Finding and losing some of me.

Earlier this year I wrote about the highs and lows 2016 and then you didn’t hear from me again. Why didn’t you? Well for a few reasons. I was spending the start of 2017 making it about me and not in a conceited way. I had lost myself and love of life and needed to find me again. Beth, my counselor, told me in my first session with her that I was like a bank account and with all of the things that had taken place in my life I was deep into the red. I had depleted myself and my body was telling me it couldn’t take on anymore. It was time to slow things down and take the time I needed to bring myself back into the black. Using this analogy worked really well for me. I started labeling things as red and black in my head when they would happen to me. It allowed me to slow down when thinking of things this way.

One of the first things I did to get myself back into the black was to run for my love of running, and not to be competitive. I had signed up for the VIRA series in September but come January my heart and body were not ready to run competitively. The running community knows me as a ‘top 10 age category’ runner in this series and that I am competitive. When I arrived at the first few races of the series other runners would say “Oh, once you get to the start line you will take off.” I would tell them I was just there to run my run and I was running to find my love of running again. They seemed skeptical but with time they stopped saying that to me and started to see that I was just there to run for me and be with the running community.

Another thing I did for me in January and February was joining an early morning (5:30 am start) strength training class called Murder by Mel at Club Phoenix. I had neglected my body when it came to weights and core strength. I had a gym membership to RRU’s Rec Centre since October 2016 and I had been once, maybe twice. Even though it was only a few hundred meters from my office each day I couldn’t get myself there. I needed help and working out with a group of people pushed and motivated me. I had paid for these classes as well so I wasn’t going to waste my money. No one needed me at 5:30 am so I couldn’t make an excuse. I enjoyed the class and Mel helped kick-start me back into the gym on my own. Thank you, Mel. I am in the gym a few times a week working on getting stronger. I have made a goal for myself to have more definition in my triceps and biceps and be able to do regular push-ups, not from my knees. One day at a time, as anything worth doing is worth doing well.

Team Murder on a Flex Friday in January.
Team Murder on a Flex Friday in January.

In January I started back with my run club through Frontrunners Westshore. I attended on Wednesday nights but didn’t run the workouts as workouts. I went to be with my friends and reconnect with everyone after being away for so long. I knew I needed to build a base back as I hadn’t been running since early October. If I would have shown up to my first speed workout and pushed my body, I would have put myself deeper in the red. My body wasn’t ready for that kind of push and I knew it. I spent each Wednesday night from January 4-March 22, 2017 enjoying being with my friends and running my run. The week of March 27th my body and mind changed and I was a ‘new Kyla’. I felt great in the gym and I had runner’s high when running. I did my first speed workout when I went to run club that week and it was so nice. I kept close to some of the faster guys in the club and I loved it. I was on fire and so happy to be back to me. I knew though I needed to still pace myself because it had taken me that long to get there, I couldn’t overdo it.

The end of January I started being a run leader with Colleen for the marathon group through Frontrunners. The group is training for BMO Marathon taking place on May 7, 2017, in Vancouver. For the first few months with the group, I was more in the ‘Sweeper’ role than a ‘Leader’ but that was Ok with me. Some days some of the runners struggled with their run as well so I was able to get to know them as we went along. I remember one day driving to the Saturday long run of 18km and starting to cry. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to make it through the run as I hadn’t run that far since October 2016. It just seemed so overwhelming. I made it and was supported by my group. What I realized afterward was that I had always said to the group that we were together to help each other get through the runs but I didn’t think about myself being in the category to supported.

The group who got me through 18k.
The group who got me through 18k.

Health wise, I was having heart palpitations that started in November and continued. I took two weeks off work the end of January due to stress to see if I could get them to slow or stop. My doctor sent me to a cardiologist who I saw in March and I was told that my very low heart rate is actually normal for ‘someone like me’. (Someone like me being an active person.) I do believe that the palpations started due to stress as I hadn’t had them before but then brought to the surface another ‘problem’. I still have them but they aren’t a scare for me now and know that I am Ok.

