Sunday, April 28, 2013

Playing "Race Chicken" with John Phelan @ some random 5k, Bridgewater, NJ. April 28, 2012

John and I have a tendency to get caught up in games of "Race Chicken." This happens when one of us, usually me, finds a ridiculous race and claims "I want to do it!"  Then other says "Me too!"  But really we both know it is ridiculous but no one wants to be the first to say we really dont want to go.

This is how we ended up running a 6 hour Pajama Romp that started at 5 pm in Queens. I ran that morning, but since John was still going so was I!

This is how we ended up driving 3 hours to Albany in February to race a 5 loop marathon in 2 degree wind chill with 40 mph wind gust!  We both DNF'd that day but neither one of us bailed out in advance.  On the ride home I said, "You know if you had said you didn't want to go, I would have stayed home... but I didn't want to be the first to be a chicken!"  He admitted the same.  So now we play Race Chicken at random :)

Today we planned to meet at Duke Island Park for 10-12 miles of easy running.  We both have a race coming up on Sunday and I raced a hard 15k race yesterday.   While on my way to the park, John calls to tell me "There is a race here!"

Of course I immediately say, "Let's do it!"  Then I ask, "What is it? How far? What time does it start?"  John goes to find out.

I get to the park, in my too warm capri pants and non-racing training shoes, planning to jog around for 2 hours only to find John with his bib pinned on.  That big jerk ;) didn't even wait for me to get there so we could discuss whether racing a 5k today was a good idea!

I have no intentions of standing on the side lines while he races so of course I register and then spend the next 45 minutes trying to figure out what to do with myself.  I have no racing flats.  I dig through my bag, hoping I packed a pair of shorts... no luck. I knew that, but I would have loved a pair of shorts.  I was overdressed because I thought training slow but warm would help me begin to acclimate to the warmer temps coming.

I had planned on running 2 hours in a fasted state.  No breakfast before but now that I am racing, I looked for a gel.  None to be found, but I did have a small gatorade and I drank half of that.

We warmed up for 2.5 miles, then headed to the starting line.  It was a small race, on a flat course, but I knew my tired legs were going to hate me!

M1 - 6:24.  Ok, this hurts and I really wish I had on some T7's.  I love my Launch but not for a 5k.  At least I wasn't wearing my heavier Ghosts for this.  I already feel tired and know I cant hold that pace for very long, so I settle down a bit and slowly try to reel in those who had a faster start than me.

M2 - 6:43.  Oh Boy this is hard.  I am trying to run as fast as I can, and I just don't have anything. I feel like I am running in quicksand.  Nothing hurts, but I just cant seem to go any faster.  There is a girl just a step ahead of me who is making it a point to stay in front of me.

M3 - 6:43.  At the start of this mile, I pass the girl and begin to reel in Tara, a incredibly fast runner just ahead of me.  She is usually much speedier and I believe she is recovering from something.  As I pass Tara, I tell her that there is one female behind us that I just passed, hoping she can hold her off too.

M3.1- 39.15 (6:24 pace).  I try to kick it in, and know that the female in front of me is just way too far away for me to catch. I am not sure who is behind me, but I would like to not be passed in the last 10th, so I hurry.

Time: 20:30
Gender: 2nd Place
OA: 4th place

John finishes strong shortly behind me, running what I think is his second fastest 5k ever... on a whim.

We meet John's friends after the awards and run the balance of 10.5 miles for today.

Had John not registered before I got there, I am sure I would have chickened out of this race.  But now, I am glad he tricked me into racing it in the middle of "our easy day" :)

p.s.  I didnt even know the name of this race until just now, after looking it up.  It was the Homesharing 5k and it was a very well organized event.  It would be a great first 5k race for anyone new to the sport.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Clinton Country Run 15k, Clinton, NJ. 4/27/13

I registered today for this race.  I need to get some 700pt USATF- NJ races for my score card.  The timing for this is not ideal, but if I want to run ultras, run marathons, and be a part of the series, nothing is going to be ideally timed.  I have 2-3 goals races per year which I try to taper for, at least, but this race was not a goal race so I ran abt 90 miles this week (including that 50 miler on Sunday) leading up to this.

