State 22: B.A.A. Half Marathon

When I was looking for a race to choose for Massachusetts, I knew I wanted it to be in Boston.  I stumbled across the B.A.A. Half Marathon in 2015 but had missed registration for it.  As I read about the race, I learned that it’s part of a distance challenge and the best way to guarantee entry is to sign up for the medley of a 5k, 10k and half spread across the year.   In 2016 I paid special attention to registration deadlines, set an alarm on my phone and registered for the medley right on time.  I never had any intention of doing the first two races, just wanted a guaranteed entry to the half.

When I learned the 5k race shared weekends with THE Boston Marathon, I decided to run that as well.  Chap and I used my companion pass to both get out there, and made a weekend of the 5k race, my first trip to Boston and spectating the marathon.  (Side note: Before we left for this trip, I had just signed up for the Jack and Jill Marathon with Michelle.  This is the trip that inspired me to train to qualify. )  This post isn’t about that weekend so I’m not going to write much about it here, but enjoy the pictures!

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State 22: Massachusetts

I loved Boston so much in April and was thrilled to revisit it this fall.  I was looking forward to colored leaves and crisp temperatures.  Unfortunately we didn’t get either of those.  Chap has been a reliable and wonderful travel and race companion but he didn’t get invited on this trip.   I wanted to share my companion pass with a long time soul sister and so invited one of my very oldest and best friends Katie (also the one who got me to Tulsa!) to come run with me.

We had a mediocre training cycle.  Honestly the summer and early fall just kind of disappeared in front of our eyes.  We’re both small business owners, Katie has a two year old and while we managed to stay very committed to working out, we just didn’t get the weekend long runs in.  We made it up to 8 miles in training and I knew that would be enough to get us across the line so we called it good.

It also helped us to enjoy our trip – alleviating the pressure of going for a particular time on an unfamiliar course.  I try to plan two or three runs a year where I’ll really go for it and the others are just meant to be enjoyable.  Because of this we were able to eat and drink and walk all over Boston without worrying about it affecting our performance on Sunday.

You can read a play by play of our tour of Boston on the Studio blog here.

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Carb loading.  Not totally justified but still delicious.

I want to recap three pros and three cons of the race on this blog today, more of a review of the event than the trip.

Pros

  1. Boston.  Boston is a historic city on its own.  But there is so much running history too.  One morning Katie and I went to the river to do a few shakeout miles and on our way back to the train stop, I saw a group of girls running through Boston Common who I recognized but couldn’t quite pinpoint.  I later recognized them as the women behind my favorite planner – Believe Training Journal.
  2. Race organization.  Our bibs were mailed to us.  We picked up our shirts at the finish line.  There was no waiting around or messing with an expo and it was awesome.
  3. Race course.  The course was scenic and beautiful.  We ran through the Emerald Necklace park system.  It was pretty full of rolling hills which I wasn’t really prepared for but we handled them (thanks, Tulsa).

Cons

  1. The Weather.  This was out of anyone’s control of course but our plans to just run and then dry shampoo our hair when we got back to the Air BnB (when we thought it would be in the 50s) went out the window in the first mile.  No one’s fault but still.
  2. Race organization.  There were over 6,000 runners and a single start!  On narrow park trails.  That is crazy to me.  Maybe because they’re Boston and they can get away with it.
  3. Race course. Though scenic, it was crowded because of the single start.  Parts of it had us running against later miles of the course and it was especially tight then.  And smelly.  Lots of humid, sweaty runners.

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    Crowded

This was definitely just a checkmark state and more of an excuse to go back to Boston with a best girlfriend.  It’s always better with some company, and not always about setting PRs, breaking 2 hours or running the whole way.

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Pre Race (we’re as tired as we look)

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If you want to be coached to your first or fastest race, email me!  coachsprenkel@gmail.com.  Customized plans, including run workouts, strength workouts and stretching.

