Monday, March 24, 2014

Miles for Music, USATF Team 20k Championship, 3/23/14

Part of my new Team
photo posted to the Clifton Club page by Ben Teixeira
Today was the first day I raced for my new Running Club, Clifton Road Runners.  It was a hard decision for me to change teams.  I was running for the Do Runners in the past, a team captained by Mark W, the president of the United States Streak Running Association and a person who inspired me to do more than I thought I could.  I liked running for Mark's team, but the reality is their training location was well over an hour from me and I had made it to a group run all of 0 times in the last two years.  At least Clifton trains at locations I actually train at when I go north for training, giving me a chance to socialize and possibly become friends with the runners I race alongside. I have always enjoyed being a part of a team and I was hoping to run well at our first race.

This winter has been very hard on me.  Physically I have been beaten down a bit. I have been posting about how I have just not felt great lately and accordingly I had cut back my training to try to feel more rested. I hate to cut back, but it has helped and I feel like things are starting to turn around now.  However, the lower mileage and the chronic inflammation I experience when my immune system checks out (and the extra junk food I tend to eat when I run less) caused me to show up at the starting line a few pounds heavier than last year.  

Last year I had a phenomenal race (at 6:53 pace) and surprised myself.  But I was also running 100 mile weeks in February and just ran a PR 50k the week before.  This year I have been running much less, had a not so great 50k race a few weeks ago, and just snuck in under 8 minute pace at a marathon last week.  I was happy to have been able to log those long races, but I was not confident this race was going to go well. 

The weather was about the same as last year ("feels like" low 30's), despite the race being two weeks later this year.  I believe the wind was bit milder at the start, but it picked up as the morning progressed.  I started off with a t-shirt over a long sleeve tech shirt, capri pants, gloves, and my bloody racing flats from last week.  I had a hat and neck warmer on but just before the race I stood with John P (who ran an awesome race!) and told him "I know better than this!  I know I am dressed appropriately for cold weather races after eliminating enough layers to allow me to reach the point where I start to feel miserably uncomfortable standing around… then I am ready."  The hat and neck warmer brought me some comfort…. so I took them off and threw them in my bag. 

Off to the start, I was very worried about my toes. Last weekend I had a toe nail incident that left me one short with a shoe full of blood.  I wore those same shoes and felt like a different toe was now feeling uncomfortably snug.  I realized later that it was simply just very cold and numb.  Once I started running I was fine. 

Not sure how fast I could run today, I decided to start out similar to last year's pace (sub-7) and see how long I could hold it.  In January I ran a 1:30 half (6:55 pace) but I was lighter then.  Fat isn't fast.  Please do not be mistaken. I know I am not "Fat"by any means but I am carrying more Body Fat that I was in January when I was faster and that is a fact. I believe I was closer to 117 and now I an about 121. Add 2 seconds per mile per pound over ideal racing weight, or so the rule says, I was pretty sure I wasn't running a sub-7 pace today. I had to adjust my expectation downward until I get back to my ideal racing weight (which for me and for most runners actually falls right in the center of what is considered to be the healthy BMI range, not at the bottom of the range).  In consideration of what I know, I would be very happy if I ran between 7:00-7:15 today (really hoping to be low 7's). 

Me and Rich T. cooling down after. Photo by Elaine Acosta
Gun Goes Off.  I don't want to get to ahead of myself.  Rich T. (also a Clifton Runner and a persons I accidentally ended up running 9 additional miles with when I first met him at at training, increasing my moderate run of 12 to a lovely long run 21) and I start off  together, checking in with pacing for the quarter mile or so. We settle in to just sub-7 and it feels ok to me. He lets me pull ahead over the next few miles. M1 6:54

The course is a multi-lap course that started with an incline, that we would do three times, so I knew this was the best I would feel when headed in this direction today.  There is nothing hard about this course except, possibly, the mental challenge of running multiple loops.  Between 1 and 1.5 was the steepest of the inclines but most of the next 2 miles were declined.  I was not feeling comfortable at this point in the race and confident that I would not be holding sub-7 for the entire duration.  M2 6:57.

I missed a split at Mile 3 but basically I was just trying to stay as close to 7 minute pace as possible on the way east the for this first lap, hoping the wind was not too bad on the way back west.  M3 and M4: 13:57 (6:58 pace).

