You’ll Get There, I Promise

I think I’m in the habit of trying to do the impossible…

Or at the very least, what might seem impossible to me.

In the midst of training for Chicago I got an e-mail from The NorthFace Endurance Challenge. I have a soft spot for this race, you see, a weak-in-the-knees adoration for this endurance challenge.

It was my first marathon ever last year.

So, you know it pulled at my little heart strings until I officially registered for a second round. Only this time I decided to go for the even more impossible.

The mini-ultra.

The 50K.

I just added a few more weeks of training after finishing the Chicago Marathon. I was tired, wornout, overwhelmed, scared and nervous…but I was stoked to complete another new challenge.

Come beautiful Saturday morning on November 17th, I had all the same feelings. I was tired, but excited. Overwhelmed but prepared. Nervous but amped. And when the race started I was off again on cloud nine. My feet, one after another, doing what they know best, my eyes on the road ahead, my hot pink fingernails waiting to give me my superpowers when I needed them. I know my mom thought I was crazy when I stayed up late just to paint my nails on race eve, but there was method to my madness. Superpowers, duh.

And I definitely needed them.

There’s no play-by-play for this race recap, just as there wasn’t for Chicago. I think what is happening is that I’m becoming so overwhelmed by emotions that everything seems to happen in a blur. I am so humbled by my running experiences, grateful for my capabilities, and beyond thankful for all the support I’ve received. I remember the race in moments, and these are moments I hope to remember for the rest of my life…

…all the runners lined up at the start, nervously chattering about how it’s “just five more miles.” Me, standing there in the middle of it, smiling like a kid in a candy store.

…reliving all the sites of Kansas City and remembering running the same streets last year and how magnificent I felt when I finished my first marathon. The same hill, the same bridge, the same buildings…they all felt so nostalgic.

…my friends who were running the half marathon catching up with me and giving me words of encouragement. Then watching them as ran ahead, finishing a great race of their own.

…coming to the first aid station that offered sliced oranges. An orange has never been so delicious.

…the stairs. Four flights to be exact. At least they were going down.

…splitting away from the marathon runners and beginning the out and back route that added those no-big-deal five more miles.

…looking down at my pink fingernails and summoning them for some of those superpowers now.

…the smiles, waves, thumbs up, nods, and words of encouragement as the leader 50k-ers passed back along the out and back route. Those small gestures meant oh-so-much.

…seeing my dad at mile eighteen. I knew it was him from half a mile away…pride just beaming out of him.

…wanting to stop around mile twenty. I’ve never wanted to stop so bad. I decided to walk and eat another orange…then dug deep and found some way to keep going.

…seeing my sister. Her voice screeching as she cheered me on. Then seeing her again, driving in her car, yelling out her window. And again.

…coming to terms with the fact that I needed to walk again. So I did. And at the encouragement of one of the wonderful Kansas City Police Department officers, starting to run again.

…striking a conversation with another runner. Come to find out the only race he’d ever ran was a 5K, and here he was running a 50K right next to me. I told him he was doing great, and he admitted that it was only because he knew I’d been behind him for awhile and he didn’t want me to pass him.

…a mile later, passing him.

…walking for a third time up the longest and hardest and steepest hill, probably in the world.

…the feeling of knowing I only had two miles to go. I was actually going to finish this.

…the little girls who were cheering and told me that the finish line was so close.

…coming around the corner…the same corner that I rounded on August 27th, 2011…hearing my sister’s voice again…trying to hold the tears back and myself together long enough the make it a few more yards to the finish line…seeing my dad standing there…hearing the announcer call my name…

…and crossing the finish line after four hours, forty-seven minutes, and thirty-three seconds. Another seemingly impossible task…finished.

If there is one thing I can tell you, it’s that you can really do anything you want to in life.

My heart is so full of pride and gratitude and thankfulness. For everyone who has given me so much support through everything, I can’t thank you enough.

ang

On October Seventh…

…at 4:30 in the morning I jumped out of bed, put two long french braids in my hair, and applied two coats of waterproof mascara.

…at 5:30 in the morning my husband dropped me off somewhere in the middle of downtown Chicago and I nonchalantly followed a group of strangers in running shoes who looked like they knew where they were going. As I walked the sidewalks of Chicago I felt so small between the seemingly never-ending streets of skyscrapers. Butterflies filled my stomach, not because of what I was about to do, but because I was here in this big city for the first time in my life.

…at 7:10 in the morning I nervously waited in line with hundreds of other runners waiting to use the oh-so-delightful porta-potties.

…at 7:20 in the morning I made my way to my corral and held my head way up high for having the privilege to be in corral C. Everyone around me looked like pretty serious runners…and there I was…right there with them. And then I started to tear up (cue praises for waterproof mascara). I looked all around me at the people, the runners, the buildings, the skyscrapers. How lucky was I to get to be right there in the middle of Chicago about to run one of the biggest marathons in the world.

I quickly blinked those tears away. I needed to look serious. Focused. Hard-core. (Because hot pink nails, shorts, headband, and shoelaces emit hard-core, right?)

…at 7:30 in the morning I was off! I was running my third marathon in a beautiful city that I had never seen with my own two eyes before.

And this is where my minute-by-minute memory seems to fail me. It’s hard to put this race recap into coherent words in a time-wise sequence. The entire twenty-six point two miles were quite a blur of events, emotions, thoughts, and googly-eyed smiles.

