Category: races (page 1 of 6)

Is It All Downhill From Here?

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It ‘s all so strange to think that the baby was only a few weeks old last April when I signed up to run a marathon in mid-November. At the time I thought it would be a miracle if I was able to do much training, but the race was downhill so I hoped that gravity would help out where the baby left me unprepared. I just wanted to do a marathon again, to run a big race and to remember what it was like. I last ran the Boston Marathon in 2014, and while it doesn’t seem so long ago when I type it out, it felt like ages ago—a different life. I had lost myself and I hoped that running a marathon would help me feel more like myself again.

And so it’s also strange to think that I feel like I hardly know the person who ran down the mountain on Saturday, who ran 26.2 miles more than 5 minutes faster than I ever thought I could. I had such low expectations for this race going into it. I didn’t really make any goals except to get to the finish line. But then things didn’t go as I expected. thegirlsatthemarathon

The first surprise was that the baby was very kind to me through training. He’s been my only baby who has slept through the night at all before 10 months. So for the first couple of months of training last summer, I was getting enough sleep to be able to run before Micah went to work. When school started, I could run with Little Miss and the baby later in the morning. So, to my great surprise, training was not the fiasco I had imagined. And while I didn’t nail every workout, I did almost all of them. My training plan worked well for me—it seemed to be the ideal balance of work and rest with the speed and strength days in all the right order and spaced just right.*

As race day came I felt strong and well-trained—but still, I had no idea what to expect from my training and my body. I didn’t know if I’d done enough downhill running for a race that was essentially down a mountain. One nice thing was that my sister and a good friend were running the race as well. Abby takes a much different approach to running and training than I do. She said that she fully intended to take the full amount of time allotted to her—6 hours 6 minutes, or 14 minute miles. And Madison was so dedicated to her goal of running her fastest marathon. When the race started I just kept telling myself that I needed to run my race and not be concerned about what anybody else was doing. Because some people were there for the scenery and some people were there for the speed.girlsatthestart

With my last marathon, I wrote happy thoughts on my arms to keep me inspired and distracted (if need be) throughout the race. I did the same this time and tried to focus on one thought per mile.  It was another good reminder that I needed to run my own race, feel my own body, and not worry about what everybody else was doing. Which was great because around mile 8 or 9 I found out that I was running much faster than I had anticipated and that the crowd I was with was hoping to finish much faster than I thought I could. At first I was sure I had gone out too fast and that I would burn out before I got much farther. But I took stock and discovered that I felt fine, good even. Some minor cramps in my legs that passed as I kept running. And soon after the halfway mark, I was able to leave the crowd who were hoping to break 3:10.

meandabsTo be honest, I didn’t know how I was doing, what my pace was. I just kept going and hoping that each cramp in my legs would pass, and they did. Through each aid station I took a few gulps of water and poured the rest of the cup on my legs, especially where they felt tight. Each time, it worked like a charm—the cramps eased. At least until the last 4-5 miles when everything hurt, but I was pretty sure I could make it anyway.

So when I turned the final corner, with 1/10th of a mile left and saw that I was going to finish in 3 hours 8 minutes, I was shocked. It was such a surprise. It was so far beyond what I ever thought I would be capable of that it still seems unreal. And I still feel like I don’t know what to do with it. Accept it as the best I’ll ever do? Figure it as a fluke of a downhill race? See if I can match it on a flat course?

But then there is this: I wanted this race to be a way for me to come back to who and what I was before I got pregnant and then lost the pregnancy and myself. And I feel like in some way it is a way of giving me hope that not only can I get back to being me, I can be  stronger and faster—and more and better.

As for Abby, she didn’t take quite the whole time. But she did come dancing down the final straightaway before the finish line chute in style while my other sisters and brother-in-law cheered her on. She ran her own race—and didn’t walk a step.

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*If you are curious, my plan was something like this: a shorter (4-6 mile) run and strength training on Monday, an easy 6-10 mile run on Tuesday, speed training on Wednesday (alternating hill repeats, 30-45 minute tempo runs, and 800 meter intervals each week), rest on Thursday, a 6-10 mile pace run on Friday, and an easy long (8-20mile) run on Saturday, with another rest day Sunday.

