Category Archives: mother dearest

Unfinished (Glass City Marathon Race Report)

I have always found that writing endings is one of the hardest things. How do you wrap it all up? How do you tie up the loose ends without putting too perfect a bow on it? How do you craft that finish that leaves just the right taste and leaves the mind thinking on it for the the next hours, or days?

Races have the ending down pat. Because there is a clear finish line – a clear line of demarcation – yet there is always a desire, a taste for more. There is satisfaction in completion, and the thought of the next goal, the next challenge.

But here I sit, wondering how even to begin to talk about a race that didn’t have a finish? Sure, it had an ending. I can recall laying on the ground, words coming out in wheezing monosyllables, and I at last reached over to hit STOP on my watch. Stop. Done. Over. End. But no finish.

Over the last three-and-a-half years since my first DNF, I have been almost fascinated by how that race report remains one of my most read blog posts – by far. It isn’t really surprising, though, because we have all been there. And if we haven’t, we will be eventually. If you run long enough, you will – almost inevitably – experience a disastrous race. You will stumble into an obstacle so enormous that even the most stubborn runner must pull the plug and call it quits. Sometimes we don’t get to make this decision for ourselves. And even when we do, the tears inevitably come, because that’s the thing with marathons – you train for months on end for one day, one chance. And so many stars must align for you to arrive at that start line healthy and fit, and to get to the finish in one piece. One misalignment can lead to disaster, and while we can strive to control many of the possible elements, there are some X factors we cannot control, sometimes cannot even foresee.

So, what happened at the Glass City Marathon? Something I have never in my life experienced. Vertigo. But let’s back up. Back to the beginning. Back to race week, the final days of the taper.

Pre-race

This spring has been a doozy. Work stress. Family stress. Too much travel. Too many things on my plate. And the exhaustion of marathon training makes all of this that much harder to deal with. So it isn’t surprising that I got sick. I frequently get sick during training, though I noticed since working with my coach, I hadn’t been getting sick so much in the thick of training – before then, I almost always got a head cold either when I was peaking, my body and immune system crushed by miles, or early on in the taper, the sudden decrease of mileage and demand and allowing my body to rest also seemingly allowing it to succumb to one viral plague or another.

The Wednesday before Glass City, I woke up to go to my last physical therapy session for my foot before going to work. It was a rest day, and all I did was a few minutes warmup on the bike and went through my exercises and stretches. Nothing at all strenuous. Just making sure all systems were go. As my PT and I discussed, my foot had been steadily improving. I noticed it less and less on runs, and some runs I had no issues whatsoever. I knew I’d need some full rest post-race to kick out the last bit of inflammation, but I was good to go.

I noticed that morning, though, that I was feeling a little congested. I’m often congested in the mornings first thing after waking, and of course pollen counts are still soaring this time of year, so I tried to write it off to that. Even so, I began pounding more fluids – also a good plan for marathon week – and planned to get to bed early (ditto). Thursday I felt about the same. That hint of congestion that raised a little yellow flag in the back of my mind, but I was determined to hope for the best. If it was a cold, maybe I could kill it early with hydration and sleep.

Friday, I woke up sick. Not horribly, but it was definitely viral cold nasal congestion. I conferred with my coach, who reassured me that I would probably be fine as long as symptoms remained above the neck. I just needed to keep up with rest and fluids. I did my best to focus at work – a mix of last-minute stress of getting ready for a big work event that would take place the Tuesday following the race, hydrating plenty and running to the bathroom frequently, and race week distraction (how many times can I check the forecast in a single day?) plagued me, but I got through. I left work at 3:30, and by about 4 pm we were on the road to the airport in earnest, Google taking us on a strange backwoods route (though it was pretty and cut through many picturesque farms) to get to the interstate and to the airport. I bought some travel tissue packs and Nyquil at the airport, and we arrived in Cleveland without incident (though I noted that my left ear was just EXPLODING during the descent into the Cleveland airport – it didn’t pop until we landed), my dad and stepmom picking us up and driving us to my mom’s house.

We got to bed very late, but I took Nyquil, pounded more fluids, and didn’t set an alarm. I woke up at about 8 the next morning, then rolled over and dozed more, finally getting up at about 9 am on Saturday. I felt pretty stuffed, but I took a very hot shower and steamed out, and I seemed to be draining for the most part, my energy level decent.

After a trip to Panera for lunch (a day-before tradition of mine – a soup and salad at Panera seem to treat me well as last lunch before a race), we got on the road to Toledo. My left ear still seemed to be partially plugged, and I didn’t get it unplugged until halfway through the drive (and even then I wasn’t certain I had fully opened that sinus). I was draining and draining but was feeling like it was productive and I was definitely on the mend and over the worst of the cold. I posited that if I still felt congested in the morning I could steam in a very hot shower to clear my head before the race, if necessary. I kept drinking water, some with Nuun to try to keep my electrolytes balanced.

First stop upon arriving in Toledo: the expo. I felt nervous, detached. I just wanted to get my bib and get on with it. But of course I also needed a quick photo with my bib, and my supportive husband (though I’m dismayed and embarrassed to say I never got a photo with my mom the entire weekend. That is just not okay).

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It was late afternoon by this point, and I had been texting with twitter/Instagram pal Sarah (whom I’d convinced to run that race earlier in the year when she’d been debating possible spring marathons – she lives in Ann Arbor so it was a nice drive in for her) and we planned on meeting for dinner, which gave me just enough time to get settled at the hotel, try to make a race spectating game plan looking at the maps and parking options, and relax for a little bit. I laid out my gear, plugged in various devices to charge, kept hydrating.

Just after 6 pm, we met Sarah, her sweetie, and their darling toddler daughter for dinner at IHOP (another pre-race tradition of mine). We had a lovely time, eating pancakes and talking about running and life in general. It’s always a cool novelty to meet someone in person who you’ve been communicating with online for so long. And Sarah’s little one charmed all three of us to the extreme. I told Sarah my basic race plan and she said she’d be happy to run with me for as long as she could – she’s a much faster marathoner, but her training had been derailed that winter/spring due to the weather, life, and multiple bouts of sickness. We planned to text and find each other before the race – and before each of us gave up our phones to our families when we got in the corrals.

