Tuesday, April 12, 2022

RACE REVIEW:CHEAP MARTHON

"Running from the morning, yea
Good night, tryna get a clear view
Dancing in the moonshine, yea
It’s nothing new"
'Guilty Pleasure', Groupthink

Last Sunday I ran the
 Greenstride Cheap Marathon.  It was an epic day.  Here's the story.  Wait, but first a little background info.  As you may know, since late February I've been dealing with some annoying issues with my left foot (the bunion and the second toe) and my left hamstring; all of them related.  I broke it down in the beginning of this post if you want the details.  It's not worth repeating for those of you who already know the deal or for those who don't care one way or another.  Bottom line, I was coming into this marathon a little broken and hoping for the best.  That said, my training cycle had been pretty smooth up until the month before race day and I'd done a lot of work to rehab the left side of my body during the final weeks of my buildup so between that and all that good work that was deep in the well, the plan was just to tap it, cross my fingers and see what happened. 


As per usual, I laid out all the gear I'd need on race day the night before.  And then I threw in a few extra things that I don't typically include like arm sleeves, salt tabs and a pack of extra gels with caffeine.  This half-hearted decision would save me during the race, but more on that later.  I do love the local marathon from a logistics standpoint.  Being able to follow my regular routine for eating and sleeping and have everything available to me or very close by with a quick trip down town if needed is huge.  Alleviates a lot of stress.  I had an early dinner and turned in around 8:30 in preparation for my 4:30am wakeup.



The top three photos sum up my morning pretty nicely.  First, coffee.  Happiness.  Second, sadness when I realized that Grace had slept over at a friend's house and couldn't do my traditional race day braid.  Oh well.  And last, a surprise visit from Clover who heard me moving around and came down to say hi.  Okay, not really. She came down to eat, but it was still nice to have her company.  I had a thirty minute drive to Derry, NH and my race start, because they were using a time trial format, was 7:32:41am.  Yes, they were that precise with my time assignment.  Odd.  Though, I'm always excited to see the number '41' pop up as it is my favorite number.  I left around 5:45 and made it easily to NH as the sun was coming up.


It was an absolutely gorgeous morning.  Quiet, clear and cold (33 degrees) which I was more than okay with.  I've done this marathon before.  It's very small, the course consists of two laps on a narrow bike path, there isn't a ton of support and as far as fans go there are about three.  So why did I choose this one, you ask?  Great question.  Last fall I decided to start working with a new coach.  Nothing against Lowell.  He's awesome.  But, for the months leading up to Boston in October I'd been doing a lot of training with a few of the women on the Whirlaway team, a group I'd joined pre-Covid primarily for some much needed run camaraderie.  For the past few years I've been doing the majority of my work alone and I found that having them as training partners was so nice and then came to realize, after Boston, that I wanted to train with them on a regular basis.  Many of them are coached by Ruben Sanca and will be lining up for Boston next week.  Since I can't do Boston this year because we're taking our girls away for spring break for the first time in ten years and maybe the last before Rosie goes to college, I picked a race that was as close to the Boston date as possible so most of the workouts would lineup with my teammates workouts.  As we all know, winter training can be brutal.  It was a hell of a lot less miserable having people to do the training with.  So, that's how I landed on the Cheap Marathon.  Not at all sexy, but logistically it made sense.  Okay, so there I was, all warmed up and ready to go.  I'd put one gel in my pants pocket and one in the pocket of my sports bra.  And I made a last minute decision to carry the aforementioned gels with caffeine, which I don't typically use because I struggle with chews as opposed to gels.  Honestly, I don't know why I grabbed them.  I never will.  But someone up there was looking out for me at that moment.  I went to the start area and stood by my cone.  I did some last minute stretching and then checked all my pockets.  The gel in my pants pocket was not there.  I looked around to see if it had fallen out.  No dice.  There was nothing I could do as I was about to start.  I pulled out my phone and sent an emergency text to Lauren, one of my teammates who I knew was there. 


I tried not to panic.  I had one gel and the pack of chews.  I was hopeful that I'd be able to find Lauren's husband at some point and that he'd be able to bring some down.  If not, my plan B was just drink Gatorade for the entire second half of the race.  This was not ideal but it was all I could think of in the moment.  I just had to trust that it would all work out.  I turned on my music.  Shook it out.  And got on the line.  Ready or not.


