Because I’m all about that bling, no cut offs!

I’m joining you from the comfort of my living room where I am watching Criminal Minds, reading Women’s Running magazine and not wearing pants. Let’s not forget I also went out to buy frozen yogurt. Why? Well, because I’m an adult that’s why! Really though, it’s because today was the ONLY day in the ENTIRE month of November where I didn’t have something written as a “to do” in my calendar. How glorious a feeling not to have to remember to deviate from my normal schedule. Given this lovely spot of happiness, let’s talk about this past weekend’s events.

As most of you know, I attempted a 50K last Saturday (on a realllly hard trail) and I “only” made it to mile 25. I was OK with this though. This Sunday I found myself at the starting line of the Gore-Tex Philadelphia Marathon. As part of the Gore Running Wear Team, I was one of 8 bloggers who were treated to an amazing trip to Philly. Personally I was flown in,

IMAG1670

put up in a swanky downtown hotel,

hotel

 

treated to a rather upscale dinner for my blood,

dinner

 

given entry to the marathon and granted access to VIP tents upon my running return.

10393797_10102933429840114_1476408125929308339_n

 

Talk about a fish out of water! This girl just knows how to run and be dirty. I didn’t know what to do with myself.

The race started at 700 AM and we were warned to be entering security by 500 AM. Well, this was GREATLY over sold as “security” was simply walking through lanes created by metal “fences”. The guards didn’t even make me show my bib and when they saw my pack I told them it was my coat (it was) and they let me go inside. Not making me feel too safe, but whatever. I’m glad my team and I all voted to go at 600 AM instead because we SO didn’t need to be there at 500 AM! I turned my drop bag in and stood in a sardine pile with my throw away clothing on and waited my turn. I discovered the “timer” feature on my phone too! Haha.

my corral start2 start

It took 30 minutes to cross the starting line from my corral. Part of me wished I had snuck into an earlier gathering so I’d have more time to chase the cut offs for the half and full! If you didn’t make the half split by 3 hours and 30 minutes you were forced to finish at the half. According to the website the marathon cut off was 7 hours.

The flags lining the city and all the cheers were magical.

crossing starting line

I laughed when the sea of about 30,000 runners split in two around the town circle. People panicked thinking they were in the marathon side instead of the half. We all quickly merged again and took off down the streets. Within a few feet I was miserable. Back to back marathons were catching up with me. I was cold and stiff from waiting and it did feel weird to be there alone. As I was feeling sorry for myself, I forced myself to snap out of it. I was SO lucky and SO blessed to be there for SO many reasons. I busted my ass, and fought tooth and nail to get back to this place in my running and to be in this moment.  I was not going to let a bad attitude take it all away in an instant. Once I calmed down, the fun came rushing back.

Miles 1-3 went by fairly quickly. I was keeping a steady 12 minute pace. Slow, but not terribly slow. Then came the bathroom stop. WOW longest stop ever. I also realized my feet were starting to go numb. Over the next 3 miles it was a jog/walk combo and by my 10K split I was really hurting from tight hamstrings. My pace took a dive too. This was also a part with hills, a pretty bridge, and a juggler, so I stayed entertained.

bridge mile 5 juggler

Miles 7-10 included Dexel campus I believe, Fairmount park and a museum I snapped a picture of as I ran past.

museum

Another bathroom break and a feeling of sadness when I felt like I wasn’t going to make this cutoff. Everything hurt and I was lonely. I called my Mom around mile 12 telling her this was certainly more rough than I anticipated and I wanted to stop at the half. Why not? It was still a good race distance and I could go hang out in my VIP tent!

Then I approached the fork in the road, not knowing if I made the 3:30…and they didn’t force me over. I would later find out I made it at 3:24:24. A girl I ran with for a few feet gave me a smile and wished me well on my way as she did make the turn off. I gave my best to catch up with a different girl named “Andria” and together we slid past the barricades and onto the next 13.1 miles. Why did I keep going? Because in my heart I knew I could never look at that medal without wondering “what if?”

Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t in “ideal shape”, but I knew I couldn’t give up. I wasn’t hurt, I was “just” sore and slow(er). Even if I was pulled from the course at the 7 hour cut off I would be more proud of 22 mile DNF than the 13.1 mile “settling”. No judgement to ANYONE else, but this was the race I needed to run(walk).

supergirl

Not too far past the fork, I learned from a former Philly runner, while there is a 7 hour “cut off” they won’t pull you from the course. Wait, what? Yep. They open the roads, but allow you to keep going if you move to the sidewalk. Well slap my ass and call me Sally, because I was ALL OVER that information!

Up to mile 16-ish I was hanging with two runners I met on course named Alexie and Jennifer. Jennifer was doing her FIRST marathon (YAY) and Alexie completed the NYC marathon 3 weeks earlier! Woot! Here he was 3 weeks post marathon and I was floored by his dedication and ability. It took me a moment to realize I was doing the SAME thing on a lesser turn around. Ha. When will I learn to give myself credit? Alexie was wonderful and so full of energy. I appreciated his company more than I could have expressed. He shot this little Instagram video of me going over another beautiful bridge.


