Sunday, April 29, 2012

Week in Review

82 Miles
15 mile long run
5 miler race in 28:42
4 Doubles

And my streak of running (and winning) three races in a row finally came to an end this week.  After Cherry Blossom Ten Miler on April 1 and a down week in the Dominican Republic, I closed out the month of April with three races on consecutive weekends (Race Fest, Moe's Burrito Dash and Heart and Sole Five Miler).  I competed strong against one of Asheville's finest--Amber Moran--at the Heart and Sole Five Miler and was able to break her at the 1.25 mile mark.  Amber is a tough competitor and I always enjoy the opportunity to race her.  Again, this week resulted in some missed doubles due to work running later than expected and other commitments with CRC.  Fortunately, I closed out the week with a nice long run at a faster clip with several people at McAlpine.  Looking forward to May!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Heart & Sole Five Miler

5 mile race in 28:xx

3-ish miles warmup
5 Mile race in 28:41, 1st place
5:50, 5:26, 6:04, 5:51, 5:28

I wrote an entire recap, but somehow lost it all...So here's all I've got now.  45 seconds faster than last year.  Fastest time I've ever run on this course.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Cut Down on the Speed Loop

8x1000m repeats with 2:00 rest

2xmile, 2x1000m, 4x400m
5:36 (2:20)
5:34 (2:20)
3:24 (1:50)
3:34 (1:50)
1:19 (1:20)
1:20 (1:20)
1:19 (1:20)
1:19 (1:21)

I'm behind on my blog by one week.  The only thing to report here is that my legs were tired for this one.  Running 5:30s felt hard.  Running 5:40s felt hard.  Legs were made of glue and wanted to stick to the asphalt of Dilworth Road West instead of bouncing elastically off the pavement.  I powered through to still get about 4.5 miles of the best effort I could give on that day, so I was happy with that.  With just one more race left in this month, I'm looking forward to getting back on the normal workout schedule of Tuesday/Friday with a quality long run on Sunday.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Week in Review

82 Miles
4 Doubles
3-mile Race with a Burrito Eating Contest
1 Workout
14.7 mile long run
6 days with my mama

I would have rather hit 90 miles this week, but sometimes spending time with your mom who's in town visiting tops running!  I still managed to get in some decent miles, but I've been finding it hard to motivate myself to run over 65 minutes.  I used to be able to do that with my eyes closed when I would meet Meagan Nedlo halfway on the greenway, but those days have been over for quite some time.  Before I got too down on myself, I realized that I'm not training for a marathon right now, so those "mid-week medium runs" don't have nearly as much importance.  I'm almost done with my April crusade to win prize money, and so far that amount is at $2200.  I've got the Heart & Sole Women's 5 Miler up next week, and then I'm back to racing just once a month.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Moe's Burrito Dash (3-miler) 5k

#1:  Win $2000
#2:  Win prize money
#3:  Don't puke
#4:  Don't lose in the burrito eating part

17:42, 1st Place, $2000
Splits:  5:15, 7:08 (includes burrito consumption), 5:20
Burrito split:  1:46-ish?

How could I not have fun at a race where I walked away with a check for $2,000?  Maybe I did have to shove a burrito down my throat in less than five bites.  Maybe there were at least three other NC races that had prize money that attracted some of the state's best runners elsewhere.  Maybe I found a new niche--competitive eating.

Regardless, this race was definitely a memorable one.  Before the race, Kylee Schuler informed me via Facebook that one of her running buddies (Becca Prichard) would be making an appearance.  I did a quick search and decided she was definitely a contender.  I crafted a strategy in my head to hopefully walk away with the most money.  By 6:30am on Saturday morning, my mom, John and I all piled into my car to make the trek down to Columbia, SC.  On the way, we passed Chad and Danielle in their flashy white Prius.  We waved at Chad, who looked at us like we were woo-hoos because he didn't know who we were.  With plenty of time to spare, we pulled up to the start line and scoped out our surroundings and competition.  I hadn't spotted Becca yet, but I did spot two men--Ryan Woods and Devin Swann--lumbering down towards our way.  As they half-heartedly waved at us, the fastest male runners of NC each quickly assessed their odds of beating one another. John's hopes sank.

