A Look Back on 2014

So, we are within the last 24 hours of 2014. This time of year is always full of hustle, bustle and sometimes a good amount of stress, so sitting in silence and thinking about everything that has happened this year is strangely relaxing. 

2014 was a powerful year. Not in the fact that I broke records, or gained Hulk-like super strength powers. It was powerful because I showed myself what I was capable of, if I made myself a little uncomfortable.

It was the year where I became a marathoner. I ran two marathons, one where I got freakishly ill, and one where I was recovering from an ankle injury. I found myself bargaining with my body, my brain and anyone who would listen to me. My favorite sign from the Marine Corps Marathon still remains, “You want to get fit, run a 5K. You want to talk to God, run a marathon.”

I learned what it was truly like to push my limits. On Killington, I found myself jumping into freezing water, running/hiking/walking 17 miles in slightly above freezing temperatures, and in the company of some of the most amazing people I have ever met. This year, I pushed myself out of my “I’m just doing this alone” mindset, and met some incredible people. From flying out to Vegas to race before a conference, to Killington, to flying to DC to run my second marathon – I would not have been able to do it without the people I have met along the way. 

I also learned how important rest is. By the time Marine Corps Marathon arrived, I was exhausted, both physically and mentally. Why was I exhausted? Well, this was my year of races (not including the 100s of miles in training):

  • February 15, 2014: Cupid Chase (3.5 miles)
  • March 29th, 2014: Gator Gallop 5K
  • April 5, 2014: Spartan Race Super Las Vegas (8.5 miles, OCR)
  • April 13, 2014: One Run For Boston (13 miles)
  • April 28th, 2014: Nike Women’s Half Marathon DC (13.1 miles)
  • June 22nd, 2014: BAA 10K
  • June 24th, 2014: JP Morgan Corporate Challenge Boston (3.5 miles)
  • July 25th, 2014: Marathon Around the Lake (26.2)
  • August 2nd, 2014: Viking Assault Evansville (3 miles, OCR)
  • September 12- 13th, 2014: Reach the Beach NH (18 miles, 24 hours)
  • September 18th, 2014: Thompson Island 4K
  • September 20th, 2014: Spartan Race World Championship Beast, Killington VT (17 miles, OCR)
  • October 27th, 2014: Marine Corps Marathon (26.2)
  • November 16th, 2014, Spartan Race Fenway Sprint (3 miles, OCR)
  • December 6th, 2014: Frozen Frolic (3.5 miles)

The plenty of back to backs, plus the increasing milage, took it toll. Yes, I managed to nab a few PRs (5K pr is now 26:45!!), pushed myself to new distances and had the chance to travel to race, however, I didn’t take enough time to recover (physically and mentally) in between. 

The biggest highlight of the year? I learned to love my body.

I never have been a super skinny girl, and my thighs and butt have always been a little larger than life. However, this year, when I looked in the mirror, I didn’t focus on the pudgy parts. I focused on what my body was able to accomplish. If you had told me 4 years ago, that I would run a marathon (let alone two in one year), i would have laughed, or rolled my eyes. If you would have told me that I would have completed a Spartan Race Trifecta, and completed the 2014 Killington Course, I would have told you that there was no way my jiggly butt would make it. 

And in the process, it may have gotten a little less jiggly.

I’ve learned that my quads love the rush of tacking a hill (or mountain), and will keep me going much longer than I thought possible. That my feet might no longer look pretty, but they get me where I need to go. I might not have six-pack abs, but they are strong enough to keep me standing tall.

For that, I thank you 2014, and I can’t wait to see what 2015 has to offer. 

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My First Marathon

I thought I would be writing a very different race recap.

I had trained hard, put the miles and the cross training in, and it broke my heart and body to see my body rebel against me when I really wanted it to work it’s best.

Friday night was my first marathon… and it was awful.

I had prepared myself for running at night, by sleeping in a little and by taking an afternoon nap. I made sure to eat normally, but not to eat 3 hours before I started running. 

