Although it’s been a WHILE since I posted, it seems appropriate to begin with one of the best things that happened in 2010. WARNING: Most of my blogs (when I was blogging regularly) are under 400 words…this one is over 3000. Enjoy!
I will preface this by saying it’s LONG! I haven’t written a race report since Ironman in 2006 and I’m pretty sure I won’t write another report until I finish my black belt. These are the things I’ve learned since then in a nut shell:
1) Run with friends. I believe this had a huge impact on my run improvements over the year.
2) Run naked. As a triathlete years ago, I lived by the watch. Now, I hate technology when it comes to running. I just run. For those of you who are not runners, please keep your clothes on! J
3) Believe you can do it. Whatever IT is, if your mind isn’t on board, you’re not going to make it far.
4) Write your goal down. It wasn’t until this year that I actually wrote on my whiteboard which I read daily…Qualify for Boston in 2011.
5) Less is better. I only ran 4 days per week with an occasional ride on the 5th day IF there was a 5th day. I mean, I’m not trying to qualify for the Olympics or anything!
This race report starts in 2006. I have a list called “50 things to do before I die.” Some people call it a bucket list but I made mine long before the movie came out. Running a Marathon was on that list. It turns out when I did Ironman in 2006 (which was also on the list), I had already run 2 marathons at that point. It didn’t make sense that Ironman and Run a Marathon were both on the list since you run a marathon as part of Ironman, so I had to change it to Qualify for Boston Marathon. Although I said I wanted to qualify at White Rock Marathon in 2006, my training would have suggested otherwise. Training after Ironman that year was sketchy at best. After White Rock in 2006, I decided I was tired and retired my triathlon gear and running shoes.
I started running again at the end of 2008 with my friend Laura Brown. We didn’t have any lofty goals in mind, but said we’d run the OKC ½ marathon that next April. It didn’t take long and I had the running bug again. I enjoyed meeting her at 5 am for our runs (or really talks). We had our very first day of track after a few months and at the end of that workout she told me she was pregnant! Needless to say, her running changed over the course of the next 9 months, but we still did the ½ in April 2009 and ran until she was uncomfortable after that. J
Over the course of 2009, I made my mind up I was going to try to qualify for Boston at OKC Marathon 2010. I remember running Mote in Motion ½ marathon with Carlo Capua and he taught me the shortest distance rule and relax your arms and traps on the downhill. I remember Cody Brewer running some of one of my long runs with me. I don’t remember a whole lot more than that and OKC Marathon was a terrible race for me! I started with my pace group (at that time a 3:40) and stayed with them until mile 14 headed towards the lake and couldn’t keep the pace with the wind and hills. It was that race that Manuel Rodriguez gave me gummy coke bottles because I had chalked it up to a bad race when saw him at mile 18 walking. Interestingly enough, before White Rock Marathon 2011, I had done 6 marathons (minus Ironman) and they all ranged between 4:00-4:06. Pretty sad really. First marathon ever was 4:00 and OKC 2010 was 4:06. Even my mom and dad had come to this race. That was VERY special for me but I just couldn’t pull it off.
I joined Luke’s Fit late marathon training in 2010. I figured “I need fast people to run with.” J I started out in the yellow group with coach Richard Stingley and quickly moved up to the green group with Coach Bill Dast. Bill got injured early on but he was there every Saturday riding his bike with us. It turned out the green group was pretty small so I ended up running quite a bit by myself with Bill checking on me often on long runs. My plan was to do a training run at White Rock marathon (just run the marathon slow) and then try to qualify at Cowtown 2011. Once my mileage got to 16 miles in training, my foot started hurting. This foot had hurt before and every time I would go to Active Spine & Sport and they would fix me. Unfortunately after White Rock 2010 I had done a little too much damage. That day was a great day for me. I ran the entire race (even the hills), I felt great, but my foot just hurt. I kept running for several weeks after White Rock but eventually had to take time off. I had met a nice gentleman at Luke’s Tuesday/Thursday morning runs by the name of Charlie Lindsey. Even through all the pain, he and I were out at the Arlington Heights Track doing 800’s once a week. Our goal was to work up to ten 800’s at 3:40 a few weeks before the Cowtown, then taper. My foot just couldn’t do it. I lasted several weeks and then had to take several off. My chances were shot for Cowtown. I rested about 3 weeks and went to Active Spine & Sport several times.