Through my journey of finding myself again and doing what I needed to do for me, I lost my best friend of nine years which is heartbreaking for me. I was seeking support through him, friends and Beth but he wasn’t seeking help for himself through me or professionally. I was blindsided and never saw this day coming and I was ready to fight for us like I was in finding me, but you can’t fight for two by yourself.

What now? Well, my journey of finding me and spending 2017 about me continues. I plan to make a home in the newly renovated condo with Lokey and making it mine. I have a huge network of friends in Victoria who have shown me so much love and support that I didn’t actually realize I had right in front of me. I have been well-supported family as well and I can guarantee I am not done needing support. I am like a rollercoaster of emotions and feelings but they are good fuel for my runs and workouts.

So, to new beginnings and adventures.

A Runners story

Who are you running for?

What made you start to run?

When was the right time for you?

Where are you running?

Why did you stop?

All these questions are about YOU and they have guided you in one way or another on your journey to create your story about why you are a runner. Even if you have stopped running, you have a story about why you stopped.

I was never a fan of running and my sister always loved it. I decided I would start running after a break up happened when I lived in Nova Scotia. It wasn’t until I met Warren and moved to Victoria almost nine years ago, that I really start pushing myself and being more competitive when I run.

I am blogging about this because I was inspired by one of our new runners to the clinic that I am helping out with again at Frontrunners. In the Westshore store, we had about nine “new” runners starting, there were just about as many leaders and there were also new and returning members of the Frontrunners Athletic Club (FAC) at the ready to guide them on an 8km run through the Langford area.

When Warren and I arrived there were mostly club members in the store and a few minutes later two ladies walked in the store. One of the first things one of them said was “Wow, everyone is so fit.” That comment brought back the same nervous feeling and uncertainty that I was in the right place, when I first joined the club four years ago. I went over to introduce myself and get to know them. I also mentioned that all of us have a story about why we were there.

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First clinic night at Frontrunners Westshore. New runners, leaders and FAC members.

After a brief talk to start the clinic we headed out for our run. I weaved along the route trying to meet new people and also touch base with my friends in the club. I enjoyed the run and learning why people were there. I finished the last of the run with Linda, who I spoke to in the beginning. I asked her how she was feeling as she was just getting back into running again.

As we ran I said to her “Remember how I said that everyone has a story in this group?” She said yes and I continued to tell her what I was coming back from. She was surprised. She then told me her story and that her goal for being in the clinic is to improve her half-marathon time and train for it properly. I’m excited to see her progress.

I decided that I would also share with her that we have one club member who has lost over 200 lbs and another who has lost 30 lbs. The leaders in this group are club members who have their own story but are leaders because they want to see others succeed and reach their goal. And we have some members in the club who I have yet to find out why they started running but they need to push on Wednesday nights like I do. Speed work is never fun on your own and we are like a big family.

So, the next time you are running with someone new find out their story? I am sure you will find it a nice distraction as you are putting in the distance for your next goal.

2016 Highs and Lows. 2017 Moving Foward.

The first seven months of 2016 had some amazing moments for me and they were:

  • Being a run leader for the Frontrunners Marathon clinic that went from January -May 2016. I met some amazing runners and made new friends. I enjoyed being part of the running community.
  • I ran the VIRA series and tied with Jen. It came down to a coin toss and I took 4th place overall for our age group.
  • In April ran the Boston Marathon for the first time and enjoyed everything! I still get goosebumps when I think about it and while I have been asked if I am going back this year, I am not. Perhaps some day but for now I want to just ride the wave of the memories and moments of my first Boston experience.
  •  In May I moved from the roads to trail running with my friend Karen. We were training for The Broken Goat 50km in Rossland and it was going to be my first 50km trail run. I was excited and scared about the idea of running that far but ready for the new challenge.
  • Hours of time spent on the trails with Karen meant that we got to strengthen our friendship and learn more about each other. While some days of training were harder mentally and physically, we each encouraged each other.
  • In July I ran my first 50km race, The Broken Goat and although it was hard, it was also breathtakingly beautiful and not just because of the climbs. I finished in 6 h 43 mins and was 5th woman overall. I am incredibly proud of myself and I did start a blog post to recap the race but it never got finished.

