Race Recap: Running with the Cows 2016

Running with the Cows is different than most half marathons/races. It takes place in the small community of Bucyrys, Kansas (pop 2,000) just 30 miles outside of Kansas City. It starts and finishes at Queen of the Holy Rosary and is a major fundraiser for their Catholic School. The race directors invite priests and seminarians of the Archdiocese of Kansas City, Kansas to run the race for free and seminarians can use the race to help them pay their non-educational expenses.

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The course is known for it’s rolling hills and out-and-back style. There were a good amount of water stops along the way that seemed to be well supported.

The weather has always been pretty good (at least the past 3 years that I’ve ran it) and this year was no different. In fact, of the three halves I did this spring, this weather was by far the best and you couldn’t ask for better running weather. It was sunny and cool (40’s maybe?). I ended up keeping my pull-over on for the whole race. There was a small portion before the turn around that was up hill and against the wind but I was just looking forward to the turn around!

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My friend Tiffany and I stayed together for the first half. It was just before the turn around that she began to pull away. I tried to keep up, but I just couldn’t.

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My times lately have been the worst so, my goal was to finish better than the other two in the series. Therefore, I was shooting for anything under 2:05 (Rock the Parkway).

At mile 10 my legs felt like I had bricks as feet and my stomach began to get upset. I was still ahead of the 2:00 pace group, so I pushed forward. By this time, Tiffany was out of sight. It was so awesome to see my parents again at this point. I was able to see them in a few different places along the route. They motivate me and make me smile with their cowbells and hilarious signs.

At mile 11 I heard a group coming up behind me chatting. My heart sunk a little. Without looking, I knew it had to be the 2 hour pace group. For a few strides they began to pass me but I just couldn’t let it happen. For the rest of the race I was focused on staying ahead of the group.

The last straight away of the course lasts FOR-EVER and EVER. I was ready to be done. There were some runners that had finished and come back to cheer on friends. They were awesome support towards the end of the race and it wasn’t long that I could hear the finish line announcer and the crowd. I pushed my legs as fast as they’d go, hoping I wouldn’t fall over. I felt like I was going super fast, but in reality, I wasn’t at all. My mom, dad and sister met me at the finish with hugs and water.

I finished in 1:59- a whole 6 minutes faster than Rock the Parkway this year and 8 minutes faster than the Garmin Marathon. Success! My runs have been slow, but I hope to continue to improve and get back to those 1:52 races!

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Along with running in a rural area- “with the cows,” this race has the best post-race food of any race I’ve been a part of. Folks, this is a church potluck on steroids! You won’t go hungry with a selection of pizza, cinnamon rolls, breakfast burritos, lasagna, cheese & crackers, sub sandwiches, tortilla chips & cheese/salsa, veggies & hummus, cookies, pies and MORE. Every time I turned around, there was something else!

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This was my third year completing the Heartland 39.3 Series, so I got a Nike track jacket! Woot!

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I got a tummy full of crackers (I couldn’t stomach much else) and a massage and then we headed off for wedding invitation shopping and maid of honor dress shopping with my sis.

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Dad and I

I enjoyed the Series this year and so appreciated my family coming to not one, but two of the races! Having support at a race makes it more enjoyable and I tend to run better when they are there. It was also awesome to run into so many friends I that I run with!

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I don’t know what’s next on my race schedule but right now I’m enjoying group runs and some time running alone. I’ve started working out twice a week with co-workers doing a lot of plyometrics and body weight lifting, which has been good for my muscles and my soul. I can feel the soreness after each workout- a constant reminder of the hard work I put in the progress I have yet to make.

Race Recap: Garmin Marathon 2016

The Garmin Marathon is the race I’ve ran more times than any other. I’ve completed the full twice and the half twice. This year, the race had a new route. After last year’s soggy, slick trail portion, I was looking forward to the new scenery.

This race route has always been full of rolling hills, and this year was no different. I HATE hills, but I actually found myself a lot more comfortable than I was the weekend before running Rock the Parkway on flat terrain.