We got to the start line about 8pm, an hour before the race started. I got my number, started warming up, and tried to shake off a whole bunch of nerves. When the siren went off at 9 to send us on our way, I was pumped and ready to show everyone what I was capable of.

Lap 1 – 3, felt fantastic. I was on pace, I had finally found my groove, and I had made myself comfortable with the large construction project that was happening on Main Street (half of the side walk and road was closed, so it made that stretch a little like an obstacle course. I saw a few people step on some damp concrete.). 

Lap 4, I felt like I had a giant fire ball in my chest. I felt like I couldn’t breathe, and when I tried to burp, I automatically felt like I was going to throw up. So I made the decision to stop and walk it off. It was here I met my first set of angels – a group of two guys who were doing the 24 hour ultra. They walked with me, and one of them offered me a few TUMS to try to settle my stomach. They told me that “it doesn’t matter how long it takes, you just need to finish your first one.” This was the first lap that I threw up on. 

Lap 5, I felt a little better after the TUMS so I decided to try to run a little. It was more like a waddle, especially when the fast marathon runners flew by me. Not going to lie, that totally broke my spirit a little bit, especially when I knew I had 3 more to go. I got sick about half way through this lap again, and walked the last lap.

Lap 6, Vomit. vomit everywhere. I just wanted to go to bed. By this time, it was 1:30am – which was when I really wanted to finish by. Seeing that time on the clock, and knowing I had not met my time goal really demolished me. Plus, I felt awful. I walked most of this lap, but tried to run the last mile in.

Lap 7 & 8.  These two are a blur for me. These were the laps that I met my second angel on, an ultra marathoner from Montreal, that had already run 33 miles. I felt awful, I was walking and he walked with me for a little. He asked if I wanted him to pace me, and I told him that I didn’t wnat to be the reason why he didn’t make his 100 miles or what ever his goal was. I told him about my stomach issues, and that all i wanted to do now was just go home and sleep.

He basically was like “you’ve run 20 miles, and you now want to go and sleep? you got this next 6.2 in the bag. Let’s do this.” About 2 miles into the last 6, I vomited again and told him to just keep going. He didn’t. He told me to keep walking, and that stopping was the WORST thing I could do. I kept apologizing (because I hate vomiting, and vomiting in front of someone is literally the worst thing), and he told me about all his horror stories of vomiting, kidney failure, how he had brain surgery last year and I guess it really put it into perspective for me. Everyone has awful thing happen, you just cant let it stop you.

By the time I was about to finish my last lap, I felt like I was running half awake. My stomach churned, I was shivering and hot at the same time, and all I wanted to do was collapse. I got about half way around the lake when I had to puke again. This time, I basically threw myself on the guard rail and puke over it… and I heard my timing chip snap. 

Sweet.

I just wanted to get it done. Ultra runner pacer was talking about something that I don’t even remember, but I remember when we circled the corner on Quanapowitt Parkway and he said “here is your time to shine. Leave it all out here, and go home and sleep.”

And I took off – I saw Blake, and reach out and hugged him before barreling down the timing chute. I looked at my chip and saw that it had snapped in half, and showed it to the guy who was handing out medals. 

“Does this mean my last lap won’t get logged?”

“Most likely”

“I did 8 laps though…”

“I know… congrats on your marathon.”

He handed me a medal – and I just kinda looked at it.

Part of me was happy that I finally accomplished it. Part of me didn’t even want to look at it, because I was so defeated. I didn’t feel like I deserved it. It felt like my training was a waste, because I couldn’t even run like I had planned to.

I finished in 6 hours and 45 minutes – even though officially it only looks like I ran 7 laps in 6 hours and 1 minute.

I’ll be taking a week off for rest – since my stomach still fully hasn’t settled. Then, I’ll be back out hitting the pavement, training for the Marine Corps Marathon… or what I would like to call “my redemption”.