Pushing It While Pregnant

Last month I ran a half marathon. I was 17 weeks pregnant*, feeling decently good, and in pretty good shape. But I really didn’t want to push it. My training runs, especially my long ones, had been slow. And after so many months of emotional upheaval over pregnancy/non-pregnancy, I was willing to cut myself a break. Then again, one of the (many) things that continued to be source of sadness for me was that I really like to be in good shape when I get pregnant—like, just ran a PR-marathon kind of shape. rocknroll2015

That wasn’t in the cards this time. I mean, I did get pregnant soon after I ran my last Boston Marathon, but then I lost the pregnancy. And in the months of sadness that followed, although I ran, it was half-heartedly. I felt like in addition to losing the pregnancy, I was losing my body (and my heart, and my mind, and my soul . . . ). So getting back into shape for this pregnancy was a minor goal of mine. Maybe I didn’t run a marathon the month or two before I got pregnant, but a half marathon a month or two after was just as good.

Still, I had modest goals for the race. Sub-2:00 is what I told myself. (My PR is 1:36.) I would run, but I wasn’t really going to race. And then, the day before the race, Micah said he was going to run with me. Which is fine. Actually, the other half-marathons we’ve run, we’ve run together, crossing the line hand-in-hand, more or less. But the thing is, Micah hasn’t been able to train well for a few years. And yet despite that, he’s still always the one pushing the pace. It’s . . . inspiring. And infuriating.

So on race-day we lined up together. He promised to let me set the pace. The gun went off, and so did we. It took a few miles to find our place amidst the hordes of runners, but by mile 4 the crowds had mostly thinned out and we weren’t bobbing and weaving quite so much. I was hoping to settle into something comfortable. Somehow, that didn’t happen. The pace kept feeling a little fast. Micah kept finding someone else that we really couldn’t let be in front of us. And every mile, I would listen as my phone told us our average pace. It kept dropping.

Every now and then, I’d alert him to this fact. He seemed unconcerned. I reminded him that he said I could set the pace. He said he didn’t realize I wasn’t. We kept running. By mile 9 I was pretty sure I couldn’t hold onto that pace for the rest of the race, but then, we were running next to a Macho Man impersonator and it was pretty much the best thing ever. (“Hand me a Slim Jim!” he’d grumble as we sped by the aid stations.) We couldn’t let him go. So we kept running.

I was pushing it. Going faster than I’d planned and giving it more than I intended to. Yes, I wanted to be in shape for the baby, but then again, the baby was also my excuse for taking it a little bit easy.

As we approached the 13 mile marker, I felt the baby kick. Micah said it was a sign we should kick it in. We finished in 1:43. Way off “goal pace.” Way faster than I had intended. But really, it felt good to push it, to not make excuses, to really see what I could do.

Before we left the finish coral, we thanked Macho Man for pulling us along in the last mile. Then we met up with some friends for a minute and walked home. Micah talked about how easy it had seemed, how quickly the miles had flown past and I tried not to kick him in the shin. I had actually trained and it wasn’t quick and easy for me! But then, I also wanted to hug him, too, for always always ALWAYS getting me to try my best, push a little harder, keep going a little farther.

It’s always a little nerve-wracking in the middle of it, but it always feels so good to see the result.

 

*I know some people are concerned about running during pregnancy. So here’s the DL: it’s good for mom, it’s good for baby. It strengthens the baby’s heart. And for those who worry about any bouncing the baby may be doing in utero: there is no evidence that there is any harm done to fetus through “bouncing.” Think of it similar to your brain: your brain is also suspended in fluid, and is completely fine as you run and jump and “bounce” it around. In fact, the baby may be safer than your brain, because there aren’t even any bones to hit up against. And even if you were to lose your balance and fall while running (or walking, or whatever), the concern is not for the baby so much as it is for the placenta. If you fall and bump your belly, the baby will almost certainly be fine, but it could cause a placenta abruption, which can be very dangerous. 

