I am in!

I have exciting news! I found out last week that I am officially on the USATF’s Olympic Trials Marathon Eligible List. If you remember my gun time was 2 seconds over the qualifying time but my chip time was 3 seconds under. There were a couple weeks the 2 seconds really bothered me. I thought about it constantly. Eventually I accepted that I ran the very best I could that day; I stopped looking at the website and focused on qualifying at my next race (Grandma’s Marathon, June 16). Fast forward to a week ago, my friend Sara sent me a link to the USATF list, asking if I knew my name was on it. I had no idea! I was shocked! Reaching a goal is always exciting!

Planting that goal in my mind persisted my running to higher and higher levels. Setting goals are really important. Typically, I keep my goals to myself or people close to me because the risk of failure is scary. We hate failure, it breeds fear and shies us away from our biggest dreams. A year and a half ago the trials were in the back of my mind but I was really unsure how possible it would be. But I also rarely believed I couldn’t do it.

I challenge you to write down a goal. Something you would never dream could happen. Then make smaller goals that will get you steps closer. And if needed, set smaller goals to get to those goals. Maybe you won’t reach that wild dream, but the pursuit will be worth it. I am updating my goal list as I type. 🙂

Team Jamie

“Team Jamie” came to me the morning of the race. It isn’t meant to be arrogant; it was a reminder to me of how I got to the starting line. I saw my friends, Carrie, Asher, and Travis, keeping me well rested and relaxed. It took me to the place of gratitude. Gratitude for this God given ability, for family and friends who always believed in me, for parents who helped wouldn’t let me overdo on the farm, for sisters who kept me well fed and told me I wasn’t crazy for pursuing this, for J’s positive words when negative thoughts took over and continual support of this journey, for friends who drove many hours and flew in for race day, for support from the community, for my coach pushing me to the limit and keeping me believing in myself, and many others. As we were driving to the drop off for the start line these thoughts swirled in my head, I was so thankful to be there.

The morning of the race is the most nerve wracking. You want it to start but also you don’t. You’re prepared but are you? The morning started reallyyyyy early. I didn’t sleep much the night before so I was pretty much awake when my alarm went off. Breakfast was my typical bagel and peanut butter and a banana. We all headed out the door to get to the start. We magically ended up in a bus drop off line. Runners were dropped there and put on a bus to the start. This didn’t go exactly as planned but it worked out well. Once I got to the start I knew I needed to go the bathroom and start warming up. The port-a-pottie lines were massive; I found a couple other women with the same dilemma and we found elsewhere to go. (Sorry, TMI, ha!) On to the warm up! I had an elite bib so I was given a little more time to warm up and do stride outs across the start before the gun. It was a really fun experience being with all the elite women. The camaraderie between the women was really amazing. No matter how much we compete it is fun to see others succeed.

Once the race started it was right to the race plan, 6:15-6:20 the first half. I have said it before, the first half should feel fairly easy and of course it did. I saw C, A, and T early on. The course was definitely rolling hills, nothing too steep up or down but it did affect pace. The first half went by fairly quickly. I felt pretty good but was being very cautious. I had have a hamstring/piriformis muscle issue. It had been bothering me for a while but I was nursing it and running through it. I was aware it would probably flare up. Up to this point I had been mentally saying “you got this” “you are going to do this” “you are doing it”. Around mile 15-17 my hamstring and my hip on the opposite leg began to bother me but I refused to slow down. At mile 19 I told myself I could slow down and not hit the time or fight through it. For half a second I thought about slowing down but then I thought “are you kidding?”; I was so close, if that was going to stop me it was going to have to make my legs stop moving.

Mental toughness is really important in running. This fall I worked on the mental part of running on a lot of my runs. For example, several of my workouts I had a mantra of “be relentless” or telling myself “you can do this” repeatedly. This paid off in my race. My mental game was so strong all race, I never doubted myself.

The final 5k was one big ball of pain and mental toughness I had never seen in myself. I also heard Carrie and Asher yelling at me that I could do it and I was almost there. Honestly, if it wasn’t for them cheering me on throughout the race, I’m not sure I would have finished like I did. The last mile was one of my fastest…. and most painful.

I gave it all to the finish line, When I crossed I knew the clock was right past 2:45, but I didn’t care. I put it all out there. Celebrating with Asher, Carrie, and Travis after was the icing on the cake.