THE RACE
MILES 1-6 (6:33, 6:54, 6:40, 6:47, 6:50, 6:43)
At 7:32:41 and not a second sooner, I was off.  My goal for this race was to run under three hours (6:52 pace) or better.  I'd done it once before back in 2018 and had convinced myself that I could do it again despite the fact that I was getting older.  I'm the first to say age is just a number but we all know that running, or any sport for that matter, gets trickier with age, especially when your goals stay the same.  In true Rebecca fashion, I'd come stupidly close several times since that 2018 race - 3:02 in Chicago in 2019, 3:01 in NH about a month later, 3:00:31 at this same Cheap Marathon in 2021 and the 3:08 in Boston last October.  But, this time around my training was a little different then it had been for the last ten years and for the first time I'd started doing strength work twice a week to round things out.  Perhaps these small but notable tweaks would be enough to make up that difference of a few minutes?  Okay, so back to the race.  Not surprisingly, I took things out too fast.  Happens.  I pulled it back for mile two and then tried to just get myself calibrated somewhere in the middle.  I locked in with the two gentlemen in the photo below around mile three, noticing that they were running steady splits in the 6:40-50 range which was perfect.  At one point I asked them if they minded that I had joined them as I didn't want to be annoying.  But the guy in the green said, "No, not at all.  Run with us."  Love that.  


MILES 6-13 (6:43, 6:52, 6:44, 6:46, 6:49, 6:48, 6:41)
I took my first, and only gel, as planned right around mile six which is also where we took a hairpin turn and then headed back on the path in the opposite direction.  We were still in cruise control, right on pace and I felt good.  I was locked in, focused and relaxed.  Huge shout out to the guys I'd joined up with as they were taking a lot of the pressure off for me with their pacing duties.  Somewhere along this stretch I picked my head up to see three of my Lexington runners screaming my name.  Oh my heavens, was that awesome.  I definitely teared up as I waved to them.  It was an unexpected treat and it boosted my spirits big time because as I mentioned, there is really not much happening along this course as far as crowds.  Like, at all.  They were the crowd.  And I loved them for it!  


MILES 14-20 (6:43, 6:55, 6:42, 6:35, 6:38, 6:37, 6:44)
Okay, so remember the gels with caffeine that I'd randomly thrown in my bag the night before and that by some miracle I had decided to toss into my pocket before the race started.  Yes, those.  Turns out, those saved me.  Big time.  No question things would have been a lot different had I not brought them.  Like, bad different.  I started eating them around mile 12.  I find it very hard to chew food while racing hard which is why I prefer the gels.  Which I didn't have.  So, I just ate each chew one at a time and thanked the running gods that I had them.  The halfway point of this race is a little brutal.  The runners are sent off the rail trail and into a local neighborhood.  Fine.  But then we rounded a turn and had to climb a hill to get back on the trail.  Not that big a deal given that the course is pretty flat but still, I'd been on autopilot on the trail so I had to resettle myself once I was headed out for my second lap.  As you can see by my splits, I was still running right on pace but I continuously reminded myself that the race had not started yet and I needed to stay focused and be patient for this third section.  And then I saw Ali.  And I totally lost my shit.  Because I didn't know she was coming and I was just so happy to see a familiar face.  And she was jumping and screaming and smiling and I got super excited.  Maybe a little too excited.  But I had no control.  I have to share the below video.  Ali wanted to take photos but also wanted a video of our high-five so she just went ahead and asked the person next to her to take the video.  Look how excited she gets.  I freaking love this woman.  