During our warmup, I assessed the course, which I had mapped out myself the day before and had deemed fairly flat for Columbia.  It featured a couple more hills than I had hoped for, including a fairly flat first mile with one short uphill, a downhill 2nd mile with a nasty steep uphill right before the burrito station, and a gradual uphill 3rd mile.  After our warmup, I spotted Becca--a fellow redhead--and introduced myself, realizing instantaneously that I liked her.  Redheads unite!

Becca and I situated ourselves behind the elite men and they kicked us off with a countdown to "MOE'S!"  We were off.  I executed my strategy, which was to take off like a bat out of hell, to perfection.  I wanted to gain any distance that I could on anyone who thought they could be a contender.  Surprisingly, I found myself ahead of Chad Crockford in the first 600 meters, and immediately realized that I probably had gone out a little too hard.  Chad passed me and told me that the next girl was five seconds behind me.  Chad gapped me by a couple of meters, but after we passed the mile mark in 5:15, he seemed to ease back a little to help me out.  By 1.5 miles, Becca was right off my shoulder.  Was I worried?  Heck yeah.  Fortunately, Chad provided me tons of encouragement when we approached the really steep hill that was situated right before the burrito station.  I think I gapped Becca a little on the uphill portion, slowed to a walk to grab a water bottle and a veggie burrito before parking myself in front of a Moe's Burrito judge.

I had a brief moment of panic as I struggled to open my water bottle, and even asked my judge helplessly to open it for me.  Instead, they looked at me pathetically.  I finally got it open, took my first huge bite of the burrito, and followed it immediately with water.  Water made it MUCH easier to chew and swallow. The tortilla tasted like glue. I don't remember much else about that burrito. It could have been a donut for all that I care.  I glanced over towards Becca.  It looked like she had eaten the same amount of burrito as me.  I had to hurry it up.  I decided to make my bites even bigger.  After three or so bites, I was much further ahead on my burrito competition than Becca.  A burst of confidence flowed through me, and suddenly I thought to myself: You've got this.  And then, next to me, Devin Swann started to gag.  Chad Crockford started coughing.  I moved a couple of feet further from Devin to avoid the possibility of having puke on me and also from having a gag reflect myself. I ignored them.  After five bites, I took the last bite.  The judges kept urging me to "just say Welcome to Moe's," but I had to get the last swallow in to prevent any rice pieces to get dislodged in places they shouldn't be--like in my throat, nose, mouth.  I also didn't want to risk the possibility of getting disqualified.  As evidenced by the video below (courtesy of my #1 fan--my mom), I dropped that water bottle with a force that said:  I'm gonna win this $hit. A quick  WELCOME TO MOES! And I took off!

And then there was the last mile.  Two guys passed me, a guy in black and a guy in green.  But, Becca didn't.  She admitted on the cool down later that she didn't try as hard once she realized that she was solid for second place.  The last mile wasn't hard on my stomach at all.  It was just hard to pay attention to the race when remnants of rice were still stuck in the back of my cheek.  I coughed a couple of times to try to clear the piping, but it didn't work so well. Again, I ignored it.  With 600m to go, we made a left turn into the last straightaway to the finish, and I glanced back to see if Becca was making any ground on me.  She wasn't, but she wasn't out of contention either.  I pushed as hard as I could to cross the finish line in 17:42.  Becca came in only 14 seconds later.

Overall, this was a well organized race.  Everything started on time and they managed the burrito station pretty well.  The course was the best course one could ask for in Columbia since it's pretty hilly in the downtown area.  If there's prize money again next year, I'll be there.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Speed on the Speed Loop and a Burrito Sprint

am:  5x800m + 4x400m with Aaron and Paul
pm:  4 miles with 2 tacos eaten in between

2.5 mile warmup
5x800m in 2:36 (2:50), 2:36 (2:21), 2:35 (2:21), 2:36 (2:19), 2:36 (2:20), 1:15 (1:30), 1:16 (1:20), 1:15 (1:20), 1:16
2.5 miles cool down for 10-ish miles

pm:  2.5 miles, consumption of 2 Moe's Tacos, 1.2 miles probably around 5:50 pace?

As you can see, today was a test not only of my speed, but also of my intestinal fortitude.  I did learn that my stomach is pretty good at handling two tacos, but that my jaw is pretty terrible at keeping up with the pace that my hands shove food into my mouth.  But, I'll get to that later.

