Friday, December 4, 2015

Race Report Two-for-One Deal: Philadelphia Half and Turkey Trot

An unexpected holiday savings for you: two race reports for the price of one!

Two weeks ago, I ran the Philadelphia Half Marathon. I knew I wasn’t in shape to PR, but I was excited to get back into the world of racing and see what I could do. Four days later, I ran a Turkey Trot 10K. Again, I knew it wouldn’t be a PR, but I love holiday-themed races, and it’s hard to turn down a Turkey Trot.

The Philadelphia Half Marathon, mile 6. 
At the half, I just tried to run by feel and see what happened. I hoped to start on the slower side, but the first mile was a bit fast and then the second mile marker was way off. (Thanks to the runner near me who warned us not to freak out over the ridiculously slow split!) By mile three, I realized I was staying pretty steady and feeling comfortable. Awesome.

I still felt great for the next couple miles and I had approximately 8,500 friends and family members out cheering. Mile 6 was a major cheer zone and basically every block someone was screaming my name. (Everyone’s name was on their bibs, so that also helped.) I remember thinking that this is what L.A. will be like; I have a ridiculous amount of people coming to support me there, and on a looped course, it seems like I’ll have people cheering for me every quarter mile. L.A.’s going to be even crazier than this, and this is nuts.

By mile 7, the crowds thinned and the hills started. At every mile I thought, Well, that mile had some uphill. Don’t look at the time; it will be discouraging. So I just ignored my watch and ran by feel. Keep the effort steady.

The wind was another force of discouragement. Along the river, the mile three marker had blown over and onto the runner in front of me. Weaving through the city, the buildings would block the wind momentarily, but then at each intersection it would come barreling back at you.

After mile 7 or so, as we headed out of downtown, it seemed to get worse, or maybe I was just tired of it. I tried to draft off people, but I am really terrible at drafting. I know! I’ll use this opportunity as practice! Here we go, tuck in behind this guy… Wait, that’s not helping. Maybe at this angle? No… It wasn’t a very successful mission in that regard, and every so often I gave up to focus again on just running my own pace. By mile 9, I realized I had slowed considerably.

But just as I felt like I was getting my rhythm back, the last hill hit. And I fell apart. The pace pack going for the Trials standard caught me; I could hear the many footsteps of the swarm coming and then the pace leader encouraging them up and over the hill. Remember the awesome time I had a pacer? Maybe I could borrow some encouragement from this one. I can at least draft in a pack! I tried to tuck in. But they swallowed me up and spit me out instantly.

And then the demons started talking. These women were running twice as far as me, at a pace I used to be able to sustain. (In what seemed like another lifetime.) Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know I’m not in shape yet, whatever. It was a world of discouragement anyway. Maybe I’m not as fast as I think… My mile ten split was ridiculously slow, eerily close to the way-too-long mile two split.

Was it the hills? Was I running too comfortably? This is a race after all. It’s supposed to get uncomfortable in the middle miles. As we ran back along the Schuylkill, the course flattened, the wind was mercifully at our backs, and I picked it up. I just needed to keep grinding to the finish, almost there…

Mile 12. 
In the last mile, a girl nearby tried to encourage me to run it in with her, “Let’s finish this thing!” I couldn’t. All of me tightened up simultaneously. I felt like I was trying to run the day after a marathon, all stiffness and Tin Man-like joints. I wanted to sprint it in, to prove that I could run fast, even if just for a closing spurt, but I barely managed much of anything.

I finished in 1:21:49. The time is faster than the half marathons I opened the last two seasons with, so it seems like I’m starting in a good place. That’s encouraging.

But I was also pretty disappointed with the middle miles. I feel like I lost a bit of the toughness that racing requires and I just gave up on myself. I think that’s part of the point of these early races though, to get that reminder, to build back up the racing muscle. Lesson learned, right?

Wrong. Four days later I ran a Turkey Trot at the University of Richmond, my alma mater. I knew four days was not enough recovery time, but I had called Sunday’s half a “hard workout” so that’s what this would be, too. I had run the course a couple years ago and knew it was crazy hilly so I wasn’t going to worry about my time. But I had finished second back then, and this year, I wanted to win. I thought it was possible, even despite the quick turnaround and the taking-it-as-a-hard-workout approach.

It wasn’t a ridiculous thought, for about 5.5 miles of the 6.2 mile race, I was winning.

I felt pretty good the first two miles or so, but the chick in second place was looming. The spectators’ cheers were the only way I had any idea where she was, either they cheered for the first woman or they cheered for the ladies in front. Hmm. At one point someone told me I had 15 yards on her. Right, not much. (By the way, the spectators and volunteers at this little holiday race were incredible. Thanks, Richmond!)

Early on, with my pursuer just behind.
I kept hoping I’d drop her on some hill (That time they only cheered for me! She must be gone!), but she never budged. (Nope, these people are cheering for both of us...)

At a turnaround at mile 5, I had the chance to confirm her proximity. I tried to pick it up, but on the last uphill around mile 5.5 she caught and passed me. Just after the top of the hill, I caught back up to her and we ran side by side down towards the finish. I thought I could sense her faltering or getting tired (I think I can outsprint her…), but just past the six-mile mark she took off and I was left outsprinted. She crushed me in those last few meters; I had nothing.

Outkicked. Trying to tell
my stupid legs to MOVE.
And I was way more upset than I thought I would be. I wasn’t supposed to have had expectations for this race, I had just had a hard workout, this was a fun holiday jaunt, blah blah blah. Instead I was super bummed I lost the way I did, right at the stinking end. It was another race where I really wished I could re-run it and find some extra gear or motivation. And the time was disappointing, too. I knew better than to expect a fast time, but it wasn’t too much faster than what I had run there three years ago, and I’ve come a long way as a runner since then. But I didn’t show it.

In the end, I’m sure I got what I needed physically: two hard workouts to help get me back into shape. Psychologically they were tough, but that was important practice, too—to remember how to race, to not give up, to find another gear at the end. There’s more to do to build back up my racing grit, but I’m working on it.

Dream big,
Teal

Friday, November 20, 2015

Goals

People ask how I got into running marathons and the truth is I needed a Big Scary Goal to get me running at all again. I ran cross country and track in high school, but once I got to college, I ran only in fits and starts and basically ignored it for long stretches of time. (I wasn’t a college athlete, obviously). I wanted to run because I loved running, it kept me in shape, relieved anxiety, blah blah blah… all of the million reasons to run. But the truth is none of those reasons got me out of bed in the morning. Only a Big Goal that requires serious effort would.