MILES 21-26.2 (7:03, 6:54, 7:01, 6:52, 6:52, 6:48)
We took the same hairpin turn at mile 20 and made our way back down the path for the final section.  And this is when I started to fade.  My legs?  Totally fine.  But my energy was waning.  I needed calories.  And I had nothing.  As I mentioned, my plan was to use the Gatorade at the water stops for this last part as an alternative to the gels but they were further apart than I needed and I could literally feel the energy seeping out of my bones.  SHIT.  SHIT.  SHIT.  I saw the Lex girls again around 22 and got a little boost but then felt myself fading again.  I could not afford seven minute miles if I was going to come in under three hours but I didn't really know what to do.  Oh, and for this section one of my earbuds stopped working.  I still had music but it was soft and I could hear myself breathing like a wild animal which was not what I needed at that point.  And then???  Then all my prayers were answered.  I looked up to see a woman standing ahead of me, handing out licorice.  Praise f***ing be.  I grabbed two pieces and started eating them immediately.  The sugar kicked in within seconds and I was able to get back on track.  Or maybe it wasn't the sugar but just the relief in knowing I now had calories.  It doesn't matter.  It was what the people wanted.  One piece down and I was then able to grind it out and finish with a personal best of 2 hours, fifty eight minutes and twenty six seconds. 


THE FINISH and....


....THE LICORICE THAT SAVED THE DAY

No joke.  I will be forever indebted to this licorice lady.  I hope I can track her down and thank her in person some day.  I crossed the line feeling, oddly, really good and so, so happy.  I'd pulled it off.  I'd run a lifetime best at forty freaking seven years old.  I was hugging my teammates who'd come down to the finish, hugging Ali, hugging my other friend Ali, I mean I was hugging whoever wanted one, really.  It didn't feel real.  Kind of an out of body experience.  Just, so much joy in that moment.  


I grabbed my bag from gear check and guess where my gel was?  Yep.  In the zipper pocket of my tights.  The ones I'd warmed up in and then taken off.  Those tights.  Funny.  But not funny.  Lesson learned.  Check which pockets you're putting your gear into before you assume you're good to go.  Seriously, though.  Marathons are a beast.  You can train your ass off and do everything right but there are always going to be things that are out of your control.  Injuries, bad weather, massive brain farts like putting your much needed fuel in the wrong pocket.  Anything can throw you off.  But when it does come together, regardless of how, there is nothing like it.  And maybe I'll never get it again.  But hell if I'm not going to keep trying.  Up next?  Chicago!  I know.  I can't help myself.

Listen to this:
Guilty Pleasure - Groupthink

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

IT'S YOUR TIME

"It's not your time that makes you 
who you are
It's the time spent doing the things
that you love"
~ Kendall Thompson, 'It's Your Time'


I've met a lot of incredible people through running.  People of all ages and from all walks of the earth.  In the running world, more often than not, it feels as though you can bump into someone out on the road or at a race, at most running-related events really, and regardless of the fact that they started off as a total stranger within an hour or three you've become fast friends and will likely stay in touch for life.  Such was the case for me with Jackie.  

You may recognize the name as she's been in many of these posts.  We met back in 2017 at a Oiselle race meet up in Phoenix, AZ of all places.  We spent one day together.  One.  And she is now like a sister to me.  If only it were this easy with everyone, right?  Anyway, Jackie has a training partner named Kendall who I've never met in person but I feel like I've known for years.  We've connected on the phone, on social media; we've even face-timed as Jackie usually fills him in on all the race details when she's here for Boston events.  Which, to my good fortune, is often.  To be honest, I probably touch base with Kendall more frequently than Jackie as she is rarely on social media and Kendall is always good for a supportive comment or a cheer on one of my posts.  Which brings me to the point.  Once in a while a person reaches out and touches you in a way that sends shivers down your spine.  When it's someone you know, well that's lovely.  But when it's someone who you've never met or don't know very well, like Kendall, and they create the same impact, well that's just beyond cool.  Surreal, almost.  On Sunday, barring any major disasters, I'll be lining up for my 28th marathon.  The road to get to this point has been tricky with lots of ups and downs.  It often is for a lot of us.  But this particular training cycle has been tougher than most for me.  I have a goal time in mind.  And that is an important piece of the story.  But there's another part of the story.  A bigger part.  In his own words, Kendall reminded me that it's not my actual time that matters most but the time I spend doing all the things I love, both running and non, that fuels the fire.  That time makes me who I am.  Not my time on race day.  Again, chills.  I've met a lot of incredible people through running.    

