Thursday, May 8, 2014

How I Got My P.R. -- Part 5

The Aftermath:

But, by the next morning, more bruises on my ankle had appeared. It started to swell, and so I decided to wear flip flops to work instead of squeezing my foot into a shoe. Well, that was just a totally stupid decision. I hobbled around in pain all day, and made an appointment to see the chiropractor on Wednesday. By that afternoon, the hobbling turned into complete immobility and extreme, excruciating pain. I grabbed some old crutches from my parents attic, and figured I could use them until the swelling went down. I ignorantly went to bed that night, hoping the pain would be less by the next day. It was just a sprained ankle, anyway….or so I thought!

Monday night...

I don’t think I slept one consecutive hour that night. I woke up every 45 minutes, wide awake, in SO much excruciating pain. When I woke up that morning, excruciating was an understatement.  But I got up, got ready, and was out the door for another day of work. It was pouring rain, my ankle was blowing up, and I was trying to use crutches for the first time in my life. I’m sure I looked like a complete freak, but I hobbled my way into school. I showed my coworkers what I was dealing with and it was apparent that I needed medical attention and that the chiropractor was not going to be able to help me. After a day of teaching in complete and utter pain, the high school trainer took a look at my foot. He kindly gave me the number of an orthopedic doctor to see, wrapped my ankle, and told me I did not need to go to the ER. It was exactly what I wanted to hear, because the ER is the last place I wanted to be seen. With his advice, I hobbled my way to get my brother’s birthday present after school and made my way to my parent’s house to celebrate his birthday.

Once I made my way into the house, the pain was just unreal. My foot look deformed, and I was praying I could hang on until the  following Monday for my orthopedic doctor appointment. My sister, who is a nurse, immediately looked at my ankle and told me what I did not want to hear. She told me I needed to go to the ER. I was frustrated with her assessment, but I knew she was right and I had to suck up my pride. I promised myself I would NOT end up in the ER this time around, but it was what it was. I got in the car and drove myself to the ER with my Dad along for the ride in the passenger seat.

As soon as we parked the car, I climbed out, grabbed the old crutches I pulled out of my parent’s attic, and hobbled through the parking lot into the ER. I prayed I wouldn’t see any of the doctors or nurses who had seen me before, and I hung up my head low as I moved through the movable doors. The nurse at the door directed me to the registration table. As I walked over, I gave a faint smile to the friendly lady waiting to check me in. Soon thereafter, I was overcome with weakness and pain, my good leg that brought me in gave out, I lost balance, and with a squeal I was on the floor. A sweet man in the waiting room helped pick me up, I checked in, and before I knew it I was back getting an x-ray.

Ankle in the ER...

Almost immediately after they did the x-ray, the nurse came over and told me the unofficial results: I had had a fracture. My face flushed and my stomach sank. What!?!?! How the heck did I break a bone? I don’t know what I expected them to tell me, but a broken bone was not it. Before I could really process the information, the Physician’s Assistant came in and confirmed the unofficial results. I had a fibular fracture that required immediate orthopedic attention. He said that it was going to have to be casted, and there was a good possibility I would need surgery. They wrapped it in a splint, wrote a prescription for the pain, and then I was on my way. I was in such shock I couldn’t even think. I had no emotions. I just wanted to see an orthopedic doctor as fast as I could.

My sister had a great orthopedic recommendation from her nurse connections, Dr. Cohn, who was willing to take me the next day. I was so beyond grateful! I ate a quick breakfast, it was raining once again, and I hobbled my way to the car. Despite getting a little lost in the chaos of the pouring rain, my Mom and I found Dr. Cohn’s office. Once we arrived, I was just overwhelmed, overtired, and sopping wet. As soon as we checked, I turned around to head for an x-ray and ONCE AGAIN my good leg gave out, I lost balance, and BOOM I was on the floor. This time, I howled in pain so loud it echoed through the entire office. Every doctor and nurse ran to pick me up and it was SO SO SO EMBRASSING! But, they got me a wheel chair and then I was good to go.
I had my x-rays and then they unwrapped my splint. My ankle had outgrown my calf. It was hideous. I looked like a Dr. Seuss character! After waiting a bit, Dr. Cohn came in to see me.

