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Marine Corps Marathon Ooh Rah Recap: Hot Dammmm

6 Nov

Hi friends! Here I am with MARATHON NUMERO DOS under my belt!!! Hot dammmm.

I never knew that screaming hot dammmm could be both a good and bad thing! Let me explain.

Pre-race: good thing.

Mid-race: good thing.

Last 3.2 miles: bad thing x bad thing x bad thing. It was hot dammmm! Seriously! When is this isht going to be effing over? My Garmin was flashing 26.2 miles and I was NOT done. Where was the finish line? Was that the finish line? I couldn’t see. Hot dammmm[it]!!!

Let me define hot dammmm by breaking it down.

Hot [good]: I refined my training for this marathon. I got this! Feeling good! Feeling light. Feeling flight. Wind under my legs. I got this!

Hot [bad]: My calves were on fire. My calf muscles felt like they were falling off my bones with every strike on the pavement. Ouuuuuchhhiessssss. Then there was my anxiety. My anxiety was running hot. It had a fever. A bad one because I couldn’t see. I couldn’t see because I lost my left contact at mile 9, (my left eye requires the strongest prescription) lucky me.

So there I was with a fever of anxiousness and a crowd cheering “You’re almost there!” They were relentless with their excitement to include clapping, whistling, shouting, cowbelling…I might have had a fever but the only prescription was finding the finish line, not more cowbell!!!

Dammmm [good]:I got this! I trained. Hot diggity dog, I might BQ!!! Wooohooo I’m flying.

Dammmm [bad]: It felt like I was sprinting when the reality was I shifted into granny gear!!! Talk about a Sunday joy ride. It was Sunday and I belonged in a walker at that point to carry my weight.

The Real Recap

The morning of the marathon was unlike any other. I hopped on the metro and was greeted with a swarm of runners (civilians, Marines, and other service members), volunteers, bands, and spectators. We were all crammed on the blue line heading to the Pentagon. The metro ride was a concert of songs, Ooh Rahs, and praise. The acoustics were unlike the normal route into the city. The clamor was a stark contrast from the Monday-Friday commute when most are plugged in to their phones being disconnected from the very person who’s sharing their personal space. These people were all up in each other’s personal space and they were welcome there! It was really something.

Fast Forward.

It’s race time. Hot Dammmm [good]. There were no “real” corrals. If you think you’ll finish with a 3 hour time, 4 hour time, 5 hour time, etc., you were to go park your feet near the designated sign. Oh I hate that kind of pressure. I wanted a 3:35 time because that is a Boston Qualifier (BQ). But I hesitated because I was suffering from acute bronchitis and didn’t know whether or not I would run fast or if my breathing would be exhaustively labored. I took one look at the crowd, the 20,000+ people (talk about sharing personal space), and recalled how much effort it took to weave in and out of the crowds of runners in my last race. So I deliberately parked at the 3:35 sign until the gun went off.

Gun went off.

Welp, I was wrong. What’s new? I am wrong a lot. The 3:35 sign did me no favors. I was stuck behind crowds of runners. I was shuffling my feet.

Thank gosh I stand 5’2” tall because I darted through people and any open space given the right opportunity. It took a lot of effort but none from my legs or lungs. I had to watch the people in front of me to gauge the motion and timing of their stride and elbows. Who said you don’t use physics and math in real life? I had to strategically and deliberately plan my attack to squeeze through limbs, spit, and other runners like me trying to dart ahead, while not colliding with one another. I was gauging speed and velocity at 8am, with the intent to BQ, while maintaining steady breathing, with a focus on my stride, fuel intake, etc. Are you kidding me? This isht gets difficult. I managed not to collide with anyone other than a fellow shrimpette, who like me, was planning her breakaway and taking full advantage of her 62 inches or less. We barely touched but shared a chuckle. We exchanged an excited “Sorry!” and kept moving forward. If you know me, you know how I say this!!! [“Sa-weewww-thank you cab driver!]

