Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Changing Fall Goals

I hate to say this, but fall is just around the corner and so are all of those PRs that so many of you will attain from running in this dreadfully humid summer weather.  I had last wrote in my What I Learned from Inside Tracker post that I had planned on a winter marathon.  I have indeed spent a lot of time reading up on great races that take place during the months of January and February. I spent time texting friends about what I was thinking about doing just to get their feedback on my various plans. When all is said and done, what it really comes down to is that while I was looking forward to the structure and routine that comes with training, my body and mind are not ready for 5 months of marathon training. I've had a super low key running/working out summer and while I do want to get one more of a routine I don't want to be THAT strict. Not yet, anyway.

So after talking with a friend and then my husband I realized that I need to change my fall goals and focus on enjoying my runs, running some half marathons and trying out some new workouts and I'm excited! Much more excited than I was when thinking about training for a marathon and that tells me a lot! My heart just isn't in it. I'm in love with running, it's a part of me and who I am and sometimes I just need to take a step back and let it all fall into place. I'm so excited for what fall has to offer and what races, if any, I get myself into!

At the end of the day you should feel at peace with your decisions!

Monday, August 29, 2016

Nuun Challenge Dash 10k | Make Your Miles Count

I love participating in virtual runs because even though you have a set of dates to run the race in between, you can do it whenever you wish, however you wish (treadmill, walk or run). I have been a  Nuun ambassador for the past 3 years love the community and anything they put together is always a ton of fun! Last year I participated in their Nuun Run, Ride, Hydrate in 2015, and their Nuun Year Dash at the beginning of 2016. When I saw that Oiselle and Garmin had partnered up with Nuun for this virtual run I was excited. Thank you FitFam for helping Nuun put this together !I was even more interested in taking part in this virtual run because of the charity it benefited- Challenged Athletes Foundation 
"It is the mission of the Challenged Athletes Foundation to provide opportunities and support to people with physical challenges so they can pursue active lifestyles through physical fitness and competitive athletics. The Challenged Athletes Foundation believes that involvement in sports at any level increases self-esteem, encourages independence and enhances quality of life."


I hadn't run in a week and there was 2 ways this could go... really well, or really crappy.  I was positive it would go well since I'd had a bunch of rest. Rest is good for you, right!? I mean, I'd done plenty of swimming, walking and lunges picking up my 40 pound toddler. When my girl Heather and I were planning our run I warned her that I may need to walk, I may even die, but I was prepared to do it.  I was excited setting out my stuff for the morning. No, I wasn't running 16 miles, but any mother knows how important it is to be prepared because you never know what will happen.  I'm glad I set my stuff out and had everything ready because my little cherub decided that 4:45 would be a great time to wake up. I was meeting Heather at 6 and then going away for the day with my family so I had a looong day ahead of me. What better way to kick off than a 6.2 mile run!?

The morning was gorgeous and so were the views. The town we live in has so many things to offer and I'm never bored taking in my surroundings. We were able to catch up on life, run on dirt roads (ahhh, felt so good on the legs!) and catch sighting of a hot air balloon that brought a level of excitement that made us feel like little kids seeing it for the very first time.  I'll admit it, the first few miles of my run felt tough. I was trying to get my body in a groove, and the whole breathing and talking thing wasn't as easy as it used to be. By mile 4 I felt great!




After our hot air balloon sighting we didn't have much more to go before we reached the center of town and prepared for our photo shoot! ha. Thankfully, it was 7 am and hardly anyone was out and about.
Earned it!

Nuun Cheers!

Feeling strong!

Representing the Oiselle East Coast Team!
It was a much needed run and sweat session and pumped me up to get back into my running routine. I love being out there on the road and just need to take it down a notch, but I'm excited for what's to come! Thank you Challenge Dash!

