Monday, August 11, 2014

Alpine Adventure Run 2014

    When I registered for this race I was still living on Cape Cod. I was absolutely elated to get in. I must not have comprehended what mountain running really was though. **Spoiler alert: It is more difficult than road running. Also, when in a rain forest it is slippery and a bit dangerous.**

    We arrived to our new city of Sitka on June 24th. I figured by race day, July 19th, that we would be nice and settled into our new home. Instead we were still living in a hotel. Ugh. (We actually are just now getting settled into our home all this time later.) Anyways, in the weeks leading up to the race I quickly realized the amount of fitness I had lost over the course of our cross country move. Being a slug on a 4 day ferry ride was icing on the cake. During all our travels not only was I unable to keep up a real routine, but my diet consisted mostly of eating out. I felt like I had to work harder each run. My breathing felt more labored. I was however stoked about running in the perfect 50-60 degree temperatures with a chance of sun on a good day.

    The week before the race a veteran of it offered to take me up the first 2 miles of the course. I am extremely grateful to Travis for taking the time to guide me and later assure me that I could do it. By the time we made it the 2 miles up I was sucking air, drenched in a mixture of sweat and rain, and smoke was coming off my thighs. Okay, maybe not, but it sure seemed like it. It was up. Then up. Then up, up, up, some more. I told him I was glad that I had registered before seeing the course because I may have been too scared to register if I had been in the know.

This is what my Garmin registered on race day. It lost reception a few times throughout the course though.
These are some photos I took before race day.
     I woke up around 7 and was at the start by 7:45 for the 9 a.m. start. I didn't want to take my phone with me or have it sitting around so Joe took it with him. I felt so vulnerable without my phone amidst this crowd of strangers. He went to have breakfast and get to the top of Harbor Mountain for the finish. I had decided it would be best if I didn't push myself too much during the race. I wasn't (and still am not) experienced enough to really try to hustle and potentially hurt myself. That's not saying that I am in anyway a 'fast' runner usually, because I am not.
   Packet pickup/check in was easy and well organized. Since the race caps at 75 runners there were standby runners there waiting to take a spot if it opened up. I collected my cool shirt, number, and nervously stretched out.
    Sitka is a small island and everyone seemed to be in little groups. I admittedly felt very alone. I looked around and everyone seemed pretty much at ease. I was a newbie that hadn't even ran the entire course once. In fact, I hadn't really ran much trails at all in the last few months. I began to question my decision and wondered if there were some sort of "chicken exit" that theme parks often have.
    The race directors had a pre-race meeting and it really put me at ease. They are obviously highly respected by the community and love this race and the area dearly. They explained the course and how mountain rescue would be at various checkpoints. They would radio our numbers in as we passed each one. It made me feel relieved that even though I was running by myself there were people looking out for me.
     We all made our way outside to the start. I found a spot towards the back. I knew I didn't want to hold anyone up that wanted to move quicker. No need in making people pass me on those narrow trails. Soon we were off.
Photo by Cassie Gillespie
      The first mile wasn't all that bad. We ran the road to the trail head, then it narrows to planks and the elevation is not bad. Just lots of up and down on the planks and trail. It seems like after we pass over the Cross Trail is when the elevation picks up. I ended up behind a man in a kilt. He had on a rescue swimmer shirt. I thought he would be the perfect person to stick by. The poor guy had to put up with me the entire race. At first he kept asking if I'd like to pass him. "Nope." "No, thanks." "I'm good." He must have realized that he wasn't going to shake me and eventually we would chat back and forth throughout our journey. He has no idea how thankful I am to have had a running buddy. I was scared of being all alone and falling, or being eaten by a bear. Thank you David for your kindness.
      So we ran up the mountain. Then we trudged up the mountain. I kept remembering what Travis had said about not stopping, to just keep moving forward (errr, upward). It was around 55 degrees, rainy, and foggy. As I climbed my race bib slowly was tearing off, corner by corner. When it was finally down to one measly corner I grabbed it and held it in my hand. I didn't want to accidentally lose it on the course and I needed it for my checkpoints. Eventually two girls were right behind me and I asked if they wanted to pass. They did. It was starting to feel more and more lonely up there. Don't worry, I had still Mr. Kilt. (I didn't know his name yet.) I made it to the first checkpoint and stopped to drink two full cups of water. My heart was racing and I wondered if my legs would remember how to run after all those stairs. Another girl passed me. I didn't mind....but I needed to catch back up to Mr. Kilt.
     It felt glorious to run but it was pretty short lived as more stairs and planks were in my future. It was so foggy that I could barely see 15 feet in front of me. I thought maybe that was a good thing because I couldn't see how far I had to fall. When I would hit a downhill I would carefully find my footing. I'm sure I could have shaved some time off by cruising down the rocks or wood stairs. I really didn't want to risk hurting myself though. I would pick up my pace on the gravel and mud and slow down to a walk at times on other terrain. 
     Mr. Kilt and I talked about other races, the Coast Guard, the area, and how our quads ached.
     My body temperature was all over the place. The course was unforgiving. I was having an absolute blast though. I couldn't believe how much fun it was. I loved the fog, the rain, the mud, and the small fears that were driving me forward.
Photo by Don Kluting
    I remember walking on those rocks and thinking, "A Tough Mudder or Spartan will never seem as badass as this."
     My Garmin lost reception now and again and the fog was so intense that I had no way of knowing if I was close to the finish or not. Then suddenly I hit a certain gravel area and knew I was on Harbor Mountain in the homestretch. It was downhill from there. My body felt so relieved to be moving downward. My mind was relieved that I was done with the hardest parts. I picked up the pace a little and cruised down the gravel path, grinning from ear to ear.
   I didn't see any other runners. Every now and again a spectator would appear amidst the fog to cheer me on. Then I did something stupid..... I had made it the ENTIRE race without so much as a tumble. Then I decided to jump over the finish line onto soaking wet gravel. I do think I made a last impression though. I am sure my phone will be ringing like crazy- any day now- with people wanting to be my friend here in Sitka. (face palm)
     They had an awesome post race food setup. Everyone was in good spirits. A few course records were broken.