And After 17.4 Miles, I’m a Person Again

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The fantasy I’ve had since age 5 came true at Exchange 32 on Saturday morning when, for one brief moment, I got to be Ariel.

I know that I’m not really a real person to my kids. Not yet. They can’t really fathom my life outside of cooking and cleaning and telling them their shirts are on backward. Certainly they see me talking to other people, but my conversations hold little interest for them. They know I like to run and to write and—according to the Mother’s Day book Squish’s made—to read Green Eggs and Ham, which is all true enough, but I don’t think they understand that I like to do those things as a person and not necessarily as a mom. (And yes, I’ve learned a lot from Dr. Seuss’s writing style through multiple readings of his masterworks.) It is more amusing than anything to me at this point. I assume they will slowly realize that Mom is a person too as they grow up.

But sometimes I don’t feel like a real person to me either. And that is a problem. One that needs to be fixed. Possibly by not being the mom for a day or so and instead running around Cape Cod with vans full of other people seeking the thrill of handing off a slap bracelet at 1am to their teammate, then collapsing on the floor of the local high school gym for 3 hours of poor sleep before getting back in the van for the next leg of the relay race.

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Only good things come from running by still waters.

At least that is what I did last weekend in running the Ragnar Relay around Cape Cod as part of the Chowdah Legs team. It’s been over a year since I ran a race, which is probably a real shame. I know I was pretty burned out last year after running Boston, but I didn’t know that I would take such a long time away from the racing scene. It was good to be back. Micah and I joined some neighbors and friends and friends of neighbors and neighbors of friends of friends to cover the 192 miles from Hull, MA to Provincetown. And what a good time it was.

It was fun to run without a stroller. It was great to push myself to go fast again. It was awesome to be silly/crazy/stupid/brave enough to run through the mist at 1am. And you know I loved to count how many people I passed (or, in the parlance, “killed”) as I ran my legs of the race. (More than 20 over 3 legs, in case you were curious.)

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Chowdah Legs Van 2. BFFs. Or at least for the 29 hours we were stuck in a van together.

And of course sitting in a van with 4 or 5 other sweaty, anxious, excited runners for more than 24 hours is always a good time, too. Instant friends forever, obviously.

Our team did a darn good job, coming in 10 minutes ahead of our projected time. It’s always a good feeling to defy expectations, right? We crossed the line together, had some chowder and then went back to our people and beds and showers at the beach house, where my kids were busy playing in the sand and not knowing or caring that their parents just spent a day running and laughing and napping and talking and driving with their pals simply because that is what brings them joy as human beings.

They’ll figure it out some day. And when they do—and can put their shirts on forward the first time—I’ll let them run on my relay team.

My Mind Is All Over This Marathon: Final Thoughts Before Race Day

I bought a new pair of shoes last week. The saleslady told me she couldn’t really recommend getting new shoes so close to race day, but I’d come home from my latest long run with a bruise on the bottom of my left heel and I was somewhat desperate to feel like I was doing something to make things better. I thought a fresh pair of kicks might be just the thing.

It wasn’t until I’d left the store, still feeling good about my purchase, that I realized that it was fully and completely a mental game I was playing with those shoes. Anything to give myself a bit more confidence going into Monday’s race. IMG_7100

And that’s what it is right now: a mental game. Am I eating enough carbs? Does it matter? Do I think I’m eating enough carbs? Am I getting enough sleep? Only if I think I am. (Okay, that may not be entirely true, but I think it kind of is.)

I’ve been going over my training log and with tomorrow’s 2-mile shakeout, I’ll hit 600 miles since training started on New Years’ Eve. That’s a lot of miles. More, I’m sure, than I’ve done any other marathon-training cycle. But will more miles mean a faster finish? A more comfortable race? A stronger second half? I know I’ve done a lot of slow, hard miles pushing the stroller. Will that help or hurt my finish time? I’ve done better quality speed work than I have in the past, but not as many workouts as I had planned. Who knows how that is going to effect my race?

And, of course I didn’t get to finish the longest of my long runs. I’m telling myself it won’t matter on race day. Those five I missed that day — or the 25 other miles I missed that week of illness — aren’t going to make the difference between a good race and a bad race. Only my attitude and expectations can do that.