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The last five months of 2016 were full of some hard times and I don’t want to dwell on them here because I don’t want you to feel sorry for me. I am sure that people look at my life and think that it is perfect, or close to and for the most part, my day to day life is pretty awesome. I am loved, healthy and active and have a roof over my head but that doesn’t mean things can’t go sideways.
With all the events and busy times over the five months, I became injured externally and internally. I closed myself off from the outside world and went through the motions of day to day life even though I would have rather just stayed at home. I thought of friends but didn’t interact with them or not like I normally would. I stopped caring about what I was eating and I stopped exercising. I wanted to go for runs but had no ability to. One day I started to run to Warren’s work and the entire time I ran I said to myself “I’m waving white flags.” That may sound strange but it was my sign that it was time to seek outside help. Talking to Warren and a few friends wasn’t enough to get me through the dark hole I was spiraling down.
I am on the brighter side of that hole and feel better. I have learned more about myself in those hard times and seeking help was the best thing I could do for me. I feel no shame in admitting it and would encourage anyone. I was lucky and found someone word of mouth because the internet was too overwhelming with choices. The main reason for this post is to show that the glass is not always full, even when from the outside it may look like it is.
2017 is a year about me and finding who I am again. Things I see are for me are:
  • Take more time to relax and not always be rushed to fill my days with something. That having a nap is good.
  • Run for the enjoyment of running and not because I have to train for something.
  • Take in the sights and sense of community for the VIRA series this winter.
  • Don’t get burned out.
  • Keep my work hours to being 8:00 am-4:30 pm. This is huge.
  • Work on strength training and incorporating some yoga.

I am sure that more things will come along that I want to work on for myself but for now, these are a few things.

What does this year bring for you or do you hope it brings for you?

Three months being MIA

Since I ran the Boston Marathon I have been a busy lady and this post is to share where I have been for the three months. Some of you may have noticed I have not written a blog post for a while, while others have not.

On April 25th, a week after I completed Boston I started an online Academic Writing and Critical Thinking course offered through Royal Roads University. It was a tough eight weeks and some days I was in tears as it was outside of my comfort zone. Warren was good at reminding me that if I already knew how to do it I would not be taking the course. I also had friends and co-workers who supported me through it. The course did not kill me and I came out stronger and achieved an A-. Say what?!?

While I was hitting the books I also had to find time to train for my first 50k race called the Broken Goat that took place in Rossland on July 16, 2016. A race recap of that will be coming soon.

When it came to training for an ultra trail race I was a bit like a fish of out of water. I did not have a training plan to follow and I had tried to Google some plans but soon became overwhelmed when so many options came up. Would I train by hours or would I train by distance?  My friend Karen, who I met last year at the start line of the Broken Goat 25km race, was training for the same race. She has done other 50km races and excelled at them so when we would connect about running each weekend I would share my guesstimates of time that I thought I should be running. Karen would then share her plans and it ended up that I went along with her training plan. I was happy for Karen’s knowledge and appreciated her help.

Karen and I at McKenzie Bight.
Karen and I at McKenzie Bight.

Except for a couple of weekends during our training, Karen and I spent hours exploring trails. We are lucky and both live 10-20 minutes away from a trailhead.

The first time I ran for four hours I was not sure I was going to make it. I had never run that long and it felt impossible but Karen encouraged me along and was patient with me. I remember coming up Goldstream Avenue to finish this particular run and she asked me how my legs were feeling? I was ready to kick, scream and cry at this point but I held that in. Instead, with a smile, I just said “They feel like shit!” and continued on. About 15 minutes later when we reached my house I had a lump in my throat and I felt sick to my stomach. Those were new feelings for me after a run. The end of this run was the beginning of Pea and Pod.

My first 4 hour run

Sometimes when we ran it was just Karen, her dog Olive and I while other times we had a few others run with us. A typical weekend was 1.5 hours- 2 hours on Saturday and Sunday was anything from 2 hours to 4.5 hours.

