Friday, January 5, 2018

2017 Post-Season Wrap-Up

Hi friends!  I haven't taken the time to write anything lengthy (um, or ANYTHING at all) this year.  If you follow me on Facebook you probably know I ran 3 marathons, 2 half marathons, a 25K, plus a few 5Ks and 10Ks.  I've posted pictures and short notes here and there.  

You may know I was cleared to run Boston, even though my sesamoid bone isn't - and will never - be fully fused.  You may also know that I recently underwent another PRP procedure, this time for my left hamstring.  This is another injury, another setback, in a seemingly ever-growing list.  

What you may not know, however, is how much this year of running has meant to me.  2017 has been an important year of growth and self acceptance.  It has been frustrating and challenging.  Yet oh so rewarding. So grab a cup of coffee and get ready for a years worth of blog posts all rolled into one.


Let's start with the marathons.  It was a big year for marathons, seeing as I ran 3.  I like to run 2 per year and that was the plan this year.  Until Boston.

April 17, 2017



Training was going okay for Boston this year.  It was slated to be my last Boston for a while.  My foot had healed as well as it could be expected but my hamstring had started to give me some trouble.  I noticed it in speed work and tempo runs so I dialed back on those.  Instead I focused on marathon pace and hills.  I started seeing a wonderful orthopedic doctor who made sure I was good to go.  

Marathon day was bright and beautiful - and warm.  Hot.  Not as hot as last year but it was definitely getting toasty.  I kept telling people, "It's not going to be my best race."  I honestly believed I wasn't going to do well and that was a huge part of my downfall.  Yes, the temperatures were hot.  Yes, the humidity was high.  But when I believed I couldn't succeed there was nothing to keep me motivated when I wanted to stop at mile 6.  And when I was walking at mile 13.  And when I couldn't finish running Heartbreak Hill because my motivation was lost.  Or when the crowd couldn't even convince me to run at mile 25, when there was only ONE MORE MILE.  

Even though it hurt, I didn't quit on Hereford or on Bolyston.  I ran toward the finish line with a smile on my face because no matter what had happened in the previous 26 miles, it was BOSTON.  As I got to the end I wanted a strong finish.  So goddamn it, I air-planed it in with a smile on my face.  Thanks to Brian for being there (as always) to capture my moment.

I learned a lot about myself in this race.  I wanted to give up so many times but I didn't.  I kept going to finish in my slowest marathon time.  But I was proud of it.  I didn't cry.  I didn't pout.  It was what it was.  I had to fight to finish for that time.  The next day I had my medal engraved.  I wanted to remember this one.  

Despite my positive attitude, one thing started to gnaw at me.  It was my 7th marathon and the only one that I hadn't BQ'd at.  For the first time it wasn't easy for me.  I know, some of you would like to punch me right now!  Honestly, I had always taken marathons for granted up until this point.  Not one of them had been as difficult as this race.

I hadn't planned on running Boston next year but now I felt as if I HAD to go back.  I needed a redo.  

We got home from the airport and I registered for Bayshore. 

May 27, 2017



I went into Bayshore with a completely different attitude than I did Boston.  My mission was clear - run a 3:30:00 marathon and do so without walking.  My last two marathons were hot, I started out too fast, and I ended up walking.  A LOT.  I hadn't run a good marathon since NYC in 2015 and had developed some serious race anxiety about being able to complete the distance.  If I could pace this smartly and keep my head in the game I would be fine.  If not I'd be screwed.

Leading up to Boston and subsequently Bayshore, I was listening to The Runner's World Show podcast, hosted by David Willey (then editor-in-chief of Runner's World magazine).  DW was also training for Bayshore in his own attempt to BQ.  We both had the same goal time and some of the training tips - particularly those involving mental focus - were key for me at this time.  I knew I could finish but it was about staying strong mentally.  Leading up to the race I envisioned crossing the finish line, running the whole time, and kept telling myself I would finish in 3:30:00.  (I needed a 3:40:00 to BQ but I wanted some cushion.)  I told myself it would be a good race.  I would run happy and have fun.  That confidence made all the difference.

I'd met David Willey in Boston and we talked about his upcoming marathon in Michigan.