I really didn't care too much about what I ran today, as long as I made a good effort.  I believe as slow race on tired legs can be just as challenging as a fast race on fresh legs. However, admittedly, I was a little anxious about this race because at this race last year I tore my Plantar Fascia somewhat significantly.  I just want to get through this ok.

Even thought this is my "rest week" with lighter mileage planned from this past Monday, I still always start off at a competitive pace while assessing how much I need to back off.  My plan was to run around 7:00's for as long as I can, expecting the first mile to be fast since it is mostly downhill, and the last miles to be slower b/c they are most uphill

The Course:
I dont think this race is easy.  The first mile starts with a steep downhill, then rolls a little bit through some streets. Then we level out and run along a gravel trail for a few miles.  All of that is easy.  But, at 5 miles we pop out of the trail and hit the roads again, but much of this half of the race includes larger rollers, mostly uphills, that bring us back up to the park.  As we get closer to the park, we hit a very short but steep part that is really just mean.  Finally we enter the park, recover with a decline while making our way around the parking lot on a bike path until we reach the final incline to the finish.

M1 - 6:26... or 6:50???   Last time I ran this I remember the first mile being marked long.  Here again, all the Garmins are beeping before we were even close.  At the beep, my split was 6:26 and it felt like it, but at the mile mark it read 6:50.

M2 - 6:59.  As the road level's out, I settle down, run comfortable and try to reserve something for the rolling hills that will come in the second half of the course.  As we hit mile 2, the Garmin beeps on schedule, reassuring me that the first mile was marked too long.

M3 - 7:04.  We are on the trail section.  I am starting to feel worried.  It was on this part that my PF pain began.  I remember feeling trapped at the half way mark of this shorter race with a lot of pain. Finishing the race only made it worse.  Despite this section being flat and on hard packed dirt, I tend to slow down.  I kept noticing my Garmin reading slower pace and I had to make a focused effort to get the pace back down.

M4 - 6:59.  I know those hill are coming soon and I start to wonder what will happen.  They always seem to slow me a lot in past years here. I am passing some females while getting passed by some men.  I feel like it is too soon to push myself hard so I sit at a comfortably challenging pace waiting for the hills to come.

M5 - 7:00.  We pop out of the trail, turn a corner and cruise down a decline before we start to approach the mild inclining road that will turn into larger rollers soon. I start to make a effort to hold my pace and wonder how many miles I can stay 7 or under.

M6 - 6:58.  I am working hard on the ups to stay steady and working as hard as I can to use gravity to help me on all the downhills

M7 - 6:50.  As we level out again, I try to pick off as many people as I can.  I know the last mile is going to be mostly uphill, so if I want a shot at PR, I need to make up some time and Mile 7 and 8 are the miles to do it.  I don't get as much back as I thought I could in this mile, but I am happy to still feel strong.

M8- 6:48.  Any downhill I find I work hard. Any up I hit I try to stay strong.  I hear what place I am for the women and it becomes my goal to not lose my position.  There are no women near me, in front or behind, that I can see.  However, I don't want to give anyone a chance to pass me on the last uphills in mile 9.

M9- 7:00.  This is a cruel mile.  We have to get back up to the park and we do it with some short steep ups that make my chest hurt.

M9.3 - 2:32. Once up the last of the ups we run a lap around the parking lots on a bike path and finish going up an incline.  I make an effort to finish as fast as I can. Garmin has me a 6:45 pace for .38... but whatever it is, it took me 2:32 to run it.