And with that in mind, I’ve started a list of happy thoughts to keep me smiling through every. I’m determined to savor the experience. I do have time goals, of course. I’d really like to PR, which means I’d need to run a 3:21 or faster. Better yet, I’d like to break 3:20. But what I really want is to feel, when I cross the finish line, that I’ve run my best, that the training was worth it, and that it’ll be fine if I take a break from marathons for a couple of years. I don’t want to finish feeling like I could’ve done better, or that I wanted more from that race, or that I need to redeem myself . . . at least not right away.

But I’m going to try to leave after-the-race for after the race. (Ha! As if I don’t already have a hundred thoughts and hopes and plans and wishes!) Until then, it’s all happy thoughts and, full night sleeps, and lots of carbs.

ps If you’d like to follow my progress as I run from Hopkinton to Boston you are welcome to. Sign up for athlete alert here. My bib number is 14258.

 

The photo is from my long run two weeks ago, when I ran from Lincoln Center, down the West Side Highway, around the southern end of Manhattan, and over the Manhattan Bridge to Brooklyn. 

About That Marathon

If I’m being honest with myself, which I try to do, I was really disappointed in the showing of the Americans the New York City Marathon on Sunday. My heart sank each time I furtively checked my Twitter feed during Sunday School for the latest on the standings. At first Meb was hanging with the leaders. Jason Hartmann was mentioned, too. But it was still early then, and after the first hour, there were no more mentions of American’s in the minute-by-minute updates.

And the women. There were no mentions of any American women. Boo.

By the time church was over and the results were in (the top Americans came in at 14th among both the men and women), I was pretty disappointed. So disappointed that we nearly bailed on our plan to go cheer on the normal Joe Schmoes out there running. But, of course, as we pedaled home and got those endorphins pumping through our bodies, we changed our minds. After all, the race course wasn’t too far out of our way. And it’s always a good idea to cheer on your fellow men, right?

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So we did it. It was nearly 1:00 by the time we got to our spectating spot near mile 9. Most people had been out there for nearly 2 hours. The people that were just getting to mile 9 were the back-of-the-packers. They were walking, or jogging slowly. Maybe running a bit and then stopping to walk again. They are the people of whom I have always had a great admiration: those who can stick with it for 7 or 8 hours. That takes a lot of determination. And many spectators have left by then. They’ve seen the fast people, the elites, and their friends, and they’ve gone home for lunch. Just when the people who will be out there the longest are getting there. They need the support.

We stayed and cheered a while. We made friends with a photographer for one of the local papers. And we were glad we did it. If ever I’m feeling the need for a bit of encouragement, I find it best to find someone to encourage. Like someone who’s running in the back of the pack in one of the biggest marathons in the world.

(I personally think that part of the reason I enjoy being carless in NYC so much is that there are so very many opportunities to encourage and be encouraged and generally connect with my fellow New Yorkers.)
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In other marathon related news: I’m glad to know that with my fat ankles, I really never had a chance to be an elite runner. (But wow! Those Kenyans!) Also, when I die, I hope it’s something like this.

Every Run for Every Mother Counts

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Each time I have stood and cheered on runners at a big race – like last Sunday’s New York Marathon – I always wish I could do more. More than just call out people’s names and tell them they are looking good, encourage them to keep at it and finish strong. I know the cheering means a lot to people – it means a lot to me when I’m running – but seeing them out there, 8 or 12 or 20 miles into the race while I’m just standing on the sidelines gets me itchy to get involved and put my legs to good – or better – use.

And even when I am running the race, I run it knowing that I’m running mostly for myself. For my family – my children and husband – too of course, and for friends as well, who think I am crazy and cool for keeping up this running hobby of mine. But I look around me and see other runners supporting causes, running for cancer research or for healthy kids or for world peace and I feel . . . well, I feel a little selfish. And also that I’m not at a point in my life where I can do that. The causes are going to have to wait because I can barely get myself and my kids out the door for our morning run before it turns into an afternoon run. There’s just no way I can squeeze in fundraising on top of the mileage.

