2011 Myrtle Beach Marathon: The Recap

Sole Sisters the day before the raceAnother marathon on the books.

Here's the short version: Hot. Flat. New PR!

Here's the long version

This was my first marathon without Blair. Instead, I traveled with my Sole Sisters--six "hot fast women" (painted on our car)---to Myrtle Beach. I was worried about not having Blair waiting for me at the finish line. I'm typically in intense pain for the first 40 minutes after a race and Blair all but carries me around. Surprisingly, I finished in good form. I kept moving after I crossed the finish line and while I was stiff, I was walking around after the race with little difficulty.

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A Run In the Rain

Why having friends to run with is crucial: 38 degree weather, rain, and 7 a.m. coming way too early after a night out with friends. 

Even knowing I was meeting my friend Thad (aka "Runnerdude") almost wasn't enough to get me out the door this morning. Why? Dark skies, rain, cold temps and the unwelcome task of 18 miles had me asking Blair, "What do you think? Is it raining too hard? Should I just stay home and try to run later?" 

Blair, smart man that he is, refused to comment. Thad was waiting, so I sighed and out the door I went. I'm glad I did. We ended up having a fantastic 10-mile run. As I set out to do the last eight on my own, the rain picked up. I didn't mind. There is something peaceful and meditative about running solo in the rain. The streets were almost empty of cars, the greenway where I was running was close to deserted, and it was just me and my breath and the steady tread of my shoes on wet pavement. 

Sometimes on inclement weather days it's hard to know if you're stupid or badass for braving the weather. Last Sunday when I forced my friends outside in ice and snow and we only made it a half-mile before the ice sent us scurrying back to our cars? Stupid. Today, with not-so-bad temps and a steady drizzle and the company of a friend followed by the solitude of my thoughts? Total badass run.

Far from being a drudgery, today was probably one of my favorite runs of the year.



Boston Marathon 2010: Locked & Loaded

I've given up any pretense of even pretending to work today. It's not going to happen. Too much angst going on to think about silly things like work. 

If I bottom out in the marathon, it's not going to be because I physically wasn't ready. It's going to be because I mentally psyched myself out. Way too much brain chatter going on about the race. I went out this morning for the last 3-mile run. One mile warm-up and 2 miles at race pace of 8:23/mile and I blathered on the entire way. I'm tired. The pace is too fast and it's only 3 miles. My God, I'm not ready. I should rethink my pace. Maybe run the 8:35 pace from Chicago so I feel better during the race. No, it's just the warm-up. I'm always tired the first few miles until I get a rhythm. No, it's a sign. I'm not ready. Stop the negative chatter! Think positive! Imagine yourself crossing the finish line at Boston. No, not limping across crying. Happy thoughts! Happy finish line!"

Before Chicago, I felt strong. Mentally and physically. I was pretty sure I was going to have the run of my life and I did. This time, the self-confidence is low. Very low. And I can't quite figure out why. But I BETTER figure out why before I get to the start or else the mental game will drag me under. 

I'm reminding myself of what I felt when I signed up for Boston. It was a freebie. For fun. I knew most everything I like to control before a race (dinner, morning routine, etc. ) would be out the door and I was looking forward to that. I'd just go with the flow and see where I ended up. No pressure. No goals. Just run. Run run, keep running, run some more and boom! Finished. 

That's what I need to hold on to. I think this mental chatter is me grappling with finding some measure of control over the race. I also think I'll be a lot happier and enjoy the experience when I just let go and say, "You know what? It is what it is. Let's do this and have fun." 

Maybe that will be my new running mantra. "Unclench, Dena. Unclench." ;)

The Last 20 Mile Training Run

Sometimes when I'm running I compose blog posts in my head. I spent a couple of hours doing that yesterday. I was running for almost three hours as I completed the LAST (pause for trumpets blaring and crowd cheering) twenty-mile run of the training! Although my friend Michael and his daughter were running twenty as well, they were well over a mile ahead of me so I spent the three hours on my own.

Me being me, most of the material I'm mentally composing is sarcastic/funny. Jokes about the body falling apart, mental fatigue, the twenty bucks I offered the woman with the baby stroller to let me climb in with her toddler and push me up the hill, etc.

However, around mile 17, as I was jogging up yet another hill in Battleground Park, it occurred to me that even though I was aiming for funny, a lot of what I'd been thinking about that morning and what I'd been planning to write was, well... negative. So I asked myself, what's been good about this run? And the answers flowed in: 

  • It was perfect running weather. Sunny, 40's, and everything has started turning green
  • I got to pet a Great Dane
  • People were in great moods, smiling, nodding, and saying hello
  • As I jogged by a darling little girl and her dad he said, "Say hi to the runner," and she waved and whispered, "Hi."
  • I saw a poodle make a mad dash for freedom before her owner caught up to her and scooped her up, scolding her with kisses.
  • I felt like walking on several hills but pushed myself not to quit and I made it up and over without taking a break
  • I got to quickly see several friends out doing their runs as well
  • An orangish-red bird, very small, stayed with me for about a quarter mile, flitting from branch to branch just ahead of me
  • The sun on the lakes was beautiful

And finally, I ran yesterday's 20 miles at the same pace I ran the Chicago marathon and yesterday's run had a lot more hills than Chicago. I find this encouraging and hope it bodes well for my performance at Boston.

So sorry, no humor today. Just gratitude for a healthy body and a lifestyle that allows me to fit in running. I hope all of you reading found things to be grateful for in your weekend as well.