My Favorite Quote:

"There is an inner beauty about a woman who believes in herself, who knows she is capable of anything that she puts her mind to. There is a beauty in the strength and determination of a woman who follows her own path, who isn't thrown off by obstacles along the way. There is a beauty about a woman whose confidence comes from experiences; who knows she can fall, pick herself up, and move on."

Friday, September 20, 2013

Marathon #8: "Year of the Turtle"

Friday, September 13, 2013 Pre-race Thoughts
We headed out for Wakefield, Michigan on Friday afternoon.  I had an appointment with my life coach/therapist while Eric was picking the boys up from school.  My appointment was eye opening for me.  It gave me wonderful perspective on my life and it also gave me some good thoughts to contemplate while I was on my marathon run the next day.  I tend to think A LOT when I run.  If I ditch the tunes, then I am able to actually sort through and process my thoughts.  I've adopted it as a means of self-therapy.  It's also called natural EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing).  It took me awhile to get it, but now I do and feel the benefits of it in it's natural form on my runs :)

I met up with Eric and the boys at home to do the final packing and loading!  We hit the road finally at 4:30pm - just in time for rush hour!  I slept through the rush hour portion of the drive and woke up around 6pm, just in time to start looking for a place to eat.  Duluth was too far away and I failed at googling for an Italian restaurant anywhere off of 35.  Finally, we exited at Pine City and just drove until we found something with pasta!  We ended up at the Pizza Pub off the main street.  Unfortunately, the service was very slow and the food was not that great.  BUT, it was food and we did get to have a little fun with the boys playing in game area.  I played a game of pool with Ethan.  Poor Ryan had trouble waking up from the car ride!

Ry Ry and Mom
Pizza Pub in Pine City

Eric and Ryan had a pizza, while Ethan ate his usual fries, and I ordered a salad, spaghetti, and bread sticks.  My meal was awful, but I do believe it served it's purpose for the intention of carbo-loading for my race!  We headed back out onto the road, with me as the driver, and headed up to Duluth!  Once in Duluth, I pulled into a gas station and Eric and I made the final switch for driving.  It was about 8:30pm and I needed to think about sleeping if I was planning to have any energy for the race in less than 12 hours!

Eric drove the long stretch east on Hwy 2 from Superior, WI all the way to Ironwood, MI.  We arrived at our hotel - the AmericInn around 10:30pm.  I am supremely notorious for picking crappy hotels with crappy service, so this was a pleasant treat.  The clerk was super sweet and our room was awesome and clean.  I got us an extended stay for cheap as well.  We unloaded the sleeping boys and our gear and passed out in bed around 11:15pm.  I don't remember anything until 6am the next morning.  Slept like a baby!

Saturday, September 14, 2013 Race Day
I was trying to remember how I ended up choosing this particular marathon, the "1st National Bank of Wakefield Marathon" in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  I was originally registered for the Women Rock Marathon in St. Paul on August 31, but they canceled it.  I down shifted to the half and was marathon-less for the Fall.  I wanted an early one so that I could register for Boston this year - if I happened to qualify.  Except I hadn't trained at all for this race, but my fitness was good and I was strong!  The furthest I ran was the Women Rock Half Marathon two weeks earlier - 13.1 miles.  So...technically I could have pulled it off on natural talent - but I don't run on natural talent ;)  I run on a lot of hard work and consistent training! I wish I had natural talent.  It would make my life easier!  So, I knew deep down that this race was going to be a HUGE backside whooping!  However, I ALWAYS toe the line with a blank slate in my head and absolutely no idea how each race is going to turn out.  I love the fact that I never know what will happen during a race.  Anything could happen, it's all a mystery :)  I embrace the lack of control that I have for the next 4 hours and wait to see what gets handed to me!

The morning went relatively smoothly.  My family woke up, got dressed, and ate breakfast all in good timing!  I was eating at the continental breakfast looking around at everyone.  I was the only one at that hotel running this race.  This was weird.  I am so used to the breakfast being packed with runners that are all geared up, wearing their race bibs, and looking nervous!  After breakfast, we headed east 11 miles to Wakefield.  The weather was chilly, but perfect running weather.  The race was easy to find since it was on the northeast end of Sunday Lake at Eddy Park.  These were the only instructions I was given!  There was no expo or packet pickup!  And there was only one lake!  We just drove around it until we saw people!

I jumped out of the car and headed over to a picnic table in a shelter.  There was an elderly man there checking people in.  He was wearing a BAA (Boston Athletic Association) jacket.  I gave him the silent respect that he deserved for his qualification and participation at Boston.  Little did I know I would whoop his backside in about 30 minutes!  He put a check mark next to my hand written name and I noticed that there were columns on the sheet for the race admin to check runners off each time we circled the lake!  This marathon was 9.5 loops around Sunday Lake.  I wasn't sure how I'd feel about looping...