What I do remember is the hundreds and hundreds of spectators screaming, ringing bells, snapping photos, and cheering us all on…from the very second the race started. At the one mile mark I saw one spectator holding a sign that read Only Twenty-Five More Miles To Go! I remember thinking that he must be a real mean guy. I also remember at one mile my Garmin ticking at eight minutes and five seconds. That’s when any strategy of going out slow, conserving energy, or running smart flew right out the window.

That morning when I was getting ready I had plastered the pace tattoo on my right forearm for a lofty finishing goal time of 3:45. I remember as each of those beginning miles passed coming in thirty seconds…one minute…two minutes under pace for that goal.

I remember crossing over each timing mat, thinking about my friends and family who were keeping track of me. I could picture my dad’s proud smile and my mom’s worried face. I wanted to push on to make them proud. And then I remember PRing my 10K time.

I remember running past Elvis singing on stage.

I remember the spectators that had a table set up with cups, orange juice, and champagne. They had a sign that said Stop For Mimosas. I remember really wanting a mimosa.

I remember beaming when I PRed my half marathon time.

I remember one spectator yelling, “Go braided hair girl!” I remember high fiving a row of little kids. I remember all the signs that read Run (insert name here) Run! and thinking that they were all intended for me. I remember running way too fast, but before I could convince myself to slow down I told myself that this could be my last marathon for awhile so I’d better not run with any regrets.

I remember passing the 3:45 pacing crew. Then, somewhere around mile twenty, I remember them passing me back up. Before I let any negative thoughts enter my mind, I reminded myself that I truly was giving it my all.

I remember my pace faltering, ever-so-slightly during those last five miles. But I also remember the energizing salsa music, the smell of deep-dish pizza, the band blaring Lady Gaga, and all the wonderful volunteers eagerly waiting to give me water. And I remember willing myself to continue on.

I remember thinking of my girlfriend who was also running the race. I remembered her telling me that she sings Little Nemo songs in her head as she runs. “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming…”

Just keep running, just keep running

I remember counting down the last mile. Eight hundred meters. Four hundred meters. I remember that hill, the only hill as I rounded the corner with barely a quarter of a mile left. I remember thinking that it was pure evil. But then I remembered the crowd…the bleachers full of spectators…the fact the my husband was waiting somewhere in the runner meet up area for me.

And I pushed on.

I remember crossing that finish line. My third marathon finish line…on October 7th at 11:23 in the morning. A feeling indescribable. Unworthy of complete sentences.

…and at 11:35 in the morning a nice lady poured my a beer. She said, “Honey, you just ran a marathon and your mascara isn’t even messed up!”

Three hours, forty-eight minutes and thirty-four seconds of heart-filled, gosh darn hard work.

On October 7th, 2012, all the early morning wake-up calls, all the long runs, all the hot pink nail polish and waterproof mascara sure became worth the feeling of 3:48.54.

ang

A Lovely Muddy Time

Recovering from my marathon two weekends ago has basically consisted of no running. That’s probably not the smartest way to recover, especially since I plan on continuing running, continuing running long distances at that, and especially since I had a race on Saturday.

It was no marathon, but an extremely challenging 5K nevertheless.

That required face paint…

…and muscles…which are for the most part lacking on me. (Oh, did my neon bright white skin blind you? I’m also lacking any semblance of a tan. Sorry about that.)

My hubs and I along with two of our friends, a.k.a. the Ultimate Warriors, ran the Warrior Dash in Kansas City!

We met up at one of the guys’ houses where we found his beautiful wife diligently painting his face. His wife continued to paint our other teammate’s face while I sat my own hubs in front of me for his makeover. Apparently there is a famous wrestler (dead or alive, I don’t think anyone was sure) named the Ultimate Warrior and all of the guys wanted to “be” him for the race.

I, myself, chose to just go with a little multi-colored eye-black.

After everyone was made-over and arm-tassles and headbands were created, we headed to the race. Again, the boys all listened to the opening theme music for this Ultimate Warrior wrestler the entire way there. Oh the joys of a thirty minute car ride with three boys, err, men. Grown men who apparently love professional wrestling.

Once at the race site we had to take a bus over to where the race actually took place. We proceeded to initial and sign our waiver forms, pick up our packets and t-shirts, use the port-a-potties (always a definite must for me), and head to the start line. We were very early, so we were at the very front of the start line for our heat. After thirty minutes of nervously waiting for the countdown to start we were finally off and running!

I knew I’d be racing with the boys, and while I trusted in my running ability, I was worried about keeping up with them on the obstacles. Right out of the gate, though, the course was very downhill, and I warned them all that we were probably running at a sub-8 minute pace. I definitely knew that I couldn’t keep up a pace like that, and I secretly (so not to harm their egos) questioned the boys ability to keep that pace, too.

After three quarters of a mile we approached our first obstacle which required crawling under barbwire. Fortunately, I was short enough that I could crawl regularly without having the put much effort into lowering myself closer to the ground. My hubs, on the other hand, had to army crawl the distance of the wire. Once the four of us completed this obstacle our pace slowed drastically as we were hit with our first (of many) uphill climbs to the next obstacle.

