Tuesday, April 24, 2012

I did it! 26.2 is in the bag :D

(Adding at the end-There are a lot of details and this is quite long.  I really wanted to remember everything as I already seem to be loosing a little bit of the moment. Thanks for reading along!)
We are loaded into the car and the children have stopped screaming.  Seems like a good time to put a few thoughts together.
What a crazy few days it has been.  I have certainly missed California there is no doubt about that.  Not just the weather, but how open and friendly the people are around here.  The pace of life is so much slower-not quite Southern slow, but slower none the less.
The children are handling traveling better than we could have imagined.  Such a blessing!  I would say things were going smoothly, but that would be a lie.  Ryan’s favorite thing to say right now is “Stupid” and follows it up with throwing something.  Grand.  It is better than the other night as we were walking in downtown SLO, all of us starving looking for a place to eat, Ryan decided that was the best time to use a curse word for the first time in his life.  Standing at a cross walk, “GodDammitGodDammitGodDammit”  I being the great mom that I am decided to completely ignore it hoping it would stop quickly.  He was saying it but not very loudly thankfully and I hoped and prayed he would get over it before he kicked up the volume notch.  It seemed to work and I haven’t heard it come out of his mouth again thankfully.  As you may have guessed, this came from me.  I curse VERY infrequently around the children, but last week was not a banner mom week.  I had hit my limit of patience and at one point I yelled “God Dammit Just Stop!!!”  That is all it took.  He did not say it that day, but I knew he was saving it up for Just The Right Time To Use it.  Oh, my boy is smart one I tell you.  
I know what you are really here for though, a race report.  I don’t blame you.  That has been the whole point of this right??
Races tend to start early.  For good reason, who wants to be running in the middle of the day in the high heat?  Also, I can’t imagine starting late like they do at the RNR Las Vegas (a 5:00pm start)  What would I do all day long?
This one seemed to be REALLY early though.  It was a point to point race and they had us meet at the finish and then shuttled us to the start. This being there first race, I think they over planned a bit-I will not complain being the planner I am.  So this was their schedule:
3:30-4:00 you need to arrive to catch the shuttle (there will be no shuttles after 4:20)
5:00 Line up for Marathon
6:00 Start of the race
WTF????  Seriously?  Did they think I would really get to a race 2 1/2 hrs before the race?  Ummmm, nope not moi.  I had the cab pick me up at 3:50 to drop me off just slightly after 4:00.  I was one of the last people to get on the first bus to the start.  There was no one else in site!  They had something like five shuttle busses-luxury coaches by the way, not school busses or vans, full on tour busses.
We got to the High School parking lot where they had us wait to line up.  So I finished getting ready there.  I did not want to wake the entire family while I prepped, plus I had no interest in getting up before I absolutely had to just to put on some body glide and sunscreen.  
I sat quietly next to a few ladies trying to stay warm.  We all started to chat a bit as we woke up.  I met a lady in her late 60’s early 70’s who had run marathons in all 50 states and on all 7 continents.  Amazing!  She recapped a few races for us which was great.  She even agreed that this was a little early for the event.  I was even more impressed that later on I was running with her during the race.
So after waking up so early, I had plenty of time to hydrate.  This is something I wanted to make sure I took care of.  After the MI Half feeling dehydrated in the first mile, I did not want to repeat that little mistake.  I am pretty sure I made my week long goal to drink water until I floated!  There was a downside to this.  I had to pee every five minutes it felt like.  Waiting for the start I think I went a dozen times!  OK, not that much, but it could have been.  
They walked us over to the start.  I had debated what to do with the pace group option.  I knew that I wanted to finish in under 5hrs.  I also knew that I *thought* I could finish in about 4 1/2hrs.  I had asked around and got the advice from more experienced runners to not follow a pace group.  They normally run at even splits or so which may be difficult for me as it was my first race.  After debating the pros and cons I remembered the most important piece of advice I have received and that is to “Run your own race the way that feels right to you”  With that in mind, it felt right to try and follow the pacers.  At the start they went over their plan for how they were going to run the race.  It seemed like a doable pace to me.  Splits ranging from 9ish min/mi to no slower than 10:40 min/mi.  That was the pace I was doing for all of my long training runs, so I thought, ok I’ll go with it as long as I can.  If I fall off so be it.  If they are going to slow I will pick it up.
Then gun went off just slightly after 6:15-I know this because Mike texted me and I heard it beep just before the start of the race.  Wouldn’t you know it-within the first 5min after crossing the starting line, I had to PEE!!  Damn them for keeping us standing around so long!!!  Damn it that I drank so much water!!  I decided that I was going to just stop at the first porta potty and get it over with.  I was not the only person with the same problem.  The line was at least six deep.  I did stop my Garmin at this point.  More out of habit I think than anything.