    My official time ended up being 1:59:27. I was absolutely thrilled with it. The best part is that I didn't even ache the next day.
    Overall I am beyond pleased that I ran this race. It was incredible. Everyone involved was so helpful and sincere. It was the best way to be introduced to some of the Sitkan community. I really hope to find some runner friends soon and hit up more trails. Who knows, maybe I'll try running this again next year.

Monday, July 14, 2014


Our move began 55 days ago.

FUN FACTS since then:

I traveled over 4,300 miles. 

I ran with 15+ friends. 

I still am not in my new home.

I haven't slept in my own bed for 55 days. 

I have lived out of suitcases for 55 days. 

I have slept on an air mattress for 16 of those nights. 

I raced in 2 half marathons and a 5k.

I have ran over 210 miles and biked over 45 miles. 

I have ran in 16 states. 


    Running in Southeast Alaska has been pretty amazing so far. It rains often (okay, most the time) and it's a nice consistent 50-60(ish) degrees. I don't have to worry about waking up insanely early to beat the summer heat. In fact, I can wait until midday and still feel nice and cool. I don't remember the last time I had to apply sunscreen due to the almost constant fog that hovers over us. My once rarely used running jacket has become my favorite piece of running apparel. It's just the right amount of coverage for the weather here without being smothering. Instead of being passed by mostly vehicular traffic (like on Cape Cod) it seems like pedestrians rule the land here.