Or is there . . . ?

Find out on Babble.

Rock N Roll 10K 2013

The 10K is kind of an odd distance for me. I run 10K frequently. It’s almost exactly 6.2 miles from our apartment to the park, around the park, and back home. So 10K is kind of my base distance.

But it most definitely is not my base race distance. I’ve only run one other 10K, and I was 7 months pregnant. I felt like that needed to change, so I signed up for the Rock N Roll 10K in Prospect Park last Saturday. My home distance on my home turf. Couldn’t get any better, right?

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Actually, I can think of one way it could have gotten better: if I hadn’t run a 5K the week before. Not that I was still recovering physically from that 5K, because I actually felt pretty well rested and my legs were less sore than they have been. But mentally . . . mentally I was not yet in a place where I wanted to push myself really hard. Not like I did at Miles for Midwives. It was too soon to be over the mental trauma.

But there I was, at the start line, with a bib pinned to my shirt waiting for the air horn to blow – and when it did, off I went! The race started going up the hill and I tried to hold back a little bit so I wouldn’t burn myself out. After all, I was going to have to tackle it again at mile 5. There were a few girls I was trying to stay with up the hill, but by the time we turned around and went back down, I’d passed them. When I hit the 3 mile mark, someone said I was among the top 10 women, which was totally unexpected and which I only partly believed. But it was motivation enough for me to keep pushing it and to not let any other women pass me.

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That goal was nearly thwarted as I neared the top of the hill. Micah and the kids were there waiting to cheer me on. Squish had his hand out for a high-5, and as I ran by, I missed his hand! The devastation! I could hear Squish being very sad, so I turned around and we tried again – successfully. It was really only a couple of steps, and I don’t think anyone passed me, but I did lose a few seconds –which I don’t regret at all. Totally worth it.

Micah rode with the kids to the other side of the park and caught me again about half way through the last mile. I’m pretty sure he went just fast enough to encourage me to keep my pace. He really is an excellent pacer, even if he’s not running the race. I think his strategy worked. I felt like I finished strong, even though it was really hard by the end. I finished in 43:08, was 5th in my age group and the 12th woman overall. (I think the person who told me I was in the top 10 might have missed the pack of 6 elite women who finished nearly 10 minutes ahead of me.)

It was a good race and I’m glad I did it because now I have a real baseline for the 10K, and I did manage my goal of sub-7:00 average pace. Next time I hope to crack into the 42 minute range, and I hope, one day, to get down to 40.

Although I might need Micah to pace me for real if I’m ever going to do that.

Miles For Midwives 2013

I’m selfish sometimes. Well, a lot of the time. I’m selfish about chocolate and showers and running. Most of the time, this bothers me not a bit.

But on Saturday, I did feel a little guilty about my selfish ways.

Saturday was the Miles for Midwives 5K, which we’ve run 5 years in a row now, and which I’ve won a couple of times.* All last week I tried to rest up for it. “Resting up” for a 5K may sound a little silly, but my legs have been pretty sore since I’ve been biking over the Manhattan Bridge 10 times a week to go get Manchild and bring him home. (Pushing Squish and Little Miss in the jogger a couple of times a week may have tired out my muscles some, too.) And since we’ve been getting 6 1/2 hours of sleep on a good night for the past month or so, I was pretty exhausted in general. “Resting up” was probably a good idea all around, and it’s a shame it took a race to get me serious about it.

As we were getting ready for bed on Friday night, Micah noticed I seemed a little out of sorts, so I laid it out for him: I was nervous about the race. I wanted to do well. PR for sure, maybe a sub-20:00? And wouldn’t it be great if I won as well? But I wasn’t sure where I stood. My legs, though sore, were stronger than they’d ever been. Would that be enough to push me through the fog of tiredness? I was just going to have to find out.

