Friday, June 28, 2013

Pre - Epic Rocky Mountain Relay - How did I get on this team??

So how on earth did I end up in the Epic Rocky Mountain Relay team– July 19, 2013?  That my friends is a long story. It started well over a decade ago, long before I even fathomed that I would run a marathon, or beyond.  This is a story about my passion for music, a musician who deeply influenced my faith journey, running miles, and the path that has led me to where I am now, so it is not my usual race report… in fact, it is more like a faith report and a bit of history of where I have been.

“I feel like God is leading me out, so I’m kind of sleeping with my shoes on.  When God parts the sea, you don’t want to say, “oh rats, where are my sandals?” Rich Mullins

The above quote has been on my fridge for years.  Need to be ready for opportunity...

So perhaps this starts of sometime in 1997. I was living in Michigan at the time and had just gotten married. I ordered some CD’s from either Columbia House or similar program – remember those?  Buy 8 CD’s for the price of 1?  Yeah, I used to do that,  cancel after I bought the one – then they would want me back and offer it again… and the cycle repeats for many years.  In one of those sets of CD’s was Rich Mullins “Songs” album.  It quickly turned into a favorite of mine.  I remember wondering if Rich was going to be touring or doing any concerts anywhere in the area, so I looked him up on the internet (remember aol dialup??) There I found out that he had died as a result of a car accident only a few months prior.  I was saddened.  I started reading up more on his life and legacy and he quickly became a big influence on my life. I read some of his books, found a tribute magazine and ordered more CD’s. My most favorite songs of his are If I stand, Elijah, and Hold me Jesus…  The story behind Hold me Jesus is one that makes the song even more meaningful… I read about it in the book “An Arrow Pointing to Heaven”.

“In the summer of 1996, Reunion Records released a wonderful collection from Rich Mullins, kind of a best of collection simply entitled Songs. We thought it was simply the end of a chapter in Rich's life. We didn't realize it was the end of the book. Of all the songs that he had written, Rich said his favorite was Elijah. He recorded it on his first album. He rerecorded it for his final album. When asked why he redid it, he simply said, "Because nobody listened the first time." We're listening now Rich.” John Rivers.

I really liked the 2 CD set that 20 the countdown magazine put out.  It had interviews with Rich along with some of his songs.  (that interview is where I am getting these quotes from it can be found here).  So much of what he said in made so much sense to me: 

“People say "Why do you write music?" and I always say "Well, how many of Wesley's sermons do you know?" And I've talked to a lot of good Methodists and they don't know any of them. Then I say, "Well, how many of Wesley's hymns do you know?" and most churchgoers know at least a good solid dozen hymns that Wesley wrote. Most pagans know at least a couple. And I kind of go, that is why I write music and not sermons.” Rich Mullins

Sometimes it’s tough to remember sermons week to week, but music is a big part of my life.  I am always listening to some kind of tune – yeah, to me he hit the mark with that quote!  I am not a music writer by any means, but I enjoy listening and playing it, and singing at the top of my lungs when no one is around ;) 

Fast forward a few years 2005.  We moved to North Carolina, had a daughter and a son and I was pregnant with our third child.  I was active in my church in Greensboro, serving on the board of deacons, and had started up and was leading a new MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) chapter.  

I can remember this as clear as day.  I was cleaning a house while listening to the “songs” CD for the thousandth time.  (if it is possible to wear out a CD, this one would have worn out years ago…) This time, however, one of the songs hit me with such an impact like I have never had before or have had since.  It’s like reading a passage in the Bible that you have known by heart for years, but seeing it in a new light.  It brought me to tears.  I hit my knees and started praying…  The song?  “If I Stand”

After that happened, I felt led to do some sort of tribute or have some sort of concert at Alamance.  I started researching on who from Rich’s band were still touring.  I soon found that Mitch McVicker was recording and doing concerts.  I brought this idea to the church and it was approved to have him play.  The youth pastor and I worked hard to promote it and soon the date was upon us.

December 4, 2005 I had the privilege to meet Mitch for the first time. He played at Alamance, shared his story, and it was a great evening.  

“I think that part of our identity as human beings is that we have work, that we have things to do. And I am gifted as a musician. I am gifted as a writer and so I have to do that out of obedience. I am not gifted as a singer. I have a weird voice. I have a terrible speaking voice and when I sing it’s not as weird as when I talk so I should probably sing more and talk less. But, nevertheless, I don't like my voice even when I am singing and people say, "Why do you sing then?" and I go, "Because it is the most reiterated command in the whole Bible." And I figure there must be a reason why it says over and over and over, sing sing sing sing sing. I also kind of go, this is a lot easier than loving my enemies, so maybe I should start with the easy stuff and maybe by the time I am really old I will have been able to tie the more complicated knot.”  Rich Mullins

That paragraph alone encouraged me when I was learning to play guitar.  I knew I would never win an American Idol competition, but it was something that I felt I could do and it brought me joy.  Shortly after our third child was born I started playing guitar with the praise band I had been singing with for the past few years. 