 

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Rudolph Run Week 11 Update

This week was pretty exciting for me.  We officially started our running club at StudiOne and I checked off another state (#22) on my half marathon quest.  My typical running days fall on the same days we host the club at the Studio so I took a little detour from my specific plan this week to make sure our group was all set to go.  We had a lot of fun, everyone worked really hard and I’m thrilled to get this program going for Tulsa!

  • Track:  I was supposed to get in 5×800 but the girls in the group weren’t ready for that distance yet so we dropped down to 400s.  I took some time running with each participant so wasn’t at my pace.  But I figured since it’s race week and all, any miles out there are good miles.  2.29 total.
  • Tempo:  Similar story here.  Usually I’ll tack on some additional miles after our group run, but today I did not.  I had a lot of work to get done before trying to pack for the Boston trip, and considered any miles logged good miles.  I went 2.66 with the group at a comfortable pace.
  • Shake-out:  This was a bonus run for the week.  Katie and I got to Boston on Friday for our Sunday race.  I knew the race was going to be in a park system and not around the downtown area so I asked if she would go with me for an easy run around the Charles.  She said yes and we got 2.48 done on Saturday.
  • Long: RACE!  This week my long run got to be the B.A.A. Half Marathon.  Katie and I ran it together and because of the surprisingly warm weather, rolling hills and lack of proper endurance training, we walked a little bit.  Our goal was to finish and have some fun doing it, and also get to explore Boston a little.  We walked probably a half marathon distance on Saturday (not ideal race prep!) but didn’t want this run to slow down our sightseeing.  The race ran through the park system in the southwest part of town.  I wasn’t crazy about the course, mostly because I think I’d rather run through some parts of the city, but it was scenic and lovely.  A few leaves starting to turn on the trees. (I’ll post more details about our Boston Trip later this week).

Total Miles: 20.9

Overall, even though this week didn’t go exactly to plan (only 2 Fit Camps, no yoga and not prescribed runs), I am pleased with the consistency of the days and my flexibility around our trip.

Thirty Thursdays: 2 Night Camping Trip

The summer after we started dating, Chap introduced me to a type of landscape I hadn’t yet explored – the Colorado mountains.  In the heat of summer in Tulsa, a summer trip to hike is always on the mind.  The next winter, I conquered the winter mountains and learned to snow ski.  After that trip, we decided my next Colorado adventure should be a 2-night overnight camping trip.  I put it on my 30 before 30 list and it was planned a few months later.

Preparations

I had zero camping gear.  No boots, no sleeping gear, no suitable outerwear, no hiking socks, no tent, no backpack and no clue.  Just a lot of workout clothes (those came in handy!).  Luckily I had a team of two clients supply everything I could have imagined needing, right down to a hatchet.  Big backpack, smaller backpack, fleece jacket, rain jacket, water bottles, bear spray, headlamps and the list goes on.  Chap was able to supply everything else we would need (tent, blankets, water filter).

I packed everything I could think of.  Our not-so-specific plan was to land in Denver, stop at REI so I can get hiking boots and further our plan from there (pick a place to hike and camp).  Very much a team of flying by the seats of our pants.  We asked one of the REI employees to make a suggestion for the rest of our itinerary.  With his help, we decided we would head to hike up a 14er and then drive over to Indian Peaks to camp.

Hiking Mt. Evans

Neither of us had fully hiked a 14er before and we were both up for the challenge.  I can’t remember exactly how we decided on Mt. Evans, I think the employee helped us and Chap thought there was some passageway connecting to another peak.  It’s all a little fuzzy because of what unfolded after.

If there is any lesson to be learned from the following story, it’s that you should ALWAYS listen to the park rangers.  And the second lesson is don’t begin a hike to the summit in the afternoon.  We started our hike up Mt. Evans in the early afternoon, after being warned by a friendly park ranger that it wasn’t a good time to be going up, “afternoon storms will be rolling in.”  Well it seemed to be clear enough to us (idiots) and I was eager to get moving after hours in the car.

