Thursday, October 13, 2016

The OTHER Portland Race recap

So, marathon #25 is in the books. Portland (Oregon)  - DONE! My 11th state. As one would expect (although I hoped it wouldn't happen) it rained, for the ENTIRE race. My training was less than ideal so it sort of made sense that the race conditions were also less than ideal. I went along with it though. Cool, cloudy and a little (or a lot) wet for 26.2 miles.....oh wait that's right it was closer to 26.8 miles because the volunteers in the first mile failed to block an intersection and direct runners to the first right hand turn on the course leading thousands of confused runners through a maze of winding streets that were NOT part of the course.
Overall, all things considered and now a few days post-race with the pain and soreness fading, I think I can say it was a pretty good race. I mean, I knew from my Garmin that each mile marker was about half a mile off the distance I had traveled, but I figured it was due to the variability and error of the GPS and it usually normalizes over the course of 26 miles, but this was different. It was consistently off by about the same amount each mile. Oh and there was that part right after the first mile where we saw a bunch of runners apparently cutting the course, but later learned that they were directed correctly at the right turn we missed. And yes, the rain was relentless and add in a little wind here and there and it was a recipe for a pretty miserable day.
BUT other than some nasty chaffing and general aches and pains and a slower than I wanted pace, I felt good. I finished really strong. I looked at my watch a little after 20 miles and did some fuzzy math and figured out a realistic goal for a time and I went for it. It was maybe 30-45 minutes slower than I wanted to be when I started the race, but considering the extra distance and the awful weather, I was ok with it. In the last 2 miles I pushed through a lot of pain in my feet and ankles and picked up my pace as much as I could with my time goal in mind and looking at my watch every few minutes to make sure it was do-able. I made the last turn towards the finish line and 'sprinted' in slow motion past some hobbling 'runners' to cross the line with literally just seconds to spare. 6:59:52 Slow AF, I know. Not at all what I wanted to do or where I want to be with my running, but I wanted to be under 7 hours and I did it.
Before the race, I had a blast in Portland. I really want to go back sometime just to eat and drink my way through the city and not have to run 26 miles while I'm there. Got a Voodoo Donut, did a BrewCycle pub crawl tour, saw the World's smallest park, went to a haunted pizza place (totally saw a ghost) and saw the famous penny used in the coin flip that named the city after my hometown, Portland Maine.

Feels a little weird actually after such an amazing trip and super busy summer doing all sorts of fun and crazy things, I have nothing 'on deck' on my to-do list. For the next 10 weeks or so, my calendar is completely empty. Not sure why, but it makes me sort of anxious and antsy. I feel the need to find something fun to do. 87 days until my next marathon......

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Amazed by my own awesomeness lately

So, my running has been suffering lately, I am really slow and struggling to get in the miles I need for training, but on the bright side I am crushing my "to-do list" this summer. I've always been pretty adventurous and up for anything and willing to try new things. I've had people ask me if I am in fact dying or recently diagnosed with a terminal illness and my answer is always the same maybe not in the same exact words, but the same general message. I am not dying (that I know of), I AM LIVING! That's why I don't call my list a "bucket list" because I prefer to think of it as things to do to feel alive, not things to do before I die.

I think I've mentioned it before but my approach is something like this - Opportunity + Ability + Means = Infinite Possibility. If I have the opportunity and the ability to do something and it is within my budget to do it, why wait for sometime or another time or next year or when someone else wants to do it too, if I have a chance I WILL take it. It just so happens that this summer I have had a lot of amazing opportunities to do some really awesome things.

Beginning in May - ran two marathons back to back (although in hindsight that was dumb). Went for a ride in a glider, that was unreal and something I definitely want to do again. June - Did the Best Buddies challenge 50 mile bike ride. Gave a stranger a $100 bill. Ran up Mount Washington. Saw the famous sign post in Maine with all the different countries on it. Went to Iceland. Licked an iceberg. Ran the midnight sun half marathon. July - Hit balls at a driving range for the first time ever. Bought my first brand new car. August - Flew a helicopter. Ran the Falmouth Road Race. Went to Martha's Vineyard. Went zip lining. Rode the Alpine roller coaster at Gunstock mountain.

My September calendar was looking pretty boring in comparison, but to be fair I am at the end of my marathon training and need to do some pretty long runs in the next 4 weeks. Ideally, if the weather cooperates and I don't die from heat stroke, the plan is for 16-18-20-18-TAPER. With those kind of miles planned that will likely take me 3-4 hours to complete, then refueling and resting afterwards, my weekends are likely to be toast as a result. This coming weekend is Labor day and so I have an extra day to play. The plan was to do my long run Saturday morning and then have the rest of the weekend for adventures. I searched Groupon for ideas and at first didn't come up with much. There was a white water rafting trip deal, but I had very low confidence that they would have availability so last minute and I was right. But they put me on the wait list.....and yesterday they called and I'm in. Opportunity + Ability + Means = Oh heck yeah I'm doing it!
Booked my white water rafting trip, then I looked up when the most recent high water release date was because New England is in an extreme drought right now and I was wondering if the water levels would be really low. Well, wouldn't you know it the next high water release date.......Sunday. The day I am going. I could not be more excited, nervous, amped, maybe a little scared. I tried to think and this might be the most dangerous thing I have done. Skydiving is a close tie. But white water rafting on one of the highest water release dates of the summer in the biggest river in Maine, which happens to be called the Dead River. Yeah, it's going to be awesome!