And so I decided to run a marathon. That was serious enough to get me going and it worked. Ten years and twelve marathons later, the same principle holds true. I love running for a million reasons, but getting out the door is still not always easy. I need a push, and the push for me has always been Big, Scary, I-Might-Not-Make-It-Unless-I-Do-Everything-I-Can Goals.

Last week I talked about the fear of injury, and the obvious solution for my anxiety would be to chill out a bit on my times and goals. Enjoy running the Trials because I’m lucky enough to be there. Many people, mostly concerned friends and family, have mentioned this and I’ll grant that it’s a fair point. But… it’s not me.

The fun for me is in the pursuit of the goal, in the figuring out what I’m capable of, in having a great run/workout/daydream and imagining the possibilities. Running the Trials is huge, yes. The thrill of making it hasn’t worn off. But just running them, calling it in and enjoying a seriously high profile jog around LA doesn’t get me out of bed in the morning. The dream of racing well at the Trials does. 

A while back I listened to the Run to the Top Podcast with Dr. Stan Beecham, author of Elite Minds. He talked about setting goals that you’re only 60% sure you’ll hit. You might not make it, but you’ll almost surely run faster than if you went after a goal you were 100% sure you’d hit. I found myself nodding along to so much of what he said:

“We need goals that scare us a little bit… goals that wake you up in the morning and push you out of bed.”

“It’s the possibility that I may not be able to pull this off—that’s what makes every day interesting.”

I make these ridiculously ambitious goals unintentionally. Unofficially they’ve been simmering in my system since the last race. Wouldn’t it be awesome if… I would love to run X… The first couple passes through my brain they seem a little nuts. Yeah right, Teal. But, like I said, they simmer, keep gently bubbling up, and they won’t go away. Pretty soon they seem less like daydreams and more like goals. And I’ve thought about them so damn much I can’t imagine aiming lower.

Sometimes, they’re hugely crazy ambitious, and I come up way short. I never even made it to this past spring’s marathon starting line.

Sometimes (yes, less often), they’re hugely crazy ambitious, and I somehow achieve them. Last fall I was scared to admit to many people I was going for 2:43; my PR was ten minutes slower and I had come off a disastrous performance that spring. But dammit, that 2:43 simmered all summer, so I went for it.


And so this season, like all the others, my goals are Scary Big/Maybe Impossible, but that’s my favorite kind of goal and the only one that works for me. In one feeble attempt to keep me grounded, I’m trying to be a little flexible about them as the season goes on, so I won’t share them here. I will say, at the very least, I’m aiming to run a big PR on what looks to be a fast course. I hope to enjoy my laps around LA, but I know I will enjoy them far more if I’ve put in the work and am chasing something big.

Despite all that, I know I can’t go for PRs in every race. (Every marathon, yes; every race leading up to the marathon, no.) Some races will be workouts, tempo efforts, fun ways to celebrate holidays. This weekend I’ll run the Philly Half, and I honestly can’t tell you what my goal time is. I’m using it to gage where I’m at and to squeeze in one long fall race before the winter grind begins. I’ll be aiming to crush my PR at the next half I do. But this weekend, I’ll just see what happens.

And then it will be back to dreaming big.

Race Schedule:

Jingle All The Way 5K – Dec. 6 {PR attempt, because… I mean, c’mon
Jacksonville Half-Marathon – Jan. 3 {PR attempt
US Olympic Marathon Trials – Feb. 13 {PR attempt, because… well, see above.

Dream bigger,
Teal

Friday, November 13, 2015

Paranoia, Paranoia, Injury’s Coming To Get Me...

This week I am finally in the groove. Real training. There have been a of couple signs over the last few weeks that things were returning to business as usual, but this week it’s undeniable. I am running like a normal, injury-free Teal. I love routines and I’m finally officially back in mine:

Back to track practice,



And shockingly, right on cue, back to paranoia.

Paranoia, paranoia...  
I’m a worrier, a major one. (I had never really considered how loving routines and worrying went together, but then I took the Believe Training Journal “Worrier or Warrior?” quiz. I knew I’d get worrier, but it was basically a joke how ridiculously well the traits fit me. And loving routine is one of them!)

After a few days of "I’m Back, Baby" Euphoria, the worries set in. What if I hurt myself? I know I’ve talked about those fears here already and I don’t want to belabor the point, but honestly… It’s. All. I. Can. Think. About.

More than any other race, I don’t want to sit out the Trials. This is what I’ve worked for over the last decade, what if I screw it up and can’t race?

I actually lost sleep over this last night, which is ludicrous for two reasons: 1. Actually getting the proper amount of sleep will help prevent injuries and 2. Staying up worrying about it won’t do anything. (Yes, of course I’m consciously aware of that fact, but it doesn’t help.)

I’m trying to do everything I can to stay healthy: eat right, sleep enough, do my core exercises, foam roll, etc. I’ve modeled my training plan after the one that got me successfully to the start and finish of CIM and I am trying to learn from mistakes in my training for Grandma’s. But sometimes injuries can be freak accidents. Or they can be bubbling under the surface without any sign until one day: BAM. It’s over. (My stress reaction was that way.)

I can’t not train. I can’t skip every workout for fear that it will be the one that sets me over the edge. But I'm also aware that I can’t do as much as I’d like. (Here’s a superpower I’d want: to be able to run AS MUCH AS I WANT and not get injured. Oh the joy! The freedom! The miles and miles and miles! I’d take the blisters, the exhaustion, the chafing, if I just stayed healthy…)

Alas, we’re not invincible, and a healthy fear of injury can keep us healthy. 

But still, I’m feeling a little too vincible these days. I’m trying to remind myself to be grateful and to thank God for getting me this far and healthy again. I’m doing all I can... now to just stop worrying and go the fudge to sleep.

Dream big,
Teal

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Race (!!) Report: Southwest Center City 5K Run

Last week I visited Brother and his family in Philadelphia for Halloween festivities. Mostly, I wanted to see my adorable nephew’s costume, but Brother said there was a local 5K that morning and it might be fun to jump in.

It was a last minute decision; I hadn’t planned on racing for a few more weeks. But it was a low-key race with zero expectations. Brother warned me the course had lots of turns and wasn’t a PR course. I figured that was a good thing; the pressure was off. I’d wear Halloween colors—not my official GRC gear—and holiday socks to remind myself of that. Have fun and just do what I can.

