Looking Ahead

from Marathons and Mechanisms

So, by now most of you know that the Trials Marathon was pure carnage. The weather was brutal and the course was maddening, but the racers were tough. I had battled with a bit of knee pain going into my last two weeks of training, but I thought I had put that behind me. At about mile 6 I was having to back off because I was already feeling like I was over heating. By doing that, I think I sat back a bit, changing my gate, and aggravating my knee. By mile 10 I was dizzy and limping already. I knew it was not my day. But, just because it hurt didn’t mean I was going to quit. Everyone has their reasons for dropping out of the race, but I couldn’t justify it. So I just adjusted, I slowed way down, I took in the crowds and all of my FANTASTIC triathlon friends, family, boyfriend, and tons of surprise face I saw out on the course. I found other women struggling and we worked together to get through it and finish. Actually, I got one woman who was walking to start running with me and one woman who was about to drop out and walk to the med tent to start running again and they ended up beating me, haha. Kind of a funny predicament, but it was amazing what a community I felt with these women. We were all there because we earned it and finishing was the only way, in my mind, we could honor ourselves for this achievement. And you know what, my friends and my family and everyone loves me all the same, no matter how fast or slow I finished the race. It just blows my mind how much love I have in my life; unconditional love. I am so lucky.

Many people have talked about the race and events from the weekend in terms of how the race was put on, the accommodations we had, the support on the course and off the course, etc. I think its really good for all of us to speak openly about the things we want and could improve upon. I found myself trying to avoid all things associated with the race, partially because I didn’t want to stress out and partially because I had already realized that this was going to be the end of something for me. It was going to cap off this journey from surprise marathon winner in 2013 to OTQ 4 months later to Team USA Minnesota to the Trials.

What I struggled with most this cycle was my mental drive. I have had about a year and a half where racing just hasn’t worked out well. I give workouts my all and sometimes even see improvement, but then the races are where I fall flat. It’s really a blow to my confidence when I can’t seem to hold onto the pack in a race or can’t even maintain a pace I have tempo-run at before. Around thanksgiving I found myself bawling, feeling like I didn’t want to go out for a run, didn’t want to workout, actually desiring for a day off. That wasn’t like me. So, was I over trained? was 90-100 miles a week too much? Most likely. This time, my mind copped out before my body did, opposite of the last time I was over trained. I backed off on my miles and workouts began to come around, but still, even after successful workouts, I found myself unhappy and feeling unsure. It is a strange and unwelcome sensation to complete a workout successfully and still find myself bawling.┬áIt takes a lot to admit that to the world. I know I am not alone, and used this opportunity to reach out to my friends, boyfriend, and family for support.

I was reminded by my loved ones that I have an incredible will, strong work ethic, and determination, too. I was reminded about what an opportunity it is to be able to train full time. I was reminded what some people have sacrificed for me or given to me to allow this race to be possible. I was also reminded that there are 246 women in the whole nation who qualified to race the Trials race. I’m one of the lucky few who get to toe the line with the best of the best in this distance. Instead of feeling sorry for myself, or unsure of my potential, I had a defining moment in choking tears in Houston which forced me to realize that being positive is the best thing I can do and the only thing I can do to be sane. That’s what I did, I ran with my heart and didn’t give up on completing the journey I started two years ago. I know in my core that I want to run, I love to run. But, looking now at what is ahead of me, I am not sure if running full time is how I am going to find that happiness.

I have decided recently, after speaking closely with Dennis and Pat, that I am stepping away from Team USA Minnesota. It is an incredible team and association filled with passion and support. I am so grateful for the time, energy, money, and love they have both put into me and my training in the past year an a half. I am thankful for my teammates working with me, pushing me, and speaking from their hearts when trying to help me be my best. I know that I have found friends that will last a lifetime and I know I will continue to run with them and follow their successes.

I will keep running, I AM A RUNNER. But instead of racing and working out with the intentions of making this a money-making endeavor and a way of make a World team, Olympic team, or even finding fame, I want to do it because it brings me unfaltering joy. How that is achieved, I don’t know yet. What I do know is that I want to play around with trail racing, I want to try some new distances, I want to get on my bike again, I want to take days off, I want to gain some healthy weight, I want to do a marathon where I run with my friends and make memories, maybe wear a costume or two. I want to run fast, but I can’t decide at the moment if competition and winning are really at the top of my list, at least not right now.

My post race food shrine

One amazing thing about Minnesota is the depth of the running community. I will not be without running buddies, understanding friends, and fun opportunities to run with a smile on my face (even if its because my lips are frozen like that). I hope to get involved with the team circuit here, which has low levels of pressure, which is what I need. I have just finished interviewing with Aerotek Staffing, a third party staffing agency which will be helping me find contract work in the Food and Beverage industry here in the Twin Cities as a Laboratory Technician. That will take some time though, so in the mean time I am loving working full-time hours at TC Running Company with my family there and studying for the GRE. I am almost ready to pay for the test which I will take in the month of April.

It has been so nice to return to Minnesota, this is my home now. I spend a great evening catching up with Jillian, had dinner at Lucia’s for MPLS Restaurant Week with their whole household, which I have missed so much. I forgot how much I laugh when I am around all of these people, I’ve missed it more than I thought I would. Ryan took me for a tour of the cities, just to see everything I haven’t in the past three months. It all looks the same, besides being sprinkled with patches of snow here and there. I am excited for the future here in Minneapolis and St. Paul, some great things are up ahead.

I want to thank my sponsors for keeping me on my feet and for supporting me through it all. Bonk Breaker and Genucan and San Franola Granola will still me staples of my fueling. Balega will still keep my toes warm and I jaunt around this icy, but recently mildly weathered, tundra. I want to thank every single person who has supported me along this journey. It isn’t over, its just changing trajectory.

The day after the marathon, Ryan, my Mom, and I were waking to lunch in Santa Monica, near where the LA Marathon was finishing. Two women walked by with matching shirts with the saying “It’s just a bad day, not a bad life” written on them. That really hit home for me. My races have been bad days, some workouts have been bad days, but when I step back, I really have a good life. A Great life. So here is to enjoying it and turning over a new leaf. Who knows what is to come, but that’s sometimes the best part.

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