Saturday, December 10, 2016

Crooked Road 24 Hour Ultra 2016

A lot has been going on lately! Both of us have been super busy with the end of the semester, finals, and school coming to a close before Christmas break! But before Thanksgiving, we were supposed to tackle the Crooked Road 24 Hour Ultra on November 19! I say supposed to because one of us (ahem... ME) got pneumonia and couldn't participate. The other one got to go, and so we are finally getting around to doing the blog post... 3 weeks later. Whoops! Anyway, here we go!

Mr. Marathon had to leave me at home for this event, and I was just devastated. I was at home, coughing and being miserable. I was diagnosed with a sinus infection, bronchitis, and pneumonia on the Friday, the day before the event. We had come up with a game plan, and by game plan I mean I would stay at home eating soup and being sad and he got to go run in the event. He drove up to Rocky Mount which is about 30 minutes from where we are, and he got there ready for the 8:00 AM start on Saturday morning. The weather wasn't bad (yet) and they were off!
So as the race started, there were a few people who started at a nice pace. Mr. Marathon was not tracking his mileage with his GPS watch, but rather he was just keeping up with the time. He was just keeping pace with the guys at the front of the pack. He said it felt fast, but why not?? After a few laps (each lap was 1.2 miles) the other guys that were up front started slowing down, and Mr. Marathon managed to stay steady. His first break was at the half marathon mark and he took a rest lap and just walked it.
Then he started back at it. As he was running, he decided his next break would be at the marathon mark. Throughout the run, since the event had a very nice fueling station right beside the course that all runners ran by during each and every lap, he could grab Gatorade, water, and snacks of all kinds and just keeping on running. As he approached the marathon mark, he decided to take a 15-20 minute break to really get some good fueling in rather than just eating on the run. He got to take some layers off because the weather had warmed up into the 60s! People were running in tank tops and shorts, or even shirtless!

It was time for him to get back to running until he hit the 50K mark. At this point in the day, it was late morning, and he was already beginning to notice some aches and pains, specifically in his foot, knee, and hip. He had noticed these aches and pains beginning to pop up since before we ran the Marshall University Marathon in mid-October when our training was still pretty intense. Despite his aches, he kept on going.

After the 50K mark, on towards the 40 mile mark, the wind started to pick up and the temperature started to drop significantly around noon. He had to start putting back on the layers that he had just taken off. The aches and pains were definitely there and started to get to him. Fortunately there were some familiar faces that had arrived. As he was walking past the aid station, or more importantly the SNACK STATION!, a little kid ran up to him and grabbed hold of his leg. Why does this kid look so familiar???? he asked himself. Turns out, it was his nephew! Then he looked up to the parking lot and saw his mom, his sister, and his niece! Not only did they bring their presence, but they brought FOOD! Hot soup and hot tea... mmmmmmmm! So he got to camp out in the back of their car and enjoy this awesome surprise! He had to put on a brave act and pretend that everything was fine so his family wouldn't worry about him. He said his goodbyes and hit the trail running again.

For the next 10 miles, he was trying to rest up but definitely keep moving. He finally hit 50 miles at around 6:00 PM. The aches and pains were still very much present and hurting him pretty badly, so he took a break before he did any more. After about 15 minutes he started trying to run/walk but mostly run to stay warm! He was feeling very drained and needed some energy or rest. So he passed by the snack bar (lol) and grabbed a handful of cookies. And by a handful of cookies, I mean like 12 (full size) cookies.... WHAT. He said he "needed the energy".... Anyway, this was at 55 miles, and so he snuggled up (with his precious cookies) in my car that he took (since it was big enough to blow up the air mattress in the back!) and he took a nap that he did not officially consent to.... Ok so then he woke up from this surprise nap shivering with handful of cookies. Bless his little heart. He looked at his watch and noticed that it was around 7:40 PM and he Facetimed me! He was very disheartened due to all of his aches and fatigue, and he really wanted to stop. At this point, I was trying to be encouraging to help him make it to the distance he ran last year (64.98 miles). I didn't really know what he was enduring, but all I did know was that I was freezing cold inside our house because of the cold wind that had moved into our area, so I can only imagine trying to run in it.
After we hung up, he was feeling discouraged because he was hurting so bad but he knew he had to keep going to 65 miles. That was the new goal at this point. It was about 8:15 PM, and it was dark and windy and cold and miserable. That made it all that much harder to get out and run, but he did! He changed into his tights (he had been wearing shorts up until this point!) and put on a few extra layers on top and a beanie and some gloves and got out and got walking to try to warm up (lol) his body.

