Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Turkey Trot To Go

You know you are a runner when...

...the first thought that pops into your mind, in regards to celebrating a holiday or an event is...there's a race for that.

Thanksgiving? No exception. As most areas seem to, our small hamlet sponsors a Turkey Trot 5K. All proceeds benefit the local food pantry, and all participants are encouraged to bring canned goods and other non-perishable food items to donate.

This is the 4th year that the race has been run, and marked the highest participation to date.

And this year, we helped contribute to those numbers by adding not only my name, but those of the hubster, The Boy Child and The Girl Child to the list of those that ran.

In the last several weeks, leading up to this race, the hubster has been working with me on my pace, pushing me to better my speed by more than a minute on average for shorter distances. Coming in to the race, we all felt pretty confident that I should have no problem blowing the doors off of my old 5K PR. So the goal became - in my words: "To break 25 minutes", in the hubsters: "To do sub 8 minute miles on average".

Thanksgiving morning dawned cold and shiny. And did I mention COLD?

We woke early, bundled up and headed over to the park that would serve as the start and finish of the race, at 7:15AM. It was about 30 degrees. After a brief wait in the registration line, we picked up our bibs and affixed them to our clothes. And then played the waiting game.

Luckily, living in a small town, as we do, the odds are pretty good that, if you are going to have a large gathering of locals? You will know a fair percentage of them. This event was no different, and we were able to kill time for the next hour, socializing with friends and neighbors.

Finally, the clock read 8:30, and it was time to take off. The Boy Child was at the very front of the line with a friend, ready and raring to go. The hubster and I lined up together a bit farther back, while The Girl Child hung back even further with some other friends of ours that were running at a slower pace.

One of the very first things that both hubster and I noticed was that our toes? Were FROZEN. An hour of standing around in frosty grass, waiting to run had rendered them little more than flesh toned icicles. It took the better part of the first mile and a half for them to stop aching.

Happy Turkey Trot Day!
The Turkey Trot is a simple out and back, so there isn't a whole lot along the way that counts as majestic scenery...so I will skip right to the good part.

We reached our goals. I finished the race in 24:29 - which is definitely under 25 minutes. Our overall pace was 7:54 - which is definitely sub-8 minutes. The hubster finished at the same time I did, and The Boy Child finished 5 seconds behind us.

As for The Girl Child? She finished about 10 minutes behind the rest of us, but she finished. And, most importantly, she ran the whole 3.1 miles. I have never seen her so excited and proud of herself.

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Return Of the PIC: Training Time

When last we left our hero, he was wondering how to explain to his wife that he had signed up for a marathon after swearing off running forever…


Well, it turns out I didn’t have to break the news myself as someone else did the honor for me on Facebook. After posting an innocent entry about how my dear friend in PA dragged me out on my first run in quite some time, a yoga friend of mine who was in the know on my marathon plans decided to reply with “awesome…you will do great in the marathon!!” or something to that effect. Crap! So that left me with no choice but to reply with, “Thanks! Oh, and by the way wifey, did I forget to mention that I am running a marathon in October?”.

Needless to say, she was not entirely thrilled about my news as she had previously dealt with my incessant whining each of the 4 years I ran the 10-Mile race. I did my best to convince her that this was different and there would be no whining and that I was planning on properly training for this thing. She didn’t give me too much grief, but seemed somewhat unconvinced.

Anyway, after my visit, I did start to run regularly again. I wasn't following a training plan...I wasn't tracking my distances...I wasn't tracking my pace...but I was running. In hindsight, I wish I had gotten on an official training plan earlier than I did. That being said, I was mostly pleased with my progress.

In August, I actually ran in this crazy 200 mile 12-person team relay event...(another story for another day maybe). Completing that event gave me a lot more confidence that I wasn't going to die during the marathon. Shortly thereafter I actually got to briefly visit PA again, this time with the whole family. Our families seemed to get along swimmingly, which pleased me greatly as this would likely lead to future opportunities to get together.

Upon my return home, I kicked it into high gear with my training. I acquired a GPS watch, started following a training plan, and just kept running! As a numbers guy, tracking and charting my progress with my GPS data was very rewarding and motivating...I should have gotten the watch sooner. I was seeing significant improvement in both my endurance and pace.

The big day was rapidly approaching and I was surprised to find myself fairly confident and ready to do this thing. The initial dread I felt when I signed up for this insanity was slowly being replaced with a feeling of excitement and anticipation. What the hell did this girl do to me? Excited?!? About running?!? 26.2 miles?!! ME????

Stay tuned for my final entry in this series to find out how race day actually turned out.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

In The Running

Finally starting to feel a bit better run-wise...I am not too small to admit that I seriously under-estimated the impact that running 26.2 miles would have on my body! My knee and hip are just finally consistently feeling better. I have spent the last couple of weeks working on doing faster, shorter runs...between 3-4 miles a day at a sub 8 minute pace. The shorter time spent running seemed to help my knee and I have to say, I rather like being able to see an average pace come up of 7:51.

I'm also feeling a little better mentally, as I have a few races on my horizon. Tomorrow is the local turkey trot 5K, which, while not a long distance, is something I am looking forward to for two reasons...1 - the whole family is running it this year, and 2 - I am anxious to see if I can break 25 minutes.

Also coming up soon is a 10K, next weekend, one town over. My husband and "Mildred" will be running with me, so that makes it even more exciting.

Shortly after that, we have our eyes on a half marathon in West Virginia, so there are races for me to focus my training energies on. All good stuff.

I hope you all have a happy and healthy Turkey Day! Cheers!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Liebster List Thing

I recently received the greatest (and also only) honor for my blog that I have ever received, which is a nomination for a Liebster award, from my very favorite upbeat vegetable, The Happy Radish.

Once I finished swooning from the general, heady excitement of the whole thing, I set about trying to figure out what the heck that actually means for me and the rest of the blogiverse. Unfortunately, there seem to be mixed ideas and instructions around this award...so I am going to cobble all that I have read into the version that works best for me...

A Liebster Award is an award given from one small (under 200 followers) blog, to another. It is meant to cause a much needed ego boost to the little blogger who could, even though nobody else may notice. You are supposed to accept your award by stating 11 facts about yourself, answering the 11 questions presented to you by your nominator and coming up with your own 11 questions to pass on to 11 other small bloggers that you would like to nominate.

OK...not that I believe for even a second that anyone wants to know any of this...but because I am a sucker for creating a list...and if I can bullet it out? All the better...

