five on friday: episode 2

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I can’t believe it’s already Friday again!  This week has been awesome: lots of relaxing, lots of laying low.  This Friday, I am linking up with DarciAprilChristina, and Natasha to share my favorite things about this week.

[ONE]

Serial Podcast 

Graphic via http://serialpodcast.org/
Graphic via http://serialpodcast.org/

I started listening to this series a few weeks ago, and I must say, I am hooked! I like to listen to podcasts if I am running or doing something repetitive at work. I love a good story, and the story of this case has me completely enthralled.

I don’t want to give anything away, but per the website: “Serial is a podcast from the creators of This American Life, and is hosted by Sarah Koenig. Serial tells one story – a true story – over the course of an entire season. Each season, we’ll follow a plot and characters wherever they take us. And we won’t know what happens at the end until we get there, not long before you get there with us.”

If you love podcasts, you have probably already heard of Serial. If not, or if you are looking for something new, I definitely recommend checking Serial out. Be sure to start at the beginning!

[TWO]
Healthy Dark Chocolate No-Bake Bars
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At 26 weeks pregnant (today!), my appetite continues to ramp up.  However, I feel like I am carrying a baby that doesn’t want to eat junk.  Sometimes mommy still eats junk…almost immediately after, mommy feels like junk.

I think baby doesn’t really like junk.

To be fair, I have been doing my absolute best to stay healthy this pregnancy, and I feel great as a result.  I found this recipe in hopes of satisfying my sweet tooth, while still getting in some good stuff.  Please, please, please check out Healthy Dark Chocolate No-Bake Bars from Confessions of a Bright Eyed Baker.

The recipe is perfect!  I like to just add a little extra sea salt, for my own taste.  I haven’t been able to stay away from these bars, and baby doesn’t mind at all!

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[THREE]
Movie Night: Boyhood
Graphic via Fandango.com
Graphic via Fandango.com
 For a movie date night on Saturday, Jon and I went to see Boyhood.  Going into the theatre, I wasn’t sure what to expect.  Originally release in July of 2014, I knew 2 things about the movie: one, it had done well at the Golden Globes; two, it had been filmed over the course of 12 years.  As it ended up, I really liked it!  It’s a coming of age piece that kind of felt like a documentary/reality show to me…probably because I felt like I got so close to the characters.

The plot was subtle, and I love the intimate feeling that I got from following the characters as they naturally progressed for 12 years.  The transitions between years were seamless.  Beyond seeing the characters change physically, I noticed things in their home that make me feel like family.  For example, childhood photos that Jon and I noticed before Mason’s High School graduation made us both feel nostalgic…and yet, we don’t actually know him.

Although the movie primarily follows the story of the main character, Mason, I felt myself getting attached to the whole family.  The movie is a bit long, so eat your popcorn slowly.  However, I really feel like there isn’t one thing that could have been cut out.  I didn’t want to leave the family when it was over.  It’s a movie I recommend seeing, you’ll leave full of stuff to think about (and maybe a few false memories).

[FOUR]
My newest craft project
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With our little baby girl on the way, I really want to get sewing again.  I learned a little bit when I was small, and growing up, my mom always sewed for my sisters and I.  I remember always having beautiful, original Halloween costumes and matching Easter outfits.  I love these memories, and I’d like to be able to give this to my daughter; sewing really is a dying art.

I asked for a sewing machine for Christmas for Jon, and a got a Brothers, which is awesome! Although we’ve been too busy for me to take it out just yet (the story of every craft project, it seems)…I picked up some light-weight flannel for my first project. I love, love, LOVE the prints!

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I picked-up an easy Simplicity pattern, and I plan to start out with some bibs and pants.  I am excited to get started; I know that my progress will be slow at first, and riddled with opportunities to “learn” (i. e. mistakes).  I will be sure to post updates as they become available!

 

[FIVE]
An outdoor winter run
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As winter has moved in, I have been sticking pretty closely to my old buddy, the treadmill.  My last outdoor run was at the end of December.  However, on Monday, the temps in New England peaked around 48 degrees and I knew there was no ice.  I truly admire pregnant runners that run regularly in the frigid cold.  It’s typically something I feel too clumsy to do, and it’s not easy.