Micah could see that I was stressing about it. So when the race started on Saturday morning, he stayed with me. We powered up the hill together and already – 1/2 a mile in – I could feel my legs burning. I hoped that as we turned onto flatter ground, I would be able to ease up a bit, but  . . . I didn’t. I couldn’t. Halfway through the race, as we were going downhill, I got a side-stitch right as we caught up to the guy in 4th place. Not a good combination for competitive me. We stayed level with him and I breathed as deeply as I could to ease the side-stitch. And that’s when I started moaning to Micah about how hard it was.

“I’m struggling,” were the only words I managed to speak. Other than that, it was literally just moaning. Because I hurt. And it was not easy. I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to make it. Where was the finish line? Wasn’t this race only 3.1 miles?

And then it was there. I saw the time on the clock: 20:07 . . . 20:08 . . . 20:09 . . . it was 20:13 by the time we crossed the line. We’d actually seen the 2nd and 3rd place finishers cross ahead of us. We’d come in 4th and 5th. It was a PR for me by about 30 seconds, and I’d won the women’s division. m4m2

It wasn’t until an hour or so later that I realized that Micah had a chance to win the race if he hadn’t been pacing me. He for sure could have come in 2nd. But instead he stuck with Moaning Myrtle here and I, in my selfishness, didn’t give it a thought until it was way too late.

He claims he gets a lot more satisfaction in seeing me compete than in competing himself, and that he is always really proud of me for giving it all my effort. He says that he’s not in top shape anyway, and that running that pace wasn’t easy for him, either. But really, my only consolation is that he got the same medal for getting 1st in his age division as he would if he had won the whole race. There were no special prizes for the winner.

(Digression: It was consolation to me, but also a little annoying because they have given out goodie bags to the winners before and they were awesome! I wanted one! Another annoying thing: they nearly didn’t give the top female finishers any recognition at all! It wasn’t until me and the 2nd place lady complained – and told them they were doing it wrong – that we were given our own little medals. I was a little shocked: a race that celebrates women and labor and they don’t celebrate the women who labored to come in first?!)

So I was selfish. And I felt a little guilty about it. But that’s not going to stop me from waking up super early Saturday morning and leaving Micah to herd the kids out the door by himself so I can run the Rock N Roll 10K. Because I’m allowed to be selfish about a few things. And running is one of them.m4m1

*Manchild didn’t race this year. After the horrible run a couple of weeks ago, he declared it was too far and he wasn’t going to do it. Micah wisely stepped in and told him that was fine, even though I was prepared to talk him into it anyway. He said he might be interested in running it next year – if we start training sooner. 🙂 But my sister, Abby, ran and although she went into with the goal of simply finishing, she totally PRed. Rock. On.

It’s Party Time

I never thought I’d say this. Never. But . . . I kind of miss waking up early to go running. Or at least having the option to run, by myself, before the kids were up.

In the week since Manchild started school, which simultaneously stole my early morning run and gave me back the double jogger as a possibility, I’ve been out with the jogger three times. And I noticed that the jogger is hard to push. I can’t go as fast. And I have to try to talk to Squish. Or to listen to Squish when he’s trying to tell me something. And that’s hard to do, too. (No offense to my boy, but it’s just hard to hear when he’s speaking into the wind in his tiny little voice.)

Not so much solitude out there. Not so many effortless miles.

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On the other hand, I did go running three times. Which is, roughly, three more times than I would have gone if I didn’t have the jogger.

Now that my weekday runs are guaranteed to be accompanied by two cute little munchkins, they are going to be a bit slower and a bit louder. I hope to take advantage of that and run with it. Since we’re pretty much a party running down the road anyway, why not really make it a social event?

This morning I ran with a friend (and her toddler). Last week I signed up for some races. (Rock N Roll 10K in Prospect Park and the Boston Marathon. Still planning to sign up for Miles for Midwives 5K and the Holiday Half.)

Pretty soon my running will be so full of people and places and races that I won’t even miss those early morning miles. At least not too much.

Utah Valley Half Marathon Recap

Logistics. It’s tricky, tricky business when both you and your spouse are running a race and you are away from home and you have to be to the buses that take you to the start line at 4:00am. And you have three children, including one that tends to cry when her mom leaves.