October 28, 2007 Mitch came back to Alamance for a second concert.  This time he had someone open for him – his name was Ted Filhart.  Again, it was another great event.  

In the spring of 2008 we moved to Raleigh.  We did not have any friends or family in the area so it was a completely new start.  We searched for a church for several months.  We visited just about every denomination, but were pretty animate about NOT visiting Baptist churches.  We had a bad experience with a Baptist minister in Greensboro, and because of that, we avoided the denomination.  Every church we visited didn’t seem “right”.  Either it was too big and there was not a spot for us to fit in, or we were not welcomed, or there just was not a good vibe.  This continued for a few months as we searched.  There was one church we enjoyed attending.  Thing is, we did not believe all the same doctrine they did, but the folks were friendly and it was fairly close to our house.

I received an e-mail from Ted Filhart saying that he was going to be playing a concert at a church in Raleigh on Saturday night, June 28, 2008.

The church?  Leesville Baptist.  It was outside on a warm night.  The church folks who were attending the concert were VERY friendly.  They welcomed us and our kids with open arms.  I remember pushing the kids in on the swings and chatting with someone while I pushed one of my kids and she pushed the other one.  Thought it was pretty cool.  

Well, news travels fast…  soon the music director was sitting next to me during the concert saying “I hear you sing and play guitar and your husband plays bass!  We are starting a praise band and would love for you all to be part of it!”  wow.  It took a concert on a Saturday night to get us to visit, otherwise we never would have set foot through the door of the church, just because of the name…

The next morning we attended another church at 9:00am.  I was not “feeling the call” to be there, so after that service, Kayla and I attended Leesville’s 11:00 service.  Just like at the concert, the congregation was very welcoming and the preacher was spot on with his sermon.  I went home and told Andy that Leesville just might be the church that we need to be at.  We started attending regularly, and after a while we knew that this is where we needed to be.  We both joined in the praise band right away, and about a year later I was baptized into the church. 

The pastor knew that I was involved with MOPS (at the time I just became a council coordinator for the Raleigh/Cary/ WF area) and he asked me what I thought of having a MOPS group at Leesville.  I said “well, there are no other moms at the church with preschool aged kids…”  yeah, that was an issue.  Then he asked me “what do you think about having a moms morning out program?”   I laughed (remember Sarah laughing in the Bible?  Yeah, kinda like that…) What he didn’t realize is I was one of those moms who LIKED to drop off their kids in the morning to have those few hours ‘on my own’ to grocery shop, clean the house, run errands etc.  I was the mom that was there right at 9:00 and picked up right at 1:00.  I was not the one to be the director of a preschool – lol!  Here is where it gets crazy…  within a half hour I knew that starting the preschool was what I was being called to do….

What happens after this truly gives me chills when I look back on all the steps it took to get me to right here, right now.  I accepted the challenge of starting the preschool . I worked starting in January 2009 with the goal of opening up September 2009.  All I had to start with was 2 cribs that were 20+ years old, a broken changing table, and a milk crate with a half dozen broken toys in it.  Essentially I was starting from scratch on something I knew very little about, but felt led to do.  The church gave me $3000 to start with and their blessing.  

“God does not always call the equipped; he equips those who he calls”

It was a lot of hard work, granted I enjoyed it.  How does the saying go? “Do what you like and you will never work a day in your life?”  That is what it was like.  I started by going back to my home church in Greensboro and contacting the director of their MMO program.  I worked with her and took notes as to how they ran things.  I came back to Raleigh and wrote up the handbooks, forms and all the other paperwork needed to start the program.  I used a lot of the information gathered from Alamance MMO as well as doing research online with other MMO programs.  At the same time I was painting walls and purchasing furniture and other items needed for the school.  Other members of the church were helping out with the painting and making of the cubbies.  It was a busy summer.  In September 2009 we opened our doors.  By the end of the school year we had a waiting list.  In 2011 we went from having 8 children attend per day to 12.  Currently we have about 9 staff members and 40 children who come through the program per week.  It is indeed a huge blessing to be part of such a great program.  It is all a God thing, because I could not have done it in and of myself.

