When in doubt, race it out

Hiiiii!!!!

Well, I certainly relished my post-marathon BQ recovery, lol!! It was a nice rest, but at the same time my lack of running was because …I was a little sad…

I know, you’re probably thinking: Helly–what the hell?! YOU BOSTON QUALIFIED!!!

3:29:33 BQ — Hells to the yeah!!

But the post-marathon blues are for real, my friends. I had worked for this goal for a long time and now … nothing.

Of course, I knew I needed to rest after my big race. Yet, even after a couple of weeks of no running, getting back into the swing of things was rough. I’m big on plans, routine, consistency…and because I didn’t have anything to work towards, running for fun took a lot of effort.

I truly enjoy the training process. That, for me, is fun.

The post-marathon blues hit its peak two weekends ago when I was supposed to pace 2:00 at Phoenix’s Pride Run Half Marathon. I went to packet pick-up excited, thinking maybe this is what I needed to get back into the groove of things.

But because I had done very little running up to that point, I was really nervous. The night before, I half heartedly set out my gear on the kitchen table. When my alarm went off early the next morning, I wondered why…

I was out the door just after 5 a.m. (it was a super early start time of 6:30)–plenty of time for the drive to the race. But as I was going along the freeway mentally checking off the list, I realized I’d forgotten my bib on the kitchen table!! I had snagged the pace stick that was right next to it, but not the bib!! I debated going back or continuing to the race and seeing if I could find the race director or someone to help me. I finally decided to turn back thinking I’d banked enough time by having left early….I underestimated traffic and closures in downtown Phoenix however, and when I was close to the start, I wasn’t close enough with no parking around. I parked somewhere, anywhere (likely illegal) and thought maybe I could run to the start–but a mile in, I had no idea where I was…or where the start was…I walked back to my car, defeated, knowing I was about to DNS and let the race director and everyone else down.

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I sulked for the next couple of days, wondering how I could get myself out of this funk I was in. I had another race, a 5k, the following weekend–one in which last year I PR’d. I knew that with my lack of running, bettering last year’s time was out of the question.

But it’s such a great race, and for such a great cause. The Diamondbacks Race Against Cancer is a 5k my two friends from high school promote in memory of their daughter who passed away from DIPG, a very rare form of cancer that currently has no cure. She would be the same age as my daughter.

So even if a PR was unlikely, I knew this race would be one that could lift my spirits up–I was running for Gianna.

Saturday found me with some of my Moms Run This Town friends and I was happy to have some of my favorite people around. I was excited, regardless of what the outcome might be. Ashley, my BQ training buddy was with me, and I knew I would try to hang on to her as long as I could. Unlike me, she had been running and was in much better post-marathon/post-BQ shape (having won a 5 miler the week before!). I knew I wouldn’t be able to hang on for long, but I loved having her there to push me.

Me and Ash twinning in red

 

And we were off!! I wasn’t sure what pace I would hold and went in with zero plan. I knew that I’d pretty much positive split the race and didn’t care. It felt good feeling the racing rush, the racing pain.

First mile– 6:51. Yeeah, whoa. No.

Second mile–7:04. I said good-bye to Ashley as she went on with her speedy self…

Third mile–7:13. I knew I had a PR chance if I pushed on this last mile and it took every ounce of will power to do it. I thought of Gianna’s parents–whose strength I admire so much. I hugged them at the start, but couldn’t bring myself to say anything…

Point one–6:01. A girl sped passed me just after the third mile and I had her within reach nearing the finish line. I knew I had a little left in me so I surged right passed her telling myself to make it hurt

My last second surge somehow made it on T.V.

I couldn’t believe I PR’d!!! You know how people say they didn’t expect to do well in a race and you’re like…yeah right…

Well, honest to goodness, I had NO idea I’d be able to pull this off!! But beyond having beat last year’s time, I’m happy to feel again those feelings that make me want to run.

Last year and this year

Sometimes you need a race with ZERO expectations, and bunch of awesome friends, to get you back on your feet ❤

We all ran away with a PR!!

 

–Have you experienced the post-race blues?

