There Will Always Be Someone Faster Than You

Raise your hand if you’ve heard/said/mumbled the following:

“I’m so slow!”

“I can’t run as fast as you.”

“I’m afraid I’ll come in last.”

Some use it as avoidance, or maybe you have a genuine fear of coming in last in a race. Well, I’ve got news for you.

THERE WILL ALWAYS BE SOMEONE FASTER THAN YOU.

Unless you are an elite badass runner, the above is TRUTH. And even the elite runners get their butts kicked at some point. But guess what?

They put in hard effort…YOU DO TOO.

They put in time…YOU DO TOO.

Sometimes they have great runs, sometimes they have sucky runs. YOU DO TOO.

They have goals. Big ones…YOU DO TOO.

And when you get the starting line of your race, all runners must cover the exact same ground as you. No matter what the race — a 5k, 10k, marathon —  they run the exact same course and distance that you will. (By the way, what other sport can say that? Little leagues don’t typically get to play at Yankee Stadium!)

Once you accept everything that you are, AND everything that you are not, it’s quite freeing. I will never be an elite runner. I may never break a 4-hour marathon. But I aim to get a little faster every year, avoid injury, and enjoy my running time. I’ve just accepted that in races, in training runs, and in life, there will always be someone with fleeter feet than mine. And I’m okay with that.

slow runner

If you find this funny, you’re in the right sport. Photo Credit: The T-Rex Runner

For the past few months, I was a long-run pace leader for the Saturday morning runs at our local run shop. When the runners gathered, we divided into pace groups. There were always 8:00/mile people, 9:00/mile people there. I was proud to represent the 10:00/mile peeps. When we took off on the run, it didn’t matter what the 8’s and 9’s were doing, it mattered what I was doing. Right now, my long-run sweet spot is that pace. Not too long ago I had an 12-13:00/mile pace. To get to this place (and pace) was MY journey, and mine alone. It’s MINE, MINE, MINE! No one can take that from me. That’s where I find my joy, my successes, my happy pace.

comparison-is-the-thief-of-joy

Once you truly accept that you are in charge of your running, then you can go about your business of training for your raceUnless you are on a relay team, you run against yourself. You run against your own clock. You run against the person you were yesterday.

Dont-Compare-Yourself-to-Others-battle can't win

Get out there and do it. You got this!

 

 

4.5 Personal Running Quirks

I like the word quirk. The word itself is quirky, like a visual-type of onomatopoeia. It also rhymes with work, jerk, and twerk, just in case you are a rapper looking for some dope rhymes.

All runners have quirks. On the quirky scale, I’d say these are moderately quirky. I know some runners that have extreme quirks. Some I didn’t even realize were quirks until someone pointed it out to me. Here are 4 of mine that I can think of.

1. I don’t always run with music, but when I do, my headphones’ cord MUST be behind me. I always, always run the cord through the back of my bra. I just can’t have it swinging in front of me, lest I accidentally swipe it with an errant thumb, yank the old iPod Nano out of my pocket, and fling it across the road. (It has happened.)

2. I always wear a hat or visor, even when I’m inside on the treadmill. I need something on my forehead to keep the sweat and sun out of my eyes. A headband isn’t going to cut it. Mostly I reach for hats, because my natural $60 haircolor MUST BE PROTECTED.

Hatapalooza

Hatapalooza

3. I always default to executing loop-style runs in a counter-clockwise direction. It doesn’t matter if it’s a loop in my neighborhood, or a loop in town. Long or short. I think this has something to do with running track at an early age? All it took was ONE middle-school track-and-field season where I ran the 800 meters to imprint a counter-clockwise direction on my runner brain forevah. I almost always finished last or near last in those co-ed races, except for that one time I beat a boy and came in second-to-last. That was GLORIOUS.