Ankle by Wednesday...eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeek!

He immediately shook my hand and said how amazed he was with my marathon performance. He was not just impressed with my marathon time, but impressed that I ran 26.2 miles on a broken bone! When and where I officially broke it cannot be identified, but what he could confirm is that I did not have a sprain prior to the marathon. The pain I had felt was stress fracture. I had never had any type of injury (with the exception of my migraine/passing out issues) so I simply had no reason to think it was anything besides a sprain. After all, that’s what I was told! It was a complete break, but did not look at that point to need surgery. PHEW! He said the swelling was too much for a cast, so he wrapped my fat little ankle into a splint. He said I needed to come back that Friday, and once a week until it completely heals.  He said that I will be on crutches for a while, and won’t be able to drive for at least the next four weeks. He is hoping by that time he will be able to put me in a boot.

All wrapped up...
I went back for a check up that Friday, and the doctor unfortunately said surgery is not completely ruled out. I need to continue to stay off my ankle, rest it, and hope it will heal correctly. He will be closely monitoring it to ensure it does. If it doesn’t heal correctly, there is a chance for permanent damage and that I could have a pimp walk for the rest of my life. EEEEEEEEEEEK! No, thanks, LL Cool J! I'm doing everything I can to stay off of it and am hobbling around on crutches. It's exhausting. I'm trying to stay positive, but it is not easy.

To best describe how I feel right now would be one word: frustrated. I’m frustrated that I did this to myself. I’m frustrated that I have lost my independence and need everyone to do everything for me for the next few weeks. I’m frustrated that I am getting frustrated with people throughout all of this. I’m frustrated that I can’t drive. I’m frustrated that it hurts. I'm frustrated that I have to resort to hopping around with one leg. I'm frustrated that my hands and arms are sore from the crutches. I’m frustrated that teaching is so difficult.  I’m frustrated that I might have to get surgery. I’m frustrated thinking I could bump my leg wrong and do something to damage the healing process.  I'm frustrated that I'm crabby. I'm frustrated that staying positive takes work. I’m frustrated that I’m frustrated.

But all in all, I know it could be MUCH worse!  Yes, I’m bummed about my ankle and recognize that these next few weeks aren’t going to be in my memory of favorite moments. But words cannot describe the gratitude I have for the lifelong lessons that I gained not just from this marathon P.R., but from the training that got me my P.R. It's hard to put all of the lessons into words, but it was through the acquisition of these eight lessons over the past 16 weeks that I got my PR.:

 (1) Live in the moment, don't dwell on the past, and don't worry too much about the future. You have to force yourself to let go of the past. Life isn't always fair, but that's just how it is. Everything happens for a reason, and things always seem to work out the way they were meant to. Life is much easier to manage if you appreciate the present, focus on each moment, and know that God will guide you where your meant to go.

(2) Mind truly is over matter. Your attitude is everything. Focus your mind on the things that are good. Even when it is really, really hard, stay positive.

(3) Pain is temporary, but the glory in pushing yourself through those insurmountable walls is eternal.

(4) Always keep faith in God and trust in your precious loved ones, because it’s with their support that you can get through anything.

(5) The race is not against anyone else but yourself, so don’t run anyone else’s race but your own. 

(6) The glory is not just in the race, but in the journey that gets your there. Enjoy it. If you don't, change your journey if you can. If you can't change your journey, change your perspective. Accept the things you can't change, and change the things you can. Life is too short. Trust your instincts, choose your journey wisely where you can, and most importantly choose to be happy.

(7) If you really want something, work hard, and believe in yourself, anything is possible.

(8) The heart conquers all battle, so when in doubt live with all your heart and never, ever give up.

As I’m in this healing phase, I’m going to apply my marathon mentality and pray that God gives me the strength to get through this next battle. All I want right now is to get my ankle back to 100%. I’m not worried about running. I’m still not sure if and when I will get back to training. My mind is just not ready to go there yet. For now, I have new goals in mind, and plan to transfer my running into something new. The timing is finally right, and I am pleased to announce that I will be serving as a high school cross country coach this fall! Running is such a huge part of my life, and continuously helps to shape me into the woman I am. I’m SO excited to have the opportunity to share my knowledge and guide my students as they learn all of the lifelong lessons running has to offer!