All About Me
  • I am an only child. And I am apparently the poster child for only children. As such, sibling dynamics, specifically those of my children, completely confound and mystify me.
  • I was a Boy Scout in college. This made me gleefully happy.
  • I was a Girl Scout in middle school. This made me woefully sad.
  • I am the world's most graceful person when I am standing still. The moment I begin to move, shit just falls apart.
  • I have never once felt a connection to or an ability to "relate" to a female character on a television show, in a book or in a movie. I do however identify strongly with a number of male characters...Sheldon from Big Bang Theory...Kramer from Seinfeld.
  • My favorite movie of all time is The Princess Bride. I can recite almost all of the lines in this movie by heart.
  • My guilty pleasure movie is Clueless. Which is really a clever adaptation of the novel Emma, by Jane Austen. It doesn't matter what day, time or place it is...if I am flipping through channels, and Clueless is on? I am watching it.
  • I can't stand to be bored. If left to my own devices, I will find something to occupy my time. This is not always a good thing.
  • I feel most myself when I am running.
  • I'm still not sure what I want to be when I grow up. I fear my children will be grown and have figured this out, before I do.
  • I suffer from relatively severe body dysmorphia and am extremely intimidated by people that are overweight.
and, simply because Cait asked me to... Here is my list of answer to her Liebster questions:
1. What is the correct way to pronounce Nutella? (NEW-tella, or NUH-tella??)
 It's NUH-tella. Anything else is unacceptable, and will make my ears jump off of my head and run around the room naked.

2. How do you sign off on emails?
Depends...if it is a "business" email, my tagline is "Attitudes are contagious...is YOURS worth catching?" If it is a personal email, then typically, it is something like "Cancel my subscription, I'm done with your issues."

3. When is the last time you were proud of yourself?
 October 7, 2012, as I crossed the finish line of the Twin Cities Marathon. Well, technically, I have been proud since that moment in time...but that event is the catalyst of those prideful feelings.

4. Do you ever talk to yourself?
I'm the only one that tends to listen, so yes.

5. What do you eat for breakfast most days?
I eat the same thing for breakfast every day, M-F...and that would be a Greek Yogurt. Specifically a Dannon Oikios in either Strawberry or Raspberry flavor. There can be no deviations to this, otherwise the eating thing? Simply won't happen. Which is all part of a conversation for another day.

If it is a weekend, and I manage to remember to eat, it is most likely a piece of toast with Nutella (see NUH-tella, lol) or Cinnamon Raisin Peanut Butter from Peanut Butter and Company.

6. How does it make you feel when someone tells you that you're beautiful?
Mostly uncomfortable and like cracking a joke.

7. You don't need to elaborate on who you would say this to, but what's one thing you need to say, and haven't yet (or never will)?
No. I am terrible at No. It is how I typically find myself buried under piles of other people's problems.

8. Tell me a memory that involves crazy weather.
So. Late summer 2004...I am on the cusp of turning 29, and am planning to celebrate my birthday for the very last time, as I have no intention of turning 30, ever. I've booked a room on the concierge floor of the Beach Club resort at Disney. Family and friends have been advised that they are more than welcome to join me, but they are on their own as far as making reservations and whatnot.

Two days before, Hurricane Frances decides to show up and help me celebrate. Disney calls, cancels my room, refunds my money and tells me they are closing the park for the first time in history.

I spend my birthday and the days immediately following it, hunkered down with my husband and children, in the dark, listening to the wind howl and the rain beat against the house.

Every ten minutes or so, I ask my husband "What was that?"

His answer "The wind."

It was like an episode of the Three Stooges that never quite made it to the punchline.

9. Which is better, mechanical pencils or good old-fashioned No. 2's?
Mechanical. If I have to sharpen it by hand, it will wind up the size of my pinky, because I can't stand to have a dull point.

10. Should clean underwear be folded?
Yes, it should. And organized by style and color. (Feel bad for my husband...he does the laundry.)

11. What do you do when you can't fall asleep?
I play Words With Friends, in the dark, in the hopes that I will actually fall asleep while doing it.  

Now, as I understand it, I am to nominate 11 others...so...let's see...how about 5? I can give you 5. Because the other people I know are waaaay too cool for school and have more than 200 followers, which is apparently against the rules here. 

 Nominations:
 Cultivating The Dragonfly
Have Mat Will Travel
Confessions of a Not-So-Super Mom
 Desperately Seeking Me
A Day In The Life of a Crazy Mom

Should they take the time out of their day to answer...here are my burning questions:

(Look, another list!!!)
  1. Do you believe in astrology?
  2. Tylenol, Advil or Aleve...what do you turn to to cure a headache?
  3. How old would you be if you could be any age?
  4. What is the most exotic food that you have ever eaten?
  5. What is the most thoughtful thing that anyone has ever done for you?
  6. If you had to choose one day to live, again and again, a la Groundhog Day, what day would it be?
  7. Have you ever gone Black Friday shopping?
  8. What do you keep in the trunk of your car?
  9. What was your nickname as a child?
  10. What is your homepage for your Internet browser?
  11. If you were a spy, what would your alias be?

Monday, November 5, 2012

Filling the Void

There is a phenomenon that happens to many brides, immediately following their wedding. They have put so much effort into planning out all of the minute details of their big day...they have given so much of their active, waking (and often sleeping) thoughts to making sure that everything goes off without a hitch, that they wake up the morning after and feel somehow...empty. Deflated. Depressed even.

With the big day come and gone, there is now this big chunk of their time and mental focus that frankly, they are unsure what to do with.

I realized, about 2 months before the race, that I was at risk for succumbing to that same phenomenon. Planning for the marathon had been so all consuming that I was almost as nervous about the day after the race as I was about the race itself. When I woke up on Monday, what was I going to do? I wouldn't have a run scheduled...there would be nothing to hold me accountable. What was going to motivate me to keep going, especially given that it would be colder by then, sometimes even frigidly so, in the mornings? Without a race to plan for, without a goal to work towards, what exactly was going to entice me to roll my happy ass out of my nice warm bed, at 5AM going forward? I am only just so disciplined.

I started at that point, to look tentatively around for other races, in the months following the marathon, for me to set my sights on running.

I also decided, then and there, that I needed to set myself some new goals. Sure, I could decide upon some time goal for a future race, but until I had at least finished one marathon, that seemed a bit premature. Instead, I felt the hazy outline of two, new long range goals materializing in the back of my brain.

One - to complete a triathlon within 18 months of the marathon.