The course. We did the bottom right loop once
(incorrectly) and the top left loop twice. 
But, the night before the race, our cousin told us about the prizes—top prize was a $500 Puma gift certificate. $500! That seemed way too generous for such a low-key race. Now I wanted to win.

As per always, people looked intimidating on the start line, but soon enough we were off and I was trailing a group of ten or so guys. I was in first for the women but had no idea where the other ladies were. Also, I was running too fast. Geez, relax, Teal.

The guys ahead—and everyone behind—missed an early turn. I had Brother, the local, beside me to realize the mistake. “Uhhh I think we missed a turn… Yeah, we’re definitely not on the course anymore.” As soon as he was sure, he started screaming directions to the guys ahead to get us back to the route. “Go left!! Turn here!! Take another left!” (Once again Brother was a huge help. When he’s not trying to beat me, he’s a stand up guy.)

It seemed everyone had followed us, so I was still leading the women. The course misstep had been jarring, but now we were on the out and backs I had run in the warm-up and I felt like I knew where we were going. My first mile split was right around where I thought it would be, and I just tried to keep it up. I didn’t know if there was a girl on my tail and I want that gift card, gosh darn it!

We did two loops of part of the course, and as we headed into the second loop, I was thankful it avoided the section we had messed up before. Mile 2 was super slow, but I didn’t beat myself up over it. Eh, my watch is probably wrong. Although I do run faster in workouts all by myself, maybe I should pick it up. Or maybe it’s all these turns. And suddenly, in classic Teal-runs-a-5K style, I realized with a shock I had only one mile left. Sheesh these things are short!

At the end of my second loop I caught up to the people finishing their first. I was dodging strollers, weaving around, and leaping onto the sidewalk. All the elements gave me another reason why it wouldn’t be a fast time and took any pressure off. Just relax, the time doesn’t matter. Just win.

Turn for home, stop the watch, catch my breath, look down. 18:48. WHAT?!

Here’s the first thing about that watch revelation: that’s technically a PR... Or it’s technically not, depending on your definition. It’s not, because I’ve run a faster pace for ten miles and the same pace for 13.1. It is, because my previous PR on an actual 5K course is 18:52. And it’s not because it turned out we didn’t run the actual 5K course…

And here’s the other thing the watch told me: it said I ran 2.98 miles. Right, right, right. So that’s why it’s so fast. I didn’t run far enough. But wait, didn’t we go farther by going off the course? All logic would say we did. And Garmins aren’t accurate on city streets with lots of turns.

Curiosity got the best of me and when I got home I mapped the route we ran online. It came out as over 3.2 miles, and my Garmin did skip a bunch of turns. So it really seems I ran at least a 5K. Not-really-a-PR-or-not, I know the time isn’t Olympic Trials worthy, but I’m happy with it none-the-less. I had fun, I enjoyed wearing my silly holiday socks, and I won that gift card. Not bad for a last minute Halloween race.

I spent the card in one fell swoop—the biggest shopping spree of my life by a landslide—and it was glorious. Now, to buy some more crazy socks for the next one…


Dream big,
Teal

Friday, October 16, 2015

Doing What I Can

I had planned to post today about the horrible workout I was planning on having this morning. I’ve been building up a base, and that’s going well, but my speed is nonexistent. Last week I did a fartlek and tried not to care about my pace, but wore a Garmin anyway since I knew I’d be curious afterwards. I was able to run five minutes at last fall’s marathon pace. Five minutes. Right, I just need to run 157 minutes more like that and I’m back, baby. (To where I was. Which—of course, knowing me—isn’t where I want to be.)

So, no high hopes for today’s workout, which involved alternating half-mile segments at something near tempo pace with half-mile segments at a steady pace (faster than an every day jog, but slower than marathon pace). (This is a great workout for easing into real tempo efforts, since you don’t get a complete rest between the segments.) Given the circumstances, I didn’t really fathom I’d hit anything like tempo pace (marathon pace even seemed unlikely) and so I just figured I’d do what I could, get a nice gage of where I’m at, and keep focusing on progressing forward. Not looking back at where I was, or what paces I used to be able to hit. I would aim to be sort of fartlek-y in my approach, not focusing too much on the watch or pace goals. 

Then I figured I’d turn the workout into a post about how to keep looking ahead, and how whatever you do today will make it easier next time, even if it’s just a tiny step forward. How you can only do what you can.

Right. All good points. But, um, not today’s post.

Here’s how the workout went: Got a nice cramp on the warm up (um, hello, I haven’t even really started yet), did some strides that felt hard (anything fast is hard), fumbled with my headphones (haven’t listened to music while running in a while), and I was off. If I run real tempo pace, I only have to hold this pace for three minutes; three minutes isn’t so bad. Haha, yea right, that’s old Teal tempo pace, not today Teal. I try to relax and get in a rhythm, not forcing anything, and bam. I hit the first segment shockingly fast. Like it actually did only take me three minutes. Say what?? I’ll probably slow on the next. I always start too fast.

The trick to this workout is not just jogging the recoveries. I’m supposed to keep a pretty honest pace before the next tempo segment. Ha. Hahaha. No way. This is going to be a SLOW jog after that start. Except, it isn’t. I’ve been surprised before how easy fast-ish paces can feel when they come after a harder segment and I’m floored by this one. What the heck? I’m cruising along like I’m actually in shape or something.

Photo from last fall, not today. But apparently things aren't much different.

And so it goes. My tempo segments are shockingly close to actual tempo pace. My steady intervals are close to where I thought they might be, but figured I was being overly optimistic. Halfway through, I turn around and get a better understanding of what’s going on. Ah yes, the wind. Suddenly I’m running into it. This will put me in my place.

It doesn’t. (It actually wasn’t very windy, but I was wearing these headphones that—for safety reasons—pick up outside noise really well. Unfortunately, the wind gets amplified and can sometimes make me feel like it’s worse than it is.) I slow slightly, but not much. Expectedly, the final repeats are the slowest, but whatever, I’m elated. I ran faster today than I did in a similar workout last fall, and not far off what I ran last spring. (Actually last spring’s tempo segments were slower, but the steady segments were faster.)

Again, say what?

I think my approach to the workout helped a lot; I didn’t expect much (I honestly expected to bomb), so when it started going well, it was much easier to hold on. (No negativity to make it spiral downward.) I also didn’t force the pace, but tried to relax and let it come to me. (Which works amazingly well, but is incredibly difficult. With low expectations, it’s easier.)