It’s your time

It is your time, and that’s important
The time that’s spent living, in 
laughter, and in love

It’s not your time that makes you 
who you are
It’s the time spent doing the things 
that you love

Your time, that you give to your 
athletes, as you coach them to their 
victories

Your time, that you give, to family 
and friends, as they make it 
through joys, and miseries

Know it’s your time that is most 
important
Your time is not as important as that

It’s your time to live, laugh, and, to 
love
Your time is important and that is a 
fact!

Written by Kendall Thompson
04-05-2022
Thinking of Trax

Listen to this:
The Best Part - Bien & gardentstate

Thursday, March 24, 2022

RACE REVIEW:NEW BEDFORD 13.1

"So what if I fall? 
Better that I tried instead of nothing at all
Yeah, I can say it's my fault
I really don't mind, at least I gave it a go"
~ Better Now, Odesza (w/ Maro)

It's been a little over a month since my last race and between then and now I've been walking the fine line between peak marathon training and total shut down.  I'll try to break it down without getting into too much detail. In a nutshell, the bunion on my left foot, which I've had for a very long time but has never been an issue, recently started hurting on a daily basis.  As I tried to figure out how to deal with it, while also continuing to train, I was unknowingly favoring it which resulted in a strained hamstring that ultimately got so tight and painful I could no longer push through.  In early March, I started P/T at Wellness in Boston and my treatments included Graston, A.R.T & Shockwave Therapy (details on these treatments are on their site if you'd like to know more).  This provided instant relief.  But in the process of playing with various tools (ie. gel spacers, cushions, etc) to help relieve the pressure of my bunion and, yes, continuing to train, I started feeling notable pain in the second toe of the same foot, both on top and underneath.  So by the time race week rolled around I kind of felt like the left side of my body was a hot mess and I was just barely holding it all together.  But, I also felt like I needed to race.  I needed to know if my body could handle it.  I wanted a test drive, if you will, to determine whether my April marathon was even in the cards.  And I wanted to run and hang out with my Whirlaway teammates who don't get to see very much and really enjoy being around.  So, I made a plan.  I would go to New Bedford and give it a shot.  If the pain in my foot got too high I would drop out around mile 4 or 5.  If it was manageable, I'd just see what I could do with the goal simply being to run hard and finish.  And that was that.  So, it's Saturday before the race and I'm in Fitchburg, MA with Grace for a soccer tournament.  Naturally.  We were spending the night at a hotel with the team.  For fun.  Oh, and I had a two hour drive from Fitchburg to New Bedford in the morning.  Such is life.  Both Grace and I laid our gear out for game/race day.



The top two photos are my stuff.  Both my uniform as well as all of the many things I'd be using on my foot and hamstring before the race.


This bottom image is Grace's stuff.  She's super organized and really cares a lot about keeping everything neat and together.  Clearly.  Both of us had a pretty restless night as our room was near the elevators which dinged often and the walls of the hotel were thin so we could hear all the other soccer teams who were also there for the tournament and having a grand old time with their teammates.  In the hallway.  Again, such is life.  My alarm went off around seven and I immediately went down and got myself a cup of shitty coffee from the lobby.  I tried to wake up and get ready while staying quiet for Grace who was still asleep.  


I found myself chuckling about the absolutely terrible coffee that I was using to jumpstart my day as well as the fact that I had no idea how the race was going to unfold for me and there was nothing I could do about it.  I made Grace get up before I left to do my hair.  I felt kind of bad but she needed to be up anyway so she didn't lose much sleep.  Plus, I needed a race day braid.  Sorry.  Not sorry.  It's good.  She gets it.  I went over to Dunkin' to grab myself a real cup of coffee for the drive but their machine was broken.  I had no words.  I just took off.  I got down to New Bedford easily and parked in the lot that the Whirlaway team uses each year as a meeting spot.  For the first time that I've ever done this race the weather was looking good.  No wind.  Not freezing.  Not snowing.  Perhaps a peace offering from the running gods for the broken coffee machine?  I walked down to the YMCA, picked up my number and met up with a few of the Whirlaway gals.  We turned it around pretty quickly, going back to our cars to drop stuff off and head out for a warmup.  As we jogged, I could feel a dull ache in my foot.  It wasn't awful but I was guessing it was how it was going to feel for most of the race so I tried to assess whether or not I'd be able to deal with it for 13 miles.  I did coat it with Aspercreme, which is basically a numbing agent, when I got back to put my number on.  Who knows if the stuff works but I've been trying it all lately.  We got together for a team photo before we made our way over to the start.