 On Monday, the conditions felt good, so I decided to run the roads.  I’m glad that I did, but at 25 weeks, I noticed some major changes in my body since my last outdoor run: my left leg/ankle felt very tingly and strange, I felt a lot more impact on my joints from the extra weight, and the hills that I once loved…I now cursed.  I also forgot to bring my gloves…rookie mistake.  48 degrees running against the wind feels much different than 48 degrees running with the wind.  Despite the slightly increased discomfort in my legs and my freezing hands, I was thankful for the refreshing, cool air in my lungs and the ability to enjoy and outdoor run.

Overall, it was great week!  Super relaxing, and I spent lots of time thinking about all the newness we have coming.  I am enjoying the quiet while I can…only a few more months until our world is changed, yet again.

 

trail tuesday: holiday travels recap

Jon and I are blessed to have family in all areas of the country.  While sometimes it’s hard to have the people the we love be so far away, the silver-lining is we have the opportunity to visit areas of the country that are both familiar and new to us.

Although somewhat overdue, I thought I would spend this post recapping some of the awesome experiences that we shared with our families over the holidays.  Also, I want to highlight some of the amazing trails that I was fortunate enough to run/hike during our 10 day sabbatical.

Michigan

We began our holiday travels in Michigan visiting my family.  We were fortunate to celebrate Christmas a few days late, as well as New Years Eve. Some highlights of our trip included visiting with extended family, lots of really good food, seeing friends I haven’t seen in years, registering for baby gear, and of course, visiting our old stomping grounds in Ann Arbor for a very important announcement…that also happened to correspond with a basketball game.

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  • The Paint Creek Trail

My favorite place to run in Michigan is the Paint Creek Trail.  This trail winds through downtown Rochester. Runs along this trail go by quickly as you seem to seamlessly transition from woodlands to downtown, and then back to the woods.  I enjoyed a warm 5 mile jog and a chilly 4 mile run while visiting, and I was glad to be able to get some time on this trail.

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Arizona

After 5 days in Michigan, Jon and I continued on to Arizona.  Jon’s sister and her husband live in Arizona, and we met Jon’s entire family and some extended friends for the remaining 5 days of our trip.  In all, there were 10 of us…a pretty large, and fun, group.  Some highlights (beyond the trails we visited) included an intense euchre tournament, a day of shopping in downtown Scottsdale, and an evening of golf and good food at Top Golf.

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  • The Grand Canyon

Not expecting snow, Jon and I packed a little light for this part of our trip.  However, we arrived at the Grand Canyon around noon to find it covered in snow.  After a tailgate-style lunch, a group of 5 of us took off on a snow-covered, easy 2 mile hike into the Canyon.  The views were positively breathtaking, and the fresh snow added to the quiet as we descended into the Canyon.  I’ve never experiencing anything so massive and spectacular.  These pictures truly don’t do it justice, it’s really something you have to experience in person.

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  • Saguaro National Park

During our second full day in Arizona, all 10 of us embarked on a moonlit hike through Saguaro National Park.  Right around 3 miles of walking, this trail wove through the dessert and exposed me to a view of the country that I’ve only seen in movies.  We followed our shadows back on a winding road lit only by moonlight; the whole experience was breathtaking.

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  • Pinnacle Peak

During our third day in Arizona, a small group of us decided to take a short trail run/hike at Pinnacle Peak.  Along with Jon and his brother, I decided to run the 3.5 miles.  Because I was 23 weeks pregnant, I ran it my own pace.  The views were amazing, but I am not used to the elevation gain (over 1,000 feet) of this trail.

The run began with more downhill than uphill, which made me nervous because I knew what was coming on the way back.  “What’s goes up, must come down,” was playing on repeat in my head as I chugged along.  Finishing this run with a 13:48 average, I was pleased.  Trails runs are always slower.  I was only pricked by one cactus, I had not fallen or even stumbled, and I got a little color on my sun-starved skin.

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My trail Tuesday recap of our vacation is something I feel so fortunate to be able to do.  I can’t believe all the we experienced in 10 short days. I am so grateful that I am healthy during this pregnancy so that I could experience it all.  I keep looking back at our photos, and though it makes me a little tired…I’d do it all over again if I could!

my 9 Monday Runday rules for running while pregnant

At 24 weeks, I am visibly pregnant.  For Monday Runday, I thought I’d share my own 9 rules for running with pregnant.