Of course with that many people, I lost my pace group but I really didn’t think much about it.  I was actually really relaxed and I was not going to fast.  I felt smooth and in tune with myself.  I was actually VERY Zen at that moment.  I am not sure when it happened now, but I think it was somewhere in the next three miles I caught sight of the 4:30 pace group sign.  It was not hard to miss.  One of the pacers-Larry (Larry Cucumber if you ask Ryan) had on micro shorts that were hot pink animal print!   They looked straight out of the 80’s!  He was a real man to rock those I tell you!  This was only his fourth marathon and he was a local.  He did a great job keeping us pumped.  He would count down the miles and give us a Woot Woot! at every mile.  We also had Rocco as a pacer.  This was his 69th marathon, so he was kind of the lead guy.  They both wore hot pink pacer shirts, so when I saw those manly men in all their hot pink glory-I started to cry for reals!  I knew I could catch them and most likely, if I could catch them, I would finish in 4:30ish time.
As I was catching up to them, I noticed one of the guys near them had a small flag pinned onto his shirt.  It was a Armenian flag paying tribute to those who had fallen in the Armenian Genocide 97 years ago.  You may not be aware of this historical fight, and if you are Turkish, you will say it did not happen.  I knew nothing about this event until I met my friend Nicole several years ago.  She is Armenian and is very active in the Armenian community.  She also has done mission rebuilding work in present day Armenia.  For this reason, seeing this man running in honor of the victims just felt right.  I pulled out my phone to take the only pic of the race.  We chatted and became fast friends.  I found out he runs about one marathon per month and dedicates each mile to a different victim.  He wishes he could honor all of them, but he realized that there was no way to do it for all of the 100,000+ victims.  At this point he has honored 13,000 and will continue for as long as he can.
Most of the race went by smoothly.  I did have to stop to pee again, but I was quick and I knew I could catch my pacers again.  I was just feeling good!  I knew there were some tough hills between mile 17-22.  Because of this I had told MIke to try and meet me out on the course at that point.  I knew I would need a bit of a mental lift.  As that time got closer, things just were not feeling quite right.  
I had to pee yet again :P and I also was having a hard time getting my shoe tied right.  I had also stopped a few times to retie the stupid thing.  We planned on meeting at Tank Farm Rd.  I knew it was coming up and I swear I asked every person along the route how far it was to Tank Farm.  In my mind if I could make it there and see my family, I could get through the rest.  
By this time, I pee’d again and I lost my friends of the pace group and I was just struggling.  I was putting one foot in front of the other and that is all I could do.  As I was running up to Tank Farm Rd, I realized I had run the route too quickly and my family wasn’t there.  I literally stopped on the course and just stood there kind of not knowing what to do.  I called Mike and he explained that they weren’t letting traffic just flow and he knew he would miss me so he was moving on to a different spot so he could at lest see me once.  I took every ounce of my being to not be furious.  Clearly this was not his fault-he had never tried to spectate a marathon before let alone with two toddlers in tow.  I know how hard it is getting the timing right with our two crazies along, but DAMN IT I NEEDED THEM!!!
Believe it or not I was still just standing there kind of frozen.  I didn’t know how to start running again.  I had to do something because I knew I couldn’t just quit for no reason.  So, if I couldn’t see them in person, I had to bring them to me.  I was having a hard time picturing them in my head believe it or not.  The one thing I could do though was to hear Ryan’s voice in my head saying “C is for Celiophesis, D is for Diplodocus” We have a dinosaur A-Z book that we read every night and when we are in the car I will say a letter and he will tell me the corresponding dinosaur.  I went through the whole alphabet twice.  As I finished the second time, I crested yet another hill and suddenly I had this overwhelming sense of calm and the words “you’ve got this” went through my head and I knew that I did, so of course tears came again.  
At this point I was really running alone.  It was a field of 2,000 runners both half and full combined and of that it was only about a third running the full.  So, that meant I was running with people either pretty far in front of me or pretty far behind me.  We were also out in the middle of nowhere wine country-which was gorgeous, but it meant there wasn’t a single spectator.  Also, water breaks were about two miles apart.  That meant I had some time to pull myself together.
At this point, I knew I was going to make it to the finish.  I knew it would be in under 5hrs.  I also knew that things were not easy right at that minute.  I also became ok with walking up some of the hills.  Believe it or not, I also did know I would most likely finish in around 4:30.  We had banked about 4min or so when I fell of the pace group so I knew I would be ok.  
All of this happened around the time when the course looped back into itself for a portion of the race.  I stumbled on some of the half marathoners who were still out there walking it out.  I felt so much pride for them.  There was a lady that reminded me of my mom.  She was out there giving it her best and I could see she was in pain and not doing to great, but she was going.  I think I yelled something like “keep going-you’re doing great” but honestly I was a little delirious myself at that minute.  For all I Know I said Gabba Gabba Goo Goo.