We proceeded to crawl through trenches, climb up walls, slide down poles, swim through nasty, muddy, swampy water, hoist ourselves over walls, cross a balance beam, run through a field of tires, climb up a cargo-net, and finally leap over fire…all the while running uphill through a muddy field between obstacles.

Just a little over three miles later we crawled out from under the last of the barbwire through the last muddy water pit, all four of us hand in hand, and crossed the finish line together.

Mud and all, I had an absolutely lovely time.

ang, the only female member of the Ultimate Warriors 😉

Garmin Marathon in the Land of Oz Race Recap

In true fashion of this training cycle I debated with myself today…write my race recap or study for my finals next week? Typically school would beat out training, although I’d usually still find time after schoolwork to lace up my running shoes. However, the endorphins have been slowly declining since last Saturday, and in an attempt to keep them alive I’m forcing myself to sit down and recap the day I ran the Garmin Marathon in the Land of Oz…the day I ran my second marathon…the day a ran a sub-4 hour marathon…the day I kind of got this feeling that I can do anything…and the day I couldn’t stop smiling.

I arrived at Garmin International where the race started and finished with enough time to make my final decisions on what to wear, pick up my packet, pin on my race bib, and dance in my car to a few songs.

I headed to the port-a-potties where I came upon a familiar scene. One year ago this is where I ran my first half marathon ever. And, one year ago I pretty much started my race from the port-a-potty. Luckily, I left myself with plenty of time to actually start this race from the start line.

Soon enough the race began and I was running. I didn’t have a detailed plan of how I wanted to run this race, I just knew that I needed to go out nice and easy, not too fast, and that I wanted to be under two hours at the halfway point. Before I knew it my ticker notified me that one mile had already passed…and at 9 minutes and 2 seconds. I had held back a little bit, but I was definitely worried that I hadn’t held back enough. However, I felt good, and plan or no plan, I just like to run how I feel.

The second mile…8:41. The third…8:38. Fourth…8:46. Fifth…8:37. Angela, you are running too fast. You are going to get too tired. I ate my first mocha Clif Shot at mile five, and I clocked in mile six at 8:37, and then mile seven at 8:27.

8:27…Angela you are seriously running too fast.

I was worried. I never trained to run this fast for this long. But my legs felt great and it was a gorgeous morning, so I just kept running. Mile eight…8:35, mile nine…8:30. Mile ten came in at 8:42 and I ate some delicious Clif bites. Around this time I was running near these two men who were very entertaining. I just listening to them cheer on each other and every runner that they came across. They seemed so full of energy I just thought to myself if I can stay near them then I’d be doing well. Mile eleven…8:38, mile twelve…..8:31.

Mile thirteen…8:26. Goodness gracious…that’s fast for me…especially at mile thirteen…especially since I had thirteen more to go. I reached the halfway point around 1 hour and 52 minutes. I just may have PRed my half marathon time, too.

As I was running too fast, but feeling amazing at the same time I was literally smiling the entire time. I even heard one spectator say around mile 20, “Why is that girl still smiling?” I knew a sub-4 hour marathon was definitely within reach which motivated me to keep going.

The second half of the marathon was an out-and-back on a paved trail. The trail was beautiful, and it was so lovely to be able to run for so long through the pretty trees and scenery. However, I knew that my family would be trying to find during the second half of the race, and running this trail was not going to be conducive to them finding me. My family was such a big motivator for me during my first marathon, I tried to prepare myself not to see them until the finish line this time around. Mile fourteen came in at 8:30 (you’re still going too fast), mile fifteen at 8:40 (downed another mocha Clif Shot and thought you are still going too fast), sixteen and seventeen both at 8:43, and eighteen at 8:50.

I reached the turnaround point and I knew I was on the final stretch. I was still feeling ridiculously amazing, but I knew the last part would be difficult. I kept running along, and as I passed a water station I heard the best sound ever. “ANGELA! It’s Angela! There she is!!!” my sister screeched as I ran past her. Somehow her and my dad managed to find me along the trail. I’d given my dad a map and my potential splits to help him navigate, but after being on the trail for so long I just didn’t expect to see anyone. Later they told me they had been close to leaving that spot because according to the splits I’d provided them I should have been coming from the other way. Little did they know that I was running like crazy that morning.

I saw them once again…I can’t explain the excitement I felt as I heard both of their voices. Later I saw that my sister had posted this…

Mile nineteen…8:48, mile twenty (and more Clif bites)…8:53.

About this time I had another very welcome surprise. I saw the most gorgeous six foot eight inches walking toward the trail as it passed along a main road. My beautiful husband also managed to track me down and give me some encouragement…he also added in there, “You are way ahead of your splits!”

After mile twenty ended my rein of sub-9 minute miles. Mile twenty-one…9:01, twenty-two…9:12 (I knew I had been running too fast), and mile twenty-three…9:20, I was slowing down quite a bit, but I knew without a doubt that I would be coming in under four hours. After mile twenty-three I felt really exhausted. To make matters worse, I had noticed that my Garmin had been ticking anywhere from a tenth of a mile to three tenths of a mile before I passed the actual mile markers along the course. My Garmin would notify me that I’d completed another mile, then two minutes later I’d pass the course mile marker.

Mile twenty-four…9:33. Come on Angela, you are almost there…less than thirty minutes more of running. When you are running for so long, it’s definitely okay to talk out loud to yourself. Keep going!