The rest of the month is wide open, but if an opportunity comes up, I WILL take it.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Random thought brought me to tears

I was driving into work this morning and just listening to random songs from my iTunes on shuffle. A song from a movie I had seen with my mom and my brother a few years ago on Christmas came on and at first it reminded me of that movie and that Christmas and it was a good memory of good times. Then my mind started to wander to this Christmas and what movie we might go to see. I know the movie about a marathon bombings and the manhunt that followed is scheduled to be released this December and I got an overwhelming rush of anxiety that my mom and my brother will want to go see it and will not understand why I cannot. Images flashed in my brain of that day and the possibility of reliving it through Hollywood's eyes and I started crying.

I immediately started trying to come up with the words to explain why I cannot go watch a big screen re-enactment of a horrific event I witnessed first hand. Not only for my own emotional well being, but also the deep feelings I have about someone profiting from the recreation of the events. On the first part - to some, including my mom and brother, it may be simple to want to go see a movie about an event that happened recently with famous people in it acting out the roles of real people they saw on the news when it happened.

To me it is not that simple. I really, really wish it was, believe me, more than anything I WISH I could somehow compartmentalize the feelings I had that day and that week and disconnect them from my daily life. But for me, even the idea of seeing a recreation immediately brings me back to that moment and that intense fear and isolation I felt in the moment as if it is happening all over again. I know in my rational brain that 3 years have gone by, things have changed, I ran the marathon safely and triumphantly the following year, I watched daily as news vans reported from the Federal Courthouse next to my office on the trial of the bomber, I quietly cried when I heard the verdict, I go on doing different marathons and going on adventures and accomplishing goals, but every once in a while completely unexpected and randomly something happens or a thought enters my brain and I am right back in Boston on April 15th, 2013.

As far as the second part of why I cannot see the movie, I know that it is a dramatic story that must be told. I bought all the books that came out in the year after the bombings, not out of fascination, but more out of comfort in hearing that people are ok and learning about the stories of average people that became heroes that day and in a way it helped me to process the information and the events and cope with the emotions I felt and also support the many other people that lived through it because most if not all of the books published donated proceeds to the victims of the bombings. That is where the movie takes a different approach and it is exactly why I cannot go see it, it doesn't seem as though it was filmed for the reasons the books were written and on the contrary it IS for entertainment and to feed that strange fascination that people have and it is FOR PROFIT. I know the OneFund no longer exists and that money has been given to the people that deserved to receive it for the traumas they endured, but there are other charities that were established and other ways the film could support the community impacted by the events, but instead the famous people acting out the roles of the real people in this story will collect a fat paycheck and probably not think twice about the people they played and the lasting effect that day had on them.

Anyway, this is all just the randomness that entered my brain this morning along my 35 minute commute to work. I changed the song and shuffled to the next song and wiped away the tears and thought there are still several months until Christmas and there will be plenty of other movies to pick from. In the meantime, I have a marathon to train for and adventures to plan. Focusing on those things and living my life to the fullest possible amount of awesomeness I can manage keeps me going and forward and prevents me from going back to that place mentally. So one foot in front of the other, I will keep moving forward.

Friday, August 19, 2016

How did that happen?

Another month gone by. It's been the hottest and driest summer on record for parts of New England. Which equals the worst ever marathon training conditions for me. Only 7 weeks left to train for Portland Oregon and I have yet to complete more than 14 miles. The past two attempts at 16 miles I cut short at 10 because it got dangerously hot with the heat index over 100 degrees. I am seriously hoping that in the next few weeks at least I can get to 16 or 18 miles before I start to taper.

My longest run of the summer, also ridiculously slow, but I'll take it considering the day before I tried to do my run and only made it a little over a mile from my house before walking home because it was too hot and too humid. I tried so hard and just couldn't breath and couldn't lift one foot in front of the other. It was definitely one of those days when running felt impossible. The next morning I got up determined and the weather cooperated, sort of. It was a little cooler and a lot less humid so I left early and got my run done.

Although not a long run, I did complete the Beach to Beacon 10K again this year. It was cooler temperature wise, but the humidity made it feel like a swim not a run. I still managed to have fun with it though. I met some great people on the course and in the start corral. I made it just about 4 miles before the guy in the lighthouse passed me. (yes, there's a guy that runs the race IN a lighthouse).
After the race I met up with a friend and we did a brewery tour of the Greater Portland area - Bissell Brothers, Foundation, Austin Street, Allagash, and Geary's. Then spent some time chilling in my mom's pool. Maine really is "the way life should be."

On the non-running side of life, I am having a lot of fun checking some really cool things off my list. I hit balls at a driving range for the first time. That was exciting. And it might have been a little cruel, but I bet all the guys I was with $20 if they could hit the kid driving the cart that sucks up the balls on the green. It made things a little more challenging. 