I am happy to have such a good run after many weekends of longer hard races.  A 15k is a nice change of pace from ultras or marathons. :)

1:04:44 (6:57)
5th Female OA
1st AG

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Jack Bristol Lake Waramaug 50 Mile, Kent, CT. April 21, 2013

Originally I registered for the 100k at Lake Waramaug.  This was an impulse decision after I ran a PR 6 hour (41.48 miles) on April 6th at the BUS 6 hour.  I had been looking for a road 100k and it seems they are few and far between.  The two I considered (Lake Waramaug and Mad City) both occurred this weekend.  Ray inspired me to give Waramaug a shot so I signed up.

However I ran a (surprising, considering how tired I was) 3:24 at Boston on April 15. That did not give me a lot of time to recover for a 100k.  On the drive up I did some math and realized I would likely not get home until 10:30 -11:00 pm tonight if I ran the 100k, but I had a actual shot at getting home with some daylight if I ran the 50 miler.   I was likely to drop to the 50 miler en route because the time crunch was stressing me out.  If I did drop down, my pace would be a 100k pace from the start which would likely ruin my shot for a good 50M.

As soon as I got my bib I asked Mike Melton, our timer, to please switch me to the 50M.  I felt so much better making that call pre-race.

Gun Goes off. Somehow Ray, who I swear was half way back in the pack a second ago is up in front of me now.  LOL.  I catch up and we run a little, but I end up cruising along with Joe Laskey for the first 2.2 out and 2.2 back.

Joe had a handheld and I carried nothing.  I noted that I would likely lose him at the aid station where I will need to grab something to drink, which is exactly what happened and I never saw him again.  It was great to distract myself with chatter during the early miles.  Joe's pace was a little fast for me so it was ok that he pulled off ahead.

The course is mildly rolling, with only 2 parts I consider long or steep enough to call a hill. One comes in the first 1/3 of the loop while the other is somewhere around 2 miles to go (or something like that).  You would think I could remember, I ran it 6 times!  After the out and back, the 50 milers run 6 x 7.6 mile loops around the lake.  The entire course is road.  Road is Fast!  I love Roads!

After losing Joe, I ran a lot by myself feeling very very beat up.  I was not sure how this race was going to go or how long I could stay in it.  The wind on the back half was rough.  Wind is Slow! I dislike Wind!  I would have been ok if I did a few loops and left, if I found that I just not recovered enough.  I have a lot of races on my calendar and don't want to really do unnecessary damage.

Eliot ran up to time at about mile 13 and he was moving well!  We stayed together for a few miles, but I could not stick with his pace. He was racing the 50k. I was already talking about an eminent DNF.  I started to plan my escape, but first decided that I needed to get to 3 laps to figure out what I was going to do.

However, every time I thought about how tired my legs felt, I looked at my Garmin and my pace was sub-9.  I slowed down to well over 9:00's, and started walking up parts of the hills and through the AS.  I realized that was just so much better.  I grabbed a Mt. Dew from the Aid Station.

Lesson #1 (for me and unlikely to be true for everyone): Never ever under-estimate the value of a well-timed Mt. Dew.  The burst of energy I felt after the sugary sweet caffeinated liquid hit my stomach was undeniably a game-changer for me.  I felt much better and when running I was moving well, but I needed to take care of some issues at the start of lap 3, which I knew would take some time.

As I completed lap 2, my feet would feel the hard road surface and they were getting very achy.  At 20 miles or so by the end of loop, I decided to swap from my Brooks T7 to my Brooks Lauch (The T7's did me well so far, but were just not enough shoe for the next 30 miles, especially since I ran Boston in them and much of the 6 hour run from early April, in addition to all my shorter races and I need a new pair).  

Lesson #2 (for me and unlikely to be true for everyone): The right pair of shoes really can make all the difference. The Launch is just an incredible shoe for my feet.  Loose enough to allow my swelling feet room, light enough to not tired me out, cushioned enough to keep my feet happy and protected. After I made the shoe change in Lap 3 and also made a pit stop, I was back to running comfortably again.