I started off the morning with a short and sweet speed workout with Aaron and Paul on the Dilworth 800m Speed Loop. Indeed, I skipped out on the 2 mile repeats that were on the schedule because I really didn't want to run that workout solo, which was going to be the case.  I'm really trying to have as much fun as I can during this month of April with my running and I'm doing that by getting high mileage in but doing silly races like a Moe's Burrito Dash this weekend.  May will definitely be a grind month for me as my focus will shift solely onto putting in the work to run a 1:16:xx half marathon time.

Anyways, I ran some 800s and 400s behind--key word behind--Aaron and Paul.  Even though they were pretty far ahead, I still was able to post some of the fastest times I've ever run on the 800m loop.  I gave it my all on each of the repeats and really pushed hard from 600-800m, the uphill portion of the loop.  In the end, I had practically nothing left for the 400s, and it was a struggle to will myself to run through the finish line instead of slowing to a jog just before the line.  Somehow I still posted some pretty solid times, especially on the uphill section.  Even though this was a short workout--about 3.5 miles of speed--I definitely pushed as hard as I could today.

To top the evening off just right, Thomas and I rather hastily scheduled a burrito practice run.  With the assistance of Michelle, who got us each 2 tacos to devour in the middle of a run in the 85 degree NC heat, and the fan crowd of Jaskot, Fillette, Kati, Adrienne, Jamaar, Arden, Aaron, John and my mom, we couldn't back out.  After 2.5 miles of easy running, Thomas and I picked up the pace for 400 meters before stopping at the burrito station.  Matt Jaskot handed me a taco and I shoved as much as I could in my mouth, while eying Thomas to pick up on any tactics that might also prove useful to me.  Thomas drank a sip of water after every bite.  I didn't drink any water with my first taco.  A lot of the taco ingredients fell out of my mouth.  Thomas finished eating at least ten seconds before me, so I started the sprint with a full mouth of beans and rice.  Bean juice dribbled down my chin.  A piece of rice found its way into my nasal piping.  Indeed, I probably would have been disqualified if it were the actual race.  Note to self:  eat my burrito a little bit more slowly to ensure I do NOT get disqualified.  There's $2000, $1000 or $500 on the line for this race.  All in all, it was definitely fun.  I think people captured pictures of this epic run, but they didn't post them online.  Too bad, because they would have spiced up the blog.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Week in Review

75 Miles
2 Doubles
15 Mile Long Run
10k Race in 36:14

Not much to report on this week except that I didn't double when I was supposed to and that I ran well at one of Charlotte's hilliest races.  Instead of doubling in the evenings, I enjoyed some very precious quality time with Garrett.  The clock is counting down to when he leaves...there's just two more weeks until he begins his season with the Evansville Otters.  As I have some other travel commitments this summer (Moving in May, Grandma's Half Marathon in June, July 4th with my sister, NYC to visit Jay and Michelle, the Olympics in August), I'm unsure of when I'll be able to visit him this summer.  Regardless, I'll be just fine!

Other activities of note this week focused on the wedding.  What turned out to be a bad idea later on, after the 10k race, Garrett and I walked over to Crate and Barrel to register for our wedding.  They still accepted me even though I was sweaty and wearing running clothes.  We even registered at Belk too.  After four hours of standing on our feet, we drove to Raleigh to pick up my mom from the airport, who's visiting for the week.  It's exciting to start thinking about wedding stuff with her here, so we're going to make the most of our time together even though I can't take off work.

Since I'm a little behind in posting my Week in Review, I want to finish by congratulating all of my friends who gutted it out to finish the Boston Marathon 2012, which "provided all the elements of a war of attrition."  Jay Holder was within a minute of his PR and ran a 2:41.  I know he's in shape to run a 2:32.  Now, he will be gunning for a fast time at Philly, which has about a 1% chance of being hot. In fact, it's more likely to be SNOWING at Philly.