With that said, I will absolutely NOT be training for any marathons this fall. I got my PR this spring. When all heals and the cross country season is over, maybe I’ll consider training again. But, I just can’t think that far ahead right now. I’m choosing to apply my marathon mentality and just live in the moment. I have faith that God will guide me where I'm meant to go. I just plan to keep hangin' in there and see what happens!

And, well, that’s it. That’s how I got my PR. :-)

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

How I Got My P.R. -- Part 4

The Glass City Marathon:

Each day leading up to the marathon, the nerves were kicking in. Everyone around me had been struck with the norovirus, and even with my knowledge of virology I was beyond paranoid I was going to get sick again. I was super nauseous Thursday and Friday, cautiously eating my food and praying it was not going to come back up. Once Saturday rolled around, my tummy was filled with butterflies and there was no holding me back. I packed my bags, rounded up the troops, and off we were to Toledo for my twelfth marathon. It meant so much to me that my family, including my norovirus sickened nephew Benjamin, was coming to my marathon. I chose to focus on the joy in having them there the entire day, and to let go of any pre-race anxiety.

After a day of crazy adventures with the family, I hopped into bed around 9pm. My sister came into to check on me before I went to bed, and at that moment I decided to verbalize my thoughts. I said to her, “If I put all of what I have in me I’ll run a 3:05 tomorrow. I know I have it in me. I can’t decide if I should go for it, or just go for a P.R.” She said to me, “MP, don’t put that kind of pressure on yourself. We’re here to see you finish and we’re proud of you no matter what. That’s the most amazing accomplishment in and of itself. Don’t kill yourself out there to reach that kind of goal.” Her words eased me and it felt good to get my thoughts off my chest. She gave me a back massage, and then I was fast to marathon sleep soon thereafter (Marathon sleep: you’re not sure if you’re sleeping or awake the entire night, get up to pee about every hour, and then the alarm goes off).  

My amazing sister and me!

When I woke up that next morning, I did not have that unique, instinctual “I’m going to kick a$$” feeling. I was super dehydrated despite drinking a crazy amount of water the day before and just did not feel totally on my game. But, regardless, I did my normal pre-race routine and then I was in my car and ready to head to the University of Toledo’s campus!

After getting myself lost, I arrived to campus a little bit before 6 am. I found a parking spot, and made my way into the campus’s arena. I walked around a bit and moved towards the back part of the arena where the crowd was minimal and a hidden bathroom with no line was available---JACKPOT!  I decided to hang out there and skip my pre-race warm up. I was playing Russian Roulette on my busted ankle, and had no clue how many miles it was going to give me.  I had not run more than 10 miles on it in several weeks now, and was praying it was going to hold up. I decided warm up miles might be taking away from the 26.2 miles I needed to get on it, and it was better to risk a slow first mile then dropping out in the last.

As I sat and people watched, I prayed. I prayed God would give me the strength and courage to push through the pain. I was not willing to accept anything less than a P.R. out there, and was going to be so beyond disappointed if I saw anything over 3:16. It was time to prove what I had in me. It was time to kick a$$ even if I didn’t feel 110% to do so.  As I prayed and reflected, I started thinking a lot about life. We spend so much time in our life searching and striving for that perfect moment, that perfect person, that perfect job, etc. But, if we wait around for perfection we will be spending our time doing just that. Waiting. Moments aren’t perfect, people aren’t perfect, and jobs aren’t perfect. Sometimes, you just have to embrace the imperfections in life, appreciate the moments for what they’re worth, and give it all you have. It seems like there is always going to be some kind of road block that gets in the way , and the road blocks can be so blinding and make what we are trying to achieve seem so insurmountable. But, if you give what you do all of your heart, then there is no road block that can get in the way of what you want to achieve. I decided that my focus for the marathon was going to only be on  I what I could do at each moment in each mile. I was going to try to enjoy those miles as much as I could despite any pain and free my mind of worrying about the miles ahead. I was just going to give it my all and see what the marathon would give me back that day.