    I've had the opportunity to explore the trails a few times. Each time I've almost had to pinch myself. Everything feels, looks, and smells exotic to me. I can stop and graze on salmon berries and blueberries mid-run if I want. My mind is ever aware of the threat of bears and the need to be noisy so they won't want to wander my way. I am continually reminded of how lucky I am to have these experiences. As I stood at the top of a ridge the other day, after an arduous journey to the top, I was overcome with emotion. This is my life. I get to run across various states. I get to meet incredible people of rich character. I get to traipse through a rain forest. I am so lucky.

This move, this journey, has been long and stressful. However, I am thankful for these sometimes fleeting moments of clarity where I am simply thankful for it all.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

MA to AK Photo Recap

Seven weeks ago  our household goods were packed up in Cape Cod.
Six weeks ago we drove over the Bourne Bridge and headed westward.

   I threw together some photos (in video form) of this time. I didn't add any music because I didn't want to have to worry about copyrights and all that. Anyways, it's been fun. It's been stressful. I enjoyed seeing so many of my friends and family. I did NOT enjoy having to say goodbye to everyone though.


    I'm not going to sugar coat it, the last few weeks have been stress-filled. We had Joe's car shipped here and it's currently MIA. It was supposed to arrive on June 27th and no one can tell us where it is or when we can expect to receive it. Not cool. We have been living in a hotel for the past 2 weeks (not to mention all the hotel stays before we even arrived here). It's been..uh....interesting? Ha. We still do not have an ETA of when our house will be move-in ready. So that's fun. Our poor dog started limping this past weekend and we were extremely worried. Thankfully we found an awesome vet and she's slowly improving. Woot! All the traveling has really messed with my body. I'm so excited for my 1st chiropractic appointment in a few days. Double WOOT!

   So that's the basics on what's goin' on with me.

   As I mentioned, we've been here in Sitka for two weeks now. I have been able to go running often and even went twice with different friends. I am beyond grateful for their kindness in allowing me to tag along. It did wonders for my moral to get out in the woods and talk to someone besides Joe. Now don't get me wrong, I love Joe to the moon....but I need more human interaction.

   Hopefully our situation will continue to improve and we can finally get settled in our new town. I have a feeling that we'll be really happy here.

   I hope life is treating you kindly.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

River Towns Marathon

Jamie, Me, and Janell the night before the marathon.
    On May 3rd of this year I ran my 3rd full marathon. My favorite part of the entire experience was being able to spend time with my friends. Now don't get me wrong, I LOVE RUNNING. I love the feeling of joy I often feel while running. I love how running helps my body to stay fit. I love how it helps to minimize stress. I love how it has strengthened me and also brought me to my knees. It's a challenge for me. It's a mental battle more often than I care to admit. It has made me a better person though. It has made me work hard and allowed me to dream big. I'm thankful for running and the relationships it has strengthened and brought into my life.

    I considered writing up a brand new recap to post here. One that is less gritty and raw. However, I think it's best to post my original words that were written after the race. This race did not go as I had imagined. My body felt strong but other factors led it to be a rough race at times. It's jumbled and messy but here it is. I'll post some remarks after.

Pre-Race- I don't think I have EVER seen Janell so goofy. It was hilarious.
    When I first started training I wanted a sub 4 full but trained as if I were shooting for 3:50-3:55 (for wiggle room). As you know I had injury issues that caused setbacks and loss of confidence. Come race week I just went into it wanting to finish.

    Janell and I had planned on running together. Her training had gone well. She was strong and posting incredible runs. I really (seriously, I'm not being modest) didn't know where my body was at.

    Janell and Sam kept wanting to know my race day pace thoughts and I kept saying I didn't know. I had suggested starting at 9:05 pace. Whatever. It would be decided on the fly.

    We started out at a pace that felt ok. Sam and Janell were several strides in front of me for the first half of the race and I tried to keep them within ear shot & keep a consistent pace. I enjoyed the nice small streams/waterfalls and the river off to our right side. They chatted a lot about their kiddos and I happily listened and got lost in their conversation. At mile 6.5 Jamie and Mike were on the sidelines cheering. I shed my jacket & Sam offered to carry it until we saw Janell's mom a few miles later. So awesome.

