Retiring from Racing

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It’s been a hell of a year racing.  I’ve run 3 marathons, 4 halves and a host of other races.  It’s been awesome.   But this past weekend I had a little heart to heart with myself.  It was time to call it — I’m retiring from racing

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for the remainder of 2012.

Actually perhaps it’s more appropriate to say that I’m taking a self-enforced break from racing for the remainder of the year.

You might recall that this past weekend I was tentatively slated to run back-to-back half marathons in Santa Barbara on Saturday and Malibu on Sunday.  And guess what??? I bailed on both.  Didn’t even pick up my bibs.

 Running is my drug of choice.  It’s my oxygen, It’s my sanity.  It’s my freedom from my own head.  Running is my guilty pleasure.  But I need to also be honest about my recent relationship with training.

Mid way into my training cycle for Chicago, I knew I needed a break and I fought really hard with my inner self to sweep these feelings aside.  The struggle to complete each long run and many mid-distance runs was ever-present and while my body continued to perform, I felt like I was running in between gears, grinding out the miles.   Mentally my marathon focus was as good as a pair of worn out shoes – unsupportive, dusty and filled with holes.

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Despite all this, I set a PR during Chicago, but I’m pretty confident that had more to do with race experience than actual training.   This being my 3rd 26.2 meant I knew better how to start, how to moderate, how to fuel and where I’d have to fight my head as it tried to sabotage my performance.

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With a new race looming around each and every corner these days – marathons, half mary’s, 10k’s, charity races, color runs, zombie races, 80’s runs, relays etc.  It’s so easy to get sucked into the race of the weekend and sign up to run all the races.

When this past weekend rolled around and after the crazy, intense high of our wedding, I could not wait to spend both Saturday and Sunday morning doing one of the things I love to do most, running.  But the idea of setting an alarm and  doing it for anyone other than myself, anytime other than my time and anywhere other than the path, trail or road that I chose, was the exact thing I didn’t want.  I immediately realized that I had zero interest in 4am wake up calls, bussing to the start line, porta potties and point to point courses on either Saturday or Sunday – or quite frankly anytime in the next 6 weeks.  My racing days are done for 2012.  I need the space to run the distance, the time and the path that I want to run — with no race goals looming over my head.

Since I wasn’t formally training for SB or Malibu after Chicago, I was hopeful that my training would carry over.  That allowed me a total lack of running focus and a freedom to run without a plan.   And what I found was there are times when this works for me – It enables me to relax and simply run. {and interestingly simply running or running simply has resulted in some pretty speedy legs that failed to show up with any regularity during Chicago training}. Alas.  Go. Figure.

I’ll be a back racing in 2013, but for now I’m going to enjoy this sweet time off from training, enjoy putting in the miles on my time, still work towards 2012 miles in 2012 (I’m 214 miles away from my goal) running simply, and re-center my focus for hopefully another big year of running in 2013.

Have you ever taken a self-enforced break from competition?

{MF Dre}

Ugly Race Photos.

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Gotta Love more Ugly Race Photos (and these were among the best of the bunch).

There’s a reason I never buy these things.

and check out RP!  (how about that stomach next to her … Blech)

{MF Dre}

Better With Age.

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{name this quote} Have you ever wondered if there was more to life than being really, really, ridiculously good looking?

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{how about this crew??? holy hotness}

Friday night in Chicago we met up with two of my college besties and their beaus at Rosebud on Rush for dinner. They’ve both been in Chicago since our days at U of M until just recently when V moved to Milwaukee to be a super important and fancy doctor {after about a million years of school she’s well deserving of an important, fancy and ridiculously good looking title}. Annie’s still in Chicago kicking a** in the ER as a Nurse Practitioner {after about a billion years of school too}.

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We had an awesome dinner – gnocchi, stuffed mushrooms, calamari, wine etc.  The perfect carb-load pre-marathon

As the Mr. and I walked home, I was reflected on the night.  One of the things I shared with him was that if anything gets better with age, most certainly my friendship with these two women has stood the test of time.  We’ve grown up and moved beyond our doe-eyed, insecure and misdirected sorority ways.  We’re leap years beyond the girls we used to be — we’re smart, savvy, sophisticated and secure — in very unique ways.  Our friendships have only adapted to these changes, allowing us to be more supportive of one another, more connected at the core and more excited and appreciative of our moments together.

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The only thing that makes this all even better?  The Mr. and I agree – their beau’s absolutely rock too.

{MF Dre}

Milestone Monday: A SHINY PR!

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Chicago Marathon met the Boss yesterday.

Photo on 10-7-12 at 4.23 AM #3

at 7:05am I met up with RP and we walked in to Grant Park with 45,000 other runners.

  

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We lined up in Corral G and at 8am, we were off and running under this bridge.  It was freezing!! 39* at the start!!  I opted to wear a bunch of layers – including my favorite Lorna Jane Amy tights and excel singlet (similar here) as base layers, along with toughchick sleeves, a running jacket, gloves and a beanie.  Within the first 2 miles, my arms were thawing so I pulled down my sleeves around my wrists, but my feet and quads felt like ice bricks for about the first 7 miles.  Luckily, the energy and enthusiasm of the runners and the spectators on course was an amazing distraction from the cold.