4. This is not so much a quirk as it is a ritual. I take a lower-body ice-bath on any run over ten miles. That in and of itself is not so quirky (or maybe it is? I think I lost perspective the moment ice bath entered my vocabulary), but it’s the accessorizing that might put it over the top. I make a cup of steaming milk with a scoop of chocolate protein powder, and together with my favorite raspberry newtons cookies, they go on the edge of the tub ready to be consumed. Then I grab a hoodie and a beanie and put them on (if the bottom part of me will freeze, then the top part of me will be toasty). Next, I lower myself with an f-bomb filled tirade into the icy water, white-knuckle my phone, set the timer for 15 minutes, turn on a running mix, and play Angry Birds Rio until the timer goes off. Every single time. Okay, yeah, that’s a little quirky.

running quirks marathon training

Quirkalicious.

4a. I just thought of a little one. If I’ve reached a turnaround point and there’s a stop sign there, I must reach up and smack the sign. I don’t know why. Perhaps I just like smacking things. #cantstopwontstop.

So that’s my four-and-a-half weird, eccentric running quirks. The best thing about them? They’re mine. I’ll wear them like a badge, because I think they make me run better/stronger/faster. I just know that if I run a clockwise loop with my headphone cord in front and no hat and skip my ice bath, that run’s going to suck.

What are some of your running quirks?

Marathon Training Update: A Whole Bunch of YAYs

NYC Marathon training from August 18-September 7, also known as “Hell Weeks” for teachers, went surprisingly smooth. I’m not sure if it’s because this is deja vu, the awesome running weather, the extra sleep I got, or what. I’m sure it’s the “or what.”

Week 7 Highlights:

This week was all about recovery from the Mingoman Triathlon adventures. We drove back from Ohio, and I dove right into schoolwork: Setting up my classroom, attending meetings and professional development, and getting ready for the First Day. Right away, I had to move a scheduled run to another day, but I got it in. There were 3 “easy” runs, and a 10-mile long run. I also wore my GPS watch when I mowed the yard, just to see how many miles it was (with a non-power-assist push mower, mind you).

cross training mowing

I’m guessing it’s not entirely accurate, but apparently, that’s how I roll.

It was actually 1.2 miles total, at a smokin’ 29:31 pace. Kara Goucher, eat your heart out.

That week’s 10-miler was vexing. It felt like a slog-fest, but ended up being an average of 10:52 pace. Anything under 11:00 miles on a long run is quite unusual for me. I was quite tired and a little dehydrated the rest of the day, which goes to show you that PERCEIVED EFFORT is just as important as listening to your GPS watch. But still, YAY!

Week 8 Highlights:

I commemorated the First Day of School by running at 5:30 AM with a headlamp. Overachiever, much?

marathon training dark

‘Tis the season

I actually had good energy this week. I made sure to go to bed early, which for this night owl, is a hard habit to get into. There’s always ONE MORE THING to do before bed, right?

I ended the week with a total, complete, remember-this-run-because-they-don’t-come-along-that-often 16-miler! I ran completely by myself, had virtually no blisters, and had an average of 10:51…whaaaaaaaat? YAY!

marathon training long run

There might have been fist-pumping involved after this run.

It must have been all of the extra zzzz’s.

Week 9 Highlights

This week, in mid-September, summer finally appeared, in all of it’s hot, humid glory. Here’s a poem, referring to speed work on the high school track.

Where art thou,

My sweet track breeze?

Nowhere to be found,

As it’s football practice and 85 degrees.

It stayed hot the whole week. On Saturday, I did my long run of 18-miles. I did 3x 6-mile loops in town starting from the local Starbucks (Restrooms and water? Don’t mind if I do.Three times.) I was comfortable for the first 10 miles, then the sun came out blasting. I was getting a little worried about over-heating, but then, like some glistening beacon of refreshment, I saw the library’s sprinklers were on, and ran right through them with no shame. Later, I saw a random landscaper watering some flowers. I screeched to a stop, threw my hands up in the air, and pleaded “HOSE ME DOWN, PLEASE!!” (He did…twice. Remember, I was running loops.) When I finished my second loop, I saw that the Ridgefield High School baseball team was setting up a car-wash fundraiser next door. Of course, I ran over and asked a bunch of high-school boys to turn the hose on me. I’LL BRING MY CAR OVER WHEN I’M DONE JUST HOSE ME DOWN GUYS. Not weird at all.

marathon training hot

Thumbs up to the baseball boys behind me.