As I continued to run, I felt so comfortable that I was actually beginning to get faster.  What I believed helped me was staying hydrated and consuming most of my calories from liquids.

Lesson #3 (for me and unlikely to be true for everyone):  Solid food hinders my performance. 
I spent years trying to sort out my stomach trouble by trying different foods. I was told early on in my ultra "career" that to run an ultra well, we needed LOTS of calories from densely caloric food.  For me, now, this seems to be just a lot of extra work that my body does not want to do.  Packing in calories makes me stop craving foods and drinks.  I sweat a lot, especially if warm out.  I get dehydrated, get nauseated and throw up and dry heave until I can't function.

My most successful races have a few things in common: (1) Cool temps, around 35-40 degrees, (2) very little calories from solid food and (3) Carrying NOTHING with me.

This race was setting me up nicely by starting off around 32 degrees, but warming as we ran. I knew hydration would be important, yet I did not bring a handheld or pack.  The idea of running unencumbered is how I prefer to do it.  This race has AS about 2 miles apart.  By not carrying a bottle, I find that I create a sense of urgency that forces me to drink at each AS rather than simply tote around fluids and forget to drink.

I grabbed two cups of fluids (water, gatorade, Coke, Mt. Dew in any combination) at each AS.  I found that a Gatorade and a Mt Dew combo works best for me.  I drank enough that I had to pee several times during this race (this is odd for me, so I knew I was drinking well and running slow enough).

When I was feeling a bit hungry, I tried one brownie bite which upset my stomach, then I had approx 2  potato chips.  Yes 2 chips.  Not a handful, or a sleeve of pringles, just 2 at separate times!  I had one small chunk of honey dew melon (approx 1.5 square inches) and one orange wedge on my last lap. That is ALL I ate.  All the rest of my calories came from liquid.   This seems to work for me.

The last three laps of my race were quite steady and evenly paced.  Each lap felt harder, but the paces were close.  What helped tremendously was that Carl, the RD was actually driving around the course backwards cheering on all the runners!  That was really motivating for me.  Carl seems like a really wonderful guy!

With one lap to go, I knew I was setting a PR.  I felt great and gave what I had left.  I was running fast, which gets exaggerated by the others who are fading.  I had to work hard to finish strong while my legs were starting to rebel.  Again I found myself with 3 miles to go and things started to get rough, but not as rough as in the last race, which was about half the distance!

I finish the race, learn that I was First Female in the 50 miler and was promptly awarded my prize and medal.  I check the leader board and learn I was 5th Over All.  That made me happy.

I asked Mike if splits would be posted and he showed me mine. If I remember correctly, my splits went something like this:

- First 4.4 out and back - no idea of time.
- Loop 1 -1:06  
- Loop 2- 1:12
- Loop 3- 1:15
- Loop 4 -1:09
- Loop 5- 1:11
- Loop 6- 1:08

Time: 7:41:52 (9:14 pace)
Place: 1st Female and 5th OA

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Boston Marathon Race Report, 2013.

2:15 p.m.  I had just collected my gear from the bus and put on my warmer clothes.  I was wet and cold and my plans to stick around and cheer on runners while waiting to see John finish was sounding like a very bad idea.  I could not stop shivering. I only packed a long sleeve T-shirt and it was not enough to block the wind.  I hear an announcement about the location of the busses to back to Hopkinton, which I was hoping to find so I walked over and got on figuring John would understand why I left. 

2:25 pm.  Busses started moving and we were on our way.  

2:45 p.m.  Explosions at the finish, but I am on the road already.

3:05 p.mAnn K sends me a message... “Are You Guys Ok?”  “What’s wrong with Ann?" I think. Just 25 minutes prior she sent me a text congratulating me on a good run.  Why is she now asking me if we were ok? Why does she think I am not ok?   