Maybe around 8 pm or a little before, we parted ways to try to get some sleep. I double-checked my gear and decided that I was probably going to be racing in the full singlet the next morning, rather than the crop top. It was predicted to be 39 or 40* at the start. It would get warm decently fast the last hour or two of the race, since the forecast was also calling for it to be very sunny (rain had been predicted earlier in the week but that forecast changed by Thursday). I had throwaway arm warmers (Shannon’s old socks) and a pair of throwaway gloves donated to the cause by my friend Krystina. I flipped through my training log to remind myself of tough workouts conquered, read over a few messages from friends and family, got a few more encouraging wishes from my coach (who was literally on the other side of the world for work), and tucked into some Harry Potter reading before shutting off the light, sleeping fairly well for the night before a race.

Race day

As always, I woke up with my first alarm and shut off the backups. I moved around quietly as Shannon kept snoozing. I made my oatmeal in the hotel microwave (though I noticed hours later as we packed to leave that I never did put nut butter in it. Oops). I made coffee. I sipped on water. I scrolled through various social media feeds, rolled out my hips and glutes and hamstrings. I looked at the weather. It was COLD. A few degrees colder than predicted. I stuck with my plan: singlet, throwaway arm warmers and gloves, bum wrap skirt, calf sleeves. I had nothing for my ears. I had brought a throwaway shirt, but instead wore my aero jacket, and carried sweats in my spike bag to be carried by my crew. It’s always nice to have a crew to carry your spares and backups and layers. I pulled Shannon out of bed for good around 5 am. The coffee and food did their job and got things moving – I had minimal GI disturbance for the race, which was a huge change from my issues at Erie.

At 5:30, we headed down to the lobby to meet my mom. I was so grateful to have her there – and she got up so early on her day off just to watch me run. As we rode the elevator down, I felt adrenaline shooting through my body. I felt as if I were in full-on fight-or-flight mode, a bundle of nerves, waves of nausea roiling in my gut. I hummed to myself to try to settle my gut and distract my mind. I told Shannon I was scared, and he told me it would be okay. I told him this felt like my last chance. He reassured me it wasn’t.

We stepped out into the parking lot and it was freezing. Maybe mid-30s. The car was coated in frost, but as we sat in the car, seat warmer on, waiting for things to thaw and defog so we could go, the shivering I was doing seemed to burn off some of my excess nerves. I felt ever-so-slightly calmer. We drove about 15 minutes to the race site, and took a chance on parking: we bypassed the main lots to try to find parking on a side street to make it easier for Shannon and my mom to drive around the interior of the course to cheer me on in the later miles. It paid off, and we found a parking spot maybe a half-mile from the starting line.

The area around the start was quiet. We passed the elite tent, and saw a couple of port-o-potties sort of sitting by themselves. After a little hesitation (were these just for the elites? Where was everyone?) I went in one since I had the opportunity. I texted Sarah, but she hadn’t left her hotel just yet. Soon enough, the crowd started to gather, though I think a lot of people stayed indoors as long as they could. The air didn’t have a bite to it, but it was quite cold. I wasn’t complaining though – it was pretty much ideal race weather. It was about the same starting temperature as when I ran Chickamauga in November 2015.

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As we stood around and chatted, some movement in the crowd caught my eye. In particular, I saw a tall young woman who looked familiar, but my brain was determined not to believe what I saw: it had to be my friend Caitlin’s exact doppelganger, right?

It wasn’t. It was her. And as I realized this, I also saw Kim and Lori with her. Crying in disbelief, I made my way over to my friends – who had gotten up at 2:30 that morning to drive in from Pittsburgh – and pulled each of them into a grateful hug. Each woman was wearing a different year’s Boston finisher’s jacket.

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Girlfriends are the best.

I bumbled through introducing my friends to my mom, texted with Sarah as we tried to figure out how to find one another in the thickening crowd, and visited the porto one more time. About 6:45, I stripped off my extra layers (so cold!), gave last hugs, and Shannon walked me to my corral. I gave him one last kiss and pushed my way through, lining up around the 3:35 pacer (I couldn’t seem to find the 3:30 pacer to place myself in-between). I chatted with a couple girls around me who were also Oiselle runners, and I strained to see around me to try to find Sarah. I couldn’t find her. I resigned myself to the fact that I would be doing this on my own, which I knew I was prepared to do, but running with a friend is always more fun. I said a few prayers, whispering the Sh’ma to myself, took some deep breaths, tried to loosen up my shoulders and upper body. After the national anthem, after the wheeled start, after a couple extra speeches and pauses, the gun sounded. We were off.

The Race

I was assigned corral B, and while it wasn’t a huge race, it wasn’t miniscule either, and I knew I was in for a bit of a crowded first mile. I was behind the 3:35 grew by a few seconds, but I had figured going into this that I would let the first mile go a bit slowly. I spotted my cheer squad right after the start, and looked to settle into a comfortable rhythm. My toes were frozen and numb. The streets were beaten up and potholed in many places. I was breathing easily and evenly, finding the comfy zone for the early miles.

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In the middle with the white hat and white arm warmer. The woman in the foreground has her hand raised right in front of my shoulder.

I pulled the 3:35 group toward me without really making an outright effort to do so, and soon enough they were in my rearview. Around this time, I felt a tap on my shoulder. I looked, and it was Sarah! We grinned at each other, happy to find one another. We settled in for the long miles ahead of us.

8:04, 7:59, 7:59

I’m not sure how I’ve managed it in the past, but even my coach has commented on it: my last few marathon race reports have been a little freakish in the level of detail I seem to recall, even in the pain of racing. Maybe it helps that 2 of those 3 in particular were double-loop courses, easily broken into piecemeal, easier to recall particular sections and moments because I traversed them twice. This time, I don’t know what was different (other than being a single loop – but so was Albany 2016), but I don’t recall as many particulars, as many mile-by-mile moments. The only explanation I can come up with is this: focus. I have never been so keyed into a race I think in my life. I could feel fleeting, floating thoughts of doubt and fear trickle in, but I seemed to sweep them away almost as quickly as they emerged. I recalled the Albany Half this year, and how I had left doubt and fear behind me at mile 8 to race hard. I was more ready now than ever. I ignored the doubt of having only run one 20-miler. I ignored the fear around my foot: it felt fine. I shoved aside the doubt of impostor syndrome: I had done this before, and I could do it again. I could do it better.

My crew found me within the first few miles – twice. Sarah commented on the second time that they were professional cheerers. I smiled huge for them both times. It was such an incredible boost to see all of them, screaming and taking pictures. I felt strong and relaxed.

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Sarah, in purple beside me, was a metronome. Also note that we have not only twin shoes, but are perfectly stride-for-stride here.