So many things were different about Bayshore.  It was 20 degrees cooler than Boston.  There were only about 1,700 runners in the full (compared to 30,000 in Boston) so I could easily find my RUNdetroit friends and Brian could stay with me until the start.  I was ready and relaxed.  I had a pace plan so I wouldn't start out too fast.  It was a course I'd never run so I had new views.  GORGEOUS views along the bay.  The marathon is an out and back and just as I find in training, the second half seemed to pass more quickly than the first.

My struggle came in the last 2 miles.  I desperately wanted to walk but was afraid that once I did I wouldn't run again.  My hamstring was talking to me.  A LOT.  In the end I only walked two mailbox lengths before running again.  I slowed down but managed to finish slightly under the goal time I had set for myself!

This photo says it all!  DONE.

This was my second slowest marathon; however I was happier with this race than with most others I'd run.  I set a realistic goal and I met it.  I didn't give up when the going got tough.  When my legs wanted to give up I ran with my heart. 

October 8, 2017



I laugh looking back at my Boston performance, thinking I was going to finish that race in 3:25:00.  I was in no shape to do that, based on my training.  Like I said, I ran hills but I didn't do the speed work or tempo work that I knew was was necessary.  It was NEVER going to happen and I pretended I believed in miracles. 

Chicago was a different story.  After my Boston to Bayshore recovery period, I started getting back to speed work.  My 800s were slower than I wanted but I knew I had to start somewhere.  I worked hard, tried different paces and speed sets, and by the end of the summer I was running faster than I though possible at the beginning of the summer.  I knew I was ready for Chicago.  I was there with my best friend Megan.  We had done a lot of training together over the summer, which made the miles fly by.

I couldn't find a 3:25.  This was a bit of a moonshot goal!

Like Bayshore, I set a realistic goal for Chicago and planned on running even splits for the majority of the race.  My friend Geo's friend Zak was also racing that day with the same goal so we met at the start.  Chicago has a lot of underpasses and buildings to screw up GPS.  Zak had his watch on manual and I had mine on lap pace.  Between the two of us we would have a decent idea of our pacing.  Thanks to Zak's patience and math skills, we ran the first half at a 7:53 pace (overall goal was 7:49).  Both of us had a few issues but nothing too terrible.  We figured if we didn't talk about them they would go away.  Zak and I stuck together through mile 17-18.  At that point I was still feeling good but he needed to back off a bit.  

Before I knew it I was at mile 20, then 22.  I could feel myself speeding up slightly and passing people.  My mantra "the faster I run the sooner I'm done" was kicking in at this point.  Mile 25 was the longest mile.  The mileage on my watch didn't match with the course mileage so I had no idea where I was in the mile.  I thought the mile would never end!  Michigan Avenue stretched on for an eternity.  Finally I made the 39th and 40th turns.  I had run the whole thing - no stopping, no self doubt.  I also negative split my race, something I hadn't done since my first marathon.  I may as well have won this thing with how happy I was!  

Mile 25

If you have the opportunity to race Chicago, I highly recommend going for it.  The crowds are amazing and the course is so much fun as it runs through so many different neighborhoods.  Water and Gatorade go on for blocks.  It was a HOT day and volunteers offered wet sponges and washcloths (both went right in my sports bra!).  Firefighters were out with their trucks, spraying runners down with hoses.  The course winds back and forth through town, making it easy for spectators to get to multiple locations.  Afterwards there is beer even before the post-race party!  I met a lot of great people both on and off the course.  And being there with Megan made it my favorite race this year.

So proud of this girl!

Half Marathons

I've definitely cut back on my half marathons over the years.  Now I tend to choose one spring and one fall half.

March 26, 2017



Rock CF is my favorite half marathon.  Hands down.  I've run it every year and wouldn't miss it.  This year it fell on the day of a 20-miler.  My plan was to run 2 miles before plus 5 miles after.  I wanted to run my best race but still be able to run after, so I needed to keep that in mind while racing.  Throughout the race I fought the urge to push with the need to hold back for those later miles.  My hamstring was not 100% and I could tell my form was off because of it.  The last 5K was a real challenge.  