Two - to run a Boston Qualifying time by my 40th birthday. (For those playing along, that gives me roughly 3 years, to shave about 45 minutes off my first official finish time. Yeesh.)

About a month before the race, I first said these out loud, so that someone else knew about them...and you know how that goes. Once you have stated a goal out loud, you are committed to it.

No? Just me? Interesting.

So I started eyeballing other full and half marathons. And realized that there are ALOT of really cool races out there. Enough cool ones that I started a list, of races that I someday want to run...they include the Disney Princess Half Marathon. The Disney Marathon (both at Disney World and Disneyland). The Cherry Blossom 10 Miler. The Las Vegas Rock and Roll Marathon, and a whole host of others. In fact, if I really put my mind to it, I'm fairly certain that I can find a race in just about any state that I am interested in tackling...

Now I just need to pick one for early 2013, so that I can get back to training in earnest, no excuses, no exceptions. And this time? I'm dragging my husband with me.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

He's Baaa-aaack! Its the Return of The Partner In Crime With: Reunited!


A marathon?!?  26.2 miles?  A freaking marathon?!?!?

What the hell was I thinking?  I hate running.  I’ve never experienced a “runner’s high” though I’m pretty sure I’ve experienced a number of “runner’s lows”.  I was sure going a long way just to get my new BFF to visit me.

Once the initial shock wore off, I thought, “ok, I’ve got plenty of time…as long as I put in the training, I can do this.”

As a result of a policy change at work, I found myself with a crap-ton of vacation that I needed to burn before the end of April or lose it.  Determined not to lose any of it, I found myself scrambling to fit it all in.  I decided this was a perfect opportunity to take a solo vacation and visit some family and friends out east.  First stop (of course) would be to PA to spend the weekend with my marathon buddy and to meet the rest of her family for the first time.

Before my visit, the subject of tattoos somehow came up…initially as a post-race commemoration option.  While she already had been inked several times, I have never gone there, nor did I ever think I would.  Not that I was opposed to them…it just didn’t seem like something I would ever do.  What was I saying about never saying “never”? We then started chatting about getting me my first ink during my April trip.  It was at that point that I started to feel like I really wanted to do it.  The problem was that I didn’t know what design I wanted.  Oh, and did I mention that I kept my wife completely in the dark about this whole idea?

Fast-forward a little bit and crazy-runner-tattooed-chick tells me that she figured out what I should get for my first ink.  Her suggestion?  An ohm.  Initially I think she means the “Omega Ohm”, a symbol representing electrical resistance in my world.  Umm, I like my job as an engineer and all, but not that much!  Turns out she meant the “Sanskrit Ohm” (aka Om), given my recent foray into the world of yoga.  Brilliant!  I had a vague recollection of what it looked like, and one Google image search later, I decided I liked that idea a lot.

The visit was phenomenal.  I vow never to go 13 months without seeing the Duchess, much less another 13 years!  It was just pure awesome to be in the same room together after all that time.  Meeting the family was great too…they seemed to like me well enough and my grand scheme to make the girl child my future daughter-in-law was going well (a story for another day).

Sunday’s plans included a 5-mile training run.  Having gotten back into decent shape by practicing my hot yoga nearly every day through the winter, I felt I could do alright.  While performing far better than my failed training runs of the previous fall, I still got my ass kicked.  I’ll admit, I was somewhat worried how I was going to manage a full marathon in 6 months. 

The visit was capped off with our trip to the tattoo parlor.  I got my Om! (she got her 4th tat)  And I loved it!  And don't worry, I did ultimately get the spousal approval before my trip.  Breaking the news to my wife about the marathon, however, did not go according to plan and the way it went down threatened to rip a hole into the fabric of space and time...ok, not really, but it could have been really bad.  

...Stay tuned for the epic conclusion of my guest blog!  I mean, you don't have to...up to you.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Guest Post - The Partner in Crime Asks "What Did I Just Step In??"

Wohoo, look at me! I’m a guest blogger! Well, if there was anything I have ever hated more than running, it is writing. The fact that I am writing this should tell you just how much influence my old friend has over me. In fact, you may notice that as a recurring theme throughout this entry.

Let me start at the beginning of this adventure. I have known the owner of this blog since our days in middle school. We had many of the same classes and extra-curriculars on through high school and I’d consider us friends throughout that time, even though we ran mostly in different social circles. Long-story short, we both graduate and go off on our separate paths…little did either of us realize just how much we would mean to each other a couple decades later.

With the exception of a brief reconnection about 13 years ago, we really didn’t get to see each other or chat at all until the social media explosion of the mid-to-late 2000’s. And other than some friendly FB comments here and there and birthday wishes, it really wasn’t until that last couple of years that we really started chatting a lot. Add Words with Friends to the mix, and now we were practically attached at the hip, even though our hips are nearly 900 miles apart. I guess it is probably better described as being attached at the smartphone.

What does this all have to do with running a marathon? Don’t worry, I’m getting to that…

A little over a year ago, after having run the Twin Cities 10 Mile 4 years in a row (despite my hatred of running), I had a failed attempt at a 5th year in a row. I couldn’t get into any sort of rhythm, couldn’t even manage a measly 3-mile training run, and ultimately didn’t run the race. I started looking for alternatives for staying in shape and it was then that I discovered hot yoga. I could sweat, burn a bunch of calories, and not have to run to do it? Hell yeah, I was hooked!

A few weeks into my yoga practice, I made very public proclamations to anyone within earshot (including my wife) that I was NEVER running again. And I meant N-E-V-E-R! What do they say about never saying “never”?

Soooo…a short time later while chatting with my old-friend-turned-new-BFF, she (the avid runner) says to me via iMessage that she really wants to do a marathon soon. Aha! Here’s just the opening I was looking for. As brilliant as I am, I suggest that she come to visit me and run the Twin Cities Marathon that my company sponsors every October. I’ll even cover her entry fee if she does, I propose. Super excited at the prospect, I get just the response I was hoping for. She says “That’s a great idea…”…terrific! I couldn’t be more psyched!... “…on ONE condition…”…uh oh, what did I just step in?... “…you’ve got to run it with me!”

And thus began my training for a marathon. First step? How to explain to everyone, including my wife, that I just agreed to run a marathon when I just vowed a couple weeks earlier that I would never run again. Little did I know this would not be the only out-of-character-for-me thing that would require explaining…

…to be continued

Friday, November 2, 2012

This Is Gonna Leave A Mark...With Pictures

I am not a fun of clutter, or bric-a-brac and nostalgia. I'm that bad mom who, upon seeing most of my childrens' artwork wants nothing so much as to say "this is lovely. Can we throw it away, now that we have all seen it?" Its not that I don't care. Its not that I don't love it. Its not that I don't believe in "sentimental value". Its that I simply can't stand to be surrounded by too much stuff.