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Heading up Mt. Evans

We made it to the spot above and stopped for a picture.  This is where we debated continuing on or not.  I’m a go-getter and really wanted to make it all the way around the crest so we kept on.  It looked clear enough (see the sun behind us?!).  As we climbed, we encountered some goats and a few other hikers, two of whom passed us up to continue on.  The temperatures dropped so I put on my windbreaker and hood.  It started raining, and even hailing a little bit.

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Rain and hail

Just after this picture was taken, a little bit of chaos ensued.  Chap looked back at me and says (I’m taking his word for it, otherwise it’s the best prank he’s pulled on me ever), “Do you feel that hail on your jacket?”.  And yes, there was a little bit of hail but then his eyes got wide because my hair was standing straight up.   He threw his hat to the ground because he realized the sound of the “hail” on his hat was actually static electricity in his ears.  I still had no idea what was going on and he shouts at me, “Do you have anything metal on you?” and I was like, “I don’t know, a zipper, my phone, the keys what is going on”.

“We gotta get down this mountain as fast as we can.”

So, we started running.  We’re not really talking so that we can focus on jumping and stepping down the uneven terrain.  I’m ready at any moment to throw anything that I think is metal off my body, including the car key.  After about a half mile run down the mountain, we found some cover underneath a rock and I am ready to camp out and call it good.  But Chap said we had to go for it or we’d be stuck there for hours.  Just a few minutes after we resumed running a giant clap of thunder and flash of lightning struck somewhere behind us and I think for the first time in my life I actually thought I might be killed.  I was kind of anticipating the lightning strike on my body as we ran and also thinking about how grateful I was for Fit Camp and running as I ran for my life down that mountain.

We obviously made it down to safety and lived to tell the tale, but learned those two lessons on the way down.   The storms stuck around for a while, all along the towns on 70 so we decided to bag the first night of tent camping.  I’d had enough of mother nature for the day and wanted a sheltered room to sleep in, and some pizza.

Camping at Indian Peaks

After a semi-restful night at a roadside motel near Granby Lake, we set out for our hiking adventure.  Our new plan was to park the car, hike in with our camping gear, stay the night and hike back out in the morning.  After filling up with plenty of coffee and delicious breakfast, we visited the ranger station for a map and headed into the trail.

The weather was perfect, and I was especially grateful for the sunshine after our eventful storm adventure the day before.  All the excitement I wanted today was to see a moose.  We walked and walked, talking and talking.  My shoes were comfortable and the trail was ever changing.  It wasn’t a strenuous hike but a beautiful trail through the trees and sometimes through open valleys with the mountains on both sides of us.

We took our time, stopping at waterfalls for pictures and taking plenty of snack breaks.  I don’t think we really had an end point in mind, we were just looking for a soft place to pitch our tent after about 5 miles into the woods.

We set up camp and continued along the trail to Crater Lake.  The water was so crisp and clear!  Chap got in, but it was way too cold for my tastes (snow melt basically).

By this point in our trip we had run out of pre-packed water and were down to using a filter system.  I was a little wary of it but what choice did I have?  We stopped along a stream to fill back up, and then returned to our tent for a camp-cooked meal.  Chap, ever on the search for the best view, hiked us up past our tent to the top of a little rock formation.  It was perfect and beautiful.  There aren’t even any pictures because I knew that they wouldn’t do the view justice.  We sat up there cooking our freeze dried food and watched the sunset.

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It was hard to sleep for a few reasons.  The cold.  A tiny fear of wildlife.  The hard ground.  And the freeze dried food wasn’t sitting well in my stomach.  Or maybe it was the filtered water.  Either way, I was a big fan of this camping adventure, until we woke up the next morning.  We’d brought a shit shovel with us, because you’re supposed to cover your tracks and I was so hoping to not have to use it on our 36 hour adventure.  But that was not to be the case.  Was definitely not a fan of that just as my digestive system was not a fan of the home cooked meal.