Monday, August 15, 2016

What I Learned from Inside Tracker

I heard about Inside Tracker quiet some time ago and thought it looked really interesting but I never took the next step into trying it out. Most recently, Inside Tracker has been spreading like wild fire and it's everywhere I look and I now know people who have used it and are loving it.  What is Inside Tracker you ask? Inside Tracker performs science-based blood analysis and then provides with a nutrition plan and recommendations for you to get the best performance out of your body.

I paid for my InsideTracker testing, but was offered an upgrade to the Ulitmate Plan in exchange for sharing my experience on my blog. The opinions shared here are my own.


So what made me decided to go forward with this testing? Well, having had an amazing training cycle for Boston and less than amazing run on race day I have felt blah with running and working out. My summer schedule doesn't help either. However, August came around I got myself back in the swing of things because I'm planning my next marathon and with that comes a new training cycle. I wanted to have information to guide my training and progress. I decided that now is best time to find out what my blood is saying and to make some changes.

When purchasing my Ultimate Plan I added on White Glove Service, which is an amazing thing! Having a 3 yr old at home who may, or may not, be up for me to drag early in the morning for a fasting blood test, made this selection a no-brainer. With White Glove Service, a phlebotomist in your area comes to you at one of the times that you've selected. I loved this service and will definitely do it again!


Once my purchase was complete I was to fill out a profile where I made selections about what physical activities I did, how many times a week I was active, how often I slept and what was important to me. I found it easy and interesting to fill out.  I received a call that night about when my test was going to be. I had to wait about a week and a half, but that time flew by.

I was so eager to get my results back. I wasn't sure what to expect and didn't have any particular set of blood work that I was focused on. This was the first time I ever had anything like this done. 5 days later I got my results!


All of a sudden I was nervous to see what my blood was showing Before I share some results here are a few things I want to note about where I currently am:
  1. This test was taken 2 days before I got my period. 
  2. I was on no running routine... running maybe 2 or 3 times a week, no longer than 5 or 6 miles. No cross-training aside from a random spin class, and no strength work.
  3. My consumption of alcohol is high thanks to Summer BBQs, vacations and fun with friends
  4. My eating is random and not where it usually is, this and my water consumption take a major hit during summer months as I have no routine and structure in my days. I'm a 4th grade teacher who stays home in the summer with our son.
  5. I have a hypothyroidism that I currently take daily medication for  

Before I viewed each thing individually I was asked to selected a few things that I would be willing to change with that they gave me recommendations to fit my needs.

I was absolutely shocked to see that Testosterone was at risk. It never even crossed my mind that it would be something of concern. Again, I was 2 days before my period so I don't know what role that plays with my hormones. However, to be so high in Testosterone worried me. I'll be following the recommendations InsideTracker gave me for food and contacting my PCP about it.


Some things that need work are:

I'm planning to follow the recommendations given here to work on this group.

This one was surprising to me because I don't drink soda, I rarely have juice, buuuut my downfall is iced tea in the summer months. So, that is something I'll lay off of.


I've seen that my B12 is low before in other work ups that my PCP has done and I have yet to follow through with making a change, but after seeing it here again, I know that I need more B12 in my body especially for muscle repair.




I was pleased to see where my Cortisol was, even thought it's at the higher end of normal. It will be interesting to see where it falls on the chart once I head back to work and life picks up.



I'm also happy that my Folate is in a good spot to improve my recovery time!



I continue to log back into my account to read up on each item more carefully so I can better understand it's function and what I need to do to make changes.  There is so much information on their website for you to learn more about your body. I've watched a few videos and read a lot of stuff. There is a lot to learn!

The changes I'm going to make now are:
  1. Diet -add more granola, beans, blackberries and squash
  2. Add daily vitamins (I know, I know, I should already be taking them. I don't)
  3. Get back to my earlier bed time schedule. I'm so tired these days and that's because I'm staying up to watch the Olympics but then it impacts my early morning work outs. Sleep is key and I know this!
I'm glad I can get some things into place before my marathon training starts up in September. I am looking forward to my next blood test to see what, if anything, changed for the better. Blood doesn't lie and I'm happy to have information to go off of!