After my third or fourth potty break (I’m a psycho), I started heading to the start line. I turned on my Garmin, peeled off my sweat pants and t-shirt, and lined up in Corral A. When I arrived at my Corral, I found one of my super speedy running buddies, Katie. As soon as I saw her, I had full confidence that she was going to kick a$$ out there. She had the vibes, and my instincts were telling me this was going to be her race. She has gotten very close to her goal of breaking 3:00, and the time to make it happen was now. After a quick hug and some words of encouragement, I took off my heat blanket and said another prayer. I had hard core cotton mouth, which made NO sense considering my pee was clear (sorry for the overshare). I forced myself to calm down and then the horn went off and off we went!

As I took the first few steps in the first mile, I could feel the pain in my ankle. It just didn't feel right. I had no idea how much mileage I was going to be able to cover before the pain got bad, so I just focused on what I could do at that moment. I ran through the first mile around a 7:05 pace and held on to that pace through mile three. I knew I was over-pace, but I figured my best bet was to run as fast as I could for as long as I could. I continued on mile after mile, and once mile seven rolled around I started to feel like I was in trouble. It really hurt, and I was doing everything I could to avoid hobbling. I took a gel, and started contemplating dropping out if it still hurt around mile eight. But as I was going through the mile, a very kind spectator said to me, “It is DISGUSTING how smooth you are running at that pace. You are amazing. Keep going, girl!!!” I thought to myself, no matter how much it hurts, it’s not showing. I can do this! And so with that, I kept going.

Chugging away...

Once I got to the 13.1 mile marker, I was in pain but feeling good. I was so strong everywhere else in my body, that the nagging pain in my ankle seemed to dissipate.  I decided from that point forward I was going to focus on the parts of my body that felt good, and ignore the parts that hurt. And with this mentality, I kept going…

Once I made it mile 16, I knew I was golden for a P.R. The wind was picking up, but I felt strong, and was comfortable in my 7:10ish pace. I had a ton of confidence, and just kept clicking away. I took my second gel.

Enjoying each mile!

When mile 18 came around, things started to change. The wind REALLY started picking up.  It was the worst kind of head-on wind that feels like it might knock you over. The parts of my body that felt good suddenly felt the intensity of the speed and the intensity of the distance. I pushed, and pushed, and lost pace between mile 18-20. Once I arrived to mile 20, I did the math. I knew that even if I ran an 8:00mini/mi the rest of the race I would be good for a P.R. I decided I was going to ignore my watch, and run the last 10K like a typical long run. I knew I could push for a strong finish, but there was so much uncertainty with my ankle and I had already run such a strong race. The last thing I wanted to do was blow my hard work in the last 6 miles of the race. I decided to listen to my instincts and focus on hanging in there.

Those last 6 miles were tough. They were by far the longest 6 miles I had ever run. I didn’t want to push too hard, but didn’t want to cave either. I had to force myself to take one mile at a time, push through those crazy winds, and pray that God was going to get me to the finish line. I took my last gel at mile 21, and just prayed and prayed that I could hang on.

Once mile 25 came around, I knew I was going to break 3:15 and that I was in for a decent PR. I asked God to stay by my side and to give me the strength to keep going. I’m pretty sure I said this out loud by this point! The headwinds were pretty strong in this last mile, but I pushed and pushed until I turned onto University of Toledo’s campus. I am not a tangent runner (I need to get that figured out) so my watch went off before the finish line and I was 3:11 and some change ( I REALLY need to get that figured out!). I was making my way towards the stadium when I saw my family’s faces on the sidelines. It was the exact boost I need to carry me to the finish line. As I rounded the corner, I saw the clock with 3:13 on it. I knew I could trip and fall and STILL break 3:15! It was an incredible, indescribable feeling of ultimate conquer! Then, I heard my friend Maria shout "YEAH MARE-BEAR!" from somewhere in the stadium. As I made those final few steps towards the finish line, there was no peeling the smile off of my face! It was one foot in front of the other and BOOM!!! I DID IT!  I earned my PERSONAL RECORD: 3:13:27, 7:22min/mi!!!!! My ankle was ready to fall off, but I couldn't even think about it. I was just too exhilarated to have completed the race and nailed the P.R. I had so worked so hard to attain!  I put the marathon medal around my neck, and immediately ran off the field to try and find my family to share in this glorious moment.