I also said goodbye to my Subaru. It was a great and reliable car for 10yrs and 183,000+ miles, but it was time and I wanted to shop for a new car before the Subaru 'shit the bed' (as Mainer's say). So, I checked off another item on my list. For the first time in my life I bought a brand NEW car. I have always had used cars ever since I got my license. First was the Subaru my brother and I shared in high school, then I had a Jetta in college, then when the Jetta died I got a Ford Focus because it was all I could afford at the time and I hated it. Then I totaled the Focus and bought my Subaru. Now I am the proud owner of a 2016 MINI Cooper that only had 12 miles on it when I picked it up.
I tried to get up early last week and see the Perseid Meteor shower and failed. It was 2am and definitely dark enough out, but the lights in the courtyard of my condo were much too bright for me to see any shooting stars. But that was a small thing on my list compared to what I did next. I learned to fly a helicopter! Technically it was just an introductory lesson and there's no chance I could actually fly one solo, but I did a 30 minute ground instruction and a 30 minute flight where I did the take off AND landing and NAILED IT. It was amazing and I actually thought it was easier than flying a plane. I don't think I will be getting a helicopter pilot's license or anything crazy, but it was a lot of fun. I might have to add to my list revisit the idea of continuing flight lessons. I wouldn't mind getting a pilot's license to fly small planes like Cessnas or something. Those are really fun!
I have a few things 'on deck' but will be brainstorming some more fun things to squeeze in too. I am getting really close to completing my 200th item on the list. Flying a helicopter was #193. Stay tuned for new adventures and more on my marathon training.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Really struggling lately

After I initially lost just over 100lbs., I was able to maintain my weight for about 7 years. I fluctuated +/- 5-10lbs on a monthly average weight depending on my training (and overtraining), but I stayed within my ideal weight range for a while. In the last 3 years that has not been the case and it is really upsetting me.

I KNOW some of this is purely excuses, everyone has them and I KNOW there are solutions and things I can do to change things up, but I guess what I am getting at is IT'S HARD. REALLY HARD.

A series of unfortunate events has caused some of my unhealthy behaviors to return and my fitness and nutrition habits have suffered. First, I was laid off from my job in 2011, which actually wasn't a bad thing, but I lost access to my gym and all my gym friends. I stopped doing strength training completely and focused only on running and biking and occasionally swimming if I had a triathlon to do. I have no doubt this caused me to lose muscle mass and metabolize food differently.

The biggest event with the biggest impact was the bombings in 2013. I was not injured, but I was definitely scarred for life and have some very real symptoms of PTSD. For weeks and months after the bombings I had awful nightmares (and I still do occasionally). I worry about things I never used to worry about. I take notice of things I probably never thought about before when in public or large crowds. Fireworks and loud noises still startle me and sometimes make me cry. As a result of these things I began drinking more frequently. (from 2010-2012 I didn't drink at all) After the bombings, I would have 3-4 beers just to get to bed at night and when neighbors set off fireworks I'd sit awake in bed shaking and crying unable to get back to sleep.

I slowly got back to somewhat of a normal routine and tried eating vegetarian in an effort to switch things up and put better fuel in my engine, but got exhausted easily and gave up after about a year of no meat. In 2014, I was laid off again and stressed out because I had very little severance pay and finding a new job took a lot longer than it did in 2011. I got a new job and I love it, but the location makes it difficult to run near work and even more difficult to meet friends to run after work, and when things are not convenient and easy, they just don't happen. There is a fitness center onsite and I am a member but the managers, the atmosphere, and members are just not as fun as the gym where I initially lost weight and started this journey.

As a result of the weight I have gained back, I am A LOT slower and running is A LOT harder. This makes me not want to run. It makes me embarrassed to run with friends that are faster than me. It makes me ashamed of my race results, I finish, yes, but dead last definitely takes the wind out of the sails, so to speak, and doesn't feel like a great accomplishment anymore. It makes me try to find reasons NOT to sign up for races I used to love because I don't want people to see me there and see me fail.

All of this breaks my heart and I am really struggling to climb my way out of this hole but keep falling deeper and deeper into the abyss. I am hoping that in sharing this struggle and getting it out there, I can find the strength and determination I had almost 10 years ago now when I first stepped on a scale horrified by my own body and how big I had become. I need that back. I need to start over. I KNOW I can do this. I've done it before. It's frustrating to find myself creeping back to where I started but I want to stop and reverse this course and get back to my healthy weight and happier self.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Another month gone by....

Wait, what?!?! It's July? How did that happen? The short version of June is 50 mile bike ride, 10 mile training run, Mount Washington Road race, Midnight Sun half marathon in Iceland, followed by spending the weekend of the 4th of July completely off the grid in northern Maine for 4 days.

Looking at the last 4 weeks (including this week) I have been or will only be home for a total of 7 days. And every other weekend for the next two months is already booked with something fun and the "free" weekends have 16 mile training runs penciled in.

