Posts Tagged by marathon

If You Can’t Race, Pace

No matter the reason, it’s always hard to miss a race — particularly one that you put in months of training and hard work for. Even if you know that running would be stupid, even if the forecast for the day involves rain, wind, and more rain, and EVEN IF you had spent weeks coming to terms with the decision to DNS…when race morning rolls around, it’s hard to escape the depression. Because the truth is, on race morning, no matter what the conditions or how I’m feeling, I’d always rather be running.

But we can save the dramatics for another day. Because although my birthday weekend went nothing like I had originally planned (and may have included a slight emotional breakdown on Sunday), I still had a great weekend at the races. Only this time instead of racing, I was pacing.

Girls on the Run 5K

Saturday was the Southern Vermont Girls on the Run 5K. As a first year coach, I really had no idea what to expect. I knew the girls were all excited about it (even the ones who aren’t really too keen on running), but I didn’t really comprehend the level of pride they would all get from completing the race until I was a part of it.

The weather on Saturday morning was awful — cold, rainy, and wet (which had basically been the theme all week). But that didn’t stop them from running around excitedly getting their faces painted, hair sprayed, and bodies tattooed. Then again, it’s hard not to be excited when you’re wearing one of these.

GOTR_unicorn hats

Nothing says, “Race Ready” like a pink sparkly unicorn cap, right? These were the girls’ idea and ended up being a huge hit. I’m actually thinking about making it a permanent addition to my race day attire.

GOTR_5K startWhy yes, those are whiskers on my face. Haven’t you ever seen a whiskered unicorn before?

The 5K course basically made three loops around Brattleboro, with the first loop being the longest and the last one finishing around the track. The design was perfect. It was so much easier to keep the girls motivated by counting our “laps.” And I quickly mastered the art of making deals to keep them motivated.

“Okay, we’re going to run to that corner and THEN we can walk.”

“See that sign up ahead? That’s where we’re going to start running again.”

Essentially the same concept I’ve used for years to keep myself motivated during tough runs, races, and workouts – break up the torture by creating mini-goals.

We may not have run fast, or even run the whole time, and I may not know our finish time (I think the clock said 40 minutes when we crossed…though we had to have been about a minute back from the starting line), but I had a blast. Probably the most fun 5K I’ve ever done. Though I can’t say for sure whether that’s because I was running with the girls or because of our amazing hats…

GOTR_unicorns startWe definitely stood out in the crowd

All in all, I’m so glad I got to coach GOTR this season. Do I agree with every single aspect of the program? No. But then again, can you really expect to (unless it’s something you created yourself)? Seeing the impact the group had on the girls’ self-esteem and strength over the past 10 weeks was pretty incredible. This is our final week of practice and I already know I’m going to miss them.

Vermont City Marathon

The GOTR 5K on Saturday was just the warm-up. We left the house just before 5:00 am on Sunday for the main event – the KeyBank Vermont City Marathon. Stephanie and her husband Derek had been staying with us for the weekend, and although I felt bad that I would no longer be standing on that starting line with her, I was excited to go cheer. Again, the day was windy, rainy, and cold — not exactly ideal marathon conditions. To her credit, however, Steph didn’t seem to let the weather get her down, and was noticeably more calm than I’ve ever been before a race…or at least that’s how it seemed.

Unfortunately, the second we arrived in Burlington all those feelings of jealousy and regret that I had been anticipating gathered in the pit of my stomach. I tried to push them down, rationalizing that this decision had been for the best. But it was hard to push the sadness away.

And then, because things were already going so well that morning, my iPhone slipped out of my pocket during a quick run to the port-a-potties and landed face down on the pavement. The screen was completely shattered. Such a fitting disaster, I suppose.

Anyway, the plan was to see the runners at the start and then move up the street a bit to catch them between miles 3 and 4, and again between 8 and 9. For the most part, VCM is a super spectator friendly course. There are some loops that are harder to get to than others, but with just a little walking, you can easily see your runner at least 3 – 4 different times. That’s my kind of marathon!

Steph_mile9_VCMSteph cruising along to Mile 9

My original plan was to jump in with Steph around mile 20 and keep her company for the last 10K. However, we quickly realized that the design of the course and current road closures would make it really tough to get up there. So instead we waited around mile 16. I told her I’d jump in for a little while, leave if she was doing okay and meet her in a few miles when the course doubled back.