At this point, I had also met Sheri Banwart from Luke’s. She and I started running some in the mornings when we could once my foot was better. I can remember just running 4 miles pretty easy on the Trinity trail to get back into it in February 2011. Then, Lori Roth came along with us. We pretty much ran consistently until Luke’s Fit early marathon training started. It turned out there were A LOT more people in the early training program compared to the late one I had done the year before. This is where I met so many new friends. I trained mostly with Jennifer McAlister, Chimene Fikkert, Toni Biggerstaff, Leslie Singleton and Lori. They also talked me into running Marathon2Marathon. I knew, given the date of M2M, that wouldn’t be a good race for me so I agreed and planned on using it as a training run. This race was in October and I don’t do well in heat.
In the back of my mind, I had committed to White Rock, but I hadn’t committed financially because you just never know what might happen. I spent time asking different coaches opinions about training. What should I be doing? Should I wear a watch? I even attempted to get my VO2 Max tested but for a good reason (I’m sure) the equipment wouldn’t work that day. At this point, Tim Tarpley was acting as my “head” coach. J Trying to get my mind right for qualifying was just a hard as getting my body ready.
For me, M2M turned out to be a big party. It was a great road trip to get to know new people, stayed at a wonderful B&B and I actually PR’d at this race. Breaking the 4:00 barrier for me was huge…especially at such a hot race. Everyone was saying we all should have ran at least 20 minutes faster given the conditions. I did the math and thought…I’m close.
It was at M2M that I met Gary Anderson. He’s a coach with FWRunCo. Upon returning from M2M he and I decided to run on Wednesday mornings. This was my tempo run and his sloooooow run. J We would run 8-10 miles at an 8:00ish pace. Some days were better than others but the good news is it was getting cooler and I run so much better in cold weather. Oh, and I decided to go ahead and sign up for White Rock before it sold out because I was beginning to feel like I was ready.
As many of you know, 2011 has been an extremely tough year for me personally. White Rock was a very symbolic race for me at this point in my life. This is where the stress begins (at least in my head.) My training was going well. And by the way, my training was running 4 days a week. I rarely ran a 5th day, but would sometimes ride my bike on Sunday. I knew that my work schedule would get crazy the week after Thanksgiving. I also had made the decision to only taper 2 weeks, something I had never done before. I had always tried a 3 week taper and it never worked, so why not try something new. I ran Mote in Motion ½ marathon plus several miles afterwards 2 weeks before the race. It was a terrible race. Super hot and humid. Pretty much a beating physically and emotionally. I did what I thought I should do training wise and found myself the week before working stupid silly hours, not getting a lot of sleep, and watching 3 weather reports multiple times per day. Thank God for Chris Etter for being a tremendous help in moving my Fort Worth office and helping paint! I have never considered myself a true runner. Don’t run when it rains, wind blows, too hot, etc.
White Rock morning eventually got here. I made my play list the night before and got all my clothes ready. I had to have pep talks from multiple people throughout the week to keep me sane and convinced that I was running no matter the conditions. (from Tim Tarpley, Gary Anderson, Lori Roth and my mom.) Even that Friday I ran through with Gary exactly what I was going to wear…I know total head case. Alarm was set for 3:45. Weird thing about that was I wasn’t planning on eating until 5. So I took everything with me and met the girls at 4:45. We all rode together over to Dallas. It was raining hard when we started drive to Dallas. My only goal in starting the race was to be dry and warm. We got there about 6:15. We all go inside to the restroom and then come back out to the car. I decided that I needed to check a bag of warm clothes and get my mind straight, so I left them all at 7:00 to go check my bag, use the bathroom multiple times and get in line for the race.
This is the point where I should mention the smartest clothes friend ever, Dianna Fuller. This woman had me decked out from head to toe…super warm. And, they were throw away clothes. I looked so bundled up that when in line at the port-o-potty one runner (true runner) treated me like a newbie saying I was going to be just fine, sort of attempting to console me. J I got to the start line. I’m sort of freaking out. I can only see the 3:25 pacer. I immediately make friends with the couple next to me (this kept my mind off of it) and the REALLY tall guy whom I asked to please look back in the crown for the 3:35 pacer. That morning I had made the executive decision to take my watch off. Not my Garmin (because I don’t wear one of those) but my plain old watch. Now, I have no idea what time it is or anything. He can’t see any pacers. As they started the wheelchair race, I realized I had stayed dry and warm up to this point and it was time to shed the throw away clothes and apparently run without a pacer.