Now for a little more in depth look back. First the 50 mile bike ride: Best Buddies Challenge from Carver to Hyannisport. It was hot and hilly and the first long bike ride I have done in probably 2-3 years. I felt it, but it was still fun for sure. Lobster bake at the end and a free Beach Boys concert with Tom Brady and Jullian Edelman, not too shabby.

Then the Mount Washington Road race, 7.6 miles up the tallest mountain on the east coast. It was a lot harder than I remembered it being three years ago, but I am older, heavier, and a lot slower. It took me exactly an hour longer than it took me in 2013. I finished in 3:16. The weather was perfect, maybe even a little too hot. Still had a great time and checked off a few more items on my list while in the area. Gave a $100 bill to a stranger and saw the famous road sign in Maine that points to Mexico, Poland, Moscow, Paris, etc.
The $100 bill was something I had in my wallet since 2013 after the bombings, intending to give it to a stranger on or near Boylston, but the moment never felt right so I held onto it waiting for the right moment. We had a waitress at a small pub in Jackson, NH that was clearly working harder than any of the other waitresses there and she took great care of us making sure we got our food fast and even a snack before because I was HANGRY and ready to kill and eat a small child. She checked back with me to make sure I was doing ok and not ravenous anymore and offered chicken noodle soup to help out too. All the tables near us with different waitresses were still waiting for their food when we paid our bill. She was incredible.

The week after Mount Washington I went to Iceland. Words cannot describe how amazing it was. Volcanoes, geysers, waterfalls, glaciers, icebergs, deserts, lush green countryside, sheep, Icelandic horses, sunlight for almost 24 hours a day, elves and trolls, lagoons, monster trucks, pits and bits (figure it out)...... and the Big Lebowski bar. I can't wait to go back again.
Got home from Iceland and packed for the holiday weekend in Maine. My family owns a camp 3 hours north of Portland and about 15 minutes from the Canadian border. It is so remote that you can only get to it by boat or by logging roads and hiking through the woods. Once you get past Skowhegan there isn't really a lot up there except moose and white water rafting companies, but that's what makes it so awesome. There is no electricity, no running water, no TV, barely any cell reception, nearest major town is over an hour away, nearest small town is 15 minutes away and on the Canadian border. It is the most peaceful place, full of fond memories, with nothing to do there but relax and enjoy the beauty that surrounds you. It was really hard to leave and come back to reality and civilization.
Anyway, I am back to reality, even if only for a few days before going back to Maine for a half marathon this weekend. I doubt I will even have time to do my laundry before I leave again. My favorite hoodie smells like campfire and I kind of love it.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Time seems to be slipping away

Days are flying by. It feels like it was only last week that I went to Wisconsin and Michigan, but that was almost a month ago already. It's been a struggle to get motivated to start running again after that painful challenge. In fact, since the mittens I have only run once. I am in a serious funk and need a kick in the butt to just get re-started. I have a few really fun events coming up in the end of June and if I don't get back out there I will not be ready even for a short race. Granted the shorter of the two races I have coming up is a little over 7 miles up Mount Washington so that will probably be harder than the half marathon the following week.

The month of May just sort of left me physically and mentally exhausted and unable to snap out of it yet. My mom scheduled surgery at a hospital near my house and came down for a pre-op appointment on my birthday so we went out for dinner the night before. Then on my actual birthday I didn't have any plans which felt a little disappointing, but also kind of ok. I didn't want to do anything really. The weekend after my birthday I did check off another item from my "to-do" list and it was pretty cool. I rode in a glider above the Franconia ridge trail that I hiked solo last summer. I think I thought it would give me more of an adrenaline rush than it did. It was really awesome, but not as awesome as skydiving or flying a plane and doing a zero G parabola.
The week after that, mom had her surgery and my brother came down with his dog and stayed while my mom was in the hospital. Then my mom recovered for a few days at my house before returning home. While I am extremely happy that everything went well and my mom is ok, it was a bit of a disruption to my house and my routine in general and I have not had the time since then to put everything back where it belongs and clean my house. I have piles of mail I need to go through and throw out. Bills for the condo association that need to be paid. I have laundry that needs to be done and a sink full of dishes. The lawn needs to be mowed and I realized when leaving my house this morning it is supposed to rain today and I might not be able to mow it tonight as planned.

Tomorrow I am doing a 50 mile bike ride for the Best Buddies Challenge, a fundraiser that Tom Brady does on the cape. It ends in Hyannisport and there is a huge party and lobster bake and the Beach Boys are doing a concert. I will likely be gone all day and still won't get to any of the things in my house that need to be done. AND I haven't been on my bike since August of last year. I'm not even sure where my bike shorts are or if they even fit me anymore. Sunday I would like to get out and do a 6-8 miles run, then tackle a few of the chores on my ever growing list.

In two weeks, I get to run up Mount Washington again. I am thinking of doing it in a fun costume or something to get some cool photos along the way. Maybe while I am up in New Hampshire that weekend I can find a few more fun things to check off my list. Then the following week I am going to Iceland to run a half marathon in the middle of the night, with the sun still out because it is just after summer solstice. I am really excited for that. I've only ever stopped over in Iceland on my way to Denmark for work. I cannot wait to see more of it than just the airport. Looking forward to checking off "bath in a geothermal spa" and maybe "climb an active volcano" and "stand on a glacier".