This Monday, I’m linking-up with Sarah, Jenn, Rachel, and Tauna for the Mom 2 Mom Monday Link-up.

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I am no longer the nauseous, overly exhausted runner that I was in September.  I no longer feel like I am simply getting over the flu.  Rather, I’ve gained a healthy amount of weight, I have girth, and I am often lulled to sleep at night by the tiny thuds of a kicking baby girl.

As for running with this newfound girth…it’s different. My tummy can sometimes get in my way, and now I find my upper legs getting very tired very quickly.  It’s interesting because sometimes running actually makes my minor discomforts go away…but 4 miles feel like 15 miles and I eat like a garbage disposal for the rest of the day.

Seeking advice from the blogs of a few runners that I admire, I set these 9 rules for myself that I wanted to share. Keep in mind that, just because these work for me, they will never work for every woman.  You should ask you doctor about running every time that you have any questions, like I do.  

  1. If anything ever feels even remotely painful, I stop.  No questions.  Now is not the time to be a hero.
  2. I give myself little breaks during my run, either through walking or stopping all-together.
  3. I never go more than 25 miles a week, no more than 6 miles a run….and lately, I have been between 18-20 per week.
  4. After I finish running, I chug my entire 33 oz water bottle.  Coconut water also proved to be AMAZINGLY HELPFUL to combat nausea during my first-trimester runs.
  5. Unless the weather is too good to pass up, I run indoors.  I am pretty clumsy (even when I’m not pregnant), and I don’t need any help from wet leaves and ice patches.
  6. I find time after my runs to works my arms, back, and legs so that my whole body stays strong and ready for labor. I also try to squeeze in yoga, and cross-training is a priority.
  7. I work to find other ways to stay fit during the day, so I don’t rely on running so much.  I stand at work for at least an hour a day (I have a desk that rises up), I take the stairs.
  8. If I wake up and I can’t do it, I don’t push it.  It’s not worth it.  Sleep is more valuable.
  9. I work-out as early as I can, preferably before my body knows I am awake.  That way, I have less time to feel pregnant and tired.

 

Trail Running at 23 weeks at Pinnacle Peak in AZ
Trail Running at 23 weeks at Pinnacle Peak in AZ

Today, these rules are my guide. Tomorrow, they may be replaced by one simple rule: don’t run.  I don’t know for sure.  However, I do know when to run, I know when to walk, and I know when it sit.

I read somewhere pregnancy is like I’m “in training” for my due date. Whatever it takes to get there healthy and strong is what I should do. As for now, I plan to keep taking things one slower, more wobbly step at a time.

 

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i run this bump.

Somewhere between September and December, I took a hiatus from blogging about anything really personal. This is because I found out at the end of August that I was pregnant again. From the moment I found got those 2 pink lines, being pregnant again consumed my thoughts: I felt sick and then I felt better; I felt huge and then healthy; I am on a constant rollercoaster of emotion, and I can’t get off!  It was hard to really get around all of this, so I blogged about a few delicious soups and our Halloween costumes.  I wasn’t ready to give our secret away.  That changed, mid-November.

This isn’t my first time being pregnant, and it really wasn’t that long ago that I was pregnant for the first time.  As some of you may know, and some may not we lost our first daughter on 12/1/13 at 30 weeks due to a variety of complications, including a diaphragmatic hernia.  Her story can be found here.

After losing my daughter, I found some solace in running.  Running didn’t make everything better all of the time, but it helped…sometimes.  About a month after Darla passed, I signed up for my first full marathon.  I did this in hopes of having something to focus on and help me heal.  Training helped, but healing took more than just running.

After running my first marathon on 5/18/14, my love for running peaked.  I was in the best shape of my life.   I couldn’t believe how quickly 13 or 14 miles would fly by on a Saturday run.  It wasn’t until the end of July after some intense fartlek runs that I realized the pain in my right hip/buttocks was not a normal pain.  I found myself suffering my first major injury.  I spent about 6 weeks strengthening my hamstrings and cross training.  Just as I was beginning to feel healed…I found out that I was pregnant.