    Around mile 8.5 we saw the family (Janell's), waved, and kept on running over a bridge walkway. There was an intersection that was manned but the guy was not good at the job. We started crossing the street and he kind of lowered his flag and a big truck took that as a sign to pass. We had to stop mid-stride to avoid getting hit. Grrr.

    Soon after we hit the trail portion that was quite muddy & then rocky, including crossing over railroad tracks. About a mile later we popped back out on the roads and the sunshine was really beating down on us. It was hot. I had no sunglasses on since it was forecast to be cloudy all day. It's an out and back course & we were seeing runners pass by. We saw a man step into a pothole and spread eagle fly through the air and onto the ground. He bounced up and kept running. Janell asked if he was okay and he said yes. We saw Jamie and Mike waiting and said we'd be right back. Sam graciously re-filled my handheld.

    We turned around and picked up Jamie and Mike. (It had been approved for them to run the latter half of the race with us.) Sam said we'd need to pick up pace to hit 3:50. I said I was feeling comfortable and happy at my current pace & didn't want to push it and hate life. We kept going...the 5 of us.

    By around mile 18 or 19 I realized that Janell wasn't in front of me anymore. I had sort of zoned out. Sam was still slightly ahead and Jamie was beside me. I glanced back and Janell was right behind me with Mike. Pretty soon Jamie and Mike swapped spots and I heard Jamie talking but couldn't hear conversation. We came upon a water stop. Mike re-filled my water bottle while I grabbed a drink. I looked back and realized Janell and Jamie were a little bit back so I walked several strides to allow time to close the gap. But walking hurt so I started running again. Sam assured me they were right behind me but we should probably slow our pace for a bit to give them a chance to recover and speed back up. So we did. I asked if they were getting close and he told me not to worry, they were only about a football field away and Janell's a strong runner and would be up with us in a few minutes; just keep going at our current pace.

     I asked a few minutes later if they were getting close and Mike reluctantly said no. I had been dealing with a rock in my shoe since the 2nd pass through the trails and asked if my stopping to get the rock out would be good for everyone. They (Mike and Sam) both said yes. As soon as I stopped moving I instantly regretted it. I got the rock out, shoe back on, and told my body to run again. It was painful. Jamie and Janell were right near us again. Mike started running with Janell and Jamie was back with me. I was talking my body back into running and went back to my happy place. Pretty soon Sam told me he couldn't see Janell (and Mike). He asked how I was doing. I said if I stopped running again that I didn't think I could restart my body. That I was conflicted. I hadn't envisioned this kind of race. I thought they were still by us. I told him to go to Janell and make sure she was okay.

    Janell is the strong one.
Janell is the fast one.
Janell is the badass.
    I knew she must be struggling and I really regret not attempting to wait & check on her. In the moment I was convinced that if I wasn't progressing forward I would DNF. I started crying and hyperventilating a bit...just in time to see Janell's sister. Jamie tried to get me to calm down and told me that Janell had Sam and Mike with her. I kept crying. Eventually I had to crawl back into my head and happy place.

    Soon Mike appeared and I was hopeful that they were with him. When I asked where they were he said he had to run pretty far and fast to catch us. That Janell had Sam, (her husband) Aaron, and was dealing with foot pain.

I tried to just empty my mind and run.

    We hit the final 1.5 (more trail, ouch) and I cursed a bit. I debated just sitting down and protesting. This wasn't the plan. I had left my friend. I was so mad at myself. My legs were thrashed. I cursed more. The closer I got to the finish the more pissed I was at myself. I finished. Pissed. The race had old school chips they needed to cut off. I didn't want to stop moving so when they made me come to a complete stop moments after the finish I was hating life. Eventually I snipped at someone to get the chip off me. I tried jogging a few strides to get back to them and almost fell over but caught myself on a parking meter. I sobbed a little. Mike and Jamie approached me (we had parted ways at final turn) and made sure I was okay. My chest was tight but I know it was because I was so mad.