Mile 3 people were stopping. I remember thinking “It’s mile 3. How are you going to line up at 3:35 and stop here!?!” I mean seriously, it’s kind of dangerous when you’ve got me and shrimpette number 2 darting around. I mean flying around. Especially dangerous because it was a decline. Declines are FREE SPEED and I was all about that high velocity. I wanted more!

The FREE SPEED lasted a while. I took full advantage of it. Hot dammmm [good]. I loved that I didn’t have to return any favors either. Each decline and incline over the course was a silent declaration of what was to come. I paid close attention to its subtle hints (how often do those get overlooked girls?) and adjusted my body to its forewarning.

I leaned into the road. I was one with the road.

I was one with the road until mile 9. I had a gnarly cough paired with its obligatory accessory-phlegm. It was radiant in shades of green. OooOoo green! My favorite color! And neon green to boot! Thanks acute bronchitis! I digress. Anyway, I had just ate a GU so everything in my mouth felt sticky. Plus my cough was deep and my phlegm was thick. That’s the time when my left contact developed a film so thick I could no longer see. I stopped to make an effort to clean it. I had no other choice. I had to. I had to because it was more uncomfortable not being able to see than hacking said lungs. I can’t see 2 feet in front of me without contacts but this was worse. So I took my contact out and planned to spit on it to clean it. (As if you haven’t before. Spare me!) But my spit was thick with Jetberry GU residue and phlegm. I couldn’t do it. Sanitary purposes. I had to draw a line.

I ended up putting my contact back in my eye. Unclean and all. And with one intentional blink to make it fall in place that sucker fell off my eye and was gone. Shit!

I glanced at my Garmin. No I didn’t. I squinted. I couldn’t see very well at all so I placed the Garmin right in front of my right eye. That’s when I realized I had lost approximately one to two minutes of precious BQ time. Hot dammmm[it] [bad].

I ran the rest of my race, 17.2 miles, with one contact. I was blind. I was uncomfortable. And I couldn’t see the spectacular air show above. I couldn’t read the funny marathon signs. It sucked. 😦

As sucky as I felt I found pleasure in how great my legs felt. I just crested the course. I relied on my other senses to elevate me. I breathed in the remarkable, and inspirational cries from the crowd. I maintained focus. I repeated the mantra, Pain Only Hurts. Flight. Glide. Fly. Easy. Light. Smooth. It worked. I was clocking 7:40 miles give or take a few seconds. I even clocked a 6 minute mile somewhere in the mix. HOT diggity DAMMMM [good]. I fell back to a mid-8 minute a few times. Even losing a contact! Insert Hot dammmm  [good] one more time! Yes!!! My potential to BQ was still real.

But the pain began to set in at mile 18. Hot dammmm [bad].

The pain got so bad in my chest that I had to stop and cough for thirty seconds at least. My BQ fell further from reality. Hot dammmm [bad].

My legs were still fresh and agile. But my chest hurt. I was hacking. I dug deep. Pain Only Hurts. Pain Only Hurts. Pain Only Hurts. Pain is Temporary. Pain is Temporary. Pain is Temporary. When, OWWWWwwwweeeeee happened. The discomfort of being blind coupled with my heavy chest was one thing. But by mile 23, with 3.2 left to go, my calves felt as if they were on fire. That was the other thing; the ugly thing.

Each time my foot touched the pavement my calves ached with excruciating pain. I tried to ignore it. I tried to ignore the ugly pain by telling myself that if the whole race goes to shit in a hand basket at this very moment, and I fall back to 10 minute mile pace, I would still, at the least, PR. So that was a good thing. 🙂

But I would resent myself if I did. I knew I was a tough runner and could endure pain. I knew I could endure even more pain. So pain, I taunted with, summoning it to BRING IT ON. I double dog dared it!!!

That was the pain I had been begging for during my last marathon. Pain is the telltale sign that you’ve pushed your limits. (For me at least.) There it was staring at me at mile marker 23. I was tickled with excitement that it finally came to meet me. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. It was that same feeling you get when you massage a bruise. (Right?)

I wanted nothing less than to be seduced by it. I wanted it to take all of me.

But I played hard to get. I wasn’t quite ready to give up. My effort was twinged but at I still had some.