During my first pregnancy in 2013, I stopped running at about 9 weeks.  Never having been pregnant before, I wasn’t sure how to keep running.  I stopped running out of fear, and I spent most of my time on the elliptical.

In hindsight, I am proud of this decision.  It was smart.   It was the best decision because it made me feel comfortable.  Being comfortable and happy during pregnancy is far more important than keeping up any pre-pregnancy healthy habits.  The number one goal is always, always, always your growing bambino.

However, knowing more about pregnancy and my body this time around, I thought I’d try to keep running as long as I can.

In the beginning, I ran in the morning…when I didn’t feel to nauseous.  When I did feel a little queasy, I drank coconut water on the treadmill, and it turned out to be my cure-all!  Coconut water: write that down.

I kept the same speed as pre-pregnancy until about 14 weeks. After my first trimester, I have found myself getting a little more winded and a tiny bit bumpier with each run.

 

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I was still fortunate enough to run a 5-mile race on the morning of Thanksgiving.   I had a blast!  It was my first race pregnant, and probably my only race this time around.  I started out strong, but after about 4 miles, I was ready to be D-O-N-E.  I was pleasantly surprised by my pace, but afterwards, I ate a ton and slept for hours.  I felt like a did after a long summer marathon training run…the good ol’ days.

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All smiles, and surprised by a 37:56 5-miler.

In order to keep going, I have been relying heavily on my doctor’s approval.  At every appointment, I say “I’m still running…” and every time, she says “Why wouldn’t you be?”  That makes me feel good.

I also have been relying heavily on some of my favorite running blogs, including:

  1. Runfargirl.com: Sarah has awesome information about running while pregnant, and she also shares workouts that are safe for expectant mommies.  Sarah also happens to be pregnant again herself, and I enjoy following her journey.  Be sure to check out her Run Far Gear shop…my “Embrace the Hill” t-shirt has been accommodating my bump perfectly.

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Also, if you are pregnant and staying fit, she has an awesome contest going on right now!  Click here to enter to win a $50 gift card to For Two Fitness.

  1. Running Bump: Karen ran throughout her second pregnancy, and shares helpful advice and stories.
  1. Fit Bump: This blog is amazing for all-things healthy…before, during, and after pregnancy.  They have delicious and light recipes, great tips, and prego-safe workouts to help encourage a healthy and happy 9 months.  They also have a great line of workout clothes that compliment a growing bump.

In conclusion, this week I am running, but next week I may not be.  I am 20 weeks now, and I would guess that I’ll stop completely at 30 weeks.  However,  I really don’t know for sure, and I really don’t care.  I’m focusing on staying as fit as a can, because healthy mom means healthy baby…but strong doesn’t mean fast.

To me, being “fit” is relative.  Fit is strong, and includes more than just my body.  True fitness is keeping my mind and spirit healthy and strong.  I have a long way to go, but I’m also halfway there.

My body is changing, and it’s a beautiful thing.

training for nothing

These past few weeks have been interesting.  I’ve been working through a pretty big adjustment.  I’ve been transitioning from training to run 26.2 miles…to not really training for anything.  I think it’s taken my mind longer to adjust than my body.  My body is no-doubt soaking in the rest, and most-likely questioning what exactly the point was of running that far on May 18th.

My husband and I ran the LLBean 10k in Freeport, ME, on July 4th. Although we really didn’t need to train, thanks to all the miles still in our systems from Sugarloaf, I tried to train anyway.  I was excited to compete again!

When hurricane Arthur threatened to end the 10k before it began, anxiety set in.  I needed to compete.  I wanted my race-fix.  When we found out the run was still on, I was pretty thrilled.  I posted a time I was happy with, got 6th in my age group, and enjoyed a beautiful run.  It was a great holiday.  I want to do this race again next year!

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The next day, I was jogging through Freeport before our trip home the next when I had an “ah-ha” moment.

My epiphany started about 2 miles into my run; I ran by this crazy-looking boat in someone’s yard. The front of the boat said “Free.” I had to laugh.  My family owned a boat for many years.  With all of the upkeep, repairs, and the complete dependence on perfect weather…I think most boat owners have had days that they’d just assumed put up a “Free” sign and walk away.