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7:57, 7:56, 8:03

In talking race plan pre-race with my coach, we decided I could reuse the pacing plan from Erie: I had paces for 3:30, 3:32:30, and 3:35 listed on it, so I could float in those zones and feel good about it, basically striving to run even. This time, I wasn’t afraid to push more towards flat 8:00s, and not fear those splits when they came. 8:06 would be in the 3:32:30 zone. I would be very comfortable with a BQ of that finish time as well, but a 5:00 buffer would be ideal. I locked right in, finding myself flirting with 7:5X quite often, as I had in many of my marathon pace runs. I also tried a more aggressive fueling strategy (borrowed from my friend Krystina): I was racing hard, and I needed to fuel my body. I also have a highly tolerant stomach when it comes to GU. At roughly certain mileage points, I checked my overall time quickly (not dwelling so I wouldn’t panic at how fast I was going, just checking in) and I took a GU at 30 minute intervals , regardless of proximity to a water stop. Sometimes I would be stuck with a sticky-feeling mouth for a mile or so, but the water stops were more frequent than I had expected, and I never went very long without one.

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After the second time I saw my family, I was predicting being able to see them around mile 10, but as we turned onto what was clearer a bike and pedestrian path, I realized that what I had read as a good point to see them (possibly twice) would not be accessible to them. I let this go, and resigned myself to the fact that I would be seeing them sometime after mile 20. Then, I would really need a boost. At one point I saw my watch was reading a 7:45 pace shortly after seeing them, and I forced myself to pull back (though that mile still went a little fast). I checked my overall time when we passed the 10K flag and my watch read about 50:05 or so. Perfect.

7:55, 7:57, 7:53, 8:04

As much of a blur as this race was overall, I do recall that the course was quite beautiful in many places. We wound through some gorgeous neighborhoods with stately homes. Families were out in their yards and on their porches cheering. When the full and half courses split, the full course crossed into a park and we wound through trees and across a field, and I thought of Chickamauga, and the magic of that day – magic I was hoping I was recreating right then. Sarah and I periodically checked in on each other. I wavered a few times, but I reminded myself that this was a long race: if I felt bad, I would feel good again. And I did.

I think my gloves came off around mile 8 or so, and by about mile 11, I worked on pulling off my arm warmers, easily tugging the right one over my Road ID/pace band, and carefully removing my Garmin and holding it while I pulled off the left one (I was afraid to tug it off over my watch for fear I’d hit a button by mistake). Thinking back on how I had almost gone back to the hotel room to get regular arm warmers, I was grateful I had thought better of it. The sun was warming things up quickly. We entered a long stretch of wide road and open sun, though it remained cool. I stayed hyperfocused on the task at hand and not the endless concrete ahead of me. We crossed over the 13.1 point, marked with a flag, and I again checked my overall time on my watch: about 1:45:25ish. Still perfect. Excitement simmered. But I knew things were going to be getting tougher.

8:04, 8:05, 8:00, 8:04

Since I was mostly keeping my watch on my current lap split for easier pacing, I found myself struggling to remember what mile I was on fairly often. Inevitably, I was always one mile sooner than I was thinking. The grind was creeping up on me, but I knew I still had much more to give. We came to a narrow path, and I upped my cadence to cruise down a short, steepish hill, trying to get a little charge to go up the other side. My quads burned on the downhill. We curved around a loop past a big house, and the tiniest bump of a hill slowed me considerably, but I caught back up quickly enough.

Just before the mile 17 mark, I got a nice surprise. We had come around a lake, which I knew was at the upper end of the course, and the last place I expected to see anyone at all, but as we came back down and headed back to the road, approaching another water stop, I saw them. All those Boston jackets that signaled to me that my entire cheer crew was there. Apparently they had CLIMBED A FENCE to get to me at that point. I blew them all a kiss, then focused back on dialing into the correct effort, almost overcorrecting as we came past the water stop and having to adjust as we started a new mile a tiny bit slow.

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Blowing a kiss to my amazing crew

8:00, 8:06, 8:03

I recalled how at Erie, I was struggling mightily and slipping out of the 8:0Xs and into the 8:1Xs and flirting with 8:20 before I had even reached mile 20. I was still strong. We kept rolling. My watch was already way off the markers, but I knew I had some cushion. I was in a much better position than I had been at Erie. I just needed to hang on. I know I checked my watch at the mile 20 flag, and that I was looking for it to read about 2:40-2:41 and change. I don’t remember what it said, but I know it was in that zone.

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As we came around the arcing driveway past the huge house again (this time it was also a relay exchange), Sarah told me to go ahead, that I had this. At mile 21, she let me go, and I pressed on alone.

8:08, 7:58, 8:16, 8:03

Past mile 21 we came past an aid station giving out orange slices. On instinct, I grabbed one and shoved it in my mouth, taking a slurping swallow. I spit out most of it since I knew I didn’t have it in me to chew on anything, but it was still worth it.

My family found me at a turn as I was deep in the pain cave, somehow getting onto that pedestrian path. Everything around me and in my own head was cacophonous, but evidently Shannon screamed “LIZARD MOOOOOOOODE!” at that point.

8:16

A couple miles later, as I begged my pace to stay below 8:30, better than 8:23 (my slowest miles at Erie), Shannon, Kim, Caitlin, and Lori caught me again and ran along side me. It was at this point, Caitlin was able to observe, I was starting to weave. This didn’t strike me as strange at first. I was in so much pain and trying to push without overdoing it – I had to leave some for the last mile. I just had to keep hanging on. I thought perhaps I was cramping, or it was my scoliosis contributing to an awkward right side lean.

8:22

My cheerleaders let me go to race to catch me at the finish, and I kept pressing on, backing off pace a tiny bit to try to preserve myself. I had cushion. Not a ton, but I had some. If I could survive miles 23 and 24, I could come in hard for 25, and harder yet for 26 (point 2). The sun was baking me at this point, and I wondered if I should have worn my crop top instead of full singlet after all. But it still wasn’t hot, per se, and I knew I had to push through worse. I had to fight now.

8:28

But something was not right. I kept tilting and tilting and tilting right. I couldn’t keep a straight line, kept veering off the side. I knew I was tired. I knew I was cramping and that my muscles were reaching their breaking point. But this was a particular feeling I had never experienced. Nothing I did helped me to readjust course and keep straight and upright. I really couldn’t tell you how long I tried to keep up like this, swaying right, but at some point, I sensed the situation was unsafe, I slowed to a walk to try to regain my balance, and I tripped over the side of the bath and collapsed to the ground. According to my watch data, I had run about 24.5 miles before my pace dropped off completely in this moment.