    So that's my raw race report. I'm still upset and it's hard to feel celebratory because the race didn't go as expected in the ways that really mattered to me. I was able to run by Janell for around 20 miles. I ran with Jamie and Mike for 13. I am so happy that I had my best friends there and I hope to come to terms with everything soon. Maybe I'm just too stressed out right now.

Marathons are hard.

P.S. There were only half bagels and water at the finish. What the heck?!?!
      Official time: 3:55:28
     Looking back, all this time later, it's still bittersweet. I really wish that I wouldn't have pushed on without Janell. I want to finish a 26.2 with her someday. Although, like I stated before, she is the fast and strong badass and keeping up with her will require a lot of work. Unfortunately it just wasn't a good day for her. Any other day....absolutely ANY other day and I would have been struggling to try to keep up with her. What ended up happening hadn't even been a scenario that I had played out in my mind. Leading up to the race I told myself that I needed an almost perfect race to finish in the time she wanted. Plan B was forcing her to go on without me and getting myself in under 4 hours. I hadn't been prepared for any other scenario.
    Also worth mentioning, traveling out of town and running a marathon 3 weeks before a cross country move is NOT the brightest idea. I'm sure all that stress greatly contributed to my mental game on race day.
    I'm now able to feel happy and proud with how my body performed that day. Even though I was an emotional wreck for a few miles, my body kept going. I am still surprised with how well my body did and how well it recovered.
   It's been a few weeks since I moved from the east coast and I already miss my best friends. Even though I lived 8 hours away there was always the option for a relatively quick visit. I am so thankful that I was able to see you as much as I did before the move. Thank you for pushing me to become an athlete. Thank you for setting your goals high so that I can admire you and try to be an ounce of how awesome you are. I don't know what life has in store for me. I don't know if I'll ever be half the human being that you all are, but you give me reason to try. I love you. I miss you. Now let's get to planning your Alaskan vacations.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

MA to AK

Don't think I do not realize that I never posted a marathon recap from River Towns. Life has been crazy. I will get there someday. It will probably have to wait until I'm stuck in a hotel room in Alaska waiting for my house to be ready. My apologies. I know that you've all been on pins and needles. (insert winking emoticon)

So a couple weeks ago we were packed out of our house on Cape Cod. Our belongings are already traveling to Alaska. I'm a bit upset that I haven't received so much as a postcard from them. It was very difficult to say goodbye to our family of friends there. They gave us one helluva sendoff though. Games were played. Delicious food was cooked and eaten. Laughs were abundant. Tears were shed. I'll never forget our time on Cape Cod and those of you that made it so wonderful.

When you arrive at a new location, there is ALWAYS so much uncertainty. Will I be happy here? Will I find friends? Will my old friends keep in contact with me? What will I do here? How will I leave my mark? Will anyone that said they would come visit actually come and visit?!

These questions are already at the back of my head for our new home in Alaska. I can answer them for my time on Cape though.

I was happy there. I was happier than I dreamed I would be. It took a bit of time and a small hint of courage but eventually I had gathered a great group of friends that I wouldn't trade for the world. I found running and mountain biking. I traveled. I celebrated more wedding anniversaries with the amazing Joe. It was awesome. I had several old friends that came to visit. It is always such a joy to welcome friends into our home. I think some people believe we get tired of hosting but really we couldn't be more grateful to have visitors. We were able to explore our area more and see it through brand new eyes. Each visitor would want to do something different so it was incredible to experience so much of the Cape and Boston with them.

I don't really know what I did on the Cape besides run and enjoy life. I think that's an excellent way to spend time. Did I leave a mark? I hope so. I hope that there are moments when my friends are running, or laughing, or telling stories and fondly think of me. Lord knows that I'll be thinking of them.