Also during that run, I was randomly joined by another mother runner who recognized me from the Run Like a Mother training sessions last spring. It was delightful as she joined me for miles 12-15 (ish) and we decided we’d run again in the future. YAY for new rando running friends!

Between the hoses and the new friends, it was actually a smashing run, despite the heat. Average pace was 11:17. And I did let the baseball boys wash my car afterward.

YAY for lawn mowing! YAY for hoses! YAY new running friends!

It’s September…let’s hear it now: YAY!

Adventures of a Fairy Mother Runner

My Mother’s Day was fantastic. I got to…

1. Race Sweep. Last year, I was accidentally thrust into the being the lead bike for Ridgefield’s Run Like a Mother 5k. This year, I was asked to be the Fairy Mother Runner, and come in last place, so that no one else had to be last. (I wish I could take credit for the idea, but alas, I’m not that forward-thinking. Or nice.) I broke my own rule of not racing in costume, but technically I wasn’t racing, so there. The tutu I was handed on race morning was child-size and hot pink. I should’ve just brought the infamous Ragnar Tutu instead. My friend and owner of the Ridgefield Bicycle Company (also a sponsor of the race), Jacqui, led the race on a sweet electric-hybrid bike this year. The whole time was super-fun!

race sweep fairy mother runner

2. Eat a giant homemade waffle. My fabulous husband had breakfast waiting for me after the race, which included a giant homemade waffle the size of my head, blueberries, and 2 perfectly cooked eggs. Sorry, no photo, I ate it too fast.

3. Take a glorious nap. Buoyed by my super-sized breakfast, the urge to nap came on strong, and I did not resist. Sorry, also no photo here. I took a solid hour+ nap, only occasionally interrupted by a shout of “Mooooommmmm!” to which I mumbled, “It’s Mother’s Day, go ask your father.”

4. Pull off a brick workout. Buoyed by my super-sized nap, and being in full-swing for triathlon training, I headed out for a big ole’ brick workout: A bike followed immediately by a run. I had yet to have a decent bike ride this season. Either I was tired, or learning how to work my new pedals, or stuck on the trainer due to the weather. As I headed out to ride the TriRidgefield course (about 12 miles and right by my house) I was determined to not have this ride suck, and it did not disappoint. In fact, I can credit all the millions of Crossfit squats this winter/spring for giving my hamstrings and glutes a little more get-up-and-go than last year. Funny how that works. I finished my bike ride, pulled into the garage, switched out my shirt and shoes, and took off for a 3.5 mile run. Still jelly-legged (hence the name “brick” workout), I ran slower than I wanted, but still felt like I had some energy left in the tank. All said, it was my longest workout of 2014 so far, about 100 minutes. Sha-BAM!

brick workout, triathlon
5. Relax on the porch. I almost fell asleep again.

brick, triathlon, relax

Then I realized we had nothing for dinner. I like to grocery shop (by myself? Yes! With kids? Hellz no!), and hopped over to Whole Foods (don’t usually go there – but hey! Treating myself…and no kids!) and bought ingredients to…

6. Grill lettuce. Yes, you can grill lettuce, and it is FAB! In this case it was romaine heads. I also threw some chicken on for yummy warm caesar salads. Just like a robin, the first grilled romaine heads are always a sure signs of warm weather at our house.

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7. Cuddle with kids. My son was actually running a fever all day. It’s funny how 9-year-old boys still just want their mammas when they’re sick. I also got some sweet cuddle time in with The Bot, who promptly commandeered my Fairy Mother Runner costume for herself.

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All of those things, combined with the first Perfect Weather Day of 2014 (finally!), made it a great day. The only way it could have been better was if my mom was with me. She’s in another state, still fighting the good fight against The Big C. Send good vibes!

How did you spend Mother’s Day? Have you ever gotten to lead or sweep a race? Do you grill your lettuce, too? Leave a comment!

 

 

 

My Cup RUNneth Over

I am very full of thanks this week. I’m also very full of turkey, pie, and ibuprofen. But it’s the thanks I want to write about.

I just wanted to write a post expressing my heartfelt gratitude to everyone that helped get me to the start line and through the finish line of the Philadelphia Marathon.  The amount of love I’ve received in the past 2 weeks has been overwhelming. It might be me and only me getting myself over the finish line in one piece, but it takes a village…to help a runner not puke at that finish line.