Ok, I need to back up just a little bit.  So where does running fit into this?  Well, you probably need a little background…  I ran varsity cross country and track in high school.  I had the opportunity to be a walk on member of the cross country team at Western Michigan University, but I didn’t pursue it (one thing  I wish I could go back and change!)  I ran some during and after college, just a few miles a week at best.  Then we started our family and I ran some in the years between kids, but averaging about 2 miles per workout.  Before I started getting into the preschool I had the idea that I could run a half marathon.  There was a challenge on the weather channel where one of the meteorologists was training for a half marathon in Atlanta.  I thought, I can do that…  but instead of running the half in Atlanta, I did the half at the OBX which was about the same time frame as TWC challenge.  I did some training for it. This is when I first met Joey at the NCRC August series.  I ran the half, thought I was going to die, my knees felt like there was sandpaper in them so I thought that was it.  Yep, I was happy with it.  I ran a half, met my goal, now time to get back to life.  Right?  Well, no….  2009 brought another year, more goals and the dream of running a marathon.  Training ensued – this is when I started running with Joey and the angels more.  I signed up for City of Oaks Marathon.  Race day was 54 degrees and rainy.  Joey was there running with me for the last 7 miles and helped me through. I finished! My littlest one was there at the finish and said “hold you” with her arms up and I just cried. Marathon done! 

In October 3, 2010 Mitch came to Leesville for a concert.  We talked some and he said his sister in law was a runner.  I am not sure if he made the friend suggestion on facebook, but somehow we ended up ‘becoming friends’ on facebook.  She lived in CO.  

So, marathon done, goal done, right?  Well no again…  2010 included another marathon.  No rain this time. In the sun, at the beach, AND I took 30 min off my time.  2 weeks later I ran my first ultra – Derby 50K.  2011 held my first 50 Miler and with a time good enough for a Western States Qualifier.  Later that fall I finished 100K at Hinson Lake.  That winter I completed 83 miles at crooked road.  2012 held my first 100 miler.  After the 100, I backed off for the summer, started speed training in the fall, and started on the path for a BQ marathon.  

So over the course of just a few years I went from running just a few miles a couple times a week, to running 1000 miles plus 2 years in a row, completing a 100 mile race, and later gaining speed and strength for Boston.  

So, when this invite comes up on Nina’s wall post in January 2013 about the relay, I was IN!

"Ok friends, I'm looking for 5 awesome, non-whiny females to run 191 miles with me on July 19-20. Colorado Springs to Crested Butte. I can guarantee no sleep, sore feet, tummy aches, insanely gorgeous mountain views and LOTS of fun. Who's in?"

Those words might sound crazy to a non runner, but to me it sounded like an AWESOME time!! What a way to celebrate the year I turn 40!  I sent in my buy in fee, booked my hotel, and am now 3 weeks out from the race, looking forward to running with 5 women I have never met in my life. We are the “Purple Cobras” ultra team. 

One more God thing that happened was my kids were attending Awana at Providence for several years.  They were shutting their program down May, 2012.  I had such a desire put in my heart to keep the program going that I went out on faith to see if we could move it to Leesville’s new building.  I asked Providence about it, they gave us their blessing (and all their Awana materials).  After a summer of hard work and leadership training classes, a new Awana chapter was formed.  It was here that I saw a mom each week, we always talked about her child, but I did not know that she was a runner. One night in March 2013 we started talking at length about running.  Her name was Kelcey Carlson.  We talked about what happened at my BQ attempt at Tobacco Road, what my racing plans were, and she suggested that I look into the Sunburst Marathon for another BQ attempt.  She said it was fast and flat and would be a great one to go for it.  So a few months later, my sis and I ran into Notre Dame Stadium and finished our races at the 50 yard line.  No I didn’t BQ.  I came close, but I managed another PR and learned a lot!

Long story huh? I am impressed if you made it this far into my non-race report – lol!  It is amazing looking back at every step in this journey which has brought me to right here, right now.  It gives me chills.  Some may think its fate, or coincidence, but I think that God had his hand in all of this.  What if one of these events didn’t happen?  What if I would not have had that moment listening to that CD cause I was listening to something else?  What if I never pursued looking into a concert?  What if Ted wouldn’t have opened for Mitch? What if I wouldn’t have attended Ted’s concert in Raleigh? What if I would have laughed off the preschool idea?  What if I would not have pursued Awana at Leesville and sent my kids to another club? My life would be very different…  It is very much of a butterfly effect going on where one thing leads to another. Lives and events intertwine like a web.  In the short term it is tough to see how it adds up, but over the years it becomes clear.  

So music and running?  Yeah, they go together.  A lot like circuit training and yoga.  Strange combo, but it works for me.  I know that this is still an ongoing story, my journey if you will, but it has long been on my mind to write this up.  This epic ultra is not the end to this timeline, just an event in the continuing story.  