I decided to run with my friends who I’ve trained with during the week. The first several miles were full of chatter and enjoyment.

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At mile three my stomach began to cramp. I grew quite and decided to just keep putting one foot in front of the other and gut it out. As the pain grew worse, I began to think about what could possibly have caused it in the first place. Dehydration. I had hardly drank anything the day before because of a busy/stressful work event the day prior. When I did, take in fluids, my drink of choice (after work) was Bud Light Lime. I was so tired the day before that I forgot to get some yogurt or supplies for my pre-race protein shake, so I had to swing by the gas station for a Nutrigrain bar on my way to the race. So, my lack of planning caught up to me.

At mile 10 or 11 my legs were feeling pretty good and my stomach pain was worse. I so badly wanted to be done, so I picked up the pace a bit. I finished 2 minutes slower than Rock the Parkway but I think a combination of hills and stomach cramps contributed to the extra time. My goal is to run Running with the Cows faster than Rock the Parkway. RWTC is my current half PR. While I won’t come remotely close to a 1:52 finish this year- I’d like to hit 2:03.

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After the race I walked back to my car to sit and take in some fluids. Once I started feeling better I changed into dry clothes, hopped on my bike and started riding the route backwards to look for my friends running the full marathon. I loved cheering them on and taking photos. Being a spectator is almost as much fun as running the race!

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Troy and Tiffany rocked it. Troy has been running a marathon each month this year and Tiffany completed her very first marathon! At mile 25 ran up a steep hill. Note to the race director- that was CRUEL! But they made it and I was so impressed.

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The Garmin marathon was well organized, well planned and well supported. I LOVED seeing people outside their homes cheering on runners. It’s awesome to see people cheering on their family and friends but there’s something about seeing people come outside their homes and cheer for people they don’t know. They could be annoyed that there’s a ruckus early in the morning, or that traffic around their house is backed up, but instead they are positive and some even brought treats- like candy and beer. That kind of encouragement makes a difference on race day!

Over the past week I can’t help but think about how badly I want to train for another full. I’ve been so burnt out on running but something about standing at the finish line and seeing the runners grit their teeth and push through the pain reminded me how much I truly love running marathons.

The Kansas City Marathon is coming up in October and I’ve never ran the marathon even though I live there. I haven’t even checked off Missouri from my list! Naturally, it seems like a good idea, but it’s the weekend before my wedding. The thought of training and wedding planning stresses me out a little but part of me thinks I can do it…. I’m still on the fence but will keep you posted!

Rock the Parkway 2016 Recap

Saturday’s race was my third time running Rock the Parkway. It’s not really my favorite- mostly because everyone raves about it and I just don’t think their’s anything super special about the race or sets it apart.

Regardless, it was an awesome morning. My parents came to Kansas City to cheer me on, I ran with friends, and the weather was perfect. It was my slowest half yet, but I tried not to let that get me down. I ran my slowest mile at mile 1 of the race- 10 min/mile and my fastest at mile 13- 8:45 min/mile. Overall, my pace was pretty consistent and I had friends pushing me. I could tell I gave it my all, because my hamstrings were on fire the rest of the day! I didn’t train like I should have and I’m still trying to get out of my running rut, so I’m proud that I:
a. Did the race. (I contemplated skipping it all together).
b. Was only 2 min or so off of my slowest (first) half marathon.
c. HAD FUN.

12417902_1595846760732190_4070320390991711967_nIt was a HUGE help to have my parents there. I saw them several times and they brought signs and cow bells. My friends thought it was pretty awesome that they got around and saw us during several mile markers. I’m very lucking to have such a supportive family.

Much of the course is an out and back format- which I often struggle with. For some reason, I’m better off not knowing what’s ahead. It’s also known as one of the flatter courses in town, but I felt like I was going up a gradual hill both ways. How is that even possible!?

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Post race: Beer and steak @ Texas Roadhouse

Rock the Parkway is always well supported and well managed. The water stops were great, the crowd was awesome and it was well put together overall. One of the best parts- there was no line for the porta-potty 30 minutes before the race!! AMAZING!