I also purchased a book to learn dollar bill origami and I've already figured out a few of them. So I think I can check "Learn Origami" off my list too.

Hopefully I can get out of my rut soon and back into a better routine. Maybe even get back on my bike more regularly and do some more triathlons this summer or next summer. I miss it, I'm just scared to get hit again. It was 5 years ago this week that I got hit last time. Doesn't seem like it was that long ago. Time really does fly by......

Friday, May 13, 2016


So, last weekend I went to Wisconsin and Michigan to run two marathons in two days, probably my dumbest idea ever, but it seemed like a great idea a few months ago.

Although it was the most challenging thing I have ever done and I pushed my body to new limits, I think I can say now after the fact that I still had a great experience earning my mittens.  Sunday I finished after the clocks were taken down and the timing company had stopped recording results. Disappointing and not the race I had visualized going into the weekend. My training went well, but no one was prepared for 30mph headwinds in Wisconsin the day before. That race completely drained me and set me up for failure in Kalamazoo, but I was determined to finish what I started (despite my body disagreeing and fighting me every step of the way). The volunteers along the course in Kalamazoo and at the finish area made me feel amazing and cheered louder than the little voice in my head telling me I did awful and should be embarrassed to finish dead last, instead I felt like I won. 

But I am getting ahead of myself, first there was the Wisconsin Marathon (#23 for me). I flew into Chicago and drove to Kenosha, WI. Which by the way, aside from the race, may not have any reason to visit it, ever (sorry Wisconsin). The weather forecast looked ideal, high in the low 60s by afternoon and overcast/partly cloudy skies. What I missed in that forecast was the wind. 28mph sustained winds coming from the north = headwind, with 40+ mph gusts. The effort it took to 'run' into that kind of wind for so long literally drained me of every ounce of energy I had in my body. I went into the race feeling great and started out really strong, but when the winds picked up and didn't quit my hopes of finishing in maybe 5:30 at an easy pace were destroyed and I finished in 6:42:36 in a lot of pain with tears in my eyes and doubt in my mind about running another 26.2 in less than 24hrs.
Immediately after crossing the finish line in Wisconsin I had to hobble back to my car for a 3 hour drive to Kalamazoo, MI. I thought I had parked really close to the finish area, but walking to my car seemed to take forever and felt like another friggin marathon in itself. I was hangry and uncomfortable and freezing cold and couldn't feel my fingers. I definitely swore at some kids running around and crossing my path as I tried to navigate my way. It was not pretty. I talked to a friend on the phone and admitted that I might not even start the marathon in Kalamazoo. I was in a lot of pain and did not see any way possible for me to do it all over again.

I made it to Kalamazoo and met up with a friend from Boston originally from Michigan who came out to cheer for me and show me around. We went to one of her friend's houses for a beer and some food. Slowly I felt a little better and remembered several training runs that went horrible on Saturday and awesome on Sunday so I hoped for the same experience in the race. Worst case scenario I figured I would start the race and bail if it got to be too painful.

Sunday morning I got up, my legs felt ok but my feet were destroyed; blisters, swollen, painful. My friends encouraged me and said "you can do this". I was not so sure. It was going to be hot and sunny, but no winds at least. I went through all the different scenarios in my head of how to decide whether or not to keep going or quit. If anything hurt really bad like it did the day before, if my pace wasn't a certain number for the first 5 miles, if I didn't reach the halfway point by a certain time. But somewhere deep inside me I knew, if I started the race there was not a whole lot that could make me not cross the finish line even if it meant I was crawling.

That's pretty much what happened. The first 5 miles were a lot slower than I wanted them to be, but I felt ok. My legs were strong, but my feet were throbbing in pain. I thought I was not last. I saw a few people at the start that were near me at the finish the day before and they were not ahead of me so they had to be behind me. Somewhere around mile 11 or 12 I started running with two other women and we noticed a police car trailing behind us. We WERE the last runners. And we thought we might be getting swept, the cop assured us he was only there to watch the roads and keep us safe. I accepted the reality that we might get swept and thought as long as we make it to the halfway point I think I could be proud of that accomplishment.
All I have to say is thank God for those other two women. I was ready to throw in the towel, hitch a ride back to the finish, and call it a day. They kept me going. We all decided to stick together and did a run walk interval that worked for all of us. We were right at the pace to just barely make the time cut off for the race and determined to push through all the pain and get it done. As the miles went by I started to feel worse and worse. The other ladies were so strong, I couldn't keep up, I was falling behind and struggling to stay with them, but they didn't drop me. We stuck together. In the last 5 or 6 miles I was really hurting. My vision was a little blurred, I was swaying a bit, I felt nauseated and puked a little of the water I tried to take at one of the water stops. I was overheating and dehydrated. It was not good.