I tried to tuck in with groups but didn't find anyone moving at a speed I was comfortable at.  I felt like I ran most of the race alone.  Mile 5 was into a slight wind.  It was not bad, but it was enough to make me notice.  M5 6:59 

Soon, I was feeling my effort and becoming a bit concerned as we headed back up the slight incline. I was not thrilled with the idea that I had to do this entire loop 1.5 more times.  I needed to slow down or I was going to fall apart.  So that is what I did.  M6 7:08 & M7 7:08. 

photo by Elaine Acosta
Here I decide that if I want a shot at not completely coming unraveled, I should take that gel in my pocket. The course also had a nice decline with a little bit if a mild wind assist, so there is no reason to not use it. Funny what a little sugar and favorable terrain can do. M8 6:57

Rich T, who had allowed me to pull ahead earlier starts to reel me in and at just about 9 miles passes me.  Based upon how I was feeling it was too soon for me to start pushing to stay with him.  I haven't done the type of training that allows me to have a strong finish so I needed, instead, to try to hold steady until the peak of the incline at 10.5 and hope to find a kick on the way down hill to the finish.  M9 7:05 & M10 7:08. 

Ok, I tried… but I just had nothing left past 10 and started to fade hard like I feared.  I am sure part of this had to do with there being no women close enough behind me to try to hold off and none close enough ahead for me to try to catch. I simply became complacent. M11 7:09 & M12 7:08. 

With a decline finish, and my placement secure, I decided I really did not want to see a 1:28 on the clock. So I kicked. I was pleased to be able to find a gear I have not used in months and I was happy to see it was still there. Last .43  2:54 (6:42 pace).  Ok, that gives me something to work with. :)

Now that I am starting the upswing of feeling better physically and discovered I haven't completely lost my speed, I am now ready to refocus, build my volume back up to as high as I can handle, and add in some faster paced mid-week running to help me burn off the few pounds that I need to lose in order to be in better racing shape.  I have no plans to rush weigh loss, since forced dieting and high volume training really does not work for me.  Instead I plan to just run more, eat better, and let my body take care of the rest.  

Time: 1:27:35
Gender Place: 15th Female
Age Group Place: 2nd
Open Women Team: 4th 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Two Rivers Marathon, Lackawaxen, PA. 3/16/14

Had I been in good marathon shape, this race would have been on my radar for a PR attempt.  But I am not in good marathon shape right now. This year the RD offered two marathons (one on Saturday and one on Sunday). I decided to head out on Sunday to register and run it as long training run the day after running with my TNT marathon training group on Saturday.  I offered to bring John P with me, if he was interested in doing his long run at a marathon.  Once he agreed to come with me, I knew I couldn't change my mind… even after seeing how freakin' cold it was going to be.  Ahhhh, the joys of "Race Chicken"… :)

So I hoped to run about a 3:30 or better since my marathon split at the 50k two weeks ago was a 3:39.  This is a newer race.  I ran it two years ago, in it's first year when only 16 others were there.  I don't recall the course being off that year, but we finished in a different place (just across the street). I suspect we may have deviated from the original course at some point between 8-12 miles.

Brrrr!  :)
Despite Saturday being a beautiful day. I knew Sunday was going to be rough as the weather dipped back into Winter rather than feeling more like Spring.  It was 20 degrees w/ wind making it "feel like 8".  It was damp and chilly and I hate racing in tons of layers.  

It was not going to get much warmer during the entire run, so I planned to race in my fleece lined tights, a long sleeve tech shirt with a sleeveless tech shell and a light jacket. I had a hat, cotton throw away gloves and a fleece neck warmer.

In the windy sections I was cold.  In the windless areas when the sun was shining I was hot.  I could have gotten away with less on my legs.  

During the 2 hour drive over, I ate a banana, drank some Gatorade/Mt. Dew, and took a gel before the start.  I fueled with two gels at 8 and 17.  Drank about 4 oz of gatorade on the course and the rest water.  I believe gatorade was out there, but if I didn't see it right away I just grabbed whatever I saw first, mostly water.   Some Aid Stations were unmanned.  Some had volunteers that looked like they were freezing their butts off.  The first cup of water I was handed had ice chunks in it and it reminded me of the Albany Winter Marathon.

Net down hill doesn't mean No hills, but this is a FAST course. 
The course is a net downhill.  It does have hills in the first half that can be a surprise to those who expect "Net Downhill" to mean "we run down the entire way." No, we don't.  It also measured short… significantly short this year.  I don't recall it being short two years ago. 