THANK YOU to my running bud this cycle, Lori, we hit almost every long run together. We know the all the good pee spots in northern Fairfield County. We juggle work, kids, and everything else, and then we talk talk talk about it. She pushes my pace and keeps me honest. We sometimes wear coordinating outfits without planning it.

running friends thankful

Accidental!

Thank you Lori, for your companionship, listening ear, thoughtful dialogue, and tolerance of my strange running outfits.

THANK YOU to my Badass Running Coach, Erin. She may be a “virtual” coach, but her coaching plan was SPOT ON for me this year. She was able to find that sweet spot workout every time and knows just how far to push me.

marathon training track repeats speedwork coach Philadelphia marathon

I think I was grateful for that workout??

Thank you Erin, for believing in me 110%, and being an inspiration to me as a mom and a runner. I hope to see you at the NYC marathon in 2014!

AND OF COURSE, THANK YOU to my family…particularly my husband, my children, and my parents.

Philadelphia marathon thank you grateful

Best. Crew. Ever.

Thank you to my husband for tag-teaming the kid duty while we both got our workouts in, fixing me post-run snacks, and rolling out my stiff hamstrings. Thank you to my children for understanding that when mommy gets her running time in, she’s going to come back a happier mommy. Thank you to my parents for being my first and loudest cheerleaders.

Not to mention the countless friends and relatives, near and far, who have run with me, encouraged me, or even just asked me how the training has been going. I started typing out names, and then I got overwhelmed and teary because there were so many, and then I got paranoid and teary that I would leave someone out. So I’m just going to group into “crews”: The Branchville School crew (headed by Mary), the Barlow School Crew, the Ohio crew, the In-Laws crew, the New Jersey crew, the Glen Wild Lake crew, the Rainbow Drive crew, the Florida crew, the Book Club crew, the New Milford Crew, the Badass Mother Runner Ragnar Crew, the Another Mother Runner crew, the Run Like a Mother crew…you ALL helped me kick some marathon butt.

For that, I am counting my blessings. My cup RUNneth over, indeed.

The Heat is ON: Ragnar Relay Episode II

“I think I might be melting.”

That pretty much sums up my thoughts as I ran my first leg of Ragnar Relay: Washington DC as part of Team Sarah: The Badass Mother Runners. (Click here to catch up on Episode I. Key words: heat index, sports bra, and tutu.) But my leg wasn’t so much hot, as it was a doozy.

ragnar legs DC training marathonI’m not gonna lie, it was tough, but I knew it would be. I specifically trained for it and I really don’t mind hills. But the heat…OH THE HEAT. Hello October? July called. It wants it weather back. It was hotter than the Devil’s farts.

As soon as I started climbing I knew that I needed to keep my heart rate manageable or I’d be (burnt) toast. So I tried to keep my pace slow-ish on the twisty-turny bottom half of the hill, and as soon as I felt my HR creeping up I’d walk a little. My stoopid gut was still in knots, as it has been all day, but I had taken an Immodium about 3 hours earlier and it was finally kicking in, so at least I didn’t have to stop for that. About 1/2 way up the hill, I finally spied a runner in front of me, about 100 yards ahead. He turned around and realized someone with a tutu was gaining on him, and he turned up the speed a little. The Ragnar folks had set up a water station (this was a “no van support” leg) just ahead and he and I both stopped, and I caught him as he lingered at the water stop. He was red-faced and toasty. Here comes the tutu, dude. While I was hot, I felt okay, so I topped off my handheld bottle, and doused my hat with cold water and slapped it back on my noggin, and set off again, while red-faced dude stuck around. Technically, my first kill!. (That’s Ragnar-speak for passing someone.)

The next part of the climb was a looooooong, far-as-the-eye-can see uphill. Oh how I wish I had brought my camera. So, I just plodded along, and I just kept getting hotter and hotter. At this point I ignored my music and my GPS watch and just played a game of mental hopscotch: Just run to the crack in the road, then you can walk. Just run to that reflector, then you can walk. I did a few short walk breaks, again trying to make sure my heart didn’t burst out of my chest. A few welcome cloud breaks would come across…then BAM! pure sunshine inferno. My fellow Badass Mother Runners passed by in the van, cheering and pom-poming and cowbelling. That is a flash of a wonderful memory that is etched in my mind.