Photo by Leslie Poitras

Our unofficial team photographer, Leslie, took this one for us.  You can see we are a huge group of runners from multiple cities and states.  It's a ton of fun when we get together for these things.  It's not easy to get us all to stop and gather in one place for a picture but we did the best we could.


Lauren and I lined up together as we usually do.  We have done a ton of our training together for this cycle and I take comfort in knowing she's around me when I'm racing.  Strength in numbers and all.  Clearly Lauren was super fired up about getting started.  That or she was frustrated about how long the process was taking.  Just kidding.  Totally my doing.   I just caught her by surprise with the pic.  Sorry, LT.  After a lovely poem and the National Anthem they finally sent us off right at 11:00am.  Ready or not.

Photo by Leslie Poitras

THE RACE
Miles 1-4 (6:14, 6:24, 6:25, 6:31)
For the first time, maybe ever, I wasn't super stressed out as I took off.  I've been struggling with so many dumb issues between my foot and hamstring and I just truly had no idea what to expect.  Obviously I was hoping to run well; hell I was hoping to just finish, but I wouldn't have been surprised if neither of those happened and I would have had to be okay with it as I'm the one who decided to play with fire.  Looking back, I think this helped me as I didn't feel pressure to run a specific time or to stick with a race plan.  I just let it flow and hoped my body would let me know what it could handle.  It's been about a year since my last half and while I felt like I was as fit as I was for that one, I wasn't struggling with injuries back then so I could use it as a benchmark but it would be a shaky one.  Which meant I was going to aim for around a 6:30 pace give or take a few seconds and see what happened.  As you can see, mile 1 was a little quicker than planned but it was downhill so I wasn't too worried about it.  I locked in for miles 2 and 3 to what felt like a good pace and just settled down and worked to find a rhythm.  Mile 4 was a climb; long, steady and really tough so I knew I was slowing but I decided it was no longer worth looking at my watch from that point on.  That I would just run by feel, try and stay focused and use the force.

Photo by Anoush Arakelian

MILES 5-8 (6:15, 6:18, 6:15, 6:19)
I made it up and over the hill and then picked it back up to the pace I had started with.  Honestly, it's faster than I've run before and I wasn't sure if was smart but I didn't feel like I was working too hard to hold steady for a few miles and I just figured, why not?  If I had to back off, I'd back off.  But I wanted to see if 6:15-6:20 was sustainable for a bit.  I saw Dave, our team manager, at mile 5 and nodded to him signaling that I was going to keep going rather than drop.  Now I was in it for the long haul.  The pain in my foot was about the same as it had been before the start and while I noticed it, it was not so intense that it was distracting me.  How about that for runner's logic?  Lauren was running about 10 feet in front of me and she is like a metronome; always very even paced and smooth so I focused on her back and worked to follow along at a distance.  

Photo by Leslie Poitras

MILES 9-13.1 (6:28, 6:21, 6:15, 6:18, 6:31, 5:35)
At mile 9 we made a sharp turn and began to run along the water.  Usually this is where the wind kicks in and all hopes of a PR are dashed.  To our good fortune, Mother Nature threw us a break and all we had was a dense fog in front of us, which was weird but also kind of cool to be running into.  I got passed by quite a few people here.  They were literally flying by me on both sides.  I was not looking at my watch so I just assumed I was slowing down and did nothing about it as my body was calling the shots now and this is the pace it was moving at.  After a couple slower miles I was able to reset and get back on track, and to be honest, I knew I was almost done so I'm sure that helped me find that last bit of energy for the final section of the race.  The most brutal part of this course is mile 13 which is all uphill.  Like, the entire mile.  I knew it was coming and I was dreading it big time, but I also knew I'd be done right afterwards and told myself to quit my whining and attack the hill as best as I could.  I rolled down the back side and turned to see the clock which said 1:22 and change.  HOLY SHIT.  WHAT???!!!  I sent it with everything I had left and crossed the line in 1:23:30 which is about 2 minutes faster than I've ever run a half marathon.  I was f***ing floored.  And over the moon.  And my foot immediately started throbbing.  But I didn't care in the least.  I had given all that I had on the day and that happened to more than I ever dreamed I had.  


