is that it is a individually-located sport. Meaning, every goal, race, whatever, is about what you want/need. At my level, I am not winning races, so why am I out there? What do I want from this? I even read a piece a while back about having 3 goals for a race: 1) your ultimate, ecstatic, pie-in-the-sky goal, 2) your happy with it goal, and 3) your low-hanging fruit, assured goal. By having these 3 goals in mind, you’ll always accomplish it. My first marathon, my goal was to just finish, which was probably 2 and 3. This time, it was BQ, finish under 4, and just finish. It was good to be able to slide from one goal to another without feeling like a failure.
  6. The other day, someone was telling me¬†about a book called You Win or You Lose Learn (I guess the cover actually has the word crossed out like that). I don’t know this book, but I guess it’s big in business. I like that idea for the marathon (or any race) as well. Each race is a learning process. Whether it’s about pacing strategy, fueling, hydration, sleep. I feel like that’s the allure of running multiple marathons. It’s such a huge endeavor with so many moving parts that you learn something new each time. And, for me, I want to get right back out there and try something different to see how it plays out. I think for several of us this time around, the learning process was alot about learning to listen to your body and understanding when you can push beyond discomfort (because running a marathon is not about comfort, ha) and when you’re pushing towards injury.
  7. Finally, I am totally blessed with some crazy-ass, amazing women in my life. From the folks who donated to TNT to the golden sparkle cheer sign emblazoned with “WWJD: What would Jung do?” on my lawn to the 22 pound bag of ice personally delivered to my front stoop. I do not feel worthy of the love and support of all these women. I got so many text message from BFF members¬†the night before and morning of both the Last Chance Marathon and the Boston Marathon–some from women I haven’t seen or talked to in months. I had a friend order a BQ/Boston Qualifier necklace charm the minute I qualified and sneak-drop it off my house later that week. Even seeing random women from the group along the course–like Andrea who totally scared me by jumping in for a second and screaming my name–was amazing. When I first joined the group 2.5 years ago, I wasn’t sure about it. I am not a joiner and definitely not great in spaces where I don’t know alot of people. But I stuck it out, and it’s been one of the absolute best decisions of my life. But like all humans, sometimes I forget to be grateful and to remember to say thanks. So to all my crazy ladies, I love you.


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It takes a village to qualify for Boston–my love letter for BFF

I am breathing the rarified air of Boston Qualifiers, and I am dumbfounded. This was hands-down the best marathon experience of my life. I ran solid, never took walk breaks (except once through an aid station), and had a big kick at the end. I’m not even as sore as I usually am the day after.

And it’s because of this group. [Note: I’ll do a real race recap later]

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Despite all my threats and grumbles about people showing up to watch me potentially fail, they showed up anyway, and I DIDN’T fail because…surprise…support helps you. I know. Shocker. Trust me, I’m still trying to puzzle that one out.

I knew these two crazies, Jen (as in my partner in crime this spring) and Patty, both already qualified this year, were going to be there early.

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Early, as in early and dark. When the sun was just starting to think about rolling out of bed.

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I knew they were coming and saw them at the end of my first lap. But then imagine my surprise when I saw these guys further down.

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Stephanie Harri left after the race to get ready to play TWO weddings (she’s a violinist…AND a chiropractor). Crazy!


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Swati Saxena, REALTOR EXTRAORDINAIRE, is the lovely lady in green who owns her own personal megaphone. 

She also baked me several vegan treats. AND drive me home in my own car to save my legs.

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Julianne, on the left, is from Massachusetts and was secretly working to coordinate the ambush of love.

And just in case you think we’re a classy bunch of ladies, here’s a sign to disprove it.

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My dear Jenny, standing tall in the middle with her ever-present blonde ponytail, ran with Jen for my last loop. I don’t think I would have kept up my pace without them that loop. She actually ran her first 13 miles since this winter. Jenny also realized that I had lost a hair band halfway through the race (which is why I went from two French braids to a single pony tail half French-braided) and tried calling some of the girls on their way to see if they had an extra!

And, finally, on the second-to-last loop, or maybe it was the last loop (it was hard keeping track), I saw my family. And seeing my husband and kids cheering me on (well, Wyeth was kind of crying and trying to grab me, but I’m sure he was cheering on the inside…) helped push me through. I abandon them in the early mornings to go run these distances, smoothed over with sugary promises of donuts. But sometimes they still cry when I leave the house. So I ran to make it worthwhile.