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As I trained I went through various emotions and feelings of uncertainty. I had to learn what worked for me nutrition wise and how often I needed to eat. When I started running I found that I was crashing because I was only eating when Karen was eating. I soon learned that I could not compare myself to Karen or when others were eating and I needed to eat before my body started to slow down. Typically for me, that was about every 45 minutes to an hour. Nutrition that I found worked for me were Cliff Block Chews, Honey Stinger Chews, Lara or Luna Bars or just a granola bar of some sort. I did eat a couple of Gu gels but tried to stick with actual food. I also learned more about Karen because we had nothing but time to share stories and laughs. And the biggest thing was I learned more about myself.

A shout out to Coach Sue as well, who met me most Thursday mornings to run Thetis Lake. She was happy to change-up our regular road runs for some trail to accommodate my new goal.

In another news, which makes me very proud, is my aunt ran her first half marathon the end of June called the Perth Kilt Run. She told me that I inspired her to run it after I completed my first marathon in May 2015. That made me happy to hear. As she went through her highs and lows of training  I helped to give suggestions about nutrition before, during and after a run, drinking more water and using nuun as an electrolyte replacement. I also was there as support and help with doubts as she trained. I have learned that training for races takes your body and mind through so many different things that we are all unaware of until you go through it at least once. Even then, each round of training can bring up different feelings.

My aunt is amazing and her hard work and dedication paid off. She finished her first half marathon in a time of 2:21. She enjoyed herself and even though she had self-doubts during her training she felt great on race day. She even got a little competitive with another runner at the end of the race she told me. It was her way to push herself to go faster and she wanted to try to beat him. I loved hearing that because that is what I do when I run.

My amazing aunt running her first half marathon
My amazing aunt running her first half marathon

She loved her run so much that she is signed up for the Army Run half marathon in Ottawa coming up in September. This makes me so excited!

I hope to get back to regularly scheduled broadcasts as I have the Finlayson Arm 50km trail run coming up on September 10th. I hope to write some posts sharing my highs and lows so you can read about the fun times of my training.

What is new in your world?

If you have trained for a 50k before, did you train by time or distance for your long runs?

What have you learned about yourself when training for a run?

 

 

 

Guest Post by Warren Beattie: Finding my grassy roots in the Methow Valley

 

I was anxious on race day. I haven’t felt anxious before a race in a long time. I have done so many races that I have lost track of the number and that feeling that sits in your gut and gnaws at you before the gun goes off is, for about a year now, not something I feel anymore. I remember a quote, and it was probably from someone now infamous, but it went something like “When you stop feeling that nervous energy before a race you have lost the passion for it”. I don’t think I have lost the passion for running but perhaps just needed something new. I was happy to be feeling that on this particular race day. 

It was my first “international” race and I told Kyla months ago that I wanted to “kill” this particular trail race. On race day, however, I wasn’t feeling so confident. I had been nursing an injury, my mileage was low and I had self-doubt. Doubt about sleep, about diet, about my sore leg/s and if the leg injury was going to come back.

Kyla had left early to the race site so I didn’t have to hide my doubt. She had volunteered that day to help coordinate parking. Even on her “off” days she is on. She keeps me honest and grounded and makes me strive to earn her respect. She motivates me to be the best I can be and that includes running better and smarter.

I had our rustic riverside guest house all to myself while I contemplated the race ahead of me. I have a routine before races. I have two cups of coffee and 2 liters of water with nuun when I wake up. Three hours before the race I have steel cut oats with nuts and raisins or cranberries and maple syrup. Then I have my shower. I know it may seem weird to shower before going out and racing but it is my routine.

My race kit has been packed the day before so I didn’t have to think about that on the day. Then I wait. Sometimes Kyla and I go early to races but usually, we will arrive right on time to pick up our race bibs and do a quick warm up then race. On this day, I found that I had time, time to kill. Time to make my head start thinking about failure. So I put on a movie “The Dallas Buyers Club”. I recognized the title but didn’t realize I had seen it until the opening credits. Heavy stuff first thing in the morning, but it was a great distraction.