I will let her tell you her own race story, but suffice it to say — it was a difficult day. The conditions were tough and the course isn’t exactly easy (though what marathon is, really?). I ended up staying with her for the entire 10 miles. I’ve actually never run with someone for so long during a marathon. It can be hard to walk that fine line between being encouraging and annoying, especially since I hadn’t been with her the entire way. When we joined up, I felt great. I had been standing around in the cold and rain all morning and was itching to run. Steph, on the other hand, had already been going for over 2 hours by this point. I’m not so sure my chipper tales of our morning were completely welcomed…but she’s also too nice of a person to tell me otherwise. I tried to push a little when I thought I could, but mostly I just followed her lead — encouraging her as often as I could and providing moral support just by being there.

Getting to run the last 10 miles of the marathon with someone who was working so hard to achieve a goal offered some much-needed redemption. I was so glad I got to be there for Stephanie as she pushed through with incredible determination toward the finish. Often watching other runners push their limits and excel can be far more inspiring than doing something yourself. And I loved every second of it. By the time she got to the finish, I was filled with so much pride and excitement. All thoughts of my own missed race were gone.

Plus, getting to see the last 10 miles of the course made me even more determined to return to VCM someday.

group_americanflatbread

The afternoon ended with pizza and beers at American Flatbread — one of the most delicious pizza places in the world. Seriously, if you’re ever in Burlington (or Middlebury or Waitsfield), I highly recommend giving this place a try. It’s everything a wood-fired pizza should be.

And then a drive back home to binge-watch the new season of Arrested Development. After a disappointing first episode, I was happy that things started getting better. I think we’re 11 episodes in at this point and although I’ve found certain episodes pretty funny, I have to say that I miss the old format. The interaction of the entire Bluth family was what made the series great in the first place. (Anyone else??)

Congratulations to everyone who ran VCM this weekend! It was fun to see some of you out there and cheer from the sidelines as you all dominated! And a very special shout-out to Anthea, who crushed her marathon PR only a few weeks after racing Eugene — CONGRATS on an amazing race!

Race Week Update: I’m Not Running VCM

It’s race week! Which means I should currently be in the throes of taper madness — obsessing over the weather, trying not to freak out about every new ache and pain, planning my race outfit/playlist, hydrating, and fighting all that taper-anxiety to make sure I get enough rest.

But I’m not doing any of those things. Because I’m not running VCM.

Now before you start to think that I just suffered some sort of traumatic injury or illness, let me assure you – I am fine. While the decision may seem sudden based on the blog, it’s actually something I’ve been mulling over for a long time. My silence on the issue isn’t because I’ve been trying to hide it from you. I’ve simply been in a bit of denial about the race, and have avoided thinking about it as much as possible over the past several weeks.

At this point, I think it’s probably best that I stop signing up for spring marathons. Because I kind of feel like after 2 springs in a row, this DNS thing might start to seem like a habit…obviously the last thing I want. It’s been a weird year of running for me. Like last year, my training for VCM all ended after a strong 20 mile run. Otherwise known as the last time I really mentioned training on the blog. And in case you were keeping track — that was over a month ago.

Okemo reservoir.jpgTotally irrelevant photo…but I needed something pretty to break up the depressing text.

So if I’m not seriously injured or ill, why am I not running? The simple answer is — training did not go as I had hoped/planned. Those of you who have been reading my blog may not even be all that surprised by this admission. It was pretty clear that training had been a bit of a roller coast for me this winter/spring. At times it felt okay, but for a good long while running was just hard. I didn’t feel like myself and I just couldn’t get in the groove, mentally or physically.

But then March came along and everything started falling into place. I had some great runs that finally made me excited to dive into the final weeks of training. …until I started experiencing some lower back/sciatic pain that I’m sure was exacerbated by the hills and my bad habit of not stretching/rolling enough. I took a little time off to keep things from getting worse, but that was the beginning of the end. Things just weren’t the same after that. I wasn’t able to hit the paces or the mileage I needed. My back pain went away, but I just couldn’t salvage the training.