I won’t mention how many times I got “killed” on that part of the climb, because those are things of which we don’t speak, but at the top of the hill (oh who am I kidding – it was a mountain)  I did kill a guy who had stopped to stretch his calves – he had just killed me a few hundred yards back. So the tutu got ya, eh?

But then he just couldn’t swallow that and he killed me on the way down. Saving my legs, bro. Have a nice Leg 2 on your BLOWN OUT CALVES.

The downhill was just a blur. But I do remember the faces of the regular drivers as they noticed the string of crazy people running down the mountain and hey that chick’s wearing a tutu.

As I imagined, the downhill was almost harder than the uphill. Why? Three words: CONTINUAL QUADRICEPS ENGAGEMENT. Engaging one’s quads while trying not to have a hard landing for over 30 minutes is really hard and really burny. Despite efforts to land lightly, you still end up pounding the hell out of your feet on long downhills.

You know what’s important in a relay race? Spotting the next runner in the exchange chute (saw many runners fly by their teammate confusedly) and for the next runner to see the oncoming runner. The garish tutu colors made it easy to spot each other. For the second time, the tutu became functional. *Strikes contemplative pose*

ragnar Relay DC what the hill

Can you see me now?

OF COURSE this leg HAD to end on an uphill.

ragnar DC mountain hill

Hoofin’ it. I’m almost the same color as the tutu.

I hand off the slap-bracelet to my teammate Michelle, and I’m DONE! Iliana draped a cooling towel over my shoulders. I felt briefly like I was going to barf, then it passed. I stretched for about 5 minutes, then we’re off to the next exchange. No time for dramatic recaps. Such is life at a Ragnar race!

All things considered (those things being heat and gut), I’m HAPPY with Leg One. It was slower than my normal pace, but my average pace was 11:12 per mile, and the last 1/2 mile I was about 8:30, even on the uphill! SHA-BAM(R)!

We went though the next 4 runners in our van, which each person heading out with a “I’M GONNA KILL IT!” look on their faces, but coming back in afterward with a “HOLY HELL, DID I JUST RUN THROUGH HADES?” look.

After a short break to grab a quick bite of real food (well, Jersey Mike’s subs) to go and finding our van’s last runner, we stopped and recharged at the next major exchange point, which was a local high school. They offered hot showers for $1, which I gladly took. The shower made everything right with the world again. After the shower, we had about 2 hours to get some “sleep,” with “sleep” being a relative term. I rolled out my sleeping bag and my CHAWEL in a patch of grass near the van, put on my sleep mask and headphones, and tried to sleep…but my legs and gut were still twitchy and once I came close to falling into real sleep, then the town’s emergency siren went off RIGHT OVER OUR HEADS. Mudder fudger.

ragnar DC resting sleeping

Iliana took this. That’s me on the right wishing the dudes in front of me would be a little quieter.

My phone alarm went off at 12:30 as we needed to leave at 1 AM to get to the next major exchange and start our second legs. WAIT, I HAVE TO RUN AGAIN? Oh yeah, now I remember. I was stiff and creaky and kind of dehydrated from the heat of the day, but Rebecca drove and I took over navigation duties and off we went.

Ragnar at night feels like a completely different race. Our next major exchange point was at a place called South Mountain Creamery, a working daily farm. Despite it being 1:30AM, the place was hoppin’. It was all lit up, burgers and ribs and ice cream (of which I abstained and instead tossed a couple few alternating handfuls of JellyBellys and Lay’s Wavy Chips into my mouth – WAY MORE NUTRITIOUS) were being served, and it was generally a party kind of atmosphere.

ragnar dc South Mountain Creamery

There’s Renee, waiting at the exchange point. Note the Ragnar tent behind her – best tagline ever: “Run. Drive. Sleep? Repeat.”