Friday, June 14, 2013

Bethel Hill Midnight Boogie “fun run” 26.2

“Every race punishes you for going out too fast, but the Boogie is vindictive about it.” Jonathan Savage

From the Boogie Races website:  WAIVER AND RELEASE: I realize June in North Carolina is hot and humid. Most people and doctors advise against running in heat and humidity.  Also, running at night presents special problems such as seeing where you are stepping and watching out for cars.  I understand that this area has specific hazards such as rattlesnakes, copperheads, polecats, wildcats, and rednecks who like to drink and drive and throw things.   I know that 26 miles can be tough under any conditions but with the possible conditions in this event 26 miles could turn out to be much more of a challenge than I expected.  Nevertheless, I like to struggle and really, really want to participate regardless of the expected pain or risk.  Therefore, I want everyone to know that I am not being forced to do this event and that I agree for myself and any survivors or possible claimants that I may leave behind, to save, release, and keep harmless the Mangum Track Club, its members, the Runners From Hell and any volunteers or sponsors or any other helpers that may be involved with this event from all liability, claims, or demands for damages incurred by participation in this event or any of its parts.  I assume all responsibility for my participation and certify that I am properly trained, mentally fit, and medically able to participate in this hot, hilly, and possibly night marathon.  I agree to use a light after dark. I will not litter.  I will not kill snakes.  I am aware that this event is limited to  no more than 75 entrants and that registration may close abruptly at the race director's discretion.  I realize that the race director's {or his delegate} authority is all encompassing and will abide by anything he tells me.  Knowing everything in this waiver has not deterred me from entering this event and my signature below indicates that I have read and agree to all this stuff and still intend to participate.  I also promise to have fun. “MARATHONERS BEWARE:   This is not your normal marathon.  This is all rural, not a city marathon.  The course is not certified.  You will be in the middle of nowhere all the time with no porta-potties, no splits, no mile markers, no spectators, and late in the run possibly even no other runners.  There are only 6 houses on the course and they have dogs.  Aid stops are over 5 miles apart, so you will need to carry a water bottle. If you decide to quit, there are no pick-up vans, so you will either have to walk to the aid station or hitch a ride with somebody.  The race will start at 6 pm and the temperature will probably be about 85 degrees with little shade.  Darkness comes about 9 pm and there are no street lights.  You will need a light for the reasons cited in the waiver.  If you need to be catered to every couple of miles along the course or worry running in the dark, perhaps you should not come.  We really have seen everything listed in the waiver except the polecats and they are there too.  The drop out rate among veteran 50-milers is usually 40% or so.  Think long and hard before you enter this event.  If Lao-tzu were to give advice about this event he would say, "Come with no expectations and you will not be disappointed."”

It is a race where you ask “are you doing the full (50) or the half (26.2)” and no one seems to mind…  

The marathon slogan is:  “A little Boogie is better than no Boogie at all”
So what does one do when you get a PR marathon?  Go out the next weekend and run a hot, humid, nighttime marathon!  Ok, so maybe most folks take a week or more off, but I didn’t.  I have been to this run 3 years in a row, and even with the dog bite last year, I still came back!  It is a great group of folks. 
I went into it with no expectations.  Didn’t want to push it and get injured, so the only goal I set for myself was to sub 5.  I treated it like an ultramarathon where I ran the flats and downhills, and walk the uphills.  I was still dealing with fatigue from Sunburst, the travel time back and forth, and I was fighting a summer time cold from getting worn down…  

We arrived about 1:00 at Bethel church and set up the camper.  I had the family with me this trip.  The Boogie is an event where many families attend to show their support for the runners.  

Slowly this lonely stretch of road began to fill up with cars, canopies, and people.  It is a Mangum Track Club event and is much like a family reunion of sorts with my running community.  I always like to attend MTC events, though my schedule does not always allow for it.

The Boogieman did things a little differently this year, he started the 50 milers at 6:00 and the marathoners started 10 minutes later.  I thought it was a good idea and it worked well!

First the 50 milers were off, then 10 minutes later we were off!  What is cool, is that the marathoners do the .2 first.  There is an out and back of .1 mile then we start off on the rest of the course.  .2 done, 26 to go!

I was trying to keep up with Walsh, but even with his “oh I am not sure if I have a 26.2 in me” comment, he was GONE!  It was probably for the best, because he and I have this tendency to push each other along, especially towards the end….  

The first part of the race is a 6 mile loop.  Just past mile 1 is the “scene of the crime” from last year.  You may or may not recall that Joey and I got attacked there by a Walker Hound during his attempt at the Boogie 100…  (you can see that report here).  I got a chill running by the house.  I heard the dog barking, but he was hidden away in a shelter.  I kept my eye on the house the whole time.  

*whew* - got past the “dog house” and was heading to the “dog pen”.  No joke…  Right around mile 4 is where the aid station is at the dog pen.  These guys were great.  Had my handheld open and they had the water right there to pour in right away.  Grabbed a few twizzlers and I was ready to go!  I was amazed that I drank 20 oz of water the first 4 miles.  It was HOT out and I was soaked with sweat from the humidity.

I was sticking with the plan of a gu and an s cap every 4 miles.  This was in addition to anything else I was eating from the aid stations.  First gu was hot and liquidy.  Got a sick feeling eating it as I had a flashback to Sunburst when I nearly brought it up, but I kept my composure and got it down with no issues.  *whew*

I walked some with David on this next stretch.  I haven’t seen him since Hinson.  Someone from vac n dash took a pic of us walking down the hot road.
Picked up the pace again and headed back to the main aid station at mile 6.  Someone was there ready to fill my empty water bottle, I grabbed a peanut butter sandwich with chips, and headed down Bethel Hill.  