Dalena Custer realized at mile 10 that it was too hot, so she made the decision to slow it down and just enjoy the experience. She's the only person I know who actually sped up in the final 10k to finish in 2:58. Scott Kennedy, Nathan Stanford, Caleb Boyd, Brad Belfiore, Allen Strickland, Justin Breland, Mike Kahn, Kevin Ballantine, and many others that I can't remember raced in such unforgettable, brutal, and awful conditions and FINISHED. Hats off to them!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Charlotte Racefest 10k

10k in 5:50 pace

3 mile warmup
10k in 36:14 (541, 557, 607, 545, 543, 543, 1:15) for 1st place female, and 4th overall
2.2 miles cool down for 11.4 total miles
$200 check

In 2009 at the Charlotte Racefest Half Marathon, I ran a 1:23:50 for third place overall.  That was not a fun race for me.  This year, even though I opted for the shorter, more forgiving distance of a 10k, my goal was to race better than I had in 2009.  Fortunately, Greg Shore and John Fillette decided to also toe the line today, providing me with some people to run against.  After a nice warmup with John, Anna, and Aaron, we all meandered over the to start line, where I did my classic warmup "hip thrusts" while Aaron squatted in a position eerily similar to one you would do behind a tree in the woods.

we freaked Kati Robertson out enough that she took a pic
After a couple of hoots and hollers from Aaron, the race director set us on our way.  As expected, John, Aaron and Paul shot to the front of the pack and I settled in comfortably far behind them.  John Fillette dashed ahead, and I made a mental note of catching him later on.  Greg Shore tucked himself right behind my left shoulder and drafted off of me. I  was fine with that because it gave me that extra motivation to keep the pace on my targeted speed:  5:50 pace.  Greg and I came through the downhill mile in 5:41.  John Fillette was maybe 20 meters ahead. I struggled through the second and third mile...especially the third mile...and then woke up again when I saw that the fourth mile was downhill again.  John Fillette wasn't too far ahead anymore, so I picked up the pace to at least catch up to him.  By the fourth mile mark, I was leading the small pack of John, Greg, and myself.  At 4.5 miles, we passed Chris Cummins and company, who yelled at me to "break those guys."  Like true gentlemen, they didn't even acknowledge John or Greg, and provided me with the fuel I needed to conquer the remaining hills on this unforgiving course.  John Fillette dropped back almost as quickly as the words came out of Chris' mouth.  Afterwards, John admitted that those words may or may not have lead to his slower pace.

Unfortunately, I hadn't dropped Greg quite yet. I realized that he was typically stronger than me on the uphill, but that I was stronger on the downhill.  So, at the last downhill before the long Barclay Downs hill, I surged ahead, and used that momentum to keep my speed going up the hill.  Somewhere along that dreadful hill, I managed to put a couple of meters between the two of us...a sizable enough gap that he wasn't able to close.  Somehow I managed to come through the finish line just under 36:15, which was right on my target pace. Greg was just a few seconds behind, and we high-fived.  He also apologized for drafting off of me the entire race, which I didn't really mind.  There wasn't any wind, after all.  Everyone had a good race.  Paul won, Aaron got second with a huge PR, and Greg's friend came away with some prize money.

All in all, I accomplished my goals for this race.  Most importantly, I walked away with $200, which will immediately go towards my moving expenses that will be incurred in just one month's time.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

12x400m repeats

16x400m with 1:00 jog

2.5 miles warmup
12x400m with 200m jog
2.5 miles down for 9 miles total
Splits (Rest Time)
78 (67)
79 (65)
79 (69)
77 (69)
77 (60)
77 (75)
78 (66)
76 (70)
74 (68)
75 (75)
72 (80)

This morning I met Paul, David, and Eric at my house at 6am to make our way to the JCSU track for some repeats.  Paul had 1000s on his schedule, while we had 400s.  It was a pleasant surprise to find Chad and Danielle at the track, ready to toe the line with our crew.  To get us rolling, Chad and I took the lead, and eventually we got into a rhythm of switching out the leaders.  The first set was rather uneventful as I just ran mindlessly in circles around the track, letting my legs dictate the pace.  By the 7th interval, I was getting bored.  I wanted to go faster, but I knew I wouldn't be able to if I was doing 16.  I picked up the pace, and announced that I was only doing 12, but that I would be running faster.  My little announcement made all of the boys run much faster than they had been before.  In fact, while I had been running in a pack for the first 8, for the last 4 intervals, I was running in their dust.  I watched as they seemingly effortlessly floated past me, and continued to make ground on me.  I just kept my head up and tried to find the resolve within me to keep pushing the pace faster and faster. During this time, I felt like I was gasping for air, but I made it through all 12, feeling rather accomplished after ten days of no workouts.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

(Dominican) Week in Review

45 Miles
2 Doubles
1 Day off
4 Days in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic

I did a great job this week of taking advantage of my down week that was conveniently planned during a hiatus down to the Dominican Republic.  I didn't travel there with Garrett.  Instead, I travelled alone to meet Merry at the Puerto Plata airport, who was taking a break from her Peace Corps volunteer duties to hang out with me at an all-inclusive resort.  Did I mention that I paid $20 per person / per night?  Yes - a steal!