Twenty-five…9:34. Hold on girl. Keep running! Twenty-six…9:37.

I saw the twenty-six mile marker. I could hear the crowd at the finish line. I rounded the corner…I heard them announce my name, “Angela Habermehl, twenty-six point two miles…!”

I saw the timer…I saw the “3”…

3:54:01.27. Sub-4 hours.

And that’s when I knew that anything is possible. It really, honest-to-goodness, is. This whole training cycle I questioned my ability…my ability to actually train for the marathon, my ability to get faster, my ability to sub-4 hours. But I did it. I did it all.

I know that I had so much more than just my two feet moving one in front of the other working for me leading up to and during the race. My husband, dad, and sister who all came out to support me…my family and friends all thinking about me from home…people sending up prayers for me…that little redbird I saw the day before…all kept me going. So much more…thank you.

much love, ang

Just Maybe if All the Stars Aligned

I’m not even sure where to start this recap, so I’ll just start with my time leading up to race day. My thoughts are so scattered and random and I still feel like I’m riding on an endorphin high.

…definitely a high I don’t want to end.

As you know, one of my wishes this year was to run a sub-4 hour marathon. I knew I wanted to run a spring marathon, but I didn’t have high hopes that it’d be my sub-4 hour goal marathon. I put a lot of effort and time into my training, but not as much effort and time that I have put into nursing school. I knew that at the very least I wanted to PR…and to PR I’d have to get faster…and to get faster I’d have to do some speedwork…and I maybe did speedwork once a month. (Although, I have to give some credit to my lovely W.O.W. running gals…you three pretties dragging me along all those mornings definitely helped my speed!)

But…three weeks ago I set out for a twenty-two mile run. It was going to be my longest long run of this marathon training, and the longest training run I’d ever done in my life. I was terrified to tackle this, but excited to slaughter yet another seemingly impossible task. I started the run nice and easy…and mile after mile passed by…and pretty soon I was seeing some “8:XX’s” on my little ticker. I finished that run with an average pace of 9:12.

…and then I got this little feeling that sub-4 hours was maybe-just maybe-if-all-the-stars-aligned-possible.

The week leading up to the race was perfect. I didn’t go taper-crazy, my little runs seemed effortless, I drank lots of water, ate lots of carbs (like that is something new), and I actually stretched. I finished all my homework early so that I could have a clear mind on Friday, rest as much as I wanted, and have plenty of time to prepare my gear. I wanted to do everything that I did last August on race-eve that I felt was beneficial. I leashed up my little princess Tia and went out for a short two-mile run/walk. As we were strolling along a pretty little redbird crossed my path.

That’s when I knew I’d have someone looking out for me on race day. It didn’t matter if I subbed-4 hours or even PRed. I knew I’d have an amazing time.

And that I did.

ang

Yes, That’s a Three

Yes, that’s me approaching the finish line of the Garmin Marathon in the Land of the Oz…and yes, that’s a three you see on the timer.

I guess I can cross off my second “wish”!

More to come later…

🙂

ang

Gobbler Grind Race Recap

This whole race seemed funny. Weird. Funky. Casual. That is, until I started running it.

It was the first race I’ve ever done where I didn’t know someone else running it. In a way this was a little bit sad, but in another way I kind of liked being able to have my own pre-race routine. I arrived to the race site super early, snagged a great parking space near the porta-potties, and blasted the heat and music in my car until I was ready for my first potty break. I was able to get right in and out and back to my car in less than two minutes.

(See…porta-potties in the background…)

I sat in my warm, warm car for another fifteen minutes and prepared myself for the race. When I attached my timing chip to my shoe I finally felt a surge of excitement when I read what it said. Finally, I started to feel like I was about to race!

I used the porta-potty one last time…this time after waiting in a long, long line…and with much caution since the lady who exited it before me warned me that it was “a little bit wobbly.” Visions of your porta-potties toppling over with you and your pretty new hot pink running jacket is not a pretty picture. Like I said, this race started out funky. Luckily, I squatted very carefully (because no one should put their behinds directly on those seats), distributed my weight evenly, finished my business, then headed over to the start line with no nightmares coming true.

At the start line I found a nice little place to stand and wait while the race director made some last minute comments. The race director seemed like a really sweet guy and he told all the runners to introduce themselves to someone they didn’t know next to them. I shook hands and introduced myself to two older men right next to me. They were very nice, and the three of us spoke briefly on our running history. I promptly and proudly told them that I just ran my first marathon in August.

Of course, they were impressed. 🙂

Finally the race director yelled, “Go,” and slowly but surely the racers were off. I, along with my two new male friends, were near the back of the pack so we casually walked forward until the start mats were in our vision.

Since we were near the back, several people had already crossed the mat (duh). Someone’s foot up ahead must have caught the mat, because part of it was rolled over. I noticed this and told myself to be careful as I crossed so that my own foot wouldn’t get caught and cause myself some acrobatics at the start of the race. I finally reached the mat, crossed over it, caught my foot, and stumbled forward with my face only inches from the pavement for approximately fifteen seconds. After regaining my composure, finally, my new friend made sure I was okay and said, “Well that’s not the best way to start a half marathon!”

Like I said, this race started out weird. Funny, though? Not at the time.