I was more frustrated with this race than I should have been.  It was the longest race I'd run in close to a year and I should have appreciated what my body was capable of doing.  Instead I got wrapped up in my time, thus missing out on some of the joy of the day.  At this point I still had a lot to learn about myself.

September 15, 2017




If you've been following me for a while, you might be surprised to read that I ran Women Run the D again.  The half, no less.  Every year I've sworn up and down I was done with this one.  And then the following year I would run it again.  So actually maybe you AREN'T surprised!  There are many reasons not to run this race: it's expensive, it's boring running around Belle Isle, the swag isn't great, there's no beer, the awards are cheesy.  It does support some women's organizations, which is good.  This year there are two reasons I ran it: convenience and location.  I needed a 20-miler on the weekend of this race.  The race gave me 13 miles of support and motivation.  The location allowed me to finish my race and then run off the bridge and down the Riverwalk for an out and back to complete my additional 7 miles.  I'd done it two years ago and it worked out perfectly.

My free gift for "running the D" for 5 years in a row.
Megan and I were on the same plan so we both signed up.  It turned out to be a hot and humid mid-September morning.  The kind where your sweat just beads up on your body but doesn't even evaporate.  And you haven't even started running.  I was excited to meet Dani Filipek at the start.  She is so down to earth and fun!  We hung out before the race and after (she finished long before I did!).  

Dani and my pacer, Walter

I took off a little too fast but then settled into my pace.  My plan was to run with the 7:15 pace group but at times our pacer was running faster than the set pace, especially in the second half.  I dropped back after mile 10 but was able to catch up again in the final 5K (and pass the girl ahead of me to finish third).  Even though it was a struggle to keep up with my pacer, I credit him with helping me run a great race and pushing harder than I thought I could have.  I negative split with paces of 7:20 and 7:03 for the two halves.  Unlike at Rock CF, I was focused on the task at hand, rather than worrying about my miles after the race and how my legs might feel then.

Turns out, my legs were fine for those post-race miles and I knew I'd be ready for Chicago!

Other Distances

May 11, 2017




The Riverbank Run falls just a few weeks after Boston.  Considering how easily I injure myself, I decided to make this a MP run in preparation for Bayshore.  I didn't have a goal to finish under 2 hours.  My plan was to run 8:00 miles for the first 15 and then if I felt good I would kick it in for the final 5K.  My plan, however, was flawed from the start.  Those of you that are better at math than I am know that a 25K is about 15.5 miles.  There wasn't going to be another 5K for me to run!  I started to think something wasn't right with my logic when a fellow runner mentioned the halfway point before mile 9.  Later another runner told me we were going to make it under 2 hours and the math just didn't add up.  That's when I asked, "How long is this race?"  (Yes I ran this race last year.  Don't judge.)

When I found out I had 3 fewer miles to run than I anticipated, I thought to hell with MP and went for it.  I ultimately caught up to and then passed the 2-hour pace group.  I told everyone I passed that I thought the race was 18 miles.  Nobody thought it was quite as funny as I did!  That helped carry me through the race, although just like with Bayshore, the last mile was still a challenge.  I slowed down a lot and had to fight my demons to keep going.  

I also have to note that this is the race during which I fractured my foot in 2016.  To finish it with all bones intact was my number one goal.  Anything else was a bonus!  

August 26, 2017



I was really excited to run my second Crim.  Last year I had to sit out due to the stress fracture in my foot.  Usually the weather is hot at the end of August but we had a nice cool morning.  I didn't have an exact goal but was looking to make this a tempo run (around a 7:15 pace, depending on how I felt).  I was going to start out slower to save energy for the Barton Hills and pick up the pace as I went.  I'd been practicing negative split pacing in my tempo runs and track work and was looking forward to utilizing it on race day.

My training paid off.  I ran strong on the hills and faster in the second half than the first.  Even though mile 10 was my fastest, it was still a huge mental struggle for me to keep going.  I wanted to slow down and I had to will my body to keep pushing, even when the finish line was in sight.  This race showed me that I can run faster - I just need to keep my head in the game.  And hanging with friends after is ALWAYS the best part of any race!

Martian 10K + Kids Marathon




This was my 9th year of running Martian.  It wasn't ideal to run a 10K the week after Boston but I had a free entry from last year and I couldn't let it go to waste.  Plus I had to start up again with my Bayshore training so I wanted to get in an 8-mile run.  The race starts about a mile from my house so I ran there, ran the race, and could run home. 