Treating Merry to a little slice of paradise, helping her escape the poverty-stricken campo that she now calls home, was a pleasure in itself!  It was great just making our way through conversations, bringing up whatever came to mind, and not caring if it sounded stupid, mean, lazy, or clever.  We ran early every morning (usually around 6:30am) and, afterwards, always made our way to the VIP beach to claim a beach bed.  I wish I could say that I got my money's worth in the free drinks, but I didn't.  Merry probably did. I got my money's worth in free fruit. I am not exaggerating when I say that I ate an entire pineapple each day.  It was so delicious!  While Merry and I both had plans to run more together, the allure of the resort, pristine beaches, and unlimited drinks provided absolutely no motivation to run further, so we didn't.  And that's how down weeks are supposed to be.

The beach at the resort

the beds at the resort

near the paradise island

on the way to paradise island

paradise island

how beautiful

Monday, April 2, 2012

Week in Review

75 Miles
3 Doubles
10 Mile Race in 58:38
14 hours in the car

A lower mileage week closed out with a decent 10 mile race is just what I needed.  This week started out on a pretty low note but ended with a renewed sense of direction, positivity, and energy.  Going to DC just reminded me how much I love to race. I love pushing my body and mind to limits that are not normally tested in day-to-day life.  I love competing against not only other women, but also against myself.  I love crossing the finish line, knowing that several other Charlotte girls are doing the exact same thing as me at that moment.  Throughout the entire weekend, I couldn't help but feel like I truly was a part of a team.  Dalena, Anna, Michelle, Jocelyn all genuinely care about everyone else's accomplishments, maybe even more so than their own!  Okay, maybe not THAT much, but you get my point.  Now I'm preparing for a slight down week as I'm visiting my friend Merry in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic from Thursday through Sunday.  Hopefully I'll get rid of my runner's tan while I'm there.

Cherry Blossom Ten Miler Race Recap

10 Mile Race in 59:00

3 miles warmup
58:38, 11th place, half splits in 29:19/29:19, mile splits: (5:51, 5:58, 5:41, 5:54, 5:54, 5:51, 5:52, 5:52, 5:50, 5:50)
2 mile cool down

Welp, this race went greatly better than I had anticipated. Apparently the disappointed tone from my last blog triggered the ultimate worried response from my mother, as she emailed both my sister and Garrett to check in on me to make sure I was okay. Well, I can now assure her that since I raced pretty well in DC, things are pretty much back to normal. It's somewhat pathetic how much stock we put into our races and our running fitness, and how much that can affect well being and overall happiness. Regardless, my mom doesn't need to fret any longer! DC treated me right.

Before going into the details of the race, it should be noted that Dalena, Michelle, Anna and I all embarked on our road trip to DC on Friday night, stayed in a ghetto hotel on Friday in Butner, NC, and then arrived in DC around 1PM on Saturday. Like any person would expect, over the course of 14 hours in the car together, and countless additional hours together in a hotel room and throughout the streets of DC, we all learned a lot about each other. I even made dinner for the four of us to enjoy in the luxurious room of the Residence Inn, completely furnished with an urban kitchen. All of us came to DC with hopes of PRing and having as much fun as possible, and I know we achieved just that before, during, and after the race.

The alarm went off at 5:30am and the other girls, except Jocelyn and I, started getting ready. We stayed in bed for another 15 minutes, seemingly unmotivated to get the race prep activities started. Once out of bed, I began my mental preparations, which are far more important to me than my physical preparations (such as getting dressed). This activity was especially important this morning because of my poor mentality in the days leading up to the race. Now that it was race morning, I had decided that there were no excuses. I was going to run fast.