Finally I started running for real, not stumbling, and everything fell (no pun intended…I promise) into place.

The first mile was only slightly crowded and I did a little bit of weaving, but nothing to drastic. The temperature was about thirty-one degrees, but I warmed up quite nicely during that first mile.

Mile 1: 8:54

Mile 2: 8:23

Mile 3: 8:24

I was making great time, but I was a little worried that I wouldn’t be able to maintain this pace. My goal was to average under nine minute miles…not run all my miles under nine minutes. But I always just run how I feel. I know this may not be the best method to running long distances, but if I feel good then I like to run fast.

Mile 4: 8:22

Mile 5: 8:36

Mile 6: 8:12

Eight minutes and twelve seconds for mile six?!?! Who was this girl, and can she stick around forever?! Still…the longer I kept this pace the more worried I was getting that I’d hit a wall. However, from approximately miles three through nine I ran right next to this pretty little girl wearing blue. I remember that she had on blue because I thought the color looked so nice next to my bright pink. Running next to my blue girl helped me keep up this pace because I did not want her to beat me. My ultra-competitiveness kicked in, and I knew I couldn’t let up if I wanted to beat her.

Thank you pretty blue girl for making me run fast.

Mile 7: 8:26

Mile 8: 8:49

Mile 9: 8:38

Miles seven through thirteen was an out and back on a paved trail. For the most part the trail was relatively flat, except for a few steep ups and downs. Very steep. Most of the time I despise hills, especially steep hills, but for this course there was always a very nice downhill payoff.

Mile 10: 8:51

Mile 11: 8:48

Mile 12: 8:57

I knew I was going to reach my goal of finishing in under one hour and fifty-five minutes and averaging under nine minute miles. I felt amazing!

Mile 13: 8:24

To make my race a little sweeter, I chicked this very tall and muscular man in the last .1 mile to the finish line. Sorry guy, you’re not beating this girl.

My official stats:

Time: 1:52.52

Average pace: 8:37

I blew my goals and expectations out of this world. I guess it makes my stumble at the start a little less embarrassing.

Funny? I guess so.

ang

“Now You’re a Real Runner,” said the little devil; Race Recap

I’ve debated (with myself) before on whether or not I consider myself a “real” runner. In my debate, the little angel on my left shoulder fighting for being a runner came out on top over the little devil on my right shoulder fighting for not being a runner.

Well, that little devil came back with a vengeance this weekend. Her and her pointy little ears (horns?), winged black eyeliner, red cape, and red pitchfork pointed out to me that I have never ran in the rain…therefore (up until Sunday) I could not call myself a real runner (by her standards, not mine).

Somehow I managed to fall asleep Saturday night even though there were flashes of lightning lighting up the room. Sunday morning rolled around and I was welcomed to the day with a constant and steady light rain.

Little devil, you are testing me…aren’t you?

{Insert her evil laughing response here.}

I got dressed, applied my waterproof mascara, laced up, ate my cinnamon toast, and drove to the race site. I picked up my bib and chip, quickly made a new playlist, and headed to the start line.

The rain was seriously putting a damper on my mood for this race (Wait a second…was that a cheesy punTotally unintentional, I promise…but I kind of like it…), so before the race even started I pulled up my (ridiculous-looking) earphones and started blasting Bruno Mars’ voice singing “Lighters.” Pretty soon I had a little hop in my step and I was ready to run.

(I imagine this race photo would have been a lot more beautiful had the sky not been an ugly shade of gray.)

Aaaaaannnddd pretty soon I was ready to stop running! As soon as I started I immediately wondered to myself why I was doing this. I definitely was not “feeling” this run, but somehow I kept my pace around 8:15 (pretty ridiculous for me) which would keep my close to finishing in my goal of 50 minutes.

I got a little more pep in my step during mile two when the course took me right past the park where I finished my marathon. I reminded myself that if I could run a marathon surely I could finish this 10K! I finished mile two with my pace still at 8:15.

Mile three was somewhat a drag for me. At this point I was feeling soggy. I wore a jacket thinking that the rain would make me cold, but instead I was just sweaty and the jacket felt heavy. I was beginning to feel water swishing in my shoes which was an unwanted distraction at this point. As much as I wanted to do awesome this race, I just couldn’t convince my brain to feel good about it. However, I was still keeping great time for myself as I finished mile three after 24 minutes and 53 seconds.

Miles four and five were kind of a blur, but kind of just a continuation of the first three. Wet and soggy. My pace slowed to around 8:45, and I knew a 50 minute goal time was probably not going to happen. I didn’t let that bother me too much considering the conditions and the fact that I still was on pace to beat my previous 10K time and the fact that I rarely ever (actually never) maintain a pace less than nine minute miles for very long.

Halfway through mile five my uncle who was running the race, too, caught up to me and he inspired me to push myself for the last bit of the race. Once I picked my pace back up I felt better, and at mile marker six we kicked it into high gear and sprinted to the finish line. I will be honest, that last sprint felt amazing as I was able to pass quite a few people who I had been staring at their backs for six miles.

(This is definitely not my best race pic…I blame it on the ugly earphones, not the weird facial expression. 🙂 Maybe if I had those sweet, yet discreet, pink earphones the girl in front of me has it’d be a better picture. P.S. That’s my cute uncle in the black hat right behind me! He PRed!!!)