Dusk at Eddy Park with Sunday Lake in the background!

This race was free.  I gave a donation to the Wounded Warriors Fund in lieu of a race entry fee.  It was a certified course and a Boston qualifier.  No one would qualify today though!  It was not a goal of mine that morning, but I would go for it if the stars aligned!  My right hip, groin, and hamstrings were covered in Rock Tape to help with a situation that I triggered running the Ragnar Relay a month earlier :(

Toe-ing the line!

We parked the car on the grass in the park.  Everyone parked their vehicles and put out their gear and fuel on the hoods of their cars and in the pickup beds so that they could grab what they needed each time they ran by.  I had my very own water stop, complete with my gels, food, water, and Gatorade!  Eric and the boys made up some signs, but it was too cold for them to stand outside and hold them :)  One of the signs was interactive, where the runner would move along the sign as I progressed in the race.  The boys also got to play on the old school playground equipment in the park!  An old wooden merry-go-round, metal slide, teeter-totter, etc.  All the equipment that was at the park when I was a kid!  It was fun to see them on it!

Best pit stop ever!
Old wooden merry-go-round!

The race started at 8am.  It was very laid back.  The race director, Jim Engel, gave a short speech and basically said "Go"!  We all just started running slowly.  I stayed somewhere in the middle, hoping to have a good pace and not really worried about anyone else.  It was a small field of somewhere around 30 people.  I started out at my regular pace and was hoping to keep between 8:15 - 8:30/mile for most of the race.  I did slightly better for the first half of the race.

Waiting for the start!

The "field"!

And I'm off!

I decided earlier this year that this is the "Year of the Turtle" for me.  I have yet to PR in any race at any distance.  I feel like I am running in recovery mode at all times.  I don't have my former speed or energy.  I don't like to think that this has anything to do with aging.  I do admit that this entire year has been extremely difficult on me and I can only hope that I will resume my speed and energy levels when I am past all the crud.  So, next year will be "Year of the Cheetah", but for this year...I'm happy at my turtle speed.  This has a certain irony to it however, since the award at the end of this race was a rock painted turtle :)  Very different and very cool!

As I ran the initial out and back stretch, I found myself slowly creeping to the front of the pack.  I was a little shocked that the field was so slow.  I wasn't necessarily running fast, but I wasn't running slow either.  I was just running my usual race pace.  And for today, it was faster than everyone else!  I came back through the start area to begin the remaining 9 loops of the race and I was in first place!  I held the lead position for the next 3 hours!  It was very exciting and on a good day, I should have been able to win this baby.  But my injuries, from lack of training and not giving my body time and attention to heal, would catch up with me!

As I circled Sunday Lake for the first loop, I noticed several running quotes painted on the pavement.  They looked like they had been there for a few years.  They gave me something to read as I ran the same loop over and over again.  My favorite was:
"Mind is everything. Muscle - pieces of rubber. All that I am, I am because of my mind."
- Paavo Nurmi

This was written in huge letters and the words that kept leaping out to me were "all that I am, I am".  Accept and be happy with who I am :)  I really appreciated these sayings until I finally got tired of seeing the same scenery over and over again!  I wanted to take a picture of one of these after the race, but I just wanted to leave when it was all done!

Sunday Lake - 2.75 miles around

I had to make 9.5 loops around the lake.  The first .5 was an out and back and then the looping began.  I got to see Eric and the boys every loop!  They would come up to me and ask me what I needed and then run and get it for me :)  Eric also tweeted my progress to my people!  It was chilly out for the spectators, but I was pretty warm in shorts and a short sleeve shirt!  It was exciting to be in the lead for so long!  The race director kept cheering and the other runners that I lapped would congratulate me!  I had my picture taken a couple of times!  It was a fun and exciting experience.  I started to fade exactly at mile 19.  My garmin beeped at the mile and my hip had begun throbbing.  I had a hamstring/groin strain, plus bursitis in my right hip.  All related of course :)  I just couldn't keep on top of the self-rehab with my busy schedule.  I'm finishing up my massage certification with 12 credits.  My business is booming and I'm trying to open a gym.  I'm still a stay-at-home mom and now a new step-grandma to little Erica.  It's been way too much, but only will last until the end of the year (when my classes are complete)!  I've made very little time for myself, my workouts, or fixing my injuries!  We also have new health insurance and I can't afford the deductible to pay for chiro or PT.  SO...I just had to push through!