I really enjoy the 10K for this race and this year it was even better because it was a new course.  I run in the area often but it was fun to have a race through those neighborhoods.  Even with my slower time I ended up placing 5th overall and 1st in my age group.  I had some strong women to help push me in the final miles.

After recharging with some coffee I went back for the kids marathon, where students from my school ran 1.2 miles to earn their marathon medals.  They'd been running and logging miles for months in preparation of this day.  I was so proud of all of them!



July 29, 2017



MOTTEP was my first 10K that I really pushed myself on this season.  I've run this race a few times and it's one of my favorites.  It's a great cause (MOTTEP = minority organ tissue and transplant education program) and RUNdetroit always plays a large roll in it.  Plus I can handle a 10K around Belle Isle.  The weather this year was perfect - not blazing hot like usual at the end of July.  This was the first race this season where I was able to really see how my speed work was paying off.  Due to the small size of the race I was able to finish as first female and chick a couple of dudes to finish second overall.  I forgot how good that feels!  

September 10, 2017



I was thrilled to be able to be back again for my 9th running of this race.  Run Wild for the Zoo was my first race back in 2007 and I only had to skip it one year since (2016 because of my sesamoid fracture).  This race truly makes me happy.  I love the neighborhoods around the zoo, the smallish start for the 10K, the amazing course marshals and volunteers, and the finish chute lined with cheering spectators.  

I felt strong crossing the finish line, knowing I had improved my time from July.  I set my 10K PR on this course two years ago and as much as I'd love to beat that, I was just as happy with my results on this day.  This is where I am right now and I'm proud of it.  

The race director forgot to order awards for 2nd place.  Mine came later in the mail was a hand-written note.

November 4, 2017



I knew going into this race that I shouldn't run hard.  I was hurting.  But I also knew it was my last race of the season and I wanted to give it all I had.  Granted, all I had now was not the same as 4 weeks ago but I wasn't going to go out jogging.  My PRP was already scheduled so I was going to get fixed up soon enough. Sure I wouldn't be stupid but I was going to run a race I'd be proud of.

I couldn't have asked for a better way to end the season.  My RUNdetroit Flight Club family was there.  Brian was taking pictures.  The course went through two cemeteries!  It was a gorgeous fall morning.  And with the help of Aleve and KT Tape, my pain was manageable.  I was able to run happy and enjoy my race.  As a bonus I came in 2nd Female and was awarded a gift certificate to RUNdetroit - my favorite store!

March 12, 2017



Not much to say about this one.  Another cold day in Detroit!  This isn't one of my favorite races so I might skip it this year (I tend to say that and do it anyway).  It often falls after a 20-miler, generally a hilly one if training for Boston.  I worry about the cobblestones on Michigan avenue so I take it easy.  It was a super cold day this year so we didn't stick around long for any reason.  One of my friends took this picture.  I'm always happy to see a friendly face!

Corktown Races - way too cold for any other pictures!

May 28, 2017



I ran this the day after Bayshore.  NOT recommended!!  I was already registered for it long before Bayshore came up.  In hindsight, not the best of plans.  I was glad to be a party of this event, however, with the cutest kids race I've ever seen!  
A fun race on the Grand Prix course with my RUNdetroit family.

August 6, 2017



This was such a fun race!  It was the second year for the event but Brian and I didn't run it last year (again my stress fracture).  Even though it fell the day after a scheduled 20 miler, I couldn't miss out on a hometown race.  The course started and ended at Ford Field and ran an out and back along the Gateway Trail through UM Campus.  Brian and I run this route regularly so we had a home court advantage with the hills.  I ran by feel, didn't look at my watch once, and was surprised at the end to find I'd negative split the race!  (All prior career 5Ks have been significant positive splits.)  

The event was part of the Trivium Racing Series.  Everything about the race was well organized.  There was a pre-race meeting, the race started on time, the course was well-marked, and awards were presented in a timely manner.  The theme for the race was the 80s so awards for all were Rubik's Cubes.  I loved it!  My playlist was 80s-themed, which was fun to make and run to.  Next year's theme is the 90s.  I'm looking forward to it already!