I do however like to have something to remember big events by. Which makes me something of a contradiction. Its part of my charm really. (Keep repeating this until you believe it.)

The marathon? Was an event that needed commemoration. It begged for, nay demanded an important memento, beyond the medal and shirt that simply finishing earned for my P.I.C. and I...

In my book? There is really only one way to properly do this..and that is with a tattoo.

Let me back up a bit.

Hi, my name is Duchess Pandora, and I like ink. I have 5 tattoos at the current moment and, if I am absolutely honest about it? I am perpetually on the brink of getting my next one. This is in total juxtaposition to almost everything else about my persona.
Not too shabby for an almost 20 year old bear.

I got my first tattoo when I was 19. I was having a hard time in college and had just spent the summer working in a Boy Scout camp. The Grateful Dead was the soundtrack of that period of my life, and the counterculture that surrounds it was helping me lay the groundwork for who I would ultimately become.

I am, by nature, fussy. The Deadhead lifestyle taught me to relax, and to let it go.
I can be exceedingly self-conscious. The Deadheads taught me to dance whenever and wherever the music moved me.
I can be very reserved with my emotions. I learned to hug like I meant it, even if the other person hadn't showered in a week.

Ask my friends. Ask my family. Ask my co-workers. This? Is huge.

Towards the end of that summer, Jerry Garcia died. It was tragic.

At the end of that summer, I got my very first tattoo. A purple dancing bear, holding a rose, just above my ankle.

Over the years, I would toy with the idea of having this little fellow removed. In the end? I can't see that ever happening. He is a reminder to me of the fact that I am not always in control, and that is OK.

Virgo
My next ink would happen many, many years later, the day that I ran (finished? I didn't run the whole thing) my first 5K, with my female best friend, "Mildred". Mildred and I wanted to get a shared tattoo, something that would bind us together, no matter how far the distance between us. We thought long and hard about what to get, as we wanted it to be something meaningful.

We finally decided to go with the constellation for Virgo, as it is the sign we were both born under. Today we both have the same image, on the back of our necks.
 

Number three was added to the mix in 2011, also in the company of Mildred. We each got a tattoo that day, and she did me the honor of allowing me to design and draw her tattoo, which represents her two youngest children. I also designed mine, which adorns my inner right forearm. It is a family crest of sorts. My name is an Aramaic name, that means "bower", which is a poetic way of saying "tree". The tree branch is me, the large, flying bird is my husband, and the two small birds are my chicks, The Boy Child and The Girl Child. The flowers on the tree have hearts built into them, which represents our love.

Three little birds
My next ink would come much more rapidly, and in the company of my P.I.C.. The story there is a whole blog post unto itself, with the end result - for me anyway - being what would be, to date, my most painful addition. Two lines of poetry from Pablo Neruda's 41st Sonnet that remind me of my husband, scrawled across my rib cage:
"I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
In secret, between the shadow and the soul."

Sweetly and romantically enough, my husband has a matching tattoo, in the form of a QR code on his forearm that scans to read this same verse. It was my 40th birthday present to him, but really? I see it as a present to me. Go ahead, take a moment and swoon. It gets me every time too.

So it was no major shock when, going in to this marathon, I wanted to get a tattoo to commemorate the event. I talked to my P.I.C. about it, and he was on board too. We spent many a month debating what we should do...and finally decided that the perfect artwork to mark the occasion would be none other than the logo for the race itself. Additionally, it seemed to make perfect sense to have this symbol inked onto our feet.

The evening following the marathon, we headed out to Saint Sabrina's to get our vision realized.

My P.I.C. went first...this wasn't his first tattoo - there will be more on that later I am sure - but this one definitely would leave a lasting impression on him.


Stencil is on...
 But I mean, c'mon, the guy just ran a marathon...this should be nothing in comparison, right???

First prick of the gun...
Right????? Because I am a very caring friend, I of course held his hand through the worst of it...
This is a little pinchy...
 ...any of my friends or sorority sisters (or kids) who have ever had the honor of getting ill with me to tend to them should recognize this position. I am nothing if not an attentive and doting nurse...
Oh owwwwwww
 ...apparently this whole ordeal "smarted" a bit.

"Now smile like you just finished a marathon!!"
Once it was all said and done though, he quickly regained his toothy grin. (And hey, let's give me some props for showing my bare-faced self to the world. Holla!)
The finished product.
 Now...there is a saying that I have come to love...

"Never underestimate the strength of a woman.
NEVER EVER  f*$% with one who runs 26.2 miles for fun."

Shhhh...I'm tryin to sleep here.
  This? Would be why.
All done.
We now have a lasting memory...a proper tribute, to the craziest thing we have ever gotten one another through...until the next time.

And big news!!! Stay tuned for a special post tomorrow, from P.I.C. himself!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Morning After

I remember, when I first birthed the boy child, that almost all of my visitors thought it was hysterically funny to ask me "So, you ready to do this again?"

They'd wink and nod and then wind up mouth agape, when I cheerily responded "Yup! Sign me up!"

Childbirth? Apparently I was built for it. After 26 years of listening to horrific retellings of the story of my arrival into this Earth after 42 hours of labor and a subsequent high forceps delivery, the reality of giving birth to my own child was a walk in the park. Which explains why, a year later I was expecting the girl child.

People called me a glutton for punishment.

As I crossed the finish line, I had absolutely no doubt. I was ready to do it again. Yes please, right now, as soon as possible...if my body would just stop hurting.

When I returned to work, and the real world, I was asked (and am still being asked) at least a dozen times, so? You done running now? You're not going to do another one of those, are you?

No, no I'm not done running. And yes, yes I am going to run another. As soon as I stop hurting.

Towards the end of the race, my hips started to hurt. I kind of figured that was to be expected. I mean, seriously, four and a half hours straight of pounding the pavement? It'd be a little unexpected if something didn't hurt - right? I wasn't truly surprised that I was still a bit hobbly the next day either.

Even the next day, I could excuse being a little stiff.

When I woke Wednesday morning, I was determined that I just needed to stretch my legs, and run the kinks out...nothing huge, no epic distance, no killer pace...just a half an hour alone with my feet on the street.

Ow. Oh ow. Ow, ow, ow, ow.