So, first, props to my sister and her husband who not only let us take over their living room for a night, but also got up at 3:45 to take my crying baby off my hands so Micah and I could get to the start line. (Last year my brother’s secret fiancee allowed us to pick her up at 6:30 in the morning so she could watch our kids during the race. It wasn’t until after the race that my brother officially announced their engagement.)

But after we managed to sneak out the door, leaving Little Miss in the capable and patient hands of my sister and brother-in-law, all went well. Micah, another sister, and two of my brothers drove to the bus pick-up and boarded buses that took us up the canyon to the start. Once we got there we warmed ourselves by the fire pits because, as you might imagine, the mountains of Utah are not a warm place to be at 5:00 in the morning, no matter what time of year.
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It was on our way up to the start line and as we stood around the fire that we really talked about our race goals. This was maybe not the best move, but it seems to be the way I roll these days. Up until then my goal had been to get to the start line pain-free. And with my IT band feeling better, it was time to think about the finish line. Having hardly run in the past couple of weeks, and having just come off an injury, I was hesitant to think that I could even get close to a PR – which was 1:36:05. It wasn’t on my radar at all. But 1:40 seemed like a reasonable time to try to beat – for both me and Micah, who is less injured than before but not entirely healed – so in the minutes leading up to the start time, we found the 1:40 pacer and kept close to him. My brother – who was running his first half – also didn’t really have any idea what he was capable of, but thought 2 hours was a good goal. He didn’t want to get beat by any speedy marathoners.

At promptly 6:00am – if there’s one thing this race does really well, it’s start on time – the air horn blew and we were off. The pacer went out really fast, but Micah and I decided to give our bodies time to warm up, which was a good idea because we were both really cold. And for the first few miles I wasn’t sure if I really wanted to push myself at all. The bottoms of my feet were a little numb and I had a bit of a side stitch. But by mile 5 we were warm and feeling good, and at about the half-way point we pushed past the pacer and never looked back.
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It wasn’t until around mile 9 that we finally felt the sun, and at that point I was no longer worried about my knee but I was a little worried about poor fueling, so I took some Powerade gel (I think it was Powerade . . .) and continued to take a little bit at a time for the last few miles. It seemed to keep me from getting too fatigued.

Now, if there’s another thing this race does really well, it’s taunt you with the finish line. You can see it from more than a mile away. And once we hit the 12 mile mark, Micah turned to me and said, “We’re in 5K mode now. It’s not supposed to feel good.” We tried to crank it up a notch. This was much harder for me than for him. I was already pushing myself pretty hard, and while I could see the finish line, I knew it still wasn’t all that close. I tried to keep up with Micah for that last mile, but at one point I did actually stop and shake out because I needed to loosen up. It was just for a second, and it really helped.

Near mile 13 was when I first realized how close we were to our PR. I couldn’t remember exactly what our PR was, just that it was 1:36ish. The clock read 1:37:15 (ish) when we crossed the line, but I knew that depending on how long it took us to cross the start line, it could have been a PR. This was, of course, way better than I expected and I was totally thrilled about it – we both were. And then, as we were getting pictures taken in the finish line area we heard my brother’s name announced as he was coming across the line. We’d only been there a few minutes and hadn’t expected him for 20 more. But there he was! Finished at 1:41! Even more thrilling than getting so close to a PR!

We met up with my family and started the long wait for my brother and sister who were running the marathon. Just before the finish clock read 4:18, my brother came running down the chute. Official time: 4:14. And from then until my sister came in we stood and cheered the runners as they came in. The clock said 5:02 when Abby crossed the line, but her official time was 4:59:56. She crossed just ahead of the 5:00 pacer for a PR.
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And then it was time to go to the Kids 1K, which both Manchild and Squish were super excited to run. I ran with Manchild, keeping up with him as he weaved his way through so many strollers and holding his hand to help him keep going when he got tired. Micah ran with Squish, who was similarly determined to run the whole thing. They both finished the race red-faced and sweaty and so happy to have done it.

Actually, I think we were all happy to have done it. It was a great race for all of us. Well, except for maybe Little Miss . . . but that’s what she gets for waking up at 1:00 in the morning.20130611-233157.jpg

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