Two big lessons here. Age is just.....your age.  Sure it limits you but no more or less than an injury or bad weather or a sick kid at home.  Yes, you have to do the work and it does get really hard as you get further along in your 40s and beyond but you just have to get creative and figure it out.  If you want it badly enough, you just do it.  And second, you truly never know what's going to happen.  You can predict all you want and make a plan and train at a specific pace and control everything that you can control but there is still an element of surprise every single time you line up.  And for me, that makes it all worth it.  That is what keeps me coming back for more.  That and the simple fact that running in and of itself continues to bring me so much joy.  Next up for me is the Cheap Marathon on April 10th.  My foot has been very angry with me since the race so I'm trying to work through and see if I can make it to the start.  If it happens, I'll be thrilled.  If not, that's okay, too.  I'm just 47.  I've got all sorts of time.   To be continued.

Listen to this:
Better Now - Odesza (feat. MARO)

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

RACE REVIEW:SUPER SUNDAY 4 MILER




"Rolling, rolling, when I'm breaking down
I don't want you here to help me out
I just want somebody sitting next to me"
'Next to Me' - Jim-E Stack

Well, my first race of 2022 is officially in the books.  This past Sunday morning I lined up with my Whirlaway teammates for the Super Sunday 4 Miler in Bedford, NH.  It was the first of seven races in the New England Grand Prix series which is a group of races that we compete in as team against other local teams.  Given that it was February in New England, the weather was about what you'd expect.  It was 20 degrees out, it was snowing (obvs) and the streets were coated with a fresh sheet of ice.  Good, good times.  Side note, I have no idea why I live here.  I've been asking this question a lot lately.  But, I digress.  As you may know, I've been training for an April marathon and I haven't raced since last December so this was going to be a solid fitness test and a way to assess how things are coming along.  Naturally, I was both excited and ridiculously nervous.  My anxiety about racing increases as the distance decreases primarily because speed is not my forté and even though the short ones end faster they hurt so much more.  Which is exactly why they are good for me to do.  Gotta step out of that comfort zone every once in a while, you know?  Comfort being a relative term here.  Right, so here's how it all played out.  I woke up at my usual 4:45am and made some coffee.  I know.  It's stupid early.  And it's not by choice.  My freaking dogs didn't even get up with me.  Whatever.  I was up in Franconia, which is about an hour and twenty minutes north of Bedford so I had some time to kill before taking off.  I drank my coffee, read some emails, did the Wordle of the day (yes, I'm obssessed) and took my time packing up and getting ready before finally taking off around 6:15.  About forty five minutes into my drive I found myself feeling really, really tired.  Which makes sense.  I mean, it was basically time for a nap at this point given how early I'd gotten started.  I never have two coffees pre-race but I was fading hard and ultimately decided it had to be done.


Fun fact, when you order a latte at Dunkin there is no 'small' option; just medium or large.  Okay, I thought to myself, well I don't need that much coffee so I'll just get the medium and sip half of it.  Lolz.  I rolled into Bedford around 7:45 and, yes, my cup was empty.  This extra cup was either going to help me or hurt me for obvious reasons and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it.


I parked, got out and took note of the absolutely miserable conditions that we were about to race in.  I found my teammate, Amy B., and we looked at each other and just nodded.  Words weren't really necessary.  We walked to the start to grab our bibs and then planned to come back and sit in our cars until we needed to warm up.  The finish line was in the process of getting sanded down and I was both grateful to these guys for doing their job and hopeful that they'd done the same for the majority of the four mile course as slipping on ice is one of my worst nightmares.  As you can see, the scene was pretty grim so while, yes, I was complaining, I felt it was for good reason.  Racing is hard.  Racing in tough conditions is...also hard.  