I pressed on. One of the two ladies decided to pick up her pace and try for an official time. I had given up on that miles ago and just wanted to not die. The other woman could have left me, but she didn't, she paced me at just barely crawl, shuffling for 3 minutes and walking for 1 minute. The police car left us at mile 23 and the roads opened back up. I was crying not just because I was in pain, but because I was scared that now there would be no one to help me if I went down. I just put one foot in front of the other and refused to stop. Every single step more painful than the previous one and tears rolling down my face because I had come so far and didn't want to fail. With one mile left to go, my new friend Jill said her boyfriend was coming to meet us and walk us into the finish and I heard someone yelling my name. It was my friend Dionna (mind you she has a busted foot and STILL walked a mile out to meet us and guide us to the finish). Slowly but surely we did it together we crossed the finish line and then hugged each other as I tried not to collapse.
It was by far the most painful marathon physically and emotionally for me. I am disappointed. I did not want to be DFL (Dead F*cking Last). I did not want to cross the line after the clocks were taken down. I am a lot slower than I have been in years past. I have put on weight that makes it a lot harder to run. I am not in the shape I want to be in. I am not the runner I want to be. I can't even go for fun runs with some of my friends anymore because I am so slow. BUT ..... and it's a big one (and I also have a big one) I AM STILL MOVING FORWARD. No matter what my Garmin says for time, My two feet and all of the extra pounds of flesh and bones on my body covered that distance. I may not have 'run' by standard definition, but I FINISHED two marathons in two days and as far as I am concerned I worked just as hard if not harder to EARN my mittens.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Feeling bleh...

So, about a month to go until I run two marathons in two days and hopefully 'earn my mittens'. My training is going as well as can be expected although a little slower than I'd like. I haven't been doing any mid-week workouts so I think that is why I am slow on my long runs. I need to get back into a routine of shorter mid-week runs and some strength training too. I am also kind of looking forward to tapering and having some time on weekends to see friends and do something other than running, eating, and sleeping. The back to back long runs are really wiping me out. I opted for 20+10 instead of double 20s, erring on the side of caution and running strong rather than pushing it and risking injury. This past weekend I was planning on double 18s and skipped the second one because of a freak spring snow squall and 65mph winds.
Despite all this running I have managed to do some pretty awesome stuff recently. I am continuing on with my pottery class and have made some pretty cool things. I love it. It's such an escape from everything in life and I have some really cool bowls and mugs to show for it. I took a glass mosaic class last week and made a coaster that came out pretty sweet. And Sunday night I went to a Learn to Curl class. Yeah, Curling, like in the winter Olympics. It was a lot harder than I thought it would be and a LOT OF FUN. I learned all the lingo and rules, it's sort of like shuffleboard on ice and it originated in Scotland. Who knew?
Even with these fun classes and all the running, plus having lots of fun races coming up, I am itching to explore something else or discover some sort of new adventure. I have made a little progress on my "to-do" list this year, but nothing like last year. I've checked off 10 items so far this year and have 10 more items lined up or scheduled for the near future. I will have to consult the list and see if there is anything else I can check off. Something local that doesn't require traveling. Something that can be done in a day or two at the most. Something that doesn't cost more than a couple hundred dollars. AND does NOT include running, but also has little risk of injury that would prevent me from running. I LOVE running, like a lot, or else I wouldn't still do it, but I want to live a life filled with a wide variety of adventures. I love to tell people when they ask what I've done lately, I'll try anything once, twice if it's fun. So, what should I do next???????

Monday, February 22, 2016

Awesome is exhausting

I can't believe it is already the end of February. So much has happened since my last update. I am tired just thinking about it all. January was kind of a mess and chaotic. I was trying to refinance my condo all around the Dopey Challenge trip and things totally fell apart. It was complicated for several reasons, the biggest one being that I was working with a friend as my broker. My appraisal came in a lot lower than expected and I didn't have enough equity in my place to make it work. My friend convinced me that I could just pay a big chunk of the mortgage off to bring the numbers up to snuff. So, that was another complication because I just didn't have the funds available to do that. My friend pressured me to continue despite very tight finances and I felt obligated to continue because I didn't want to let my friend down. I scraped together the money needed and then the lender kept dragging it out and not giving me a closing date. With my February mortgage due and approaching being late, I took the personal relationship out of the equation and re-evaluated the decision and backed out. I would have loved a lower interest rate, but it meant I was neglecting other bills and completely emptying my savings account. It just wasn't worth it. My friend couldn't separate the business from the personal relationship and hasn't spoken to me since. I am still hopeful that things will change.

Anyway, it was a huge relief deciding not to go forward with it and it allowed me to get back to living my awesome life. I took a blacksmithing class and made a really cool bracelet out of an iron bar. It was a little scary at first playing with fire and extremely hot metal, but once you figure out that you feel the heat and you are smart enough not to touch the hot things, it got easier and was actually really fun.
The following weekend I did the stair climb for American Lung Association. I climbed 3 times again. It is still one of my favorite events. I just love it. It's so challenging but it's over with so quickly. And of course there's all the fire fighters that show up for the event too. That's easy on the eyes. Plus, my hometown boys from Portland Fire won the fastest fire fighter team again. I think they have won it maybe 6 or 7 times since the event started. They make me proud to be from Maine.