So much of what happened next is a blur. I know that, very quickly, a couple of runners stopped to help me up. One of them, a man named Chris, walked with me for at least a quarter of a mile, possibly a half mile or so. I was staggering and completely unable to stand and walk alone. I held his hand tightly and wrapped my arm around his waist when even that wasn’t enough. A race official on a bike came to check on me, and I repeatedly asked if I was going to get DQ’d for relying on someone to help me walk to get to the finish. Even hobbling along, I was determined to cross the finish line, knowing my BQ was slipping through my fingers like fine sand. Knowing it was over. I apologized to Chris for wrecking his race, told him that I didn’t want to hold him back.

Runners offered me their fuel, water, salt. A woman on the sideline offered me pretzels, which she then fed to me because I needed to hold on with both hands. Sarah caught up with me, and told Chris that she had me, insisting to me that she would stay with me and get me to the finish if I wanted to get there, no matter how long it took. I kept trying to walk, but still, I could not hold myself up. It wasn’t late stage marathon cramping and dehydration (at least, it wasn’t completely that). At one point – I don’t remember when – a young woman asked to squeak past us to finish her race. I remember seeing she was dressed modestly in black and white, limbs covered, wearing a hijab. If I had had the wherewithal, I would have called out, “you go, girl.” I had nothing. When the race official asked if I had any health conditions, it started to dawn on me that this could be related to the head cold. I said aloud that I had been sick, that I had sinus congestion I thought I was basically over, but it may have screwed up my equilibrium.

At last, after what Strava reads as a half-mile of slow, gruesome walking, I stopped. The race official had me sit down along the side, and called for the sag wagon and medical assistance. They had me lay down so that my feet were slightly uphill, toward the course/path. Sarah stayed with me. I slowly reached my hand across my body to hit STOP on my watch.

I cried. My breathing was slow and shaking. I kept wondering about my heart rate and blood pressure. We waited for the sag wagon. Sarah repeatedly helped me lift my head and take sips from a water bottle. I held her hand and cried. I thanked her for staying with me, for being an incredible friend to someone who, in reality, she hardly knew. “We’re sisters in sport,” I remember her saying. I asked if someone had a phone, if someone could call my husband. I never lost consciousness, and I wasn’t delirious, but syllables came slowly, one or two at a time. I told Sarah to check my Road ID, thinking I couldn’t get his phone number out any faster than she could read it off my ID. She had to pull back the pace band I had taped over it, but I was grateful I was wearing it at all. I heard her talking on someone’s phone, reassuring him that I was going to be okay and that I would be taken to a med tent. I murmured to myself and tried to focus on breathing. For a few moments, I wondered if it would be scarier or more of a relief just to pass out right then.

A little while later, the sag wagon had come. They helped me slowly sit up, and once I had my bearings a little in the seated position, they helped me stand. A very large man (I recall thinking of him as Hagrid) had me wrap my arms around him so he could help me into a wheelchair and he pushed me to the van. He and another young woman transported me toward the finish area in the van, still in the wheelchair. I examined my legs, my right leg awkwardly cramped inward, and noted several small cuts on my legs and right arm from the fall I had taken. For a few minutes I thought I might not be able to keep down fluids, and the girl handed me a bag just in case. Thankfully I didn’t end up needing it. I also asked her to call my husband again, and she fully ripped off my pace band (though she gave it back to me) to access the information on my Road ID. They would be waiting for me by the med tent.

By the finish area, they moved me from the van to the back of a golf cart, and I hung on as best I could, with a man holding my arm tightly to keep me on and balanced. The driver of the cart kept shouting at the crowd to move aside so we could get through. I almost wanted to yell at them myself, but couldn’t muster the strength.

We rounded through the football stadium, and as we approached the med tent, I saw my cheering section gathered near it. I sobbed in my mother’s arms. I sobbed in my husband’s arms. He scooped me up and carried me into the med tent and lowered me onto a cot. They took my heart rate and blood pressure – both were normal. I was fine. I laid there for a little while longer while they made sure I was okay (and I made sure I was okay), before helping me to stand and walk somewhat on my own.

Wrapped in a space blanket, I hobbled toward Kim, Caitlin, and Lori. These women. These women who drove all the way out to Toledo long before dawn to watch me race. These women who crammed in a car with my mom and husband to chase me around the course and scream and cheer. These women who stood in front of me with tears in their eyes to match mine. I hugged each one, hard, crying into their shoulders, thanking them for being there, for being amazing friends.

We gathered ourselves up for our journey back to the car, and along the way, bumped into Sarah and her family. I gave her a huge hug, asked her if it was weird if I told her that I loved her. We’re connected now – connected forever. Running a marathon with another person is a powerful, intimate experience. And having someone pick you up and carry you, help you move forward, help you find assistance when you need it, hold your hand and give you water when you are literally on the ground, unable to move? We’re sisters now.

I swallowed my tears to say bye-bye to her little girl, who was already well on her way to claiming her momma’s medal. Before we split up, I managed to have the wherewithal to request a picture of all my runner girls.

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Badass women with hearts of gold.

Once we got back to the car, agreeing to meet back at the hotel, where I would get cleaned up before going to lunch with the Pittsburgh ladies, I dug my phone out of my bag to see an explosion of messages. Good luck wishes, cheers along the way, frantic race tracking, texts, tweets, GroupMe messages, RaceJoy app cheers, Facebook posts… Tears rolled down my cheeks once more. The friends who were tracking me lived and died with every update, and when they heard the bad news, they were right there with me.

We managed to get a little extra late checkout time when we told the front desk I had been in the med tent, but we still had to hustle a bit. I was astounded to discover I had hardly chafed at all, but getting around was still difficult. The shower is still the best place to cry. Shannon helped me to dress, including putting compression on, and we threw our things into bags and got out the door, Shannon doing most of the heavy lifting. Deciding on Applebee’s as a simple lunch option, we girl talked through lunch and I picked at my food. I had ordered chicken tenders and fries because it sounded good, but as usual I didn’t want to eat much once it was in front of me. Shannon actually did a little bit of parent-bargaining-with-a-toddler with me, asking me to eat just one more piece of chicken, and couldn’t I eat that one last bite?

We parted ways by early mid-afternoon, with the girls hitting the road for Pittsburgh, looking sleepy, and Shannon, my mom, and I making our way to Cleveland. I took a few minutes to write a Facebook post to explain what had happened. I cried reading every single comment left by friends and loved ones.