Have you ever had your blood tested? Were you surprised by any of your results? 


Thursday, August 11, 2016

Summer Running

This summer has been particularly tough for me to get any kind of running/workout routine down. Our daily routine is different because I'm a teacher and I'm home with our son over the summer, my husband has a new work schedule, and I'm not training for anything.  Last summer I wasn't training for anything either, but my motivation and desire to run was significantly higher! This year, I'm not even pushing it. Something happened after Boston and my body and mind just need a break. I'm 100% ok with this and have been going with the flow, running when I feel like it and not going very far.  After all, I've been training for something for the past 3 years! We need a break now and again!



When August started I began an 8 week strengthen and tone program through Fitness Blender. I love that they have various workout videos and that I was able to select something for busy people. With our schedule and 3 year old, 30 minute or less workouts are ideal. So far, I'm loving it and today I'm sore from my leg workout yesterday! I haven't felt that way in along time and it feels so good! I want to get nice and strong before I begin to train for my next marathon...


Tuesday, May 3, 2016

2016 Boston Marathon | Blood, Sweat and Tears Part 2

2016 Boston Marathon | Blood, Sweat and Tears Part 1

I ran with the tissue in my nostril for maybe a half or 3/4 mile. I remember stopping at the next water stop, right before the Girls of Wellesley, to take out the tissue, hoping that the bleeding had stopped. Right before I stopped a sweet southern girl running next to us noticed the tissue in my nose and asked if I wanted a Tampon to shove up there. We chuckled about how well they worked for nosebleeds. I thanked her but explained that I was sure that it had stopped by now. It had.

We could hear the screaming from the well known scream tunnel well before we could see it. It was exciting and I couldn't wait to run through that section to see it with my own eyes and hear it up close! The girls lined the right side of the road, many of them holding sings giving someone a reason to kiss them. I wish I could remember them now as several of them were pretty funny. The girls appeared tiny but their sound was larger than life.  We were then approaching a section I knew oh-so-well as I'd run it every time I went down to run with the team. Wellesley town center. It's such a pretty area and running in the street felt so different than running on the sidewalks that I had come to know so well.

The crowd that had thinned out was getting bigger the closer we go to Wellesley Community Center, my home base for training. I ran past the Oiselle cheering crew and shouted out to them with a wave of thanks for being out there. I was eager to get to the community center and see some familiar faces. I also wanted to let them know about a teammate I'd seen maybe a mile before on the sidewalk with police. She didn't look well and I felt worried for her. At this tent there was a local runner, David, who is a TNT alum and Heather's running coach. It was great to see him and he walked with us for a minute checking in on how we were doing. I told him I was doing ok. He offered me food, which I passed up, and a hard candy, which I happily took. That Jolly Rancher was amazing for my taste buds. After many thanks we parted ways. This was around mile 15.5. From this moment until the end of the race I would play a running game of leap frog with my teammate Kevin. I felt badly that he was having a tough time like me, but it was nice to see him so often. It kept me going, knowing someone I'd trained with was either just ahead or right behind me.

We were approaching another downhill section which can mess you up if you let it. It felt good to go downhill and Heather and I talked about letting the hill carry us down. I voiced how I hated the section after this because it was the longest 2 miles ever. It appeared that you were close to the famous Natick Fire Station, when you really weren't. I don't remember much about this section, except that we had to stop and walk a few times I loved having my name on my shirt because people would shout it and say something encouraging. It was such a boost!

Becky, Ashley and Maranda were right after the mile 17 mile marker. I didn't expect to see them at that point, I thought they'd be closer to the fire station. I was walking up this small incline and was feeling frustrated, so when I saw them it was really hard for me to slap on a smiling face and act happy. I'm pretty sure they didn't think we saw them, but I did and I couldn't react. It felt like it was going to suck out more energy. I was finally able to muster up a weak wave and maybe half a smile. I had nothing exciting to share with them, just that my legs were tired and my calves were not happy. They had food and drink for us, but I couldn't even take anything. I felt full from Gatorade and oranges. I gave my sister a hug and let her hold me for a bit, I was so tired and just wanted to sit down. I didn't though. After a mini grump session I was able to suck it up and strike a pose for the camera. I hoped my strong looking pose would give me the strength I needed to continue on.



