Monday, February 20, 2012

VERY LONG Myrtle Beach Marathon Race Recap and Celebration

Before I delve into race details, I have a host of people to whom I owe a debt of gratitude and I'd like to recognize them publicly.
First and foremost, I must thank my husband Joe. For the last 4 months he has put up with my training runs, getting up super early, going to bed even earlier and not being able to do anything but lay on the couch with ice on my knees the rest of every weekend. He drove to Myrtle Beach to make sure I got a good night's sleep on Friday, got up at 4am to watch me start and then waited around until I finished.   He hasn't laughed at my hobbling, has put up with me saying "I ran here" as we drove all over Myrtle Beach and about a million other little things that he has done to show me his support.  It was an "All about Amy" weekend which was no fun for him, but I was so glad to have him there the whole weekend.  He keeps me sane and I could not have made it without him there.

Next I thank Cindy and Doreen for getting my butt out of bed and running with me.  There were good runs and bad runs, but they were there the entire way. Cindy was my inspiration to even sign up and think I could do this and from the very beginning, they said they would train with me and they kept that promise.  They split up the long runs, encouraged me when I needed it and put up with my whining and insecurity. One of my favorite parts of the entire weekend was moments before the race started, the three of us had a group hug and Doreen said a prayer for us all.  I could not have done this without them and I am forever grateful that they were there for the training and when I crossed the finish line.

On Thursday my parents put a sign outside my house.  They drove down to the beach to watch me and were there mid course and at the finish line. My mom literally shook as she hugged me once I finished and they both could not contain their pride in me.  I was so happy to be surrounded by everyone I love; it made the experience that much better.

I also need to thank everyone who texted, emailed, facebooked, called and a few who did all of that. It was great to know other people were wishing me well and thinking about me. So thank you to all who reached out. It did make a difference.

OK - now onto the race recap.  I chose Myrtle Beach because it was flat and close by.  We got down there on Friday and went to the expo which was crowded and hot.  My favorite expo has been NationsTri because we walked out of there with bags full of free energy bars, drinks and samples. So this expo was a bit disappointing comparatively. They had a number of vendors there and I was happy to see one of my favorites, One More Mile.  They have the cutest sayings on their stuff including "Does this shirt make my butt look fast?", "this IS my race pace" and "Dear God, please let there be someone behind me to read this".  We got our race shirts, mine in purple, the half marathoners in orange.  The orange is way cuter and I was disappointed to have to get a men's shirt again since race shirts are SO SMALL.  Doreen wore her cute orange v-neck one on Saturday and I was really jealous I have an ugly purple one I will most likely never wear or donate to Joe.  It was fun to run into a bunch of Tri It people at the expo though.  Cindy and Doreen went to dinner and I waited for Joe to arrive.  As soon as he did we hit the "carb loaded" buffet the host hotel offered and then went straight to bed.

I slept pretty well and don't usually get pre-race jitters. Saturday morning I got up early, took a shower and drank a little Powerade Zero.  I have really researched over-hydration because I think I have been overdoing it on the fluid in other races.  I usually have all the signs, so this race I really cut back.  I had my standard pre-race breakfast; bread with Joe's mix of peanut butter, honey and oats. I was feeling whiny. My whole body was sore. My legs ached, my feet hurt, I packed the wrong pants so the ones I had were too big and was worried about chafing. I was worried about having to use a porta john since I forgot my travel Lysol. Bottom line: I DID NOT WANT TO RUN. I wasn't nervous, just did not want to do it at all.

We met Cindy and Doreen in the lobby and they were so excited for me I felt a little bad being so underwhelmed by the whole thing. I wanted to curl back up in bed and feel sorry for myself.  But like most of my training runs, it was Cindy and Doreen who motivated me to move forward.  We jumped on the shuttle instead of walking the block because I was tired, cold and my feet hurt so I wanted to really preserve them. Not drinking as much as I usually do really paid off because I only had to go to the bathroom once before the race started, as compared to the 5-7 times I usually do. 

As we walked up to the start line I started to actually feel excited. It was early - 6AM so it was still dark. I'm a morning runner so this felt good to me. We took pictures, stretched and had a group hug/prayer. After a hug and kiss from Doreen and a parting "have fun" from Cindy, we got in our respective starting lines.  The cannon went off, I kissed Joe goodbye and slowly made my way to the start line, only running right as I crossed.  Now usually my first mile is horrible but the excitement finally hit me and I couldn't help but smile. The sun started coming up and I fell into a rhythm with runners that were around my pace. I was running a marathon. It was really hard not to start off faster than usual but I kept telling myself to slow down because I had a long way to go.