This next section is an out and back of 2 miles – 2 miles out and down the hill, and 2 miles back and UP the hill.  I decided to pick it up some as I felt like I took it way easy on that first section.  

Running DOWN Bethel hill the first time is awesome.  You get the chance to see everyone coming up it on the other side because the sun is still up.  Lots of encouragement along the way being sent and received! Had lots of folks say “lookin strong! great pace!” I was feelin really good and the pace I was keeping was quick.  Ran all the way to the turnaround, then headed back.  Took a gu at mile 8.  Again, really liquidy, but no issues!  Much slower going up that hill.  It’s a killer.  Most cars have issues going up this hill.  7 Nation Army came on the iTunes and was the perfect tempo.  Put it in powerwalk mode and kept movin. 

Top of the hill – woo!  More water, another sandwich, off down the hill!  Down at the intersection there was a truck full of 20 something boys/men.  Of course one calls out at me while I am runnin… :s  gotta love the rednecks ‘round here!  Least they were not throwing beer cans….

Kept another close eye on “the dog house” running by – nope, he still was not in view.  In fact, they had all their animals hidden away.  

Decided to skip the gu at mile 12 and ate some twizzlers at the dog pen.  Another water refill and I was good to go.  

Uneventful climb back up to the main aid station – you guessed it – more water and another peanut butter sandwich.  Was looking for my family this lap, but I was quicker in getting back this time and they missed me.  I needed a light ‘cause it was going to be dark by the time I got back.  Oh well!  Running in the dark it is!  Took off back down Bethel Hill.  It was hard to see who was coming up the other side ‘cause it was dark.  Not as fun as it was the first time…  All you can do is say great job to whoever the shadow with the light on is – maybe you know them, maybe you don’t! 

I was quite amazed at how much water I was taking in.  It was HOT n HUMID and I was soaked with sweat.  There was no one behind me and no one in front of me so I took a quick stop, not ‘cause I really had to go, but because opportunity was there…

Made it to the top of the hill, took more water, then headed back out. I was trying to stay up with someone I had nicknamed "ironman" because of his ironman tat on his calf. We had been going back and forth the whole race with passing each other back n forth.  This lap was no different... 

I had the opportunity to run with Bill this lap. My kids call him “the toothpick man” as he has a toothpick in his mouth a lot.  I have seen him at many other ultra-events, but never had the chance to run with him. It was good.  If it was not for him pushing me along, I would have not gone nearly as fast that last loop.  Good conversation and great company.  We ran with Ricky some and one other person as well.  The 4 of us pushed on together those last 6 miles.   Ricky and I both had the goal of sub 5.  We knew that we had to push it in, to make that time.  So somewhere in that last mile or so we started picking it up.   In the midst of us running faster, Ricky nearly tripped over a huge frog in the dark!! I guess it is better than a snake, right?  

I saw that stop sign at the turn and I was gone…  I pushed it in, past the turn and up the hill to the finish.  Time?  4:56.  Over an hour slower than my PR from last week but I was thrilled with it :D  Who would have thought? It felt like I was pushing for a sub 4 that last bit – lol!

I picked out my finishers mug – handmade Seagrove pottery.  Smaller than the 50 miler one I earned 2 years ago, but this is the “baby boogie” after all.  Someone put it like this – “The first one holds a full beer, so I have a morning mug and an evening mug.”  Works for me! 

I sat on the steps of the church and chilled out for a bit.  Took my shoes off and checked my feet.  One blister where I had taped it up to prevent a blister, and the toenail I was worried about (should I leave it on or take it off?) was fine (I left it on for the race.  It was damaged in the Sunburst marathon 1 week prior).  The big toenail on my other foot was damaged, and this race appeared to put the final touch on it.  Hello summer and flip flop season!  Who needs toenails anyway?  Lol!!

I got some good dinner from the GREAT people who cooked for us at Bethel Baptist Church.  Big thanks to them for cooking and staying up all night for us crazy folks!  We appreciate you letting us park in your parking lot, and have the start/finish right on your doorstep.

I snuck off to the camper for a quick shower.  Yes, I said shower!  Got some new clothes on and headed back to the finish line to help out.

The rest of the evening and into the morning I volunteered with taking down finish times and cheering the 50 miler runners in.  So proud of everyone who finished, and those who came up and said “I am dropping out, here is my number”.  It is one tough race with tough conditions.  It is not intended to be easy.  Kudos for those who start!