I’m still shocked I had that speed in me (so, I guess cross training works??) but let’s not get ahead of ourselves, there’s a long way to go. But I did what I could, and it was pleasantly surprising.

Dream big,
Teal

Friday, October 9, 2015

Gratitude

I needed a new training log to kick off the new season, so this week I bought the Believe training journal. It’s more of a workbook/journal than most running logs and has lots of places to write goals and work through various aspects of your running game. Of course, it also has the space to record your daily progress, and it gives some suggestions about things you might want to track. Tucked in between the things I already log (workouts, pace, how it felt) and the other things I probably should (sleep, iron levels) was something I instantly knew I had to start tracking this season—gratitude.

Coming back from an injury, it’s easy to be gracious. When you’re hurt, you long for the wonderful amazingness of running. What you would give to just jog for a few minutes! When you’re allowed to run again, it’s pure joy. Yes, this is what you missed!! You’ll never take it for granted again!

But then, you know, you do it every day. And it gets kinda monotonous. Wouldn’t it be nice to skip it? Sleep in? Not put yourself through grueling race-pace miles wondering why the hell you do this to yourself?

Right now, I’m loving it, driven by a femur-induced absence that made my heart grow fonder. But I know those (literally) dark days will come.

And—as always—I’m going to go after PRs this season, and—as always—it will be tough. I’ve got a long road ahead and lots of challenging workouts to struggle through before I can expect to have a challenging workout I nail. But this season, more than any other, I want to be grateful the ENTIRE time. Because this season I have the opportunity to (a) run, (b) chase PRs, and (c) train to do both those things at a ridiculously prestigious race.

So I’m writing it all down. Each day, something I’m grateful for, running-wise. This week, I’m grateful for making it back to routes I’ve missed all summer, for the chance to run with teammates again, to cheer others on at the Army Ten Miler.

And I’m grateful for both new and old running logs. I happened to flip back through an old log to see what shape I was in this many weeks before my last successful marathon. It turns out that, this week, I ran the EXACT same weekly mileage and the same length long run at a similar pace. (Of course, then I was coming off a season of racing 5Ks, and this time I’m coming off a season of racing boredom in a pool, but SHH! We’re being grateful remember?! I am doing better at core and strength these days, so there’s a win.) I’m not as far behind as I thought, and I’m grateful for that.
Trying to stay this thankful for every run.
My mission won’t be easy. I can be am a bit of a brat. My optimism makes me expect too much, I compare myself to others (which serves no purpose but to stoke jealousy), and—on top of that—marathon training is capital E Exhausting. There will be cold, dark, icy mornings. Treadmill days. Bad races. Frustration. All those tough workouts where my goal paces seem far away.

But I want to be grateful anyway, for the bad days, the days I don’t want to go, the days the run doesn’t make me feel amazing. Because I get to run, I get to train for the Trials, and that’s capital A Awesome.

Dream big,
Teal

P.S. This is semi/kind of/okay, grasping-at-straws related, but my amazing cousin wrote a book called Choosing Hope that came out this week. (I’m choosing to be grateful…  See? It’s related.) I’ve just started it, but you should check it out. Her story and her attitude are truly inspiring.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Vacation: Rest and Relaxation... and Running

Two weeks ago I got to go vacation—got to spend an entire week with family, eating ice cream, relaxing on the beach. And I got to run four glorious times.

Running in Cape May, NJ 

Running on vacation might seem like a burden—it’s time to relax after all! But running on vacation can actually be a privilege, a chance to explore new places, scope out a town, find a stunning view. If you can squeeze runs in without messing up the plans of your family or co-vacationers, running while away can be a refreshing change and possibly add a new spark to your training.

It was easy to squeeze in a few jogs over the week, since I’m still not going very long and I’m blessed with a family that understands my running obsession. (It’s their fault—namely my sister’s—I got interested in running in the first place.) My husband even joined me on most runs, another benefit of vacation aligning our schedules (or rather, removing any set schedules).

The first morning we ran along the boardwalk—scoped out the shops and ice cream parlors, soaked in the sun and sea, smiled at the many other runners training for fall races and an entire field hockey team doing their running conditioning. It was nice to be back out in the world of runners, rather than stuck in a gym or the slow lane of the pool.

My two-year-old nephew leads me through a yoga sequence.
Other days we ran through trails that switched between sand and dirt to boardwalk and grass. Weaving in and out of woods on grass paths reminded us of running cross-country, and we swapped stories of high school XC practice. A few articles lately have discussed the reasons to love running cross country and I was reminded of all of them. It was nice to get away from the roads and get lost in the woods a bit. (And we did get lost the first time… and went a hair longer than we were supposed to, but my leg seemed not to mind a bit. The grass and trails treated it well.)

Although I still wasn’t going as far, as fast, or as often as I would have liked, I was happy to be able to run at all while there. If it’d been a few weeks earlier I wouldn’t have been able to enjoy those trails. I seemed to strike a perfect balance, just a couple relaxing runs while the rest of vacation I walked, biked, and paddle boarded. But mostly I sat around at the beach or at dinner with my family, enjoying vacation time.

Every runner's heaven:
a store dedicated entirely to peanut butter.
Now that I’m home, I feel like vacation is over in more than just the literal sense. My injury-induced vacation is over, too. This year, summertime was for getting over my injury and now fall is here. I’m healed (I've officially graduated from physical therapy) and I'm slowly increasing the running while phasing out the cross training.

Something about vacation seemed to snap me into a better mindset. Maybe I’ve gone back to denying how much work I have to do, but I’m really just getting excited to do it. Or maybe it was the cross country runs and the smell of fall in the air saying, “Vacation’s over, let’s get to work.”

Vacation's over, back to DC. But... it's not so bad.
Dream big, 
Teal

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Friday, September 4, 2015

Coming Back Whining

I really appreciate everyone’s comments—both here and elsewhere—about how positive I was being about this injury, but I’ve got to be honest: I feel like I’ve betrayed you all in the last three weeks, as I have turned into an incredibly ungrateful brat, throwing temper tantrums because I can’t run as much as I want to, gosh darn it!!

I think at first I didn’t fully accept this injury—I’m not sure I have even now, three months later.