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And then there were people who were supporting me from afar, sending texts and messages, and even ladies that weren’t there race day but helped make the signs (Aimee, Erin F), and I still used some of Coach Lizs speed workouts. I have never felt so awash in love and support. Like EVER. These people have endured my countless rants, obsessions, early mornings, late nights, annoying FB posts, and anxieties about running and about this race. Seriously, I am humbled beyond words, and feel that I am not worthy of this. Really. I mean, I think I’m funny and mildly amusing, but I will admit that I really am not such a sparkling personality to warrant such an outpouring of affection (I’m awkward and can seem standoffish, I’ll admit it. I’m also prone to handshakes and sideways hugs vs full-frontal hugs.). It goes to show you how much we all need one another, and how much more can be accomplished with the love and support of others. IF you just let them in at least a teeny, tiny bit. So to all the amazing women of BFF and my awesome family, this time was for you.

P.S. One funny note. Someone asked the group how many people they knew in the race. They said one. HA.


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Becoming a grown up

It’s a new month. Which means, it’s time for a new plan. Or no plan. Or too many plans. That, my dears, is the crux of the issue.

This was my race calendar last month.            

My running group had an awesome race planning event a few months ago to kick off the new year, and Lively (awesome local running store) and Swati Saxena (awesome local realtor) helped sponsor the event and put out free race planning calendars. There were cute stickers and all that. Very fun.

However, THIS is what the month of May looks like.

¬†It is like the post-apocalyptic wasteland/Mad Max of Thunderdomes of race calendars. There is nothing. It makes me feel empty as the scouring sands of the wasteland whistle through my soul…

Ok, so it’s not really that bad. But I have definitely been obsessing and in a funk with my disappointing experience/results at the Illinois Marathon. I have spun my wheels over and over about what to do, talking everyone’s ear off and then some. I thought I was sold on running the Schaumburg Chicagoland Spring Marathon¬†on May 17th, which would be exactly 3 weeks and 1 day after Champaign. But my recovery has been feeling slower than last fall’s. I did two marathons back-to-back with 3 weeks in between last fall (after having already run a marathon earlier in the fall and one in the late spring). My times were ok–3:52 for the Des Plaines Trail Marathon, which I ran as a long run and 3:46 for the Naperville Marathon, which I was just burnt crispy for after such a long season–and I feel like my recover felt better for those! Part of it is my semester quickly closing down. It’s been a hard semester. But I’m beginning to wonder if it’s just alot to constantly push your body to its limits.

I was at a party last night for my running group’s second anniversary. It was awesome seeing everyone glammed up and having so much fun outside of running shoes, although some sassy gals wore cocktail dresses, their running shoes, and their running medals (They put the sweatshirts they bought at the event over their dresses, but seriously, how cute are they?!).

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Anyhow, I got to finally meet some of the runners I see on Facebook but hadn’t had a chance to actually run with/meet, like Erin F (the lovely lady on the right). She was actually supposed to go down to Champaign for the half marathon, but she decided after an injury in January, that she wasn’t going to be adequately prepared for it and more likely to injure herself. She decided not to do it, which blew her husband’s mind–that she was about to make a rational, adult decision about running, something she’d never done before.

It got me thinking. Don’t get me wrong, Erin wasn’t telling me this to say I shouldn’t do it (this was about her, not me, shocker), and there were people at the party saying I SHOULD do it since I’d done all this training.¬†But my legs don’t feel recovered fully. I definitely don’t feel like I have my energy back post-race. And the idea of gearing up for all that in two weeks makes me cringe inside. Which makes me think I’m setting myself up for an injury at worst or at least a disappointing race result, with a weak recovery a month before I’d have to race again for Ragnar Chicago.