It is a fast course, even if it was lengthened to reach 26.2 miles, primarily because it is a net downhill race.  We are bussed 10 miles from the finish to the start, which is at the highest point of the race. We run a slightly rolling but primarily super-fast descent for about 1.7 miles until we level off a bit. Then we spend the next 9+ miles meandering along on narrow roads with minimal traffic. We tackle some hills in this section, two of which felt significant to me, with the larger one around mile 8-9.  Some people, from hillier terrain, may not find these hills as significant as I did.  However, I am not in great shape right now and they were noticeable to me, slowing my pace and requiring me to focus on getting up them, but not so significant that walking crossed my mind as a real option, although I am sure some people did. 

Just before mile 8, my nose felt runny so like any good marathon runner, I blew a snot rocket. That is where I discover my nose is not running, it is bleeding. Again. And A Lot.  Awesome.

Top of course is first half.  Red area is the finish
after out and back along the river.
After we crest the last hill, we cruise in towards the finish area before starting the second half of the course. Up until this point, the mileage on my Garmin was about .2 off. It was slowly creeping to the short side during the rolling hills.  However, this is not unusual and may not mean the course is off. It could simply mean the distance from the ascents and descents hills are not being accounted for since the Garmin is known to calculate distance as if measuring across a flat map.

My white gloves help me keep track of my nose bleed and whether it is slowing down. By the time we get to the point where I would have the option of turning in early, my nose bleed has slowed down enough for me to not stop.

We pass the finish area and turn right to head out to where the half marathoner hit their turn around. The marathoner do the long out and and back. Here is where my watch starting dropping its signal, showing no pace data or paces such as 10+ minute pace then bouncing back to a more true pace.  When I hit mile marker 12, my reading was almost 0.6 short, showing me 11.4x. 

The next section of this course involved a gradual inclined climb against the flow of the river, along a windy, curvy, quiet road.  Picture gentle S curves that follow the river's course.  On the way up, the miles remained the .6 off, showing no increase in its shortness besides that huge error at mile 12.  

After Caumsett 50k two weeks ago I had damaged a pinky toe nail.  I had suspected it would become irritated again during this race so I tried using a blister pack latex band-aid.  This is truly a great product.  The rubber band-aid adheres strongly and molds around the shape of the toes creating a soft rubbery layer of protections.  I have various versions of these bandages and use them on other places too, where ever chafing will be an issue. (For example. I alway placed a rectangle shaped latex bandaid where the band of my sports bra rubs and severely chafes my skin during marathons and ultras and it completely resolves that issue).

Today, I also made a decision to wear my thickest socks because 8 degrees and thin shoes equals numb painful toes.  I have been wearing the Brooks T7 (or some version of them) sine 2007 and rarely have trouble with the shoes. But, I never wear thick socks with them. 

When I hit the turn around and turned back, I still hit mile 19 at 18.4, showing no increase in distance lost during the entire out section of this part of the course. However on my way back, the same way I came up (and I used the entire road, hugging tangents as best I could), I then started to drop my signal again and started loosing mileage when it would pick up.  I can only imagine the curvy turns along the river may have caused the signal to cut off turns when it picked back up.  It just makes little sense to me to have the miles be correct on the out and then short on the way back.   

The combination of the extra thick socks, plus the added thickness from the bandage in a shoe that was already snug, was horrible.  For the first half of the race, I could feel my toes felt extra tight, but that passed so I wasn't concerned.  But as I was cruising up the out and back along the river, at about the 16-17 miles mark, suddenly felt a sharp searing pain to my little toe.  I looked down and saw a dime sized area of blood and knew the toenail had lifted up off the nail bed.  I tried a few more steps and it was not happening.  Each step was excruciating.  I could walk on it, but not run.  I could turn back and walk it in and DNF, but the turn around was only about 1.5-2 miles away.  I came this far and I didn't want a DNF!

I was holding 2nd place.  There were no ladies in sight.  So I stopped running, pulled off my shoe and peeled off my sock.  This is where I discovered the bandage had bunched up after adhering to the lose nail, lifting it off the nail bed.  I ripped the bandage off, pulling off the dangling nail from where it attached to the nail bed.  From the time I stopped running it took less than 2 minutes total for me get the shoe, sock, and nail off and then put the sock and shoe back on.  

My bloody toe at the end of the race. 
As I ran, I watch the blood stain grow but the pain was a million times less.  I knew I could finish.  But the question was, could I hold 2nd.  If I was challenged to race it in, I felt that I couldn't.  Not really because of the toe, but mostly because I was tired and not in marathon shape right now.  I am heavier than I should be. My training has not been ON and my purpose for being out here was to use the race as training to get me back on track. 