I enjoyed watching runners come in.  I know how I feel when I finish.  Many times I am dazed and need a minute to get my wits about me.  This was the case with many of the finishers and I was encouraged that I am not alone in that area!  Folks would finish and we would tell them to pick out their finishers mug and go get something to eat.  Hey, sometimes two instructions after a race is a lot of info!  One person pushed it in so hard coming up the hill to the finish that he had dry heaves.  My heart went out to him.  He later came back and apologized after he was feeling better.  Hey, nothing to apologize for!  I was glad that he was ok!

One scary moment that morning was when one local (aka redneck) in a truck, who had a boat in the bed of his pickup, went flying through the start/finish area.  One of the runners was leaving in their truck and was pulling out into the road from the side, and the boat guy had to slam on his breaks cause he was going too fast and was not paying attention.  When the runners truck was on the road, the boat guy went into the ditch, and went flying around the truck and towards the river.  Apparently we were making him late to fishing…  I was hoping he would not hit any of the runners on Bethel Hill!  Thankfully he didn’t.
I only heard of one snake sighting at the bottom of “the hill”.  Apparently there was a rattler in the road by the turnaround when the sun was coming up.  

This race was a great experience.  It’s put on by a great group of folks and attended by another great group of people.  I am glad I was able to experience both the run and volunteering through the night.  It was great to cheer friends in, many running their first 50’s.  

I was exhausted and didn’t sleep at all that night.  I didn’t realize til later that I was completely bitten up by the gnats sitting there at the finish.  So it goes… Got home and took a nap, but then was in a zone of sorts the rest of the day.  Got a good night’s sleep and was ready to go Monday morning! 

Thank you Doug for putting on such a great event!!  Thank you to Bethel Baptist for allowing us to use your property for the race and on top of that, making dinner for us.  It is greatly appreciated!


Thursday, June 6, 2013

Sunburst Marathon – June 1, 2013

Karen and I before the race
I had to come up with other ideas on how to get a Boston Qualifier in during the spring after things did not work out as well as I had hoped at Tobacco Road.  I had already signed up for New River as an option, but with it being a mountain marathon, it would be a long shot.  One night at a non-running event, I started talking with another mom, and not knowing that she was a runner herself we ended up in a long conversation about running, Boston, and racing.  She recommended Sunburst as she had run it before.  It was a fast, flat qualifier and it would fit in very well with where I was at in my training.  

As you know, I did not qualify at New River, so I registered for Sunburst.  I was even able to talk my sister into running the half!  What is really cool, is that we were able to make it into a sisters night away (with no kids!) in South Bend.  

I left on Thursday to make the drive to my hometown in Michigan.  We arrived safe and sound in the wee hours of Friday morning.  

Karen and I left for South Bend later Friday afternoon.  We enjoyed a quiet drive to South Bend (no kids, remember?) and went to the expo.  It was not a huge expo but it had packet pick up and a few vendors.  We did not stay too long and went to check into our hotel and find some dinner.

Hit Olive Garden for dinner where I ate my usual chicken parm, walked the mall for a bit and went back to the hotel.  We took a soak in the hot tub and a swim in the pool before retiring to the room for the evening.  We spent the next several hours watching the coverage of the Oklahoma City tornado and getting our things ready for morning.

4:00am came early.  Karen and I got up and were out the door by 4:40.  We made the couple mile drive to the start, found a parking spot really close in the parking deck, and settled in for a bit at the South Bend Chocolate Company and coffee house.  We sat around for a bit, watching other runners, drinking espresso, and enjoying the silence before the race.  

My nerves were actually pretty calm.  I knew what I came here to do and was prepared to do it.  At this point I was ready for the race to start!

With about 15 min to the start, we headed to the start line.  It was a light rain “tis but a mist”, humid but not too warm.  The sun was not up yet and when the starting gun went off, it was still quite dark.  

Mile 1 – my goal was to keep it around 8:45.  I did not want to go out too fast.  Just was trying to take it easy and have fun with it.  Actual time – 8:29 – little fast, but not too bad.

I fell into a great rhythm for the next few miles with the splits falling right where they should be between 8:15 and 8:25.  I was feeling good and was very pleased with how I was doing.  I was taking a gu and an s cap every 4 miles.  It worked at New River so I was rockin that system here too.  

Mile 7 we turned around and ran back along the river.  There was quite a headwind at this point!  The rain had stopped by now, but was still humid.  I ran with another runner named Dan for about a half mile before I pulled ahead of him.

The field had become quite strung out and I was watching one person about 40 yards ahead of me.  There were a couple folks behind me but for the most part, by this part of the race, I was on my own. This is where things get a bit interesting.  Between miles 9 and 11 the course winds through a neighborhood.  Here is a link to the map of the course.