Valentine's weekend the north east got a ridiculous cold snap dropping temperatures below zero and wind chills around -35 degrees. I was supposed to do back to back 12 milers and I managed to do the Saturday run, but decide against the Sunday run because the weather forecast was "life threatening" cold. Plus Saturday night I did my first (and last) snowshoe race. I thought it sounded like fun. Run through the woods in the dark with a headlamp in snowshoes. Yeah, it wasn't fun. It was awful. I know I am not fast and I expected to be at the back of the pack. I was the slowest person and the pack was way ahead of me. I was ALONE, in the dark, in the woods, with a little light shinning from my headlamp and a lot of wind and scary noises. It was terrifying. I did it, I checked it off my list, but I can honestly say I will NEVER do it again.

This past weekend I did back to back 14 milers and tonight I am going to a floral arrangement class. I really hope I can stay awake, because right now I just want to go back to bed. I also have my annual condo association meeting later this week and that is always entertaining. I just hope it's uneventful and over with quickly.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Small negotiations

After 2 weeks of recovery from Dopey and the nasty cold I got when I arrived home, I finally went for a run this weekend. Two runs actually, back to back. Because I need to start training for my back to back marathons coming up in May.

Saturday while some of the east coast was being buried by a blizzard, Lowell was protected by a lovely bubble of high pressure, but it also brought with it ridiculously cold air. The temps were in the teens with a "real feel" in the single digits. I convinced my friend Lisa to get out there and do a quick easy 3 miles with me. Well, actually we convinced each other. It was a text conversation back and forth that went a little like "we should go for a run" "it's really stupid cold out though" "just a short one" "we will be done before we even realize it's cold" "I have a lot to do today" "it won't take us long" "it's not going to get much warmer, if we go we should go soon" "I could do 3 miles right now" "ok let's do it" "I'll get dressed" "me too"

My legs definitely felt a little heavy and it took about half a mile for them to remember what this running thing is and how to do it. And right about half a mile in was when the wind kicked up and we realized how friggin cold it was. It was ok though, we were already out there and running, nothing left to do but get it done and we did. Afterwards I felt a lot better. I had been feeling antsy and kind of lazy because I rested SO much after Dopey, but clearly my body needed it. The run was a success and I was back at it again. Officially training for my next marathon.

Sunday morning I was very pleased to wake up and see the sun AND no snow (sorry rest of the east coast, but Lowell got enough last year). I headed out for a slightly longer run. Aiming for 4-5 miles, 4 if my legs and body didn't feel good and 5 if everything was ok. As I was running and reaching the decision point of my route, it occurred to me that every run is in a way a series of small negotiations between the brain and the body. This could not be more true in a marathon.

On this particular run I was debating between, easing into my training and not over doing it but going a little bit further if I felt like it, but not too far. I play these weird mind games with myself. Like if my iPod shuffle plays a motown song next instead of rock or pop I will turn around now and call it a day. Or maybe I'll just run to the next mailbox and THEN turn around, that might be far enough for the day. Then this other voice in my head chimes in and says, stop it you feel great and you can go a little further. Then the OCD side of my brain kicks in and thinks if I do 7 miles today that makes a nice even 10 for the week with yesterday's 3 miles. And the type A planner in me starts thinking long term, if I do 3 and 7 this week, what should I run next week?  I ended up pushing through the negative Nelly that tried to make me cut the run short and did the full 7 mile loop.

The same sort of small negotiations happen during a marathon only there is no turning back. It is either keep moving forward or stop. When I start to suffer towards the end of a race I think to myself "just get to the next water stop or mile marker". I forget where I read it and which marathon training book it was in, but one of the best mantras I've learned is no matter how far you have gone or how far you still have to go, just run the mile you are in. I use that one a lot in the last 10K of a marathon. I sometimes try to do math (depending on how delirious I am sometimes I succeed sometimes not so much) - how many miles left? If I can at least maintain my current pace for the next X miles I can still finish under X:XX time.

No matter how much it hurts and how much I suffer I somehow always manage to negotiate just a little more out of myself. I have even thought before, "as long as I slow down a little I'm not going to die". "This might take me a lot longer than I wanted it to, but I will finish." "I can go straight to the medical tent AFTER I cross the finish line." "Just stay upright" "Don't close your eyes" "Don't pass out." "The faster you move your feet, the sooner this will all be over." "Run for just one minute more or 30 seconds more."  All of these little conversations I have with myself somehow eventually lead to the glory at the finish line that I have been chasing ever since my first marathon. Then I start the debate of I'm never doing this again vs. what race should I sign up for next.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

New Year, New AWESOME!

It's going to be really tough to top last year, but that won't stop me from trying. Here's a quick 2015 recap: Dopey Challenge #2, Ice Climbing, Flying Pig Marathon (#20), flew a plane, went sailing, hiked Franconia ridge solo, completed the New England Mountain Goat Series, played Polo, rappelled down an 80ft. waterfall, did a high ropes obstacle course, went to Hollywood, took a pottery class, went to Niagara Falls, ran marathon #21, played BINGO, went dog sledding, and a whole lot of other awesome things.