After I returned to camp, we packed up and headed on our way out of the park.  I love the hiking aspect of camping, so if we can figure out a way to incorporate bathrooms and more comfortable sleeping arrangements in the middle of some long hikes, I’m game forever.

We ended this trip with a gigantic nap before we went to see Eric Church and Maren Morris at the Red Rocks.  A big bucket list trip!

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Refreshed after a shower and giant nap!

Do you have any good camping stories?  Or tips to help me out next time?

The New Road to Boston

This past week was the final acceptance of official qualifications for the 2018 Boston Marathon.  I was not anxiously waiting to see if my time allowed me to participate because I knew my 3:39:36 in July didn’t make the Female 18-35 year old age group cut-off of 3:35:00.  This year participants had to beat the cutoff by over 3 minutes to qualify.  Which is why I’m training to target a 3:30 next year.

Seeing all of this for the past few weeks on Instagram Runners’ feeds (people I don’t know but still follow through the IG running community) has really inspired me to think again about qualifying and to make a formal strategic plan.  I want to try again next year and I want to do it at the same race.  I’ll be familiar with the course, where to stay and the time of year spent in training.  July is a long way off so it gives me time to mentally and physically prepare, too.

Big Picture Boston Plan

There are three phases of this training – 5k, half and final.  The first 12 weeks, I will follow a 5k training plan to help me build my anaerobic and aerobic bases back up, and get me back down to some paces I haven’t seen in a while.  For the first two or three weeks of September I was trying to hop back in on a half marathon plan and those distances were just too intimidating.  I was excited to start the 5k workouts so that’s what I picked.  The target race is the Rudolph Run on December 16 in Broken Arrow.  It’s the last of my 4 Seasons challenge and I’ll have completed 3 of the 4.

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One step at a time.

The second phase rolls in right behind the 5k, with maybe a week off for pulling back a little bit.  I’ll jump up to the half marathon distances in training to target the Aquarium Run at the start of April next year.  This is the course I PRd on this year and I’m ready to do it again.  A sub 1:40 would have me really feeling good about starting marathon training.

After the half race, I’ll start the training cycle for the 3:30 marathon.  It’ll be just like last year except I’ll have snuck that half marathon training in the middle.  When I decided to go for the full this past time, I was only training for 5k distances so really had to make a big jump in miles.

The cool thing is, if I stick with it in all areas of the training (strength, runs, yoga, maintenance, nutrition), I know I can do it.  I know it.  And it can be next year.

But it starts with right now.  It starts with a daily commitment to some kind of progress.  I ordered another Believe Training Journal so I could start fresh and enjoyed keeping track of runs this week.

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Graduated to “Compete” this year

 

12 weeks to Rudolph 5k

This first week of training went really well.  I have a renewed spirit towards running after a long rest in August and a tough few weeks trying to get miles back under my feet in early September.  I changed my plan to shorter distances and have enjoyed getting back out there.  The temps are dropping too which is beautiful and amazing.  I got three runs in this week:

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Week 1 of Cycle 1 complete!  Almost 100% compliance (no yoga)

  • Track: 8 sets of 400.  I love 400s and the quick turnover of the feet.  I managed to get a few sub 6:30s and the rest sub 7:30.
  • Tempo:  I was planning to do a 1,2,1 tempo but got a 1.5 warmup in because of friends, 2 hard miles and about a half mile cooldown.  Those 2 miles in the middle were my first sub-8 miles since marathon training.  #celebratethelittlethings.
  • Long: I ran long with my friend Katie this morning.  We’re doing a half marathon in Boston next weekend so went a little farther than I would normally for a 5k this weekend.  We made it to 8.8, taking it from the Studio to the west side of the river just past the soccer fields.  It was a beautiful perfect morning.

Total miles: 25.94

That’s more than half the miles I ran all of September combined!  Good turnaround at the end of the month!