We finally were getting back to civilization!  Thanks Be To God!!  I love rolling hills that produce wine, but I am not sure I want to run in them again soon!  At mile 23 The Hash House Harriers were there with beer and oh I wanted one SOOO bad, but I was actually having a hard time breathing and I didn’t think I would be a good idea to imbibe.  In retrospect, I think I drank too much water.  That can be just as bad for you as dehydration.  I had been drinking Nuun in my water bottles, but on the course I drank water and an electrolyte drink called Fluid that I had never had before.  I am not sure how much electrolyte is actually in that.  I know next time I am going to drink a little more cautiously.  
Just before mile 24 I got to kiss my husband and babies.  They were like a mirage.  My babies cheeks had never seemed so smooth and perfect as they did in that second.  I swear I just wanted to eat those baby cheeks right up!  Right at that point was a group of ladies holding up a “Run Like A Mother” sign.  It fueled the tears that were already in my eyes!  They had seen me kiss the kids and they yelled “Go Mommy!!”  That was a great kick for sure.
This is where I get kind of pissed.  Just past them we ran on a bike path. No Big until we got to basically an overpass that went over some railroad tracks. It was straight up and you had to wind around four times up and four times down.  I had to walk.  There was no way my legs could go up that incline and in fact, the down was even more painful!  My quads were screaming as were my calves.  My toes all felt bruised.  Nothing was right.  But, I kept moving one foot in front of the other.  Just keep swimming-right Dory?!?! 
Mile 25 came in a gorgeous neighborhood where everyone kept telling me you are almost there, just one more mile to go!  Then with less than a half mile to go on another path was an enormous hill that again was quick straight up.  The volunteers kept saying, just get to that tree and it is all downhill.  I had to walk and I was FURIOUS!!!!  If I had to walk I told myself I would run the last mile for sure.  I didn’t.  Honestly there was nothing I could do.  I could not move my legs up that hill in a running fashion.  I did as much of a quick shuffle as I could, but honestly-it was walking.  The good news was it was downhill all the way to the finish.  Just as I crested the stupid hill, I could see the shoot to the finish (because the hill was steep enough you could not see the finish line until you crested the hill) and there was my family.  I was overwhelmed with gratitude and happiness. I felt more joy in those moments than I have at any other time in my life except at my wedding and when the children were born.
As I crossed the finish line, I had the most amazing smile on my face.  I had played this moment in my head many times-for years even- and every time it ended with me a sobbing mess.  In reality, I was just overcome with peace and happiness that was simply embodied with a smile.  
Wouldn’t you know it-there was Larry Cucumber!!  They had finished less than four minutes in front of me!  He said “Sarah!” I hugged him and started to cry at that point.  Not the gusher I thought would happen, but tears none the less.  The ladies handed me my medal and congratulated me.  I was beaming!
I have no post race letdown, I ran exactly the race I should have.  It felt perfect!  In fact I now look at marathons differently than I do any other race distance and it is for the good.  This distance is for me.  I have found something I LOVE to do.  I know I will change a few things, but I don’t know if I will always be chasing the PR with this distance.  I am almost at peace with not trying to go fast and finish in under four hours.  Almost. ;-)
So what did I learn.  
Well, first- you can over hydrate.  I know I did this.
Secondly- try your hardest not to travel far to your first full with toddlers.  This should be self explanatory.  The hardest thing was coming off the course and in less than two minutes I was back to mom.  I had a toddler melting down before I even had a chance to stretch.  My legs were seizing up on me.  It was miserable.  Navigating the post race area was a nightmare with a toddler who gets overwhelmed in crowds of people.  There was no time to get post race bananas and oranges or BEER for Pete’s sake!  It was all we could do to get my gear bag and find the car.  I gave up trying to walk to the car and asked Mike to bring it to me.  Thankfully Alma turned me on to Recoverite by Hammer.  I had bought two single serve packs...just in case.  Of course I used both as a post race meal was not going to happen soon.  I did get a nice shower in while Mike to the kiddos to the beach.  I slathered on Biofreeze from the tips of my toes to the tops of my thighs.
After we walked around SLO and got a meal in, we headed back to the hotel pool.  This was a welcome sensation on my legs!  The hot tub was a God send.  I am not sure if that is a good idea or a bad idea, but it felt good so I went with it.  
Now two days post race, my quads still remind me I did some work, but overall I feel amazingly great!  I plan on giving myself the full 26 days to recover.  I am so happy to say I made it through injury free!  I really could not have asked for a better experience.
Oh, in the hot tub, I ran into a couple who ran the Half but had originally planned on running the full.  The wife had an IT issue, so they both ended up doing the half.  The gentleman had run 44 marathons, so I asked him “how was this course? Hard, easy, average?”  He told me that it was very similar to Big Sur.  Not an easy course, but not the hardest by far.  I also asked about running up the overpass.  He said he had to do the same thing in one of the San Francisco races, but it isn’t common.  All in all he said it was a tough course for a first timer and my time was great for my first one on a course like this :D :D :D :D  I felt like I was super human-even if he told that to me just to make me feel good (which I really don’t think he did)
In the end my Mantra of “Be Thankful” was completely manifested in  the moment.
Peace and Love