“Something Exploded here!” Ann clarifies.   Now I'm getting worried for her.  Ann was spectating.  She is a passionate New Jersey TNT Runner who traveled up in Boston to watch her friends run.  I still didn't understand the gravity and think “Maybe a water main blew? Maybe a boiler in a building?” I hope she is safe. 

“They are evacuating us!” She adds.   OMG, evacuation. What is going on there. The phones of my fellow bus-mates are buzzing like crazy now.  Others were reporting the same.   

3:08 p.m. John, my friend and training partner was able to secure two actual Invitational Entries to Boston.  He invited Enrique, a fellow TNT runner along to join him.  Enrique brought his wife to cheer!  I text John. “Call me ASAP when you get this to let me know you are OK.”

3:10 pm.  I update FB to say something exploded at the finish line and I am NOT there. 

3:08-3:15 p.m. Texts, FB messages, emails, posts are piling in faster than I can handle them. All asking me if I am safe.

3:15 p.mMichele, John’s friend who I just met yesterday when she housed me for the event, has collected me from Hopkinton State Park. She has no idea. I update her.   “Something has exploded at the finish, people are being evacuated, I don’t know where John or Enrique are on the course.  I know John does not have his phone.  I know he should have been close to the finish line. They may have been there!” I tell her. 

3:15-3:20 p.m.  My phone and now Michele’s phone is going nuts.  I call my family to tell them I am safe. 

3:20 p.m. We are back at Michele.  In the short time I have known Michele I already know she is a fast thinker and a problem solver.  She bolts to the computer and starts reviewing chip data of Enrique and John.  She quickly deduces that there is no way they could have reached the finish line in time to be harms way.  (There invitational entries required them to start at the back of wave 3). 

I know from my pre-race conversation with John that he was checking his phone in his gear bag and leaving it on the bus to get it at the finish.  I realize John has no phone and his wife is probably having a melt down.  

3:20-3:33 p.m.  Before I can call Jenn, I get a few more calls from friends and I let them know I am safe.  Everytime the phone rings I hope it is John. It is not. 

3:33 p.m.  I call Jenn, John’s wife, to tell her that I know John did not get all the way to the finish line at the time of the explosion, I know he does not have his phone, but I don’t know where he is.  John has been brilliant and borrowed a cell phone which he used to call his wife.  Good Man!  I know he is safe.  We don’t know where Enrique is, but we know he was behind John. 

News reports another bomb at the JFK library in a different part of Boston.  We don’t know when this will stop, but Michele and I want to get John and Enrique and Gaby out of there, but  we don’t know where they are.

3:40 p.m. We are trying to figure out how to reach Enrique’s wife.  Michele and I know that Gaby, Enrique’s wife, was planning to get herself to the finish line to see Enrique gloriously complete his first and maybe only Boston.  I don’t have Enrique’s number. Enrique is John’s friend. I only just met him for a 60 seconds at the Village, pre-race.  I never met Gaby.  But these were the NJ TNT people that were connected to me here at Boston and I was not leaving until I knew where everyone was.  I try to call Ann back, but she is not answering and I know she has evacuated.  She has been texting so I believe she is ok.

3:45 p.m.  Michele is scanning Facebook to try to leave a message somewhere. I post a note on TNT’s page reporting that I am worried about Enrique’s wife.  Enrique’s page is set up for maximum privacy so we cant get a note on his page or read any updates.  I call Jenn to see if she had Gaby’s number.  No luck.  

4:00 p.m. Phones are buzzing off the hook with FB messages, emails, text, calls from people trying to confirm I am safe. None from John.

4:20 p.m.  I remember that Enrique is a TNT runner.  That is where John met him.  I call Sue, our TNT coach. She is in NJ. I ask her if anyone can pull Enrique’s file. I know he had to fill out a application with emergency contact.  I assumed he would put his wife’s contact info or at least someone who knew her number.  Sue is a great help and calls several TNT staff. Finally she gets Margo, who forwards me a phone number.   