The first 5 miles went by really quickly and I started feeling strong and wishing I could go faster and really push it. The crowd support at this point was steady and I was happy to see several people I knew from Tri It For Life running the half. In the most random moment of the race, I passed a beauty shop that had a live turkey, wearing a sweatshirt, standing on a pedestal, dancing to the Black Eyed Peas. I really wished I had a camera!  

The course is flat, really flat. I know that it sounds crazy, but around mile 8, I really started wishing for a hill.  I started using the drink stations as an obstacle course, jumping over the cups just to give my legs another motion other than the same stride over and over again. I knew that the half marathoners split off and I would have to run the back half of the course with far less people. Only 1,000 people ran the full, with almost 4,000 running the half so while the first half I was always surrounded by other runners, I was dramatically alone after the split.  I also made a huge mental error. I wasn't paying attention to where I was when the half marathoners split. I assumed it was at mile 13 and thought to myself that even though I was tired, I was half way done and I could make it 13 more miles.  So imagine my utter horror when almost a mile later I crossed mile 11.  The half marathoners didn't split off at 13.  They split at 10.  This was a lot harder than I thought it would be. I was tired, sore and the mental realization that I wasn't even half way was torture. At this point though I saw my parents on the side of the road with a customized road sign. It was exactly what I needed. I stopped, hugged them both and asked my dad if he would carry me the rest of the way.  Of course he said no so I kept running.

Miles 13-18 were the hardest for me for sure. The scenery was OK and I was surprised to see a pretty part of Myrtle Beach, but I just had a hard time finding my groove being all alone. I had really been looking forward to fresh oranges at mile 16 but when we got there, found out they were totally out of food.  I was so upset. Luckily I had packed my own food but I was pretty bummed to not have something fresh and cold.  At this point the sun was up and it was getting warm.  I had taken off all my layers and was starting to use the water stops as little showers for me.  I had been running behind another  girl but at mile 17 I caught up to her. She had been asking all passing people something so I asked if she was OK.  She was having some hip pain. I offered her some muscle rub or ibuprofen, but she declined. She kept running with me and introduced herself. I guess it was knowing her name but I felt like I needed to stay with her even though every instinct was screaming to get away from her. She was so negative. I get it, she was in pain, but it was more than that. She wanted to quit; even asked a cop to take her back but he said he couldn't. She threw away her timing chip so her "friends won't know how slowly" she finished.  Now remember, I was running my normal pace, the pace she was embarrassed to be doing.  I let her complain a bit then said" this is my pace - welcome to how the other half runs".  She didn't get it.  She contemplated cheating, cutting across the road instead of running down it. I encouraged her to cheat just to get her away from me but she said she couldn't do that while I was there. She kept telling me how I was the only reason she kept going so I stayed with her.  I got a spurt at mile 20 and started picking up the pace because according to my garmin, I could finish under 6 hours.  That was too fast for her so she asked if I could slow down.  I did.  Again, I didn't know her at all. We got to a rest stop and she asked a volunteer to use a phone so she could call her friend and tell him she was going to finish way later than expected.  I actually stopped and waited for her.  I don't know why I really felt like I needed to be there for her - she continued to be super negative as I saw my under 6 hour finish slip away.  After waiting at the rest stop for 15 minutes, we started running again.  She started another rant about how embarrassed she was finishing so slowly while telling me to slow down for her and I finally reached my limit.  I told her I was feeling good so she shouldn't quit and should keep me in her sights and I took off.  There was no way I was going to finish under 6 now and I was pissed at myself for altering my race for a complete stranger. 

The race was never about time for me so I adjusted my attitude and by mile 22 was feeling good.  I knew I could at least walk 4 more miles so I knew no matter what I would finish. My hamstrings were a little spasmy so I took a short break and stretched which felt incredible and took all the pain away. I approached the food stop tent excited again for the promise of oranges.  I could have cried when I got there and they were out too.   I don't know how a race could run out of food at both stops. They know how many people are running it.  There are ways for the rest stops to communicate.  As soon as a stop ran out, they should have called back to get some food delivered.  Both stops were off major roads so it's not like vehicles couldn't make it.  If the course is open for 8 hours, there should be support for all 8 hours.  This is a non negotiable issue for me and I was pretty pissed off.  Luckily I didn't NEED any food, but after running for 22 miles thinking about how great an orange would be, I honestly felt like this was cruel and unusual punishment.