It also smelled like cows. Pair that with rave-style blinky bracelets and rings that we had, and it might have been a big ole’ DANCE party. With cows.

As we waited for Runner #6, Terri, to arrive, we were finally able to snatch a picture of the six of us from Van #2:

ragnar relay DC

Here we are all decked out in our reflective gear: Renee, me, Rebecca, Michelle, Iliana, and Lorraine. BAMRs!

Ragnar requires all “on” runners – one hour before sunset until one hour after sunrise – to wear a highly reflective vest, a headlamp, and a red blinking tail light. I repeat: You wear a red blinking light on your ass. Even “off” runners are required to wear the reflective vest anytime to you’re outside the van at night. Safety first, party second. That’s fine by me, as I’m not so much YOLO as I am YOLOSYBTCOY: You Only Live Once, (So You’d Better Take Care Of Yourself).

We watched Terri, who DIY’d herself a sweet LIGHTED TUTU, hand off the slap bracelet to Renee.

ragnar DC exchange

Kind of blurry, but you can see Terri’s lights through her tutu, and she’s giving Renee a sweet go-get-’em pat, I think.

After chatting a little with Van #1, we got back in ours and off we went. My leg was next.

Once at the next exchange point, I got on all of my reflective gear. SO MUCH STUFF. It felt like a triathlon. Headlamp, reflective vest, blinky red tail light (which I stuck on the back of my hat – GENIUS), knuckle lights, tutu…check! I opted to forgo the blinky rave-bracelets, as I thought wearing them on my wrist while running might give me a migraine. Luckily, this wasn’t a “no van support” leg so I made plans with other gals to meet me around mile 4, which was about the time I would need a GU and some water.

ragnar DC night running

I’m ready! You can’t see it well here but I’m also wearing my flaming skull-themed capris. They juxtapose well with the tutu.

As you can see by the way I’m dressed that it was still quite warm, but thankfully it was just in the low 60’s, so it was manageable. I was feeling pretty psyched and my gut was in check (though not 100%, and it wouldn’t be until I got home the next day). We spotted Renee easily with the tutu and blinky lights, she handed the bracelet off to me, and there I went, off into the DARK OF NIGHT for 6.8 miles, at about 2:30 AM!

I started in a residential McMansion-y kind of neighborhood, but then the course switched to country roads. The stars were out (no moon, though, bummer). I felt strong. I did not run with music this time, (again, YOLOSYBTCOY) so it was just me and my breath and the deer (at least, I hoped it was deer). The runners were pretty spread apart by now, but I made one kill in the residential neighborhood and almost made another on a big uphill, about a 400 foot climb in less than a mile. Obvs nothing like my first leg, but still, PERSPECTIVE, it’s still a big one, and I walked once. The van met me at about mile 4, ready with GU and water like the awesome professional pit crew the were. After that, I ran through some more residential neighborhoods that were just PITCH DARK. Thank god I had the knuckle lights – they’re like using the high beams on a car. I made one more kill and just surged and SURGED! Due to me not knowing how to work my (new) Timex GPS watch properly, I didn’t get my mile pace info, but it offered me a running time of 1:09, which is a 10:10/mile average pace, even with the uphill walk parts. DON’T MIND IF I DO.

After I handed off the bracelet to Michelle, I stretched a little, and climbed back in the van. That’s when the sleepiness hit me HARD and I just about fell asleep in the JellyBelly bag. Luckily, we had an unspoken rule in the van that whomever just ran didn’t have to drive or navigate. So I changed out of my running clothes (using my new CHAWEL) into comfy clothes, took over one full bench on the van, put my head on my CHAWEL, and actually fell asleep. I think I might have drooled. (BTW, if you do a Ragnar, just splurge and rent a big 12-passengar van. I honestly don’t know how people in minivans survived.)

The rest of those morning legs was another blur. I think I slept for about 90 minutes. I do remember waking up when Iliana needed someone to drive. I remember Iliana running the hardest leg (IMHO) – 9 miles through a dark and scary forest. This cool photo isn’t Iliana, but members of the other team on that same leg. I just love it. Mostly ’cause I didn’t have to run it.

ragnar DC night running

The tutus are coming to haunt you.