I took over driving the second half as I knew my mom was exhausted, and I was shockingly alert. My brother called along the way, as did my dad, and I filled them in (I had talked to my dad briefly walking back to the car post-race as well; he called again on the drive to check in). Once we arrived home, my step-dad had purchased ice cream I had requested. He had suggested pizza, which initially sounded good, but then didn’t. I knew ice cream would sit well, and was calorie-dense, which I needed.

Before long, we were headed to the airport. Final hugs, a quick security line, a short flight, and a 90 minute drive stood between us and home. When we arrived there at long last, so very late and so tired after a 20-hour day, I saw two huge vases of flowers – one from my in-laws, one from my Athens friends – with cards and treats and so, so much love and support.

Analysis

There’s nothing I could have done to prepare for this. Maybe if I had hydrated even better? Maybe if I had gone ahead and taken that pre-race shower to clear my sinuses more? Maybe if I had taken Sudafed (yeah, probably not a great plan)? My ears were exploding again on the flight home Sunday night post-race, and my sinuses drained for a few more days, even though I felt fine, not sick in the least. There really is no telling what can happen in a marathon, especially when you line up not at 100% health.

The truth is, there is nothing I could have done short of being clairvoyant. All visible signs pointed to giving the race my very best shot. I gave everything I had until I literally could not give anymore. I ran a perfect race for 24 miles. I was suffering, but already imagining digging in at mile 25 and finding those last, deep reserves – the ones that are always there, the ones I have found within myself in the last year more than ever before. I had visualized that finish line so many times. It was just a clock, really, in my imaginings. Now, I can’t see it. The finish never comes.

So how do you finish? You keep going. You thank and love on your supporters and feel completely unworthy of all of their belief and hope and kindness. You remember the feeling of being picked up off the ground by total strangers who were not going to just leave you there. You think of how the woman who ran 21 miles with you and took care of you at mile 25, dedicated her last mile to you.

Marathons are about so much more than finish lines. Each time we go out there, we learn something: about ourselves – our bodies, our minds, our spirits; about our support system; about other runners around us. We’re all in this together. We are never alone out there, even when we feel most alone.

I am not finished. I am resting now – recovering in body, mind, and spirit – but I will return. Running and I are in this for the long-term. I have many, many miles left in these legs and in my soul. And my friends are waiting for me.

all smiles

Race Report: Pittsburgh Half-Marathon 2012

It was the best of time, it was the worst of times; it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair…

Okay, not really. Spoiler alert: it wasn’t a PR day, but I’m still pretty damn pleased with how it all went down, especially after taking some time to evaluate everything. But let’s start from the beginning.

Training had been going pretty brilliantly. I’d been really nailing my paces, and absolutely crushed my last speed workout (okay, maybe the first 1600 was way too fast cause I was trying to chick someone. So what?). I was nervous going into this race, knowing I had already PR’d and gotten my goal of sub-2 hours over a month before. Would I beat expectation again? I of course obsessed about the weather all week, and it was all over the map: high of 82. High of 58. High of 70. 30% chance of rain. 50% chance of rain. 10% chance of rain. Weather.com, stop playing with my emotions! I tried to let it go, and focus on the things I COULD control. Saturday morning we got up early with the intention of joining Bart Yasso and friends for a shakeout run…only to find out the time had gotten changed and it was starting in three minutes! Oh well. We had a leisurely breakfast of oatmeal, still in carbo-loadig mode, and then headed to the expo nice and early.

NB had missed last year since he was watching his mom and sister graduate so he was pleasantly surprised by the spread. We quickly got our bibs, shirts (a little disappointing compared to last year’s amazing shirts. I don’t like Nike’s business practices, but those were nice race shirts), and packets, and did a little shopping. He got an awesome shirt and a free foam roller. And me? Well… I may have bought two pairs of shoes. I NEEDED THEM. I SWEAR. And they were each $20 off. The Brooks rep was a smooth talker, let me tell ya, though I have to say I’m pretty devastated to hear that my beloved Launch will likely be discontinued. I’ll be buying a bunch of pairs when they go on sale.

And while we didn’t get to run with Bart, we still got to meet him, along with Jeff Galloway. Both SO nice!

Me and Bart! NB and I got a copy of his book autographed 🙂

We ran into my co-worker who was running his first (only? Not sure how he feels about it now) marathon – and his first race ever – we’ll call him BG because I’m creative like that. I called out his name about four times before I finally had to swat his arm to get his attention. He was a little deer in headlights – first expos do that to people. We pointed him in the right direction as far as bib/packet pick-up, and we all wished each other luck for the next day.

I spent the rest of the day pretty much just relaxing, in addition to continuing to obsess about the weather and putting together my race bag and the outfit I planned to wear. Despite forecasts of a low dew point, I was fearing the worst as far as humidity, and given my past experiences with chafing during races, I decided not to chance it wearing my Brooks Infiniti short tights, since – even though they probably only chafed cause I didn’t wear vaseline, only bodyglide – I wasn’t about to have a chafing disaster like I did on a long run about a month before the race. So I went with my tried and true underarmour shorts, along with an Asics singlet (the one I wore for my TRON/Quorra costume), and of course my beloved Brooks Launch.

NB and I had our newly lucky dinner: Bisquick pancakes, with lots of REAL maple syrup, as well as bunch of fresh strawberries. Yum. We were both hydrating to the max, and I was peeing every hour. Runner love means discussing the color of your pee the day before the race. Oh yes.

As we were wrapping up dinner, my mom arrived from Cleveland! She walked in to the smell of pancakes, and I pulled out the gluten-free ones I had picked up for her from Trader Joe’s (she’s a celiac), and we chowed and talked for a while, before getting a quick drink (for NB and me, water and iced tea) with my sister-in-law and her mother, as the former was passing through town on her way to Israel. We bugged out by about 9:30 or so in order to hit the sack. My alarm was set for 4:30, and of course my mom and I talked for a while, even after I turned off the light. Oh well. The night before the night before the race counts more sleep-wise…right?

I was up instantly when my alarm went off, getting up to pee and then making a beeline for the coffee maker, which I had set up the night before, so I could have my big mug of black coffee with sugar to *ahem* get things moving. My mom dozed a bit more before she joined me, and I obsessed about the backpack I was using for my race bag: I packed a change of clothes – since my apartment would be closed off to us for a few hours after we got back, we were making NB’s apartment home base – lots of Gu, my handheld water bottle, filled, Nuun tablets just in case (glad I brought them), my Camelback, also filled, my camera, a jacket, cell phone, wallet, keys, fuel belt (small one, just for gels), chapstick (emergency lube), tissues (emergency TP), vaseline, and bodyglide. And whatever else I’m forgetting now but did not forget then.