Maybe I was just stuck in the first stage of loss and grief—denial. I accepted that Grandma’s wouldn’t happen and that I had a summer of cross-training ahead.  But my doctors and I agreed on a plan: real marathon training would start—on schedule—in October and I’d be base building by September. Maybe I was delusional, but I wouldn’t/couldn’t let myself think this injury would mess up my Trials training. It took away Grandma’s. No more.

But then four to six weeks without running turned into ten. As the days of August ran out, I started getting worried. And irritable. And angry. And depressed. I may have had more than one complete meltdown. Oddly, my anger and depression (stages 2 and 4; we’ll get to stage 3, don’t worry) correlated with when I was actually allowed to start running again. Rather than feeling elated—I can run!!—I became more and more frustrated at just how little I was allowed to run.

On my first two-mile jaunt on real roads, I felt like a cartoon character running with an anvil on my back—all squished down, like my legs weren’t moving up and down at all. (Welcome back to 100% gravity.) But after a little while, I felt mostly normal again, and then—amazing. I was reminded why I love running so much; it seriously is better than any other form of exercise or cross training. I felt like I could have gone so much faster and for so much longer, but… no. I had to take it slow.

The next run—a week later and a whooping three miles—was an entirely different experience. It was freaking exhausting. I felt heavy and tired, so ridiculously tired from jogging what would essentially be a warm up at any other time of my life. It was frustrating—Had I not been cross training enough? How is this so damn hard? How the fudge am I going to get back to running 80-mile weeks when a three-mile week is this tiring? I felt that anvil again, only now I was dragging it, or--more accurately--dragging a slow, out-of-shape body through a short run.

Cue the temper tantrums. I need to start running for real. I need to get back in shape. I feel fine, no pain or soreness in my leg. **Bangs fists, stomps feet.** I wanna run more!!

I know I should be grateful to run, and I am. Running a couple short jogs now is better than the zero running I was doing a month ago. But like a true addict, just a taste of it has got me aching for the real thing. I want to run miles on miles on miles. I want to come home exhausted and elated from a two-hour run, not a two-mile run. I want to feel justified in eating marathon-style feasts. (Not that I’m not eating them anyway, but it’s hardly justified). I want to run with my teammates again. I want to run fast and far, tempos and track days, singles and doubles. I want to race.

So the bargaining (stage 3) began. Last week I ran two times, three miles each. Surely this week I could go three times? Pretty, pretty please? But no. I nearly cried when the PT said it’d be another week of two measly runs.

Not that I’m not scared of doing too much. Of course I am. I am painfully aware that if I do too much I risk not making it to the Trials starting line. I’m doing what I can to make that not happen. But also, there’s the overly ambitious part of me waging war with the cautious side. I’d like to make it to the finish line of the Trials, too. I’d like to do well. Six-mile weeks aren’t going to get me there.

This is the push and pull of coming back from injury. On top of everything else, there’s a psychological war going on in my head. But I’m pain free. Surely, I can increase the running a little more…

Randomly, I wasn’t able to get on the AlterG as much as I was supposed to this week, so my PT agreed to let me go on a third run. Victory! Three days a week! And next week, I’ll be on vacation—far from AlterGs and without many other cross training opportunities. (No, I will not attempt “pool running” in the ocean.) So I got permission to go four days. (Still short and slow, of course.)

So things are looking up. I’m still not where I want to be or where I imagined I’d be at this point, and this morning’s four miles were downright exhausting. I know I have lots of time, and I’m trying trying trying to be patient. It is September, and I am building a base, it’s just a much smaller base than I originally planned. I can’t guarantee I won’t have any more breakdowns, but apparently I’m quite good at denying the reality of this injury, so maybe I’ll just regress to stage 1.

Dream big,
Teal

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Moon Runnings

The last month or so has been a bit busy for a couple reasons, one of which is twice-a-week treks back and forth to physical therapy. (One underappreciated aspect of running: it often requires very little commuting time. 90% of my runs start from my front door.) But I can’t complain about PT, because I’ve been incredibly blessed to get to run on an AlterG treadmill during this rehab, which is basically the kind of treatment professionals get.


 Injured runners are always looking for ways to “run” without really running, without the pounding that might hurt healing legs/ankles/knees/feet/hips. We “run” in the pool, on ellipticals, even in our daydreams on the bike.

Then one day, someone thought, “Damn, what if you could run on the moon??”

So they made that possible. (No, not with SpaceX just yet.)

The man was Sean Whalen, the year was 2004, and a treadmill, called an AlterG Anti-Gravity Treadmill, was created. It uses air pressure to displace a percentage of the runner’s body weight; running at a lower portion of body weight puts less pressure on joints and bones, allowing injured people to run—at least, kinda sorta—while rehabbing.

Basically, you put on shorts with an attached skirt/tutu that zips into the machine. (Skirt/tutu seen here.) Once zipped in, your lower half is encased in a bubble, which gradually fills with air when the machine turns on. It continues to blow up until you are slightly floating, standing on your toes. (This is to weigh you.) Then you dial in how much percentage of your weight you want to run at, and it adjusts the air—filling up the bubble more to run at less weight, or filling less to run closer to your real weight. The rest works like a regular treadmill—you adjust speed, incline, etc.

The first time I was on it, four weeks post injury, I ran one mile at 45% of my body weight (aka, what I weighed in elementary school). 45% body weight feels like running on the moon. (Supposedly the machine goes as low as 20%, and I seriously don’t understand how you could keep your feet on the ground at that percentage. It was hard enough at 45.) You feel suspended, like you’re bounding along, and you have to consciously plant your feet. It’s hard to feel like you’re running at all, but fortunately we did 45% just that first day, to see how my leg felt.


It felt fine, so the next time we bumped up to 60% and gradually progressed body weight and distance from there. Maybe I just got used to it, but 60+ feels at least semi-normal, although I still have to consciously focus on maintaining a quick stride. The air does push on your stomach the whole time (if you didn’t have to pee before, you will now), your legs get extra sweaty in the combination of regular shorts + shorts/skirt/tutu, and it’s a little hard to keep your arm swing normal with the bubble in the way. But the main problem is that they are wildly expensive so very few facilities have them. (Though, reportedly, Tom Brady owns two.) Thus, the trekking back and forth to use it. 

(One additional awesome thing about AlterGs is you can run much faster on them then in real-life/real-gravity situations. (As free and fast as elementary kids.) But sadly I haven’t actually been able to play with that feature; I’m not allowed to push the pace any faster than a jog.)