So I’m making my first adult running decision, and pushing off racing another marathon until later in the summer/fall. I’m going to use that time to eat and recover (BTW, Meb just tweeted this week that he ran Boston weighing in at 121 and two weeks out, he’s at 134 pounds), and then strength and cross train more seriously, work on speed for shorter distances, and actually work on getting down to a racing weight (One¬†site I read said I could shed 4 minutes with 4 pounds. Obviously, it varies from individual to individual, but 4 minutes is alot at this point. You can see that here). Ugh, I hate watching what I eat. I always say that I run so I can eat…but it’s just temporary…

It’s funny, though, what decisions make you feel like you’re a grown up. For me, it was things like having kids. Tonight, my husband was quiet because we just dropped a good chunk of change on putting in a paver patio. He said it was weird and made him feel like he’d just mad a really adult decision. With my (previously) loose way with money, I shrugged off the idea¬†that spending alot of money makes you an adult. Ha). But choosing not to push your body past a potential healthy point is my adult growth moment?¬†Go figure. Different strokes, right? ūüôā

Honestly, though. Our lives are peppered with all these big moments, but so often it’s the stuff in between where we’re really growing right? I mean, the big events are what make us realize that growth. Kind of like when you were a kid and you’d put on a pair of pants and realize they were suddenly too short. You didn’t grow right before you put those pants on, but it was the act of putting on the pants that made you aware of it. I didn’t magically become a mature adult because I had kids (cuz I’m still waiting on that moment then), but I grew adult enough to decide to have them.

Anyhow, I’ll leave you with two lovely things after all those deep, ponderous thoughts *snort.* Anne, who helped found my running group and is co-owner of Lively, gave al the board members of the club these necklaces in recognition of all the work we do. Love it and wearing it already!

And, finally, all the dust being tracked in the house was driving me crazy, so my 3 year old decided to help me out. I like her stylish attempt at house cleaning. We should all be so coolWhat are the moments that helped you realize you were becoming an adult?

Last time you CHOSE to not run a race (versus being injured, etc.)?

And, any good ideas on cross training?


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Running a marathon that gets called before I finish was not on my bucket list

**I’ll do a full official race recap next post, but this post is me just working through what just happened**

So yesterday¬†was the big day. The race I’d been working my butt off all winter and spring for. And it was a wash, pardon the pun. Jen and the other marathoners were freaking out all day Friday¬†and obsessively checking the weather (I yelled at my roommate, Patty, when I saw the glow of her phone after the lights went out). We debated the various possibilities for weather and calling the race and when, and ranked them in order of bad to worse. ¬†We made jokes about what we would do or not do. I harangued people about things they couldn’t control in an effort to not freak out myself. And,¬†come race day? Worst case scenario happened. They called the race when i hit mile marker 24. Just so you have an idea of what the various possibilities we discussed were–and to give you a context for “worst case scenario,” here’s what we came up with:

  • The storm blows over before or holds off completely until the race is done (the obvious ideal)
  • Canceling the race before it ever started
  • Delaying the race for the bad weather to pass
  • Delaying the race and calling/canceling it at some point (in which case the following scenarios would also apply)
  • Calling off the race around or before the midpoint
  • Calling off the race before mile 20
  • Calling off the race after mile 20

Jen and I figured that even all the way up to mile 20, we could potentially salvage our legs and run another marathon in the next week or so. After that, though, it would probably be too much mileage at race pace to consider doing another one so close.

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The half and full marathon crew before the race: Stephanie, Nicole’s aunt, Nicole, me, Patty, Michelle, and Kelly (Jen was in the bathroom). Don’t we look so happy and hopeful?!

The morning of the race, we frantically checked the weather. It seemed like the storm was going to hold off until mid/late morning. We held our breaths, made last minute clothing changes, second-guessed ourselves, and headed out.¬†It was sprinkling a tiny bit at the start, stopped, rained, stopped, and repeat for the duration of the course. There was also a crazy amount of wind. As I hit each mile marker, I began to think we were going to finish this all the way to the end. And when I hit mile 20, I thought, “There’s no way, now. It’s done.” But God is a joker, so right when I passed mile 24, a cop drove by in his car with the speakers blaring, telling us that the race was cancelled due to weather and to seek shelter. Before I crossed the finish line, this happened one more time, while Jen, who was somewhere ahead of me (we separated around mile 14, but I’ll give details on that next post), never knew the race was called until she finished.

When this happened, I stopped, which was a mistake. My Achilles/ankle, which had been a bit tight throughout the race, seized up, which would make it harder for me to run the remaining two miles. The fact they were calling the race so close to the end…and the fact that almost no one stopped running totally threw me. I thought it might be a horrible, horrible joke. I wasn’t sure what to do. So I stopped and walked in my bewilderment. I thought, “What’s the point now?” But then everyone kept running, and I figured it would be the fastest way to the end, so I decided to run/walk it in. I would have run it in (though not race-pace), but my ankle was stiffening up and cranky. And there was also a steady rain at that point. In my cold, rain-soaked, race-called delusion, I fantasized about getting hypothermia and just collapsing in the road so that someone would come take me away in blankets. Yup, sad sack I was.