Saturday, April 21, 2012

23 Hours To Go!!!

How about a little pre race catch up...
I haven’t recounted a few of my runs including my last two long runs before my taper.  Really, there is not a lot to say.  They were easy on the scale of things.  Twelve miles and Eight miles respectively.  I had the Lovely Megan along for both of them and the Lovely Lindsay joined us  for the eight miles.  I love running with those girls!  They make me feel so young!  They are both still in their 20’s and I would like to say I felt pre-30’s when I run with them, but that would be a lie.  In fact the opposite is true...I am acutely aware of my age and place in life.  As they chat about finishing school and starting their careers, I talk about my now past career and my children.  I have in fact turned into “That Lady” who talks about her kids non-stop and really has nothing else current or relevant to say :P  They don’t seem to mind and frankly I kind of like being the “Responsible Mom” in the group.  That is not a phrase that has been thrown in my direction up until recently.
Well the big weekend is here.  I have survived the taper....barely.  I have heard rumors that people hate the taper and have no idea what to do with themselves in the last few weeks leading up to a marathon.  I, did not have that problem.  I in fact was MORE than thankful for the limited amount of miles that were on the schedule.  In fact there is not a chance I could have run more than I did.  
Virus after Virus has taken over our house including one that kept my never sick husband home from work.  I somehow pulled through with just a few aches and sniffles with an added scratch in my throat here and there.  I fully expect my body to break down next week  when it washes its hands of me and says  “There, I did my job, now go to bed and leave me alone.”
We have survived the first leg of our trip (barely).  The flight went great!  In fact this has been our easiest flight since we have had children.  The car pick up was not as smooth, but we saved $600 by taking a cab to an offsite car rental instead of using the airport one.  Less than ideal catching a cab with three suitcases, two strollers, two car seats, four backpacks and two screaming toddlers.  The kids and I hung out at the airport while Mike got the car.:P
After a quick visit with the hubby’s family we got on the road for the three+ hour drive to SLO.  Within  the first hour, it became very clear that Miss Pooh was VERY overtired and falling quietly to sleep was not in the immediate future.  This became clear about the time that she had her hand down her throat forcing herself to throw up blueberries all over her car seat and PJ’s.  Quick trip to the gas station and we got back to go.  Now we are cruising along on the 101 in the pitch black.  What else to do other than blog :D
I have run the spectrum trying to decide how to approach my race.  Just because I am who I am, I need a goal.  I would LOVE nothing more than to be one of those people who could just run it “for the experience”.  Not happening.  I keep telling myself to do that, and I know I will be present in the moment during the race, but there has to be a goal.  So here it goes:
A Goal:  Finish the race injury free with a smile on my face. (This has been my original goal since the minute I started training and frankly it is VERY realistic)
B Goal:  Finish between 4:30-4:59hrs with aforementioned smile and health.  This is pretty likely unless the heat is more than I can take or if I can’t keep myself under control and go out too fast and burn out too fast.
C Goal:  Finish around 4:15.  This isn’t exactly like the sun, the moon, and the stars aligning, but this is a good guess for everything going in my favor.  This is also my predicted time based on my most recent half marathon (which has me finishing at 4:13) and my 18mi run.  I feel as good physically and mentally as I did right before my 18mi run.
So what does all that mean?  Basically I would be over the moon if I met my C Goal and I am going to try my hardest NOT to be disappointed if I meet my A Goal.
I did somehow get a blood blister on the bottom of my foot today wearing flip flops-damn you Sun in CA!!!!  I am obsessing slightly, but I know there is not much I can do about it so I am trying to roll with it.  Plus I am on vacation!  I am obsessing less about just about everything right now luckily!
It’s going to be warm.  Warmer than anything I have run in in over four years.  I could obsess about that for awhile, but not much I can do about that either, so we will roll with that too.
So there you go.  Up to date and ready to roll.  We have a 6am PST Sunday start, so if you feel so inclined think of me around that time (or a few hours later when I will need the help) and send me some mental love to help carry me across the finish line.
Thank you all again SO MUCH for following along.  This has been an incredible journey and I am so glad I put this out there.  It has kept me motivated to keep going when I couldn’t find the motivation in myself.  I have been nervous at times to be fully open, but all of you have shown so much love and support, I couldn’t think of a reason not to share.  I am going to go back and read all my posts tomorrow night before I *try* to sleep.  I think that reliving the journey will put this all into perspective again.  Oddly right now this seems really easy, like no big deal.  I remember thinking what sort of an amazing feat it must be to run a marathon.  Now, I still think it is amazing for other people, but for me...Meh.  I oddly am STILL struggling to think of myself as an athlete let alone a runner.  How weird is that!!  I run tons of miles, but don’t think of myself as a runner.  Yet ask any muscle head at the gym that hops on the treadmill for 10min and they will say “Yeah, I’m a runner”  Just one of those things I guess.
Well, I am rambling now.  Time to sign off.  I’ll be back with the post race after Sunday.
Love and Peace to all

