Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Run It Out

As I've outlined in my last post, I have a lot of goals and changes for 2015.  I was so excited by them all that I started working on them early!  Here's how the last few days panned out:

Friday

I joined Thepinkhatrunner for 50 minutes of pool running.  It was my first time pool running and boy was it harder than I thought it would be!  I can't swim so I had a little anxiety when I first jumped in but other than a few little panic attacks mid-pool I think I did ok for a newbie.  I didn't drown so I call it a win!  I definitely felt the fatigue in my entire body when I was done and I was ravenously hungry.  I'll be adding pool running to my weekly routine for sure!

DANGER!  Clueless runner in the pool! 

Saturday

On Saturday I woke up at 4:30 AM in order to join my friends Sarah and Chantel at 6:00 AM for a 5 hour trail run.  Yup, 5 hours.  In my infinite wisdom I thought it would be the perfect time to break in my brand spanking new Altra Lone Peak 2.0 trail shoes.  It was also going to be the first long run where I was going to be using my Nathan hydration vest.  You know, 'cuz you should always try new things during long runs and races right?!

It was FREEZING cold (that's 30 degrees for us Cali folks) at the start and dipped down to the 20's along the way so I never warmed up which is really unusual for me since I usually run hot.  The air was so cold that it was really rough for me to breathe in so I had my Buff covering my nose and mouth for the first 10 miles or so.  My asthmatic lungs apparently don't like cold air!

I'm usually a road runner so trail running is a relatively new thing for me.  It didn't seem so terrible when it was dark because I couldn't see the hills we were running but once the sun was up (and it was still freakin' cold), it was becoming a huge mental challenge for me to crest each hill just to see another one right in front of us.  Add to that the fatigue on my body and hunger and I was not necessarily the most pleasant runner towards the end of the run.

Oh but the views!  The views made it all worth it.  I literally smiled as I ran while watching the sun come up and seeing the views of the hills and the ocean.  Despite my crankiness in the last few miles, I would do it again in a heartbeat.  I'm pretty sure trail running is going to be my new favorite.

At the start with my bajillion layers

I loved watching the sunrise as we ran

So pretty!

How can you not run happy with this view?

Trail running is my new favorite

Sunday

Rest day

Monday

Easy 2 miles.  I also did meal prep for the first time in preparation for my new clean diet regiment in 2015.  I made:
  • Breakfast: Steal cut oats with a drizzle of honey and blueberries
  • Snacks: Baby carrots with roasted tomato hummus * Turkey, reduced fat swiss cheese and avocado rollups * Greek yogurt with blueberries
  • Lunch: A jalapeƱo turkey pattie with a spinach, mixed greens and kale salad and balsamic vinaigrette
Tuesday

I met up with Thepinkhatrunner and Sarah at 4:45 AM for a 5 mile o'dark thirty run.  It was chilly but no where near as cold as it was on Saturday.  The miles flew by as we chatted along the way.  Before we knew it we were done!  Michele was fighting illness last week so this was her first run since being completely recovered and she rocked it.  After exchanging high fives and hugs all around we made plans for our next run/workout together and went off to conquer the rest of the day.

I wouldn't get my early AM miles in without them

After work, I headed to my local gym for a R.I.P.P.E.D. class.  The instructor introduced the new season's exercises/workouts to the class and man was I all over the place!  I was the epitome of a sweaty hot mess.  After an hour sweat session full of weights, plyometrics, intervals, power and endurance exercises I was definitely exhausted.  I know I'll be feeling it tomorrow!  

So happy it was over!

Double sweat session day for the win!!!

Once I got home I proceeded to pack up the meals I had prepped before heading to R.I.P.P.E.D.  On the menu for tomorrow:
  • Breakfast: Steal cut oats with a drizzle of honey and blueberries (the steel cut oats are currently soaking in almond milk in the fridge)
  • Snacks: Baby carrots with roasted tomato hummus * Honey ham, reduced fat swiss cheese and avocado rollups * Apple cinnamon greek yogurt with steel cut oats * Blueberries
  • Lunch: Ground turkey, red, orange and green bell peppers, red onions, mushrooms and spinach cooked "fajita style" with mexican seasonings and topped on a quinoa, brown rice, chia combo.  I also packed a small spinach, kale and mixed greens salad with cherry tomatoes and a light balsamic vinaigrette just in case I'm still hungry.

I plan to do some pool running in the morning tomorrow, run a 10k on New Year's Day, and get another long trail run in on Saturday so it'll be a pretty active fitness week for me.  I'm feeling pretty good about how things will turn out for 2015!

What are your fitness goals to close out the year?  What do goals/changes do you have for 2015?





Wednesday, December 24, 2014

2014 CIM Musings & 2015 Running Goals

Happy Christmas Eve everyone!  Hope you're all enjoying your time with loved ones.

It took me a little longer than I expected to decompress from what went down at CIM and figure out why it happened but what I wanted to do about it.  I was burnt out not only physically but also mentally and emotionally as well.  For the very first time since I started running I didn't want to run.  I didn't have any desire to get up before the break of dawn to pound the pavement or hit the trails and to be completely honest I didn't miss it.