My total mileage for the year was pretty low, but I went into the year with the goal of doing more non-running things so it makes sense. I think I checked off something like 50 items on my "to-do" list and reached a total of 150 things checked off (out of the growing list of currently 475 things). Looking back, it was in a word - EPIC. I know people tend to overuse that word, but I think it really applies to 2015 for me. I accomplished A LOT for one year and had A LOT of fun.

So far 2016 has had a decent start. I rang in the New Year at a Gatsby style red carpet gala. Then got up the next day with a bit of a champagne headache and ran a 10K. It wasn't fast, but I felt good so I didn't care.
This past weekend I completed my 3rd Dopey Challenge in Disney World. As usual, the weather was my biggest challenge, not the 48.6 miles. The 5K and 10K went well, although thinking about it now, I might have raced them a little too fast in preparation for the half and the full. I finished the 5K in about 40 minutes (stopping for a picture with Chip and Dale about a mile into the race). I finished the 10K in about 75 minutes. It was pouring rain and a little cold, but overall not too bad.

For the half marathon, I dressed as Tinkerbell again and tried to get as many fun photos as I could, saving my legs for the full marathon. It was hazy and humid. Not as bad as 2015, but still muggy. I was drenched within the first mile. I stopped at almost every character to get a photo and I think I finished in a little over 3 and a half hours. Afterwards I refueled and relaxed the rest of the day at our hotel and even got to spend some time floating around in the lazy river. 

The morning of the full marathon I felt pretty good. It was really humid again, but the temperature was cool so I wasn't too worried. The forecast was 68-70 degrees and partly cloudy for the whole day. As soon as I started running though my legs felt heavy and my quads were not happy. I made it to the castle and through Magic Kingdom feeling pretty good. The sun started to peek through the clouds around mile 10 right before Animal Kingdom. Lucky for me it stayed behind the clouds and didn't really come out.

Running into Animal Kingdom I remembered that the past few years of the race Disney allowed runners to ride the roller coaster Expedition Everest mid-race. I've always skipped it, but I had a feeling it was going to be a long day and I decided to take the opportunity and have a little fun before the really tough miles. It was right at the half way point and I was 3 hours into the race and fully expecting a 6 hour marathon so, why not? IT WAS AWESOME!!! Totally worth it. I will do it again next year and every year I run Disney as long as my legs will let me.

I had such a boost of adrenaline and energy after that, the next few miles flew by. It wasn't until I got to the ESPN Wide World of Sports around mile 17 that I started feeling not quite right. I actually swayed and stumbled a bit and almost went down. I took a quick status check and realized I was crusty and covered in salt, I couldn't remember when I took my gels and how many I had left, I couldn't do simple math to figure out from one walk break to the next what time my watch should read, I was starting to get nauseous, and despite the relatively low temps I felt like my head was on fire.

I had to stop for bandaids on my toes twice in the next 3-4 miles and also covered myself in biofreeze to attempt to stay cool and pain free. I did my best to stick to the run 6 minutes - walk 1 minute alarms I set on my watch, but found myself walking a little more and running a little less. Each time I started running I felt like I was going really fast and pushing really hard, but my Garmin told a different story and my body just wouldn't allow me to do what my brain wanted to do - RUN. I started heaving somewhere in the last 10K. Couldn't drink anything even though I knew my body was completely depleted. I ran out of Gels and didn't have any salt tablets.

I was texting mile updates with friends to let them know I was still moving forward and to have something to mentally focus on. One foot in front of the other, one mile at a time. 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, only 2 more miles, I can do it. 25.....last mile, come on body just keep moving. Back spasms and stomach cramps. Dizziness. Nausea. This is not fun. Then I rounded the last corner past the big golf ball of Epcot, with the gospel chorus singing and dancing and cheering me on, I pushed through the pain and crossed the finish line. STILL STANDING! Not fast, but I finished. Then I sat down and was handed a puke bag by a very nice medical volunteer. I had to sit for about 15 minutes before I felt like I could move and even then I did not feel well, but I didn't want to go to the medical tent so I got up and got my medals and found my friends.
On the way to the car we found a wheel chair, so naturally I took a little ride. Back at the hotel, it took me a few hours to be able to get any fluids or food down. But I managed to shower and eat a slice of toast and force down some Gatorade and slowly came back to life.

It's a strange sensation to finish another marathon and another Dopey Challenge. During the race it's a struggle and an intense physical effort, but not long after it seems like a dream (or nightmare) that didn't really happen. My body still has faint memories, aches and pains, and fatigue but my brain has already blocked it out or forgotten that just a few days ago I traveled 48.6 miles on my own two feet four days in a row. I have to remind myself I DID IT because it is too easy for me to focus on the perceived failure. It didn't go as expected and I was slower than I wanted to be and I felt awful at the end, but I DID IT!

Already thinking about fall marathons and which one might be fun to run....stay tuned.