Somehow the girl in front of me misses the left hand turn and we continue on straight and got into a group of runners who were about a mile behind us.  I started to freak out knowing that we were not going the right way….  She was looking back at me, and I was looking back at the guys behind me who followed me, asking “are we going the right way??”  We came upon an aid station and saw runners who were just ahead of us coming towards us.  I grabbed a Gatorade, told the lady that we had missed a turn and was going to turn around and run with these folks, as they were just ahead of where I was running.  What is crazy is that just before the 11 mile mark, my (borrowed) Garmin clicked off another mile.  Whatever mis-turn I did was right on as far as mileage went because the Garmin was consistently clicking off right before the mile marker.  My mojo was quite off for about a half mile because I thought I had really messed up.  I did not see that turn, there was nobody there directing the turn, and how in the world could I have (potentially) messed up my BQ attempt…  I managed to pull it together and clicked off the next couple miles and hit the 13.1 point at 1:50.  Right where I needed to be.  

This is where things started to get more difficult.  Don’t they always after the half way point?  (Kinda like the bumper sticker I saw the other day that said “26.2 miles – what could possibly go wrong?”) The clouds had begun to break up and the sun came out.  It was getting warm and quite muggy.  My times started to slowly creep up each mile.  I had to make a pit stop at mile 16 cause I was having some GI issues.  Seriously??  I was frustrated that I was wasting time on an issue that shouldn’t be an issue, and I was frustrated that I could not make my legs go any faster.  

It was a beautiful part of the race course along the river.  It was another out and back and it was somewhere along this path that I passed Dan and he said “great job Amy”   For a minute I was thinking who on earth here knows my name, but then I remembered *duh*  Yes,  I suffer from running induced short term memory loss…  so it goes.  It made me happy to hear my name.  There was not a lot of ‘fan’ support on the course so to hear just one person say your name means a lot!

Mile 20 was time for another gu.  I pulled it out and tore the top off.  “ugh, that is so gross”  (thank you Dax Ross!)  I started to swallow it and *uh oh* it did not want to go down!  I started gagging.  I am sure it was a show to whoever was running behind me.  Lol!  Ugh – it was SO GROSS!!  I couldn’t get it down and was gagging?  What was up with that??  I managed to wash it down with some water but my stomach was so upset at this point.  What was going on?  I yelled out loud to myself “Amy, pull it together!”  I knew full well that these last 6 miles would make or break that dream. The weather turned hot, my stomach was all messed up, and I knew that if I could not hold 8:15’s from here on out, I would not make it.  To top it off, I had to make another pit stop.  I was so frustrated…

With each passing mile, that Boston dream was once again slipping away... It was so disappointing. No matter how hard I pushed my legs would not respond.  I kept pushing along as hard as I could, because if I could not get Boston I was going to knock 5 minutes off my best time.  I had to improve.  

Here are some of my thoughts during the last few miles.  I was struggling, was trying to stay positive…

Mile 20:  “Just from the Museum to Umstead and back.  Your favorite route!  Pretend you are running down the hill towards Umstead”

Mile 22 – “It’s just a jog around Lynn Lake…  I do this all the time!”

Mile 23.  “It’s just a 5K to go! 

Time for another gu.  Yep, you guessed it.  Nearly brought up everything this time…  ugh!  GI issues are no fun….  

Mile 24 – “2 miles to go – just like the 2 mile loop you used to run back in high school – easy, right?  Keep going!!”

Just before mile 25, the marathoners met up with the half marathoners and the walkers from the 5 and 10K events.  It got really congested with lots of runners and walkers.  Runners were to the right and the walkers were on the left.  That helped.  

Mile 25.3  there was a girl in a wheelchair holding a sign saying “.87 miles to go”  O my goodness….  Brought tears to my eyes.  She was cheering so loud!  I had to do this!!  Started singing the song that was playing on iTunes “I’m on the edge of glory” then realized that I sounded worse than HORRIBLE!  HA!  Decided to keep the ‘outside’ tunes to myself.  

Mile 25.7 – there was a guy on a bike.  He asked me what my name was – I thought “why” but I managed to say “Amy” with not a lot of gusto or enthusiasm.  Not sure why he was asking, but soon he was riding along beside me yelling to the crowd saying “this is Amy – she is running the marathon – cheer Amy on! Let’s hear it for Amy!” and everyone started to cheer.  Wow, I needed that!!  Wish I would have had a better attitude when he asked me my name – oops!  My bad! 

At this time I could see the entrance to the stadium, I was finally smiling again.  I ran through the cool tunnel (temperature wise as well as how cool the experience was) listening to them blast the Notre Dame fight song.  I emerged on the other side inside the stadium with people in the stands and runners on the field.  I saw the finish line right at the 50 yard line.  I pushed it in as best as I could with my tired legs and the squishy ground.  I crossed that finish line at 3:49:44.  I burst into tears. I finished.  I missed Boston again but managed another PR.  Someone handed me an ice cold towel and put it on my neck – AWESOME!!!  She asked me if I was ok cause she saw I was upset.  I told her that I missed Boston…  She was sympathetic, handed me my finishers metal, and walked with me to the water station.  