Saying goodbyes are hard and as I've traveled I have had to say many of them. I'm hopeful that those goodbyes are just temporary and soon I'll have friends knocking on the door of my humble home.

We embarked on our trip to Alaska on May 27th. Since then I have ran in New Jersey, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Missouri. (Tonight I'll be running in Kansas for National Running Day.) It's given me time to reflect upon my blessings and pray for more good times ahead.

It's bizarre to live out of luggage. It's amazing though to be welcomed into so many homes by familiar faces. Life isn't about the material stuff, it's about the connections we make along the way. This journey has made me grateful for all my relationships and shared experiences. I feel thankful to have had the pleasure to know so many unique and kind-hearted souls.

I'll be visiting family in Missouri for another week or so before our journey westward continues. I'll get to hug more long lost friends and be able to meet some online friends in real life for the first time. I simply cannot wait.

If you're in the Kansas City area you should consider coming to volunteer or spectate at the Hospital Hill Half Marathon this Saturday. I'm praying the weather will be decent. I'm so excited to run through Kansas City again and have family there to cheer for me. No PR will be set by me, but I know I'll have a magical time.

Now please excuse me while I finish my coffee. I need to spend some time with the family soon.

Carpe Diem,

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

To Boston With Love

    Before moving to Massachusetts in 2010 I had heard of the Boston Marathon but probably only knew it by name. I had no idea of its storied history or the fact that there were qualifying times. I grew up in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri and the only time I ran, just to run, was for soccer preseason conditioning. I thought running from my high school to the Truman Home was a ridiculous distance. As it turns out, it was only about 2 miles total.

When I arrived in Massachusetts I was searching for myself and looking to get fit and lose weight.

    It wasn't until 2012 that enough was enough. I started running that January and I volunteered at the Boston Marathon for the first time in April. I was still really struggling to run a few miles and here I was surrounded by thousands of people taking on one of the most prestigious 26.2 mile races of all time. 
  By this point I had done some research and learned all about the Boston Marathon. I knew that most of the athletes there could run an entire marathon at a pace much faster then my then-current 5k personal best. Gulp. I don't know why but I expected everyone to look like an Olympic athlete there. Don't get me wrong, thousands of the athletes there do look super human. I was amazed though to see how many of them looked just like me. I was also very surprised that most everyone was unassuming. I was so in awe of all of them and everyone was so kind and appreciative. I had people thanking me in various languages. I spoke to so many people and told them I had just started running and everyone told me that if I wanted to run a marathon, I could. That if I wanted to qualify for Boston, that I could. They had done it and so could I. It was absolutely invigorating. I had just been introduced to one of the best attributes of the running community, encouragement. 

    I left Hopkinton that day with a tiny nugget of hope that maybe, just maybe, I could run a marathon someday. 

    With the spirit of Boston, the love and guidance of the online running community, and the encouragement from one of my main running inspirations (Jamie I love you!) I became a marathoner 10 months later. 
    I became a marathoner in what I can only assume are some of the worst ever marathon conditions. I was determined to earn that title, even in snow, sleet, rain, freezing cold, and high winds. I finished that race with Jamie at my side. 

In April 2013 I again volunteered at the Boston Marathon. The day before I had ran the B.A.A. 5k and been able to run the historic "Right on Hereford, Left on Boylston" and sprint to the finish line. (All while pretending that I was in the homestretch of completing my own Boston Marathon. It was glorious.)
    That year I felt like part of the running community a bit more. I worked up by the speedy folks in Corral 1. I was again amazed by the kindness, generosity, and appreciation from the athletes. In 2013 I really soaked it in. I think I was even MORE in awe of everyone, now knowing first hand how difficult a marathon is. 
    I choose to remember the good of that day. I will hold on to the memories of strangers helping one another. I will remember high fiving, hugging, and shaking hands with hundreds of people as they lined up to start their race. I'll remember all the smiles, the nervous laughter, and the looks of determination. I'll remember how so many of them spoke of this being their dream come true. Awful things transpired last year, but I believe we fought back with some of our greatest tools: Love, kindness, generosity, selflessness, and encouragement. 