When he made it to the 100K (62 miles) it was 38 degrees with 28 windchill! Brr! You also have to keep in mind that the weather earlier in the week was in the 60s pretty much every day. This was a rude (and very cold!) wake up call! His body was warmed up and he was trying to stay moving and wasn't going to stop until he reached his 65 miles. His body was still hurting, but he noticed that it was aching less when he tried to run as opposed to just walking. Granted, aching less doesn't mean it didn't hurt when he was running. Just a more tolerable pain.

As he hit 65 miles, he was walking with a few jokesters who were very encouraging in great spirits despite the conditions. They were carrying on having a jolly old time! So Mr. Marathon was able to keep on keeping on. At this point he decided to hit 70 miles as his new goal. As he was running he was thinking that he stopped at 62 miles last time so he should stop again at 72 miles. He hit the 72 miles mark with about 4 and a half hours left. He knew that he had to stay moving if he wanted to hit the 100 mile mark, which was a goal that was in the back of his mind this whole time. He got a burst of motivation and decided that he was going to run! He felt that he was running at like a 5 or 6 min/mile pace (his usual). Remember, he was not tracking his distance or pace with his GPS watch. But since there were people keeping up with laps and timing and yelling out lap count, they also yelled out his pace... and he was moving at a 10:05 min/mile pace. Which is a little different that 5 or 6 min/mile pace. He couldn't believe it, since he was pushing SO HARD, He decided to continue and just keep pushing and giving it all he had, even if it was a 10:05 min/mile pace.

He did a vlog series on his Instagram 
every so often... check it out!
Finally, he decided to stop and calculate how far he was and how long he had. He was at 81.5 miles. He did the math and he had 3 and a half hours left. And his body was hurting bad, still. He knew that he wouldn't be able to maintain the 10ish minute miles, and with 18.5 miles left, so he knew he would have to maintain at least an 11:30 min/mile pace. (He had plenty of time to do math to occupy his brain!) He knew he wouldn't be able to keep that up, especially since he hadn't even gotten to take a break from the last 10 miles he finished. He had to think: What's going to be harder? That I stop now? Or keep going and come just shy of 100 miles after going through all of this extra pain? At this point, he decided to valiantly bow out and accept his great accomplishment of completing 81.5 miles. This is 16.5 miles more than he did last year, and the total mileage was just a little over the equivalent of 3 full marathons! He also wanted to get home to his sickly wife (cough cough). So he said his goodbyes, and arrived home at 6:00 AM Sunday morning. He took a hot shower immediately trying to thaw out a little bit, then went to SLEEP!

Final thoughts: He fell short of his crazy far-fetched goal of 100 miles that he says he could have probably reached if he had started more conservatively earlier in the day. However, the aches and pains that he had would have probably still hit him because of the hard races that he had leading up to this event (cross country races, Spartan race, and the MUM). He is glad that he was able to recognize his limitations and not push himself to the point of serious injury. This just prolongs the 100 mile. Til we meet again, Crooked Road.

Long sleeve tech shirt with the logo!

Friday, November 11, 2016

Marshall University Marathon

We are so excited to share this recap with you! We traveled to Huntington, West Virginia this past Saturday for the Marshall University Marathon (MUM). On Saturday, we left our house late morning and took the beautiful 4 and a half hour drive through southwestern VA and all the way through to WV. Mister and I both really enjoyed the fall foliage on the drive and saw beautiful scenery in the mountains. We also loved going through tunnels that went THROUGH MOUNTAINS!! Um, cool!

Going through a mountain tunnel!