I should have done more yoga this week but have been busy planning a running program here for the studio.  I will do more yoga next week than I did this week and that will be an improvement!

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100% days in October so far! 1/1 days I made progress to my goals.

If you want help making an attainable plan for you, reach out to me and I can help you hit your goals!  Whether you want to get faster or go farther – I’ve got the tools and experience to get you there!

Tulsa Love: Retro Den Homestyling, Part 3

It’s been a while since I posted a home update.  Early in 2017, I hired the Ashleys of Retro Den to come in and help me perk up my living room.  If you need a refresher, check the before pictures and story here and check my first session of homework here.  I cringed a little bit looking back at some of those before pictures while crafting this blog post.  I love my update so much, I’d completely blacked out how bad the before was.

Couch Considerations

After I painted the fireplace and took the map off the hook, my next biggest task was picking out furniture.  I really wanted a tufted, beige and big couch.  Also with nailhead trim.  Like this one.

I was pretty set on that style.  And was working hard to get the almost $800 it would take to get that couch through my front door (delivery and assembly fees are nuts!).  The Ashleys were very patient with me, and offered up many additional suggestions via text and Pinterest for me to consider.   A considerable amount of time went into the discussions about this couch purchase.  Here are a few key points the Ashleys made to me (gently, I didn’t feel pressured or upset at these at all):

  1. Sprenk, you have a black-haired dog and want a fancy beige-ish couch.  We love Miley (and you) but know that she is not trained to stay off the furniture because you love her too much.
  2. Do you want the couch and beautiful coffee table from our store to be the only pieces of furniture in your room?  Because your budget is flat gone if you purchase this couch.  No rug.  No plants.  No gallery wall.
  3. Your Pinterest board tells us you really want something a little more simple than this couch you’re attracted to.  What about this one?  Let your table be the star of the show.

That Ikea couch was ordered later that night.  And after a morning of self-assembling, I had a place to sit!  (Had been couchless a few weeks while I made up my mind).

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Coming together!

My living room was arranged this way for a week or so while we sorted out what kind of rug I should get.  The Ashleys recommended (and again were spot on) a jute rug.  I found one on sale at Overstock.com and ordered it!

Between the couch, rug and a few key plants scattered around the room, my budget was about spent.  I am so happy I decided to forego the fancy couch for a complete feel in this room.  We started to browse for two arm chairs that could go opposite the couch when fate stepped in.

My new roommate Michelle (the same one who convinced me to run the marathon this year) has amazingly complementary taste to mine and her couch and chair just polished off the look.  So, I’m home free for a while until I find the perfect set of chairs for my space.

I refuse to put any of the before pictures on this page because they are so horrible.  You can go back to one of the original posts to see them, or read about this project from the Ashleys point of view on their blog.

Up next for this room is the gallery wall project that’s taken a few months for my slow moving hiney to get together.  Another perk about the Ashelys is they let you take your time doing your homework :).  If you haven’t hired them yet to style a space in your home, what are you waiting for?

 

My Summer Long Run Uniform

I made a pledge at the start of the year to not purchase any items of clothing for all of 2017 (with a few exceptions).  At this point in the game, I hadn’t signed up to run a marathon yet, so I made a few more exceptions once I was enlisted in this endeavor and had miles of training in front of me.  I wore two particular articles of clothing for every long run and during the race.  They were perfect and I have no complaints about either item of clothing.  Since I loved them so much, I want to tell you about each piece.  I will definitely be buying a second pair of each once my purchasing ban is lifted and I start summer training again next year.

The Perfect Running Bra

It does exist and it is made by Lululemon.  I have squeezed myself into sports bra after sports bra but this is the one y’all: The Enlite Bra.

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Summer long run uniform

I’m lucky in that I don’t have to contend too much with my girls and their bounce or weight when I run.  And I’d honestly never really thought twice about a good sports bra, until I wore this one.   It made the days I wore other sports bras seem restrictive and uncomfortable.