I finally crossed the start line about 3:25 in. At least I knew that and I could just look at the split clocks as I passed them. I had several friends on the course so knowing that kept me going pretty well. It didn’t start raining until I hit mile 3. By then, I was warmed up and good to go. I’m not sure about others runners, but I tend to look down a lot especially when starting out a race…making sure I’m not going to run into anyone and at this race trying not to step in any huge puddles. It wasn’t until mile 6 (when it was pouring) that I finally started to take everything in. Although it was obviously cloudy, I saw a weird reflection in the air. It actually looked Fall-ish. Some of the leaves were changing. This is the point I knew it was going to be a good race. Somewhere shortly after mile 6, I saw my friend Fernando Dominguez and headed towards him to give him high 5. That was the first person I saw that I knew, but I remember thinking, “wow, I can’t believe so many spectators would be out here in the rain for us.” It was pretty awesome! At this point, I started thinking about my pace. Am I running too fast? Are the people I’m running with running the ½ and I’m getting caught up in their pace? I asked a guy running next to me if he was wearing a watch. He said, “Yes.” I asked what his pace was. He said, “Right now, it’s 8:24, but my average is 8:14.” I told him thanks and continued to move along. At this point, I hear Scott Alexander yell for me. I’m not quite sure I actually spotted him, but I knew his voice and that he and Claire Oliver would be at mile 9-10.
Once the ½ runners split off, it didn’t feel like there were very many of us left. I was getting close to the half way point so I was getting excited to see what my time was (since I didn’t have a watch.) Usually, they have clocks at all 10K splits but they weren’t working (probably due to the rain.) I kept holding myself back. I didn’t want to run too fast and not have the legs to get through the end of the race. But, I also didn’t want to run too slow and miss my chance. It was so hard not having a watch. Once I got to 13.1, the clock wasn’t working. I was pretty upset about that, but what could I do. I knew Manuel Rodriguez, Dianna Fuller, and Albert Chavira would be at mile 16 so I just kept telling myself, “the faster you run, the faster you get to see your friends.” Those miles around the lake went by so fast. There was a runner that was really good at the shortest distance rule so I pretty much stayed right with him. Mile 16 came and they weren’t there. For a second, I was sad. I knew they were experienced enough spectators to find me. I just kept telling myself they would show up. Somewhere before 17, I see Dianna and Albert in the distance. At this point, my hands are so cold and I ask Dianna if she can get me more gloves. She literally took the gloves off of her hands and gave them to me. I gave her the other gloves I had on (which she let me borrow in the first place.) I had no idea where Manuel was, but Dianna left me and I was running alone again. I was wondering what happened to him. About ½ a mile later, I hear someone behind me breathing heavily. It was Manuel in a mask! I just cracked up and we started talking. The first thing I told him was don’t tell me the time. We talked for several miles. People where talking about his mask and they kept saying, “you’re looking strong!” That was awesome. Manuel was only going to run with me until mile 20…at least that was the plan. When we got to mile 20, Dianna and Albert were there again waiting to pick Manuel up. I asked him to keep going and he did. He ran with me through the Dolly Parton hills and up to mile 22. It was amazing! I felt strong, I never walked through the whole race. I asked him what time it was when he was about the leave. It was 11:12 by his watch. So in my mind, I do quick math (which I’m terrible at by the way) and think there’s no way I can make it. But, I was really happy about how well I’d done up to that point. I just kept thinking I am definitely going to PR big time considering my PR was 3:59!
When Manuel and I were running, we happened to be right behind a girl with an orange Boston Marathon jacket on. Once he left, she was my carrot. I finally caught up to her and talked to her for a few minutes. I tried to stay with her the rest of the race. Her husband showed up and started running with us. I had already told her I was trying to qualify. She told him and they were both trying to help me along.
It wasn’t until mile 23 (end of the hills) that another friend showed up on his bike. I don’t think Fernando had ever spectated at a marathon before. He was very encouraging. “You’re doing great! You’re going to qualify.” I told him there’s no way (based on the time Manuel’s watch said.) I was having trouble hearing him because he was on the side that my headphone was on. But it was so nice knowing someone again. He had to leave me about mile 25 because his bike wouldn’t fit the rest of the course. When he left, I asked him what time it was. He said 11:22. At this point, I knew I could do it! Although I couldn’t keep up with Boston Marathon girl (she took off!), I ran as hard as I could still knowing it was going to be close. In the last mile I saw Linda Truong and then Roberto Hernandez. I felt like I was running so fast. Then, I’d get winded and have to slow down. The finish line chute for White Rock this year was extremely short so I honestly didn’t know the time until I made the right turn and was within seconds of the finish. I looked at the clock and saw 3:36. I ran as hard as I could.
I wanted to cry when I finished, but I still had to do the math and figure out if I had qualified. At first glance it seemed like it, but I wasn’t so sure. I was so conflicted whether to be happy or not. You’d think I’d just be happy about that much of a PR, but all I could think was, “Wow, I’m pretty sure I just qualified for Boston Marathon.”
Once they posted results online, I knew I had.