My mom had some Greek yogurt I bought for her while I chowed down on my usual pre-half breakfast of 3/4 cup oatmeal with brown sugar, cooked in water, and my black coffee. My stomach was already churning in anticipation. The temperature was higher than predicted already: 58, instead of 55, at not even 5 a.m. It was also very humid. I knew then and there that I would be carrying water, and likely would be dropping half a Nuun tablet in pre-race for electrolytes.

At about 5:35, we were finally headed out the door, and I texted NB to let him know we were en route. My mom had printed out all the necessary maps, and I was pretty sure I knew where I wanted to go. We grabbed him from his apartment and headed down to the race via Bigelow, getting a really fantastic view of the “supermoon” over the skyline. It really was huge and amazing and beautiful – a sign of a formidable race. I decided to park where I knew I could get in and out – a deck near a bike rental place I’ve been to a couple times. It was a bit of a hike to the start, but not bad, and we had plenty of time. We quickly came across other runners and followed them until we could start following voices to Market Square, where suddenly they were everywhere, and the announcer kept saying things inaudibly. We hit the port-a-johns (they had toilet paper! It’s a race day miracle! Okay so we were there really early) and then sat in some chairs in Market Square and cahtted, watching a group of people stretch and warm up… forty-five minutes before the race.

Discussing race strategy…or judging people

About twenty-five minutes to the start, we decided to try to hit the portapotties one last time… only to discover an EPIC line. We decided it was just the pre-race-nerves-have-to-pee-but-don’t-really feeling and sucked it up, getting our Garmins ready and smiling for another picture. I felt chilled without my jacket, but that quickly changed.

I was assigned corral C and NB was corral D, but we quickly discovered that even just getting into corral D would be challenge at this point, fifteen minutes to start. We pushed through crowds like salmon swimming upstream (passing a guy holding – no joke – a bunny rabbit. It was sitting on his shoulder, flaring its nostrils with its eyes squinted shut. poor little bunny) before we finally found a crack in the corral. Like a$$holes we found our way to the front of corral D, and quickly warmed up from the heat of thousands of people crowding in around us. Naturally my mom took the opportunity to get lots of shots of us moving up after the gun sounded, way back from the starting line as we were.

The sun – my nemesis in this race – striking a building

The crowd continually bunched and bottle-necked, then stretched out. We had a couple false starts, breaking into a faster walk or jog before we FINALLY got to the start, wished each other good luck one more time, punched START on our garmins, and were off!

Mom missed me. Oh well. Hi NB!

Instantly I had a grin on my face. It was a BEAUTIFUL day – sunny and still hovering around 60 degrees. My playlist started with a rhythm-setter: Coldplay’s “Clocks.” I tried to find my stride and work through crowds while simultaneously not tiring myself with too much weaving. Within a half mile I was on pace, though still doing a lot of weaving around, looking for gaps. Spectators were out in droves, and I tried to soak it all in. The first couple miles were mostly about finding a pace and sticking with it. My hope was to run conservatively with 9:09s, maybe a few flat 9s, and punch it for the last 5K to try to PR, if all went well. The first mile was perfect – 9:08. I got a little more stuck at mile 2 (9:25), mostly due to a tight turn and a bad bottleneck. Before I knew it, we were hitting our first bridge around mile 3.

I hadn’t done as much hill training as I wanted during this training cycle, but I had done a little, and I had done a TON of jump squats – and it showed. I charged every bridge (well, almost), keeping pace or close to it, and recovering quickly as the bridges sloped back down the other side. The next few miles clocked off on pace or very near it. I was feeling pretty good.

Mile four was downright cruel. Because of the change to the finish line (starting and finishing downtown, instead of finishing on the North Shore), there were five bridge crossings instead of four, and two were right in a row. We crossed to downtown, ran a block (lined with screaming people, thankfully), then crossed right back on the very next bridge. Awful. My mom looked for NB and I at that point, but we didn’t see her and she didn’t see us.

Right in the middle … with the watermark over my face. Guess that’s what I get for circumventing the moving watermarks on the website and not buying the photo.

A mile or so later, I found a familiar face, or rather she found me – my pacer from Just a Short Run! I heard her voice: “Hey, I paced you!” and I turned around and smiled. She was pacing her husband in his first marathon for a 4:30 finish, and they were a bit fast, according to her. I wished him luck and she told me to go, go! Don’t slow down! So I waved once more and took off, continuing to click off 9:10 miles.

We headed to bridge three that led us onto South Side, and I knew that, though in a way the race was getting a lot closer to being done, the hard part was coming up. I was feeling pretty drained. I’d been sipping my Nuun-filled water conservatively, and took a Gu Roctane every 3.5 miles or so. I took sips of the water cups at water stations, but mostly just dumped them down my back in a futile effort to cool down. I knew one of my co-workers would be cheering me on around mile 10 (I never spotted her) so I wanted to keep a good pace, but it was getting hard. A road divider jumped out of nowhere and a guy almost tripped, signalling me to watch my step. Around mile seven or so, a girl my age was getting an IV bag from a medic. I felt my PR slipping away, realizing that today may just not be the right day for it.

Then another thing started happening. It actually started around 5 miles in. During our speedwork, my iPod had decided to start skipping through songs every two or three seconds, even with the hold button on. Usually this was due to humidity and sweat getting caught in the click wheel, but the hold button typically solved that. I actually ran the last half mile of my second repeat sans music since it was skipping and stopping so much. And now, it was just stopping. I found pulling out the headphones for a few minutes at a time seemed to help, but only for a song, maybe less. I was getting frustrated. Sometimes I can go hard without music, but not today. The sun was beating down on me. I couldn’t keep cool. I was dragging. I stopped on the sidelines and unwrapped my excess headphone length and just held onto it to keep it from flapping around, then re-strapping my arm band. That helped more, but not totally. I pressed on.

Nearing the marathon/half split, I kept my eyes out for my co-worker cheer section, keeping left and focusing on the fact that we were nearing the last 5K. But after the split, knowing it was just 5K to go when I had hoped to kick, I felt like my temperature was just getting too high. I walked. I picked it back up, walking through the water station and taking gatorade, then dumping water down my back as we crossed the cruelly huge, long Birmingham Bridge before my archnemesis: Blvd of the Allies. That long, slow, cruel climb from the Great Race 10K. Oh, how I loathe it. It’s not stop, but it’s just… there. Taunting. Teasing. You’re almost there! But you have t scale me first.