Not from the very beginning mind you, but about 1 mile or so into my run, my right hip and knee started yelling profanities at me that made the retired sailor down the street blush. Because I am extremely, mmm, how do you say it? BULLHEADED, I kept going, determined to turn in a 30 minute effort, even if it killed me.

When I walked in my house, I felt like I had just finished the marathon all over again. The words "not good as new" rolled derisively across my brain. I stopped them short though, and thought "hey, you ran a marathon 72 hours ago...give yourself a break."

I ran again that Friday. To similar effect.

I gave it another shot on Monday. Still very owie.

So I did the only sensible thing I could do. I Googled it.

Seems that, based upon the description of the symptoms I have irritated my IT band. Basically? The big rubber band of ligament that connects the hip and knee joints? It got rubbed raw during the race, and swelled up and tightened. The pain I feel? Is the result of a that tightening.

Thankfully there are stretches that I can do that help to loosen it, and slowly but surely, I am getting back into form.

Which is good. Because I have a race to train for. I'm just not sure which one.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Make My Heart Race...With Pictures!

***if you are new here, and have no idea what this is going to be about you have two intelligent choices:

a) Leave Now.
b) Start here, then work your way back, m'kay?

On the eve of a big, life changing event, everyone seems to want to tell you to get some rest. "Get a good night's sleep" they say. "Good to bed nice and early" they urge. Really? Does anybody really manage to just drift, peacefully off to sleep, waking refreshed and bright eyed the next day? Because I? Will invariably toss and turn, heart thumping loudly, head racing, full steam ahead and try to will myself asleep.

The night before the race was no exception.

We woke (or rather, gave up the pretense of being asleep) at the crack of dawn, and started pulling on our race day ensembles.

Nike running tights - check
Long sleeved white technical t-shirt - check
Heather blue fleecy hooded running sweatshirt (fresh from Target, mere hours before) - check
Balega socks - check
Newton Gravity shoes with timing chip in the laces - check
Twin Cities Marathon headband - check
Running Bib - check
Gloves - check
Garish blue lensed sunnies - check

We pulled together some clothes to change into after the race, to put in the sweats drop bag, grabbed some other sundry items then loaded up into the car. The sun wouldn't be up for hours.

My partner in crime was lending my husband his bike, so that he might bike the course and play paparazzi along the route. We drove into Minneapolis, and dropped him off a few blocks from the Metrodome, where we would be meeting up before the race, and taking off from.

As he got out of the car, a sickening sense of panic rolled over me, as the reality of what was happening in just a few short hours jumped up in front of me and pointed in laughed. Holy shit...holy shit...holy shit.

I mustered every last bit of nonchalance I possessed and pretended that it was no big thing, and casually said "See ya in a bit."


My P.I.C. and I at the Metrodome. Pre-race.

Having deposited him into the heart of the city, we continued on to St. Paul, where we would park the car and catch a bus back to the metrodome.

We tried small talking, but honestly, I haven't the slightest idea what was said. My mind was too busy casting desperately about for clues that this was really just a convoluted dream and that this wasn't really happening right now.

We parked, and walked over to catch our bus...and old style school bus, that was bursting at the seams with antsy runners. I was freezing, even bundled up as I was. Looking around, I saw folks that were even more warmly clothed than I was as well as people who looked like they were headed to the beach. I was amazed at the contrast.

After a short, loud ride, we wandered, lemming style, into the metrodome, and began wandering about aimlessly. My husband found us shortly after, and I felt myself relax.


Outside, headed for the corral.

Before I knew what had happened, it was time to line up in our corrals. Because this was my first ever race, and I did not have an official finish time, I would be in corral 3. Home of the slowest racers and the unknowns. This would also mean that we would be the last to leave. We would get to hear all of the announcements...we would see all of the other runners leave...we would see the odd clothing explosion that happened, right before people taking off.

There was absolutely no turning back now.

Moments later, we would be crossing the starting pad, and officially running a marathon. I looked at my partner in crime, smiled and waved one last time, and took off on my own. (We run at vastly different paces, so this was a foregone conclusion.)

The moment I crossed over that pad, all of the cares and worries I had been hanging on to about this race just sort of floated away. Rigth from the first step, there was an enormous crowd cheering and waving. It was almost intoxicating. I felt myself grinning and could barely contain my excitement.

The first part of our course was right through downtown Minneapolis. After all the months and miles logged on country roads, lined with cornfields and cows, to be running down a road in a major metropolitan area was crazy. Sure I had run in the city in Lousiville, but that was on the sidewalk. This? Was an entirely different animal.

An announcement had been made, early on, that there were 25 "Medtronic Heroes" running the race. To wit, these were individuals that were actually pacemaker patients, sporting Medtronic pacemekers. Each of them was identifiable by a special shirt, with a big white star on it. As I was running the first 1/4 mile or so of the race, I saw one of the stars up ahead of me. I( was excited to see e of these heroes, and made my way up and over to him. Just as I did, he fell, face down on the pavement, and started writhing about.

My blood ran cold and I think my own heart may have considered stopping.

I stopped, unsure what to do, but was immediately urged on by what seemed like a whole platoon of medical staff.

I hesitated a second longer, then obediently continued on my way and was quickly swept up again in the euphoria that was being dished out by the crowds.

Minneapolis is a beautiful city, and we were on nice, wide streets. I was very thankful for this, because it meant I had plenty of room to dodge and weave through other runners. I tried to resist the urge to speed pass a huge crowd, only to have them later overtake me, and instead just find my comfortable pace, and pass when needed. The only problem with this was that, especially in the beginning, the race was a bit claustrophobic. I felt almost trapped, with people all around me. Slowly, steadily I found small openings and made my way around slower runners. Each time I passed someone I wondered, "Will I see you again later? Will you be passing me?"


In the groove.

The first couple of miles were a blur. We ran from the downtown area out into a more residential neighborhood. The streets were still lined with excited spectators, amny bearing signs with funny or encouraging phrases on them. I scanned through the masses, wondering when and where I would see my husband, but just kept happily gliding along.

On a typical run, I don't bring water with me, unless I am going at least 5 miles. The race offered plentiful water/Powerade stations to provide you with hydration. When I came to the first of these, I made a decision then and there that I would grab something to drink at every stop. A grabbed a cup, from an eager volunteer and immediately realized that I, picture of grace and elegance that I am, am in no way capable of drinking out of an open cup while running, without coating myself in liquid. And so a second, equally important decision was reached. I walked while I drank from the cup.