4:45 p.m. I get the forwarded number from Margo. I assume it is for Gaby so I leave a message.  As I hang up I remember John telling me that Gaby actually is not a native English speaker and I am not sure she will understand what I am saying or even call me back. 

4:45 - 5:00 pm.  My cell battery is dying from the sheer volume of communication.  I plug it in to charge it and scan FB on my Ipad for messages about John, Enrique, and Gaby.  Michele is doing the same.  There is nothing there that helps us find them. We don’t know what to do but the phone calls, texts, messages, keeps us busy.

5:00 pm. I call Jenn back. I leave a message to ask her to please call me if she learns that John or Enrique have left Boston because I was not leaving until I found them. 

5:20 p.m. Jenn calls me back. She tells me John made contact with her.  He got to his gear bag. He has his phone.  He made contact with Enrique and Enrique talked to Gaby.  John is still stuck in Boston, she doesn’t know where.  We want to get him out of there.  She reports that he plans to call us soon.

5:25 pm. John calls Michele while I am still talking to Jenn.  Michele, a local Bostonian, tells John how to walk to MIT where Michele works. This is a location she believes we can physically drive to.  We dont know what to expect.  I overhear her saying she doesn’t want to ask him to go to far because she worries he is likely tired from the run. I reassure her John is an ultrarunner and she can send him as far as she need to to get him out of there.  He can walk.  He can run if he needs to.  She gives him directions.

We jump in my car because I have more room and figure we will try to collect Enrique and Gaby as well.  Michele directs me to avoid areas she things will be crowded or dangerous. 

From the news we learn they have found two more devices that failed to detonate.  

6:00 p.m. We are getting close and make decisions to bypass some bridges, worried that maybe things are not done being blown up. Radio is giving us latest reports, which are repeating the same information. Two explosions on the course, two undetonated devices found, one explosion at JFK Library... etc.   The injured tally has gone from 22, to 43, to 57... 

6:30 p.m.  We get into Boston. I step out of my car realizing my bib is still pinned and I am still in my racing gear.  We find John sitting on a bench.  He is safe but looks tired.  He reports that he contacted Enrique and he and Gaby are safe and returning to the training center.  

I tell him that I was planning to wait for him at the finish line!  But I was cold and wet from dumping water on me during the race.  My t-shirt was not warm enough so I decided to look for the bus and heard an announcement for it.  If I wasn’t so cold I would have been there at the finish. I told him I was worried he was there. I knew he should have been btw 20-40 minute behind me in real time, and with his delayed start maybe a bit longer.  If he had a great race I knew he could have been there at the finish when it blew.  

7:30 p.m.  It takes about hour to get back to Michele's as we sit in traffic of those still trying to evacuate, of which we are now included.  We see lights and sirens traveling back in towards Boston. That is not a good sign.  We listen to the radio to see if something else blew up.  The news reports the injured count is rising. Two are reported to have died, over 100 injured. 

7:45 p.m.  Everyone I know is finally accounted for. John is safely out of Boston.  I finally get a shower.  I am starving. 

8:00 p.m. I check a few more Voicemails, answer some texts and then begin my journey home to NJ.  One stop at Dunkin Donuts for my first "real" meal (bagel and hot chocolate) all day.  I head home. 

12:00 a.m.  I make good time and get home just about midnight, update my FB status that I made it back.

Tuesday morning John reports that Gaby was near the finish line, but stopped to use the rest room at a resturant when everything outside blew up.  I am glad my friends are safe.  I am so sorry for those who were trapped in harms way.  I sincerely hope justice gets served and whoever is responsible is held accountable for this horrifying travesty.

As for my plans: I ran a BQ last November that is about 24 minutes below my BQ time... I fully expect to be there next year.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

BUS 6 Hour Run, Valley Stream, NY. 4/6/13

Two days ago, there was a family crisis that is not my story to share so I won't.  However, along with many others, my life is likely to be significantly changed as a result.  The lack of control over my world plus all the worry for those directly impacted and all the praying for a positive outcome is exhausting.  All of this from what amounts to a blameless accident and it had me feeling like I was suffocating.