There’s a lot going on in my life right now. Some of it (like the move) makes it onto the blog. Some doesn’t. One exciting update that I haven’t been able to share until now is that I recently started a new job — an exciting but also stressful change. I don’t talk about this much because, honestly, it was the source of a lot of embarrassment for me. But I haven’t been in an office for almost an entire year. 11 long months. Although a lot of that has been completely outside of my control, it’s not something I’m all that proud of.

When we first moved to Vermont, I kept busy with a pretty large consulting project. It made the transition easier, and I can’t say I missed going to work (at all!). But over the past few months, I realized that the freelance life isn’t for me. I finally focused 100% of my efforts into finding something more permanent, a search that as many of you know, can be a roller coaster of highs and depressing lows. After many many rejections, I’m so excited to finally be headed back to work — and to be involved in something that I’m incredibly passionate about. It’s been an adjustment, but I can’t even tell you how nice it is to get out of my own head and be a part of something that’s bigger than myself again. Sorry, but I don’t know how full time bloggers do it. Staying at home and thinking of nothing but myself and my blog day after day would drive me insane (which would explain the fact that even though I had more free time, I actually posted less).

woodstock wedding.jpg

There are seasons in running (and in life) where everything comes together. Your training clicks, your paces get faster, and you feel strong and unstoppable. I’m clearly not in one of those seasons right now. But I’m at peace with it. I plan to run until until my last day on this earth…or at least as long as I can manage. And if I want to do that, I need to accept the down times right along with the “I’m on top of the {running} world times.”

And finally, to tell you the complete honest truth, I’m really not all that interested in completing a marathon just to say I finished. I’ve been there, done that. While it can be a great motivator for many, it’s just not for me anymore. The joy, the challenge, of a marathon is in the work. I want to hurt. I want to push. I want to be brought to that dark place in the later miles and come out on the other side, smiling and victorious. The number of marathons I’ve completed has way less meaning to me than the time on the clock at the end. I know not everyone agrees with this way of thinking. But the reality is that I don’t really think marathons are all that fun. It’s this competition against the clock and myself that keeps me motivated through 26.2 miles of pain.

I wouldn’t get that with VCM. While I’m pretty sure I could technically finish the marathon (never underestimate the power of mental strength and determination), after running 3 marathons with almost the same exact time on the clock, I want more than that. I want my next marathon to be a testament to all my hard work. And I want more than a 3:18 (or slower).

So I’m not running. Instead, I’ll be playing the role of official chauffeur, cheerleader, and pacer for another gal gunning for a PR. I’m sure I’ll feel pangs of regret and sadness this weekend. Since I never technically deferred (you had to do so by April 22nd), there’s still a number waiting for me in Burlington. And I may be just a little tempted to toe that starting line, despite everything I just rambled on and on about.

But mostly, I feel at peace with the decision. Letting go of marathon training has allowed me to run for fun again, and to focus on all the other good and exciting changes that are happening right now. This past weekend, most of my family made the trip up to Vermont for a mini-vacation. It was the first time we have all been together for more than a day since my wedding last year, and it was absolutely wonderful. I got to relax with them, go on some great hikes with my favorite niece in all the world, and not stress about getting in my final marathon workouts.

family hike

This Saturday is the big Girls on the Run 5K that our girls have been training for all spring. Instead of stressing about spending too much time on my feet the day before I race, I can now go run and enjoy the festivities without worry. I can’t wait to feel their excitement and share in their joy of completing the run.

gotr logo

Life is funny. And timing doesn’t always work out quite the way we had planned. All we can do is keep moving forward. New, long-term goals are in the works. I will get that marathon PR someday. It just won’t be this weekend.

 

 

Boston

I didn’t run my half marathon this weekend. We had some stuff come up with our family that resulted in a last minute trip out of town, leaving me with yet another DNS to my name. Selfishly I was disappointed. No runner wants to DNS a race they’ve been training for, and I seem to be accumulating quite a few of those these days.

The one silver lining to all of this was Boston. Our last minute trip meant that we’d be heading back through MA on Monday morning, just in time to cheer for the marathon. As always, I pushed to go into the city. Every year, no matter where we start out, we make our way down to the finish area after everyone we know has run by. I love being a part of the crowd on Boylston Street. Seeing finishers push to the end on nothing but pure will and heart is one of the most inspiring moments you can hope to witness as a runner…and as a human being.