Shortly after this part we parted ways because he wanted to “push it” and I was 100% locked into walking. I wasn’t about to get injured when I knew I wasn’t setting any records. Along the last section of the course I made friends with Tammy, Michael and Thomas, all completing their first marathons. It’s so much fun and inspiring to hear people’s stories of what brought them out for their first 26.2.

Just before the 8 hour marker hit, I crossed the finish line. The below pic is not my hand, it’s another great pic of @Alexie.NYC on Instagram.

medal

Crossing the line felt soooo GOOD! The mayor shook my hand and while we (the late finishers) didn’t get goody bags, the photographers were STILL there and did little mini photo shoots with us. This was one of my favorite parts. Being posed and doing fun things at the finish. I can’t WAIT to see the pictures!

MAJOR MAJOR MAJOR props to Island Photography. They were working that course and paid attention to ALL the runners. All too often as a “slower” runner I don’t show up in the picture feed. Photographers must get bored or move on to the next big deal spot to snag more pictures of the lead runners. From mile 1 to mile 26 there were people taking pictures. I made sure to thank them for staying out on the course. Plus all images are due to be up tomorrow. GREAT turn around time.

Part of me feels like the race was a blur. I finished, grabbed a taxi, then was at the airport and on a plane and back home before I really knew what was going on. Not having friends and family there didn’t make me sad, but it also didn’t really allow me to stop and savor the finish line moment. All the tents were shit down and I was starting to get a little chilled. Of course I was SUPER proud. It took me a moment to process how in 2014 I completed nearly back to back marathons both in the spring and fall, where in the past years ONE race would screw up my mind and body for months at a time.

People keep asking if I’ll do another road marathon since I’m very vocal about my love of trails. Yes I will. I’ve done 2 road marathons now and several trail 50Ks and they both hold value in my heart. Both of my road marathons were not given 100% though. I didn’t know what to expect the first time in 2009 and it wasn’t fair to run 8 days after my trail race in 2014. I’m looking forward to a future race where I can say it was the star of the show and really see what I’m able to do with my skills.

Thank you as always for all of you love and support, even when it comes in the form of a critique. Good luck in your future endeavors and I look forward to sharing more fitness stories with you as I settle in for the winter months.

Three Things Thursday

If you’re here for the race report, keep scrolling down, and welcome!

1. Year after year I see people post their “yearly mileage” goals. Most of the time it has to do with the year being the total number of miles ran within those 12 months. Example, 2,014 miles for the current year. I always thought that sounded “easy”, but what do I know? Then again that would be 4-7 pairs of shoes, so even if it is “easy” it wouldn’t be cheap! Anyway….after my race this weekend I received one of the many cute badges from FitBit.

unnamedMy 1,000 miles for the year badge! WOW. Really? I know there was about 2-3 months where I didn’t wear one, but c’mon. Those are miles for walking, running, wiggling, whatever. When other people track it is ONLY the miles they run. Now I am much more impressed with those 2014-ers.

2. How many of you have ever had a massage? Regular or deep tissue? We all know what happened to me during Outrun24 with the 15 minute brief deep tissue on my legs.

1794798_10152016805976640_1055235914225103065_n

So I try to avoid “rough” massages now. I’ve had regular ones in the past at several places. Well, I went yesterday morning for a regular massage. It was supposed to relaxing. It was supposed to promote healing from BBA50K before I tackle Philly Marathon. Everything DID feel great when I left. Holy did not know there were so many knots in my shoulder blades. Last night and today I feel like a bus hit me! No bruising, but boy am I super sore and sensitive to the touch. Has that happened to anyone else? Is that normal? When will it go away?

3. While I was getting ready this morning I heard Dr Oz on the radio. Not a fan at all. Sorry I’m not sorry. However I won’t turn my station off when he is a guest because they always make funny innuendos and stuff. At any rate. He was talking about wheat and gluten. What he said struck me as interesting. First, wheat itself isn’t the main issue, it is how it’s grown, stored, processed, etc. Changes in this aspect of things has created more and more issues with how our guts deal with wheat. Many people feel less mentally cloudy and start to lose weight sans wheat. I don’t feel cloudy, but maybe I should cut back on the wheat and see? Hmm.

images

The second thing he said I liked was about gluten. He mentioned how gluten is the stuff that makes things sticky or able to stick together. Meaning when something is MADE TO BE gluten free, sometimes it has to be manipulated to mimic those properties. AKA chemical shit storm? However, things that are NATURALLY gluten free do no pose a problem. Huh. I wonder how many of my GF friends go the natural route, and how many shop for the easy access labels at the stores? And if they have noticed any issues. Chime in folks!

Enjoy Friday Eve for those of you working a M-F shift. I’ll check in tomorrow after Weight Watchers. Thanks for stopping by!

 

A 25 Mile DNF is NOT a Failure

Four years after I was ecstatic to make the list for Bill’s Bad Ass 50K I finally took part in the event. In 2011 I sat out due to my heart condition. In 2012 I sat out due to leg injury and post dog attack issues. In 2013 I ran away to Kentucky for what I thought was a true love story. 2014 was the year I knew despite kidney stones, depression and blah blah blah I was showing up at the starting line…and guess what? I did!

