Today a friend was sharing with me her fears about jumping up from the 50k distance she’s already achieved to the 50 mile distance at her ultras. I told her that I believed with all my heart she could do it! Then I shared with her my blog entry from the day I ran my first 50 miles ever. I titled it I Ain’t No Quitter! I had the opportunity to go back and read that one again tonight myself and it was like being transported back in time to the summer of 2011 when I was still a baby ultra runner, just beginning to get my legs under me. That was a summer of high expectations, my first DNF and emerging like the phoenix from the ashes to prove that no matter how many times you knock an ultra runner down, she always rises again!
This year I’m experiencing some really fantastic highs. I finally qualified for the Boston Marathon last spring and will be doing the race for the first time this April. Before that, I will be heading to Antelope Island Buffalo Run to race my third 100 miler. These are good times. But, there were definitely many bumps in the road to get to where I’m at. And, I just wanted to take a moment to share that with any of you who are new to my blog and might not know about my history as a runner. Maybe you don’t know I’ve had 3 DNFs – all at 50 mile races or know that my first marathon was a 4:57 back in 2009? Some of you may be unaware that I was about 80 lbs heavier 7 years ago. That I hadn’t ran a step in over a decade when I began the Couch to 5k program in May of 2008. So many things have happened, so many miles have been traveled by the feet that I once worried could never run more than 5 miles since that was the greatest distance they had carried me prior to the year I was 35.
Today I want to encourage each and every one of you to hold tightly to your dreams. Keep working hard, getting up to go running when you’d rather go back to sleep, stepping out into the freezing weather when you’d rather stay indoors where it’s warm. Big successes happen in the day-to-day boring workouts that you do because you know they’ll make you better. And, they will! Keep dreaming and keep working hard! Dreams DO come true!!
If you’d like to read my account of running 50 miles for the first time, please click the link below. 🙂
I was looking for some inspiration this week and pulled together a nice collection of positive messages to help get us started on the right foot in 2014! I hope you find something that speaks to you in one of these quotes. Each of them spoke to me and left me feeling that they expressed a thought or feeling I didn’t have the words for myself. Here’s to staying grounded, focused and content in the upcoming 12 months!
My Daily Mile account shows that my feet carried me 2,398 miles of walking and running in 2013! That’s about 75 more miles than 2012, which is pretty cool. I love this time of the year – where a fresh page is before me on January 1st and I’ve shut the book on all the highs and lows of the previous year. I actually resisted the urge to run an extra 2 miles last night to round the numbers up to something a little more tidy. That alone shows improvement in my ability to be less anal! That feels like a baby step towards inner peace for me – to allow things to be as they are sometimes instead of always feeling the pressure to keep pushing.
I always enjoy looking back over the previous year the first week of January and taking note of the highlights of the last year. Here are mine:
1. I suffered a calf strain after slipping on black ice in February. It kept me from running for about 6 weeks. I feared my goals of qualifying for Boston and running my second 100 miler might be in jeopardy.
2. I recovered from the strain and showed up at the starting line of the Antelope Island Buffalo Run in March, not knowing if my calf injury was fully recovered. I had no idea if I could even run a single mile! It was an enormous relief that I was in fact able to run and even PR at the Buffalo Run and cross the finish line holding hands with my youngest daughter, Savannah, who was celebrating her 6th birthday that very day — and give her the buckle as her birthday present! (Best Mom moment ever for me!!!!!)
3. Beginning in January, I found myself in an amazing streak of personal bests at every race and every distance I would complete for the entire year — until December 28th when I missed a PR at The Hot Chocolate Run 10k by 9 seconds! My PR races and times were: The Redding Marathon (3:47), Run 4 Luv 5k (22:27), The Buffalo Run 100 (28:24), The Pickled Feet 24 Hr (62.6 miles) – one week after my 100, Weiser River 50k (4:56), Run Til You Puke (unofficial) Half (1:44), Great Idaho Potato Marathon (3:40 – BQ!!!!!!! – Finally!! The 7th marathon was the charm!!), Silver City 100k (which turned out to be a a difficult day of getting lost and my IT band locking up halfway through, but was still a PR since it was my first 100k) – (21:15 – told you it was bad), Titus Van Rijn One Hour Track Classic (7.77 miles), Wild Idaho 50k (8:12), Snow Cone Scamper Half (1:46), Harvest Classic 2 miler (my first WIN!!) – (14:04), Standhope 60k (12:24), Foothills 50k Frenzy (6:17) and Zeitgeist Half (on my birthday!!) (1:49.) It really was an amazing year and I have so much to be thankful for!