Miles 23-24 were also harder than I thought but only body wise. My feet hurt, my legs were tired and sore.  I knew I would power through, but I was ready to be done. I was ecstatic when I saw Doreen on the side of the road at mile 25!  I danced around and though exhausted, seeing her was a little mental boost I needed to keep going.  I rounded the corner at mile 26 and started picking up my pace. I knew I was going to finish strong so I started sprinting as soon as I could see the finish line. It wasn't the fastest sprint, but it was what I could do for that last bit.  Cindy had the announcer talking all about me, calling my name and everyone was there at the finish line.  I actually stopped right below the finish line and gazed up at it.  Finished. I walked calmly across the line and my parents came to hug me.  My mom was shaking and I knew I was going to puke, but held it in until she let go.  I puked (what would a run of mine be without puking?) and then picked up my very large, heavy, adorable medal. I had done it! 

Cindy then ran to get an orange for me and I can honestly say it was the best orange I've ever had.  I didn't want anything else - nothing pre-packaged - just fresh fruit. Surprisingly, I felt really good.  I had a lot of energy and my legs and feet, while sore, felt good.  Climbing on the bus was a bit harder than I expected, but overall I was happy.  We rode back to the hotel and I was most excited for a shower.  At this point I was still beating myself up for wasting so much time with the girl who was so negative. She even rode the same bus back to the hotel and didn't even acknowledge me.  Wench.  I took a shower, stretched and Joe rubbed my feet.  Even though I wasn't hungry, we went down to eat something.  As soon as I smelled food, I was STARVING, so ate a huge hamburger.
So for all my pre-race worries, I didn't use the bathroom the entire time, I didn't get any blisters and I didn't have any chafing from my larger pants. I did however get a crazy sunburn thanks to an unexpected perfect sunny day.  My conservative drinking plan worked because my fingers didn't swell nearly as badly.  I still got some double vision that lasted a lot longer than I thought, but other than that, all my pre-race whining was for naught.

It's funny, but I'm not elated like I thought I would be. I'm glad I did it, I didn't hate it and I think I'd like to do it again.  Running a marathon was never about time for me, but I know I can push it and do it better.   I guess even though I worried and whined, deep down, I knew I could do this.  I knew I wouldn't quit even though there were times I could have just stopped.  I didn't perform as well as I wanted to, but I also feel pretty good and I think that is directly related to me NOT pushing it.  And while I was mad at myself for jeopardizing my  under 6 time for a negative person who I didn't even know, that's pretty much who I am and I think I'd feel worse if I had completely left her.  She finished and I really think that I was the one person who helped her over the hump when she needed it.  The actual race is the easy part.  It's the training and the time needed to train that will kill you and luckily Cindy and Doreen were there to help me with that.

So I'm a marathon runner now.  I am part of the 1% of society that has actually done it.  While I'm pretty proud of myself and love my medal, I am looking towards the next thing, the next goal, the next impossible thing that I will make completely possible.  I've always said that with training you can do anything and this is proof.  But this marathon for me will always be about my support group.  I have some amazing people in my life who lift me up in ways that I never imagined I'd need.  From Joe to my parents to Cindy and Doreen to all my friends who cheered me on from afar, to my brother and Joe's mom and friends who called to check on me afterwards, I feel very lucky to have such an amazing bunch of people in my life.  No wonder I think I can do anything - I have so many people believing in me!  I just hope that in some small way I can help them and inspire and encourage the way they have done for me.  Now that would be something to boast about for sure!

Monday, February 6, 2012

January 2012 Music I Love

I thought there was a bunch of new stuff this month, but when I looked at my notebook that I use to keep track of what I like, I was surprised to only have a few songs.  Lucky for you, there are some GREAT ones on it. One is so great in fact, that I have linked to the video, because the song is so good you simply must hear it.

Stereo by IAMDynamite
Apartment by Young The Giant
Come Home by Chappo
Lean Into The Fall by Mona
Simple Song by The Shins
We Are Young by Fun
This Head I Hold by Electric Guest.  Listen here.

Also, have you bought the Atlas Genius song yet?  What?  You haven't even heard it?  Shame, shame.  Go here, listen.  Love.  Buy.