 

Because I didn’t know the area, I decided to do an “out and back” (run a certain distance, turn around, and run the same way back).  On the run back, I looked for the boat again. The other side of the boat said “Free Smiles.” And that made me smile.  And then that made me realize that it had been a long time since I had smiled while running.  I think the last time was during the marathon.

It dawned on me: running wasn’t fun any more.  It was beginning to feel like a chore, like work.  I was obsessed with improving my pace, obsessed with beating myself. I  am not a professional runner, but I was acting like running was my job.  The marathon was 2 months ago, and I wasn’t letting myself enjoy this time of not training for anything.

I was still in-training, but for nothing.

I challenged myself to run the rest of the way back to the hotel smiling. I was going to have fun, darn it!  At first I felt silly, but after about 2 minutes, the endorphins kicked in.  A funny thing happens when you smile.  You could smile for no reason, but once your brain realizes you’re smiling, you really do feel happy.  At least, that’s what happens for me.

I ended that run happy, and at about the same pace as I would have if I’d been obsessively checking my watch and getting mad at myself.

The past few weeks, I’ve been working hard to focus on more than just clocking my best pace. I’ve been working on starting out my run with more control, on remaining more consistent in my pace, on getting negative splits…and I’ve been smiling a lot.

Sometimes I think I look pretty crazy, but I don’t care.  I like to think that when people see the crazy, smiling girl out running at 6am…they might realize that running can actually be fun.

I know for certain that I made someone smile about a week ago.  I was running along, about 2 miles into my workout, with my head up and my music loud.  I was enjoying the morning air and perfect weather when I caught my foot on a rugged patch of sidewalk.  I feel myself falling forward, and I knew what was coming next.

 

I tensed up, shut my eyes, (stupidly) put my arms out, and braced myself for the terrible feeling of road rash; it didn’t come.  Instead, I felt water.

I opened my eyes.  Somehow I had missed the sidewalk, flew sideways onto a patch of wet grass, and slid on my stomach like I was headed for home plate.

As I lay there, thankful to be on grass instead of pavement, a car drove by.  Perfect.  I am 100% sure that this lucky commuter had a front-row seat for my entire episode.  Even better, the car stopped about 100 yards ahead at a red light.

I had two choices: I could lay there until the light turned green and risk getting too comfortable, or I could keep running.

I pushed myself up, picked the grass out of my shirt, and ran away…smiling.  I guess I figured that if I laughed at myself, I might look less stupid.  I can only hope that, if this lucky commuter shared this story at work, he/she told the story accurately.

I really do recommend smiling while you run.  It makes the whole experience better.  However, no matter how much fun you end up having…be sure you watch where you’re going.

treating myself to a big bowl of rest

I woke up yesterday early enough to run.  It was my fourth scheduled run for the week.  After a tough trail run last Saturday, I had already taken my rest day for the week on Monday.  See, I’m not usually nice to myself like I should be.  I typically only feel comfortable with 2 rest days a week: one random weekday and one Sunday.  I don’t always run everyday, but I like to do cardio 5 days a week.

But when I woke up Friday morning, I didn’t want to run.  I was at the tail end of a cold I suspect I caught from my daily commute on the train.  I had only been riding the train for about a month after my office moved locations, and my immune system has yet to adjust to the daily exposure to the cornucopia of new and interesting germs.

It wasn’t just a “I stayed up too late last night, I’d rather sleep” morning.  It was a “I feel like death and if I run, I think it’ll make me cry” morning.  I’ve also been nursing a pesky mystery ankle pain for about 3 weeks now, and in combination with my sinuses, my ankle was throbbing.

After scanning Instagram for about 10 minutes, trying to work through my pains, I said “No thanks.”  I climbed back into bed, and woke up 2 hours later feeling like a new woman.  It was amazing.

When you call yourself a “runner,” it makes you feel important, and it should.  You are doing something a lot of people don’t want to do, and often at an hour when other normal humans are sleeping.  You modify your diet.  You schedule your life around your runs and your runs around your life.  You feel good when you are just sore enough to know you ran hard.  Yet, in all of this, it’s important for us runners to remember to listen to our bodies when they try and reason with our stubborn minds.

We are runners, but we are not invincible.  99% of us will never run professionally.  We have families and lives that we need to be mindful of and present for.  Running is addictive, but we have to manage our addiction so that non-runners don’t start to hate us.

