Friday, May 30, 2014

Fierce Relentless Faith

On course and loving the pace.
AMAZING…beaming sun, cool bay breeze, pure gratitude, and giving the bird to mile 20 and beyond, because there was no surrender when I was hot on the heels of hitting my mark at the TCTC Bayshore Marathon. Delivering it in a tutu was just gift wrapping. 

I would have never thought just 4 years ago at my first marathon with a painful 5:04 and a mind monkey circus, that I would one day execute 26.2 miles with such a strong finish and solid state of mind for the entire course. My goal was 4:06 and I finished at 4:08. (Strangely my overall pace was exactly on goal of  9:28 per mile from another calculator, but I didn't realize that when they say run as fast as you can in the last 4 miles, they mean FASTER than 9:28.) That two minute port-a-potty break was mandatory at mile 19. It is just the way it goes—literally.

Fierce Relentless Faith, just like
the tattoo reads
As is, this is a 16 minute Personal Record (PR)! Hill Repeats and months of hard work finally rewarded me after what felt like a disaster of a half marathon just two months ago. My fueling started three days before with white rice to build glycogen storage and contributed to a well rested and ready for take-off engine. (As rested as I could be waking up at 2 a.m. I am getting use to this little sleep inconvenience the night before a race. ) If I sleep well the previous night, I am still going to be alright as I have been learning with each event.

As I placed my tattoo on that morning, I thought about what it meant. Yes, I am fierce. And my faith would be with me in gratitude and strength what ever may happen. I thought about the red matching Fellow Flowers we wore to honor Evie's mom who hadn't been feeling well that week. Yes, Red had their meaning of strength and today it would be fierce as well. These are the symbols I wanted to take with me on this journey when i was alone in my head.

Waiting at the start line among 2700 runners, we chatted with a male runner who hadn't run in months because of a sore back but decided he was going for it since he already had the race paid for and room reserved. We later wonder how HE might be feeling after the race. I didn't see him when I turned around at the half way mark, so I wonder if he dropped. I can't imagine what 26 miles feels like without training for it.

Prerace self talk and prayer: Give us strength to be the best we can be today. Thank you for this amazing day to run in.

Off we go, and I didn't hear the guns to start in this mob as we slowly shuffle to and across the start line.

Our first few miles were a little faster than planned, and I liked it. I was breathing easily. I felt in control and I reasoned if I could push a little speed and slice some padding in, that we would be okay if we slowed later or if I had to jump into a restroom. Plan for the unexpected, seriously. I even brought some TP. All was going well and the small town crowds and some other runners made fun comments and cheers for the tutus. I am telling you, wear a tutu for a good time. It should be in a pamphlet or on a bumper sticker somewhere.

My run buddy, Evie wasn't enjoying the pace so much by mile 6. She lagged behind after a couple aid stations and we began seeing the half marathon runners that were bussed to their start line coming our way. My husband was one of them and putting it all out there for the first time alone. I am so proud of his finish with an 11 minute PR at 1:48. He slapped my time half marathon PR by five and a half minutes.

I saw my childhood best friend cruising along in his first marathon. He had reached the turnaround and was heading back to his three and a half hour finish—ZOOM. A quick high- five in passing gave me a little jolt of speed.

I high-fived and low-fived children lined up with their hands stuck out in rows. We could easily five 3-5 in a row. It reminded me of bike wheels hitting a playing card as a kid, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop. Volunteers were a-plenty and friendly with fun cheers for the tutu. More jolts of energy absorbed from each station.

Mile 11 self talk: You are going to have to work for this.

I had lost my run buddy at about mile 8 and didn't see her again until I was coming back after 13.5 miles. I hollered "Yeah, you are in there!" She said "Just go, go, go!" Completely on my own now, I continued to run strong and count on the GU Roctane every 4 miles. One rule I have—DON'T miss a dose. Poor fueling will kill the race.

Mile 15 self talk: Breath easy. In through your nose and out through your mouth.

At about mile 16 I reflected on how amazing it would be to share this race with my daughter. I look forward to the day she is ready. Running alongside glistening water with her would have sweeten the experience and made it perfection. Several times throughout the race I opened my hand and gave gratitude.

Mile 17 self talk: Fierce. Keep going and get off this course as fast as possible.

I had started to have a little cramping for a nature call and it would go away and come back with urgency. Mile 19, I had to make a port-a-potty stop. It was a choice of run in the woods later or go now. It knocked mile 19 up 2 minutes. I  did surprisingly well making up the time.

Mile 20 self talk flying a mental bird: F%^@ this last 6 miles! This isn't pain. Pain is running another 25 miles up and down hills. 6 more miles...turn it over.