4. Even though I mentioned it in #3, qualifying for Boston was a dream come true and was absolutely the HIGHLIGHT of the whole year for me! I still can’t believe it really happened finally! I have my confirmation of acceptance postcard posted right above my desk, so I can see it every day, just to remind me that I really am GOING TO BOSTON in 2014! Wow! 😀 All of those miles of hard training through last winter, running medium and long runs at BQ pace and adding in speed work really did pay off in the end! I still can’t believe I shaved 7 minutes off my PR time and overshot the goal (3:45) by 4 minutes and 16 seconds. That moment that I crossed the finish line will live in my memory as one of the most defining moments of my life – it was a total emotional rush after years of chasing this big dream. The smile that came through the sobbing once I realized what I’d done after I crossed the finish line was probably one of the most pure, emotionally raw moments of my entire life!
5. Helping friends. This year I was able to come back to the 24 hour Pickled Feet event after some sleep and help pace my friend Derek (who’d been my pacer for 50 miles from Antelope Buffalo Run just one week prior) to reach his goal of 100 miles. In August, I had the wonderful opportunity again to help crew Derek from about mile 44 on and then jump in as pacer for the last 33 miles and a 4th place finish at IMTUF 100! Pacing a “fast boy” in a tough 100 was a dream gig for me and I learned a lot from the experience about what it’s like to be at the front of the pack vs fighting cut-offs at the back-of-the pack. It was awesome! In October, I had an emotionally satisfying experience pacing my closest childhood friend, Bertha in her first 100k at Antelope Island. The moment I got to see her run across that finish line and accomplish something she had never dreamed she could do before was an incredibly emotional and rewarding experience! If you haven’t put yourself out there to help others in the sport, I highly recommend it! It’s life-changing!
6. Cross-training. I joined the YMCA for a few months and got to enjoy doing group yoga classes for the first time, took my first spin class ever and tried Zumba! I suppose learning a dance routine for the Thrill the World Halloween flash mob and performing in downtown Boise dressed as a zombie with my sister, her daughter and my two older daughters was also pretty cool and counts in this department. I also recently tried Hot Yoga for the first time and really loved it! This is still an area I’m weak in – getting regular doses of non-running activities – but one I did improve on slightly in 2013!
7. Maintaining my weight for another year! As anyone who has lost a significant amount of weight can tell you – losing the weight might seem hard, but it’s the keeping it off the long-run that is really the true challenge! I weigh myself every day still and log that weight into a journal I keep under the bathroom cabinet. It’s become part of my morning routine and I believe has helped me make changes in my eating habits and exercise frequency to keep my weight in the healthy range for another year. In fact, I am actually a few lbs lighter this year than last, which I attribute to pushing the pace more often in my running. The slightly higher intensity burns more calories, I’m sure and has made me fitter as a result. It’s pretty cool to find that I’m nearly the same weight at age 41 as I was when I graduated from high school in 1991! Especially after having 5 kids!
8. Final Kick – my race company grew! So much happened this year! My husband and I directed more races than ever before! This was our third year in business as a company and will be the first year we did more than break even on most of our races. In fact, 6 months ago, my husband lost his job of 7 years in IT and while he’s been unemployed and looking for work, he’s poured himself into helping our little company grow. We now have a little team of extremely talented and hard-working helpers and volunteers, more structure and organization than we ever had before and our number of races to put on nearly doubled in 2013! We saw our Idaho Wine Run go from a first year attendance of about 400 to over 1,300 in 2013! It was thrilling and terrifying all at the same time to be directing such a huge event! Back when we created and directed our first race, the Lake Lowell Marathon in 2011, we never imagined that we’d continue to create and put on new races in the Boise area. In 2012 we directed the Ste Chapelle St Patrick’s Day race 5k (which would be come the Shamrock Shuffle in 2013), Bruneau Beast (the race that involves climbing some of the tallest sand dunes in the world), The Idaho Wine Run marathon, half, 10k and 5k, and the Hot Chocolate Run 5k in addition to Lake Lowell. This past year we added Run 4 Luv, Snow Cone Scamper and Struttin’ for Stuffin’ to the lineup. We have three new races and a cheap ass mid-week series coming in 2014 as well. The goal is to make this our full-time job and though we’re still far from that – we’re inching closer with every race. One more highlight for the company this past year was having the cameramen from PBS come out to Bruneau Beast and film parts of our course and racers for their December special titled the State of our Parks! That was insanely cool PR for us and we were pretty pumped at the exposure!