Sometimes the best thing for a runner is to not run.

I ran this morning instead; because of my ankle pain, I ran 10 instead of 13.1.  But I ran hard, and I felt strong.  I also ran in high-humidity, clouds, and drizzle, which helped me feel more awesome.

I ran hard, I pushed my body, and as a thank-you for the rest yesterday, my body repaid me with an awesome run.

Tomorrow, I will rest; this week I will have had 3 rest days.  And I don’t care.  I’m still going to eat what I want and not worry.  I am going to concentrate on enjoying this time in which I am not in training, and run because I love it.

Have a restful weekend! Be sure to be nice to yourself.

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the sugarloaf marathon

The Sugarloaf marathon was over a week ago (May 18th, 2014), but it’s taken me a while to recover: physically and mentally.  We’ve also been SUPER BUSY with work and recovery and the holiday weekend.

It took a few days for the whole race experience to sink in.  Before the race, I was worried that the end of the race would depress me.  After the hardest year of my life, I used training for this marathon as therapy for my body and sole.  I was worried that I would feel empty after it was over.  However, as I reflect back, I actually feel quite the opposite.

The end of my first marathon wasn’t an end to anything; it was a beginning.

We arrived in at the resort in Maine on Saturday, the day before the race.  The last time I was at Sugarloaf was in February; I remembered it bustling with skiers and snowboarders, crowds everywhere.  However, as we pulled up to the resort, it wasn’t the same packed place I remembered.  The grounds were quite, and the only crowds were the runners and spectators in the lobby.  The uncharacteristc  stillness of the resort fueled my nerves and made everything seem more serious.  I felt happy but focused.  I was here to accomplish something.

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The race bib pick-up was the quickest I remember.  My mom, my dad, Jon, and I soon found ourselves at the pasta dinner.  We filled our plates with pasta, seeking to strike a balance between fueling our bodies and eating smart.  The atmosphere in the room was bright and friendly.  Quite conversations about pace and pre-race rituals were muted by an unusual live musical duo of a tuba and base guitar.  Everyone seemed relaxed.  The months of preparation were over and the long trip to the mountain had been successful.  All that was left to do was eat and sleep and run.

Post carbo-load, we retired to our room to coordinate our race gear and watch some baseball.  We called it an early night; 5am would no doubt come quickly.  Despite waking up once an hour, I arose feeling rested.  It was go time.

We dressed quickly and made it to the lobby just as the first round of shuttle buses was pulling away.  My dad, my hubby, and I waited in the parking lot with a group of friendly runners for about 30 minutes.  We hopped around, stretched, and strained our eyes as we searched for the bus.  After months of training, the thought of the bus not coming and missing the race was too much for me to bear.  After what felt like ages, a shuttle bus came back to scoop us up.  We made it to the starting line with about 15 minutes to spare.

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As we lined up, I felt a wave of nerves and confidence simultaneously wash over me.  I knew I was ready to run a marathon, but I didn’t know what running a marathon was like.

Before I had too much time to think, the starting horn sounded.  I felt myself choke up as I crossed the starting line.  I was really going to do this!

Pre-race selfie.  Duh.
Pre-race selfie. Duh.

 

Although this was my first marathon, I have run my fair share of races and training runs.  I know a “pretty run” when I see one.  I had some exposure to the course from the car and the shuttle, but it was even better in person.  The course wound through the gorgeous Carrabassett Valley.  The tranquil surroundings and quite pounding of all the runners shoes on the pavement calmed my nerves.  I ran without music, enjoying the quite.

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The race started out hilly.  After speaking to some other runners prior to the race, I knew what to expect: rolling hills through miles 1-8, a steep incline from miles 8-10, and then a gentle decline for miles 10-26.2.

Around mile 6, the crowd had thinned out.  I felt strong, but I was concerned that I might have been going a bit too fast.  Still, I plugged along and chatted with other runners.

I struck up a conversation with a girl next to me; she was on her second marathon.  After hearing this was my first marathon, she gave me some really helpful pointers on pacing.  I told her that I hoped to qualify for Boston, even thought I wasn’t sure I’d run it.  She assured me that I was on a great pace for that.  When we reached mile 8, the steep climb began.