Of course, I’ll take having to commute to jog over not running at all. I feel like a professional runner when I’m there, and picture all the running celebrities I’ve watched rehabbing their injuries on AlterGs over the years. Although it’s not quite “real” running, it’s darn close—far closer than other options. And afterward, I feel surprisingly good—happy and calm like post-real-running—not something I’ve been able to capture post-pool.


Here's a link to find an AlterG near you. You can pay per session--without a PT's prescription, I believe--although it's not cheap. (Also, after raving about how awesome they are, I feel that I should note I am not at all sponsored by AlterG.) 

Dream big, 
Teal 

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Pool Runnings

Since my season-ending injury came at the end of my season, I segued directly into my offseason break (two weeks of zero workouts). This gave both my mind and leg a needed break, but now it’s time to get back to easy workouts and rehabbing that femur.

With this injury (a stress reaction), the best cross training is deep-water pool running (or “aqua jogging”). It’s perfect for lots of running injuries (aside from hip flexor ones, which is why I was stuck biking last time) because you are able to mimic running with no impact. But it’s vital to do it correctly, to both ensure your workouts are quality and you don’t lose your mind.

RunnerTeal AquaJoggerTeal

Steps to Maintaining Sanity While Pool Running:

Step 1: Buy a cute new cross training swimsuit. (Retail therapy is therapy, right?)

Step 2: Find the longest possible pool near you. I’m lucky that DC has an incredible 50-meter indoor pool that I can use. It even has a lane dedicated to leisure and “water walking” which fits me, children learning how to swim, and older ladies just fine.

…Or make do. When that pool closed, I used a shorter, outdoor one full of kids that certainly thought I was a crazy old lady. (The kids arrived just after that serene photo was taken.) But at least they provided entertainment while I did approximately 8,793,259 laps.

Step 3:  Get in the deep end (or, at least, somewhere your feet can’t touch when you extend your legs to jog) and secure your super cool aqua jogging belt just below your ribs. You can pool run without the belt (which just adds an extra bit of buoyancy), but it’s not recommended—especially at first—because it’s much harder to maintain proper form.

Aqua Jogging Equipment: Swimsuit by: Oiselle, Belt by: AquaJogger,
Watch By: 
Timex, Towel By: Stolen From Parents Years Ago.
Step 4: Speaking of form, it’s the Most Important Step. (Way more important than cute bathing suits.) Replicate your land-running form as best as possible. Don’t lean or slouch forward too much (as shown here); you should be straight up and down, hips under shoulders. Pump your arms as you would when running; don’t cheat by using “swimming” arms.

This step is harder than it sounds. It took me a little while to get it right—not just to tread water, not to rely entirely on my arms, and to get my legs used to doing a running motion in the water.

video

Step 5: Make it harder. Once I stopped flailing around and got the hang of it, it became too easy to keep it too easy. I realized I was more likely Aqua Walking than Aqua Running, so I have to conscientiously push the pace. Some things I’ve read say you should maintain your normal running cadence —generally around 180 steps a minute—while others say that’s too hard given the resistance of the water. My recommendation is to count your steps (count how many times one leg comes up each minute and double it) and find a rate that keeps you honest. You need to keep your heart rate up to maintain fitness; you should feel like you’re working out, not just splashing around on a tropical vacation. Counting will prevent you from slacking off and keep your mind occupied in what is admittedly a pretty boring activity.

Step 6: Once you’ve got your form down and a comfortable standard cadence, kick it up a notch. Intervals (from 30 seconds up to a few minutes) are the best way to get a good workout and break up the monotony. Since there’s no pounding, you can also do workouts more often.

I’ve found that pool-workout tiredness is a slightly different feeling than running tiredness. You’re not grasping your knees, gasping for air (I hope! That sounds like a good way to drown), but when you get out of the pool you have that all over exhaustion that makes sitting down seem delightful. (Actually, maybe that is a bit like running…) You’re also hungry constantly, so nothing new there.

Step 7: Bat away the boredom however possible. Counting strides and doing intervals help a lot, but often not enough. Watch the kids splash around, look for interesting things at the bottom of the pool, take pity on the lifeguards who are probably far more bored than you. At all costs, avoid staring directly at the sign that reminds you, both painfully and ironically, “No Running.” Yes, Sign, I’m aware. Thanks. Keep your head up (metaphorically and literally, or suffer a mouth full of water). You’ll show that stupid sign; you’ll run (on land!) again.

Step 8: Smell like chlorine, all the time, as it seeps continuously out of your pores. This step is unavoidable. (How the heck do you swimmers do it??)

Dream big,
Teal

Friday, June 12, 2015

Not With a Bang, But a Whimper

This is the way the [season] ends,
Not with a bang, but a whimper.

Part of the reason I love the marathon is the way the season builds towards it; the biggest and most important race; the peak waiting for you to summit after a mountain of long runs, tempo workouts, and track intervals. Race day is a celebration, a culmination of months and years of hard work, a big bang to end the season.

But this season won’t end with a bang. No, instead all you’ll hear from me is a whimper, because I’m officially out of the race. I can’t run two steps, let alone 26 miles.

Here’s the story of the most drastic taper ever, from gunning for a PR to settling for a DNS*:

A week and a half ago, I did my last hard workout of the season. I didn’t hit the pace I wanted, but with help from the ever amazing GRC guys, I stuck it out. I didn’t feel anything (except maybe anger at DC’s relentless humidity). No unusual pain.

And with that workout in the books, the taper began. But so did all the trouble.

That night I was more sore than usual, but it was a hard workout, so perhaps that wasn’t so surprising. If anything, the soreness reminded me that a workout at a slower pace than expected in searing humidity is still a tough workout. The next day (Sunday) I went for my normal post-long-run recovery jog. I was tight, but didn’t think twice about it. In fact, by the end, I had put the previous day’s disappointing pace behind me and was back to dreaming of PRs at Grandma’s. But by that evening, I was as sore as I am after a marathon. What was worrisome was that it seemed worse in one leg, my right quad. This might not just be lingering soreness.

I took the next day off. The taper was starting, so the schedule had an easy run anyway. No big deal to skip.

Tuesday I tried to go for a run. I felt okay at first, and made it a few miles. But it gradually got worse, until I gave up and walked home. The Oh-Crap-I-Might-Be-Injured-So-I-Better-Walk Walk is a miserable experience. First of all, it takes forever to walk the few miles you just jogged in seemingly no time. Second, your thoughts are a scattered mess of freaking out, denial, guilt, and berating yourself. Maybe I’m being a baby giving up on this. Maybe I should run again, this walking is taking forever. Maybe I can’t run again. Maybe the marathon is out of the picture. What’s wrong with me? What did I do wrong, when did I cross the line? I remember thinking that I would take it easy again that day so I could recover before a hard track session the next day. But by the time I finally got home, I had come to accept the track session probably wouldn’t happen.