I was looking forward to hitting the turn around because we had been running slightly up hill the entire time and I hoped to feel some gravity assist on the way back.  Unfortunately, the return trip was not as refreshing as I hoped it would feel.  I had a head wind on the way back down that simply made running down feel like I was running up.  

I noticed two ladies about a mile behind me, so I knew if I could just keep running, I should be able to hold 2nd. 

I was watching my splits, wondering if the mile markers were off and I would end up making up that .6 or more, I lost earlier or if the course would be short completely.  At this point, I just wanted to stop running and take my shoe off and a short course would be a blessing for me.  I truly just wanted this to be over. 

By the time I got to the finish I was less than a mile off. 25.3x.  So to be fair I am adding about 8 minutes to my time, even though I don't really believe it was a entire mile off.  I will call this a sub-3:30 and that feels about right and inline with what I expected.

The RD did report the course was reported to be short the day before and to correct this he added .8 to the marathon course by moving the turn around cone.  This just tells me that the course was very very short on day one and by day two we got a little closer.

The race only gave awards for First Overall and Age Group awards to others.  The RD handed out awards immediately upon runners finishing.  This made me happy because all I wanted to do was get in my car and pull off my shoes.  The Awards were definitely unique.

photo of awards from Fast-Finishes FB page

Time 3:22 (really sub-3:30) due to short course
Place: 2nd Female

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

USA-TF 50k Nationals: Caumsett Park, LI, NY 3/2/14

Photo by Enrique Sallent

This is one of the longest periods of time I have gone between racing and posting reports.  This is because I have been feeling very unwell and trying to not stress my immune system any more than necessary.

Thoughts about the Impact of Rocky Raccoon
I should have never attempted to Rocky Raccoon.  I do not fully regret my decision.  I was trained well enough to justify the attempt. I have run good 100-24 hour races in the past.  I took a year away from long efforts to give my body a chance to get stronger and possibly become better able to manage the stress of the long race on my system.  It was the 100 Mile Nationals on a fast course in what I hoped would be ideal weather for me. If there was ever a 100 mile race for me to try to run, I decided it should be the 100 Mile Nationals so if I had a great day, it could have resulted in something quite meaningful to me.

Photo by Donna Sajulga-Tabios
Had the race gone well, I would not reflect back on my decision to go as such a big mistake.  Unfortunately that race was not successful and it left me needing a week to recover at a crucial time in my 50K training. I anticipated that would happen. Due to some lingering mild achilles tendon ache, I must have begun over compensating with my right side because my right piriformis became chronically tight over the last month.  But those recovery issues were the least of my concern and they will resolve.

My Autoimmune System 
The real trouble for me is that after Rocky,  I experienced a crash of my immune system that left me feeling exhausted with achy inflamed joints everywhere.  My entire body has been struggling. The joint in my hands now hurt.  The muscles across my chest are tight and painful. It hurts to take deep breaths. My right shoulder through my armpit is painful and I can't lift my arm up to change my shirt.  My fingernails have gotten brittle and all have split.  My skin has broken out in raised patches of skin (mostly on my face and legs) that feels like a sunburn and a few days later it even peels. Each issue on its own is minor and tolerable, but collectively I feel like I am 100 years old. Running fast has started to become really hard to do. This is what happens to me about 3-4 times per year.  I am lucky that since running higher mileage regularly, I have no longer needed to visit the emergency room for the swelling and hives. (I really have no idea about whether the higher volume helps me stay well or whether I am getting stronger each year beyond my treatment and able to tolerate higher mileage?).

I am not looking for opinions about what is wrong.  I am just documenting my experience.  I know what is wrong.  I have an autoimmune system disorder that manifested after my cancer treatment and is likely a result of the chemotherapy and immunotherapy I received for 1.5 years to treat my cancer.  I have gone to 8 years worth of doctors.  I know that when I feel unwell, I need to simply rest more until symptoms resolve or get so bad that I need medication to treat them.  Running hard does not trigger the immune system crash as long as I run regularly and stay on a routine. Running hard after the symptoms start, feels impossible.  Haphazard running (with no regularity) at lower mileage is more likely to trigger a reaction than regularly running high miles.  I can run 100 miles per week and feel better than I do if I run 30 miles per week, as long as I build up to 100 carefully and my body tolerates its well.