Although she was running just as hard as me, she began to coach me.  She gave me pointers on my running form on the hill, and encouraged me breathe in through my nose and out through my mouth.  I concentrated on her advise, and for the first time ever, I hardly lost any time on a hill.  Eventually, she broke away from me…but I kept her in my sight until about mile 20.  I am so grateful to have had her help.  Just further proof to my theory the runners are the best kinds of people.

Mile 10 finally ended, and I felt my muscles relax.  I felt the pull of the downhill.  The crowd had thinned out even more.  The road remained open, which was awesome because it allowed carloads of spectators to drive by and cheer.

We passed the resort, and I waved to my mom.  I was close to 12 miles at this point.  I felt strong, but knew I had a long way to go.

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Around mile marker 14, a woman screamed: “You are halfway there, Kristine!”  I was halfway there!!  I was thankful that our bibs had our names on them; it was cool to have someone I didn’t know cheering me on.

The very same women was at the mile marker every 2-3 miles after that.  She would cheer some runners on by name, hop on her bike and ride ahead, and stop at another marker to cheer more.  Eventually, she learned my name and would cheer for me as she rode by.

Races bring out the best in people, runners and spectators alike.  It’s a shared sacrifice.  We are all invested in the race, all in it together.

Before I knew it, I hit 20 miles.  I was starting to feel worse.  I had heard about “the wall” at mile 22, but I’d never experienced it.  I knew it was coming.

As if on cue, at mile 22, my brain started screaming at my body to stop running.  “Stop, stop, stop,” I thought, “even for just a minute?”  I started arguing with myself, “You can’t stop now!  You’re almost there!  But you might have to stop!”

This went on for a a few miles.  I started to feel insane.

At this point, I knew my pace.  I knew I was going to qualify for Boston.  I decided to let myself stop for 10 seconds every mile, just to catch my breathe.  I was experiencing exhaustion in my body like I had never felt, and I didn’t want my muscles to freak out.

For the last 4 miles, my mind and body engaged in an epic battle of will.  I couldn’t believe I had been stupid enough to think this was a good idea.  Human beings shouldn’t run this far, not unless it was absolutely necessary!

I don’t remember much about the scenery past 23 miles, but I think I passed more spectators.  I had been taking half a Gu every half hour, and I started to feel my last Gu in my stomach like a rock.  I thought I might get sick.

Suddenly, I passed the sign I had been waiting for.  The finish line was ahead!

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I heard a man say “The finish line is just past those flags up there,” and finishing finally felt real.  My running app said “26 miles,” and I pushed on to those flags with all I had.  I reached the flags, but I saw no finish line.

“Now, around the corner,” someone else yelled.

Sure, whatever.

I sprinted around the corner, and I finally saw the finish line!  I pushed my body forward, slammed my foot down on the mat, grabbed my medal, and doubled over in pain.

Photo with my clock time.
Photo with my clock time.

I felt crazy, but awesome.  I had done it.  I was a marathoner.  And with my time of 3:31:35, I had qualified for Boston.

I spent the next hour nursing myself back to life with chocolate milk, water, and orange juice.  I finally got to wear one of those cool silver blankets!  There were also free post-race sport massages, so you can bet that I took advantage of that.

I said that this race is the beginning because I feel like it’s the start of life as a marathoner.  I now know I can do it, I know I can run marathons.  And after a few weeks behind me, the soreness is mostly gone and I can confidentially say that I like to run marathons.  I have never felt as accomplished as I did slamming my foot down on that mat.  I took away a newfound respect for running, my body, and myself.

I can’t wait to do it again.

With my training buddy.
With my training buddy.

 

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Jon, me, and my dad after finishing the race...and recovering for a bit.
Jon, me, and my dad after finishing the race…and recovering for a bit.

One final note: I couldn’t have felt more fortunate to run this race with both my husband and my dad.  It was also so special to have my mom cheering us on.  My parents live in Michigan, and living apart from our family can sometimes be really difficult.  However, it’s memories like this race that I am so thankful to share.

 

Final Numbers

  • Miles ran: 26.2
  • Time: 3:31:35
  • Number of months trained: 5
  • Number of Gu gels consumed: 3
  • Number of times stopped: 4
  • Number of times I questioned my judgement: 3
  • Number of regrets: 0