The last thing I wanted to do today was to get up at 5:00 am to head out to Valley Stream to run for 6 hours in a bit of a cold day (which turned out to be perfect weather).  I could not image anything good coming from this.

I had a minor melt-down this morning, explaining my distress to Sid.  I hoped he wouldn't think bad of me for feeling shook up when so many others are in a much worse place. He did not.  He is a good man.  He understood.  He validated.  He did not judge me.  He shared that some of his concerns are the same.  He helped me to feel better.

And then he ushered me out the door, telling me that I should get in the car and go run.  There was nothing I could do from home anyway.  If I ran even just part of the 6 hours, it would likely help me decompress.

Photo Credit: Donna Sajulga-Tabios
So I left much later than I wanted to, but I arrived with 30 minutes to prepare.  It felt comfortable when I stepped out of the car, maybe mid-30's. But once in the wind I was cold.  The loop was short, 1.43x miles.  This meant I could layer up and strip down lap by lap until comfortable.

Richie says GO! The course was mildly inclined on the way out along a river. At the peak of the up, we turned right over a bridge and ran the decline down the other side of a river (with view of the runners behind us).  By mile 1, we ran around a lake, then a right turn through a large parking lot, and final right turn back to the S/F line. Pretty flat fast course with enough slight elevation variation to help the speed.

Photo Credit: Donna Sajulga-Tabios
I started about 7:50-8:05 pace for the first few miles,  As I ran along, I kept accidentally running past the Aid Station. By lap 4 I finally started fluids.  I grabbed abt 6 oz of gatorade when I did drink. I ate cantaloupe when I ate.  I alternated between those options or nothing at all for many hours.

I led the women's race from the gun and hit the 14.4 miles in 2 hours (8:20 pace).   Last time I ran the BUS race, Jodi beat me by about 900 ft and I had no idea I was even that close to her.  I don't know Jodi except by her reputation as an incredible runner who I tend to get beat by.  I was closely paying attention to where she was in relation to me.

At some point, I was passed by a woman in purple who was running very fast and easily putting distance on me.  I figured she was on 45 mile+ pace and since I did not recognize her as someone who could run 45 miles or more in 6 hours, I concluded she would either be phenomenal and crush the ladies,  crash hard at some point later in the race, or maybe she was just out to run a hard 20 mile, marathon, or 50k and call it a day. Regardless, my pace was perfect for me and I wasn't going to chase anyone this early.  I just let her go and watched her trail off.  I saw her later on the massage table and then she left... likely after about 26 miles.

Photo Credit: Donna Sajulga-Tabios
I hit 20 miles at about 2:47 (8:20 pace).   I ran with a girl in black who looked extremely fit and strong.  I believed I was a lap up on her at that point.  As I attempted to pass, I could see it was very easy for her to stick me with.  I knew that with 3 hours to go, I needed to pay attention to her.

I started to get a little tired.  I grabbed one small macaroon and drank some Mt Dew that I had brought with me.

I hit my marathon in about 3:42 (8:28 pace). I had to laugh because this was faster than my Cape May Marathon time last weekend and I didn't feel nearly so terrible today.

I did a lot of thinking out there, for the entire 6 hours, and it made the "pain" of running pale in comparison.

At this point the race within my mind begins.  I was moving well but getting very tired.  I had started with my racing flats (Brooks T7s).  My feet were starting feel very achy, like the ground was so very hard.  I had a pair of Brooks Launch as well. They are not as fast as the T7's but I hoped the extra cushion would help keep me running.  I ran my PR 6 hour race of 41.15 miles completely in T7 so I had no trouble opting to start with them.  However I am a few pounds heavier than I was so my feet may have more of a right to complain.