But Evan somehow convinced me to stay out of the city. We had a long drive back to Vermont after the race and I knew that we’d make it a lot easier on ourselves if we stuck to the suburbs. So instead of starting off at Mile 20 like I’ve done for the past few years now, we camped out in Natick Center (mile 10), excited to cheer for runners in the first half of the race.

It’s crazy to look at the pictures now. To see the images of Evan and me and all the other spectators soaking up the Boston Magic, cheering for strangers and loved ones alike. I had planned to write about how awesome it was to be so close to greatness as the elites sped by, how great it was to cheer for a few friends who were running and then track them to fast finishes, and how disappointed I was that I didn’t get to see everyone — somehow skipping over the faces of friends in an endless sea of runners.

boston marathon women leaders_mile 10Women leaders, mile 10

boston marathon elite chase pack_women_mile 10The chase pack led by Rita Jeptoo, the eventual winner of the women’s race (with Felix just behind)

Boston Marathon elite men_mile 10The winner – Lelisa Desisa in the front in blue. Amazingly, Jason Hartmann (first US runner and 4th overall) is well off the pack at this point. You can see him in the distance in a red singlet

All that seems silly now. In the face of such senseless tragedy, it’s hard to find the words. I don’t know how to adequately express my reaction to the horrorthe complete violation…that occurred yesterday afternoon. How could someone attack a marathon? How could anyone in this world take an event that celebrates the triumph of the human spirit and shatter all that to pieces?

I was actually back home by the time we found out what had happened. I wasn’t feeling well so we decided to head out a little earlier than planned. I drove all the way home reveling in the excitement of the day, until I got a frantic phone call from my youngest sister (who is on a military base all the way out in Missouri) asking if we were okay. When she first told me about the bombing, I didn’t believe it. Couldn’t believe that something so awful would happen right in Boston, my favorite city on my favorite day of the year. It was too horrifying to process.

We spent the rest of the afternoon glued to the news and checking in with friends who were in Boston or running the race. So many people called/texted/tweeted me to check in to see if I was okay. I was overwhelmed — thankful that so many were thinking of us, but devastated that there would be many families whose frantic calls to loved ones would go unanswered, or would be returned with tragic news. It’s almost too much to bear. Even now I feel sick. Every report that comes out gives a higher number of individuals killed or injured. Tragic, life altering, war zone-like injuries. I can’t fully wrap my head around the devastation. And like so many, I can’t make any sense of it.

It seems like we are hit with tragedy after tragedy lately. Each one devastating in its own right. Each one claiming the lives of innocent people and altering our nation forever. Sometimes it seems like there’s no safe place anymore. No love and hope in the world to count on.

It’s almost impossible in the face of so much loss, but I keep trying to focus on the positives. Of the way so many runners and first responders rushed into the chaos instead of away. Of how many locals opened up their homes and hotel rooms to stranded runners — complete strangers in need of a place to stay. How people all over the world took to social media to share stories of hope, or pledge to unite with Boston by wearing Boston Marathon race shirts or colors on Tuesday. Small acts. But when a situation leaves you feeling helpless and devastated, those small acts are sometimes all you can do.

This morning I looked through some of the pictures we took at the race yesterday. Pictures that captured complete strangers undertaking a huge physical and mental feat and all those people that came to support them. At first these images just made the tragedy all the more real. I look at the faces and wonder what happened to each of the individuals I saw running by; to those families that were cheering next to me. I wonder if they are okay, if they made it out unscathed. And I want to cry when I look at the joy on some of the faces — because yesterday should have been joyous. It should have been a celebration of months (or years) of hard work and training, of realizing a dream. One where the only blood, sweat and tears should have come from a runner using every ounce of strength they have to finish 26.2 grueling miles, not caused by a cowardly bomber.

