My main goal for 2017 is to have fun. So far...HUGE SUCCESS!!!
I've opted to forgo "traditional" training as that was the main factor in my over-training/unhappy running during parts of 2016. I've run some. Mostly on the weekends, but I've fit in the occasional mid-week fun club run (Wahoo's for Taco Tuesday!) or meet-up with friends. I've tried to get into the gym three times a week - some weeks I've made this happen, others I haven't. There were times in February when this caused me to panic a bit because of my March race schedule:
Thankfully I have a PHENOMENAL group of friends who support my insanity, and a few were willing to come out and support me for this silly training run. I planned a central location where I could loop (In addition to not particularly wanting to do this run, I didn't really want to carry everything with me) - my car was the meeting point and aid station. I packed enough water to hydrate a small army, olives, beef jerky, and COOKIES!
Sjored showed up when I was about a mile and a half in, and we hit the road/path/sidewalk running. Monica joined us a couple of miles later. I'd told folks that I was going to be "slow" (most of my friends are a fair amount faster than I) - likely an 11-12 minute mile average pace. Thankfully, this didn't *actually* happen. Sjored has those nice, long legs of which short people (i.e.: ME) are always jealous, so he kept me moving in the low-to mid 10's. Monica hung with us until about mile 8 (because not all runners are silly enough do to things like run 20 miles "for fun"), and Sjored was a ROCK STAR and hung with me until 16.5ish. This was a godsend because I got horrendously bored (not tired, not hurt, not unable to run...just bored and "over it") at mile 15. I would have quit if he hadn't been with me. At this point I justified walking the "huge hills" (which are really just small rollers), but we kept on moving. By the time Sjored had to leave, I was totally ready to be done, but was past the "point of no return," and nothing was going to keep me from finishing all 20! I did. Yay!
I had friends fly into town for DreamCatcher and That Dam. They're those super-duper-crazy types of runners who fly into Colorado to run back-to-back halves at elevation even though they live at something very close to 0'. We all planned on "running our own races," and I assumed that I'd just plod along, finishing somewhere in the middle of the pack as I wanted these races to be "easy distance."
Famous last words.
Stretch goal for DreamCatcher: 2:15...actual time: 2:08 (my 3rd fastest half ever...)
Stretch goal for That Dam: 2:30...actual time: 2:15 (at least I hit yesterday's stretch goal?)
Considering the minimal mileage I'd put in to this point in the year (I'd run about 100 miles in January and February combined), my body logically should not have been able to do this...but it did...and, more importantly...
I HAD FUN!!!
So I held onto that fun, enjoyed Running of the Green and some trail running/hinking (and a visit from Baylee), and tried to ignore the super-duper-scary thought that was starting to sneak into my mind... "HOLY CRAP, I HAVE TO RUN 26.2 SOON...THAT'S REALLY FAR!!!!"
Before I knew it, I was in LA and at packet pickup with my friends. I told everyone that I was going to take it easy, enjoy the race, and just "see what happened." I did...kinda. See, I'm a downhill runner. Translation: my short legs really suck at going uphill (I have a very well-trained fast hike), but since I'm quite agile, I can roadrunner my way down! And even though I don't "race" in races, I always look at the elevation profile and run a strategic race (i.e.: it's silly for me to blow all my energy trying to run up a hill that's longer than it appears). LA has a number of relatively steep downhills at the start, so I knew that I'd really let myself go when I got to them.
I started somewhere near the front of the middle of the open corral and figured I'd let myself bob and weave through the throngs of people as I tackled those hills. It felt good. The weather was great. There were a gazillion people running, volunteering, and cheering, so it was FUN! Around mile 9 I started to think about how I might get bored again and knew that, historically, beer made me happy during a marathon. I started my search for beer. This definitely kept me occupied. So much so that I nearly missed my friends Corey (who had watermelon) and Alicja (who had ice as it was a pretty warm and humid day)...but when I heard them call my name, I abandoned the dream of beer (momentarily) and made a bee-line. I stopped and chatted with them. Caught my breath, laughed, and then got back after it.
As expected, at mile 16 I got really bored. There was a lot to look at, but I was just "over it." But I used what had become "The Great Beer Chase" to keep me occupied. SUCCESS AT MILE 18!!! There was a guy handing out cans of beer...I told him that I was in love with him (hey, I'd been wanting beer for 9 miles...) and very happily accepted a can. I shared it with the two guys near me that were clearly in a lot of pain. We walked, talked about the merits of beer mid-race, laughed, and drank beer. Then I ran! With a new pep in my step, I looked at my watch and started doing some runner's math (it'd be quite interesting to try to write out the silly equations/calculations that happen in my head during a race...I'm sure my former students would get a kick out of it) - and I had a HUGE revelation.
Assuming I could just keep moving for another 8ish miles, I would set a new PR. There was a reason to *want* to run again! I kept moving and set silly little goals - "I'll run until that guy with the Poop sign, it's funny and I can thank him when I start walking," or "No, Melissa, you don't need to walk 5 steps after your last break...you can make it until you're offered an other orange slice!" This quickly took me to mile 21 where I set a *really* silly goal - "I'm gonna run this ENTIRE MILE!!!"
Yeah, I told that lady that I loved her too! This was beer in a kiddie cup, which was the PERFECT amount at this point in the race. I savored the hoppy goodness over the course of the next 8 steps (yep, I counted while walking) and then got back after that mile. Those 8 steps were the only ones I walked between 21 and 22...and to make up for the 8 steps, I ran the additional tenth of a mile between mile marker 22 and the next aid station. I was on cloud 9 and started to a bit more runner's math...
I CAN RUN A SUB-5 HOUR MARATHON!!!!
This realization really lit a fire under my bum. The lazy little walk breaks were a story of miles past. I was now on a mission! At mile 23 I caught up to Lisa...didn't expect that to happen, and was sad to hear that she was hurting...but she's such a rock star that she cheered me on and told me to, "GO GET THAT PR!!!" (Had to choke back a few tears there.)
I did it! I cried tears of joy. I hobbled to get my medal. And I smiled...endlessly. I was in disbelief (still am)!
Then I took my phone out of airplane mode and found out just how many people had been following me online - I had SO MANY messages from friends congratulating me!!! I had no clue that so many people were cheering me on. Wow. More tears of joy.
Bonus - one of those friends informed me that I ran a 4:50 flat...no spare seconds...seriously an AWESOME time to have as a PR - not sure I ever want to beat it because 4:50:00 looks pretty darn cool!
The rest of the weekend was spent with friends - celebrating victories (Chavet ran a course PR and Dee Dee finished the marathon a mere 7 weeks after having shoulder surgery) and moving past frustrations (Lisa's knee and Deb's first DNF). Regardless each person's personal outcome, we were together...and WE WENT TO (well, not Disney, but...) UNIVERSAL STUDIOS!!!
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter...yeah buddy!
The following weekend's run at the 17.75k was supposed to be an "easy shake out." It was...and it was a beautiful course. Lisa and I had a blast, made some friends, and then did DC up right.
Guess what - I SURVIVED MARCH!! And...
IT WAS FUN!!!
Now I'm back home, back to work, and switching modes for the next great undertaking...a CrossFit competition on April 15! Here's hoping the remaining 9 months of 2017 are as FUN as the first 3!!!
Melissa is many things...among them, she is a friend, sister, daughter, dog owner, RunJunkEes Ambassador, Colfax Marathon Ambassador, Skirt Sports Ambassador, Lowry CrossFit member, and a mountain girl at heart!