Soon we were outside of the city proper, and making our way to  the first of the lakes that we would run along. There was a small incline, nothing compared to the hills I run at home, but an uphill nontheless. I suddenly felt like a gazelle or something, as people started petering out and complaining about the hill, as I bounded around them. This? This wasn't a hill. This was barely a speedbump. This was my wheelhouse.

First spotting my husband!
It was cold and crisp out. The sky was a brilliant blue, and the sun was shining on the water. Fall leaves would catch on the breezes and rain down on us, like golden raindrops and I again wondered whether I was dreaming it.

Finally I caught sight of my husband and I was so excited that I felt like a kid a Christmas. Camera at the ready, he started snapping away and telling me how proud he was. I felt unstoppable!

According to my plan, I drank at each stop and walked, for my own safety as well as that of the other runners around me, while I drank.

Along the way the crowds cheered, rang bells, held up signs and kept your attention. There were bands and deejays and even a group of bagpipers playing. Kids and grownups lined the route, with their hands held out, just wanting to give you a high five. In this race, everyone was a superstar, and everyone had a huge fan club, clamoring for their attention.

I  was doubly blessed. Because I also had one extremely devoted fan that met me, every mile or so, and gave me encouraging words and a beaming smile.


Warming up now...

As the race wore on, I finally started to warm up. I removed my gloves and handed them off to my husband.

A short while later, my headband came off.


Finally, a good long way into the race, I was done with the outer shirt. It wasn't until that exact moment, as I peeled off that shirt, that I remembered that my Nike watch had been running the whole time, sandwiched between the layers. I looked down for the first time and noticed two things:

First: The distance on the watch was a few tenths of a mile further than the mile marker flags seemed to indicate. This puzzled and frustrated me to no end, but I decided not to obsess. (I would figure out later that it was not the watch being inaccurate...it was me underestimating the extra mileage that bobbing and weaving through other runners will add to the route. By the time all was said and done, my marathon was closer to 27 miles than 36)

Second: My average pace was 9 minutes.

No. Freaking. Way.

Even with the walking at each drink stop? That seemed crazy.

As we approached the 17th mile, I knew that a little energy boost, in the form of a Cliff Shot would be awaiting me. I walked while I ate it, then grabbed a drink and kept walking. My husband joined me for a bit. walking on the sidewalk next to me, and we chatted briefly. Finally it was time for me to take off again.

As I passed that 17th mile I had the amazing realization dawn on me that I now was into the single digits...less than 10 miles remained. I could totally pull this off!

Starting around the 20th mile, my hips started to ache a little bit. As I continued on, the aching turned into a steady pain and finally was punctuated by small spasms of sharp pain. At mile 23, I finally relented and started to walk a bit more.

In those last few miles, I saw more entertaining sights...bounce houses and inflatable slides...tables with cups of beer set up for runners to grab - but only for the "quitters". The more "seasoned" runners would actually leave the course, hop on the slide and then get back on the course. This pleased the spectators to no end, and amused me greatly.

Hi honey!
Finally I hit the 25th mile, and decided that this was it. I was running from here on out. Just 2 more songs from my play list, and I would be crossing the finish line. I could do two more songs, no problem.

As I cruised towards the finish line, I could see the capital building. The street was lined with people, and a big red and orange"finish" sign stood boldy across the road. There were grandstands and cameras flashing. I'm not sure how, but I managed to find my husband in that sea of faces, just before I crossed the finish line.


 I had done it. 4:26:43 (Pay no attention to the clock...that's not my official time)


They gave me a medal and *everything*

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

You've Got Some Nerve

***if you are new here, and have no idea what this is going to be about you have two intelligent choices:

a) Leave Now.
b) Start here, then work your way back, m'kay?

As a professional worry wart, there are few things in life that I excel at more than stressing about things over which I have no control. And all of this artisan level stressing tends to manifest itself in fun and original ways. Such as waking up the morning before we were to board a plane for Minnesota unable to turn my head to either side. Wheeeee!

My neck was so sore in fact, that I opted out of my run and instead decided to commit myself to fretting over it.

The day morning saw very little improvement, but with an exam in the morning, work in the midday and a flight in the afternoon, I hardly had time to indulge in a full blown case of the "what-if's?".

Our flight went off without a hitch - which in and of itself is nothing shy of a minor miracle. I am blessed you see, with the "bad travel karma"...a fact which I will someday tackle in a separate post...once I have determined that I never want anyone to travel with me ever again. Because after reading the litany of travel woes I have amassed over the years, I can all but guarantee that none of you will be accompanying me anywhere. Ever.

My partner in crime met us at the airport, and exhilarated but exhausted, we made our way back to his home. We had a full schedule of activities lined up, to keep us (both expert worriers) from fixating on what was about to happen, and shutting down completely. (Ok, maybe that part was just me.)

On Friday we woke up bright and early, donned some cold weather running gear, and went for a 20 minute trot through the neighborhood. Almost instantly my neck felt better, and my spirits were buoyed.

Once we got back and got cleaned up, we went to the Mall of America. Which was completely overwhelming. It was like going to the Cheesecake Factory when you are starving, and trying to navigate their epic novel sized menu. You just don't know where to start.

We decided to track down the Lululemon store, so that I could meet the object of my affection, and see if she was as awesome in person as she appeared to be online. (You know how online dating is...online shopping isn't all that different...) I was already most of the way to head over heels in love with the Pacesetter, before I ever set eyes on it. After trying her on, I had to resist the urge to look at her and tell her that she completed me.

Even still, I was able to rationalize myself out of purchasing it, as we had already come to the conclusion that it would be way too cold to wear it for the marathon. So Santa? If you're listening....

Later on that day we went to the St. Paul River Center, to check in for the race...as we were handed our bags, with our bibs and chips and such, a sudden wave of euphoria passed over me. I looked around at the crowds milling about and wondered how many of them I would see along the road just two days later.

We took some time, on our way home, to drive a good portion of the route that the race was to take. As a planner, I needed this, to soothe my jangly nerves...I have come to learn one simple fact about myself: if I have a sense of the route ahead of time? I do much better running it. I am less hesitant, less timid, less cautious and more likely to just run it.

We woke up Saturday to colder weather than the day before and the dawning realization that, for all my obsessive planning, there was no way that I was going to be warm enough in the clothing that I brought for the race. After agonizing over the decision for the better part of the day, I finally decided to bite the bullet, throw caution to the wind and buy a new top to wear the day of the race. The risk of having something rub or chafe was outweighed by the allure of not freezing my tits off. (Yes, I said that. Deal.)