But even over that long walk, I hadn’t yet accepted—or considered beyond that fleeting thought—that the marathon wouldn’t. I emailed my physical therapist and he immediately responded that he could see me if I came in right away. So I headed straight off to see him, without preparing myself for what might be coming. Surely he'll just massage this away.

He listened to my symptoms (incredible soreness in my right quad, just above the knee, pain when running and going up and down stairs) and suspected it was a stress reaction in my femur. (Trouble in the bone might be causing the surrounding muscles to spasm.) But he tried to remain positive; it might not be an issue with the femur, and if it was anything muscular we could rehab it and run the marathon on schedule. I was to take the next two days off from running and get back to him if the soreness didn’t subside.

It didn’t. On Friday I saw another doctor to get a referral for an MRI the following Tuesday. As my constantly fidgety self was strapped into the MRI scanner, hating every claustrophobic minute, my worries started to snowball: what if this was something worse than expected, a full-blown fracture or some other unknown problem? Over the previous week, I had come to accept the serious possibility of missing this marathon. That wouldn’t be the worst thing, so long as I can run the next one. Now I worried about that.

On Wednesday, the MRI results came back: I have a stress reaction in my femur. No marathon, no more PRs this season, no running at all for 4-6 weeks.

It’s bad news, yes, but it's not the worst news. There are always silver linings, so let’s focus on those:

1. It’s a stress reaction, not a fracture. A reaction is the precursor to a fracture (which would mean being on crutches and out for much longer). We caught it in time, and I was smart to walk home those depressing few miles, so let this be a reminder to all you runners: LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. When you’re hurt, you’re hurt. Don’t do any more damage.

2. My doctors have been amazingly helpful and completely understanding of my commitment to running. They didn’t have the knee-jerk reaction of other doctors I’ve had who have said, “Well, you run too much. Stop doing that.” No, they worked with me to get a diagnosis as quickly as possible and are doing whatever they can to get me healthy for the big race next February.

3. It’s going to be hard to let go of the goals I had for this season and the time I wanted to hit before the Trials, but this race was always sort of a freebie; I have my qualifier and that’s all I need. (Thank you, God, for letting me get that out of the way last December!) Now that I’ve done nearly all the work (just that last 26.2 remaining…) it doesn’t feel so free, but I’m reminding myself that I’ll be stronger next season from the months of hard work I put in this season; that won’t just disappear.

4. Obviously getting injured less than three weeks from your marathon is not ideal. Injury is never ideal. But Big Picture, the timing is actually kinda, sorta… good. I was going to take my end of season break anyway, and that would be followed with a few weeks of easy running. That post-season recovery time will now be co-opted as femur recovery time, but it will look pretty similar. I’ll be running in the pool instead of on the ground, but if there was a time to have to take it easy, this is a pretty good one.

5. This is not a silver lining, but a lesson in perspective: the week I realized I might be injured got many orders of magnitude worse when we got the news that our dear teammate, Nina, had died. I can whine about injuries, humidity, or poor races, but in the end I am incredibly lucky to run and luckier still to know the people I’ve met along the way. As I said in my post about Nina, running has given me some of my best friends—for example, friends that understand how terrible injuries are, yet simultaneously make them seem less terrible. This injury isn’t so bad in the grand scheme of things; now the focus is getting healthy for the Trials, so I can bring my two dear running friends, Lauren and Nina, to LA with me.

6. And finally, whether the race ends with a bang or a whimper, there will always be ice cream.

Dream big,
Teal

*DNS = Did Not Start. I’ve been fortunate to have not used that phrase here… until now.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Nina

Last week, our team suffered another devastating loss: on June 3rd, our teammate Nina was killed in a house fire.

Nina was one of those people that seem to defy the laws of time and the limits of energy. She worked her butt off at absolutely everything she did, and she accomplished a lot in her short 25 years. Last month, she graduated from Georgetown with a Masters in Arab Studies and she was gearing up to head to the Middle East on a Fulbright scholarship. She walked onto the Dartmouth track and cross-country teams in college and joined GRC after graduation. Although she struggled with injuries during her time on GRC, she was an absolute fighter. At practice she would latch onto the pack and not let go. It was sometimes obvious how hard the pace was, but she fought with everything she had to stick to it. Dreaming big doesn’t get you anywhere without a work ethic to match, and Nina had the biggest.
Practicing for XC Clubs with Nina (left) in the fall of 2012.
It’s not fair that Nina won’t have a chance to go after her goals—both in running and in her career. Her Fulbright involved studying women’s running in Jordan, hoping to promote the sport as a way to empower women. As part of her Masters studies, she spent a year in the Middle East, originally settling in Egypt in the summer of 2013. When unrest broke out, she was forced to evacuate to Jordan but wrote us that she didn’t want to leave; she felt safe and wanted to stay to continue her studies. I think that attitude sums up Nina – her work ethic, her bravery, her optimism. She always saw the absolute best in people, and she worked incredibly hard to help people however she could.

While in Jordan, she ran—and won—her first half marathon. In her email after the race, she wrote about how she was excited that she ran well, but noted, “The best part of the day was sharing it with the people I love most here in Jordan.”

Isn’t that the best part of all running? Races are celebrations of hard work, and they’re best shared with the friends that have logged those miles with you, that have shared your dreams and aspirations, that have stuck—huffing and puffing—on your tail through every lung-busting interval. Running has given me some of my best friends—people who make the victories seem sweeter and the defeats sting less.

Which makes it devastating to lose one of those friends. Please keep Nina’s family, friends, and teammates all over the world in your thoughts and prayers.

Celebrating her win. Spring 2014.
We’ll miss you, Nina. May we remember you always by trying to live more like you did: bravely, positively, with a heart full of kindness, always willing to help however possible.

Dream as big as Nina did,
Teal

Friday, May 22, 2015

Race Report: The Wild Half

Going into the Wild Half, in my native South Jersey, I was going for a big PR. My confidence has taken a bit of a hit lately, but this was my day to recapture it. In hopes to not talk myself out of pure positivity, I didn’t check the weather pre-race, despite usually obsessing over it. (But that gig was up after the warm up. My teammate Kristin and I agreed: it was humid.)