Downhill we went and the noise and crowd grew as we neared the fire station. We turned the corner and I gazed at the fire house and saw this amazing water tunnel, I tried to grab Heather to come with me through it but she just missed it. The cool mist sprayed my entire body and I felt goosebumps prickle my skin on the back of my neck and along my arms. A welcomed feeling. Right as I got out of this tunnel I saw Heather running toward her sister. Tears streaming down both of their faces and we embraced in a group hug. Her sister was screaming how proud she was and how amazing we were and how much she loved Heather. It was impossible to not join in the with the crying and the hugging. After a minute or so we were off to tackle the first of 4 hills.



From here to mile 23 or so it's a big blur. I know things that happened but I can't be sure of what order they happened in. I know I had to continue run/walking. I know that I walked all of Heartbreak Hill.

I saw a student and her family right after Heartbreak Hill and my student was so excited to see me! They were so sweet and kind. They had oranges, pretzel rods and freezing cold water. I wish I had gotten a picture with this student but I wasn't even thinking of it in the moment and the mom didn't have her phone out, that would have reminded me to take one! Anyway, we waved good bye and continued on. We were so close, yet so far away. Popsicle were being handed out and I gladly took one. They were cold, they were wet, they were sugary. It was the best Popsicle I'd had in weeks. Thankfully, Darci, a friend  I passed by on the course, saw me and snapped this picture! I'm sad I didn't see Darci and her amazing sign in person! It still means so much that you came out to cheer us on!

haha, thanks Darci for this gem! Mmm popsicles

Stunning!


I was really struggling to stay positive. I felt like I'd been running for days, my legs shouldn't feel this way. My training was amazing. I'd been able to run a 9:18 av pace on my 20 mile run on THIS course. What is happening to me? Why is this happening? I tried to focus on everyone around me. People shouting my name when they'd see it on my shirt was the best. I'd pump a fist in the air or give a small wave showing them I heard them. I'm pretty sure my face looked like death. I tried to smile but I don't think my face muscles worked.  At one point I was stretching my calf, feeling bummed that I had to stop, yet again, and this woman nearby was saying how awesome we were doing. She must have sensed how tired and rundown I felt, because she started saying the nicest things to me. "Remember why you're doing this... you are really so close... the hardest part is over... " I started crying, continued stretching, took a deep breath and thanked her and attempted to run again. If you ever get a chance to spectate at a race, do it! It's the most amazing thing to do and you have no idea the impact you have on the runners passing you by!

Eventually, I saw someone I work with jumping up and down, screaming my name. She was so happy and excited to see me pass by. Her son was running with MR8 and so she'd been out there all day and had hoped to see me. We took some pictures and she told me I was doing awesome. I had to work hard to smile, but with Joy you just smile without realizing it. Her energy always manages to work it's way through whatever you're feeling.



At some point after seeing Joy there was a runner to the far right of me. His name was Paul. I knew this because everyone was shouting "Go Paul!" "Yeah Paul!" "Looking strong Paul!" His name was shouted at least 30 times in the span of maybe 3-5 minutes. I smiled and said Hi to Uncle Paul. I couldn't believe that when I needed it most, he was there to get me through the toughest run. I mean, I knew he would be with me, but to have someone named Paul at the exact moment when I questioned how I'd get to the finish, was truly amazing. I got the goosebumps and tears filled my eyes. I said aloud that if I could run near Paul for the rest of the race that would be amazing. Just as sudden as I heard his name being shouted, it stopped. I don't know where the runner went, I don't even know what he looked like, but he has no idea how much him passing me at that moment meant to me. Thank you Uncle Paul. I love you.  I told this story to my sister and husband through tears and a blubbering mouth on the drive home from the marathon as I processed the day that had just happened. I still cry about it when I think about it, like right now, I can barely see the screen before me.