–Is it easy for you to run with no training plan?

–How do you get yourself out of a running funk?

–Ever unexpectedly PR?

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Thank you Mesa-Phx Marathon, I’M GOING TO BOSTON!!!

The instant I woke up on Saturday, I knew it was going to be a good day. I didn’t know if BQ good, but I knew it would be good.

I had set my alarm for 2:30 a.m. (yes, this race requires an EARLY wake up), but my body naturally woke up at 2:15 a.m.–ready to go. I remember thinking, “Nice. My body knows what to do. It’s ready.”

My buddies Scott and Marsha, and my long-time friend Nadia (also trying to BQ) rode with me and my husband to the start line. I forced them to endure my pre-race song–Delta Goodrem, Believe Again–on repeat. We found parking and got to the busses without trouble. Parking can be an issue for this race but since we had arrived early, we had zero problems.

I had prepared for a cold wait for the start, wearing layers upon layers, so I was comfortable despite the 30 something degree temps. I felt good, I felt relaxed.

Me and my ❤

We (me, my training buddy Ashley, and our unofficial/official pacer Tomio) somehow ended up starting a couple of minutes after the official start so the first mile was spent navigating through crowds. We were behind the 4:55 pace group and passed a few other pace groups as we tried to find an opening to settle into our pace.

Mile 1- 8:15

I wasn’t worried about being “off” pace. The first mile is super downhill so I was okay with having kept that above goal pace (which was really anything under 8:00). I was shooting for a sub 3:30, ambitious considering my previous PR was 3:44–but go big, or go home, right?

The big hill began just after mile 4 and that was where I was really nervous. I didn’t want to expend energy trying to speed up it, but I didn’t want to slow down too much and ruin my pacing. I just tried sticking as close as I could to Ashley. I also knew our good friend Bob would be at the top, so I just kept chanting, “Get to Bob. Get to Bob.” The top of the hill was practically his front yard so his sign was fitting.

#InBobWeTrust

Hill miles

I knew the hardest part was over, and that from there, it was all about settling in to race pace and holding on.

Steady was the name of the game

I came into the half at 1:45 feeling really good. I was wearing a pace band and had my watch set for individual mile splits. One mile at a time, I kept telling myself. I knew at this point of the course, the downhill was over and it was flat, flat, flat the rest of the way.

It was just after the half-way point that I saw a familiar face–my brother!! It completely caught me off guard as I hadn’t expected him to come cheer. He works night shifts (5 p.m. to 5 a.m.) and had told him I would understand if he wanted to forgo spectating for sleep.

But there he was, and I found myself getting so emotional. I reminded myself that crying doesn’t allow for good breathing so I just mouthed a silent, “I love you!” and kept on.

I thought a lot about my family during those miles. I thought a lot about the sacrifices they’ve made for me, my husband–who was also on the course that morning and finished with a 3:13!–and how supportive he is with my running.

And I couldn’t believe how good I was feeling.

I saw my brother again at mile 18 and he asked how I was. I yelled, “I’m doing it!” as I ran and I heard him say he’d see me at the finish line.

Around mile 19, Ashley fell back. I kept pace for a couple more miles, plugged myself in at mile 21 and then started to hurt at mile 22.

The farthest I’ve gone in a marathon before falling apart –I’m getting better at this, lol!

It was sudden, but it was deep. The pain from cramping jolted me but I refused to give in to them and walk. Instead, I gritted my teeth and fought, fought hard.

At this point, I stopped looking at my watch and just ran. I didn’t want to see a pace that discouraged me so I ran what I could. At the time, it felt like I had slowed considerably. I was in so much pain.

The “slow” miles…I can’t believe it.

At mile 23ish, my friend Elle (@afastpacedlife) was waiting for me and while I wanted to say something, anything–I couldn’t. I was in so much pain. Her and my friend Andrew (who had replaced my pacer Tomio–he had gone back for Ashley) ran with me, saying words of encouragement.

My coach found me just after mile 25 in pretty rough shape. I hated her seeing me like that and I tried fixing my form and picking up my pace. She reminded me to lean in, pick up my feet, and BREATHE. “Every second counts!” she yelled at me.