I remember dawn breaking beautifully on Iliana’s run. I remember cheering Lorraine, our last runner into a major exchange. I remember that instead of us plopping down to sleep, we found a Panera and got some real food and caffeinated beverages. I then remember people in Panera staring at us as we laughed and laughed over this video:

This video IS pretty funny, but at that moment, it was the FUNNIEST THING WE HAD EVER WATCHED IN THE HISTORY OF FUNNY THINGS. That’s what Ragnar does to you. You’re so loopy that little things are hysterical and you end up with secret in-jokes for life. It was a nice bonding moment for the 6 of us, who, up until 36 hours ago, had never met (well, Lorraine and Renee are buds and Iliana and I had met briefly at a running event, but we were all pretty much strangers).

The STOOPID government shutdown was happening during all of this, so many of the routes in DC were closed, including most of my leg #3. The Ragnar folks, instead of re-routing everything, just paired up the last 6 runners. So I was going to run 2.2 miles with Renee (instead of 6.9), and being that the temps were climbing to hideous highs again and that I had slept a total of NEGATIVE 2 HOURS, I was totally cool with that. It turns out, the Tea Party saved us about 17 miles total from the 199 miles we were supposed to run.

The day got hotter and hotter. We met up with Van #1 in a DC suburb at our final last major exchange before the finish. I was able to find some shade, roll out the CHAWEL again and catch about 30 minutes of pseudo-zzz’s. I was trying to keep my body as still as possible, because moving = hot. Meanwhile, Terri, Runner #6, had been promised a burrito from a nearby Chipotle after she finished her hot long bitch of a leg, so this exchange from Terri to myself/Renee, became known as the FLYING BURRITO EXCHANGE.

ragnar DC

I’m witnessing the handoff.

I’m glad I had someone to run this leg with, because that meant I had someone with which to WALLOW IN HOT MISERY. Renee was awesome. We tried our best to distract each other with small talk, but honestly, we were DONE…just DONE. But not done enough to not take a running-selfie:

Ragnar DC

GET US OUT OF HERE!!

2.2 miles felt like 22 miles, and it took just about that long. And OF COURSE, it ended on an uphill! In this next photo, you can just SENSE THE ENTHUSIASM as Renee and I reach the exchange.

ragnar DC

Clap…clap…clap…

The next couple of hours, we were just hanging on for dear life, and we were barely functional. We got word that Dimity’s team had finished, and that our team’s Van #1 had also arrived at the finish area, so now, everyone’s waiting for us, Van #2. Did I mention it just got hotter and hotter? HOTTER. More “stay hydrated” texts arrived from the Ragnar people. We got lost more than once. Finally, we sent off Iliana and Lorraine on the final leg! HOTTER, STILL. Heat index 99 degrees, no joke. WTH, October?

Our Van #2 arrived at the finish area, in National Harbor, MD. It was set up like a party! We waited a little for Iliana and Lorraine to come in, when lo and behold, from across the bridge, over a 1/4 mile away, we see 2 hot pink streaks coming toward us. TUTUS!!

ragnar DC

OK, this wasn’t shot from 1/4 mile away. But seriously, we saw them coming from the bridge ramp in the background!

The rest of the team gathered about 100 feet out from the finish, so that we could all run in together. And FINALLY, through the finish chute we go!

Here we are at the finish, looking hot literally and figuratively:

ragnar dc

Hotties.

We didn’t stick around long, just long enough to grab a slice of pizza and a cold beer, then we had to go clean out the vans (NOT AS EASY AS ONE WOULD THINK) and Iliana and I had to get back to our hotel. Let me just say that I slept for 12 hours STRAIGHT, with no bladder wake-up calls. That should tell you how tired/dehydrated I was!

All in all, Ragnar was a BLAST! I think I might have enjoyed it more if I weren’t so zombie-fied from the…everybody say it now…HEAT!! It took a lot out of me and I needed a few days to recover before I could resume my regular running routine. I’m not sure I’d do another Ragnar in the middle of a marathon training cycle again. My only TRUE regret is that I didn’t get to spend more time with these awesome Badass Mother Runners (on both teams). They are just the BEST! Luckily, we have a private Facebook page where we continue root each other on and the inside jokes can live on forever (“NOT Pat.”, “Cows!” and “I’m under a tree!” come to mind…I guess you just had to be there.) I only hope that I can do another Ragnar with them someday.