After that all doubts fled my mind and I had a newly lit fire inside me to get to that damn finish line. We were getting closer to Boston and I didn't care how I got there. The crowd support, somehow, got better and better the closer we got to Boston. Around mile 23 we saw my awesome friends Mel and Matt and their 2 girls, who were wearing t-shirts from my first marathon- seriously, amazing! (I had actually set that same shirt out for my son to wear that day but my husband didn't seem to see it.. ha!) The girls were up on a ledge holding signs and jumping up and down. The cutest sight ever. What I will never forget is the screaming from Mel. The look on her face and the pure excitement and joy coming of her mouth! She was jumping up and down and taking pictures as Heather tossed out her warm oranges for some nice cold ones. A little more than a 5k to go. We got this! I was going to finish 45 minutes later than I had originally anticipated but, I didn't care, we were going to finish!



Running over train tracks felt like I was running up Mt. Washington. It was so much effort to get my legs to life higher than they had been. The buildings were getting closer. Shortly after mile 24 I turned on my phone. I needed to give it time to load all the notifications I knew it would be storing. I could see the city flag for Boston and I was so excited! I took my phone out again and took a picture of the flag. I could now see the Citgo sign. It was so far away, but it was there. We were SO close!!! I was getting so excited and could run longer stretches now. It was like my body overpowered what my calves wanted to do and I could run. With the end in sight it was ready to finish and be done. I wish my body had taken over earlier on! I texted my husband that we had just about to mile 25 and if Carter wanted me to, I still wanted to carry him across the finish line.




I snapped some pics of the Citgo sing, stopping to walk when I needed it. We ran again and I ended up seeing one of my TNT coaches. She waved to me and I didn't register it was her until I was right next to her. She asked how I was doing and I told her I was ok. She ran with me for a bit and then saw that I was Heather and said since I was with someone else and looking good that she was going to stay there. It was nice to see Coach Bintz!

The crowd was going wild! I was feeling overstimulated and energized at the same time! I couldn't believe we were almost done! I was enjoying looking at the crowd and I searched back and forth for my friend Beth. I knew she'd be somewhere towards the end. I wanted to make sure I didn't miss her. Heather and I stopped to walk and take a picture of the Boston Strong on the overpass. We said this would be our last time walking. We began running and somehow my body sped up and I was feeling good. I glanced back to see where Heather was. We ran this whole thing together, I wanted to finish it together.



I must have been looking back and forth so much that I didn't even realize until I was turning that I had made it to the end and was turning RIGHT on Hereford! The sound was absolutely incredible. The sun was gone and I was now in, what felt like a tunnel, a shaded area filled with people screaming like wild banshees. Some how I knew to look to my right and I saw Beth and her son there with a sign cheering and screaming for me! I waved and blew her a kiss. I was beyond thankful that she was there! I was finally feeling good, and she was all the way across the street. I had one thing on my mind... get to my son Carter and finish! I saw a message earlier from Becky giving me their location so I knew what to look for. Stay on the left. No problem. That was actually where we ran for the majority of the race. Heather and I were farther apart but I figured when I got to Carter and hugged my family she'd be close by.




I turned LEFT on Boylston and OMG! The sight of that finish line gave me chills and sent tears to my eyes instantly. This was actually happening. People lined the streets so thick, I once again thought I was an Olympic runner, clearly they were all cheering for me! Ha! Where the heck is the Lenox! I needed to find the sign and look to my left. I glanced all around me, smiled at the photographer and took it all in. Or at least tried to.



Running. Running. Running. I was still running. Finally, the black Lenox canopy flapped in the wind. I could see how far I needed to go to find my family. I spotted them and started crying. I had to choke back my tears when I got close to my son because I didn't want to frighten him.