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Full coverage on the front and no bouncing!

I love the Enlite because it has individual cups for each gal.  Turns out I don’t really love having them smooshed into a uni-boob.  I also love that it hooks in the back in addition to the usual elasticity of sports clothing because that helped eliminate some of the bounce that happens when running (again, I don’t have much to contend with here, but I did notice).  The criss-crossed straps in the back also helped me feel tucked in and tight.  The best part though was probably the fabric.  It is SO soft.  And there’s something magical about it that doesn’t collect sweat (and man were there some sweaty days in July gearing up for that race).  I remember wearing a different bra on a humid night run of way less than half the distance of some of those morning long runs and I had to wring it out it got so soaked in sweat.  I never had to wring out the Enlite, because of the magic fabric.

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Enlite Bra + mid thigh tights = perfect running combo

The Perfect Running Bottoms

When I first started running, I wasn’t too picky about the kind of clothing I had on.  I didn’t know any better.  It only took one run over 5 miles to learn that shorts are not a good option for my legs for that many miles.  No thigh gap there.  So for years, I’ve run in mid-length tights all through the summer months for runs over 5 miles.  When the temps started to climb in Oklahoma on this marathon training cycle, I knew I needed a different plan.

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I spy a phone tucked into a side pocket

I bought my favorite pair of running bottoms to date.  They are the mid-thigh tight shorts that remind me of biker shorts.  They’re amazing for a few reasons:

  1. They are way cooler (as in temps) than tights just a few inches longer.
  2. They are way more comfortable than traditional shorts and I can wear them for miles and miles without a concern of chafing.
  3. THEY HAVE SIDE POCKETS

I’ve written about my love for side pockets before but I’ll reiterate again.  As a digital runner who uses her phone for music, run tracking and instagramming on the run, side pockets changed the game for me.  There is less sweat there than at the normal small-of-the-back pocket and the bounce from the large device is minimal when it’s snug against your leg.  There’s also plenty of room for hours of snacks and mid-run essentials like salt tablets and Aleve.  I’ll never buy pants or shorts intended for running without side pockets again.  Ever.

Unfortunately this version of the shorts is no longer in production but I’ll let you know when something similar is available for purchase.   I’ll definitely be buying another pair when they come back around!

 

 

The Greatest Adventure

I wrote this post for our StudiOne blog right after the race but I never shared it here.  I’m not sure how much crossover there is between my two worlds but I wanted to re-share it here because I think there’s an important message about believing in yourself in my story.   Mine is specifically running, but yours could be anything else.  Job, school, relationships.  Put in the work and see what happens before you sell yourself short.  You just might believe you can do it (I’ll be trying again next year!).

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Whose idea was this anyway?

Last weekend, StudiOne instructor Michelle and I traveled to the west coast to run in our Jack and Jill Marathon.  We’d been training for 16 weeks in hopes of qualifying for the Boston Marathon.  I, Sprenkel, was originally planning to accompany Michelle on her BQ attempt and check off the half marathon distance of my 21st state.  But, on the day we registered back in February, the half was already sold out.  So I committed to the full, but only reluctantly.  I, Sprenkel, who after my last marathon in 2013 called my dad to make him promise to never let me sign up for another one, was game to run 26.2 miles again (never say never, eh?) but was not interested in the work or idea of qualifying for Boston.  Well, ok the idea of it because what runner isn’t?  But I am a half marathoner, a recent 5k racer and never in my 10 years of running would I have considered myself strong enough to qualify for Boston.  Never.  (This is important, are you getting it?)

Somewhere between the time of signing up and starting our official training, I’d been convinced by two women that I could at least train like I wanted to qualify.  One of them was Michelle, who was begging for a training partner, and also believed in me before I did.  The other was Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to register and run in the infamous 1967 Boston Marathon.  I listened to her speak in April and this line brought me to tears, “We are very good at underestimating what we’re capable of.”  That settled it.  I flew home to Michelle and we started training the very next week.  Who am I to stand in my own way?

