Sunday, October 19, 2014

Wineglass Marathon Race Report

Two weeks ago I completed my 5th marathon.  When I first started running, I was sure a marathon was for gifted runners and crazy people...not ordinary people like me.  And then when I registered for my first marathon it was going to be a one and done.  However, I fell in love with the marathon.  But, unlike the half marathon, I can't crank out a marathon every week or couple of weeks.  I've limited myself to 2 a year last year and this year.  Because I don't do them as frequently, it's hard for me to choose a favorite.  They all have great things about them.

Here are a few of my favorite things about the Wineglass Marathon:
- Gorgeous race course
- A finisher medal made of glass
- A course that never merges with the half marathon
- Outstanding race swag - a wineglass, a shirt and a bottle of champagne

The race started in Bath, New York and finishes 26.2 miles later in Corning, New York.  I love a point to point race.  Sure the logistics are a little tougher, but you get to see more and there's no chance of the dreaded out and back.  I also really love marathons that are just a marathon.  It's a difficult thing to watch the half marathoners break away and go to the finish.  While this race had a half marathon, we never saw them.  They started before us and in the middle of the marathon course.  It felt like separate races!

We had to catch a shuttle from the finish line to the start of the race.  The shuttle got us to the start line about an hour before the race was to start.  We had trained all summer in the heat and humidity.  One of the great things about picking a race in New York in October was knowing the temperature wouldn't be too hot.  And it wasn't.  It was a toasty 32 degrees.  Which might not have been too bad to run in, but it was brutal to wait in for an hour at the start line.   It was at least mile three before my toes had defrosted.

I ran this race with my dear friend Holly.  She trained with me last summer to run her first half.  She's completed a few of those, and in the spring just hinted that she might like to run a full.  Of course, I ran with that.  We've been training together for this race all summer.  She is amazing - through all of our training runs and the entire race she never complained!!  Don't worry, I complained enough for both of us.  I loved getting to train with her every week and running the race together was definitely a reward for all of our hard training.  I loved getting to experience her first marathon with her.  I also loved that our friendship got even closer during the process!  Maybe it's the shared experience (and pain) or all the conversations that happen on long runs, but either way running glues people together.

Races have been hard for Mark since he's been injured and recovering and overcoming setbacks for so long.  I know it's hard for him to get excited to come out to a race and cheer.  I really expected him to only meet us at the finish line.  But he was the most outstanding spectator all day!!  He was able to find us on the course at least eight times.  Every time he was all smiles and cheers and had the music blaring in our rental car for everyone to enjoy.  We were thrilled to see him every single time.  You have no idea how much of a mental boost it gives you to see a familiar face during the race.  It really helps you keep going.  But Mark impacted many more people than just our group of runners.  I heard at least five different strangers tell him how much his cheering meant to them.  And I think he got a little bit of a boost from the experience too.

The race was an amazing experience.  There was never a point where I thought I couldn't do it or wouldn't be able to finish.  I'm thankful to Fleet Feet and Personal Best Fitness for that.  And thanks to Mark & Holly for the on course entertainment.  Holly and I got to run the last 2 1/2 miles with my great friend Kendra.  She was coming off an injury that cost her weeks of training and still significantly PR'd the race.  I loved getting to finish the race with her.

A big shout out to my amazing friend Gail, who trained her butt off and PR'd the race by more than 10 minutes.  She's amazing!  She works hard all the time.  I'm definitely the slacker in our training.  Danielle ran her first marathon and was the speediest runner in our group!  She rocked it and has already signed up for her next marathon!  It was also Erich's (Holly's husband) first marathon.  He is a personal trainer and super fit.  He had limited running training and still had an amazing race!  We kept expecting to pass him on the course (and we might have glanced in all the medical tents we ran by to make sure he didn't hurt himself) but he was a rockstar!  And he's planning his next marathon already too, or at least he's thinking about it.

Corning is quaint, super cute little town.  It reminds me a lot of downtown Franklin.  And because we crammed in a trip to Niagara Falls before the race we didn't have a chance to visit any of the local wineries or create something from glass (glass is what Corning is known for), so we clearly have to plan a return trip.  I haven't done a half marathon in New York yet.  It's my goal to do one in all 50 states.  I'm planning to come back to run this one next year. It's a well done, beautiful race.  Plus, if I put in the work, it could be a potential PR course.  