The remaining two miles were totally surreal. It was confusing because almost no one stopped running. And the few that did, I think, were injured/struggling and would have been walking anyway. The volunteers and cops still kept cheering us and encouraging us to finish, and even the photographers were still taking pictures. I thought I had heard the second cop in the car say that they weren’t going to be holding¬†intersections anymore, but they did when I ran through. Talking to my friends further back in the run, they were rolling out the closing slowly, but at the time, it felt like I wasn’t running a canceled race. I guess everyone else had the same thought I did–there’s 2 miles, just go ahead and finish it. It began to downpour as I made the last turn into Assembly Hall adding misery to the finish. There was even a photographer at the end, which I’m pretty sure I was scowling at and debated flicking off.

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A suitably dark and grim-looking picture: Kelly, Patty, Michelle, Jen, and me. You can see me grimacing instead of actually smiling.

I’m not sure what to make of it all now that it’s been just over 24 hours. Because I had had to stop a couple times for the bathroom (more on that next post), I had lost precious minutes and was riding my time really close to the cutoff time. At this point, I was admitting to myself that I had no buffer and I would just have to satisfy myself with straight up qualifying for Boston but not getting in (for those of you not familiar with the Boston Marathon rules, it’s a rolling registration for several days. First day is open to those with a significant buffer on the cut off time, next day less, and so on until all spots are filled. Last year, anyone who didn’t have at least an extra 62 seconds faster than the cutoff times did not make it. So qualifying is one hurdle, registering is another).

In a small way, I found it almost a relief that I wouldn’t have to really punch it the last 2 miles to regain seconds when I felt like I had almost nothing. There’s talk that times submitted from a canceled race don’t count for a BQ and others think differently. Jen is going to email them to find out. She got in at 3:39, easily 6 minutes under her qualifying time. Rock star.

However, I’m also really sore because I pushed myself really hard for 24 miles. And that’s no small feat. I need to look at my splits, so I can further torture myself with wondering if I should have not stopped and walked or learned how to pee on myself (as suggested by Jenny much earlier in this training cycle) or not run this marathon but one today in Indiana–because it’s maddeningly gorgeous and sunny today. Having all the physical and emotional/mental discomfort makes me grumpy. One of the signs I saw during the race was, “Marathon today, Netflix marathon today.” In my singleton, childless days, that would have been perfect. But life continues whether you BQ at a marathon or not. I did get some sad sack, pity sleep-in this morning at least.

Two things stand out, though, from making this experience a ridiculously awful one. 1) All 5 of us that ran the marathon finished it. Even though we were cold and soggy, and the other 3 (Michelle, Patty–who already qualified at Chicago last year, and Kelly) were not shooting to qualify, we all crossed the finish line. Kelly, who was the last in our group to finish, said she saw people pull out their phones and call people to pick them up off the course. That would be demoralizing. But she finished–and not in a bad time! The strength of the women I know who run is amazing. Through children, jobs, and even thunderstorms, we persevere and push ourselves to the utmost limits. It’s humbling to be friends with them. And they are all so supportive!

Which brings me to 2) I seriously love my running community. I know I’ve said it before, but I’m serious. A few minutes after I crossed the finish line, I got texts from other runners congratulating me on finishing. I got messages on Facebook of support and encouragement and consolation. People I barely know, but who are in my running group, were tracking me and the others. They talked about being inspired by us. And although it hurt me to not finish in my best time and not BQ, and I even felt like I was letting some of these women down because they had been so supportive during my training, I was buoyed by their strength and enthusiasm.

I used to run by myself. And I got through 3 marathons mostly running that way. But the women of BFF bring you food, drop off race care packages, hold bone marrow drives in honor of family members, plant support signs on your lawn, and flood your Facebook with love and support. And I thought of them as I ran, for the women who wanted to be out there and couldn’t (like Julianne, Jenny, and Erin), the women going through other hardships more serious than BQ’ing at a race, and the women who never want to run a marathon but support those who do enthusiastically.