9. My Family. Though, I listed this as #9 on the list, my family really belongs way up as #1. 🙂 This was an exciting year for our family. The whole gang came out to support and crew for me at Antelope Island 100, which was wonderful. My husband, Wayne began a streak on his birthday (July 7th) of walking or running 5k every day and at this date – January 1st – he has not missed a single day! I’ve been really proud of his dedication to this. He’s also lost about 30 lbs just by making that single change in his daily habits, without really altering his diet at all. Wayne Jr and Wayne participated in the Pickled Feet 24 hr event with me. Wayne reached 20 miles and Wayne Jr (age 12 at the time) reached 27.5 miles – a huge distance for a kid who’d only been 12 miles once in his life before that! We were all so proud of him! The two Waynes again showed their stuff by completing their first official marathon at City of Trees this October! The other kids and I served as crew and cheerleaders, driving around the course as a roving aid station complete with peanut butter sandwiches, Oreos, Gatorade (and a beer for Wayne Sr – who appreciated the thought and chugged it at about mile 21!) They finished strong and raced to the finish together, Wayne Jr just edging out his father. It was a wonderful moment, with friends and family there to cheer them on! Rebecca (who is now 14) began making her own jewelry and has started selling pieces at our races, which she finds great pleasure in doing. Jr, Josh, Anneliese and Savannah have started participating in more of our Final Kick races, which has been fun to see (and is one nice perk of owning your own race company when you have 5 children you are trying to encourage to be more active!)
As I look towards 2014, I love that the year is still fresh and new and filled with possibilities! I’m definitely going to Boston in April and hope to return to IMTUF 100 as a runner this time after pacing for the last two years. The rest is still a wide open expanse of potential! After doing well enough in the Idaho Trail Ultra Series for the past two years to earn the coveted finisher’s jackets and then to earn a top 6 female spot in the Dirty Dozen again, I’m really wanting to decide if I want to continue to make that a priority. Since it requires 4 ultras from the series and then a focus on earning the most points possible, it has kept me from focusing on races outside the series as much, which I’ve missed. There are a few I am looking forward to doing (Wilson Creek 50k in January and Foothills Frenzy 50k in the fall and IMTUF 100) since the series really does have some fantastic, well-organized races all within driving distance, which is a plus, so I’ll most likely still race a few of them. But, I sort of like the idea of opening my mind (and wallet) to the other races outside of the area for this year and trying a more difficult 100 miler. Some of the other races that I’m considering are Mt Hood 50, Javelina and possibly Bryce or Cascade Crest. There is one thing I’d really like to accomplish – I’d like to run one of the qualifying races to earn a name in the hat in the Western States lottery for 2015. That is probably the next big goal for me.
I hope that you are filled with optimism and sense the thrill of “what could be” for the next year in your own personal and training life! Here’s a song to remind you that “the best is yet unwritten!” Happy New Year!!
My friend, Ryan shared this with me this week and reminded me of how appropriate this quote was for my journey to qualifying for Boston! I couldn’t agree more!
I ran my first marathon – The City of Trees Marathon on October 4th, 2009. It was 40 degrees and raining the entire race. It was wonderful and hard and definitely one of the most difficult things I’d ever done to that point (and that’s saying something from a woman who’s given birth without an epidural 5 times!) I had set a goal of running the race in 4:45, but crossed the finish line in 4:57:33. It was such an emotional and glorious moment to suddenly become a “marathoner!” I could not imagine running any faster than the 11:21 pace I maintained for that 26.2 miles!
But, that is one of the things that really seems to drive our kind — the “runners” in the world. We love to challenge ourselves, push hard to achieve our goals and once those are mastered, we make new goals and go after them, too! One of the first thoughts that went through my mind as I soaked in my ice bath after the race was, “I bet I could do the next one FASTER!” And once I got on that path, it wasn’t long before I started daydreaming about pie-in-the sky goals — especially the biggest one of all for most marathoners — to one day qualify for Boston – the Holy Grail of running achievements!
At that point, I’d already bought several books about the Boston Marathon, about it’s rich history, about Kathrine Switzer and her first run there in 1967 (where she was the first female ever to run it with a race bib) and how the race director, Jock Semple tried to attack her and remove her race bib and kick her out of the race partway through.
It angered me and surprised me to think that women had been unable to freely race in a marathon just a little over four decades ago. And, women weren’t openly welcomed into Boston until 1972, which coincidentally was the year I was born!