Everyone was standing there with the biggest smiles on their face. I hugged and kissed my husband, my sister, my mom, dad and grandma. I think (I hope-I hugged Becky). Carter had a huge smile on his face and some how I managed to find the strength to carry my 40+ pound child and run with him.

The look on his face....
I'll never forget it.
I couldn't stop staring at him as I ran.
I didn't even see anything around me but his smiling face. A smile so big and proud that I wish and hope he'll remember it when he gets older.
I swear the cheers got louder when I passed by with my son in my arms, like everyone was cheering for Carter and it was amazing.
I kissed him on the cheek and squeezed him with my arm as I shot up my left arm and crossed the finish line.
I did it.
I fricken did it.



I stopped shortly after the finish line searching and searching for Heather. I wanted to hug her and congratulate her and thank her for an unforgettable day. I even saw her husband as I was walking through the finisher shoot and he asked where she was. The volunteers apologized as they had to shoo me away toward water and my medal. I kept looking around but never saw her. I didn't end up seeing Heather until 3 days after the marathon.


I moved Carter from one side of my body to the other as he didn't want to walk. I didn't blame him, but could feel all of the work I had done that day in every part of my body. I got my medal and a permanent smile on my face. I thanked Uncle Paul for helping me out that day and told him this was for him. I dug out my phone and snapped a picture of Carter holding my medal. The sun was shining from behind us. I'd like to think that was Uncle Paul sneaking in for a picture with us. I posted it to FB real quick while I waited for my family to catch up. They were walking on the other side of the barricade and had to walk allll the way around certain sections. I was surprised to see long time family friends waiting for me after the finish. What a nice thing of Tim and Karen to do... come out and cheer me on!



I never had the bawling finish like I thought I would have. I think it mostly had to do with the fact that I had my son on me and as mothers we hold some of that back as not to worry the kids. I don't know if his 3 year old mind can understand what happy tears are. However, I cried SO much throughout the day, I'm pretty sure I ran out of tears.

The memories and emotions that I had during this experience will always be with me and are far better than any time on the clock. The love and support for my charity and myself are something I'll always cherish. Blood, Sweat and Tears got me through the 2016 Boston Marathon. I can say for certain this is not the last time I'll run this course.

2016 Boston Marathon Finisher!


Thursday, April 28, 2016

2016 Boston Marathon | Blood, Sweat and Tears Part 1

It's 9 days post Marathon Monday as I sit here with my chipped and fading blue and yellow Boston Marathon colored nail polish. I've been wanting to write about the day since it happened but the marathon fog that I was in all during taper only recently lifted. The Boston Marathon was hands-down the most incredible running experience of my life, thus far. From start to finish there wasn't a moment where I tried to permanently etch something -a sound, a sight, a smell- into my brain for safe keeping. It feels pretty impossible for me to capture with words just how this day fed the fiery passion for running and turned a medium sized camp fire into a raging bonfire. I'll share what I can and hope that it paints a picture for you.

In the days leading up to the race my nutrition, sleep and hydration were on point. Everything was going smoothly and I used my nervous energy to focus on packing that post-race bag and making changes to my race day outfit as the weather changed. The expo and my Team in Training Luncheon were awesome and still feel like an out of body experience. It felt as if I were going through each event that weekend with this block in my brain. Running the Boston Marathon has been a life goal since I was in middle school. Something that I tucked away thinking some day and yet, here it was, just a day away. My brain could not comprehend what was happening. Add on the emotional weight of WHY I was running Boston (with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society for Uncle Paul who passed away in November from Multiple Myeloma) and my body just had to squish down all of the emotions into a ball. Looking back on it, I was eerily calm on Sunday. I was surrounded by my family and having my sister (from TX) there was calming in itself. I only shed tears twice that day. Once when I was done writing names on my race day singlet and another time when my sister was leaving to go to my parents house. It was a moment of holy crap! Tomorrow I run Boston for so many people!




