I know, I know – its been a while since I posted. It had also been a while since I ran, to be honest. After the New Paltz Half Marathon, I went into full-on “I’ve accomplished a Half Marathon, I get to veg-out” mode. Bad Idea. I had already, as some of you might recall, signed up for the Adirondack Marathon. Now, at the time, my intentions were to continue on with my training passed the 13.1 miles and onto 26.2. That was quickly de-railed by enjoying one too many hot dog. I may have been a rollie-pollie but I still had my integrity. I wasn’t going to back out of that run. I was more than fine with shortening it though. I figured, all things in moderation right? I called up the folks who set up the Marathon and asked if I could do the half instead. They quickly switched my registration over, phew. TJ still stuck with his Marathon distance though. As he does 🙂
I quickly realized I have to put the fork down and get off my couch if I was going to do another Half in …9 weeks! So I started fresh. 3 miles here, 4 miles there. Slowly upping the ante. It helped that I met Cassie Egan and her sister Heather who were PUMPED to run. mind you, WITH ME! WOOT! So I started running with Cassie and Heather regularly. It really does help to have a standing appointment you can’t bail out of. I think mainly it was my pride. I didn’t want them to think I was a quitter. So I made it, more-or-less to each run-date we made. (This is embarrassing but the ones I didn’t make went something like this: I show up at our meeting spot, all dressed in my running gear, ice water and ready to go. Only to look down and realize I ran out of the house still in my flip-flops. FAIL. I hung my head in shame and retreated to my living room. TIP: Always keep an extra pair of shoes and socks in your car. You never know when you’re going to space out.) Anyway, we all ran the River Run (a 5K here in Callicoon) together, and Cassie and I even made the paper, though they largely focused on the fact that she was pushing her beautiful daughters, I was still in the picture so it totally counts:
Next, we signed up for the Monster Race in Monticello, NY. A quick drive away, and notorious for its hilly course, I figured it was a good challenge, especially considering the rumors of the Adirondack course and its hills. So we upped our distances and pretty soon we were ready for the 10K and it was ready for us. I’ll admit it, I didn’t prepare for this day very well. I woke up groggy and not in the best shape. Let’s just say my bed time was not as early as it should have been for a 6am wake up. Anyway, I got there. I looked at the hill we were running up at the very beginning. Its one of those hills you look at and wonder why its there. The hill that makes you wonder if dozing it flat wouldn’t have been an option. The hill that makes you think you can hear your bed calling your name from far away… But you know me, I’m not the kind of person that’s going to back out of a race, let alone one I’m already at. So off we went. Up that hill, up another hill behind it, and well, I think there were a couple downhill parts to it. HAH. In the end, it was a lot easier than I expected it to be. I didn’t do it in some spectacular time, I didn’t have my breath the whole time, and I definitely made a LOT of water stops (justified.) All that matters is that I DID IT. In bad shape and all. I just want to point out that when I did this race, even TJ was impressed. Not by the distance, or by the time, or even the hills. He was impressed with my commitment to racing. My determination to follow-through on what I said I would do. Frankly, I was too. I didn’t know I had it in me! I now had the boost I needed. Hills didn’t seem so mean anymore and neither did the Half Marathon I had coming up.
I gradually increased my distances like I always do, and soon, Cassie and I were going to do a 10-mile run. I got there, shoes laced, ready to go. Once I started running though, everything changed. I wanted to stop every mile. I wanted to run a mile, walk a mile and repeat. I wanted it to be over. I felt like half a mile was a half marathon. It.was.brutal. My body, NO, MY MIND was refusing. I started getting dizzy, no doubt a side effect of my stubborn mind. I stuck with Cassie as long as I could, but I knew I was just holding her back. I told her to go ahead. Reluctantly, she left and told me she’d wait back where we parked. Whatever, I may have walked those last 2 miles but in my mind, I put in the distance. My legs moved those miles. At least that’s what I kept telling myself to feel better…. Not my proudest moment.
I knew I had to pull back a bit and build up to the 10 miles. So I did. I ran on my own, at my own pace, with my Disney and Madonna and Britney. You know, the classics 🙂 I made myself a running play list with all the motivating, beat pumping hits that I knew would keep my legs moving to a beat. Emotionally, I was ready for the race. Physically, less so than I had hoped. Before I knew it, the longest distance I did was 10 miles and Race week was here. I wanted to do one last long run but TJ advised against it and reminded me that at that point, my endurance wasn’t going to chance. I did a quick 4 miler and that was it for the week.
We drove up on Saturday night to Schroon Lake, had a pasta dinner, and tried to get to bed as early as possible. It helped that our room didn’t have a TV. YEAH. At least I had a book on my iPhone. Love reading tiny tiny print.
We woke up early enough (luckily the start-line was less than a mile away from our hotel) to get ourselves fed on Hammer Bars, Bananas, Coffee, drink our Hammer HEED, and some Kashi Go Lean Crunch (YUM.) TJ’s race began an hour before mine, so I went to the start line with him, snapped this pic:
I then headed to the school busses that were lined up to take us half way around the lake, to our Half Marathon Starting Line. The ride was longer than I thought it would be. I carefully studied the path we were taking and took in just how much of it was hills, whether uphill or downhill, and I was pleasantly surprised. Most of it seemed to be downhill from the runners’ standpoint. I was really excited at this point. I knew I was going to be ok. And so, I confidently arrived at the start-line:
That’s when it hit me. We weren’t running the way we came. We were running an ENTIRELY different route. DAMMIT. All that planning, observing (all 10 minutes of it) for NOTHING. Now I felt terrified. I was going in blind. I hate that. I hate not knowing. But there was nothing I could do about it at that point. I figured I’d just have to go for it and do as best as I could. I settled into a place in the mid-back-ish part of the crowd and the gun went off.
The run itself was one of the most peaceful, scenic runs I have ever done. It was beautiful. Gloomy (it was supposed to rain) and somehow serene. The glimpsing views of the lake through the trees made me smile every time. The people on the sidelines, though, are really what helped this race. They were all holding signs and cheering and before I knew it, I was at mile 5. Almost half way. Sure, there were a couple of steady hills but nothing I couldn’t handle. We started running through what seemed like a day-camp when it began to POUR. The cold rain felt so refreshing I couldn’t help but smile at all the youngsters cheering us on with huge glittery signs. It was perfect. Just what you need to get you through to the next half. In fact, I think that moment got me through to the finish. Yes, I got hungry again, but this time I was prepared. I had my Hammer Gel (Chocolate pudding at that point) that filled me up. Every aid station after mile 8 was a mile apart, and all on top of each of the hills. It was just right. When I was struggling trying to get up that hill, I just told myself: “get up this hill and you can walk while you grab a sip of water.” SO I DID. It may have added a minute or two onto my time but it was just what I needed. Also, there was a wonderful 5 year old who cheerfully looked at me as I came into the aid station and said “FIG NEWTON?” I will be forever grateful to her. It brought me back from a place of only being able to focus on the run, to a place where I was appreciating everything around me again. I was cheerful, happy, and ready to finish this race. Normally, I like to sprint into the finish with whatever energy I have left. I couldn’t. I was hurting and exhausted. I ran into the finish at a time of 2:03, and I could not be more proud of myself. Are you kidding? I only added 3 minutes to my Half Marathon time and this one was all hill vs. the other one was totally flat? HECK YES!!!! Not to toot my own horn, but I mean.. COME ON. So that was it. I waited for TJ to finish his Marathon and in he came, smiling too 🙂 WE DID IT!!!!! Onto the next one…