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

I Saw A Ship A Sailin'...A Sailin' In From Sea...

So if you do't have toddlers, you may not be familiar with this rhyme.  It's a favorite of Pooh's and it came to mind today in the shower.  A shower that was taken in peace while BOTH babies napped at the SAME time!!!

This has not happened in over a month, maybe even longer.  I don't think it is a secret anymore that the kids have been having a tough time which means mommy hasn't had it so easy either.

I have found there is beauty in having children 12mo apart, that is after the first crazy year.  One of the best things is they reach developmental milestones at exactly the same time.  That is tough going into it and while you are in it, but it is scrumptious when you come out on the other side knowing that you won't have to do that again for six months or fingers crossed a year.

Now don't get me wrong.  I am not nieve or silly enough to think that after one nap everything is going to be back to normal.  After going through this now for three years though, I DO know that we are within weeks (if not less) of things going back to the lower level of chaos that buzzes through our house.  I can manage that.  Sure to some it may look like a piece of cake and to others it may look like something out of a carnival sideshow.  It is our reality though and one I can live with.  The past month....whew...let's just chalk that up to a really bad nightmare.

Like I said I am not foolish enough to think that tomorrow Pooh will wake up at 8:30 like normal and Moo at 7:00, but I DO know that neither will be up at 5:00.  Yes, they are actually that predictable :D

What does this have to do with running you may ask?  Nothing really, but at the same time everything.  This means that I know that my morning runs will be returning again an quite frankly I have missed them.  Sure I have been fitting in runs, but I honestly miss the quiet house and the "Me" time I get before everyone wakes up.  If I had wanted that delicious alone time the last few weeks, I would have had to get up at 4:00am after having resettled Miss Pooh back to sleep around 1:00am.  That was just not happening.

I did fit in my treadmill run today amongst the craziness of a normal day.  I had my MIL come over as I had a Chiro appointment and she was going to stay with the kids.  I also had my "Sick With A Virus-Which So Help Me God If He Gives It To Me I Will Kill Him" Husband home as well.  Quick Chiro, Quick Home Depot, Quick home to give kids a snack, and Quick onto the Mill.  I knew everyone was needing to leave me by noon so I had to be speedy.