At mile 20 a male runner ran next to me right after an aid station and yelled "Come on Tutu!" I don't know if he was trying to challenge me or encourage me. I hollered back while walked, "I'm GUing!" I quickly got on his heels. A little annoyed I thought, "You Sir, may just be my new best friend." But at last, our friendship ended as I kept pace and lost him.

Mile 22 self talk: Ear phones staying on from this point until the last mile. "Fierce focus. Turn it over."

Golden last mile self talk: Yippee! Enjoy, don't slow down. Don't you surrender!

I was amazed once more by some of the people seemingly keeping pace that started walking on this last mile. All this hard work, crashing. I saw one woman struggling and she started walking and got next to her and said, "Golden last mile. Don't surrender now." I don't know if she started running again or if that helped at all.

On the last stretch Karen, an amazing running coach and runner, jumped out and ran with me to the track just like last year. So glad she did. It quicken my step and made me smile in the moment. She said, "You're right on target. You surprised me! You're early." I immediately thought of Sarah Shea saying similar words at Ragnar last year. Love it. I am 41, not done and want to keep surprising people.

4:08 Finish (9:28 overall pace). Boom. Smashed last year's 4:24. 

Feeling great at the finish, I waited for my run buddy—pacing a bit to keep my legs moving. She was about 24 minutes behind but had a recored time for her 13.1 first half. Good with that, she had changed her race plan to coaching people in and enjoying the run. That's who she is. Time doesn't always matter as much as the time spent with others. I am quite proud of her doing her.

Celebrating after with some pizza and waiting around town for three hours
before picking up little girls from a birthday party, because THAT is how moms roll.
Although, I could write a small post on the surprisingly best restrooms around Traverse City after a
Marathon PR because that is the price I payed.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Inspired Bird

Doing a marathon feels like giving the middle finger to anything that's ever made me feel scared or vulnerable. 
~ Nancy Barlow  

Thank you Nancy for nailing my feelings exactly. That perfectly describes my race day mindset. The bird (a.k.a. the finger) takes flight this Saturday for another 26.2. I am going for a PR and just put together a fast paced collection of tunes to turn my feet over. I am counting on all the hill repeats (50-80 a week) that I used in lieu of some speed work to pay-off. It makes me a little nervous and taper stir crazy, but come race day I know I have to believe to succeed. 

After being completely sick of my music for the past year, I stumbled upon a great new album a couple days ago from Beckah Shae: Champion. Finally some fast pace, positive, and faith supported tunes to keep my feet and heart on fire. The album is loaded to inspire—I'm going to say it—a champion performance! This album is so new there aren't many videos to connect to it. Turbo Style isn't even my favorite song, but dang it just might be a theme song for my blog.

Will it be a Run or Die kind of day? I have wanted to just let it fly and race in a sports bra for a while. It's part of embracing my freedom and exceptance that I am exactly what God wants me to be and shall I say it—worthy. As well as giving the bird to judgement from others. (Let me use my telepathy and send this message: Hey you know who you are and I'm giving you the bird Saturday for 4 hours.) Being such a cold Winter and Spring, this sports bra might be ridiculously chilly alone for this weekend. Plus, I am still testing this it since it isn't my usual bounce proof vest. But so far, no chafing or riding up in the last 10 miler. When I do finally race a bra alone (which I need to work on some other options today), I think it has to be this little Run or Die number pictured at the left. Yes, that's me and my tutu. I don't think my body is there yet (says the judgmental bitch on my shoulder), but then it beckons the question I have to ask myself immediately, "Just when are YOU going to be good enough?"
It's the constant mental battle for especially women. I have physically come a long way from 9 years ago and running only the past 5, yet can beat the hell out of myself within 10 seconds. 10 seconds is all it takes to say something empowering and useful or something shattering to one's self that may take longer to recoup from. Be kind, but push. I know just what to say to bring me down, or push another workout. I know where I respond well, but can go too far like any normal person. You got me, I am too hard on myself. Maybe there should be a new 10 second rule. Say something positive right now... go. I think it's okay to be a little negative or stressed sometimes, if it is to ignite one's self or another to dig deeper. Not everyone responds well to that pressure though. It's the point that one surrenders sobbingly or starts shoving mass amounts of cake in their mouth that it's gone way too far. Regardless, I have 26.2 to pull off a PR. I'm stir crazy on a taper and this leads into a quote that cracks me up to near tears...
Sometimes I feel like giving up, and then I remember I have a lot of motherfuckers to prove wrong.
Truth. Off to find my focused drive to let the bird fly for 26.2!