I Got

My P.R.!!!!

Once I found my family, the pain really started to set in. I tried stretching it a bit, but I could not move my ankle without screeching in pain. I hobbled over to the finisher’s tent where I was informed that I won my age group, and that I was the 11th overall female finisher. With my bummed ankle and norovirus infected intestines, I was excited I managed some extra accolades to my P.R.!  Once I grabbed my award and chugged a bottle of muscle milk, the pain really started to kick in. I could hardly walk, and my super awesome brother-in-law offered me a piggy-back ride. It was exactly what my ankle had earned after carrying me through my fastest 26.2 mile race to date!

PR smiles!

One of my cheerleaders!

My awesome Bro-In-Law!

After we made the commute home, I noticed a bruise forming on my ankle. It looked as though someone clubbed me! It definitely hurt, and I was hoping the pain wasn’t going to be too awful the next morning…

Uh oh...
**Above the bruise is my washable Shamrock tattoo tradition! I got a bunch of them from the Boston Marathon in 2011 and I have been wearing them for all of my 26.2s since. I had two left, and so I blessed them both in Holy water the night before the race. I gave one to my nephew and put one over my bummed ankle! The extra luck came in handy...0:-) ** be continued...

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

How I Got My P.R. -- Part 3


Days after the race, I was completely drained. I did easy cross training the day following and an easy run the next day. During the easy run, I felt some discomfort in my right ankle.  I ignored it, and just chalked it up to be a bit of normal post-race soreness. That following Wednesday, I had a late night at school and took the day off. I thought that was the perfect formula for rest before my speed work scheduled for Thursday. When Thursday came around, I was completely exhausted. I was on about five hours of sleep, still sore from the race, and mentally checked out. I had speed intervals on the agenda, and I felt like I would have no problem pushing through once I hopped on the treadmill. I did a fifteen minute warm-up and then moved into my intervals. With each interval that passed, my ankle just became progressively more uncomfortable. By the fifth interval, it was REALLY hurting. I pulled through the next two, and by the time I approached my eighth I thought my ankle was going to fall right off. I slowed the dial down on the treadmill, and hobbled through a ten minute cool down. As soon as I climbed off the treadmill, the pain set in. I could hardly walk and was in excruciating pain. As I was limping through the gym, I immediately got the, “UH-OH”s and the “Oooooo that’s not good”’s from bystanders.  ***DISCLAIMER: WHEN YOU SEE A DEDICATED RUNNER  INJURED, NEVER EVER EVER SAY THOSE THINGS.*** I tried to smile it off, but I couldn’t. I knew I was in big trouble. I could feel my Glass City Marathon P.R. slipping away…

I immediately called my friend/coach/therapist/coworker Laura to share the bad news. She calmed me do, assured me that it was going to be okay, and told me to R.I.C.E. (REST. ICE. COMPRESS. ELEVATE). I then walked into my house and the pain just kept getting worse. After more melt downs  on the phone with my sister, I went to bed that night hoping the pain would be gone the next day.
When I woke up that next morning, the pain was still there. I could not apply any pressure to my right ankle without pretty extreme pain, and I was walking like LL Cool J circa 1995. I ate my breakfast, poured some coffee, and limped out the door. When I got to school, my school Mama, Munn, met me in my classroom. She took a look at my ankle, and insisted I see the high school’s athletic trainer. She made arrangements for me to meet him after school, and after a day of hobbling around I did just that. He looked at it, and was pretty confident it was tendonitis. He assured me that I would be fine for my marathon in two weeks, and told me to R.I.C.E. it for the next two days with no running.  He kindly wrapped my little ankle with some KT tape and I hobbled away. Taking two days off did not sit well with me knowing that I would be missing my last solid 18 miler before the marathon, but the pain was too bad and I knew I had no choice.