    Since that day, I've ran many miles thinking of those lost, injured, and otherwise affected by the bombings. Somedays I would just start crying mid-run and have no idea how to turn off the waterworks. I will never understand the bad in the world, but I will try to be some of the good in the world. 

    Last autumn I ran my second 26.2 in Maine, the Mount Desert Island Marathon. It had been 6 months since the Boston Marathon and we all stood at the start line in silence, remembering. From the back of the startline we heard a bagpiper and slowly, without instruction, the sea of brightly colored runners parted and he made his way through us. We were all overcome with emotion. Jamie and I could barely look at each other because we would sob even harder. 

We both went on to have a great day and a fantastic race. Thanks again to Isaac our amazing pacer. He had ran Boston in 2013 and we actually talked about it some during this race.
    I always knew that I would return to volunteer in 2014. Some of my family and friends worried for me, but I needed to be there. The Boston Marathon has been a big part of my life. It changed me. It made me believe that I could do something that I NEVER imagined. It's even made me hope to one day be able to run in it. I wanted to once again be there and help others as they lived their dreams. 

    So yesterday Joe and I woke up at 4am and headed into Hopkinton. Some things were different this year. We had to park elsewhere and go through security checkpoints. Every way you turned you saw law enforcement. It took much longer to travel in and get to our team meet up spot. Eventually we had our credentials and job assignments though.
    This year we were in the corral staging area. Due to increased security we had to check for bibs or credentials of everyone passing through. I cannot even begin to imagine how many times I said the word "BIBS" or the phrase,"Keep your bibs visible at all times." My vocal cords are sore today. My eyes were constantly scanning the crowds. I was working alongside law enforcement and they would shout out to me if they hadn't seen someones bib and I'd chase them down and ask them to please show me. I know it must have been annoying to the runners but most everyone was a good sport. 

    I can't count how many people said,"Thank you for volunteering." I probably high fived a thousand people yesterday. A few people randomly hugged me and said,"Thank you." It was incredible. I was able to see a few of you there too! My friend Sara and I embraced and I basically lifted the tiny thing off the ground. Moments later my friend Ali appeared in my path and we hugged also. It was great to see a hometown girl ready to rock the race. My friend Bill yelled out to me and we high fived. (He live tweeted and here's a story on it.) A few of you yelled out "Carpe Diem Crystal" and hugged me. I cannot begin to explain what that meant to me. 

    The women in uniform that worked near me were absolutely AMAZING!! It was freakin' awesome to have them near me, standing courageous and strong. They made me feel safe and they were both hilarious. They stuck to protocol and didn't mess around. The house we were in front of was incredible. They talked to us and offered us water and such. One of the residents spoke of how the marathon has evolved over the years. She couldn't believe how much law enforcement was present and the security measures that were in place. I couldn't help but smile as I thought about all the different areas we were from and how we were all brought together by the race. It's the spirit of running and its the spirit of the marathon.

I was often teary eyed as I would read the athletes shirts.
 "I've come back to finish"
"Canada Stands with Boston"-with maple leaves everywhere
"Japan Runs For Boston" -also written in Japanese on the shirt
"Detroit is Boston Strong"

"I've waited a year to cross the finish"
"This is our city. Boston Strong."

"I love the NY Yankees but I am Boston Strong."
"I won't back down."

    Since we'll be moving to Alaska in about 6 weeks, I won't be able to volunteer at the Boston Marathon for awhile. I will cherish all these memories though. I will continue to be inspired by those that run it and those of us that hope to someday qualify. Thank you Boston for helping to mold me into a runner and a better person. I have been at the start line and I have been to the finish line, someday I will run all the miles in between. My body may move to Alaska but my heart will always be in Boston. Thanks for everything.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Marathon Training Update

Hi friends!