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Lots of miles on Brookside

The first half of training went really, exceptionally well.  Our schedules matched so we were able to run most of our training days together.  The weather was great, we were hitting our paces and the grudge of weeks and miles of training hadn’t set in yet.  Then more than halfway through, our schedules changed, the weather turned nasty and the long miles dragged on.  I was making bets left and right to help me eat right and get the last of my miles in.  But we dug in and got the training done.

Going into the race, we were both unsure of what to actually expect.  Michelle scoped out the course that was most likely to get us a fast time, which is why we hauled ass across the US to run.  The 40 degree temperature difference would certainly work in our favor and so would the downhill.  But still, that doubt lingered that we could hit the low 8:00 paces because we hadn’t been in the Tulsa heat and humidity.  I almost tossed in the BQ towel before the race even started.

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Shakeout run on the sound

We had a beautiful first full day in Seattle that we spent carefully eating and touring around.  We went for a shakeout run on the river at noon time and barely broke a sweat.  It was heaven.  There was a lot of chatter about our race strategy to keep us from going out too fast.  I definitely couldn’t pull one of my 5k race starts where I bolt out of the gate – too many miles for that.  We made sure to stock up on fuel for during the race (my Aunt Annie’s fruit snacks) and a blanket for the start line since we would be waiting around for an hour.  We tried to go to bed early but our nerves kept us up later than we would have liked.  Luckily we were running on more than 12 hours of sleep from the previous night.

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Marathon morning

Race day came at 3am on Sunday.  We got dressed in our layers and put our glide on all the proper seams.  There are so many sequential things important in this time period.  We had to leave by 3:45 am to make it to our 4:30 bus on time.  After we were dressed and made sure we had all the watches, headphones, playlists, snacks and pills (salt and Aleve) we would need, we made our breakfast of steel cut oats and ran out the door.

I stayed surprisingly calm throughout the whole morning.  I get more nervous for 5ks than I did for this.  I was calm on the bus, although I did get a little annoyed at all the race chatter going on on the bus.  At that point, you’ve done everything you can to get ready for the race and I didn’t want to hear any more what if this happens or what if that happens?  I stayed calm as we huddled under our blanket waiting for the start.  Even stayed calm on the walk to the start line and the quick hop into the bushes for one last bathroom break (hey it happens, and you don’t want to have to stop on the course if you’re going for time).  Before I knew it, we were off, and I was still calm.

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Headlamps for the tunnel

It felt so good to be running.  The mountains were incredible, the temperature was perfect and I had my best running pal by my side.  Without a definite plan still, I just wanted to run by feel and keep a mindful approach to my breath and effort levels.  About half a mile in we hit the famous Snoqualmie tunnel.  For about 2.5 miles of disorienting darkness, we paced behind the 3:35 pace man.  It was quiet except for the steps of runners, and occasional drip drip of water in puddles and the steady breathing of a dozen people around me.  I didn’t have any signal in the tunnel so had no music in my ears.

At mile 3 we popped out the other side and I was so happy to be able to see the whole ground beneath me.  I shed my top long sleeve layer and tossed the headlamps into the bucket.  Soon after, a flood of my Motigo messages for miles 1-3 came all at once.  Michelle and I laughed out loud in excitement of the familiar voices.

For a good amount of miles after the tunnel, we ran together, comfortably and steadily.  The scenery was indescribable and I wished often that I wasn’t racing so I could have stopped to take pictures.  We were surrounded by beautiful green trees, an expansive blue sky above us and the green landscape was dotted with bright, colorful flowers beside the trail.  Somewhere in those middle miles, I looked at Michelle and said, “I think we can make it.”