I learned a lot of things from this race. I learned that I can run in the rain…I may not like it, I definitely know I’m more of a sunshine kind of gal, but I survived. I learned that although goal setting is great, it is okay not to get there on the first attempt. I learned that sometimes I’m too hard on myself, because even though I didn’t “feel” this race very much, I still PRed with a time of 52:32.6 placing 20th out of 116 girls in my age group and 218th out of 923 runners total.

Still.Pretty.Darn.Good.

Oh, and I also learned to remember where I park my car at a race so that I don’t have to climb several flights of stairs to the top of the wrong parking garage after racing 6.26 miles.

The end! 🙂

ang

 

What To Do Now? September Goals

I have spent the past five days attempting to be as lazy as I possibly could. (Successfully.)

I have thoroughly enjoyed it, but I’m getting a little bit antsy…every time I hear a blood-pumping song on the radio my legs get an itching to start running!

I definitely did not think I’d be wanting to get back up and run so soon after my marathon. I heard many people say that as soon as their first marathon was over they vowed never to run one again…heck, even to never run again. I prepared myself to feel the same way and I was convinced that after awhile I’d have to drag myself back up to go for a run. However…now I don’t think that is going to be a problem.

I do feel a little bit lost though. My training plan is still pinned up on my refrigerator…completely filled out with pretty purple stars. I kind of don’t want to take it down. All my running clothes are…drumroll please…clean. My hair actually smells like shampoo…not sweat…or sweat mixed with love spell body spray (I think the husband appreciates this one).

After I achieved my New Year’s resolution and finished my half marathon back in April, I knew that I had to just keep going. That’s when and why I decided to run a marathon. Now, since I have finished my first marathon, I have to decide what is next!!! This fall and winter I do not have very much going on, so it will be the perfect time to knock out some new goals before I start classes for nursing school! (Oh my goodness, it sounds awesome to say that!) I asked the hubs what he thought I should do next and his response was the train for an ultra marathon (probably with a pinch of sarcasm thrown in)! Don’t worry mom, my immediate and natural response was, “Yeah right!!!” However, I do see another half marathon, maybe another full, and definitely another 5K in my future.

So without further ado…September Goals!

1.   Find a new race to sign up for! This can be either a 5K, 10K, or half marathon (or all three!)

2.   Make a new workout schedule, even if it does not revolve around a race plan or goal. I know that working out makes me feel oh-so-happy, so even if it is not working toward a particular race, I need to find out how to keep exercising anyway.

3.   Strength train at least two times a week. I have never felt so strong in my life and I want to keep feeling that way. Maybe by the end of the year I’ll be able to do a pull-up! (Should that be a goal, too?)

4.   Blog more! Summer is nearly over, the hubs is back to work, and I am currently not taking any classes, so there is no excuse not to share my whole life, every detail, with you on a daily basis! I’m just kidding, but I do want to participate in the blog world more!

5.   Finish unpacking a decorating our new place. This might be a long shot considering that when we lived in our house I never accomplished this in almost three years, but I’m getting closer here.

6.   Do yoga. My gym offers yoga classes, so I definitely need to look into the cost of that. If it costs too much, then I own my own yoga mat, I just need to make myself do it!

7.   Cook. I was going to say “cook more” but I don’t think I’ve earned the right to say that. By “cook” I mean more than popping in a frozen pizza, boiling a pot of noodles (plain with no butter or sauce), or microwaving some canned soup. Do you have any suggestions for easy recipes for two? (By easy I mean super-duper-I’m-a-terrible-cooker-and-will-mess-it-up-if-it’s-too-hard recipes!)

8.   Find a book to read and think about starting a new book club series. Any suggestions for books? I’ve heard a lot of hype about The Help and would like to read the book before seeing the movie. I’ve also heard a lot about other books here in the bloggie world. What are you reading right now?

9.   Create something artsy. I went to college for art and have tons of art supplies just sitting around…so why not use them!

10.  Enjoy life! Yes, I love setting goals and then killing them, but it is also so important just to enjoy the moment you are in! I’m going to try not to stress the small things and just have some fun!

What are your September goals?! Do share!

ang

P.S. I am completely overwhelmed by all the love and support and comments from my marathon recap. There have been so many people say that I am their inspiration…but in all honesty…YOU ALL have been MY inspiration! Thank you!!!

My Proudest Moment, Marathon Recap

My alarm went off at 4:25am Saturday morning with Willow Smith exclaiming she whips her hair back and forth. It is kind of the best song to wake up to on race morning because, while it can be startling, it’s upbeat tempo and catchiness makes you want to get moving and dance right there in bed. I would like to be able to say that I went to bed early the night before and had a great night sleep, but sadly that wasn’t the case. I attempted to finally fall asleep around 2:00am, but when Willow woke me up I opened my eyes and wondered to myself if I had been sleeping or if I had just been laying there with my eyes closed. I wasn’t sure.

I had everything laid out from the night before, so getting ready was easy. I made sure that I was well prepared because most of my anxiety was centered around being late or not making it to the start in time and with everything that I needed. I popped two pieces of bread in the toaster, made cinnamon toast, and pretty soon my ride was there to pick my girlfriend and me up!