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My favorite wall of the house.

This weekend is the second race of the Heartland 39.3 Series: the Garmin Marathon! Again, it’s the day after my big work event, so I’m relieved I’m not running the full again this year.

 

Race Recap: Marine Corps Marathon 2015

WHAT an experience! The Marine Corps Marathons is the most amazing race I’ve ever been a part of.

My brother and my mom arrived in Kansas City on Friday and we headed for the airport to fly to Washington D.C. Our flight was delayed twice but we really weren’t in any hurry so we just chatted catching up on life and talking about all the things we wanted to do in D.C.

We finally arrived to Reagan International and took the Metro to the stop near our hotel. We decided it was just less than an mile and that we could probably walk the the hotel. Bad idea. We each struggled carrying our luggage and reading Google maps on our phone. Finally, Hank led the way and mom and I followed. It was dark. I was frustrated. AND I wasn’t entirely sure we were going to make it.

When we arrived to the hotel, we realized they had a shuttle that picks people up and takes them to the Metro stop. Whoops! Good to know!

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On Saturday we traveled over to the Expo. It had a variety of great booths and I got myself I nice Brooks 1/3 zip pullover as a souvenir. We ate at a lovely restaurant that night and watched the Royals win another game of the World Series!

Sunday morning my alarm went off at 4:15 and I began my pre-race activities. Oatmeal for breakfast, applying lots of Vaseline, and packing my rain gear… and by rain gear, I mean a throw-away poncho. 🙂

We were out of the hotel at 5:20 and on our way to the start line. We took the Metro and followed the giant mass of people walking. I stopped at a porta-potty where I spent over an hour waiting in line. Next, we had to get through security. There were only about 6 metal detectors for 30,000 runners PLUS spectators. It was chaotic and we were crammed in a tight space. The starting ceremony began while I waited in line. We saw the paratroopers with giant American flags. What a sight! The race started and I was still in line.

Some runners simply ran through security, until more guards were stationed in the area. While it’s stressful to not be where you’re supposed to, I refused to let this ruin my experience. Thousands of people were still behind me and my time wasn’t going to start until I crossed that start line. So, I took my time.

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I crossed the start line about 15 minutes after the official start. It was amazing to see the Marines lined up. Of course, I took pictures with them!

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One of them told me, “YOU’RE a Marine today!” Wow.

The energy was phenomenal. Patriotic. Loud. Positive. Runners carried full-sized American flags. Some ran in their full military gear. Some ran with photos of their fallen comrades on their backs. With every flag that passed, Marines paused, and saluted. I was in awe.

At mile 8 or 9 I decided I couldn’t pass another porta-potty, so I joined about 15 others waiting in line. Around mile 10 I got to see my mom and brother!MCM15

Mile 12-13 is the Wear Blue to Remember mile. The first portion was a tribute to fallen Marines. Photos and a little about them were displayed on signs on each side of the path.

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The whole route was pretty loud until we hit that mile. At that point, I could only hear the footsteps on the pavement. Chilling.

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The second portion featured the families, each holding an American flag and cheering for us. There was no holding back tears and I began to sob. I had to reign it in because it is VERY difficult to run, cry and breathe! I slowed down and took it all in. Truly amazing. unnamed

I was surrounded by runners the entire way and dodged slower runners for 26 miles. During other races, it often thins out at some point. I got to see my family two more times around miles 16 and 17. Seeing my mom always helps me to keep going. She’s always so positive, smiling and cheering loudly. LOVE IT.

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I wasn’t wearing my watch. I chose not to. Instead, I decided to take it all in and enjoy the race. I knew I was moving slowly but I felt good. My left foot was the only thing giving me problems. Mile 20-21 is the “Beat the Bridge” portion that everyone talks about. It’s a mile long bridge, with no spectators. Again, it grew quiet and more people started walking. After we crossed the bridge spirits were up and I was ready for donuts from Dunkin Donuts at mile 24. The last 1.2 miles felt forever long. Up until this point, I had only walked through the water stops but that last portion I stopped to walk twice before talking myself into finishing it.