At this point I have not qualified for the Olympic Trials. They only take gun time (2:45:02) but will consider chip time (2:44:57) if it is close. We haven’t heard back from the USATF. Regardless, I am thrilled with my time and looking forward to the next step in my training.

CIM Training

My road to the California International Marathon (CIM) began almost immediately after Boston. I had been thinking about the U.S. Olympic Trials Qualifying (OTQ) standard as a long term goal. (A little background about the OTQ: it comes around every four years and the qualifying window opens about a year after the previous Olympics. It gives them time to set the standard times, etc. The window closes the first of the year of the next Olympics. The current qualifying window is September 1, 2017 to January 19, 2020.) After my Boston race I talked to my coach quite a bit about going for it this fall. Once we knew the time was 2:45, it was my goal. It was easy to choose CIM, it has several qualifiers every year, it would be the host race for the U.S. Marathon Championships, meaning there would be several fast women, and I had friends to stay with in Cali.

My coach was very confident I could run 2:45 and he made me believe it. Most of my training was at goal marathon pace (6:15-6:20). Confidence in what you are doing is important. Personally, I try to keep this confidence to myself, hopefully it keeps me humble. Confidence during a race is what determines your outcome. I’ll tell you how that played out in the race. My training went really well. I nailed so many workouts, I was always eager to send my results to my coach. I didn’t always think 2:45 was in the books for me but I knew I was really close.

About 2 weeks before CIM I had a monster workout. It is always THE workout to see your fit level. I totally bombed it. I didn’t sleep well all week, I was tired from the higher mileage week before and I had not took ice baths like I normally do. I couldn’t run goal pace for over 4 miles. And the last 6 miles were into 20+ mph wind. I was so disappointed in myself. To this point my workouts couldn’t have gone much better. I was on a high and then hit a major low. I was 2 weeks out and unsure my goal was even realistic. It was a tough week, but once again my coach helped build my confidence back.

Come back to hear about race day!

Back to the Basics

A few rambling thoughts from my run: 

Today I ran without my GPS watch. It was the first time in about 7-8 months. It was so refreshing for me. When I wear my Garmin I constantly focus on my pace, even on recovery runs. Every mile my watch beeps, I look at the time and decide to pick it up or slow down. My whole run is focused on the current pace. Sometimes I need a break from the constant thought of time. I need the freedom to enjoy the run! I get caught up in the next goal or destination that I forget why I began this journey. We do that quite often, don’t we? We get so caught up in what is next and reaching that next step that we forget to enjoy it along the way. After a week of feeling wore down and average workout results, I was feeling pretty down on myself but I try to remember that no matter what, to enjoy this time! Enjoy the ability to run and to run fast. Enjoy the one on one time with God and the beauty all around. Always remember to enjoy the present because we won’t get it back and someday we will wish we had it back. 

Day 4: Race Day

The morning began early, 4:45! The Boston Marathon is different from other races I have participated in. It is a point to point race. They bus the runners from the finish to the start area. The busses actually drop us at a school, with a holding area outside called “Athletes Village”. There are tents, snacks, and a myriad of port-o-johns. Imagine an area the size of maybe two tracks with 30,000 people. It was important to find a good spot because we were there from 7:40 until 9:20. Our goal was to find a spot in the shade. We knew it was going to be a warm day, being out of the sun for as long as possible was crucial. Also, we were allowed to only take a plastic bag of food, supplies, etc to village and anything taken that you would not being racing with/in would be disposed of or donated. We each wore “throw away” clothes over our racing clothes. I became a regular at the port-o-john and discovered the lines in the corners were the shortest. 

From athletes village we were herded to the start area by coral number. We were all in wave 1 but different corrals within the wave. The march to the start is over a half mile. There were people already outside of their homes watching and cheering. One house had a table of essentials where I grabbed a hair tie just in case. One more stop at another set of porta-potties. From there we headed to the start and on to our respective corrals. Carrie and I said good luck and bye to Travis. 

Carrie and I hopped into the corral and weaved through other runners more to the front. We vaguely saw the elite men enter the start. We reiterated our race plan and waited for the gun. 

I can’t even explain how many other runners were around us from the start to at least 10 miles. To stay together we had to weave around other runners. Boston is known for the immediate downhill. It was important to be smart and not get caught up in the excitement and the elevation loss. Go out too fast and you will pay later! 

Once we started I focused on pacing smart, taking in fluids, and dousing with water as often as possible. This was the goal through at least 15-16 miles, before the four hills. We were rolling through the miles, checking them off one at a time. The crowd support was unbelievable. There was rarely an empty spot along the course. I have never taken so much water from spectators. I especially liked getting a water bottle. Carrie and I would pass it back and forth and then on to other runners. 