At Mile 4, we ran into RP’s husband cheering us from outside their hotel.  At mile 9.5 my friend Annie jumped out the crowd and gave me a double high-five and just after we ran by the Lululemon store where the employees and ambassadors were in FULL force dancing, cheering, singing and jumping.  {the lulu team were my favorite fans in LA and Boston too – they just might be the most enthusiastic fans on the course in ANY city}

We cruised along through the Half at 1:55 pace (8:49) and were feeling good, but I could sense that RP had a bit more juice and was ready to kick in beyond that pace.  So around mile 14, just after we saw v10k8 I sent her ahead and told her I’d see her at the finish. I needed to run my race and I knew she needed to run hers.

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and then I ran into the Mr. who had just missed me at 13, but ran across a few blocks to find me at 16.

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Couldn’t believe that I spotted ALL of them along the course!

16-26 were a bit of a blur.  Head down, focused and putting one foot in front of the other.  After my disappointment at miles 16 and 18 in LA I took the next 10 miles, mile by mile.  Around 20-21 I began to cramp pretty badly along my right side – hamstring, calf and along the front side of my shin.  I wound up stopping probably once a mile for the last 6 to stretch for maybe 20-30 seconds each time and lightly bobbing through 2 water stops, but never walked.

As I rounded the corner mid way through mile 24, the course led us up Michigan Avenue and I knew it was only a matter of minutes before I’d be hitting that finish line.  I knew I’d lost some time in the second half – I was definitely running slower miles and my stretch stops had added up so I was fairly confident that I wasn’t going to hit the sub-4 mark but I was pretty confident I could hit at least a 4:10.

{oh and HUGE PS right here…. I ran NAKED aka Garmin-less the entire race.  As many of you know, I’ve had some trouble keeping my head quiet during races.  This time around I wanted to run a race based on feel vs. consistently managing to a watch, a pace or a projected time – this might have been the BEST decision I could have ever made.  I never once worried about my split, overall time or pace per mile – it was a HUGE relief and the mental escape I needed in order to relax into this race}

Crazy adrenaline allowed me to pick up speed through the final hill to the finish and I crossed the finish line completely unaware of my time.   It wasn’t until I ran into RP and her husband that I got the text news – 4:06!!! 4 minutes faster than I predicted and a whopping 12 minutes faster than my best time.

A shiny new marathon PR for me and a top 23% finish in my age group!  For a girl who was told ‘you’ll never run again’  and who only started true marathon running and training less than a year ago,  I’m damn proud.

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Nothing tasted better than a PR celebration filled with the Mr. at the finish, tears of joy and an ice-cold beer and the most ridiculously delicious deep dish pizza.

{the Boss aka MF Dre)

PS – RP got a 3:58!! So super proud of her!

PPS – Sub-4, I’m coming after you…someday, but for now, my next big milestone – marrying the Mr. xx

A Letter to the Mr. as I run the Chicago Marathon.

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  Dear Mr.,

It’s Marathon time.  So glad you’re here with me.  Thanks for being my champion, cheering me on, encouraging me, calming my nerves and pushing me to live up to my dreams, goals and potential.  Hope this girl has lots of fun times {and beer} for you in store as you cheer us along the course.

Time to Be Relentless.

and PS – I’m glad I chose you too.

xx, you’re soon-to-be {MF} wife

IRL Running Friends.

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We jetted out of LAX yesterday, headed for the Windy City and ready for a weekend filled with adventure and hopefully a few surprises.

It’s Chicago Marathon Time!
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We got to our gate and ran into HauteRunningMama and Pam!  I met Pam back in March under the warming tent right before I ran my first marathon and HauteRunningMama and I have been blogger, twerper, fb friends for a long while now and finally met IRL. (in.real.life) and now we’re all Instant FFL (friends.for.life).  I think our collective Mr.’s may be RSFFL (runner.spouse.friends.for.life) now too.

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I often tease the Mr. that I time how long it takes for one of his conversations to turn to cars, racing, engines or something auto related.   I guess I owe myself a little big fat touche as we dove into incessant chatter about Gear, Shoes, Course, Races, Times, Training and Hot vs. Cold Weather Running.

We took the blue line into the city (wish L.A. had a real subway.train system). We’re staying at the Monaco (LOVE this spot) – it’s a pet-friendly, boutique hotel right on the river.  They’re funky, fresh and luxe and they’ll even bring you a goldfish to the room if you’re missing your homies at home.

Anyway, we’re all here, ready to toe the line.

Let’s do this.

Good luck IRL Friends (and all of my other friends running)

{MF Dre}

Milestone Monday. 26.2

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590 Training Miles

12 More Pre-Marathon Miles

It’s been a cycle of ups and downs but this coming Sunday, I’ll run 26.2

Time to put my game face on and give myself the mental pep talk I need.  Maybe I should remember some of my own advice.

Marathon #3. Let’s Go
Anywone want to meet up in Chicago?
{MF Dre}