For the last three miles pain and I danced around the course. It seduced me with water stops, orange slice stops, Gatorade, etc. I wanted to give in. The temptations were hydrating. The allure had me salivating.

However, I knew relief was only three short miles ahead. And in three miles I would be greeted with a medal and a beer!!! Mmm beer! Please! And it was only three short miles away. Three short miles away after having already covered 23.2 miles!!! Why do I do this to myself? I’m crazy!

I begged my body for merciful forgiveness as I repeated: Only Three More Miles. Only Three More Miles. You Got This. You Got This. Easy. Light. Smooth. Glide. Fly. Flight. Run For Those Who Can’t. Pain Is Temporary. Beer. Beer in Thirty Minutes or Less! Fly.

I convinced myself that not all pain is significant. I focused on the finish and not my legs.

I started to fly.

Or so I thought…

With less than a mile to go I started to focus on my will rather than my physical strength. I was running on empty and enveloped in pain. I wanted to walk so bad! I squinted at my Garmin to see how much more distance I had to cover before I would finish. I was p.o.’d. The Garmin told me I had already run the distance of a marathon. Ugh!

I recall thinking that I must be close. The trouble was I couldn’t see ahead. I saw two or three massive displays of orange balloons. One of them promised to be the finish but I could not decipher which one.

I had a fear of sprinting too early, granny sprints or not, so I maintained my pace.

When I could finally see the finish line I realized I should have started sprinting a quarter-mile before. Hot dammm [bad].

I dug deep, shifted gears, and I ran as hard as I could to the finish. Granny kicked ass! I think.

I crossed that finish line. Hot Dammmm [good].

I was in pain. I was exhausted. I couldn’t walk. Hot Dammmm [bad].

I was overwhelmed with emotion. I PR’d! Stopping to breathe, contact issues , and all! Hot Dammmm [good].

I finished in 3:39:35. An 8:22 pace per mile!!! Hot diggity Dammmm [good].

I missed Boston by 4 minutes and 35 seconds. Had I run 10 seconds faster per mile I would have BQ’d. But I accepted the circumstances. Had I been 100% healthy, I bet I could have celebrated a BQ. Regardless, I PR’d by 11 minutes. That’s something I’m proud of, sick and all!

This was the first race where I finally met pain. I finally met exhaustion. I finally met the wall. They all stink, literally: Pain. Exhaustion. Wall. = PEW. Hot Dammmm [bad]. But I can’t wait to meet them again and crush them. Hot Dammmm [good] J

Thanks for stopping by!!!

Happy Running!!! Happy BQ’ing. Happy Cowbelling, he he he. Happy whatever makes you happy! Just be true to you!

XO

ValgalIMG_6030.JPG

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Running Thoughts…and More

8 May

I find myself enthralled in all things running. Obviously – I mean I blog about it!

The other day I was captivated by an article in Runner’s World. I couldn’t help but smirk and laugh at the author’s hilarious one-liners. If anyone on the metro was paying attention to me, they would have thought I had a screw loose. Who laughs out loud while reading in public? Me. A few minutes later I rolled up the magazine, placed it in my ginormous purse (which also serves as my lunch bag, shoe storage for my stilettos that I wear in the office once I am done commuting via foot), and I exited the train.

Hmmm. I glanced up and realized that I was standing in the McPherson Square metro. Oops. This wasn’t right. I missed my exit because I was reading and marveling over my magazine! Dang it!!!

The point of the story is that I find that I am easily distracted by anything running…and I love it! Even if it throws a wrench in my commute.

My distraction got me thinking about why I love running so emphatically. My addiction for running grows each time I speak, think, and write about running. Each training run and race feeds my addiction. I can’t help but to speak of it with spirited ardor!

So here it is, here is why I love running. It’s so elementary as well as equally perplexing.