I filled up my water bottle with Gatorade, stood by the sidelines, and just cried.  I had a bit of a pity party for nearly a half hour while waiting for my sister. Tried to figure out what went wrong.  What could I have done differently??  After realizing that there was nothing else I could have done, that I gave it all I had, and a lot of what happened was due to the weather, I started to pull it together.  

Sweet Caroline came over the loudspeakers and of course it was dedicated to Boston.  I sang my heart out through the tears!  Looking back I think it was playing at 4:09 during the marathon clock.  How cool is that???

Finisher!  2nd in my age group - woo!
I kept watching out for my sis who started her half marathon 1 ½ hours after me and started it injured.  She had a lot of courage for even going out and running it – I was so proud of her for starting!!  I knew it was going to take her a bit, and I had no problem waiting for her.  I kept an eye out for her.  You know how many girls were out there wearing blue shirts, black shorts and a ponytail??  It was a lot!  Lots of “oh there’s momo, o wait, that’s not her!”  lol!

I finally spot her and start cheering for her and meet her at the finish.  SO PROUD OF HER!  She kept on with “relentless forward progress” even when she was hurtin.  Found out later that she had the best experience with this race.  She was focused and had a good time with it.  That indeed is awesomeness!

We sat in the stands for a while taking some pictures and taking it all in.  It was a great morning.  As Karen put it, “we were basking in our awesomeness”.   We finished!  The only thing that could have made it better is to have something more than Gatorade available as a post race recovery drink… This is funny – it is the FAQ section of the website “Can you serve beer at the finish? It may be the home of the Irish, but this isn’t Ireland. University policy prohibits alcohol at the finish line.”  Boo!!


We limped up the stairs and out of the stadium (who’s idea was that!!  We run a marathon then have to walk up to get out?  Lol!)  We picked up our drop bag, bypassed the long line for a massage, and headed over to the shuttle to the start.  It was indeed cool to have the WMU shuttle bus carry us back to the Jeep, even if we were in Notre Dame Country!

We drove to the hotel, got cleaned up, and headed back over to campus.  Found a place to eat some lunch and have a beverage.  We took a drive around campus before heading back.  

Got back to my sisters and had to deal with some lingering stomach issues for the next several hours….  Apparently I gave it my all out there in South Bend. Not sure I could have done anything different to change the outcome.

Side note – Thank you to Notre Dame for letting us finish inside the stadium!  Not the practice field, but inside the stadium!   With all the rain from the night before, we runners tore up that field.  It was wet and hundreds of runners made the field a squishy, muddy mess.  So sorry about that!   I know it is a privilege to be able to finish there, and I am thankful for the opportunity.


22nd woman overall, 2nd in my age group (first was 3:14) 119 out of 490 finishers.  Podium!!!!  (even though they did not have an awards ceremony…)  that is super cool!!  I won a 5x7 print from Marathon Foto.  There were several pics that turned out good.  Woo!

Shoes: Hoka Bondi B’s, gu’s and an s cap every 4 miles (and at mile 23 instead of mile 24), Handheld water bottle filled with coconut water to start, then filled 2x with water along the course.  I finished the race with a full bottle of Gatorade.  One blister on my left big toe and losing the toenail on my right big toe due to a blister under it.  Unusual to happen wearing my hokas!  

Looking over the Garmin data, it was in the last 6 miles that I “lost the Boston race”.  I was running closer to 9:25 miles instead of 8:15…  Gotta figure out what to do about that…

Great race, good volunteer support, aid stations were well stocked and lots of staff to help, loved the location – nice fast and overall fairly flat course.  Just a few easy hills.  The only recommendation I would make is to have the course marked out better around miles 9-11 where many runners are weaving in and out in a neighborhood.  I would run it again!

Great pics taken by Marathon Foto!  Don't have them for this blog post, but I will be ordering some!  Amy's  Karen's  - these links are a little "touchy" it seems when I was testing it, it would only open up the pics of the first person you clicked, regardless of the link I put in.  Try clicking one link, close it, then click the next.  Otherwise do a search. Best I can do, sorry! 

cheers sis! epic $#!/ done!
So…………..  when is the next BQ?  Not sure.  I am not sure if God is telling me to “wait” or “work harder” or what.  I am so thankful for the strength to be able to run.  I am thankful to be at a point in my life where I am as strong and fit as I have ever been.  Thing is, holding this level of fitness takes a lot of time and effort, and I feel like I am teetering on the edge of being fit, and running the risk of being injured.  At the moment, I am having some issues with tightness in my right hip as well as issues with ligaments in my left ankle.  I am unsure whether to back off some this summer and start training again in a few months for a solid fall race, and focus on 2015, or look for another race the weekend of June 28.  After that, It’s going to get too hot….  I can’t tell you how much I wanted to qualify for 2014 but it seems that hope is fading with the heat of summer.  

If you keep up with me on facebook or daily mile, you will soon know how it goes….