In true Marine fashion, the finish line is up a steep incline. I felt it, but I didn’t even care. I was SO excited to almost be done. I pushed through and accepted my medal from a Marine and asked him for a photo.

finishfinsih2Walking through the food line after was pure torture. I just wanted to sit down. I saw my mom and started to cry. Every marathon finish- I cry. All I could say was, “I just want to sit down!” My brother took one look at me and pointed to the curb. He suggested I sit. And I did. I just needed a moment.

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After a bit I was able to walk towards the Metro station and go back to the hotel. That night we had some awesome pizza for dinner and reflected on the day. My mom said that she didn’t even notice people checking their watches like at other races. Everyone was there to BE in the moment and to enjoy the race.

The next three days my mom, brother, and I spent sight-seeing. We viewed Arlington Cemetery, the monuments, American History Museum, Air and Space Museum, Holocaust Museum, Union Station, the White House, a show at the Kennedy Center, the Capitol and more.

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Medal Monday!

Medal Monday!

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It was truly a fabulous trip and I am so happy that my mom and brother, Hank could enjoy it with me. THANK YOU for being the best cheerleaders!

What’s next?
The Route 66 Marathon in Tulsa is only another week and a half away!

Worst Marathon Yet: Garmin Marathon Recap

This past weekend I ran my seventh marathon- the Garmin Marathon in Olathe, KS; following a big event for my new job. My parents traveled from Iowa to be my support crew. I’m so thankful that they come to cheer me on, and especially glad they were at this race, but more on that later.

I started out feeling exhausted on Saturday morning. The race started at 6:45 (the earliest race I’ve ever done) so that meant my parents’ alarm went off at 4 AM. I rolled out of bed at 4:30. It had been a crazy week (or month) leading up to Friday’s event at work and I was beat—both mentally and physically.

It was awfully humid at the start of the race and much warmer than I expected. After a mile, I was already dripping sweat. At mile two, I saw a fellow Beef Team member, Brandi and we felt it was the perfect time for a selfie. At mile three, the full and half marathon courses split. As usual, I seriously considered going the half marathon route, but I didn’t.

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I was on pace for a PR for the first half—right at goal pace of 9:05/mile. About this time, it began to rain, and it continued for the next few hours. Mile 15 is where I fell apart. I knew it was too early to be feeling as tired as I was. My parents drove up next to me and since there was no one behind them, I asked them to just drive beside me for a bit. Then, I expressed what I had been thinking about for the past couple of miles. I wanted to quit. I was done. I wasn’t feeling it. I knew I wasn’t going to PR. I didn’t know if I could make it another 11 miles.

My mom asked if I was hurting. Through tears, I explained that, no, I wasn’t injured, just tired. My mom told me I needed to keep going. After a bit more coaxing, I assured them I’d keep going but there wasn’t going to be any PR today. I felt like I was letting them down. I know better. They’re just happy to be there and happy to watch my journey and support me all the way to the finish line.

After they drove off, I sobbed so hard it was difficult to breathe. This made running even more difficult so I decided to take a few deep breaths and move on. From 11, to 10, to 9… I counted down the miles I had left. With now switching to walking to running to walking again, the miles weren’t flying by like usual. My legs were heavy and I had a hard time focusing on anything other than what mile I was on and how far I had to go.

Because of the rain, the trail was super muddy and very slippery in spots. My hands were pruney, as if I had been sitting in a bath for hours and I could tell my toes were rubbed raw. Each time I saw my parents I tried to smile. I was so thankful they were there! As I got closer to the finish line, the more I walked. At the last water stop, I asked the volunteers where the beer was—and they all chuckled.

As always, it was a complete relief when I could finally see the finish line, and once again, I cried after I crossed it. I gave my parents and my boyfriend big hugs. There are a number of reasons why this race didn’t go as I expected: work stress, weather, dehydration, not enough tapering… Probably a combination of all of those things.