0840 I was in the car and headed to the race site. The race started at 10 and having driven the road to the site the day before knew how long it was going to take. The road is a perfect driving road. The twists and turns were no match for Chewy and I reveled in the burp the turbo made each time it geared up and down and then hung on to the revs until the last second only to grind through each turn and blast out the apex. I connect with that car and imagined me running the groomed trails in the equally perfect fields of the Methow valley.

I arrived at the race site and looked around for Kyla. I gave her a hug and started my warm up. Really, I just needed to pee so I made my way to the outhouse. Then I did my warm up. I have found now I have to thoroughly warm up my legs and in particular my hips. I LOVE getting older.

The race has a “grassroots” feel. I don’t think though that I am a “grassroots” kind of guy. There were no timing chips, which is fine as people have been timing things since the invention of stopwatches and I didn’t think a photo finish was going to be an issue. There really was no start line. I mean there was, but it was like an impromptu race at a family reunion. There was no pre-race pep talk, warning of the perils of trail racing. No introduction of elite racers or history or really anything that I have come to expect at running races. I don t know if I need those things but I was seriously wondering at the time what my 75 bucks paid for?

Just shy of 25k later and I have to admit the race was amazing. No, I should say the course was amazing. It had ups and downs and twists and turns like all the trail races but it was different somehow. I remember a particular instance reaching out as I was running on a foot-wide trail with waist-high yellow wildflowers and running my hands along the tops of them. I remember the view of the lake and the yellow, green and red hills painted in the background, daring me to look away. I remember having an actual conversation with a guy named Stephen. I remember being completely overwhelmed at the aid station… Actually, I don’t really remember anything but chaos at the aid station and that my water bottle, miraculously, filled itself. I remember a climb that had no business being in this amazing trail race. I remember perfectly placed pink ribbons outlining the course. I remember the yellow signs that guided me to some absolutely amazing single track that twisted its way downhill to the finish. I remember my legs burning and my head spinning and my heart pounding and eating dirt and swatting mosquitoes. It was perfect.

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I crossed the finish line in two hours and five minutes andI hugged Kyla. Then it was over. Just over. No medal, no awards, no “atta boy” t-shirt. Just a high five and a couple of beers and pizza… and it was worth every penny. Maybe I am more grass-roots than I thought.

Finding my trail legs

Now that the Boston Marathon run is complete, my next big race on the calendar is the Broken Goat 50km in Rossland, British Columbia on July 16th. It is a trail run with 7,500ft ascent and 9,000ft descent. It’s a good thing I don’t really understand how high that climb is because I may not have signed up. Ha! This will be the first time I have run that distance so it is a new challenge for me. I ran the inaugural Broken Goat 25km trail run last July and enjoyed it so fingers crossed I like this distance too.

This weekend as a break from working on my assignments for the Academic Writing Course I started last week, I spent time solo on the trails. It was just what I needed and gave me time to think.

On Saturday, mid-morning I headed to Thetis Lake which isn’t very far from my house and did some exploring. I ran part of the lake trail and then veered off towards Stewart Mountain. I had run it once a long time ago and thought it was time to try again. Along the way, I saw Jeanette and Shawna who were out for an adventure of their own.

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At the beginning of my run, I was feeling lonely. I had just spent the last 18 weeks running with friends for my marathon training and now I was solo. I had my iPod playing and that helped a bit. Eventually, I just settled into the groove and enjoyed my run. I even went exploring and found some trails I had never been on behind Stewart Mountain as well. I was unsure to where the trails went so I checked them out a little but decided to save some of the explorings for days when I have a longer run scheduled.

I ran for two hours, covered 18km and it felt good.

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Top of Stewart Mountain and some old cars I found when exploring.

Sunday, I wanted to do more running and add in some hiking because I think a lot of the Broken Goat race for me will involve hiking up the mountains. I drove to Mt. Finlayson and it was busy. I figured it would be because the weather was perfect and I was also starting later in the day.

I made myself run the trail to the steepest rock section, where my run became more like hiking. I pushed myself until I caught up with some other hikers who I passed when I could.  I made it to the top in thirty minutes, took a quick photo and headed down the back side of the trail. I eventually made my way back to the path that leads you to the Bear Mountain trails and I cruised through those back to Mt. Finlayson. I was out for 1.5 hours and covered 7km. Quite the difference compared to what I can run on the roads in that amount of time.