Inside the mountain tunnel

There were lots of cool bridges in WV
Anyway, we arrived at the expo that afternoon and picked up our packets and all of our SwAg! This was one of the deciding factors in choosing this race, y'all. As full marathoners who signed up before September 1, we got an awesome jacket and a duffel bag! We also paid a little extra to get the tech shirt as well (and I got a women's fit! Yes!). The shirts are adorable. The jackets are SO FLY. And the duffel bags are so neat and a great extra touch! Also at the expo, there was a pasta dinner for runners, and that was so awesome! After we picked up everything and ate pasta, we checked into our hotel and took a surprise nap (my favorite kind!) until it was time to eat some more. We picked up an order of spaghetti from the local Olive Garden and ate it, prepared our stuff for Sunday morning, and went back to sleep for the night.

Humongous salad trough at the pasta dinner!
On Sunday morning, we woke up very confused since the time changed overnight. But we got ourselves in order, got ready and headed to the Marshall University Stadium for the race start! We got parked and lined up pretty quick for a 7:00 AM start. The cannon went off very suddenly and away we went!

It's amazing how all the runners in a particular event can have such different experiences. For example, hubbs and I ran the exact same course, but we had totally different races. Stay with me, k?

This run was a little tough for Mr. Marathon. He felt ok at the start but quickly started cramping at mile 3. He had a huge mental struggle at this point. Should he stop and walk? Should he wait on his beautiful yet slower than him wife? Should he just give up and DNF? After walking for a brief little bit and refueling, he decided that he was going to finish. So that left him with two options- run with me or run it out on his own. There was one key word in both of these options: RUN. He knew he was going to have to run the rest of this race that was still ahead of him. So he decided that he was going to pull himself together and try to take control of the race and keep on keeping on! And that he did. Despite this early setback, he managed to turn out 7ish minute miles for the remainder of the race even though he couldn't get rid of the cramps officially until mile 18! He was so glad that he didn't just give up. He managed to get himself back on track for a 3:04:09 finish! This is still a Boston Qualifier and still an amazing finish time!

I started out feeling ok, but also completely and utterly terrified. I had been training for 20 weeks officially, but since last November with my 100+ miles a month. I had built a really great base for myself. Since running Charleston in January of this year, I knew that I wanted a personal record really badly, but I also wanted to get my time under 5 hours. Um, that's ridiculous though right? Cutting off over half an hour is crazy far-fetched. Right? I was going to go for it, though. So I knew my paces and I had the confidence of my training with me. I managed to start on pace, and continue on pace all the way through the end of the first loop (this race was a half- 1 loop and full- 2 loops of the course) and I was still on pace and feeling awesome. I managed to keep up with my pace, and I was starting to get confused by miles 18-20. Um, am I doing this right now? Is this for real? Is my Garmin working? Or is it broken? Am I really STILL on pace to meet my crazy far-fetched dream-big goal? So I just kept going. At mile 20, I had the realization. If I could keep this up for just 10K more, I would get my marathon under 5 hours. I looked at the volunteers guiding us to the next water stop and I said "Hey guess what?? I'm going to get my first sub 5 marathon today!" and they clapped and cheered for me and I rode that high all the way to the finish line. In under 5 hours. In 4:56:51 to be exact! It definitely helped that my loving amazing supportive husband came back for me despite the fact that he was tired from running this course and giving it all that he had. He came back for me and met me at mile 24 to help me run it in. And I did it. I met my goal of breaking 5 hours in the marathon.

I have talked about this before as well. So many runners and even non-runners may think this is "slow". But I'm not about to compare myself to others in this regard. If you look at the fact that I have come from a 6:19 marathon all the way down to a 4:56 marathon with some intense training and commitment, I hope you can celebrate the accomplishment in that with me. I also hope you can be happy for me that I cut off 37 minutes and 10 seconds from my marathon time in January. I have not stopped training since Charleston, and I am so happy to say that it paid off. I cried crossing the finish line at the MUM, not because I was in pain or sad that it was over (lol), but because I accomplished something so huge for me. I thought this goal of mine was far-fetched, crazy, and impossible. And it was.... until it wasn't. As I said recently on a post on Instagram channeling my good friend Walt Disney-- "Do the impossible. It's fun."

Ok so this is what the internet says Walt said

And of course, more photos from marathon weekend!

Hittin up the EXPO

Running through the park along the Ohio River

I don't know about you! But I'm feelin (mile) 22!
Channeling T-SWIFT
Finishing in Marshall Stadium!