The week before I ate properly and stretched and rested. The day before I drank plenty of water/sports drink mix and carb loaded. The night before I set out my outfit and settled into bed. Then at 700 AM and as the sun rose over the trees, I found myself joining a group of wonderful friends for a day out in the woods. It was about 30 degrees, we all dressed in many, many layers and were thankful it didn’t rain or snow, or get too windy.

10406989_10102915544776924_5829569214409174716_n 1375967_10102915545904664_2230994491392868651_n

The race itself involves 6 laps around a 5 mile course. After the six laps, runners head across the road to a ridiculous and steep hill about a mile long both ways. Haha. At the top one must collect a piece of candy to prove you made it to the top, and bring it back down to the “finish line”.

Most people bring lots of food and drink to share. I arrived early to drop $40 worth of groceries off. I didn’t need 90% of them, but I never know what I’ll want, and with allergies it’s better to have and not need than to need and not have a choice. I started my morning with half a Wendy’s grilled chicken sandwich. I’ve done this for most of my races this year and I have yet to experience any issues. Along with Megan (pictured above) and Melissa I jogged off into the distance. It didn’t take long for most people to pass us by and Melissa and I were bringing up the rear with smiles and stories.

I don’t know the exact elevation of the course, I don’t wear a Garmin or anything else anymore. I find it distracts from my true enjoyment of running.  AKA I get too competitive and goal oriented. I can tell you at the end of the event my FitBit registered a TON more steps than expected (consistent with the extra movement of trail running) and it thinks I climbed 300 floors. Since I finished 5 laps, that would be about 60 floors per loop? Anyway. Yes, lots of hills, 3.5 water crossings and mud and leaves.

About 2/3 of the way into the first loop, another friend of mine came across the trail. She started late and managed to catch up with us. I went off with her briefly thinking I’d never keep up long and would wait for Melissa not too far in the distance. Amazingly I kept up with Tap and after 2 laps together her friend Randy joined for another 2 loops.

BBA50K 2014-454-(ZF-2795-33608-1-003) BBA50K 2014-457-(ZF-2795-33608-1-006) BBA50K 2014-460-(ZF-2795-33608-1-009) BBA50K 2014-463-(ZF-2795-33608-1-012)

If you’re doing the math, that puts us at 10 miles with Melissa/Tap then 10 more miles with Tap/Randy for 20 total miles. One of the BEST moments of the whole race happened with Tap on our second loop. During a “flatter” section of the course I pulled out the second half of my sandwich. I hadn’t told her about my meal plan, so when she looked over to say something she did a double take before saying “Where the F*** did you get a Wendy’s sandwich?” And as I was laughing and almost choking she continues “No. For real. I don’t see a F*** drive-up window in the woods” Not sure if the second part is a direct quote though. I guess that is a weird sight, huh?

Near the end of the 4th loop I was feeling FANTASTIC. I swear it was my steady diet of having a grape G2 Gatorade (12 oz) and a package of Golden Oat BelVita Breakfast Biscuits every loop. I had all the energy and strength I could have hoped for and almost pulled a negative split. I phoned my Mom quickly to tell her to expect me for my last loop at 3:30 PM.

Running/walking my 5th loop alone was not a concern. I enjoyed the quite time to reflect and I wasn’t really alone. In fact I was shocked how many people kept coming by on the trail. Both runners and casual hikers out and about on a Saturday. Sadly, the miles caught up with me somewhere between 20-25 miles and I slowed down without knowing it. Mom met me very close to the end of the loop and we jogged in together. It was between 3:45 and 4:00. I missed the cut off and was dropped from the race. The cut off was set to keep all runners and volunteers from being in the dark. Probably a little for safety reasons, but also because it’s an all volunteer (free) event so who wants to be out there that long?

10308768_10102916541748984_8471997414348722804_n

Sure, there was a part of me that was super bummed. A bigger part of me was SUPER pleased though. I just ROCKED 25 realllllllly difficult trail miles. I wasn’t sick, or moody or anything negative and the drop wasn’t my “choice” or “needed”. I COULD have finished if there wasn’t a time limit. Heck I even played the “what if” game and realized if I ran a lil faster and took quicker aid station breaks, I could have made THIS cut off. Yet, I also knew this was the best thing for me. I accomplished my goals.

  1. I showed up and started the race (enough right there)
  2. I gave what I could (had to hold back to keep safe for Philly)
  3. I had FUN

Walking over to Chef Bill’s car, I turned in my $10 to buy a mug since I didn’t earn one for free. I kept a smile on my face the whole time. It was a great event and I did it without hurting myself, meaning I will be good to go for Philly next weekend.

I know it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea to start an event they know they may not finish. I know a lot of people would be embarrassed to post a DNF. Today and for this race, I’m not either of those groups. In my book, a 25 mile DNF is NOT a failure. I was able to enjoy the day with friends I was able to learn about myself and my body, and I’m able to keep being active and healthy, How could that be wrong?