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So clear from the top of Mt. Finlayson.

The Broken Goat 25km race took me just under three hours to complete. I know that the 50km race will be much harder and I have a feeling it will take me seven hours and a bit…if I am lucky. All I know right now is that I am looking forward to the views and the whole experience. Eleven weeks and counting.

Have you run a 50km trail run?

What is your advice for me?

Did your training involve hikes or just running?

Boston Training 2016: The Marathon Expereince

I’m back home from the Boston Marathon and what an experience. I still get goosebumps when I talk about it and I feel like I am flying high.

My Aunt and I attended the Race Expo at the John Hancock Convention Centre on Saturday morning. We arrived when it opened and there were already many inside. We went first to pick my up my race bib and once it was in my hands the marathon felt even more real. I followed suit with other runners and grabbed a photo with it.

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Next, I went to pick up my race bag that had various things in it including a long sleeved Boston shirt that is blue and yellow. The Race Expo was one floor down and that was where I bought my race jacket. I was so excited to finally get it and wanted to wear it right away but for some reason, I felt I needed to run the race before I could wear it. So, I carried it around the expo with me except for when I met Kathrine Switzer.

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She was signing her book Marathon Woman and would also sign your race bib if you wanted her to. I, of course, got her to sign my bib because I read her book and really loved it. Her story inspired me while I was training so meeting her was such a great opportunity for me.

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It says “Kyla! Be Fearless!”

The Boston Marathon takes place on the third Monday in April because it is Patriot’s Day. To stick with my routine of not sleeping for most of the week before I had a sleepless night and was awake a little before my alarm was set to go off at 4:40 am. I got up, started the coffee pot and hopped in the shower while it brewed. Shay was up and at em as well to come with me because she wanted to be part of the experience as much as she could, minus running the marathon.

We caught the bus and train from our place and went to the place where I could drop off my bag at the gear check. We then make our way to where I would catch the bus at the Boston Commons. There were school buses ready to drive us to the Athlete’s Village in Hopkinton, where the race starts. On the way, I sat with a man named Tony, from Quebec who was running the Boston Marathon for his second time. He was hoping his race was going to go better than his first experience last year. I am not sure how he made out but hopefully, he had a good run.

Once I arrived in Athlete’s Village I wasn’t sure what to expect. We walked through an inflated arch that took us down a small hill towards some tents where you could get bagels, apples, bananas, water, coffee and Gatorade and there were also port-a-potties. I went to tent number three at first but the ground was damp and it felt ‘lonely’ there. I don’t really know how to explain it but it felt like I shouldn’t be at that tent.  I decided to make my way to tent number two and it felt better. I grabbed a bagel and sat down next to two ladies. I was hoping to connect with them about something they were talking about and that would be my ‘in’ for making some new friends. Sure, I could have just gone with “Hi, my name is Kyla.” but that would have been too simple.

My in was when I heard them talking about how they wanted to run their race and I spoke up and said, “You just have to run your run”. They agreed and later Hayley noticed my Momentum Foot Note Shoe Charm that says “run your run.” Hayley and I chatted more and connected with a few other runners while we waited. We then made our way to the start line together as she was one corral ahead of me. We weren’t sure how things worked so it was a bit comforting going together.

The start line is 0.7 miles from the Athlete’s Village. They have the road closed off to traffic and we make our way down to the corrals. There were already some people lining the streets with flags and signs and I ended up seeing Tony again. I had been told that there wouldn’t be a long line up for the port-a-potties once I arrived near the start so I would be able to duck in one last time. I was expecting to see small lines but when I arrived there were a lot of people standing in line waiting and more making their way to them. I was about to head down when one of the volunteers said “If you start at 10:25 am you don’t have a lot of time. Keep making your way to the corral.” Since I didn’t want to be ‘late’ I didn’t go. I told myself that I could stop along the route once I saw the first port-a-potty. Well, that one came and went and I then ran for the next three hours and a bit thinking about going to pee. HA!