I tried to find my power songs without freaking out my iPod. I slowed down and walked a few times as my temperature climbed. I saw a guy o the sidelines of the Blvd of the Allies overpass, medics rushing to him as he looked delirious and almost faint. I prayed. I groaned. I cried a little. We finally crested to the exit ramp, and the quad crushing downhill was almost too much. But I was SO CLOSE. They said it was all downhill to the finish, right?

They lied. I watched the tenths of a mile click away on my Garmin (knowing it was about .15 ahead), and saw another climb – short but cruel  in the last quarter mile before a downhill/flat finish. Gritting my teeth, searching for my cheering section, I settled into a fast grind up the hill. I saw the banner, not really registering it until the last maybe tenth of a mile. I was actually almost there! I was over two hours, but not by that much. As the seconds clicked, I unearthed a kick from lord-knows-where, considering how far my mile splits had slid (only one mile over ten minutes – mile 11 – but I recovered and managed mile 12 in 8:35). My Garmin registered the last spring at 6:53 pace. I threw up my hands in victory, pushing stop a few strides later for 2:02.30 by my Garmin, which I knew would be long given when I started and stopped it.

I wove around, tired and happy, and just a little disappointed. I kept moving, shuffling along, receiving my medal and grabbing water, thanking the volunteers profusely. I actually managed to get my finisher photo this time, and am pretty happy with it

After that, I wove on through, heading towards the big CONGRATULATIONS banner. I came across a curb on the way, almost there, and looked at it like it was a device meant to torture me as I tried to lift my legs to step up onto the sidewalk. Grabbing some food – salty chips, a banana, a small bagel (Panera – blech) – I made my way to the family meeting section, and spotted my mom and NB. We launched into our race analysis. NB was disappointed – he was hoping to crush his PR, and wound up with a 1:50 and change. I felt a similar disappointment, but pointed out later when it occurred to me: we both ran our second fastest half-marathons. Faster than Air Force, which was a much more PR-ready course, on a much less brutal day. That was really something.

Discussing the race and our splits

Smile! You just completed your fourth/fifth half-marathon!
Our sentiments about the heat, humidity and hills
Relaxing in my compression socks, and moving into a stretching routine
Reading text messages from friends and family who were tracking me
Finishers medals!

After some stretching, we hobbled our way to the car, making our way through traffic and to NB’s apartment. We showered up and ate a bunch of food – my mom made us eggs, French toast, and we even had mimosas, all while trying to rehydrate with tons of water. My real post-race hunger didn’t hit until hours later, after a nap and my mom’s departure and more lounging at my own apartment – and by that time NB and were going to Rock Bottom for a greasy dinner before seeing “The Avengers” in IMAX/3D! A perfect end to a great day.

Post-race analysis:

Pittsburgh half 2011: 2:11.58

Air Force half 2011: 2:04.14

JASR 2012: 1:59.03 (PR)

PGH half 2012: 2:02.16

It wasn’t a PR, but it wasn’t a PR kind of day. BUT I was only a little over three minutes off, nearly 10 minutes faster than this race last year, and nearly 2 minutes faster than Air Force, a flat, amazing PR course. I have the potential to crush my PR at Air Force this year, and I still had a good time at this race, even if some of the miles felt miserable. I overcame. And I will do it again.

(and for those who are wondering, my iPod has been behaving since I did a factory restore. Though I haven’t run with it since the race. Will see what happens tomorrow!)

What’s next? Well, I went for my first run since the race yesterday – three easy miles that felt strange and wonderful to my rested legs – and training for my next adventure doesn’t begin until mid/late-July.

And what’s that adventure, you ask

The Philadelphia Marathon. November 18. My first full.

Race Report: Aurora Turkey Trot 4 miler

This Thanksgiving weekend NB and I traveled to my hometown, a suburb nestled in east Cleveland, to celebrate the holiday with my family. Last year we ran our first half-marathon in his hometown of Atlanta, so we knew we weren’t going to be doing it up quite like that, but still wanted to earn our turkey a bit.

We got up right at 6 a.m. and I made us some oatmeal and my mom made us coffee (thanks Mom!). It was going to be a gorgeous day, but it was starting off pretty chilly, so we had to sport some layers. By 7 a.m. we were heading out the door to the mall hosting the race for packet pickup.

The drive went smoothly and before we knew it, we were spotting 13.1 and 26.2 stickers, and saw the big “finish” blow up banner laying across the parking lot.  We just beat the rush and were pinning on our bibs and securing our timing chips when suddenly there was a huge line. Phew! But we got to stay inside and stay warm while we prepared, which was nice. Ii actually ran into a former neighbor, Liz, who is a couple years younger than me. I hadn’t seen her in YEARS but knew she was running marathons, and fast (I friended her on Facebook later that day – turns out she ran the Air Force Marathon! Small world we live in).

 

Pre-race photo op

We took our Gus (chocolate raspberry Roctane for me – yum) and got in a bit of a warmup, looping around the parking lot, and ran into one of my future step-brothers (for whom I can not think of a clever alias yet, so please forgive me for that). Before we knew it, it was minutes to the start, and time to line up. I was a little worried about pace. I hadn’t been doing any tempo runs or speedwork, and had no idea of the elevation chart for the course, but was hoping I could squeak out a sub 32 minute race. NB was hoping for sub-30. I decided my B goal was sub-35, since I knew I could manage this without killing myself and still have fun. The rest would be icing on the cake.

I waved “hello” to a high school friend on the sidelines and readied my Garmin. It was a gun start, but we positioned ourselves well at the star,t near the front but not in a will-be-run-down-by-speed-demons way. With my headphones in and the quiet sound system, I could barely hear the announcer, but knew when the surge started: I pushed ‘START’ on my garmin, having already started my music a few seconds before, and we were off!

Can you see me? A the bottom, slightly left of center in the blue cap with black earband. NB is rocking the black with yellow striping shirt we got in Vancouver and a red hat
That's me in the blue right in the middle 🙂

 

I thought I had heard the announcer say something about the first mile being fast, and he wasn’t kidding. NB wanted to take the first mile in about 7:45 go warm up, and I wasn’t far behind him for that whole first mile. We trotted out of the parking lot and across the main road, tucking into a side road and down a short but nice downhill. We passed some dudes playing mud football (who I think heckled us about not playing football and “only” running. yeah, okay. My sport is your sport’s punishment) and eventually a high school with an actual football team out for Thanksgiving morning practice. I hit the first mile before my Garmin did, so I think the course was short (or the first mile was, since it didn’t seem to get shorter progressively, and stayed the same after that), ticking it off in 7:37. Oops.  A bit fast, but maybe I was just building myself a nice cushion?