From the gun (actually just the word “Go”), I was in a pack of guys. After about a half mile, I realized we were running slower than my goal pace, so I took the lead. It seemed like a daring move, and no one came with me. But I hit the mile split right on pace, and the next couple were pretty close to my goal.

As I ran along the boardwalk, with just the motorcycle in front of me, people were cheering wildly, shocked and excited to see a woman in front.  Some were just surprised: “Weird, I thought it’d be a man leading.” But the vast majority of cheers were more enthusiastic than I’ve ever heard from strangers. They weren’t just cheering politely for the first person to pass; most of them were really willing me to win: “Go girl! BEAT THEM ALL!”

We left the boardwalk and headed towards a bridge to a nearby island and the turnaround. My splits were slowly slightly, but, still, I was leading. The whole thing.

I saw my parents and husband at mile 5 and was excited for them to see me trailing only the motorcycle. I felt like a little kid at her first dance recital. Mommy, Daddy, see me?? I’m leading! I’m leading!
Leading at mile 5.
Along a highway, towards the bridge, I tried to maintain pace, but it was no longer the pace I wanted. I had no idea where the next person was, but knew I’d get a glimpse at the turnaround just past mile 7. I tried to listen for the cheers from people at water stops; how long after I passed did they start to cheer for someone else? It didn’t seem all that long anymore.

At the top of the bridge, there was a metal grating, which was a bit slippery. I think I pranced across it with my arms up, like the worst stereotype of girly running. (This might have given my pursuer more ammo. Nobody likes getting beat by someone running like that.)

We went through another water stop and again the cheers were wild. Almost all positive, mostly by women, cheering excitedly that a woman was leading.

But this time it wasn’t too long before I heard them cheering for number two. And distinctly, one guy screaming, “Beat that girl, C’MON!!”

Then I heard the feet coming. Dammit, dammit, dammit. The pitter-patter of getting passed.

He caught me exactly at the turnaround. I had planned to count how many seconds he was behind, how much of a lead I had. But I didn’t need to count. My lead was zero.

I tried to stick with him. Maybe I was just slowing because I was all by myself. Here’s my chance to get back into it, to find another gear. But I couldn’t… or, at least, I didn’t. By the time we were back on the bridge, prancing across the grates, I was gapped.

Back along a highway, towards the boardwalk, his gap grew. Now we were passing other racers heading towards the bridge, and they were pure positivity. They told me to chase the guy, to catch him, that I could do it. It reminded me of Charlottesville: No, you don’t understand, he just caught and passed me. (As evidence of how not positive I was being, I managed to forget that that race had turned out well. This one was not.)

I wanted to drop out. Not because I was injured or couldn’t keep moving forward, but because I was running so slowly I didn’t want to know my time. I wanted to make it back to my family and sit on the curb and just say, “Eff this day” and erase it from my memory. I didn’t want to get to the finish line and see exactly how ridiculously far off I was from my goal.

But then I thought about all those people cheering for a woman leading the first 7 miles. I wasn’t going to win overall, that was clear. But I didn’t want to drop out and give fodder to anyone who thought it was dumb to lead like that. I imagined them saying, “Oh yeah, well a woman was leading the men for a few miles, but she just went out way too hard. She couldn’t even finish the race.”

I realize the gender of the winner of the Wild Half does not have far reaching sociological implications. No one else really cared. But sometimes, even when 99% of your brain is full of doubts and reasons to quit, there’s one little morsel that gives you a reason to keep going. So even though it was a ridiculous reason, I’d finish this race. For women everywhere.
Just trying not to call it quits. Mile 10.
But I still couldn’t translate that morsel into enough fuel to pick it up. I was slowing so dramatically I couldn’t even stand to look at my splits. Then, that damn pitter-patter again. Another guy passed me. He didn’t gap me as ferociously so I tried to stay near him. Maybe I can out kick him

Back on the boardwalk, we eventually caught people running in the 8K. One of them raved loudly about how much of a beast 2nd place guy was, but didn’t seem to notice me running in his slipstream. Dammit, you guys. Why do 100 people (men and women) say amazingly positive things and I am stuck focusing on the two dudes who only praise the men?

Still, it wasn’t enough fuel. We headed off the boardwalk for the finish, and I couldn’t muster a kick. I wanted to beat the second guy, but not enough. My feelings about how abysmal the time would be were coming at me too fast.

The one redeeming thing was I finally got to break the tape. I’ve won just two races in my life (a local 10K and Charlottesville) and neither had tape for the women. I know it seems like a minor thing, but when you watch enough professional races and dream of what winning must feel like, you envision the tape breaking, too. They had a tape—they had to hurry and squeeze it between 2nd guy and me—so that was a win. (Literally and metaphorically.)
Didn't manage to capture the definitive Breaking-the-Tape Photo.
But, hey, it was my first time.
Post-race, I sat down on the ground and became the most ungrateful winner, ever. Tears, mumbled curses, the whole pathetic shebang. I hoped no one was paying attention, but I couldn’t help it; I was a wreck. Kristin came in 2nd, but also ran a time she was hugely disappointed by. We are in better shape than what we showed (or we have to tell ourselves that, anyway), and although it’s nice to go 1-2, that’s not what we cared about. It was humid, but blaming the weather doesn't boost your confidence. We wanted times to prove our goals for Grandma’s are reachable. For my part, I ran slower than I did at CIM, for half the distance.

Also, although I can’t complain about a win, I really did want to beat the guys. I don’t want people thinking I was only leading because I went out at a suicidal pace, that I was some dumb girl who just got ahead of herself and fell apart in the end. Yes, I did fall apart in the end, but I had reason to think that pace was possible.

I know plenty of women have won races outright before; winning the Wild Half wasn’t going to make the news or spark an inspirational movement for little girls everywhere. I know that no one else really cares. But in that race, I felt the competition was really against the guys and against myself, and I lost to both.

I don’t want to seem like a total brat: I’m incredibly blessed to be healthy, running as fast as I am, and winning races, but I also want to keep this blog completely honest. And completely honestly, this race was a discouraging disappointment. Part of me wants to re-run it, to have another shot to do it right. But obviously that’s not how these things go.

And now I don’t know what to think about Grandma’s. I have just one hard workout left. If I nail it, maybe I can redeem this season and my hopes. But that’s what I thought going into this half. Clearly, it didn’t work.

Dream big,
Teal