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While I’ve been disappointed in my performance, I know that all races can’t be PRs. I finished 29 minutes after my goal of 4 hours, and 18th in my category. I’m so thankful that my parents convinced me to keep going and that I can put a check by my seventh marathon finish.support

What’s next? Rest, minimal running, biking, and lifting weights. I have the final race of the Heartland 39.3 Series in a couple of weeks: Running With the Cows Half Marathon and no more races planned until October and November (Marine Corps Marathon and Route 66 Marathon).

St. Jude’s Memphis Marathon Recap

It was a girls weekend- just my mom and I road tripping to Memphis for my sixth marathon! On Friday morning she picked me up and we hit the road chatting and listening to Elvis and Christmas music. It was awesome. After a 7 hour drive and a few stops, we arrived at our hotel in Memphis with numb butts. It felt great to be out of the car!

Roadtrip w/my mom!

Roadtrip w/my mom!

On Saturday morning we got up and headed to Graceland! My mom is a HUGE Elvis fan so she was super excited about this part of the trip. It was even better than I expected. I especially loved seeing the house and his car collection. Having my mom fill me in on all the little details of Elvis’ life was also super interesting.

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The Pink Cadillac!

The Pink Cadillac!

It rained all day on Saturday and there was rain in the forecast for Sunday morning. Every time I checked the weather, it was still the same- 90% chance of Sunday morning rain. Ugh.

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After Graceland, we had lunch and then headed to the St. Jude’s Marathon expo. I picked up my packet, purchased my ShotBloks, got a few additional running items and then headed to Walgreens for a poncho. As soon as we got back to the hotel, the news station reported that the morning rain had been taken out of the forecast and that it would be perfect weather for the marathon.

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Mom and I had walked so much, that Hooters across from the hotel sounded like the perfect place for dinner and a beer. We each had two BIG beers (okay, so I couldn’t finish my second) and decided to hit the hay. For the first time ever, I slept like a baby and didn’t keep waking up with anxiety during the night before the race.

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I woke up the next morning and prepared for the race. I put on the clothes I laid out the night before and ate my breakfast. Then I started to worry about the clothes that I had picked out. I wore them for a half marathon race in May and began chaffing really bad. So, I decided I had enough other things to worry about and changed into some clothes that I had done long runs in.

Mom and I walked towards the start line and came along the 5K start. We listened to cancer survivors tell their story and I sobbed. It was a real reality check. I had been so worried about getting myself to the start line that I almost forgot the purpose of this race! It was eye-opening. I felt so fortunate to be there and be healthy enough to run a marathon.

I ran into my friend Ali as I was preparing to get into my coral. It was nice to see a familiar face.

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I began the race near the 4 hour pacers and began sneaking ahead of them a couple miles in. I knew I needed to slow up so I backed off a little and let the pacers catch up with me. Then I tried to stick with them but at mile 15 or so I began to lose speed and the group trailed ahead. I decided early that I wasn’t going to pay attention to my watch. It stresses me out and I wanted to take in my surrounding and enjoy this race.

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Twice, we ran though the St. Jude’s campus. Children, families, and staff lined both sides of the street and greeted us with thank yous and cheers. I got choked up. They treated the runners like heroes, when in reality–they were the heroes!

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Along the route there were signs that told stories of children fighting for their lives and overcoming cancer. Talk about motivation. One sign read “Molly, 2.5 years old, 11 surgeries, chemotherapy. You can run 26.2 miles.” Wow. Just wow. I kicked harder.

The weather was perfect, which was a relief since last year’s race was cancelled due to a winter storm. It was 50 degrees, cloudy, a little wind and NO RAIN.

That last .2 miles seemed like the longest but having military men near the finish yelling and inspiring me was just the push I needed. I finished at Autozone Park in 4:08, two minutes after my PR that I set in Chicago earlier this fall.

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marathon #6

I climbed the steps of the stadium and stood in one spot waiting for my mom to find me. When she did I began to get choked up and began to hyperventilate. (That was a first!) It scared me enough that it made it worse. When I was finally able to catch my breath I caught up with my mom and headed for the food line.