But I was fading fast in that last mile, and as I turned the final corner, I saw my friends and my coach’s team yelling at me to GO!! I could see them, but I couldn’t hear them.

The final stretch to the finish line was time standing still. I was moving, but I wasn’t. I could see, but I couldn’t.

I knew I needed to finish soon. Things were getting ugly.

That was a Must. Finish. last mile

Throughout training, I envisioned crossing the finish line so many times. On so many tough runs, I pictured myself arms raised triumphantly, BQ time glaring on the clock screen. I pictured myself smiling, crying tears of joy, hugging whoever was near me.

Yeah, things didn’t turn out that way, lol!

I was in so much pain, so much pain that I honestly couldn’t even feel the pain anymore. I was on auto-pilot, system failing, Houston-we-have-a-problem mode. At that point, I had no idea what my time was, I had stopped looking at my watch a couple miles back. Instinctively though, as soon as I crossed, I stopped my Garmin and finally looked down.

And that’s when the tears began to flow. SUB 3:30!!! I had done it.

I waited at the finisher’s chute to see if Ashley had gotten her BQ–we had trained so hard, so long together I wanted both of us to make it. And she did!!! 3:34–six minute cushion for her, too! My friend Nadia found us having finished ahead and with an amazing BQ time of 3:26!!

But there was really only one person I wanted to see at that point. The one person who truly knew how much this moment meant.

I honestly couldn’t ask for a better partner in life. ❤

My rock. My everything. He’d been with me the whole way. When I was feeling strong, I thought of him. When I was feeling pain, I thought of him. Seeing the time on my watch filled me with so much joy, but there was nothing like telling him that I’d done it.

3:29:33

I’m going to Boston.

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Thank you all so much for your support, words of encouragement, BELIEF in me. When I first started this blog, qualifying for Boston was a distant dream. Friends, dreams do come true!!! They really do!!! Whatever they may be…

xoxo, 

helly

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ETA:

P.S. Random, but a big deal to me, lol!! I was SO looking forward to accepting my new PR on Athlinks.

 

If you have an Athlinks account, find and friend me!! If you don’t, create a profile here and you’ll have a sweet place to record your race times, find friends, and find races! (ICYMI, I am an ambassador for Athlinks and as always, only ever promote companies I actively use and love. Pretty easy to love athlinks.com honestly, lol!)

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It Went Down In Phoenix–The Expo

It happened. It went down in Phoenix.

3:29:33

I’m honestly still registering emotions and coming out of shock so I’m starting with recapping the Expo as I try and collect myself, lol!

I’M GOING TO BOSTON!!!!

Whew, okay… expo.

My friends Scott and Marsha were here to get married (on the course) so we all did expo together. I had convinced my buddy Carlos (you know him as Carlos The Runner on IG) to come down to Phoenix for the race and he joined us on our expo-dition.

Photo courtesy of Carlos 😀

I’m biased, this race is my favorite, and a big part is because I get to meet SOOO many people (partially because I convince many to come, LOL). I met Heather from Heather Runs Fast and her BRF Jolene from Zebra Girl Runs. These speedy ladies rocked the half marathon (Heather) and full marathon (Jolene).

They gave me speedy vibes ❤

I got to see Emily (RunEMZ on IG) and it was Carlos’ turn to fangirl (I did when I first met her in 2014, ha!).

Another Carlos original

After expo, we went back to my place for Scarsha’s rehearsal dinner….and I FINALLY got to meet Elle from A Fast Paced Life!!!!! You have no idea how long I’ve waited for this day!!! Elle has seriously been with me on this crazy running/blogging journey since the beginning and knows how far I’ve come–all the ups and downs and craziness.

I didn’t get a pic of us before the race, but here’s one of us drinking bloody marys after 🙂

YAY!

We called it an early night as we had a SUPER early wake up call (2:30 a.m.!!) the next morning. My flat me was ready and I was ready for bed! I wasn’t nervous…I felt good, I felt relaxed–probably the calmest I’d ever been the night before a race. I was excited! ❤