October 1, 2017



The Red October Run started in 1991 and is hosted by Beaumont Hospital.  Although it's been around for a while, I've never been super excited to run the race.  Until this year when the race moved to Greenfield Village.  A chance to run through the streets of Greenfield Village?  Sign me up!  

Race day was sunny, crisp, and beautiful.  We couldn't have asked for better weather for a fall 5K.  I ended up racing with my friend Dave and we both ran faster that we would have alone (one of those "I was keeping up with you!" situations).  Mile 1 took us around the outside of the Village - past horses, over train tracks, and through parts we didn't know existed.  The next 2.38 miles (it was a tad long) wound along the paved streets - past the Noah Webster House and the Cotswald Cottage, through the covered bridge, around the Village Green, and carousal.  Near the end we made a sharp 90 degree turn onto a dirt road, only to leap over a puddle and a mountain of horse poop.  (What's a trip to Greenfield Village without horse poop?!)  We ran around the cornfields, turned at the Firestone Farm, and were careful not to trip over the final railroad tracks before exiting the Village past the fountain.

I had so much fun with this race!  The volunteers were cheerful at all the turns and it was  a blast to run through the Village.  Awards took a long time to get going but they were worth it.  I was OA female and received a Betsy Ross flag and a cowbell made out of bullets.  Your race bib gave you admission into the Village for the day so Brian, Dave, and I walked around for a while afterwards.  Put this one on your list!

October 14, 2017



Although Freep weekend feel just one week after the Chicago marathon, there were a few reasons I felt compelled to run the 5K this year.  First of all, it was the 40th anniversary of the race and I wanted to participate in one of the events.  5K made the most sense.  I ran it the past 2 years and really enjoyed it.  The timing and location is great.  Last year Brian and I volunteered with medal distribution for the 5K and Kids Fun Run (I was able to both run and volunteer) and that was our plan this year.  And with the exception of the year I had pneumonia, I've run a Freep race each year since 2007.  I'd just be sure to run easy.

About that...  I pushed way too hard and only in hindsight can I say that my hamstring definitely went from bad to worse after this race.  It was probably headed there anyway but this surely didn't help.  I get caught up in the excitement of passing people, possibly placing and getting an award.  It's fun while it lasts but perhaps not worth it.  I have a few of these plaques but they always seem to arrive while I'm taking time off for an injury.  Coincidence?

7th female, 1st in age group
We had so much fun volunteering, especially at the kids run!  The medals were pretty this year.

Other races: 

Riverview WinterFest 4-Miler (Date - 5/28/17, Time - 25:33, Pace - 8:14/Mile)

Crown City Classic 12K (Date - 7/4/17, Time - 56:03, Pace - 7:35/Mile)

Crown City Classic

Great Lakes Relay (Date - 7/14-7/16/17, Mileage - 29ish over 3 days)

Heading out on my 10-mile sand leg, directions in hand.  It ended up being over 11 miles and taking me 2+ hours to complete!

Emerging from the woods after my first leg of the relay.  Check out that mud!

Too clean to have run yet.

Sports Bra Squad

My post wouldn't be complete without mentioning one more huge victory.  In September I was finally bold enough to run in my sports bra.  For some of you this might not seem like much.  But anyone struggling with body image issues will understand how big of a moment this was for me.  

I was also 100% covered in bugs.


That brings us to today - January 5th.  6.5 weeks post-PRP.  I've been in physical therapy for 5 weeks, making small gains in flexibility.  I'm up to running a slow 5K with minimal pain.  I have good days and bad, both mentally and physically.  KT tape is still my friend.  I have to keep reminding myself that it's only been 6.5 weeks.  Full recovery from PRP is 3 months.  When I'm counting down the weeks to Boston, however, my anxiety kicks in at the thought of covering 26.2 miles in one day.  I've yet to do that in a week!

But I have to remember this:

I've come back before and I can do it again.  It's easy to forget.  Even though it's off to a slow start, I'm looking forward to all that 2018 has in store.  3 marathons and a 50K are already on the calendar.  I'll try to keep you updated a bit more regularly.  You can also follow me on Facebook or Instagram. 

Happy 2018!