Around mile 15 I was feeling good and ready to take on the hills. My typical out and back loop at home has 4 hills/inclines on the way home. I imagined each of those hills on the race hills. It worked great; it really took the focus off the actual hill. By the final hill I knew I was spent. In most marathons I would say at mile 21 I am ready to fly, this was not the case this time. I was actually worried, “is this the ‘wall’ they talk about?”, “can I even hold pace to the end?” I told myself to stay at or under 6:30 and I would be fine. I tried to do math to determine what I needed for a sub 2:50, I decided I was close but I just needed to focus on getting to the finish and not worry too much about time. 

I thought the finish would never come. But it did and I made it with no regrets or disappointments. A new PR and a Boston finish. I only wish Carrie would have been right with me. It was a tough day for a race with the heat. A sub 3 and top 100 female. I am proud of her and Travis. 

The Boston Marathon is a race I wish everyone could experience. It’s not the ideal race for a fast time but the experience is worth every second. Thank you for another blessing. 

Day 3: A little R & R

Yesterday we focused on relaxing and resting. I woke up and headed out for an easy 4 miles with Carrie. I finished with a few strides to make me feel fast. It was a warm morning, so we were glad the race was not that day. 

All morning we focused on staying comfortable. We played a few games, which were quite fun. 

After lunch it was time to do a “timed trial” of our transit plan in the morning. The Boston Marathon busses the runners to the start line. This is a point to point run, it begins in Hopkinton and finishes in Boston. The runners are transported based on wave number which is based on qualifying time. Even though the race doesn’t start until 10, the bus leaves around 6:40. We will be in athletes village, at the start, for a while before the race. We wanted to time our trip to the busses so we know what time to leave in the morning. 

Once we were in Boston Commons we did a little tourist stop, another trip to the expo, and then back home to make dinner. I had my go to: spaghetti and meat sauce. I then prepped for the morning. Whew, decisions on what to wear can be excruciating! 

As nervous as I am about the race I also know that it will be a fun experience no matter the outcome. I will do my best and that is enough. 

Day 2: Expo Exploration 

This morning was an alarm free morning! I haven’t had that in a long time. Of course I woke up at 6 but I fell back asleep. After breakfast we headed for the expo. 
I wasn’t sure what to expect. As we neared the convention center we saw a lot of people and an extremely long line. We hopped in and waited. Once we were inside it was more lines to get packets/bib numbers and shirts. It is one of those things, you can be glad to be there and thankful for the security or complain about waiting. The final stretch to the finish line. 

At last we entered the expo. Wow, first up is the huge Adidas booth. They are the official apparel and shoe sponsor hence the large booth. I contemplated buying a shirt but there were too many people for my liking. As we were processing our next move the intercom announced Shalane Flanagan signing autographs at the HotShot booth. Carrie and I decided to check out the line and see if it was worth the wait. It was and 10 minutes later we had pictures and autographs. From there I was determined to find a Boston shirt. We got sidetracked and found super cheap Timex watches! I guess you could say we are old school but I would call it experienced. Before GPS watches, Timex was all we had. I was a better pacer then too. Anyway, back to the original plan, alas I found a shirt. One more trip around Adidas and again too many people. We exited and evaluated our next course of action. 

FOOD! As always, traveling with Carrie is a delight because she knows the best spots to eat. Lunch was at Sweetgreen, a simple ingredient salad like place but not salad like we typically think. It was really good. We had another Olympian siting, Molly Huddle. She ran the 5k that morning. I considered asking for a picture but hated to bother her. 

We then headed home for a game and a nap. It was wonderful to take a nap. Next we headed back to Boston for dinner. French cuisine this time. It was delicious. Back home and to be we went. I’ll be back tomorrow!

Happy Easter! He has risen! I want to share my favorite hymn, especially on Easter morning: 

Low in the grave He lay—  Jesus my Savior! Waiting the coming day—  Jesus my Lord!

Up from the grave He arose, With a mighty triumph o’er His foes. He arose a Victor from the dark domain, And He lives forever with His saints to reign.

He arose! He arose! Hallelujah! Christ arose!

Vainly they watch His bed—  Jesus, my Savior! Vainly they seal the dead— Jesus my Lord!

Death cannot keep his prey— Jesus, my Savior! He tore the bars away— Jesus my Lord!