Waking up before my 4:45 am alarm I felt ready. Absolutely ready for what the day held. Overall, my training had been pretty amazing and my body just wanted to run this historical race. I got up and got myself ready, feeling a tad nervous. I woke up my husband and asked him to come downstairs with me. I just needed him around me. My friend Heather was picking me up and we were going to meet up with Lauren and board a bus to get to Hopkinton and Athlete's Village. It was really cool to be able to ride in with my awesome friends! Being together helped ease any jitters that may pop up during our wait time.



We arrived outside of Athlete's Village around 7 am. We hung out on the bus until maybe 8:30/9am. We got off and on the bus to move our legs and go to the bathroom. I noticed on my second trip to the bathroom how warm the sun already felt. I tried to ignore it as I did fear the warmth that was projected to come that day. My body doesn't do well running in heat and we hadn't had any long runs in the high 60's. Lauren went off to meet her charity team and Heather and I hung out on the bus a little longer before deciding to make our way to our own charity teams.

Runners.
Porta Johns.
Tents.
Food.
Runners.
Clothes on the ground.
Runners.
Porta Johns.
Sunshine.





It was a jam packed area filled with runners ready to get started. Many people were sprawled on the ground, lying down, sitting down, leaning back on something, trying to rest the legs as long as possible.

The hour and a half that I had sitting with my TEAM went by so quickly! I chatted with my teammates, took pictures, texted my family one last time, used the bathroom, was able to eat what I needed, which was a relief. In past races my body won't let me swallow the food I need to take in before the race. Having such a large span of time pass between when I woke up to when I actually started running was a concern of mine. Thankfully, my body was hungry and I was able to get food down!  Before I knew it we were gathering the last of what we needed on us, as it was time to walk over to the corrals. I felt so empty handed compared to how I felt when I left my house. My clothes were now on the ground, my bag of food was just about empty, and the items I didn't eat or need were left behind. I just had a banana and the rest of my Nuun in my hands as I went over to meet Heather. I'm still incredibly grateful that it worked out that her team was meeting inside the gym of the school I was sitting directly behind. We had talked about running together and had hoped it wouldn't be too tricky to find each other in a large sea of people. The Running Gods were with us for this one, Thank you!

The last picture I sent to my husband and then posted on FB before I ran!
Our last GO TEAM! I fought to hold back tears
We were called over to the first area around 10:35. Once in there we waited only a few minutes before being told to continue on the half mile walk to the start line. I was already hot and could feel the sun piercing my skin. I kept an eye out for Lauren's team. I needed to see her before we ran. I couldn't get over the sea of runners before me. It appeared to literally go on forever. I saw a bunch of runners coming into the area we were walking through from a side street and someone with a Tedy's Team singlet caught my eye. I kept looking up and over to see if I could find Lauren. I'm so glad I'm tall!  As we got closer to the group of runners that had just entered the section we were in I spotted Lauren taking a selfie with her teammates! The perfect way to spot her! I shouted her name and was so happy to see her!


aaaah, this is really happening!
There was one last stop for the bathroom before we got into our divided corrals. We made a stop for them and took a few more pictures. I had an emotional embrace with Lauren before we parted ways for a little bit, only to find each other once again a little later on. Incredibly, Lauren, Heather, Alana and myself were all in wave 4, corral 4. We were able to stand with each other as they counted down the minutes to when we'd start. This was absolutely amazing! Packed like sardines in a box we were looking all around, still in shock that this was happening! All of a sudden the crowd started moving forward and my hands shot up in the air and a lump formed in my throat as we made our way toward the start line! I was so excited to get going! I had been up for over 6 hours at this point.

You can see me in purple and Heather to my left and Lauren on my right.
Heather and I were in total awe of the spectator support. The sound was deafening as we passed by the crowds that lined the streets. They must have been 8 to 10 people deep.  I remember Heather shouting over the noise "Is it going to be like this the whole way?" I shouted back something like "Pretty much!" A few hundred yards later I told Heather I felt like I was in the Olympics. I couldn't get over the noise and could only imagine what an Olympic athlete has to deal with inside a track stadium! I cried tears of joy. So thankful to be able to run in the first place, but feeling honored to be out there on that road, with so many amazing runners, surrounded by the best strangers I'd ever seen.