As you may or may not know I am about 2.5 weeks out from marathon #3. I am thrilled to be running the River Towns Marathon with Team CJ. I absolutely cannot believe how rapidly this race is approaching. I am a bit overwhelmed but insanely excited to see my friends (and meet new ones) in Pennsylvania.

Training has been rough to say the least. Our winter here was so harsh that I found myself running on a treadmill more than I care to admit. I pushed through though and logged mile after mile. Things were going as well as could be expected. Then about 3.5 weeks ago my right shin started screaming at me. I ended up taking a week completely off from running. Thankfully, I was able to bike without pain and logged some serious mileage. The second week I slowly started adding some running back in. I felt like I was walking a fine line. I didn't want to overdo it but mentally needed to be back to running mileage. It's been a process. It hasn't been helped by the fact that my left shin began acting up some once I returned to running. Yep, fun times.

I'm nowhere near where I would like to be for race day. I really wanted to kick butt at this marathon but I'm trying to keep my expectations realistic. I've had a lot of setbacks and I don't feel close to top form. If my legs continue to allow me to run than I think it will mentally help me. I am just fearful of the (running) fitness I lost by biking instead of running.

Last week I logged 44 miles of running and 36 miles of biking. This included a 16 mile run that I really didn't think was possible beforehand. I was seriously in tears the morning of. Running is hard. Somehow though, after a few prayers, I started running and continued running for 16 miles. Was it my best performance? No. Did it feel more difficult than my previous long run? Yes. I was thrilled when I saw that I kept a 9:12 pace though. I was just running an easy, manageable pace. So that inspired a little hope in my soul.

As I've mentioned on other social media outlets, I'm just mentally and emotionally all out of sorts. In 6ish weeks I'm heading westward for Alaska. I'm struggling with the thought of leaving my family of friends on the east coast and being further from our families in Missouri. Military life is hard.  The stress of moving has been quite burdensome. I have felt completely drained almost every day for weeks. Hence the lack of blog posts.Whereas I usually dread taper madness, I fully welcome it this time. I have so many things I have postponed doing because of lack of time and energy. So if anyone wants to come help me sort through stuff...let me know.

Yesterday I was able to sleep in and then lounge in the morning. I have a to-do list that is ever growing but I needed a couple hours of peace. I finally pumped myself up enough to get outside for my 10 mile tempo run. Oh and I had to wear leggings and a long sleeve top since winter never wants to leave.

My plan called for a 1 mile warmup, 10 miles at goal marathon pace, and a 1 mile cool down. Since I have no idea what my adjusted goal marathon pace is, I decided to just stick with my A goal pace. My warm up mile was achy. My head was a hot mess. I started seeing snap shots in my head of all the good times I've had here on the east coast. Which made me very happy and sad all at once. The sun was shining and I tried to give praise and list off things that I am thankful for. It helped to put me in a more positive mood. I kept hearing my Garmin beep as I ticked off another mile. It was very windy at times but I kept pushing onward. When I hit my 9th mile I was feeling depleted of energy. Note to self: Eat more. Eat better. I told myself that I could do it. That I only had to run 2 more at a decent pace and then I could slow it down. So that's what I did. Tears practically forming as I envisioned crossing the finish line of the marathon in a few weeks. I completed the run and found out I had ran a bit faster than intended. Oh well, it felt good.

May 3rd is not far away. Yikes. I can't believe it. I hope my legs can carry me the 26.2 miles once again.

When the race is over I'm going to start thinking about the various states I can log some miles in during our trip out west. I may have a little plan to run at least a mile in every state we drive through (that I have not yet ran in).

Oh and don't forget that we'll be volunteering at the start of the Boston Marathon again this year. Send thoughts and prayers for everyone running, volunteering, and spectating. It's going to be a beautiful day.