Once the official time started it took me a bit to get to the timing mat/start line. Once I hit the mat though I started my watch and away I went. I could see a sea of colors in front of me and it was crazy. There were so many runners and I looked forward to it thinning out. I was told that for the first 3-4km you are running with people and then it thins it. It never really thinned out and I ran with people right to the finish line.

From the start to the finish people lined the streets on both sides. It was just amazing. I have never seen anything like it and I never felt alone the entire time. There were adults and children standing with orange slices in their hands for runners to take as you went by. Later on, in other communities, there were people handing out ice chips, water, pretzel sticks, more oranges, Starbursts candy, and paper towel and Kleenex for you to wipe away sweat…or whatever. They had signs ready to cheer for their specific runner or signs for every runner. Kids and adults held out their hands for high-fives along the way and I gave many. Each time I would get goosebumps and felt an extra surge of energy in my step.

We run through Wellesley and I was told that the Wellesley girls from Wellesley College will be out in full force and to kiss them. Before I left when someone would mention the Wellesley girls I pictured the girls standing along the road in white shirts and plaid skirts. I am not sure why but that was what I thought of. When I saw the girls, that was not the case. They were dressed in everyday clothes, they were so loud and puckering up their lips for a kiss. Some signs read “If you kiss me you will win the race (maybe).” or “I’m a good kisser.” and more. It was just amazing and I smiled the entire way through.

My aunt was walking from the Boston Commons to Heartbreak Hill so she would see me at a point when she thought I would really need motivation. So, as I approached 30km I started looking for her on the right-hand side of the road. It was around the 33km mark that I saw her speaking to a man holding a laptop. Shay was trying to find out where I was in the race because she thought she had missed me. I saw her before she saw me and I started hollering at her. It took me calling her name twice before she saw me and then I was gone. I had contemplated earlier in the run about stopping to give her a hug but I knew better by the time I saw her that it wasn’t a good idea because I would have struggled to start running again.

Each time I hit a timing mat along the way I knew there were many eyes watching me. It was such great encouragement for me as I ran and I knew I had to get to the next one so I could get more ‘cheers’. For some reason, each time I ran over the mats, the fingers on my right hand went into a ‘hang ten’ shape. I don’t know why but it was something I did. hang ten

The entire run I felt pretty good. There wasn’t a time when I felt like I wasn’t going to be able to finish. I stayed hydrated along the way, I alternated Cliff Block Chews that had a shot of caffeine, with Chews that didn’t have caffeine so I could get an even mix so to speak. I did take one Chocolate Peanut Butter Gu with me that I took around 10km into the run but it tasted awful because it was so warm out. Thankfully the Chews and a couple oranges from strangers kept me going. Something I found out I don’t like when running a marathon is the smell of BBQ. As we started to come closer to the finish there was a BBQ happening and the smell was too much for me. I felt I needed to run faster to get away from it.

As I neared the end of the run I could see the Citgo sign that everyone had mentioned. You do see it for a long time but I found it wasn’t something I focused on. I was still taking in all the crowds of people and I was anxious to get to the end. The part that felt the longest was getting to the finish line. I could see it but it felt so far away. As I crossed the line I put my hands up and smiled big. I had just completed the Boston Marathon! Giddy up!

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I made my way through to get water, my medal, a space blanket, food and my gear. I had a quick massage and then went to find my aunt in the family waiting area under the letter Q. We decided to pick a letter that we thought wouldn’t have many people waiting for them there. She was easy to spot and we grabbed some photos. One of the first things she said to me was “You’re walking better than your first marathon.” and I was. I felt great and really enjoyed the entire experience.

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Overall this is how I placed. Not bad if I do say so myself.

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Thank you to all of you who cheered for me from afar. You were with me on race day and I am lucky to have all of you in my life. I loved getting back to the apartment after the race and seeing all of your messages. They are added to my Boston Marathon memories.

I have been asked if I will go back and run Boston again and right now I am not sure. I have qualified to do so but I think I would like to go running in a new place and experience another run. I have until September to make the decision.

What would you do? Would you go back again if you had the change or run in a new location?