From the moment I learned that little fact, I felt a connection to Boston and the history of women runners. I felt it was my destiny to one day run the race myself — one of the benefactors of women like Kathrine Switzer (and my own Mom who started running in the 1980’s and was the first woman I knew who ran a marathon the year she was 40!) They blazed the trail! They showed me the way and I knew it would be an honor to have things come full circle and freely come to race in Boston one day.
But, there was the qualifying problem. Boston, unlike most other marathons, won’t allow you to just sign up and show up on race day to run. Instead, you must run a marathon on a USA Track and Field certified course in a qualifying time (based on your gender and age!) At the time I was dreaming about Boston, my qualifying time would have been 3:45:59 since I was 36. That was a difference of about an hour and 12 minutes FASTER! Talk about a pipe dream! But, it was already engraved on my heart as my destiny — so I kept training, kept running, even when others stopped joining me for training runs or gave up on their running visions for awhile. I spent many years running alone along the roads in Nampa, Idaho, dodging sugar beet trucks in the summer and heavy traffic. I wasn’t close to a greenbelt so I made do with what I had. And, little by little, I started to improve.
About 6 months later I ran my second marathon. I’d been training for and ran my first ultra marathon just a few weeks before, so I wasn’t expecting a very fast time when I signed up for the Famous Potato Marathon – and that’s good – because I actually ran slower with a time of 5:14:13, but I wasn’t discouraged! I’d done a difficult half marathon (with 8+ hard miles of uphill) and my ultra within the same month as this race, so I was seeing myself accomplish several races in a short period of time, which was cool, too and it was helping me develop my strength and endurance (even if my speed wasn’t improving much yet.)
By my 3rd marathon, I got more focused. I printed out a Smart Coach plan from Runner’s World and I started training more seriously for speed. When I ran the City of Trees in October of 2010 (one year after my first marathon) I shaved off 36 1/2 minutes off my time when I crossed the line in 4:20:59! That was a huge improvement and gave me hope that Boston could someday happen for me – if I kept working hard! But, I still had a long way’s to go. I needed to shave another 35 minutes to “BQ” (runner lingo for Boston Qualify!)
My focus was averted temporarily as I sought to run longer and longer distances in ultra marathons on the trails I’d fallen in love with. I didn’t run another marathon until the Famous Potato Marathon one year ago — just two months after my first 100 mile race! I had no idea what I could do and had not trained on the roads hardly at all during my ultra prep, so I was amazed when I crossed the finish line comfortably in 3:48:41! A PR by more than 32 minutes! That’s when my quest for Boston became more than a dream. It started to seem so much more likely!
There was just one catch. Though I was about to turn 40 and the standards would have allowed me to run a 3:50:59 to qualify, new standards had been put into place that required me to run faster than ever!!! They shaved off the 59 second grace window that had applied for so many years and then took another 5 minutes off the time, basically requiring everyone in all age groups to run nearly 6 min faster to qualify! My job just got harder! I needed to run a 3:45:00 or better to BQ! If the standards had not changed, that would have been the day I qualified for Boston! But, with the new standards in place, I needed to run 3 min and 41 seconds faster! I was NOT discouraged! I was pumped!!! I was so determined to go into laser mode and just focus as hard as I needed to to reach my dream goal!
I had moved to Boise late in 2011 and had the amazing luck of having a good friend who is much faster than me ask me to start running with him more in the early mornings. This benefited me in a couple of ways. Being able to run in the dark, before the kids woke up meant I was able to get in more miles (my weekly average went from about 30 miles a week to closer to 45-50) and I was having to push my pace more to keep up with my fast friend (even on his easy days!) I also suddenly had access to the Boise Greenbelt for safe running on long stretches of asphalt without a beet truck (or any traffic) in sight and I could hit the trails and run in the mountains almost from my front door, so I was gaining strength in my legs from climbing a lot more mountains – several times a week! I had been noticing an improvement in my endurance and my strength and my speed over several months when I ran the 3:48 race!
I set my sights on a fall marathon with a lot of elevation loss (something I thought would play to my strength of running fast downhill.) That race was the Pocatello Marathon and it didn’t go as planned. I was on pace for a BQ until mile 18, when the wheels just fell off and I started to walk – and pretty much walked the rest of the race until I crossed the finish line in a disappointing time of 4:27:01. I had not trained specifically for a downhill road race. I had hoped my good luck at the previous marathon with very little road training or any speedwork would mean I could just “wing it” and do well at this race while still training for ultras in the mountains. I was wrong! It was a lesson learned! But, I did not give up!