Got on the mill and thought I was prepped with Downtown Abbey so I could do 8 mindless miles.  Well, got on board, started watching and wouldn't you know it-only season one is on Netflix!!!  So it ended at mile four and I was scrambling quickly to get something on.  At the same time the entire family came downstairs and both adults looked like kids waiting for birthday cake...they thought I was done.  I knew by the look on their faces I wasn't going to get my full eight in.  They are the type that would not say so much-they aren't quite as direct as I am- but I have been around them long enough to know what is on their minds.  So I clicked on an Another Mother Runner podcast (available on iTunes) and tried my best to get as much in as fast as I could.  I ended up with a 6.7mi run in exactly one hour.  Better than not running is how I chalked that one up.

Quickly got my Pooh to nap while the hubs put the Moo in his room and he fell asleep as well.  Who knows how long today's nap will last.  I for one am not waking them up.....oh I hear my Moo.  That was good enough for a catch up that's for sure.

Have a VERY Happy Humpday all!!

Monday, April 2, 2012

The Big 2-0! Let The Taper Begin!

I usually try to get a little artful with my blog titles, but this was too big of a deal to give it any other name that what it really was.

Twenty!!!  20!!  T-W-E-N-T-Y!!!!  That. Is. A. Lot. Of. Miles!

Let me just say, I feel like I have shook my funk and I couldn't be happier.  In all truth, this run was not really much to write home about.  Everything leading up to it is truly the big deal.  Let's discuss.

It is no secret I have been struggling personally.  I have been having a very difficult time managing my home right now and it is truly overwhelming me.  This was my undoing before.  It is what spurned me to run again.  It has been the reason I have loved every. single. minute. of. training.  Running is the only time I can truly be free of my responsibilities and just be me.

Going into this run this week I was just not mentally prepared.  I knew no matter what I would run all 20mi, but I knew mentally it would be a struggle.  I also "hoped" that I could move on mentally so I could finish all 20.  I was terrified that if I didn't get my troubles out of my head, every pounding step would be twice as hard as it already was going to be.

Pre-run Waiting For My Alma

Post 20 With Alma Throwing Down The 2-0
All day Saturday I had this overwhelming urge to run all 20mi on my treadmill.  It has been raining for days and quite frankly I could not stomach another run out in the cold pouring rain.  I know that running in the rain all these miles has given me a mental toughness that has been earned.  That does not mean I enjoy it by any stretch!  I put out my feelers to all my running friends who have been at this for much longer than I have been and the general consensus was that I needed to get out there and just do it.

I want to interject here that this will be the second time writing this blog post.   Thanks Blogger....grrrrrrr

Knowing in my mind that I was going to run outside, I did the only thing I could do, Pray!  And pray I did.  A Lot!  I was blessed with the best running weather I have had in all my training runs.  The temps were perfect and the sky was full of broken clouds that let blue sky and sun filter through.  It. was. amazing!  The wind made it cool enough for my long sleeve shirt and pants.  If not for said wind, I would have been overheating!

The day did not start off as great as I would have liked it to.  Miss Pooh had a rough night and then woke at 500 followed quickly by my Moo waking at 520.  I let Alma know we should meet closer to 800 as I tried in vain to get the children back to sleep.  Why I try to do this I will never know (insert eye roll here)

We got to the parking lot and frankly I just did not know how to proceed.  It was kind of overwhelming. What clothes should I wear?  How much water should I burden my sherpa with?  These were all just things that were prolonging the inevitable.  I needed to take those first steps quickly or I was going to loose my backbone.

Let's address my sherpa for a minute.  Alma and I have gotten to know one another over the last few months as she has braved many long runs in the miserable rain with me.  She is great company and we have very easy conversations.  Even though she is great, I never expected her to be along for 20mi!  She recently has had a plantar fasciitis problem in her foot and hasn't been able to run.  She decided she would come along with me on her roller blades for all 20mi.  Now of course my first thought is GREAT!!!  Who wouldn't want company for the several hours it was going to take to run the 20mim.  My next thought is "she is F@!%ING NUTS!!!! I have only roller bladed a handful of times.  All of those times resulted in humongous blisters on my insteps that made my feet hurt for weeks.  I mentioned this to her in the parking lot and she looked at me and for just a mere second hesitated.  I should add here that I think this is only the second time at most that she has been on her blades and the other time was quite some time ago.  She decided to go for it though and was not only in for the whole 20 but also was willing to bring water and other provisions for me.  Really?  Who does this?  Someone who is AWESOME!  That's who!

