The latest from @TeamCinderWars on Instagram...

Friday, May 30, 2014

Nike Women's Half-Marathon... Because I'm Happy 13.1

I admit a decent amount of these recaps involve something going wrong. May I now present to you
"How to try and sabotage yourself and run the happiest race ever!"

So if you read the blog about Paris, you know that race did not go according to plan and while a great race I finished defeated and dehydrated.
Two days post marathon, ready to traverse Berlin (yes, the medal was in the bag)
After I spent a week traversing Europe, once I could move and eat, I flew back to the states and realized I had a half-marathon to run on April 27, yup 19 days after a Marathon time for another half.

I will be honest- I had no intentions of training and no desire to run. I have been interested in Olympic lifting so my focus shifted to that once I came back to working out. I did everything I could to get out of running during CrossFit, not interested in running. 

The week of the race I was jokingly offering my bib up to anyone who wanted it. I knew I would run it, but I just was not mentally in the game. I mentally attempted to sabotage myself by working out the day before, staying up late the night before, and not running. Three weeks of zero running and I was going to run 13.1 miles, oh yes..I was setting myself up for failure.
The message I received as I walked into the expo (the timing chip clued the wall ).

As I was falling asleep the night before I realized that I was going to be running tomorrow along the routes I trained for my previous races. These paths have been cursed at and had blood, sweat, and tears shed on them. Tomorrow I was going to race along them and tomorrow was going to be my 5th half-marathon. A year ago, running 13.1 miles seemed impossible; now it was just a Sunday run (a long run, but just a run). I went to bed happy and willing to accept whatever tomorrow held.

I knew that Sara would be on the course to cheer me on, so that was something too look forward to, in addition to post race brunch with another friend Zoe. Seriously- plan brunch after a idea!

The poof makes its' running debut.
While the countdown for my corral began the sun rose over the capital building and I started crying ( with it). I realized the journey I had taken to get here, from no running at all, to completing two marathons and stetting up to finish my 5th half-marathon. At the start line I  made sure that I let go of every apprehension. In that moment I found the joy of running again, that joy of lacing up your shoes and just running.

Off we went. The weather could not have been better. I clipped along and around Mile 3 I saw Sara for the first time and delivered a sweaty hug (not sorry).

Mile 5 saw me crossing the Memorial Bridge that KILLED me the first time I attempted to run across it. Not today to day I ran it and full of joy and vigor.

I knew to expect Sara again at Mile 11, but she surprised me at Mile 8 with a grumpy cat stuffed animal and a sign that read:
I tried running once, it was awful.
She knows me so well.

While I have been running in D.C. for a few years I have never run along Haynes Point, so it was exciting to run around and see all the Cherry Blossoms in full bloom. 

Around Mile 11 the 2:20 pacer passed me- I had no idea I was running that fast (as an asthmatic runner, 2:20 is fast for me). Rather than keep up, I just held pace but vowed to keep her in my sight line.

I saw Sara for the final time and gave her I giant sweaty hug and went into the final mile and half.

The race was almost over and it felt like it just flew by for me. I was laughing and smiling..for all 13.1 miles. I didn't need my inhaler and didn't need to slow down to catch my breath.

I crossed the finish line triumphant and happy. 
So happy...and with an accidental PR!
I found my groove in those 13.1 miles, I got back to the joy I had when I first started running, and I felt free

So here is to the good and bad running day. Both will happen, but the key is to appreciate the good ones and let the bad ones go.
Zoe and I treated our bling to brunch.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Paris, Je t'aime...I think

Well now that it has been over a month it seems like a good time to recap the 2014 Paris Marathon!

On April 6, I ran the Schneider Electric Marathon along with 3 improv friends from around the United States, but before I get to the race I should back you up to my 'training' which I call "How to mess up your training, be saved by a coach, and somehow finish a Marathon in 3 weeks."

After I finished the mammoth that was the Dopey Challenge (which included my first marathon), I was done with running. Not just sore, but DONE. I had no desire to head out for a run, let alone train for one.

About 3 weeks out from Paris I received an incredibly stern chat/Come to Jesus talk from my coach Pablo. I will spare you the details but a few key points came out of that chat

1) If I wanted to run a marathon I needed to focus on running, not lifting.
2) I needed to believe I could run this race and that I was capable.
3) I needed to start training with an altitude mask because the air quality in Paris is horrible and as an asthmatic....that was a recipe for disaster.
Want to earn strange looks and Bane comments? Get an altitude mask.

So armed with a plan full of running, rowing, altitude mask, and yoga,  I made the most of the final 3 weeks of training. I would be lying if I said it was easy and I'd also be lying if I didn't bemoan it almost everyday. 

As a thank you I turned a joke into a t-shirt and as requested- I wore it in front of a monument. 
Inappropriate? Maybe. Worth it? Yes.
My 20 mile run crushed me, thankfully my friend Allison was willing to pick my rain soaked muddy butt up from the middle of nowhere so I didn't have to do an out and back. Have I mentioned I have a great group of friends?