I was FREEZING so I grabbed myself some chili and snacks for later before heading back to the hotel.

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After a shower, my mom and I headed to the Arcade Restaurant, Memphis’ oldest diner, where Elvis was a regular! Following our late lunch, we visited a peanut shop and then went to the Peabody Hotel to see the Peabody ducks. For dinner that night we headed to Beale Street.

In Elvis' booth at the Arcade Restaurant.

In Elvis’ booth at the Arcade Restaurant.

At the Peanut Shop

At the Peanut Shop

The next morning we grabbed breakfast and started the trip home. I’m so glad that my mom and I got to share this experience together. She’s always my biggest fan and the best cheerleader. She even rubbed my legs and back following the race! What a lady!

I HIGHLY recommend this race. It was well organized, motivational and was fantastic overall.

Race Recap: Kansas Half Marathon 2014

Remember that one time that I thought I was going to poop my pants for 9 miles of a race? Oh yeah, you don’t know that story yet.

That’s exactly what happened today.

—This is your chance to stop reading. You’re about to learn more about me than you’d probably like.—-

I didn’t feel well last night but woke up at 5 am feeling ok-ish. Since I didn’t feel well the night before, I didn’t fuel and hydrate like a normally would. Usually, I prefer a steak and potato with lots of water the night before a race. Regardless, It got ready and headed for Lawrence, KS to run the Kansas Half Marathon. This was my first half marathon race 2 years ago.

As I stood at the start line, I decided to stand near the 1:50 pacer. I had every intention to stick with him for as long as I could. My PR is 1:52 so I figured I could hang for a while.

At mile 2 I knew something was very wrong. My stomach was twisting and turning and I began looking for the closest porta-potty. Only, there wasn’t one. (!!!) I quickly realized that this wasn’t going to be my day and 1:50 turned into a pipe dream as I watched the pacers get further and further away.

Along came the 1:55 pacers at mile 6. Ugh. Was I really going that slow? Yes. Yes I was. I was hoping to not see them until the very end of the race. My stomach began to cramp worse and worse and at one point I decided that maybe I could get a ride back to my car. BUT, I wanted that medal!

I was on the verge of tears at mile 8. I just needed to use a porta-potty! I had to stop and walk a couple times.

Around mile 11, I heard angels singing and a light shining down on a single porta-potty at an intersection. Double bonus- I didn’t have to wait to use it.

Once I was back on the course, I thought for sure I’d be able to pick up the pace and get back with the 1:55 group. Nope. I still felt sick and I knew that I was going to struggle all the way to the finish line.

I can’t tell you much about the race because I was so focused on how miserable I felt. In the last mile the 2-hour pacers were running along side me. I ran my first half marathon in 2:03 so the goal at this point was to finish before that. No time for walking!

I wasn’t just running to get to the finish like usual… I was running to get to another porta-potty! (I warned you about this post.) I have never been so excited to see that 12-mile marker sign!

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I finished in 1:59. My second worse time, ever. BUT I have a lovely medal for finishing and I needed the miles as a part of my St. Jude’s Marathon training, so I guess it all worked out.

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I’m not terribly sore since I ddin’t push my pace today but my feet are certainly feeling it. I’m scheduling a chiro appt for tomorrow to get re-aligned.

Most of the runners complained about the cooler temps and strong gusts of wind. While the wind was some-what bothersome, I had bigger issues on my hands that I was more concerned about.

Things I learned from this race:

–Listen to your body. I should have known I wasn’t well enough to go out and run 13 miles.

–Fuel correctly. When you don’t eat the right foods, you can’t expect your body to perform at optimum levels.

–Sometimes it’s okay “just to finish.” It’s been a long time since finishing was the goal instead of a specific time or PR. Today, I felt great that I finished. It took a lot of inner strength to keep going.

After a shower and a nap, I was feeling much better.

Have a disaster race experience you’d like to share to make me feel better? Leave it in the comments!