INCREDIBLE!
The first 4 miles are a pretty steady downhill. You are told over and over again by your coaches and other runners to GO SLOW! That is exactly what I did. We were going a little bit slower than what I thought I might go, but it was good! I was already so hot and thankful for the cooling towel I had stashed in my sports bra for a few miles later.

People.
Signs.
Cowbells,
Runners.
Cheering.
Music.
People.
Cheering.

Basically the entire run, except for one section that I can recall, was filled with people cheering on loved ones and strangers. Posters flew up over other people's heads. People wore clown hats and ties or had a weird balloon tied to them, markers to help their runner spot them in the massive crowd. Music pounded through the speakers and filled the air in the gaps left by the cheering crowd. The energy was palpable. I could feel it in my bones.

I think it was mile 4 or 5 that we decided to wet our towels and put them around the back of our neck and tuck them into our sports bras. Oh. My. God. Amazing. I am pretty sure I told Heather if I could make out with my towel, I would... Yeah, the things you say on a run when something so simple feels so amazing! Ha! Looking back I wish I had done this at the first water stop. There were so many people around us and it was kind of hard to really get into a groove and find your true pace. I was not about to weave in and out of people. That's probably the worst way to expend your energy and yet, we saw people doing just that.

At the 10k mark we met up with my sister, Becky and Maranda. It was amazing to see them and I felt a little too excited and relieved that they were there and we had a reason to stop for a minute. I gave my sister a tearful hug and we quickly snapped a photo. I think this was the first moment when I knew this run I was on was not going to go the way I had envisioned or planned. With no time to dwell on that, we grabbed some oranges and were on our way.


My sister flew in from Texas to be there! <33

My nose felt so stuffy and blocked. It really felt like I had rock in there and I kept thinking about blowing my nose. We ran and enjoyed the first of the "best oranges ever". Someone shouted Heather's name and managed to snap a photo of us as we continued on the course. We barely spoke to each other. I had thought it would be like any other run or long run we have together where we chat about the kids, life, our next run... but it wasn't, and it didn't feel weird that we weren't talking. There was just so much happening all around us and we were both taking it all in. We'd point out things we saw, crazy outfits, signs, and crowds that caught our attention, but that was the extent of our talking.

love this picture!
We ran through a section I was familiar with as my team had spent time on miles 8 and beyond of the course. It was all new for Heather. I knew we would see my parents just after mile 11. They were at a house with a pirate ship in the yard. I was thankful for that landmark as it would be so easy to spot! We ran through the center of Natick, a really pretty downtown area with brick buildings. Shortly after we saw my parents! I gave an emotional ugly cry hug to my mom and grandma. We took some pictures and then I asked for a tissue to blow my nose. I shouldn't have done that... the heat gives me bloody noses sometimes and I totally forgot about that.

Blood gushed out and everyone did what they could to help me stop it. Heather held ice on my neck, my mom took my bloody tissues in a bag, my grandma got tissues and my dad recorded this on his phone! haha Thanks Dad! I'm not really sure how long we were there dealing with my bloody nose. It felt like 5 minutes. Who knows. All I know is that the bleeding slowed down enough for me to shove a big tissue up my nostril so I could keep running. I didn't even care about what I would look like. I took a cold bottle of water, and another tissue to hold on to, just in case and we were off.
My amazing family!

Someone from work was there to cheer on her son and she sent me this picture. It's crazy to me that she was there at that moment!

From here until the end I would struggle greatly with my run. My calves started to tighten and I would have to stop and walk and try to stretch them out. It felt like it would take me days to get to the finish, but with the names on my back, the crowd support, and Heather by my side, I knew I would finish one way or another. 

Not finishing this race that meant SO much was NOT an option.
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