As for the tutu, well, let’s just say you MIGHT be seeing a 40-something woman wearing a Badass Mother Runner cap and a hot pink tutu with black trim at the Philadelphia marathon on November 17th. *Caresses tutu lovingly*

Run on, BADASSES!!

ragnar dc finish

Happy Coachiversary To My Badass Running Coach

I would like to wish a “Happy Coachiversary” to my running coach, Erin. It was one year ago she decided to take me on, guiding me through the magnificent hurts-so-good torture of training for my first marathon.

marathon training coach

This tiny mom is packed full of coaching awesomeness.

Erin is a badass (see Meet My Badass Running Coach) and coaches me through cyberspace. Hiring a coach was one of the best decisions I’ve made. It’s not just for elites – ANY runner should consider a coach too. Why is that? Because… (can you sense a list coming?…)

1. I don’t have to think too hard.

When I’m striving for my next crazy goal, I become clueless and overwhelmed by trying to make a training plan that accounts for my fitness level, goals, and my schedule. I  second-guess myself like mad and I need someone to take the reins and figure out what the heck I’m supposed to do to cross the finish line in one piece.  How fast should speedwork be? How far should I go on the long runs? Should I run on a blister? All of those questions that would normally keep me up at night I now can take off my plate and say Erin, take the wheel! I don’t want to think, I just want to run.

I feel so special as she tailors a plan for me! me! me! Mysteriously, all of her plans have been spot-on. She somehow finds that sweet spot between la-dee-da easiness and chunk-blowing hardness.

So how does this virtual arrangement work? At the beginning of a new training cycle or major goal, we have a couple of lengthy conversations on the phone, then she creates and shares a Google Docs spreadsheet with me on which I write down my actual miles/workouts with comments and then she comments back to me.

marathon traiing plan coach

This is a sample of last year’s training plan.

Which leads me to…

2. Someone’s got to hold me accountable, and it ain’t gonna be me.

I am a lazy athlete. I crave structure and I want to know what’s coming. I need someone to hold my gnarly feet to the fire, so to speak. Reporting each workout onto my (our) spreadsheet has made it easy to stick with The Plan. Like if the plan that day says 4 miles, when I get to 3.75 I can’t start slacking and think, “Nah, I’m good.” Knowing I’m going to log in later and write it out for posterity makes it seem important. It is important, but now my workout record is official. (I’m also a little OCD with needing to finish the prescribed workout – can’t stop at 3.99 miles…must…get…Garmin…to…4.00!)

That’s not to say The Plan is inflexible. When I encountered lung issues last winter, she made adjustments. When I have a workout that’s just not happening, I write that in the notes. But on most days when I finish workouts, I have found that I’m now I’m super psyched to type in my miles and I get even more excited when I see that she’s replied. (Which she does. Every. Time.) The log has also turned into a great diary of sorts – when I’m feeling a bit crummy or unmotivated, I sometimes looks back on my prior workouts and see how far I’ve come and that helps end my pity party right there.

3. I don’t have to save the drama for my mama. I save it for Erin.

Not that my friends and family aren’t awesome, pom-pom waving morale boosters. But she’s had great runs, she’s had bad runs, she’s a mom, she’s been sick, she’s had sick kids, she’s been there and she can be objective about a situation. If I have a bad run, she helps me pick up the pieces, gain perspective, and move on. If I have a great run or smash a goal, she gives me a virtual high-five and fist-bump. Once I pour my drama into the log, I’m usually done with it, because I know her reply will either soothe, boost, or validate as my ego needs it to.

marathon coach training

This is high drama, let me tell you.

Do you need a coach? Doesn’t it sound awesome? It’s not just for elites, you know. Think about it…the monthly cost is less than a date night with a babysitter. If you need a little nudge, if you’re aiming for new, scary goal, if you just need someone to take the wheel for you, consider a coach.

And might I suggest mine? She’s the bestest! Check out her blog and email her…you and your feet won’t regret it!