He came back for me!

The majestic buffalo statue

My finish line photo! I'm holding the football like an idiot

We finished!!!!!!

Sunday, November 6, 2016

USA South Cross Country Conference Meet & Carolina Spartan Beast

As I typed this, we were en route to Huntington, WV for the MARSHALL UNIVERSITY MARATHON (MUM)! I just didn't get a chance to post it because we didn't have internet on the road and my computer was dying in the car.... so now we're home and it's finally getting posted before we post about the MUM!

Now, last weekend was quite exciting for Mr. Marathon. I thought he was crazy to do all of what he did the weekend before a full marathon, but whatever, he did awesome.

 On Friday, we both traveled separately to Georgia for the USA South Conference meet for cross country on Saturday. He had a good run on a challenging course and managed to finish at 30:57 in 17th place overall. His team finished 5th out of 8 teams. Then after the conference meet, we headed just a little further into Georgia to visit with my family before making our way back to South Carolina for the Carolina Spartan Beast race. He was in the competitive heat on Sunday, and he took off at 7:45 AM. The course was 14.2 miles with about 35 obstacles. This was a race he had done last year, but it was 2 miles longer this year. And he managed to finish 2 minutes faster than he did last year with a time of 2:24:30, putting him in first place overall for Sunday’s competitive heat. He was interested in comparing his time with the Elites that competed Saturday morning, and his time would have put him in 4th place out of the Elites!!! Um WHAT!

Then we traveled back from the weekend shenanigans and I still had to do my last “long” run before the MUM: 8 miles. He was so sweet because he offered to run my 8 with me when we got back home. So this put him at a weekend total of 32 miles. Crazy guy.

So he took all this past week to recover (don’t blame him!) and I have been tapering and cutting back on my miles. Stay tuned for our next post about our awesome run at the MUM this morning!!

Cross Country meet

Pre-Spartan (note that they are all still clean!)
with Mr. Marathon's brother, friend, and him 
The only picture I got of him on the course
(I may or may not have fallen asleep on the job...)

Brotherly love!!!

Finish time/place- 2:24:30, 1st place overall!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Great Goblin Gallop 5K 2016

Flashback to October 22, 2011. It was my first 5K! I ran it in 39 minutes and I thought it was the hardest thing ever!
Fast forward 5 years later. I ran the exact same 5K on the exact same date: October 22, 2016. I ran the whole thing, and I completed it 11 minutes faster than 5 years prior (read about the other years we did this race too: 2012 and 2013). I had a great race this past weekend, and I finished in about 28:23 (according to my Garmin.... still waiting for official results). What made it even better is that almost our entire Sunday morning running group (the "Breakfast Club") showed up to race!!!! It was so much fun spending time with the Breakfast Club and supporting a local race. Unfortunately, Mr. Marathon was working that morning and couldn't be there, but the Breakfast Club (and Mr. Marathon's entire family!) showed up to race. Oh, and I placed 1st in my age group, so that was pretty groovy too!

The Breakfast Club!!!!

I started reflecting after this year's Goblin Gallop. Five years ago, it took everything I had to do 3 miles. Three miles was my long run. My weekly training was something like 2 runs a week of 2 miles or less, and I was averaging 13 minute miles, even pushing my hardest. Fast forward to present day- I am running 20-40 miles a week currently, training for the Marshall University (full!) Marathon, and my training paces are averaging around 9-10 minutes per mile for most runs. Now, this may not sound impressive to many of you, but looking back I am so proud. 5 years later, and I haven't quit. Doing something for 5 whole years without giving up, just taking some breaks and suffering from some injuries and burnout. Staying committed for 5 years to something as physically and mentally demanding as running has been quite a challenge.

So I encourage you to take a moment to reflect. How long have you been running? Has it ever seemed impossible? Do you ever take a moment to appreciate how far you've come (or gone)? Be proud of yourself. Running is hard-- believing in yourself doesn't have to be.

High fiving! 1st and 2nd place in the 25-29 age group!

1st, 2nd, and 3rd place 25-29 age group

Me with part of Mr. Marathon's family....
What a good-looking bunch!

Oh, and we are 11 days from the MARSHALL UNIVERSITY MARATHON!!!! EEEEK!