My friends Ryan and Derek continued to push me hard in training and they both knew how much I wanted Boston! Derek said something to me that really spoke to me this past winter. He said, “What is difficult for you must become easy!” From that point on, when the boys ran roads with me in our midweek runs, we ran my BQ pace – or faster – every single time!!! I started to train at the pace I needed to qualify! It was hard at first and I couldn’t hold it long, but as the weeks went by, I started to find it more comfortable and by the time I showed up at the Redding Marathon in Jan of 2013, I knew I was ready (or close!) I had even ran a 20 miler at 1 second per mile faster than BQ pace in training!
That was the most comfortable marathon of my life! It truly did feel like a training run until the final 4 miles or so (when it started to hurt and I could not muster the energy to push it home a bit faster!) I enjoyed the hills, the beautiful bridges we crossed and the route. I crossed the finish line in 3:47:22 – a PR but not a BQ! I had ran a smart race and my Garmin said I’d done the 8:34 pace I needed for the duration – but – the certified course, being done on a very curvy route turned out to be a 26.5 instead of closer to 26.2, so I just missed it. Being a race director myself (and someone who has personally helped certify 4 marathon courses) I should have known better! If you don’t cut every single tangent the course will be a bit long and I should have assumed from the start that I needed to run a little bit faster the entire time to reach my goal. It was another lesson!
I ran my second 100 mile race in March of 2013 (about 2 hours faster than the year before), then I set my sights back on qualifying for Boston in May at the Famous Potato. I felt fitter and more focused than ever before! Ryan had gotten the marathon bug and was training hard right along with me (for his own goal of a 3:10 or better) and having that camaraderie was good for me! Even though we run different paces, we would meet together, do the warm up miles as we talked and then each push hard for the speedwork and tempo work, then cool down together. I think we both pushed each other to do better and that was a big help! For about 6 weeks, we abandoned our beloved trail running and just focused on preparing our bodies to qualify on the asphalt!
And, it paid off!! This past weekend, on May 18, 2013, I made history (for ME) by qualifying for Boston!!! I did it!!!!! I can’t believe it!!! Despite having to stop for potty breaks several times along the course, I ran across the finish line in 3:40:44 — a full 4 minutes and 16 seconds faster than I needed to! My family was there to cheer for me along the route (including my parents, which meant the world to me), so many of my friends were either running the race or were there cheering or pacing, my amazing friend Lucia, who has ran Boston more times than any woman I know, paced me the last 6 miles and kept me steady and I got to high-five Ryan as he grinned at about mile 18 for me and 22 for him as he went on to qualify for Boston with a 3:08, too!
It was an amazing day! When I crossed the finish line, my dear friend Dennis yelled at me, “C. EB” as he likes to call me. I was having a hard time catching my breath and when I looked up and saw him with his arms stretched out I went to him for a congratulatory hug. That’s when it all suddenly hit me like a ton of bricks — the quest was OVER! I’d actually DONE IT!!! I started sobbing, just so overcome with gratitude and emotion and RELIEF and joy! I did it! I really did it! I finally qualified for Boston!!!
My parents were there with the video camera and my Mom said, “Where are you going now?” and through tears, I threw up my arms and yelled out, “BOSTON!!” My five kids gathered around me and hugged me and said they were so proud of me! “You did it, Mom! you finally did it!” My husband hugged me and said, “I knew you could!” which meant the world! Later, Ryan found me and we posed for a picture. I’d named our little team, “Boston and a Belt Buckle” – meaning I wanted to earn a 100 mile belt buckle and a Boston qualifying time in the same year. We’d both earned our 100 mile buckles at Antelope Island Buffalo Run in March -and less than two months later, we were standing near the finish line where we’d each BQ’d!!! That couldn’t have gone better!! 😀
So, if you are dreaming of Boston and it seems like an impossible dream, I want to encourage you to never lose hope! I went from a 4:57 marathoner to a 3:40 one. Anything is possible if you are willing to believe in yourself, work really hard and keep on picking yourself up and trying if things don’t go right the first time! It’s worth it to keep after your goals! You can do it!!!!!
I saw this and had to share it here! I love it! – Happy Running!!
Boy, do I relate to this one!! Running is by far the best therapy for me whatever problems I am dealing with. It’s also a wonderful way to celebrate a TERRIFIC day, too! 🙂