First loop!
Receiving support from my crew!
Final loop - talking a much needed walking break!

I was on the other side of the lake at mile 19.  Shortly after my garmin beeped, I heard someone coming up from behind me.  The second place runner was female, which bummed me out a bit.  I would have rather seceded to a male.  She got up next to me and looked at me like she also felt like crap.  She said "this is as fast as I'm going."  I looked at her and said "I'm going to slow down."  That was all we said.  It was all the energy we had.  She had been on my tail for 3 hours.  She earned the race.  I couldn't hold on.  I could have pushed through the pain in my hip, but the worst part was the fatigue in my hip from having to work around the injury and not be able to strength train.  My legs were completely shot.  I still had over 7 miles to go.  I started the bargaining process :)  I wanted to quit pretty badly.  I was hitting the wall, but not because of lack of fueling - rather it was because of lack of strength training!  I admit that it was pretty tough to think about making it one more time around the lake!  I had been passed by two more people the 8th loop and my spirits were dwindling.

I picked up my feet and headed out one more time!  I told Eric that I'd meet him at the finish :)  I was in walk-run mode and just took it a little at a time.  I was passed by a fourth person on the other side of the lake.  Right before he passed me, I stopped on a part of the course that was rocky.  It was getting harder and harder to get my feet over the rocks each loop.  My minimalist shoes allowed me to feel all of the jagged edges.  I bent over to pick a rock up as my souvenir and almost got stuck!  My legs were fried and I barely was able to stand up again!  Two minutes later, he passed me.  He probably wondered what I was doing :)

I only had half of the lake to go to the finish!  I started walk-running again.  I didn't know it, but a woman was coming up behind me as I neared the final half mile.  She didn't have much in her either, but once I noticed her, I wasn't going to give up a place to her!  I thought to myself "If I'm not going to win this thing, at least I'm going to hold onto 5th place!"  I started to kick it in, half wondering if I'd fall on my face.  Granted, I was 23 minutes slower than my PR and completely spent, but we were still at a good pace!  My average pace the first half of the race was near 8:05 - 8:25 and who knows what it was in the end.  My overall average was close to a 9:27 pace.  As I rounded the final turn, I saw Ethan coming towards me with flowers!  Even though this lady was on my tail, I took a minute to go grab the flowers from his hands!  He hand picked them from the park for me :)  The boys were very proud of me and they always think I win every race!  My philosophy is that it is not about winning, rather it is about surviving!  And I survived yet another marathon!

The race director was a little bummed I didn't win the race.  He told me this on my 8th loop:
"Life goes fast.  The year goes fast.  But the final miles in a marathon go incredibly slow, so enjoy them!"  He had a good point.  It's too easy to sink in and feel like crap during the final 10K.  It is important to realize how cool it is that you are even there, at that moment, doing something that not many people strive to do.  It's not a moment to feel sorry for yourself, but a moment to feel proud.  So, give it what you got - even if you have to walk.  You earned it!

Since I had walked so much to the end, I didn't need much rest after the race.  Just a bench to sit on to recover from the pain in my hips!  Eric and the boys came up to me and gave me hugs!  The race director gave me my 3rd place trophy, a hand painted rock they called the "Lake Superior Turtle"!  I took 3rd place for women and 5th place overall!  I was still proud :)  And VERY happy it was over!  There is nothing like a marathon finish to make you feel like you conquered the world!  Everyone should have this feeling!

Ethan's hand picked flowers!
Coming in for the finish!
Hugs from the boys!

I was very happy to finish my 7th state and 8th overall marathon!  I was thrilled to have my family with me on this adventure!  My final time was not my best, but it isn't always about running fast and getting the BQ (I believe I've said that before!)  It's about doing something supremely awesome and showing people, and yourself, that you can do it!

My time for today!
My third place trophy! 

We headed back to our hotel about 15 minutes after my finish!  We grabbed some lunch, put on our suits, and went and sat in the hot tub for a half hour :)  Glorious!  Then we hit the road and headed out to Madeline Island for an afternoon of exploring!  I put on my compression socks for a few hours.  I could barely sit or walk!  It was uncomfortable, but worth it!  Here are a few photos from our adventure (I look so tired - haha!):

Ferry ride to Madeline Island!
Big Bay Lagoon
Walking the boardwalk
Thar she blows!

Event: 1st National Bank of Wakefield Marathon
Place:  Wakefield, MI
Theme Song:  "Roar" - Katy Perry
Date: Saturday, September 14, 2013
Time:  8:00am
Overall Place:  5 of 21
Gender Place: 3 of10
F30-39 Place:  N/A
Final Time:  4:08:01 (9:27/mile)