So we set out on our adventure.  Alma had to work through a few growing pains on her blades and I had to work through the mental demons that threatened to end my run.  The start was slow going.  I knew I was going to have to empty my head and Alma was more than willing to listen to all my woes.  She listened with an understanding ear and didn't try to fix it or give suggestions as I think she understood that these are not problems that can be fixed rather things that will work themselves out with time.  It was just what I needed.

This went on for quite awhile.  By mile four I was still in a funk and worse yet everything on my right leg from my knee down was off.  I had a pull on my medial knee, my shin was burning and worse yet my instep was on fire.  Can you say Plantar Fasciitis!!!! I was scared shitless.  I told Alma we had to stop a minute.  I took a Gu and stretched.  Alma looked at me and asked if I wanted to walk?  I said No let's just go and see how it goes.  Miracle of Miracles-I was fine!!!  Not only was I fine, I felt like the weight of the world had been lifted off my shoulders!  It felt like in that moment I had let go of everything that had been holding me back all week.  It was amazing.  And just like that we were off on our adventure-for real this time.

We still went slow.  I just knew that I had to keep a light pace and Alma joked it was a good thing as she could not blade much faster.  She worked her way up hills and held on if she could for downhills.  I tried helping her, but she insisted that I run and not get tripped by her.  Honestly I was more scared she was going to fall down and hurt herself even more!

The middle miles were pretty uneventful.  We made a potty stop at McDonald's in Kenmore and at mile 10 (the turn) we ran into Melanie whom I had run with earlier in my training.  She is currently training for the Settle Rock N Roll in June.  It was great to catch up with her.

The mood was still light and I still felt really good.  Sometime around mile 12 it started to feel real.  We were still a long way from home and it felt like it would be a log time before this whole thing was done.  I think it was right around this time Alma looked at me and said "I'm pretty sure you are going to feel better than me tomorrow" and honestly I kind of knew in my gut I would too.

When we got to mile 15, it felt finally like we were in the home stretch.  That is my normal 10mi turnaround and I know every step of those five miles like the back of my hand by now.  I know every curve every hill.  More important, I know that we would most likely be running into a head wind any minute.  I was not disappointed.  Within the mile the wind was blowing in our face.  Now I'm not talking little puffs of wind or a light sustained breeze.  I am talking full on sustained wind that screams down the river valley.  It was worse today than any other run I have done.

By mile 18 we were into new territory and the wind continued.  Alma tried her best to keep the mood light but with the wind taking her words away it was all I could do to focus on keeping my feet going forward.  I think she could feel my need to focus so we just pushed on.  It wasn't bad.  It didn't hurt.  I wasn't tired,  It was just something I wanted to put my whole self into.  I wanted to be in the moment with every step I was taking.  I wanted to be thankful.  I wanted to savor it.  In some ways, I didn't want it to end.  I truly felt free.  I felt like this was just me and only me.  No matter what no one could take these miles and steps from me.  I did this all by myself (well Alma was there but I think you get what I mean)
Right about mile 19.5 Alma had a fall and I felt do awful for her!  I wanted to stop and help her, but I told her if I stop I won't be able to start again.  She urged me to just go.  She was back on her feet in no time. We both finished the 20mi and I think we both felt it was an amazing accomplishment and we were both glad it was done.

Poor Alma.  As suspected she ended up with a huge blister on her instep and her ankle was bloodied.  In the end what she thought would be an easy cruise along with me, turned into a very challenging workout.

In the end, most of miles were around the 10mm mark and I was down with that.  If I finish with times like that I will still be under the 5hr mark (by quite a bit) and that is all I hoped for when I started this journey.  For awhile it seemed like I might smoke those times, but I have been brought down to earth and have been humbled by my training.  I know that I will finish all 26.2mi healthy and strong.  I will finish and that is the most important part.

So two weeks of tapering and we are off on a pivotal trip as a family.  There is still work to put in, but from here on out it is all about staying safe and healthy and sane.  This has been such an amazing experience.  I can't wait to see how it will all play out!