Today at service, there was a coming of age ceremony for the 8th-going-into-9th graders. And they were given 3 messages to carry with them: (1) You are enough. (2) You are not alone. (3) You are loved.¬†Perfect timing in messaging. So I hope all of you take those 3 things away with you as well, and surround yourself with a community of folks–running or not–who will support you and love you.


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Almost Go-Time (and I secretly feel emotions)

Alright good people, in about 24 hours I’ll be on the course. I’ve been doing the usual prep stuff. Drinking water like there’s no tomorrow. Eating tons of carbs, which may include my more-than-generous allowance of sugar. I know that that’s not quality carbs, but it IS simple and easy to break down. ūüôā

I had my last short run before leaving town (I plan on doing a little shakeout run later today after driving for a few hours down-state). I was tempted to run later in the day Thursday since it was cold, but then this girl (the cutie in the middle–next to the other cutie, ha) RSVP’ed to the morning run, and I had to get my butt up for the 5:45 run. For a 3 miler. Ugh. BUT, I have literally not run with Kirstin since July of LAST YEAR. We had run the Holy Family Maritime Marathon in Manitowoc, WI in June (where Jenny BQ’ed) and she started getting some weird crunchiness in her ankle. Almost a year later of PT, seeing orthos, and finally seeing my magical man Craig, she’s on the road to recovery. Which is a good thing, because both those girls in the picture are doing Ragnar with me. Kirstin did like 5 marathons in 2013, so it was nuts she’s been not running for so long. We had a good little crew last spring that we called the BFF Early Train–cuz essentially there’d be different parts to it as we “picked up” and “dropped off” runners depending on their needed distances. I miss that crew (Kirstin, Jenny, and Corinna). We have high hopes that we’ll all be together again some day. Which might need to be sooner, since all 4 of us are on the same Ragnar team!

I think I need to work on my selfie skills. Although I am not sure that’s necessarily a skill I want to be good at…

Other things I’ve been doing to prep for this race: icing my wonky ankles and foam rolling like a mad woman. I had to laugh when I pulled out this ice pack from my freezer. My 3 year-old is a bit obsessed with putting her name on stuff, which I guess includes the ice packs.

We went out to dinner as a family last night to begin the carbo loading. Because it was Italian, we had to get the gelato afterwards. This place, Mancini’s, has this crazy good dark chocolate gelato. You’ll notice in the picture that a certain small human’s hand is moving towards “sampling” mine–in addition to his own.

I have, admittedly, made fun of my fellow runners for freaking out about the weather. I refuse to get sucked into it. Jen actually asked me, “Do you think at all?!” when she kept asking me about various factors about the race and I said I hadn’t thought about it. Part of it is my busy-ness factor and part of it is my refusal to obsess about things outside of my control. I HAVE looked at the weather and route and all those other things, but there is a delicate balance between¬†being aware/prepared and getting worked up/obsessed about it. I know myself and my ability to fixate/freak out can be monumental. I’ve decided to go with the less obsessed route. We’ll see if it pays off in an sort of way.

To be honest, though, I just checked the weather now that we’re 24 hours out, and it’s looking dubious. Hit up the local Salvation Army and got a giant zip-up fleece to throw away at the start and a children’s rain/windbreaker. One of the bloggers I follow who ran Boston said that she rain with her throwaway windbreaker the whole race. I still haven’t figured out what I’m wearing yet (and I can hear Jen yelling at me already for that, ha, and yelling at me for making her sound crazy…which she is, btw). To distract myself, though, I painted my nails in U of I’s colors, with a Boston-yellow lightening bolt. I might reconsider the lightening bolt to a stripe, though, as it seems bad juju with the weather…

I never had this much school spirit…

Finally, whatever happens tomorrow, I could not have gotten here without all my¬†awesome women. From the early morning training runs to encouraging words. I am running this race for them–especially the injured ones! The women I’ve met and befriended through my running group BEST Foot Forward really are the best. In the last 12 hours, I’ve gotten a yard sign from the group, a good luck card from Coach Liz, and some amazing shoe bling from my friend Julianne (who’s totally going to BQ once she fully recovers from baby and injury!).

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Anyone will tell you that I am not an emotional, mushy person, but I swear these girls bring it out of me. Good luck to everyone running a race tomorrow and pray (if you do that) to whatever god(s) that it doesn’t rain or that I don’t get struck by lightening.

Runner Tracking: Bib #1246   http://www.illinoismarathon.com/traking.php