All day Saturday, I was glued to the couch and R.I.C.E.’d the whole day. By Sunday, I attempted to get in a few miles on the treadmill but the pain was awful. So, I resorted to an hour and fifteen minutes on the bike. The pain significantly subsided by Monday, but I took one more day off and stuck to the bike. By Tuesday, I had an appointment scheduled with a well-respected, highly recommended chiropractor. I got in five easy miles. The pain had dwindled, but my form was a hot mess. I literally galloped through what seemed like the longest five mile run of my life. By Wednesday, the pain was very minimal and the galloping became a bit more manageable.  After this five mile easy run, I saw the chiropractor. He looked at my ankle, watched me walk, and concluded that I had an ankle sprain. He assured me that I would be fine for the marathon, massaged it and adjusted it, and had me schedule another appointment with him the next week. He encouraged me to do my speed work out on the agenda for the next day, and gave me the confidence to power through with the remainder of my training leading up to the big day.

That following Thursday, I had 1 mile tempo intervals on the agenda. With the positive words of the chiropractor in my head, I hobbled through the work out! The pain was gone, but the hobbling was still there. He informed me that I needed to gain strength back in my ankle and that I was going to be okay. I felt in my heart that I was going to be okay, and was gaining confidence back in my goals for the marathon! But, just as the ankle issue seemed to be minimized, I started feeling dizzy. My nephews had been plagued with the norovirus, and soon thereafter my little brother came down with it. I could feel in the deepest pit of my stomach that I was experiencing the early symptoms of it, but if I thought if I stayed positive and calm it might pass.

When I woke up that Friday morning, my palms were sweating. The dizziness was out of control. I felt hungover, although I hadn’t had a drink in well over a month. I could not even worry about my ankle, because I was so worried I was going to vomit. I did what I could to ignore it, but by that night at 9pm I was projective vomiting. I had come down with the norovirus! I was up all night, and could hardly move the next day. I had a ten mile run scheduled for that Saturday, and with my jacked ankle and now the stomach flu there was no way I was going to complete it. Once again, I had a total melt down. How is it possible for all of these obstacles to get in my way when I am the fittest I’ve ever been in my life? How devastating will it be if I have to sit out for the marathon I’ve worked so hard to conquer? With everything I’ve been through, how could this be happening to me? Why does everything in life have to be so hard? Life is just not fair sometimes.

After counselling from my love ones, I sucked it up. Life is tough, but following Christ’s example I’ve learned that I am tougher. I took the rest I needed Saturday. Sunday, which happened to be Easter Sunday, I spent at church in the morning with my family and made it to the Metroparks that afternoon as the gym was closed. Despite being nutrient depleted and dehydrated, I had to get in that last 10 miler before the race. With my little brother on a bike next to me, I completed ten sweaty, arduous, exhausting miles. I wanted to throw up multiple times throughout the run, and wanted to quit at the end of each mile. But, I powered through and got it done. I knew if I could stay healthy the rest of the week, hydrate, and stay positive, I would be fine for the marathon the next Sunday.

The next Monday, I saw the chiropractor again. He took a look at my ankle, and said the sprain was still there but it was significantly better than the last time he saw it. Again, he massaged it and adjusted it, reassuring me that I would be fine for the marathon. He kindly introduced me to his associate, and told me to see her later in the week if my ankle still felt uncomfortable because he was going to be out of town. I knew at that point that there was nothing left to do besides rest my ankle, gain back the calories and hydration I lost from having the norovirus, and to have faith in all of my hard work. I was VERY nervous knowing that I had not completed a legit long run since the week prior to the half marathon, but all I could do at this point was give the race all I had and see what the outcome would be. be continued...

Monday, May 5, 2014

How I Got My P.R. -- Part 2

The Tow Path Half Marathon:

April rolled around pretty quickly, and on April 6 I had the Tow Path Half Marathon. Leading up to the race, I had a bit of tendonitis on the top part of my left foot. But besides that, I felt strong and ready to roll. I had confidence in my training, and was praying that I could carry that confidence with me race day. With my training, I knew I was right at 1:30 and would be very close to achieving my P.R. I would NOT have been happy with anything over 1:30, and had a “Do or Do Not, There is No Try” mentality. I either was going to make it happen, or be REALLY REALLY bummed. With this mentality, the night prior to the race, my race confidence was shaky. I laid in bed that night with my heart pounding through my chest. It was pounding so hard I thought it might beat right through my ribs! I said to myself, “The stress is too much. I’m not going to be able to calm myself down. I won’t be able to do it.” I was so worried I was going to blow what I had worked so hard to achieve. But I eventually calmed myself down, took some deep breaths, and sometime after midnight I was sleeping. 