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Goodbye Summer, Hello Fall!

Since the 4th of July, we have been running amok! We have finished out the summer running strong, and we just cannot WAIT until the fall weather officially kicks in, which should be soon! We have been a little busy with running and non-running related events, so what's been going on since the 4th of July in our running lives, you ask?

Harvest Moon 10K
Mr. Marathon decided to run the Harvest Moon 10K back in September. He had a good run and managed to finish 2nd place overall in 39:16 with a surprise PR of 20 seconds from this same race 3 years ago!

He sure knows to add pizzazz to his finish!

Averett Cross Country
Mr. Marathon has also started his 2nd season with Averett University's Cross Country team. He has had 2 meets so far, and he managed to squeak out a PR for the 8K at his meet this past weekend! He finished in 29:57-- a PR by 39 seconds!!! Wowie! He has a couple more meets left in the season so we will see how they go.

100 Miles a Month
I'm not even sure if I've talked about this here on the blog, but I had a goal set to do 100 miles a month each month in 2016. So far, I have successfully gotten my 100+ miles each month! Now I just have to keep on rolling through October, November, and December!

Marathon Training
Oh, and we have decided on a fall marathon to tackle! We will be heading to West Virginia for the Marshall University Marathon on November 6th! We are looking forward to it. We are 5 weeks out and in full swing with training. I have already gone up to a 20 miler this cycle and have 2 more 20 milers planned... gulp! Things are on track for us to rock out the MUM! Can't wait!

Our first 20 miler of this cycle last month...
Can't wait until the next one...???

Sunday, July 10, 2016

#RWrunstreak & 4 on the 4th

Those of you following me on Facebook or Instagram may have noticed I have been posting a lot more than usual lately! But I have a good reason, I promise. 6 weeks ago, I (accidentally) started a run streak on Memorial Day. A little over a week later, I saw a post from Runner's World on Instagram about the Summer Run Streak. The streak consisted of running or walking at least 1 mile each day from Memorial Day through the 4th of July. It started by accident, like I said, but I realized that I was already 9 (out of 36) days in. So I was like "Hey, I can keep this up for 27 more days, no problem!" This was only semi-true. I could keep it up, and I did, but it was challenging! There are people out there who keep up run streaks for a full year (and more!!!!) and I had a hard time keeping up for 36 days. I definitely appreciated the challenge (and managed to keep up with my other goal of 100 miles a month) and made it through. You never really realize how busy you are some days, until you have that mile looming in the back of your mind that you still have to do. I had several days where I got to the end of the day and thought to myself, OOPS I STILL GOTTA DO MY MILE!!!! And then that's literally all I had in me-- one mile. Anyway, it was fun and a new challenge. I had so much fun for the first 36 days that I continued on my streak for 42 days to round it out to an even 6 weeks! 42 days, 44 runs, and 145 miles later, I am very glad to be done!!!

I did an Instagram/Facebook post for each day of the run streak so I have have put together collages for each week for you to enjoy! (I didn't have pictures for the first 9 days... but I found pictures for them!) If these pictures are too hard to see or you want to see the posts that go along with each, check out the posts on my Instagram!
Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4

Week 5

Week 6

We also did a race on the last official day of the Run Streak! Mr. Marathon and I got to travel north to Roanoke, VA for the 4 on the 4th! It was such a fun 4 miler. We got to do a practice run with local running group C&C Runners two days before the race. It was a little hillier than the 4th of July 4 miler we had done previously in Charlotte (in 2014 and 2015), but for being in Roanoke, it was not bad at all hill-wise. We felt good on race day, but we didn't expect any personal records... but lo and behold we got 'em! Mr. Marathon finished with a time of 24:28, which put him in 2nd place in his age group, 9th place overall! I finished with a time of 37:24, which is a huge PR for me from last year's time of 42:16!!! And I came in 9th place out of 36 in my age group... Usually I tend to fall closer to the other end of my age group, so I was excited to see that. All my speed work finally paid off I guess! We were both happy to see PRs, and we hope to continue to train and see such awesome improvements. 

We aren't signed up for anything else for now, but there's a few local races and possibly a couple of Spartans (for him, not me, duh!) and we're looking at a couple of big race options for fall...!