One of the neatest things about the whole day was the fact that eight of my friends were running in the marathon relay (they had two teams of four), so they were all there with me at some point in the day, if not the entire day! We all met up, loaded up the cars, and carpooled out to the start of the race.

We made it there in plenty of time, so I had about thirty minutes for all my nervousness of being late to convert to nervousness that I was actually going to run an entire marathon. Now I just wanted to race to start…I was ready to run!

Because the it is late August in the midwest and the temperature was expected to get up to the mid to high eighties, each runner had to carry some sort of hydration with them for the entirety of the race. At first I thought this was going to be such a burden because I have never run carrying anything (or wearing some sort of hydration pack), but they gave out free NorthFace water bottles with a hand strap. It was kind of the coolest thing ever. I grabbed my water bottle (which was dark gray, black, and PINK…how meant to be since it matched my race outfit and nail polish?!), and soon enough Dean Karnazes was giving his motivational speech to send the runners off!

Right out of the gate, after only a few tenths of a mile, the hills started. They were only small rolling hills, so I told myself not to get scared. I practiced running all the hills of my little town so I was ready to conquer these rolling hills. Hills are my friend! (If you say that over and over it will come true, right?!)  Also during the first few tenths of a mile a nice (very muscular) man commented on my headband and continued to tell me and another runner about a marathon in a different state that the last mile is sponsored my Mary Kay and they hand out red lipstick to all the runners. He said all the lady runners have beautiful finishing photos with perfect red lips. It sounded quite intriguing!

Little did I know I was talking to Dean Karnazes…the Dean Karnazes who was named one of the hundred most influential people in the world…the Dean Karnazes who ran fifty marathons in fifty states in fifty days. A.MAZ.ING.

Everyone told me not to go out too fast, and amazingly I followed that advice. I finished my first mile at nine minutes and fifty-two seconds. The hills were still trying to scare me a little bit, but the first few miles were flying by. After the first mile, I averaged between a 9:13 and 9:30 minute mile which I thought was great, but I feared I wouldn’t be able to maintain. At mile five I took my first delicious mocha Clif Shot, and between mile six and seven I passed the first relay transition and was cheered on by two of my friends!

I was seriously feeling great! A little bit after the transition area I fell into pace with another runner…an older man from Mississippi who was training for an ultramarathon. He had just got back from Australia where he had ran a marathon and was going to be running a marathon for the next three weekends in a row. He talked to me for quite some time and really helped the time fly by. Before I knew it, I realized I was running just under nine minute miles with him by my side! I am so sad that I never got his name, but I did find his picture in the race photos…

If you ever see this, 26.2 tattoo man, thank you for helping me so much in the beginning. Good luck with the rest of your races!

While running with him, we rounded a corner, and all of the sudden I hear this loud, high-pitched shrieking. “It’s her! THAT’S HER! AAAHHH! OH MY GOSH! THAT’S HER!” I turned my head to see what that familiar voice was and I saw my little sister jumping up and down yelling for me and cheering me on! It was seriously the best feeling in the world at that point, and I don’t think I stopped smiling for a few more miles. She drove along and cheered me on two more times before she had to go to work. Thank you sis. 🙂

Soon after I spotted my sister, I saw a pretty, hot pink sign up ahead. This time it was my mom and her hubby! As I waved and passed by them I saw tears in my moms eyes as she asked me if I was feeling okay. I told her I felt great, beamed, and continued on. Again…I probably wore a silly smile for the next few miles!

Now, do you remember those “rolling hills” I mentioned early on? Well, I failed to mention that they started getting bigger and bigger…around mile five or so. Pretty much the entire course was full of crazy, insane, mean, nasty hills (and that is putting it nicely). I lost my 26.2 tattoo guy on one of these hills, but I was still feeling great so I continued on at a pace that felt comfortable. I was definitely afraid that I wouldn’t be able to keep up my pace, but I just thought as long as I felt good I would just keep going!

The whole course was very beautiful. In the beginning we ran through to Country Club Plaza in Kansas City and through some beautiful neighborhoods. Part of the time we were running through the tall buildings of downtown and by Crown Center. Around mile ten I passed a water station that was supplied with Gu, so I took one and continued on a cute, little bridge that ran up to the Missouri River. The river looked beautiful from the bridge, but as I looked ahead I noticed that the bridge did not go over the river. It just seemed to stop. That’s strange, I thought, how does this bridge go down then?

Stairs.

That’s right, stairs going down right smack in the middle of a marathon. Just what my legs needed, right?! Actually, it did feel somewhat nice going down…however, there were a few steps up again a few feet later. Interesting.

It was worth it though, because running along the Missouri River for quite some time was very beautiful, peaceful, and calming.

From studying the course elevations before race day, I knew that there would be a steady uphill from mile twelve through fifteen. So far I hadn’t noticed any uphill…in fact, as I was running alongside the river it felt like the most level, un-hilly part of the course so far.

Pretty soon I passed the second marathon relay transition area at the halfway point and saw two more of my girlfriends waiting for their leg of the race and cheering me on! I truly felt like the luckiest girl in the world to have so much support!

I could feel more of the steady uphill now and my pace had fallen slightly, but I still felt amazing and like nothing could stop me. Around mile fifteen I saw my little worried mom and her hubby again with their “Go Angela!” sign in hand. I had told my mom before the race that I was scared of this particular portion of the course because of the elevation, and it was huge to see her waiting there for me near the top. I smiled and tried to reassure her that I was doing just fine!