The course quickly flattened and we headed into the first out and back about 1.5 miles in. NB still wasn’t that far ahead, and we exchanged smiles and high-fived between the cones as we passed each other. I was confused by not being at 2 miles at the turn around, but we ended up going through a parking lot a bit and winding around more to make it four, so it worked out. In the weird little parking lot turn around, I thanked a boy for picking up a fallen cone, only to hear my future step-bro echo my thanks. Startled and competitive, I unthinkingly picked up the pace, noting it on my garmin, in addition to my elevated breath. I asked him how he was feeling, and after a bit of chit chat, let him go. No sense in bonking just trying to chick him (he ended up beating me by less than a minute, so I can’t complain).

I hit mile 2 in 7:51 somewhere in there, and mile 3 in 8:01. Then the suffering began. I was pretty pleased to see a time pretty near my 5K PR just shy of where 5K would have been, when I came back to that hill from the beginning, and now of course as an uphill. I eased off the throttle, lowering my arms and driving to drive up in a relaxed fashion. As I was still trying to catch my breath, I ran past my mom, who was staked out to see us all passing at about 3 and a third miles:

NB kicking ass and taking names - he was really happy with his pacing overall, and rightly so
Future step-bro is all smiles!
Smiling for my support crew/suffering from the hill

Apparently I surprised my mom when I came up the hill – she didn’t expect me to be so close behind the guys!

Okay, I confess. I took a teeny, tiny walk break. I was dying, that hill just clobbered me, but mostly I was a huge chicken. It was like 15-20 seconds, and didn’t really cost me anything. I picked it right back up for a long loop around the mall’s main parking lot before snaking around to the finish and charging it in. Seeing the clock, I suddenly had a huge grin on my face, seeing that I was going to CRUSH my goal. Here are some snaps of all of us finishing:

Nice kick!
Nothing like a short race to bring the pain.
So close... keep pushing...
Managing a smile - sort of
Check the clock! Sub-32!

I zig zagged a little dizzily after the finish, and got stuck in the corral line where people were stopping very suddenly to remove their chips and volunteers pulled our raffle tags (though they drew the raffle before the walkers had finished – lame). We of course snapped some post-race pictures:

Sweaty and tired - but we earned our turkey!

We headed inside for bananas and water and other goodies, and found out that we actually did decently in our age groups. I’d been secretly hoping for an AG award, but honestly I’d forgotten to take into account all the cross-country runners home for break that absolutely crushed it. But I got 6th in my AG and NB got 7th, so we can’t complain!

Here’s the weird part:

Results –

Garmin time (started watch at gun, since no starting timing mat): 31:07

Garmin distance: 3.94 (huh?)

chip time:  30:59

Either way, I beat my goal, and even if the course was short, I STILL would have beat it if it was the correct distance. Plus, it was a turkey trot, so who cares!

 

One of the funniest parts? NB and I went for an “easy” trail run on Saturday on one of the toughest trails ever – it was four miles, and it took us (read: me) almost 44 minutes. Umm… yeah.

Winter is well on its way, and I had my last run in shorts this morning until probably April. But am I done racing for the season? Not likely – these random fun runs are just too much fun to pass up. And already we have our sights set on a 5K on New Year’s Eve…

 

Minimalism and goal-setting

“I could write a blog. I have thoughts.”

In case no one has guessed yet, I’m (half) watching Julie & Julia on Netflix instant-queue. I find it really sad that the real Julie Powell cheated on her “sainted” husband sometime after the timeline of the film.

Anyway. Today was rainy and disgusting out. We porbably could have toughed it out, but Nerdy Boyfriend and I decided to go to my gym instead. After a brief freakout when I was told that, because i didn’t call my guest ahead, he’d have to pay a drop-in fee of $25, they dropped the drop-in fee this once since I didn’t know about the call-ahead deal. He did some lifting and I did a mini-brick workout: just under 7.5 miles on the bike (that expresso bike thing that’s kind of like a video game with paths and such, and much more entertaining than a regular stationary bike) and a short, easy one-mile run on the treadmill, just to work out the cobwebs. Felt pretty good. We then did some corework and headed to the Bagel Factory for breakfast, per our new tradition.

Since my next planned race is a long way off – the Pittsburgh half on May 15, 2011, besides whatever other races I randomly find and sign up for for kicks – I think some goal setting would be good.

Here’s one: I’m awful at hills. Terrible. There was once that i was really good at them, because I ran them religiously, doing speedwork on this half-mile hill of a decently tough grade. I kicked its ass, and it improved my speed, strength, efficiency and confidence overall. So I’m going to be doing leg workouts once a week, starting with 20-30 minutes on the bike, then a series of exercises: single-leg squats, walking lunges, calf raises, leg press, hip adduction and hip abduction. I’ve been doing this for a while, actually, but I’ll be kicking it up a notch, little by little.

My other goal-setting note will help my hill work: core work. My weekly pilates class has been doing wonders for my core, and core-work repertoire. Planks, side planks, forearm pushups, bird dogs, until my entire body shudders and collapses. it’s awesome.

And of course the best way to get strong at running hills: run hills. And I know it’ll have to be Negley hill. For non-Pittsburghers, you have to know, this is the most ridiculous hill. It’s long, first of all, and when you drive down it, you absolutely have to ride the break. I’ve tried just breaking a ton at the top and coasting down but thre’s really no other option. Beyond this, when you’re abotu three-quarters up, it lulls you into a false sense of security by leveling off a little, and then gets worse. And then finally, it stops. I’ll be doing hill repeats on it. Probably not the whole hill, because hill repeats are about speed. But I WILL run the whole thing when I do Negley-Wilkins circuits, an up and down route that’s about mile or two, which I will do until I just want to give up. Or something.

I was just chatting with my mom earlier, and one of her co-workers, whom I met at a race early last month, just got into minimalist shoes. Pretty sure he’s wearing vibrams, and is saying they’re helping with his bad knees. Really it’s about forefoot running being easier on the knees, IMO. I’m not a minimalist shoe kind of person. But it’s an interesting notion anyway.

Now I have some other writing to do (novel editing, really) and an early bedtime. How is tomorrow Monday again already?