Raleigh City of Oaks Marathon

Well after another long weekend of traveling I have another marathon in the books.

Saturday morning I got up and made our every Saturday pancake breakfast, had a cup of coffee, packed up and headed over to pick up Mary Ann.  We hit the road around 11:45, had a very uneventful drive (thankfully) to Raleigh, making it to the expo around 3:30.

The expo was less than exciting so we were in and out in about 15 minutes, claiming our shirts, chips and bibs.  We headed over to the hotel to check in and relax a little bit before trying to find some dinner.  Luckily our hotel was right next to the mall and since neither of us were familiar with the area we took a gamble that it would have some Italian food.  This mall ended up being one of the most ridiculous malls I have ever been to.  There were about 30 restaurants to choose from and the directory signs were touch screen and interactive.  So ridiculous.

After dinner we headed to Gap to get Mary Ann some new tights for the race due to the insanely unpredictable weather for the weekend.

IMG_0090IMG_0091

Once we got back to the hotel, we put in a good stretch session and headed to bed early.  We both slept great and thanks to the perfectly placed time change woke up pretty well rested.  We dressed in many layers, stuffed a bagel in and scavenged for coffee on the way to the race.

IMG_0092The sign couldn’t have been more appropriate.

Once we finally made it to the start line on NC State’s campus I decided on one final wardrobe change (actually in favor of less clothes which I never do).  We made a final drop off at the car, hit the potty and headed to the start.

We ran the first 11 miles just under pace, feeling great, mentally in a great spot.  The miles flew by through downtown Raleigh; it was beautiful though a little windy but nothing that made me uncomfortable.  My plan in marathons is always to stay right on pace from miles 10-20 then kick in with whatever I have left for the final 10k.  In mile 11 I told Mary Ann my philosophy, we agreed to go with it, then immediately started running downhill.  This part of the race was on a Greenway where we would go out and back, hence any major downhills were going to become major up hills, in the >20 miles.  By mile 16 my calves were trashed from running down hill and already dreading the future waiting for us in a few short miles.

Mary Ann had been hoping to qualify for Boston if possible, but if not just finish since it was her first.  We had been on pace until about 16 where I told her I was starting to feel not so stellar and she could go ahead whenever she needed to.  She agreed that finishing was the new goal.

We turned around and started heading back, every step bringing us closer to the 21st-24th miles of misery.  Once we hit the final brutal climb Mary Ann and I split up, but not enough that we were out of each other’s sight.  It is hard to run hills like that any way but what is comfortable for you so I was trying to get to the top then slow down to let her catch up for a little but after doing this a few times I got to the point that I felt like if I slowed down I would stop.  So for the remaining 4ish miles we ran together but apart, each looking for each other every few minutes.

I was counting down the end of the trail like it was the end of the race and with two miles to go it wasn’t too far off.  No more than 17 minutes left at that point I told myself, no big deal.  Eventually those minutes were over and I was able to smile through the finish and collect my medal in time to turn and cheer Mary Ann through her finish 45 seconds later!!

Please Ignore whatever is going on with my hair here!

Please ignore whatever is going on with my hair here!

I felt pretty trashed at the end so we walked around for a little, grabbing some snacks and water before heading to the car to hit the road home.

Crazy Medal

Crazy Medal

The acorn spins!

The acorn spins!

Despite this being the hardest marathon I have ever run we both had a great time and Mary Ann still wants to do another one so mission accomplished!  We went 17th and 18th female overall and 3rd and 4th in our age group.  Pretty awesome for ridiculous weather conditions and even more ridiculous hills in the worst miles of a race.

In the end, this race goes to you Mary Ann!!  I am so honored to have been there through your first.  CONGRATS!!

Charlestowne Landing Race 2: A Lesson In Believing in Yourself

I’m not sure when I will wake up and respect myself as a runner.  You would think after running a marathon at 19, four years ago that that would have convinced me but it didn’t.  Or the 3 marathons and 4 halves that have followed.  Nothing really has been able to convince me I’m a “real runner”.

So with this mindset, I arrived with my friend Maribeth at the second in the 5k series to find many members of the local running group present.  I pretty much decided after seeing them that I would try to beat my time from last week and be completely content with no award this race.  No worries, bettering myself was good enough for me.

The race got started and I went out hard but comfortable.

Start of the Race

Start of the Race

My first mile I clocked in around 6:37 and was still feeling decent.  I kept pushing but started to fade at about 1.4ish, deciding to bump back to a slightly more comfortable pace until mile 2 was over.  Right around the mile 2 marker I saw the two girls from the running group about 30 yards ahead of me and another girl I didn’t know about 15 yards ahead of me.  I went to catch up to the last girl and planned to just draft for a bit and get my bearings before kicking in at the end.  She started to slow down and the two girls in front of us split so I sped up again to catch the second girl.  I caught her with the same plan to draft again but she had started to slow as well.  With the third and final girl about 20 yards ahead of me at this point I thought “This is good, I’ll take this spot right here.”

I rounded a corner with about 0.65 left and there was a girl from that group standing on the sidelines cheering.  To say she was shocked to see me in front of her other friend was a HUGE understatement.  She promptly yelled to her friend behind me, “Don’t you dare let that girl beat you!!”  Which may have been meant to fuel her friend but really ended up lighting a fire under my a$$.  I finished 3 seconds behind the first girl from that group and 38 seconds in front of the other.

PR by 30 seconds!

PR by 30 seconds!

On top of all that, I PRed by 30 seconds and got third overall female again.  I got a different picture/plaque thing this time which was cool.

splits

What I really got from this race was confidence.  I was in there with these girls that I view as “the real deal.”  I had put myself, in my mind, in a league far behind them.

So the moral is, give yourself a little credit everyone, guaranteed you are better than you think!!