We got our numbers and met up with a few more of our teammates as we all walked back to the parking lot to drop gear and get ready to warmup; all of us agreeing that we'd likely need more than a few miles to actually get warm.  We stayed bundled up, deciding to drop coats and pants on the way to the start and headed off to check out the course.  The middle of the street wasn't terrible so that was good to note.  We cruised for an easy three and while we chatted all I could think about was the fact that I couldn't feel my thumbs or my big toes.  Which begs the question.....why?  At the time, I didn't have my answer for this.  I'll circle back on this one, though.  We dropped our layers and ran over to the start with only a few minutes left to march in place and think about how cold we were.  Finally, at 9:30, we were off.


I honestly didn't know what to expect for this race as far as my performance.  Yes, I've been training and doing workouts but, as I said, I haven't raced in months and given that and the weather I just didn't know what I was capable of.  So, the goal was just to run hard and see what I had in the bank.  Honestly, I was so happy to be moving when we finally got going that I didn't really pay attention to my pace for the first mile.  I just followed the crowd and focused on staying in the middle of the road which was, in fact, the safest spot.  We had a slight down on the first mile and between that and the general excitemenet of the scene I ended up running mile 1 in a 5:59 which was a bit faster than planned.  I told myself not to panic while also reminding myself that I only had to feel this hurt for three more miles.  At that point, I decided it wasn't worth checking my pace anymore.  I was going to do what I could do and checking was just going to stress me out more than necessary.  I had several teammates ahead of me that I knew would finish before me so I focused on following their singlets and trying to keep them in site.  This helped a ton as it kept me in control and gave me something to think about other than my breathing and the pain I was in.  Mile 2 felt really long and significantly harder than the first.  But I managed to hold on, hitting 6:04.  As I said, I wasn't checking my watch, but I could feel that my effort was about the same so I had a hunch that I was pretty close to my pace for mile 1.  Two miles to go and while it felt like I lifetime it also felt digestible.  Come on, Rebecca, I said to myself in my head or maybe out loud, I have no idea.  Two freaking miles.  Lean in.  You can do this.  The grind continued and I just kept watching the ladies in front of me who unbeknownst to them had become my pacers.  Thank you Dana and Christen.  We had to do a little climbing in mile 3 which I'd known was coming as we'd run it in our warmup.  Not that it made it any easier but helpful to have that info.  Always fun to have a hill at the finish of a hard effort.  Though "hill" is a bit of an exaggeration if I'm being honest as it was really just a slight rise.  But damned if it didn't feel like a legit hill.  Finally up and over this thing and half a mile to go.  I just put my head down and gave it everything that was left in my tank finishing in a respectable 24:35 which I was more than pleased with.  


I ended up coming in 18th overall and took the win for my age group (45-49). Our Whirlaway women's Masters team (40+) also took the win which was awesome.  And our women's open team took 3rd out of 15 teams which I thought was pretty sweet.  The five of us who scored in the open category came in within one minute and nine seconds of each other and I am 100% sure that having them there was why things went well for me as I definitely drew strength from their presence on the course.  Theirs and all the Whiralway women and men who were out on the course with me, really.  Running can be such a lonely sport.  Running for a team just feels different and in some ways, more important.  Often times more rewarding.  Because I'm running for others not just myself.  And, not to sound cliché, but we're stronger together.  I often tell my Lex athletes that it's important to know your 'why'.  If you get on the line and you can't answer the question why am I doing this then it might be time to step back and reevaluate things.  For me, on Sunday, my 'why' was to be a part of something bigger, something that I'm proud to represent.  To run hard and have fun for and with my teammates.  When I finished I could honestly say that I felt that I'd accomplished this.


Several of our teammates found each other as we rolled into the finish and after hugs and congratulations we set off to cool down, or in this case, to stay warm.  You really couldn't stand still for long without getting painfully cold.  We decided to run the course backwards and while I was tired and a little sore I really enjoyed the down time catching up with different people and hearing about the goings on in their lives.  More of my 'why', I suppose.


We got back to the parking lot and the majority of us decided it was too cold to hang out at the post-race party so we said our goodbyes and I got back in the car to thaw a bit before heading home.  My next marathon is on April 10th.  But our next race as a team is in March.  I'm already really looking forward to that one.  Maybe it will be a little warmer.  Pipe dreams.

Listen to this:
Next To Me - Jim-E Stack (feat. Luck Daye)