To Paris

Finally the day of my flight arrived. In true fashion I found the other marathoners on my flight to Paris, and we all bonded as we stretched mid-flight. 

First mission in Paris was to find my cohort Rene and get to the Race Expo. I have to say Paris has one of the best Race Expos I've seen, as well as awesome shwag. I mean a headlamp? YES! 
Rene and I living the dream
The next day (April 4) the other half of our group arrived. 

Team Bane accounted for: Bill, Betse, Rene, and some crazy chick

Saturday morning two members went on an official 5k shake out run with the Paris Marathon group and myself and Bill stayed to do our own runs around our neighborhood.  This was just a 2 mile loop, but it was a FANTASTIC run. The best I'd felt in a long time, the weather was perfect, my stride was on track, and I felt back to me.
If I could run here everyday I would.

We settled in for a bit of Star Wars watching and foam rolling for the rest of the day. I laid out my outfit and prepped myself for the 26.2 tour of Paris. 

6am came too soon. I was a bucket of nerves as I warmed up/mobilized. We all geared up in our superhero shirts and headed to the start line. 

Upon seeing the Arc de Triomphe it hit me, I was really about to run in PARIS. 
Yes... we mixed up our superhero universes. We do not care.
Standing in the start line we all just oddly shuffled around. I was the only one in our group who had finished a marathon before, but that didn't make me any less nervous.
I'm in the back, just look closely
Soon we were off running. Cobblestones underfoot and fans cheering on all sides pushed me to a fast first mile (oops). I found Beste and we grabbed hands as we both had shit eating grins on our faces. That first 5K was a blur of sights and people everywhere. 

We arrived at the first fuel stop and I decided to fuel with fruit rather than my own. Paris only provides fresh fruit and sugar cubes on course. Let me tell you...those orange slices were the GREATEST things I've ever tasted. The nectar of the gods. Fueling on oranges would lead to a bonk later in the race, but I was only focused on eating and not slipping on the orange and banana peels.

Betse and I were keeping a steady pace and decided to just stick together for the race, however the race was going to take a down turn pretty quickly. Just before mile 8 we hit a steady hill,  and as often happens I will be a bit out of breath at the top. But as we crested I realized I was struggling to slow my breathing and realized I was wheezing.

Yup...Mile 8 asthma attack. I run with my inhaler so it wasn't a worry and we slowed to a crawl. I then realized that this race was about to come crashing down and then I started crying. This is when I owe the race to Betse. She wouldn't leave and run ahead no matter how many times I insisted she leave. She did her best to keep me positive and would hear no negative talk from me. However, I had a battle going on in my own head.

We battled on for the rest of the race. Looping back along the Seine provided some lovely sights, including Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower. I was slowly loosing steam and bonking- turns out oranges do not sustain me, as filling as they feel. We switched to a 3/1 run/walk ratio as I couldn't even keep a consistent pace.
Photo stolen, though I did feel like laying down.

Did I mention I was done? Betse just kept going and dancing along and having a party. I trailed along head down body killing me. 

Mile 20 appeared and as much as I wanted to power through the last 10K. I had nothing left in me to go. My camelbak was out of water (oh did I mention it was hotter than I anticipated) and there were no water stops in sight. I should also mention that I ended up dehydrated. I would realize later that my down fall was those delicious oranges, not eating my fuel, and not hydrating well. OOPS

By Mile 22 I was contemplating stopping. Some part of my brain realized that this was an effect of me bonking. That small part of me kept me going. 

Around here I finally sent Betse on her way as walking was painful for her and I couldn't keep pace with her. Honestly, spending the last 2 miles was the best thing because I had to fight for myself. Marathon running truly is a mental battle and if you aren't willing to fight, you won't finish. Finally, I saw the finish line and I bawled. I knew my parents were there to see me finish a marathon and I saw Betse there...waiting for me.

I ran across the finish line realizing I'd done it again...I'd finished a marathon and I finished it 1 hour faster than my previous race. Was it the time I wanted? Nope. Did I fight for the time I got? Yup. Does that make it okay? does. 
These photos were taken less than 10ft apart. Confident to cry in 10ft or less. 

Soon after crossing the finish line I interviewed by a French Radio French. If someone finds that audio please send it to me. I am 90% sure I spoke horrible French as trying to even think after a marathon is hard enough. 

We got our shirts, ponchos, and medals. We found our group and hugged.. We had done it. We ran Paris.
How we all really felt at the end.
 I bawled when I found my parents, who flew over to watch me race. 
They also brought champagne to the finish line.
My mother then massaged my legs as I was a cramped mess. Our group collected ourselves and ambled, waddled, and moaned our way back to our apartment.
Once we cleaned up and figured out how to walk we went out to celebrate our accomplishment and plan for future adventures. We did it- 6 months after Rene proposed this crazy idea, we ran Paris. 
A mighty fine view if I do say so.
Marathon 2 is now in the books and while I have a few half-marathons planned for this year I think two marathons in 4 months in plenty for now. 

See you in 2015 26.2