In my experience and observation, my immune system crashes when additional stress is added to my life that throws off my sleep schedule or increases my fatigue. This hard winter, with lost of shoveling snow, with lot of stress about how to get to work on dangerous roads, with regular exposure to really cold temperatures, and also the addition of some life stressors have contributed to my immune system melt down.  My sleep has been horrible for the past 3 weeks.

Poor sleep in the most common factor I see related to when my immune system falls apart.  This is part of the reason I have stayed away from longer races, that go on over the course of the night.  Not only do they throw off my sleep for the night of the race, the next few days in a row are also disrupted and I tend to have an immune system melt down a week or so later.

This is exactly what happened after Rocky. I build my mileage carefully back up to 105+ miles prior to Rocky.  I tapered a bit and felt prepared to at least finish.  I ended up have a bad day.  After a few days of recovering from a 60 mile run, I was feeling strong enough to run far. I managed an impromptu 21 miler, but my immune system started to crash and that last run was the best run I had for the past 3 weeks.

Two weeks leading up to the race:
I simply wasn't able to get my mileage back up.  I tried to rest more to stop the fatigue from getting worse.  I tried to find a balance between maintaining a training schedule and resting.  I stopped doubling.  I lowered my peak mileage goal.  I drastically tapered as the race approached, knowing that training hard the week before would do nothing, but extreme rest could help.

Caumsett 50k:
The weather reports were making people crazy.  The crazy cold snowy winter had resulted in reports of another major storm heading in our direction for the weekend. Thanks to Sidney's flying, I learned that the most (only) reliable weather report is what you get when you step outside and look up.  As a rule, I never check the weather until the night before. People tend to either freak out about it or get excited then disappointed because it changed. It always changes.  I know it is winter.  I own a wide range running gear that can handle any condition.  I can guess what it will be like in 10 days as good as the 10 day forecast can. I find that I avoid a significant amount of distress and disappointment by not watching the weather until I absolutely need to check it (- either when I am packing for a trip to a race, or the night before/morning of the event).

The weather was significantly better than last year.  The temperatures were in the mid-30's from the start and stayed that way.  The wind was predicted to remain about 6 mph.  Precipitation (wintry mix) was predicted for the afternoon, hopefully not falling until after I was done running and hopefully after I got home.  It was easy to over dress.

Photo by Donna Sajulga-Tabios
What to Wear:
I chose a long sleeve tech shirt with a t-shirt over the top, capri pants with calf sleeves, and my T7 racing flats.  I added a hat, gloves, and neck warmer to start. I had a jacket over the shirts, but knew better than to start with it so I left behind just before lining up.  I pinned two gels to my shorts (flipping the over the waste band to allow them to stay put).  I carried nothing.  I drank water and gatorade while on the run.

The Race:
I was concerned about how the race would go, but I knew I would try my best no matter what the outcome.  I truly did not want two DNF's in a row and figured I would just do what I needed to do to finish, unless I felt I was doing some significant damage.

When I arrived at the race, I was thrown off because they changed the course.  It was still 10x 5k, but run backwards with a change to the side-spur. This threw me off a bit, but it was really no big deal.  I liked the old course.  It was good to me.  But I knew this year, I was not going to run great, so clean slate make it feel like I was starting over and I was ok with the.  I liked the idea that I could no longer directly compare my present self to my past performances.  I think that helped.

Even knowing I felt horrible, I still planned to start off at a competitive pace. I rarely show up and start a race slowly.  Today I started about 7:45 pace.  I came through the first lap in 24 minutes even.  That was just where I wanted to be if I wanted a PR… but I knew today was not that day. There is just no way I should run any where near a PR, when I consider how hard I trained to run a 4:03 last year.  I knew I would fade and it started in lap 2.  I was ok with that.  I was just trying to find a comfortable niche.  The truth is, today, nothing felt comfortable.  I felt sore and tight from the start and nothing loosened up.

At 3 laps out of 10 laps I was afraid I would not make it to 5 laps.  My achilles was tight as was my piriformis. I hoped they would loosen or at least not get worse. I know myself well enough to know that if I am feeling horrible by the half way mark, I am likely to drop by 2/3rd's into the race. But if I can get to 2/3rds feeling decent, no matter how crappy I feel in the last 1/3 I will likely finish it off.  Since I was already worried about dropping at lap 3 of 10, the DNF was looking more likely to happen.