Miles fifteen through nineteen went through a very shady (thank goodness) and tree-filled place. There was also a pretty little waterfall that sprayed a little mist at me! The truth is I had no idea where I was, and there were a few times I felt alone and a little bit afraid. I didn’t see anyone ahead of me and the road was so curvy that I didn’t notice anyone behind me either. The road was sprayed painted with arrows every so often and at every turn, but I was afraid I would miss one and get lost! I remember praying to God one time just to keep showing me the arrows!

I remember being so excited when I knew my mileage was in single digits to the finish. Nine miles? Nine miles is easy! I took another mediocrely delicious mocha Clif Shot, and I finally felt for the first time I was certain I would be able to finish the race. I definitely didn’t expect to feel this wonderful this far into it! There was no way that I would let anything come between me and the finish line now that I’d made it so far! I kept telling myself just keep going.

I emerged from the woodsy area around mile eighteen or nineteen still feeling ridiculously okay. At one point I had convinced myself that my hot pink nail polish had special super powers that gave me energy. It might have been true. The shade was becoming less and less as the sun was getting higher, and at one point there was a voice behind me encouraged me to head toward the side of the road that provided a little bit of shade. I turned my head to see the 4:15 pacer trying to help me out by giving me tips. He caught up to me and tried to give me some motivation. He said he’d be maintaining a 9.30 pace and that I could try to stay with him if I wanted to. He provided little tidbits of advice: relax your arms, take it easy up the hills, we’ll make in up on the downhills, loosen up your legs. He offered his extra Gu to me and ultimately he kept me from slowing way down once I was beginning to reach my limit. Again, I wish I had known his name and told him thank you again because he helped me so much for those few miles around twenty…

Thank you so much 4:15 pacer man! 🙂

Right before the water station at mile twenty my hope was again reignited when I saw the most handsome six foot eight inches topped with sweet curly hair standing at the top of a hill! The hubby’s proud smiling face put another goofy smile on my own face. He came prepared with more mocha gu (which I dreaded the thought of consuming at that point) and some raspberry Clif Bites. I was so grateful to chew on the little gummies instead of forcing down anymore weird gooey stuff! I was so happy that he was there, and that moment became even more magnificent as I passed through the third and last relay transition area, saw two more of my girlfriends cheering me on, then turned the corner to see my mom and her hubby one last time before the finish!

Did I mention that I am the luckiest girl in the world to have had so much support?!

I remained with my 4:15 pacer man for about another mile, but as awesome as I was feeling, I was beginning to feel the fatigue set in. He assured me that he was running with a four to five minute cushion, but pretty soon I couldn’t keep up a 9.30 pace anymore. I just kept reminding myself how close I was to the finish and to just keep going. I would be happy with simply finishing…I never expected to finish in 4:15 anyway! I was still feeling on top of the world!

Then mile twenty-three happened.

Remember those hills? Let me prove it to you!

Mile twenty-three was sometime 3:30 and 3:50. Do you see those elevation lines that go straight up? I mean straight up!

As I was already feeling quite a bit tired, I faced the biggest hill of the entire course…and it was big…never ending…ginormous…horrendous…and it was about three quarters of a mile…straight up! As I approached it I told myself out loud, “Angela, you can do this. Just keep going. You can do this. You can do this.”

The hill curved around and then I saw another Heaven sent gift standing with bad knees and a hawaiian shirt. It was the first time I had seen my dad on the course and he started running with my as soon as I reached him (for his knees’ sake it was a good thing that hill completely slaughtered my pace). I honestly don’t know that I could have made it up that hill without stopping to walk without him by my side.

I was finally to the point where I just wanted to finish. I was completely proud of myself and completely ready for the marathon to be over. I kept counting down in my head…thirty more minutes, you can do it…twenty more minutes, you can do it!

My sweet hubs was there every mile to the finish. He would refill my water bottle and tell me how much further I had to go. He was amazing there helping me get to the finish. He was carrying my phone for me, and I found out later that he did this…

Seriously. Can I get any luckier?

There were so many lovely police officers and volunteers along the entire course directing and stopping traffic to help all the runners. Near the end there was a lady cop who told me I was near the finish. She also said, “Your sister is going to be so proud!” She had seen my sister at the beginning of the race cheering for me, and that pushed me even more to just get to that finish!

Ten more minutes…seven more minutes…five more minutes…four more minutes…

I finally saw the street to turn on to get to the finish line and I was filled with so much excitement. I started to choke up but immediately made myself stop because I couldn’t breathe and I still had a few tenths to go. I saw my dad and he ran with me right up until the finish chute.

I finally left the knot in my throat take over and started crying as heard my mom and dad and Matt and girlfriends’ voices as I crossed the finish line after four hours, fourteen minutes, and thirty-one seconds.

I have never felt more proud of myself in my entire life. You really can do anything you set your mind to.

The icing on the cake? I finished 4th out of 13 in my age group, 8th out of 33 women, and 34th out of 92 marathon runners.

The giant pink frosting flowers on the cake? I had so many people who love me that supported me in so many ways throughout this entire process and through the entire race. I couldn’t have done it…any of it…without all this love in my life.

Thank you to everyone.

ang