Soon, I rounded all the ladies up to meet Mike Beigay in the lobby for our warmup across the Washington Mall as the sun rose above the layer of clouds, blocking the heat from ruining our expectations for a PR. After a hasty removal of warmup clothing, a bathroom stop or three in a secret location, and a stride with some drills, it was time for the women’s advance start of the 40th Annual Cherry Blossom 10 Miler. In the start corral, we high-fived Pezz, and situated ourselves behind the real elites and waited for the signal. The National Anthem played, which allowed all of us to stare at one girl’s panties sticking out the top of her buns. Finally, we wished each other good luck and in the final 30 seconds before the sound of the gun, we were the loudest--as always--by screaming “GO CHARLOTTE!” and other stuff that probably annoyed legends such as Colleen De Reuck who stood beside me.

The race finally did start, and I comfortably situated myself behind Colleen and a couple other girls. The lead pack of record-chasing Ethiopians, followed by lead-pack chasing Americans, quickly pulled away from a string of girls that included me, Dalena, Colleen, and two others. Unfortunately, none of the women listed were running in a pack together besides Dalena and I. The other three were ahead of us and we just stared at their butts for the next couple of miles. Fortunately, I got to run with Dalena for the first two miles. I tried to tell Dalena to back it off some because she was pushing the pace even though I could tell we were fast through 800 meters. She must have felt me slowing up, so she pulled up alongside me. After two miles, Dalena wished me good luck and tucked behind. I pressed forward, eying the girl 30 meters ahead. I pushed a little too hard here, and dropped my fastest split of the day, but I passed one girl. I also was able to count what place I was in--13th! Two girls were a reasonable distance away from me, and Colleen was a little too far ahead. I determined to place 11th and only 10th if Colleen massively died.

By mile 4, I had passed another girl, and was left to stare at the 11th place girl, who was now only 20 meters ahead of me. Sadly enough, she was too far ahead at that point, but we were both running the exact same pace because she didn’t get any further ahead, nor any closer to me. For the next four miles, it was just me against myself, forcing myself to keep my eyes glued to the black sports bra of the unknown woman ahead of me. At mile 7.25, the first place male (who later broke the course record) passed me in a blazing 4:2x pace. Back in 2010 at this race, I was passed by the lead male around the 8 mile mark, and ran almost 90 seconds slower, so I knew that this year’s winner was going super fast.

This year, instead of getting passed by a guy at mile 8.25, I passed the girl that had evaded me for the last four miles. I told her, “come with me, we only have 10 more minutes of running,” but she just breathed heavily in response and fell back. Now, I only had Colleen to focus on, but she was too far ahead for me to beat her, which provided little to no motivation to run faster. Had I been given the pleasure of competing against more runners, I truly believe I could have run at least 10-20 seconds faster. For the last ten minutes of the race, I willed my legs to maintain the pace they had been running all day, and did some quick mental calculations of my estimated finish time. I knew I would be close to my old PR, but by the time I rounded the turn for 400 meters to go and saw the one and only hill of the race, I lost all motivation to sprint. I knew I had nothing left in the tank to switch to a different gear.

I crossed the finish line in 11th place, just one place out from receiving price money. My uncle Joe spotted me and congratulated me, before being interrupted by an official who told me that I was randomly selected to be drug tested. By that time, Pezz had showed up and literally laughed in my face when she realized I had been selected. After all, she was the first American and fifth overall and she hadn’t been selected. In my mind, I too was laughing at the absurdity of it all because I hadn’t even won any prize money! After getting permission from the drug tester to wait for Dalena to finish so I could tell her not to wait for me, I watched Dalena cross the finish line just before the clock ticked over 1:00. After a quick chat and congratulatory high five with Dalena, I told the lady I was ready. Then, another lady came up, and quietly whispered (but not quietly enough), that I was NOT the 10th placer finisher. I smiled wide at the news. And off they went, in search of Colleen who had already disappeared to the Elite tent.

Then, the slew of Charlotte girls crossed the finish line. Michelle in 1:01:52 (PR), Anna in 1:02:2x (PR), Jocelyn in 1:03:3x…We all congratulated each other and then went off in a mad dash to get our gear check bag and to cool down. I had to meet my uncle for lunch, so I parted ways with the ladies to embark on my run back to the hotel with Mike, who had surpassed his own expectations for the race.

Coming out of this race, I realized that even when I think running isn’t going well, as long as I keep the mileage and workouts going, I can still race above and beyond what I may believe is possible. I’m not going to lose fitness. I’m not going to be out of shape. It’s best not to read too much into the workouts and to just trust in your training and your ability and power of mind to put everything on the line. Most importantly, a positive outlook on running can serve as the catalyst to create positivity in other aspects of life.