I LOVE running because…

1) I love the challenge.
2) I love the burn in my legs.
3) I love the burn in my lungs.
4) I want to see how far my spirit will carry me when my legs want to quit – mental fortitude.
5) I love the caloric deficit.
6) I love feeling completely empty after a long run.
7) I love to sweat.
8) I love my beast-mode.
9) I love wearing bright-ass running gear.
10) I love wearing matching bright-ass headbands, ankle socks, compression socks, and Newton running shoes.
11) I love running for fun.
12) I love running to compete against myself.
13) I love running when I’m sad, mad, upset, and angry (I get angry sometimes) because when I’m done with the run, I’m happy!
14) I love discovering what I’m made of and who I am.
15) I love running because it clears my mind.
16) …I get to eat gummy bears.
17) I have no guilt when I drink a beer or two.
18) It alleviates some of the guilt I have from eating that cookie from Au Bon Pain.
19) I make friends with fellow runners.
20) I get to participate in Ragnar Relays with other nutty runners!
21) I like to eat and drink (I already said that).
22) I love the pain and the pleasure of the run.
23) I love pushing through it when the run gets tough.
24) after the first mile, the miles get easier.
25) I love the spectators
26) I love feeling that if you want something bad enough you can make it happen.
27) running is not for pansies.
28) I love the adrenaline.
29) the feeling of accomplishment!
30) running gives me joy.
31) it forces me to hold myself accountable.
32) I love to challenge my limits. I will not be limited by the challenge.
33) I love the euphoric feeling of crossing the finish line!
34) I run for those who can’t.
35) the experience gives me a stamp of authenticity.

36-1000 and so on…because I love the self-discovery running gives me. It’s me versus me.

Every runner has their reason.

Sometimes I don’t run. Sometimes I don’t run despite the reasons I love to run because of my work schedule, because of my master’s program, because I’m just plain tired, or because I just don’t want to. Yes, I have days I just don’t want to. The days I don’t run, I find myself famished with an insatiable appetite. How is it that I could be so dang hungry when I didn’t partake in any aerobic activity? These are the days I am cranky because I want to eat everything but I decline everything being offered up. I crave the carbonation of a beer, a Stella Artois, but won’t give in. Or maybe I do. Yea, I typically do. I take the beer.

Then this likely happens: I sip it while I am burdened with the irrational guilt from drinking the beer plus that cookie from Au Bon Pain I probably ravenously devoured at lunch. Then I would count the calories. Oh no!!!! I didn’t “run” it off. I probably become illogical and think the yummy goodness will go straight to my hips! I would then plead that the sugar, butter, and carbs go to my arse. Ugh! I could seriously cry. Not alligator tears, just guilt tears.
#runnerproblems

And this my friends, this is why I love to run. Because runners, we are all a little irrational, nutty, and idiosyncratic.

We love to torture ourselves by racing absurd miles until our body is beat into submission. When we cross that finish line we feel victorious. Yet, in opposition, the reality of drinking a beer, or two, and a cookie on a day without a run renders us in catatonic state – or at least me. I told you we are irrational!

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I’m All Jacked Up on Ragnar!!!

8 May

Hello friends!!! Good evening!

You read right. I am packing for Ragnar! This is the first time I’m participating in the Ragnar Relay series (Cape Cod) and I am
thrilled about it! I mean, I am really jacked up with adrenaline right now! Wohoo!!! I can’t stop reading about everything Ragnar.

Each day goes by with both co-workers and friends warning me to tread cautiously because I won’t get any sleep, delirium will overtake me, and that they hope I’m paired with a fun group of Ragnarians because if I’m not, I’m told it could threaten the experience and it just might suck!

I need all the advice I can get (good and bad) since I’m the rookie this go around. I’m the rookie of Ragnar! It is kind of exhilarating to go into something without having expectations. I am told I will love the experience as well as hate it during the running legs, but when we cross the finish, I’ll be so doped up on the experience I’ll be fixing for more.

I am guessing that the experience is euphoric. It plays on emotions and fatigue – enhancing said emotions! Ahhhh!

I am not too concerned about the balance between the love or the hate of the race. I recall training for my last marathon. The training was the part I hated (kind of); the racing was the part I loved – a representation of our duality!

Anyway, I’m trying to calm down to catch some shut eye so pardon my brevity. I need all the sleep I can get if I’m going to race for 48 hours with limited rest.

Thanks for reading!

Stay tuned!!!

Happy running!!!

XO

Valgal

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