But in a way, these pictures taken a few hours before tragedy struck also capture the amazing community that running creates. They show the triumph of the human spirit. They remind me that no matter what happens, we will continue to bond together. And we will continue to run. For ourselves, for our community, for those whose lives were lost or altered on April 15th and all those tragic days before that. Because when faced with such unspeakable tragedy, it’s the only thing we know to do. The only response that makes any sense.

boston marathon mile 10_cheers

boston marathon_mile 10_support.jpgThe mother and child shown crossing the finish line during the blast (that were mistakenly identified as the Hoyts by many). Not only is this women’s strength incredible, but I love the runner next to her cheering her on.

DSC 0124A spectator on his knees giving high fives while a sea of runners pushes on around him

boston marathon_mile 10_high fives

I don’t really have a point to this post. Only that after debating whether or not to write anything at all, I realized that I had to say something. Even if what I’ve written doesn’t begin to do justice to the hurt and devastation.

So I’ll leave you with these — articles written by those who are much more eloquent than I, but (like the rest of us) are doing their best to process the horror of yesterday afternoon, and to find a way to keep pushing forward.

Ask Lauren Fleshman – Bombing in Boston

Lauren’s account of the events from the Fairmont Copley Hotel, where the elite athletes were staying after the race.

The New Yorker – The Meaning of the Boston Marathon

“…Or perhaps it was someone who saw a reflection of the human spirit and decided just to try to shatter it.”

Runner’s World – Boston Bombings: A Loss of Innocence

Even without that special purpose, marathon running is a sport of goodwill. It’s the only sport in the world where if a competitor falls, the others around will pick him or her up. It’s the only sport in the world open to absolutely everyone, regardless of gender, age, ethnicity or any other division you can think of. It’s the only occasion when thousands of people assemble, often in a major city, for a reason that is totally peaceful, healthy and well-meaning. It’s the only sport in the world where no one ever boos anybody.

And finally, a post that has been making its way around the internet, but is worth sharing again here.

The Washington Post – ‘If you are losing faith in human nature, go out and watch a marathon’

[emphasis added]

The finish line at a marathon is a small marvel of fellowship. Everyone is there to celebrate how much stronger the runners are than they ever thought they could be. Total strangers line up alongside the route to yell encouragement. Bands play. Some hand out cups of water, Gatorade, even beer. Others dress up in costumes to make the runners smile. The fact that other people can run this far makes us believe we can run that far. It’s a happy thought. It makes us all feel a little bit stronger.

Today, the final line of the Boston Marathon is a crime scene. It’s a testament to how much more evil human beings can be than we can imagine.

If you are losing faith in human nature today, watch what happens in the aftermath of an attack on the Boston Marathon. The flood of donations crashed the Red Cross’s Web site. The organization tweeted that its blood supplies are already full. People are lining up outside of Tufts Medical Center to try and help. Runners are already vowing to be at marathons in the coming weeks and months. This won’t be the last time the squeakers run Boston. This won’t be the last time we gather at the finish line to marvel how much more we can take than anyone ever thought possible.

 

Boston — I love you. And I grieve for you today.

 

 

The $500 Marathon

In case you haven’t heard the news, today is the deadline to choose your Resolution Option for the New York City Marathon.

After giving us a very long window of time (read: 2 weeks) in which to make this decision, NYRR has ominously declared that if a participant fails to choose something today, he or she will forfeit all claims to one of these options. There’s no default choice for those who don’t respond — you either pick something by the deadline, or you’re out $250.

Seems a bit harsh, but hey — this is an unprecedented situation. And despite all the restrictions around it, I really do appreciate the fact that we were actually given options instead of being told that we had to accept one resolution.

In case you haven’t been following the news or aren’t a misplaced NYCM-er yourself, here are the 4 options we were presented with. Basically, you could get a refund, defer your entry to a later race or use the fee to guarantee your spot in the NYC Half. The key thing to note here is that the 2012 entry fee holds your spot only. It does not apply to the costs of any of these future races.

NYRR_resolution_options

I really want to run the New York City Marathon. I want to be a part of that 26.2 mile celebration through the streets of one of my favorite cities. I want to know that I am out there racing with (okay, fine – behind) some of the world’s greatest marathoners. I want all of that…someday.

Dsc05618NYCM Cheering 2011 — Yes, I know…you’ve seen this picture thousands of times between Ali’s, Emily’s, and my blog. But I like it. So there’s that…

But not in 2013.

