Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Marshall University Marathon: Wrapping Up A Year Of Awesome

It's been 365 days of awesome. Since November 30th of last year, I've been bopping around the nation for happy things and running my little heart out.

November 30th-Fly to Florida for brother-in-law Micheal's wedding (Florida)

December 6th-Fly to Baltimore for Rehoboth Beach Marathon (Maryland, Virginia, Delaware)
   26.2 miles, first BQ/PR (3:32:54)

Februrary 22nd-Drive to Sevierville, Tennessee for Tasha's bachelorette party (Tennessee)

March 14th-Drive to Virginia Beach, Virginia for Shamrock Marathon (South Carolina, North Carolina)
   8K insta-PR (39:28) + 26.2 miles (3:52:05)

March 23rd-Race 5th Georgia Marathon
   26.2 miles, earned Marathon Maniac status (3:45:33)

May 2nd-Drive to Cincinnati, Ohio for the Flying Pig 4-way challenge (Kentucky, Ohio)
   5K insta-PR (58:47), 10K insta-PR (47:57), 26.2 miles (4:00:41)  

July 4th-Race We The Runners Half Marathon
    13.1 miles, earned a PR (1:39:31)

August 21st-Fly to Portland, Oregon for Hood to Coast Relay (Colorado, Oregon, Washington)  
    18+ miles, first relay

August 25th-Fly to Jackson Hole, Wyoming for Yellowstone/Jackson Hole Marathon (Wyoming, Idaho, Montana)
   26.2 miles (3:53:32)

October 24th-Fly to New York for Tom's wedding (New York)

November 1st-Drive to Huntington, West Virginia for Marshall Marathon (West Virginia)
   26.2 miles, PR (3:31:35)

The Marshall University Marathon was kind of like an extra layer of icing on the cake. I clearly have had quite a bodacious time lately, but being happily relaxed about the whole thing might have helped too.

It's no secret that I'm thrilled about my new PR and locking in another chance at Boston for 2016. But I have to say that seeing my buddy Dave succeed this weekend was actually better than my own accomplishments. Like really. Don't get me wrong, a PR and a BQ are pretty fabulous. But watching Davers steadily nail down those final miles after catching me at 22 was something I'm going to remember for a lifetime. For realz.

I took like, 5 pictures the whole weekend. Mostly because I was busy yakking away. Or running. Or drinking copious amounts of celebratory beer. So I stole a few from my peeps--thanks y'all!

Soooo...here's what had happened:

Saturday morning, I awake at 4:30-mother-of-pearl-a.m. to find it sleeting sideways outside. On November 1st. In Georgia.

I get on the road and battle 20-30mph winds driving up I-75 and when dawn breaks, I stop at McDonald's to get a hot cakes breakfast and more coffee. Eating scrambled eggs with my fingers, I enjoy a solid hour of driving with no rain. Then I start seeing white stuff on the trees. 

Mother frickin' snow!
Dudes, I was wearing shorts and a tank Monday!

So I white knuckle for a few more hours and once I get out of the stupid snow, I stop at Subway for a footlong Italian BMT with lettuce, tomato, green peppers, and little olive oil and vinegar. Cram that bad boy into my mouth and eat a whole bunch of Halloween candy.

Carbo load status, engaged.

When I roll into Scott Depot, I'm in desperate need of a nap. But Loopsters!!!! Brian, Lisa, and Angie were already hanging out and soon Jenster and Abby arrived. The group headed to packet pick-up for bibs and hugs from all the other Loopsters hanging out. Then, a mass exodus to the arch for a group picture:
After a little bumble at Gino's (I could have played Skee-Ball yo!), we found refuge at Giovanni's. I wasn't really hungry (see above), but I did eat most of my spaghetti.

Lisa, Angie, and I said our goodnights to the group and made the trek to Lisa's house. We watched football and then an amazing 80's movie--About Last Night. It took our mind off the task at hand facing us in the morning and I slept like a frickin' baby.

I did wake up before the alarm, but probably because I heard stirring. Bagel (not toasted, wheat) and peanut butter and a cup of coffee. Get dressed, decorate bib, go to the bathroom 3 times.
Lisa drove us all to the start and handed off the keys to Dana to park. It worked out because we shed our warm-ups in the car and didn't have to stand in the cold. After a quick stop in the bathroom, we headed to the start. Lisa notes that I seem calm. I am calm. I'm ready. Even on a bad day, I'm always happy to be running! Steve and I found each other right before the start, but I didn't see anyone else.

Five, four, three, two, one, GO!!!!!!!!!!!

I realize my feet are extremely cold and my shoes feel really hard because they aren't warm. But I feel good from the beginning. Tummy is okay, energy is high, and I looooove that it cold!

Mile 1: 8:02

Feeling happy that I hit my first mile near my goal pace. We are heading west and the sun is behind me. I hear the gun go off for the 5K. I round the corner and give Brian the middle finger as I fly around the corner.

Mile 2-3: 8:01, 7:53

I near the water stop near the Ohio River and stop to chug Gatorade. Then it's onto Veteran's Memorial Boulevard for a stretch of boring. Except for the kid playing the drums like a fiend--he was pretty awesome. I can feel my feet now and I shed my gloves. I tuck them in the front of my sports bra first, then into the back of my capris in case I need them later. I never do. I run the rest of the race with two gloves on my butt cheeks. Eat a salted watermelon Gu at mile 4.