Friday, September 26, 2014

Wearing a Bikini

Husbands can be difficult to shop for.  Mine is the exception to that.  I feel like I could shop for him for days.  He may return half of it, but I never run out of gift ideas.  I also really like to give experience gifts.   His birthday was over the summer (June 30th).  We were in Seaside for his actual birthday.  About 6 weeks before his birthday, I decided to surprise him by ordering a bikini to wear while we were there.  

The significance of this gift is that I haven't worn a bikini (thank goodness for tankinis) in at least 14 years, but maybe longer.  Like most women, I'd rather have a root canal than shop for a bathing suit.  But I'm thinking a double root canal sounds like more fun than prancing around the beach in a bikini. However, I knew it would mean a lot to Mark.  And it did.  He told me over and over how great I looked and thanked me for stepping out of my comfort zone.  

I'd love to tell you that in the weeks before his birthday I really buckled down and lost 10, 15 or 20 pounds and that when I put on the bathing suit I felt amazing about myself.  However, that's sadly not the case.  It was just normal me in a bikini feeling very apprehensive and anxious.  I will say the only reason I was brave enough to do this is because Mark builds me up constantly.  

Since we met almost 9 years ago, there's not been a single day that he's seen me and not told me I was beautiful.  He says it in a sincere way and I know he means it.  He gets frustrated with me when I don't accept or believe him.  And somedays it's really hard to believe him.  I'm thankful for him and his encouragement every day.

Why am I sharing all of this?  Because as women we are much too hard on ourselves about our physical appearance.  We don't think we should wear bikinis or feel good about the way we look until we reach perfection.  Perfection, by the way, is a myth.  Even the people who I believe should have rock solid confidence, still have moments and days of insecurities.  So my challenge to myself and anyone who reads this - embrace the way you look and celebrate it.  Sure you can work on being fitter and more toned and lose weight, but don't forget to enjoy where you are now. 

Marathon Madness

In just 9 short days, I will have already completed the Wineglass Marathon.  It will be my 5th full marathon.  I'm running it with my dear friend Holly.  It will be her first marathon!  There is something special about your first marathon.  I'm so excited to get to run beside it and experience it with her.

So much goes into training for a marathon.   People look at you like you've lost your mind when you tell them you are going to run 26.2 miles.  Yeah, like that is the hard part. Training is hard.  Running up to 4 hours every Saturday morning for 16 weeks is hard.  Explaining to your friends and family that you can't do something because you have a long run the next morning is hard.  Balancing your diet, hydrating, cross training, work, life and running is hard.  Sure, even the marathon is hard.  But the hardest part of all for me?  The two weeks before the marathon.  AKA - the taper.

A taper is when you reduce your mileage before the race.  You spend your time resting, foam rolling, hydrating, running easy, etc.  It's not the reduced mileage that gets to me.  Let's face it, I'm totally fine slacking there.  Tapering is a mental game.  It's when those ugly emotions of doubt and anxiety creep in.   I question everything I've done for the last 16 weeks.  Will it be enough?  I should have run more.  I should have run faster.  Why did I eat those 57 cookies (not at once, but it's at least that many in 16 weeks, right)? Can I do this?  What is this nagging pain?  I wonder if I have a stress fracture.  Also, I'm an emotional basket case.  I'm already an easy crier.  But for the days leading up to the marathon, I have to hydrate extra for the random tears.  Seriously.


How do you combat the taper madness?  I have no idea.  But a little extra motivation seems to help.  Here are two of my favorite running motivators.

I know when race day gets here there will be plenty of nerves, but deep down I know I'm ready.  I love distance running.  It's a chance to show yourself what you're made of.  It's a test of wills.  As someone once told me, after you finish a marathon you feel like you could conquer the world.  That is a very accurate description.   But if you see me before the marathon, give me a hug and be prepared for me to randomly burst in to tears!  Ahhh, you've got to love the taper.