I took a gel when I started to feel concerned about getting to 5 laps and it did help me refocus.  I like to try to trick myself at time.  When I take Gels I try to imagine them being like little magical packets of turbo fuel that will absolutely give me renewed strength and energy.  I know I get a good placebo effect from this, because I can convince myself I feel better as soon as I take it (knowing that nothing has actually digested).

Photo by Donna Sajulga-Tabios

Once I got to 5 laps, I started doing bad math on purpose, again thriving off tricking myself.  I focused on thinking "4 to go!…. after this one" just to make it sound like I had less left that I did.  At this point, I was doing anything I could to do stay in this mentally when physically I was falling apart.

At the start of lap 6, I got more confident that I could finish. I am just hoping to keep it under 4:30. I had no pep and the tightness I felt limited my stride length. When I try to pick up the pace, my chest hurt and that concerns me. (I have a leaky heart value, but it really doesn't impact my running)  I realized that I had forgot my inhaler in my bag. (I have asthma, but I don't find this to be an issue until I try to run faster than 7 minute miles in hot humid weather).  I just move as fast as I can without risking a DNF by pushing too hard.

With 3 laps to go I can't stop the fade.  My feet are starting to get tired and a little sore.  This is also to be expected. This is the first long race in just racing flats without my orthotics.  I was afraid I could do some damage out there, but I am so happy to report that I did not and my feet feel good!

I mentally check my "systems." Even thought I have a few aches, nothing is truly hurting me to a level of concern except my chest when I tried to pick up the pace, so I don't pick it up.  I know if I just stay steady, I will finish this off. As the laps passed I started to become so grateful that I fought to stay in it.  

As I start lap 10, I have a conversation with my grandmother.  This is unusual form.  I don't pray, but I do talk to my grandmother some times.  I don't often ask for anything.  Even when I had cancer I did not "ask" for divine help. I have a weird sense of guilt about asking for things.

As I started to reach the end of the loop, I reflect upon my prior 8th place and then two 7th place finishes at this race.  I thought about how happy I would be to finish today, but how it will feel a little bitter sweet to no longer be in the top 10 at a distance I considered "my event".  I remember saying to my grandmother, "I tried really hard today.  I know I didn't run my best race, but I worked harder than ever to not give up on myself.  I just want you to be proud of me... Any chance for a 10th place finish today to remind me why it is important to stick it out when I want to quit? How about you hook me up, Grandma? Ok?  LOL!"

But I knew that was a joke.  There were fast ladies here and I was sure the top 10 and more were already done.  I was over 20 minutes slower than last year, when I took 7th.  I was truly just grateful to finish it and not have to drive home heartbroken with my tail between my legs!

I crossed the line, saw Dave (and congratulated him for being awesome) and we went to get some soup.  I stopped with him for a photo and we started to walk back to the heated tent.  As I walked pasted the timing tent, a woman called out "Shannon, don't go anywhere.  Make sure you get your medal.  You were 10th Female!"

I turned to Dave and said, "OMG, I think I might actually cry!"  I believe he initially thought I was disappointed and saying I might cry because I didn't feel that 10th was good enough.  I quickly clarified that this meant so much to me.  I felt so sick and had no faith I could actually finish, I really fought hard for this. I told him that I was really proud that I stayed in this, even at a slower pace than last year, and that I talked to my grandmother and jokingly asked if there was shot at me getting a medal for sticking it out and not giving up…. and here it is!  That medal is a gift from my grandmother!"

I know a 4:25 is not an amazingly fast 50k in comparison to what the best ladies can do or what I have done.  I also know an 8:31 paced 31 mile run is still a really good race, feeling sick or not.  This is not a statement about what is good for all people, but rather a statement about what is good for me based upon my history of performances and personal abilities.  I would have liked to have been much more competitive at this race than I was this year.  I also know that because I was sick, I was really not competing with anyone else out there but my own perception of what I am capable of doing when I feel broken.

Even though I have run faster and placed higher, this medal is meaningful to me.  When I look at it, I don't have same feelings I get when I reflect on the times I trained smart and hard and then showed up to perform and pulled it off! Those medals will always remind me of what I can do at my best and I am very proud of those performances.

This medal is different and will remind me that even at my perceived worst, I am actually better than I think I am. It will remind me to remember to have faith in myself, to forget the ego and slow down so that I can just stay in the game… because sometimes even on a "bad day" the universe and possibly those who occupy the heavens above (or in my heart) might find a way to show me they are paying attention to what I do and they might even find a way to remind me that they are proud of me.

Time: 4:25
Place 10th Place Overall Female