I also made the decision to ditch the compression capris in favor of the warmer Nike running tights. The same one's I had worn the morning before for our run. Thankfully, since we were staying at my partner in crime's home, we had access to laundry facilities.

My husband put all of the gear in and washed it.

Later that night, after a hearty, carb heavy pasta meal I tried on my race day outfit. And all hell broke loose.

The top? The brand new top that we had just purchased, earlier that day? Didn't fit.

The sleeves were too short. (Fun fact...I have monkey arms. Seriously. That my knuckles don't scrape the ground is a minor miracle. They match my legs. If my limbs were in proportion to my torso? I'd be about 5'2". If my torso was in proportion to my limbs? I'd be about 5'10". As it stands, I am 5'6"...or as my husband likes to say "5'5" and a hair clip".)

Because my husband is chock full of the awesome, he ran out, at 9PM, in Minnesota, and got me a new shirt, one size larger. He brought it back to me, I tried it on, and heaved a sigh of relief.

Having caught and dealt with that last monkey wrench, I attempted to settle in for some sleep...and so fitfully tossed and turned until about 4AM, just in time to get up, and become a marathoner.

Monday, October 29, 2012

The Devil Is In the Details...

***if you are new here, and have no idea what this is going to be about you have two intelligent choices:

a) Leave Now.
b) Start here, then work your way back, m'kay?

I have a thing for details. I like to obsess over them. Obsessively.
In the weeks leading up to the marathon, I obsessed like a BOSS. I read articles, I polled the audience (aka Twitter), I re-read articles and consulted my plan at least 2-3 times a day…just to be sure I wasn’t missing anything. I would be damned if this marathon dream didn’t come true because I had blindly overlooked some devastatingly minute detail like what color shoelaces are the most aerodynamic.

Truth be told though, I am glad that I put the time in. Ask any of the running gurus – or don’t ask…just follow them on Twitter, they are bound to dole out all sorts of advice and axioms about this shit – and they will tell you that a marathon is just as much a mental race as it is a physical one. So you need to train your brain. Or something like that. To be fair, there is a lot to think about. In no particular order, these were the things that captured the lion’s share of my waking thoughts in regard to the race:

1 – What was I going to wear?

2 – Would my iPhone battery be capable of getting me all of the way through the marathon?

3 – What should I wear?

4 – Should I try and eat something before the race?

5 – WHAT CLOTHES AM I GOING TO PUT ON MY BODY????

Priorities man, I has them!

Seriously though, focusing on these things helped me to not focus too much on ohmydeargodhowthehellamigoingtorun26.2miles?!?!?!?! And the thing is, lots and lots of the advice out there centered on these issues. And the one, overarching sentiment that is expressed again and again is “Don’t try anything new on race day.” This applies to food, drink, clothes and form. Everywhere I turned, I was hearing that I should be sure to give whatever I planned to wear at least one good, solid dress rehearsal. All of the experts insisted that I eat what I usually ate.

As for the phone? Not so much with the guidance…but I figured I could work something out.

In the name of fiscal responsibility, I planned to pull my race day outfit from the running clothes that already dominate my wardrobe. Not knowing what the weather was going to be like threw me for a bit of a loop, so I was trying to work two angles - a shorts/warm weather option, and a "Nanook of the North" look as well. I tried out some of my favorite shorts for some of my longer runs, only to determine that they did not make the cut.

Now, perhaps at one point in time they might have. I do know that I hadn't necessarily ever paid attention to the washing instructions, so the "wicking failure" experienced in the Reeboks might have been based upon the fabric breaking down from too much heart in the drying process. Additionally, the Nike's had been purchased fairly early on in this odyssey, when I was still wearing a size 12. By this point in my training, I had already crossed over into the small 6/large 4 range, so there is a fiar chance that a smaller size might not have bunched and chafed so.

After the 20 mile run, we ran out and picked up several different styles of compression shorst for me to try out. While cute, and not uncomfortable for a shorter run, each and everyone of them would creep up and leave me feeling like I was running in a pair of bikini bottoms...which my husband may have nejoyed, but I felt was something of a crime against humanity.

The race kept getting closer, and I was running out of long runs to try out gear...my stress level over this started to reach a frenzied pitch.

I made an appeal to Twitter, and asked folks what they liked to wear. The only sartorial item that received a plug was the Lululemon Pacesetter running skirt.

I Googled it.

I fell IN LOVE.

It was gorgeous. Cute, with ruffles in the back, and compression shorts underneath that have a band designed to prevent them from riding up? Yes, please!

Unfortunately, they are a bit spendy. And we have no Lululemon locally. (Imagine that...no high end fitness apparel store in Amish country? Whodathunkit?) I was leery of shelling out that kind of money for something I couldn't see and try on ahead of time. What size would I be? Would they actually work? Could I rationalize getting not just the skirt, but also a pair of cool knee high compression socks, so that i could totally rock the whole "school girl" look??

In the end, I resisted the temptation, and turned back to what was in my closet. And picked up right where I had left off, in the panicky obsessing.

The upshot is, that the closer we got to race day, the better of an idea we had of what the weather would be like that day. The downside is, that the closer it got, the more it seemed it was going to be a tad on the chilly side.

I finally settled on a long sleeve technical shirt, a favorite running bra and a pair of knee length compression pants.

The worry wart in me (read: most of me) insisted that I also pack a few other, warmer pairs of running tights,  just in case.

Bags fully packed, we took off for MN and hoped for the best.

Friday, October 26, 2012

In the Long Run

***if you are new here, and have no idea what this is going to be about you have two intelligent choices:


a) Leave Now.

b) Start here, then work your way back, m'kay?


Once I crossed over into the double digit runs, and interesting thing started to happen. Shit began to fall apart.

I ran 10 miles, came home exhausted, but pleased.

12
The day of my 12 mile run, things didn’t go near as smoothly. I hit mile 10, struggled through mile 11, and then hit a wall. I walked up a hill and then trotted, ever so slowly, the rest of the way home. I was out of water, I was tired, I was crampy and I was on the verge of tears. It was the first time I had given in and walked in my whole training plan and frankly, I felt like a failure for not having run 100% of the course.