Yesterday I officially selected my resolution option. Truthfully it was a pretty easy decision. One that didn’t require a second thought.

I asked NYRR for my money back.

And at the same time, I signed the following waiver, giving up all right I have to ever running the marathon again, along with my first born child:

Screen shot 2013 01 24 at 2 28 16 PM

The key line: “I hereby waive any right I may have or claim to Guaranteed Entry into the 2013 or any future ING New York City Marathon as a result of my cancellation of my entry in the 2012 Marathon or the cancellation of the event itself.”

Which I’m assuming means that I simply expressed my understanding that by getting the refund, I do not qualify for the guaranteed entry resolution option anymore. However, the inclusion of that “or any future ING New York City Marathon” line sort of seems to suggest that this decision may disqualify me from ever getting a guaranteed entry (i.e. time-qualified) into NYCM. Maybe I’m reading it wrong, but it just seems a little strange to tack on such an ominous (and ambiguous) sounding phrase at the end. (thoughts??)

Either way, I will not be running NYCM this year. It seems as though they will not be accepting time qualifications for 2013 in order to make room for all these extra entries (they’ve taken down their guaranteed entry page). So even if I ran really fast all year and significantly dropped my half or full marathon time, I wouldn’t be unable to guarantee myself a spot.

That is all just fine by me. And here’s why:

1.) No matter how you look at it, $255 is a lot of money for a marathon. I shelled out the cash originally because, well, it’s New York. A race that is on many runner’s bucket lists. A race that I want to do at least once in my lifetime. Plus, the fact that I spent half of 2012 injured may have had something to do with my motivation as well…

Had I selected to defer my entry, that $255 would not go toward an entry fee — it would simply be reserving my spot. When the time came to register again, I’d have to shell out another $250+ (prices will only continue to rise each year) in order to receive a bib for that year’s race.

So when all is said and done, I’d be spending over $500 to run a marathon. That’s just not an expense I can justify, no matter how prestigious the race.

2.) Maybe (maybe) if I lived in New York and had put in a lot of time, money and effort to qualify through the 9+1 program, I would have been persuaded to defer. I know people who devoted an entire year of racing in order to get into NYCM. It would be really hard to face the fact that I had essentially done all that for nothing…and would have to go through the process all over again if I wanted guaranteed entry. I don’t know how much those races end up costing in the end, but I suppose the cost a member of NYRR pays to enter the marathon could be worth it to hold a spot.

[Edited to add: I'm an idiot. NYRR canceled the "3 times, you're in" lottery option last year. I apologize. I should have been better at checking the facts before I wrote about it. I'm not going to delete this next point in order to preserve the integrity of my original post, but please feel free to disregard it. Thank you to those who updated me with the correct information!]

3.) Even if I don’t ever qualify for NYCM’s time standards (whatever they end up being after this year), there’s still the lottery option. It costs $11 to enter the lottery. So according to how things have been done in the past, if I entered for 3 years in a row and got denied all 3 years, I’d receive a guaranteed entry the next year**. That’s $33 (and a few years of waiting) for a guaranteed entry spot, which, last I checked is way less than $250.

**This is all assuming that they continue to offer this option in future years. Maybe not a good assumption, but I guess only time will tell…**

4.) Finally, to be completely honest, NYRR isn’t exactly at the top of my list right now. Most of my love and excitement for this marathon has faded over the past several months. NOT because the race was canceled (I don’t want to bring that up again, but in case you’re interested, I discussed my feelings on that here), but because of how they handled everything around the decision. I realize there were a lot of politics and logistics involved in the cancellation and resulting resolution options but that doesn’t mean that NYRR couldn’t have made it a priority to communicate with the thousands of individuals who spent tons of time and money preparing for this race.

From not canceling the marathon until the Friday before, not sending out an official email announcing that decision until the next morning, and then keeping the runners in the dark for months, NYRR seriously needs to work on their communication skills. No matter how much crap and politics surrounded each decision, there’s something to be said for open, honest, and timely communication with the very people who support your organization. The lack of such has left a bad taste in my mouth — and has made me hesitant about forking over close to $300 to run the marathon anytime soon.