Mile 4: 7:54

There is a little uphill and then a small stretch left on the road before the park. I am thanking volunteers and police still.

Mile 5-6: 8:00, 7:58

As we near the park, I wave to Steve who is about 1/10th of a mile ahead of me. For some reason, during the first 2 miles on the limestone path, I am jockeying positions with 2 different foot stompers. They are the worst. I am trying to decide whether to hold back or pass because their feet are so. dang. loud.

Miles 7-8: 8:09, 8:01

I can't decide if I like the limestone. I feel like I'm going slower. I remember at mile 8.41 to eat a vanilla Gu. Derp. Guess I was in the zone. An awesome volunteer barks us across the street as we exit the park. I follow the crowd. I actually like the little underpass part--down the hill, up the hill, wheee!

Miles 9-10: 8:11, 8:09

We begin the return back to town. The next few miles are pretty unmemorable. But I can tell we are nearing the part where the split is about to happen. I start trying to figure out who is running the half and who is running the marathon. I eat an espresso Gu at mile 12.

Miles 11-12: 7:57, 7:55

The halfers are beginning to push the pace and I get caught up in the excitement. There is a woman in my shadow and the competitor in me starts to try to pull away from her. She keeps on me through the split (what up Brian!), but I am feeling really really good. I cross the half mark just at 1:45!

Miles 13-14: 7:54, 7:48

I get my bearings after I spot the stadium again and get excited to see all the halfers getting ready to finish their races. I only see Senior Runner's wife, but she's too in the zone to see me. Focused! I begin to cross paths with full runners and see Jenster and Caitlin and later on, Vanessa and Bob. There were lots of Maniacs out there too and they were giving big cheers as I went by. I actually kind of lost track of miles!

Miles 15-16: 7:54, 7:57

I ate another espresso Gu and decided to start picking people off slowly. I could see where runners were slowing down and I was still feeling pretty good. I'd follow behind them closely for about a 1/10th mile and then pass when I knew I wouldn't be passed back.

Miles 17-18: 8:01, 8:03

Headed to the park, I start to feel the effects of running 18 miles. My legs are beginning to get tired, but I know that I am really close to a PR and maybe a sub-3:30 finish. I see Steve again in the park and catch up to him when he stops to walk. It's hard to be chipper and encouraging at mile 19. I grunt "it hurts" as I wobble by.

Miles 19-20: 8:07, 8:13

Dang. First mile over BQ pace. Stupid limestone path. Stupid blisters on my feet. Stupid marathons. Why didn't Pheidippides run like, 18 miles? I make a fake promise that I will never run a marathon hard again. 1 last espresso Gu.

Miles 21: 8:06

I don't really realize how much I've slowed down until I look at my watch and gasp. 8:3X??! What the what? Uh oh. I'm giving myself a little pep talk when I hear someone getting really, really close. Dang. It had been miles since I'd been passed! Then I hear a voice. And it's a familiar one. DAVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I'm quite certain he has found me at the abyss for a reason. He tells me I can do 4 more miles. I stop to take Gatorade, but I keep him in my sights.

Mile 22: 8:28

Dave is looking strong and relaxed as he opens up the gap, but I am using this new rabbit to my advantage. I am trying to do runner math. A PR is still very possible and a BQ is entirely doable unless I absolutely collapses. I try to take the last little bit of Gatorade at the stops to give me a small sugar rush.

Mile 23-24: 8:18, 8:06

I am getting encouragement from the halfers still pushing it in the final part of their race. Full-fatigued servicemen are a gentle reminder to be thankful for a beautiful day of running. I don't want to leave anything on the table. As I careen into the U-shaped turn near the Ohio River, I begin to give it what I've got.

Mile 25: 8:19

There are 2 women in front of me that I've been gaining ground on for a mile. One keeps stopping to walk for a few steps before catching up to the other one. She eventually slows to where I catch her and I yell at her come on, you've got this! as I tap her on the shoulder. I hear her start running again and begin to tuck in behind the other woman. She exuberantly cries out as she meets up with her family and her young daughter follows behind her for a short bit.

Mile 26: 8:05

I hear Dave's name being called out as I run in front of the stadium and feel actual goosebumps knowing he has annihilated his goal. I near the corner and am jolted to life as Loopsters yell out to me. Down the worst stretch of downhill ev-er into the stadium and onto the football field.

I was expecting the field to feel humongous and I was pleased as punch that it was delightfully short and easy. I grabbed a football and saw the gun time was well under my PR. I gripped the football with one hand and sprinted the last few steps to the finish line.


Here are the splits and data:

I grabbed my warm-ups, Muscle Milk, and a beer (courtesy of Dana!) and went back to cheer the other Loopsters. Upon checking my phone, I saw a congrats text from Adam and remembered I signed him up for tracking!

We watched and cheered runners until the last of the Loopsters had crossed the finish line. Dan told Dave he needed to get his AG award and they went back into the stadium to pick it up. I wanted to see my official results and see how I came out in my field. It was beyond awesome to see that I place 2nd in my AG! I got a cool glass piece as an award.
The group separated for showers and a bit of down time before meeting back for lunch at 2. I drank copious amounts of beer, ate pizza, and had an amazing time with a bunch of internet strangers who inspire the heck out of me.

Thanks to each and every person who has made my life a little better this past year! From Loopfests to family trips to lifelong friends and new besties, I am one lucky girl!


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