When I woke up the next morning at 5:15am, I had good race butterflies flying around my belly. If you’re a runner, you know what I mean. It’s this instinctual feeling that you’re going to kick a$$ that only comes around once in a while. Despite my anxiety the night before, I knew I had this. I had my pre-race breakfast, hopped in the car, and met my friends at the Cuyahoga Heights entrance of the Tow Path. I was SO excited to have my friends there running the race, and they were the perfect distraction for any possible pre-race anxiety. We hung out, huddled together to stay warm, caught up on life, and used the rest room a few times.  I got in a mile warm-up with some 20 second race-pace strides. My legs were turning over pretty slowly in my warm up, but I would not let my mind go to any negative place. I made it my mission to run my race like I did my treadmill training: one step at a time. I was going to focus only on what I CAN do, and would ignore any feelings of what I can’t do. 

When 7:55am rolled around, I snuck to the front of the pack. I said a pre-race prayer that God would give me the strength to push through and run to my fullest potential. Then, without further ado, the horn went off and off we went! The first few meters of the race are on a BIG, moderately dangerous downhill. I used the momentum of the downhill for a super strong start, and then eased into to a cozy pace when the terrain even out. I felt comfortably fast, glanced down at my watch, and saw 6:35ishmin/mi. Although it was way under my goal pace of 6:53min/mi, I hung on. My instincts were telling me to go with it. And, I did just that. And that was what I did throughout the entire race. I listened to my instincts, focused on each mile, focused on what I CAN do, and therefore ran what felt comfortably fast. I was pushing the pace more than I needed to reach my goal, but just went with it. I did not think about a wall, about the upcoming miles, or about the girl I knew was hanging on my tail. I was pushing through as the first female, was having fun clicking through the miles with the guys I met on the course, and LOVED crossing paths with my friends with the loops in the course! The course was very loopy, so it was hard to keep track of where I was and where I was going. I just focused on the present, exactly where I was and followed the arrows where I was supposed to go! 

Once I got to mile 10, I really started feeling the distance. I had a little side stitch, but focused on my breathing and pushed through it. I knew I only had 3 miles to go, and I was going to PR if I could just hang on. I did not know by how much, but I knew I could blow it if I wasn’t smart these last few miles. Once mile 12 came around, I saw the hill my dear friend Jeness warned me about. It was big, my legs were spent, and I just wanted to get up it without pulling a hamstring. As I was climbing up, the girl who was on my tail swung past me. My goal for this race was not winning, it was reaching my PR. I just couldn’t find in myself to run her race and chase her down for the 1st place finish. So, I let her go and stuck to the race I was running.  And with my plan, I came I crossed the finish line in 1:27:17, 6:39min/mi pace!!!! I pointed to the clock as I crossed the finish line in complete disbelief of my accomplishment. I was almost 3 minutes under my P.R. and WAY beyond any goal I had ever set for myself!!!! I was the second overall female, and happy to have set the pace for the first female finisher. I shook her hand and congratulated her on the great race. I did a one mile cool down and my legs were SPENT. Up to this point in my running career, I had never really raced a long distance race so this feeling was foreign to me. I gave that race all I had, ran consistent miles, never quit or doubted myself at any point, and truly ran my best race. As soon as my friends finished, we hung out at the post-race party, did a little bit of celebrating, and were on the bus back to our cars. 

Got it!

So much more fun with friends!!!!

I was so overwhelmed with my P.R., and did not quite know what to make of it. This race was a game changer for me. Achieving a 3:10 marathon was absolutely doable, and now a 3:05 marathon did not seem completely out of reach. I was dizzy at the thought of a 3:05, but could not ignore that I had it in me to make that happen. I decided I would follow through with my next three weeks of training at the paces I had planned, and let whatever is meant to happen happen at the Glass City Marathon with my family there to see it happen! be continued...