Photo Credit: Donna Sajulga-Tabios
A lap after the marathon I took about 3 minutes (timed it) to sit down and change shoes.  It took longer than it should have, with no chair and non-functional cold fingers.  In comparison to the racing flats, the Launch felt heavy at first. I was not sure if was a smart move, but in a few minutes all I felt was happy cushioning.   Soon I was back to the pace I left off at.

I hit my 50k in 4:26 (8:34).  At this point I remembered my 50k split from my best 6 hour was about 4:25.  I was actual happy for the first time in a few days.  I tried to not think of the time left.  An hour and a half of running can seem daunting after running for 4.5 hours. I tried to think of miles left and LESS THAN 9 to go until 40 sounded possible!

But things started to slow down. I felt like each mile was taking forever. I was hovering around 8:45-9:00.  I started to reassess the position of my competition.  I knew when I stopped to change shoes the girl I was worried about had passed me and was now on the same lap as me.  But where?  I could still see Jodi about .5 miles behind me or less each lap, but we were staying pretty much in that position, give or take (except for when I stopped for my shoes, when she got a little too close for my comfort).

Photo Credit: Donna Sajulga-Tabios
At an hour to go, I was slowing down in to the 9+ minute mile for a bit. I could see Jodi reeling me in and I knew I had to fight, but I wasn't able to spot the girl until 5:35 into the race.  At that point she had entered into the .5 mile window I could see clearly.  And she was moving fast.

Crap.  I really needed this win.  I know it seems so insignificant, but I felt like with my life becoming so out of control, running was something I could control.  I wanted to know that when things get tough for me, I can dig deep and find more when it matters. (I dont feel every single race is a test of my will, but today I did).  I needed to believe that it takes a lot to break me (even if it doesn't always seem that way).  I wanted to call Sidney and tell him I thought about him for hours and because of him I won. I really wanted to make that call even though winning this race is meaningless in the scheme of things.

I marked a checkpoint by selecting an object that she would likely pass in my view. I checked my Garmin to see distance. I watched and when I saw her pass me, I checked my Garmin again. I discovered she was about .25-.30 miles behind me now.  She was running a phenomenal last hour!  With 25 minutes left and only .25 of ground to make up, she could very well catch me.

Photo Credit: Donna Sajulga-Tabios
I didn't want to loose this race in the last 25 minutes so I dug and ran harder.  I got parts of that loop back to under 8 minute pace (not for entire miles... but for segments). With some effort I clocked an 8:10 mile while literally counting down: 24 minutes to go... 23 minutes to go... 22 minutes to go.  Those were the longest minutes ever.

I compared the clock to my watch time and saw that the official clock had me with less time to go than my watch, which I started a few seconds late.

I just ran hard and planned to be prepared to fight with a kick if needed.  With less than 6 minutes to go, I took off for the last lap, hurting, grunting, and hoping that when I saw her again she would be too far behind me to make up the distance in the time left.  And when I saw her, I noticed she was still .25 -.30 behind me with 3 minutes left. All I needed to do was move forward and I should the lead!

I kicked hard to be safe and ran until I heard the horn.  I was overwhelmed with emotion and did all I could to hold back tears. I was so happy to stop moving.  I plopped right to the ground at the last little red flag marking partial loops and sat there until a race official recorded my partial lap number.

And then I made the painful shuffle to the finish line, realizing that I was probably exactly half way around the loop!  After running 41+ miles, walking .7 seemed like it would hurt! LOL!  (But there was a short cut that make it ok).

I am happy I went. I am proud of this race.  I was not prepared to run this fast.  I had a whole lot of tension built up within me that needed to come out.  I felt a lot better for those 6 hours.

I called Sid and told him I thought of him all day and because of him I won.  He told me that it was because of me I won, but I know better.  Now back to waiting for change to happen, whatever that may entail.

Distance: 41.48 miles (new PR) (8:40 per mile)
1st Female
5th OA