Race ready, blog not-so-steady

Hey you! Remember me? I’m the girl who wanted to blog about her marathon training and have alas made it this far, only to fail. But I guess its better to fail at the writing than the running.

There are fifteen days until my first marathon. I’m already starting to feel a post-race depression kick in. I feel it every time I work out. I feel it while I taper. What do you mean I only have to run EIGHT miles this weekend?! Ooh-wee, I’m leaving the vaseline and the GU at home, papa.

Two weeks ago, I finally hit the point where I knew I was ready. I ran 20 miles – the only thing that scared me more than the actual run. That day was phenomenal. The sun was out. My Honey Badger pre-workout did it’s justice and turned me into an unusual 6 a.m. chatterbox. (Seriously… do NOT try and talk to me in the morning). I had my traditional night-before sushi coma that was more delicious than ever. I slept well. My body felt great with no injury in sight. Everything went just as it was supposed to.

When training started, I vowed that each long run would be met with a new product test. This time, we worked really hard at the whole eating thing. I have never craved nor savored a bagel more than I did at mile nine (and I’m a Jew, so that says something). I was let in on a *spudworthy* secret at mile 12 and at the end, I devoured a hamburger, fries, three beers and two shots of whisky that numbed any cramp or pain that came my way. So, when a runner tells you they “run to eat,” it seriously is so very true.

After a two mile incline in the super hot sun, my running gal pal told me I should give myself a “whoop whoop” at the top. What came out of my mouth and what she actually heard resulted in my new mating call, my new holler and what you should yell at me any chance you get (like from the cheering sections on race day): “Jew Whoop!” While that’s not what I said, it’s fitting and Ann had every right to think I would come up with something so clever.

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As I sprint around some of the memories from that day, the one that keeps crossing my mind the most is the thought of being ready and how I felt it most in the last three miles. Truly, it’s because of the people I had with me that day. The ones who texted me every few miles to check-in, the ones who surprised me with a group Facebook follow, the ones who pulled over in the middle of the street to honk at me, and most importantly, the ones who ran with me. I have never felt luckier in life than I have since training began.

But also knowing that I’ve worked my ass off these last six months has left me with such a feeling of completion, even though I haven’t officially ran the race yet. I’ve remained committed. I haven’t quit. I’ve dedicated early mornings, late nights and weekends to accomplishing something I never dreamed I would do. Something I told everyone I would NEVER do. Something I am, now, GOING to do.

Fifteen days separates me. Each day I get a little more nervous, but each day I recall that feeling of being ready because I AM ready.

The 18-mile slump ender

Alright, it happened. Four and a half months into training, I hit my wall. My point of exhaustion. My point of disinterest. My point of wanting to quit. I’ve had to force myself to the gym, force myself to run, force myself to be cautious of my diet and more. I skipped a few runs. I strayed from my training schedule. I went on vacation, drank wine and fruity little drinks, ate everything in sight (including cake for breakfast… Hey, it was my birthday) and avoided my Saucony shoes at all costs. Sure, it helped me regain focus – but man was it rough to return from a “do what I want” mindset back to “goddamnit I’m running a marathon in less than two months, I probably shouldn’t eat this whole box of Girl Scout cookies.” And what better way to get past a wall than to run 18 grueling miles?

But alas, Friday night I ate a healthy serving of spaghetti and meatballs, went to bed at 10:30 p.m. and woke up Saturday earlier than I even do for work. I went through the usual preparations: hydration tab, coffee, bathroom break, toast with peanut butter and banana, bathroom break, put away the dishes, cleaned up trash, vaselined my who-ha, played Candy Crush, bathroom break, pre-workout, packed my fanny, bathroom break and whatever else I could find to procrastinate. At 6:58 a.m., I was gone.

I mapped out my route the night before – from home, down my usual South Meadows and Longely turf, to some new pavement with plenty to stare at as I ran by. I took my first break at mile six, a lovely, strangely crowded-at-an-early-hour Starbucks and was pretty confident in how I felt. I caught wind of some foot pain in the first few miles so those passed rather quickly complete with begging them to get me through *just* sixteen more miles.

As I neared my halfway point, I noticed a familiar sight – bright orange cones, mile markers, an aid station and some cheerful volunteers – I was crashing a race! Party on, Wayne! I had forgotten about the Biggest Little City Half Marathon that was debuting that day, but more so,  I had no idea it was crossing my path. As it was on a public course around Virginia Lake, I kept doing the damn thing (with proper race etiquette of course). The coolest part? I recognized some of the local elite runners so I knew I was running alongside the fastest. Regardless, they all treated me like I was one of them. Every runner I crossed paths with, thought I was one of them. They cheered me on, gave me the thumbs-up and a few even said, “only six more miles to go!” Ha! You funny people. I’m flattered, but these legs have to go another NINE MILES )(@*$(*@#.

I took a decent break at the halfway mark to refuel, stretch and snap a selfie. I felt good. Hell, I felt great. A week ago, I had a real tough time running ten miles. How was it that just a few days and a few skipped workouts later, I was feeling stronger than ever? Actually… who cares? I’m a bad ass.

Annnd.. that all changed quickly. I felt myself losing the gusto. An emotional switch instantly turned on. I got overwhelmed with the thought of May 1. I got teary-eyed thinking about my journey. I was a mess and hobbling my way through it. Then suddenly I hear “three miles to go” trigger from my Nike app. I matched my furthest distance. Only a 5K was left. Just three miles. You made it this far. Go.

Though the last bit was met with speed walking, backward walking and of course, painful strides, I did it. Three hours and forty-five minutes later – I did it. Where the hell was my doughnut and beer? (Answer: across the street. When I was done, I b-lined for the nearest grocery store and raided the bakery. I was glad to have those tasty, well-deserved calories burn right through my runner’s body.

Lookout world, I’m an almost-marathoner.

The Longest Yard (or Mile… Whatever)

Pardon my tardiness on this post, I just ran 15 miles. Just as in six days ago but who’s really keeping track? My quads, apparently.

I did it! I think one of the biggest road blocks I’ve had in my mind during this training ‘venture is that I couldn’t fathom running more than 13.1 miles so this may be perhaps one of my most important milestones of the whole process. I will say, around mile three I was ready to quit. My foot still isn’t 100%, and the pain at times was worse than listening to Taylor Swift while waiting in line at the DMV next to a guy who wreaks of cigarettes and feet. But when I set my mind to something, stubbornness is my anti-hero. I didn’t want to let myself down. I mean, I wrote all of those haikus about it! And while that may have been the longest three hours and 15 minutes of my life, I sure as Hell celebrated success with a “whoop whoop,” an ice bath in the Truckee River and two giant blueberry pancakes from Squeeze In. Also, I Mia Hamm-ed it with a celebratory shirtless, victorious cry of never loving my body more than I had at that moment.

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How does one run fifteen miles in Reno? Here’s one way: start at Huffaker Park, run along Longley, to Neil, behind the airport and to the Grand Sierra Resort. From there, loop around the back into Rock Park and follow the trail along the river four miles out and four back. Then have your friend’s boyfriend pick you up and deal with your running stench and bragging on the way to the aforementioned pancake restaurant.

Proud is an understated word for this run and I was very happy and thankful to have Ann with me along the way. From the friendly chatter, to the new products she lets me try to the out-of-sync dance parties we have along the way as we both listen to our own music, running with a friend has never been as big of a necessity or reward as it has been during this training adventure. Oh, and she takes amazing selfies of us.