Thankfully my husband gave me the good old fashioned tongue lashing and reality check that I so desperately needed at that point, and we came up with a smarter plan of attack for the next run. We had noticed that 10 miles seemed to be my absolute outer limit of energy. As an early morning runner, it is my habit to run “on an empty tank.” That is to say, I don’t eat before I go. We planned out my 14 mile course, and decided that my husband, my “pit crew”, would meet me at the 10 mile mark, and give me fresh water and some sort of energy food, be it GU or power beans or something…

14
The day of my 14 mile run came, and I set out, trusty little water bottle in hand. As had been my custom, I conservatively only took a sip or so every mile. Around mile 8.5 or 9, I started to cramp, but just ran through the pain. It wasn’t until about mile 9.5 that I downed the rest of my bottle, knowing that help was on the way. I noticed, almost immediately, that the stitch in my side disappeared almost immediately. A minor lightbulb moment, as I realized that the cramping? Was dehydration. I hadn’t been drinking enough, out of fear that it would make me have to pee. (Is that TMI? Do I care?)

Anyway, I made it beyond the 12 mile mark, and actually to full half marathon distance, before taking a few walking steps. I allowed myself to walk up a hill, and arrived back home feeling much better than I had after the 12, and much happier with myself.

And then 16 happened.

16
A few things to note about the day of my 16 mile run. We were on vacation, in south Florida. I had pumped myself up for this run, plotting out a course that kept me along the beach or the intracoastal for almost the entire distance. I kept thinking “ooo, flat!! This’ll be easy!” and “ocean breezes! It won’t be too hot!!!” Incidentally, my husband’s half marathon plan called for him to run a 6 mile course, so we could actually run the first part of the run together. We stocked up on water bottles, planned out pit stops, to give me fresh water, bought power beans for me to eat along the way and were generally cocky about the whole thing.

Go ahead, finish laughing. I’ll wait.

To say that things did not go well would be an understatement.

It was hot. DAMNED hot. And humid.

Ocean breezes are a MYTH. And apparently? No such thing as intracoastal breezes.

Running with my husband always prompts me to run faster. Which is generally a good thing. He is a much faster runner than I am, but I can hold my pace for a lot longer…for now. But not when it means that the first miles of a long run are clocked in at a pace well above what is normal for you.

Flat is not better. At least not if you are used to running on hills.

The energy beans didn’t enjoy their brief stay in my stomach, and checked out on someone’s front lawn.

All told, I drank 48oz of water and only managed to run just shy of 15 miles. And honestly, I walked probably a third of those miles. It. Was. Miserable.

We chalked it up to environment and me starting off too fast, which burned me out too early.

We came back to PA, and I shook it off, and focused on the next big run, which was 2 weeks away: 18 miles.

18
At this point, I started really obsessing about wardrobe. (I know! So unlike me, right?? ;))The problem was, MN in October? Kind of unpredictable. The day before we landed? In the lower 80’s. The morning of the race? 29 degrees. I settled on a trusty pair of reebok running shorts that had served me well for better than a year for that day, and decided to see if maybe they would be the winner-winner-chicken-dinner for the marathon.

My “pit crew” and I pored over the course, and devised a hydration plan, adding Powerade (the flavor and variety being provided at the marathon) into the rotation, and a GU stop as well. We decided that I should eat a GU before I set out as well, just to help me get through the first big push.

The morning of the run came, and I took off. As had been my habit, I drank relatively little for those first 8 or 9 miles. In fact, when I came to my first “refill station” I still had a fair amount of water in my bottle. No matter though, I felt pretty good, and just kept going. I made it to about mile 14, and I hit the wall.

I started alternating, 2 songs run, 1 song walk.

At about mile 16, my shorts were so soaked with sweat that I could literally feel it dripping off the hem, onto my calves and then running down, into my socks. Apparently my reeboks had “wicked” as much as they could handle. They would not be joining me in MN…

I trudged home, clocking in with a total of 18.7 miles, and collapsed into my husband’s arms. At about that same moment, my iPhone shutdown, the battery completely drained.

Later, as we dissected this run, we would determine that my main downfall was not drinking enough in the beginning. Once you start to get dehydrated, it is almost impossible to swing the balance back in the right direction.

20
The day of the 20 mile run, which was to be the last of my long runs before beginning the taper, approached, and we planned it out with surgical, precision. It just so happened that my husband’s training plan called for him to log a 9 mile run. My favorite route has two potential finishes…one that brings it in at 9 miles, and another that bumps it up to 11. I had anxiously been waiting to share this route with him, so this was my big chance. Gleeful doesn’t even scratch the surface about that.

We talked pace. I explained that, if we were going to run together, my big fear was that the pace I planned to be would be too slow for him…I was aiming for 10:30. We agreed that, if it was too slow, he would just pass me and meet me at the house.

I donned a pair of well-loved Nike shorts, and prepared to head out. We had decided that the main evil for my phone batter was the Nike app that I tend to keep running…it keeps the screen lit up the whole time that it is running, and fills my head with a little voice that tells me how long, how far and how fast I have run. To compensate, I planned to just run with the iPod app running, and the screen darkened and use my Nike watch to capture the run and post it to Nike+ instead.

We got to the bottom of the driveway and waited for the watch to locate satellites. And we waited. And we waited. Nearly 10 minutes passed. Finally, in disgust, I agreed to swap out, and use the Garmin, which I knew I wouldn’t be able to consult about my pace or anything until the sun came up at the very least.

Resigned to running “blind” and more than a little aggravated, we set off…I had no idea what pace I was setting (he was following). Without my electronic crutch, I decided to just run what felt right, and deal with how “slow” it was later.

We made it back to the house, where I snatched up a new water bottle and kept going. A quick glance at my watch left me agog…9 minute mile average. Shit. What had I done? There was no way I could hold that pace the rest of the run…I was going to burn out and probably soon. Dammitdammitdammit.

I kept going, mentally chewing myself out.

12 miles came. "What a dumbass…you know you’re gonna pay for this."

14 miles came. "I give you another mile, tops, and you’ll be walking, moron."

16 miles came. "Alright, you *might* get lucky and pull off another mile, but then you’ll be walking for sure."

18 miles came."Boom. This is happening."

And then 20. I walked up two hills in the 18th and 19th miles. But not because I was tired. Not because my legs were spent. Because my inner thighs were chafed so badly from the shorts gathering and rubbing for so many miles, that my skin was raw, and needed a break. The Nike shorts? Also did not make the cut for MN.

When I stopped the watch and checked my pace, I could scarely believe what I saw...I had just run 20 miles, with an average pace of 9:30.
I was elated. And for the first time, since the thought had first crossed my mind to do this thing, I knew, for certain, that I was going to finish. That I could do this thing…