Anyway, I realize not everyone will agree with me. And, as I said above, I realize that NYRR was not required to give us a choice. It may not have been the best for their already tarnished image, but they could’ve kept the money or simply required all of us to use our fee to hold a spot in a future race. I’m thankful that I got the opportunity to request a refund.

Which is why I want to hear from you! What do you think of these options? Fair? Will you be running NYCM 2013? Some of you may not have even thought twice about using the $250 to guarantee your spot in a future year. I’m very curious about what most people decided to do and why.

Hunger

I had absolutely no intention of signing up for a spring marathon.

In fact, after a frustrating summer of feeling like I was doing “too much, too soon” and in which I dreaded every single long run, I vowed to give myself a break. Marathons are great and all, but I just wasn’t into them anymore. And if I’m being completely honest with myself, it had been awhile since I truly was.

Nuvision action image storefront 1692316Thank you MCM and Nuvision Action Image for all the free digital race photos (another perk of this awesome marathon!)

Truthfully, the last time I really invested in marathon training the way you’re supposed to was spring 2011. The Boston Qualifying process had just changed, giving me a new goal: I wanted to run a 3:20 marathon. Despite a crazy winter that dumped tons of snow on RI, I worked so hard that training cycle. I hit my goal paces, I loved my speed workouts. I could feel every single run making me stronger. The National Marathon was my reward for all that training — a race I went into knowing I had done the best I could to prepare.

That was the last time I really had that essential trait that makes marathon training and PRs possible: hunger. It’s hunger that drives you to put everything on the line. Hunger that enables you to push your body to the limits in order to see a faster time on the clock. Hunger that makes the hurt worth it.

I tried to reclaim those feeling that summer during training for Marine Corps. But I felt burnt out. Tired. Unmotivated. Slow.

Then I signed up for Boston, the reward race for all that training the previous spring. And a month from the race, I got the knee injury that has plagued my 2012 running.

It seemed like all the signs were pointing to change for 2013. After all, marathons are not the be-all-end-all of distance running. And it’s pretty tough to train for one if you’re dreading long runs (i.e. the cornerstone of training). At this point I’m sort of beyond signing up for marathons simply to complete them. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, but crossing the finish line just isn’t motivating me anymore. And there are so many other races to run, so many new PRs to go after.

I went into my marathon + relay weekends with the idea that this would be it for awhile. My main goal for the marathon was to BQ…just to have the time in case I wanted to sign up for Boston 2014.

But something funny happened in the course of my back-to-back weekends of racing. Something completely unexpected.

Nuvision action image storefront 1679769

Instead of feeling tired, burned out, and in need of a break, I came out feeling something I hadn’t felt in a long time.

Hunger.

I felt happier running MCM than I had all year. And Ragnar just reinforced that. I suddenly felt strong again. Capable. Like a runner. Not the weird, awkward impostor I’ve been fighting against all spring.

The hunger gnawed at me. Got stronger during this past week of rest. Until finally, it became a burning desire deep in my heart that I could no longer ignore.

I want to run another marathon.

No…I need to.

I need another chance. A chance to push myself harder than I have in a very long time. To prove to myself that I am not destined to be a 3:18 marathoner forever (because seriously — after 3 races, it’s getting a little ridiculous).

Nuvision action image storefront 1672700

Which is how I found myself staring at the Vermont City Marathon registration page. I weighed the options. Thought about alternative, faster marathons. Marathons where the course lends itself more to a PR.

KBVCM 2013Source

But something feels so right about VCM. It’s a race I’ve been wanting to do for a long time, and the fact that it’s in my home state takes off a lot of the pressure around traveling. I could stay in my own bed the night before. And, more importantly, Evan could be there. If I’m going after a PR, I want it to be close to home. The fact that it’s the day before my 29th birthday sealed the deal. I can’t really think of a better way to end my 28th year.

So this winter — my first ever in Vermont — I will put in the miles. I will train through snow, freezing temperatures, and who knows what else. I know it’ll be hard. I’m sure I will struggle with motivation. I will probably question my sanity on multiple occasions.

But on May 26, 2013 (barring injury or other life crisis), I will run my 8th marathon. And I want to stand on that starting line knowing that I did everything I possibly could to run my best race.

Goodbye 3:18. Your days are officially numbered.

 

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