When we got to the mile 15 water stop, I knew some of the toughest miles were ahead of us.  I was still feeling strong so I kept a pretty good pace.  I have to walk through the water stops or I’ll swallow too much air, but I tried to move as quickly as I could.  Working for the next mile marker and Motigo message with every step.  The water tables were about two miles apart and by 17 I didn’t have Michelle in my sights anymore when I looked back over my shoulder.  We’d made an agreement that we would stay together as long as we could, but then if one of us needed to push on, to leave the other.

There’s a famous quote in the running world: “The first half of the marathon is 20 miles, the second half is the last 6.2”.  And y’all is there truth to that.  When I hit mile 20, I was still moving along at goal pace but then it’s like all at once all your systems start to shut down.  Knees, feet and ankles were aching.  Soon the shoulders joined in the party.  I felt like I was going as fast as I could but I also knew I had slowed down.  But I kept moving.  Keep moving for the cheers!  I was always excited to see who would be there to greet me at the next mile.   And I even got a little miffed on a few miles when I knew there were certain people aware of the difficulty of those miles (18 and 20).

Those final six miles passed so slowly and at this point, after the 3:35 pacer passed me, I had no expectation of hitting a qualifying time.  But I was still so so amazed at my own run.  The last mile was the hardest: Motigo had no option for cheers at mile 26 (something I plan to speak to them about), a man on the sidelines cheering shouted out, “Just under 500 yards to go” and I spent at least 500 yards trying to figure out how far that is in meters, and still had no finish line in sight, and my shoulders were aching so much.  I’d developed a calf cramp that had modified my gait a little bit and was pretty much shuffling along the trail.  Then I saw it.  And perked up a bit.  Despite all the pain, I still felt surprisingly strong so I put on my best sprint and crossed the finish line.

I took my medal and two bottles of water before trotting back to find Michelle.  She finished strong, not far behind me.  We both hobbled around gathering up snacks and our start line bags.  We called or texted our biggest fans with our times and limped over to the shuttle bus.  Michelle couldn’t feel her legs and I had such a bad cramp in my shoulder that I couldn’t move my left arm.

jackjillmarathonfinal

We did it!

Looking back, a week later, I don’t remember any sadness or disappointment from either of us.  During the race I was reminded so powerfully of the magic of running, and especially the magic of a well-trained for marathon.  They’re not always enjoyable, and not every step of Jack and Jill was bliss.  But, for most of those 26.2 miles, I felt fearless, strong and capable.  I thought back on training struggles, days I wanted to give up, and doubts I had in myself.  I remembered years ago when running used to be a punishment to myself for overeating or indulging in delicious food.  And I celebrated that now running is a tool I use to feel strong and able.  I listened with so much love in my heart to my messages from friends and family, near and far.  I was overwhelmed with gratitude and humility that so many people would take time out of their days to cheer for me (Motigo founder reached out to me to tell me I set the record for cheers in a single race <3).

Before the race, I thought of one of my favorite quotes, “Maybe it won’t work out, but maybe seeing if it will is the greatest adventure ever.”  I was at peace at that starting line that even if we missed it, I grew as a runner in that training cycle.  My perception of myself and my capabilities completely shifted.  I never missed a track workout. I completed long runs in the 80+ degrees of the Tulsa summer, while friends were in town and before vacations.  I ran on treadmills on cruise ships.  I said no to brunch and dinner plans, donuts and ice cream for 16 weeks.  And oh man, did Michelle and I adventure through the city streets and weather of Oklahoma.  But I grew.  I stretched.  I pushed.  Michelle gave me the nudge I needed to at least think about it, and then the support I needed to get through it.  Kathrine gave me the push to commit to trying.  And I gave myself permission to fly.  I can’t wait to go back and get that BQ!

Don’t stand in your own way y’all.  We are our biggest critics, doubters and obstacles.  If you need a nudge, or a support team like I had, myself, Teresa and the students and teachers at StudiOne can help you.  It’s fall racing season in Tulsa – pick an October or November race and see what you can do!