In retrospect, I should have known this was going to happen.  I ran 22 races in 2013 including 6 full marathons and 2 ultramarathons and paid for it by being completely physically exhausted by the end of the year.  I vowed to give myself a break in 2014 by running fewer races.

I ran fewer races alright!  2014 was the year of the ultramarathon and I ended up running a total of 4 ultras including my very first 100 miler.  To be fair, I had no idea how mentally and emotionally exhausting running ultras would be.  I thought I'd bounce back just as quickly as I did after running marathons.  I know, ridiculous right?!  At the end of the day, I just didn't give myself the down time that I needed to reset and recharge.  How I finished all 12 races I ran this year I have no idea!

I'm going to use a completely different approach for 2015.  Race less, run less and more quality miles will be my mantra.  I have some major goals that I set for myself for 2014 that I didn't come anywhere near reaching and I'm determined to hit those in the coming year.


For those who are interested, here is what I'll be focusing on for 2015:

1) Rediscover my running motivation and pure love of the run.  This is my number one goal for the new year.  I miss being excited to go out and run.  I miss missing it.  So my focus will be rediscovering that love and passion for the sport and finding the motivation to get out and run.

2) Redefine my lifestyle.  This one will be hard.  Ultimately I want to embrace a truly healthy lifestyle.  I may run and workout fairly regularly however my eating patterns are horrendous.  My goal is to embrace a clean, healthy diet supplemented by running and cross training.

3) Run fast. Run far. But run FAST.  Full disclaimer: my fast is not anywhere near what the fast runners would call fast.  I want to run fast for me.  I want those numbers on my Garmin to stay closer to sub-9:00's versus the sub-10:00's that I'm seeing right now.

And those big race goals that I'll be chasing?  Here they are:

Half Marathon PR - the ever elusive sub-2:00. It's gonna happen dang it!

Marathon PR - A Goal: 4:15:xx
                         B Goal: 4:25:xx
                         C Goal: sub-4:30

50 mile PR - Anything faster than 12 hours

There you go!  Bring on the new year.  I'm ready!

See you in 2015!

Monday, December 8, 2014

2014 California International Marathon - Race Recap

I made a promise to myself when I started this little corner of the interwebs that I would always be honest to both myself and my readers.  I wanted to ensure that I shared everything (the good, the bad and the ugly) because let's face it, life isn't perfect.  So get ready for some ugly!

The 2014 California International Marathon was by far one of the worst races I've ever had.  The difference is that unlike all of my other bad races, this time I had no physical issues causing my demise.  This time my biggest problem was my mind.

Race weekend started with the race expo on Saturday.  I showed up at 10: 30 AM to meet-up with a friend and proceeded to stay for a total of 5 hours getting my social butterfly on.  Bad idea!  I had such a great time meeting and catching-up with fellow runners but being on my legs for so long was not smart.  No regrets though.  It was worth it seeing everyone!

Dee!

Charles Wickersham, runner extraordinaire

John Saleem, Newton rep & The Treadmill friend 

The speedy guys 

The Monterey crew

Kim & Jon 

I Run 4 crew


After the expo I met up with my friends Kelly and Najoo and despite trying our best to find a restaurant to accommodate us for an early-ish dinner, we ended up hitting up the local Whole Foods and brought food back to eat in the hotel room.  Dinner in bed was the best decision ever!  Then I took some melatonin to help pass out early and was in deep sleep in no time.

In what seemed like no time my alarm was going off at 4:30 AM on race day.  After a quick change into race gear and grabbing some free breakfast from the hotel lobby (woohoo!) Kelly and I hopped on the shuttle to take us to the race start.  Thankfully the ride was a short one but they did allow you to stay on the buses as long as you wanted which was really nice.  We had plenty of time to hit up the huge row of porta potties.  Thank you CIM for having more than enough bathroom facilities for your runners.  I even got to use a pristine, unused one.  Score!

After my little bathroom break, I went out in search of my friends Kandace, Nichole and Peyton who were running their very first full marathon.  I knew my legs were fatigued from all of the standing and walking around I had done the day before so I was hoping I could run with them for the entire race.  I found them keeping warm at the 7-11 near the start and we eventually meandered over to find our spots at the start line. 

We ended up chatting with the awesome 4:40 pace leader and quickly decided to try to stick with her for as long as possible.  We even ran into Kristina from Live Laugh Love Run who was also going to be running with the 4:40 group.  Can I just tell you that this lady is AMAZING and ended up running a 20 minute PR.  Congrats again Kristina! You are a rockstar!

Anyhoo, in no time at all the race started and off we went right on pace with the 4:40 pace crew.  CIM is a net downhill course that is comprised of gentle rolling hills throughout the duration of 26.2 miles (for those on the east coast I would compare them to the hills you'd experience during the early miles of the Marine Corps Marathon).  For me especially this means a course that's chock full of potential for a PR since I'm a solid uphill runner and the gravity on the downhills helped with banking time.

Although fatigued, my legs felt pretty good and I kept fighting to keep myself from speeding up.  At around mile 6ish I had to hit a porta potty but luckily I was able to catch back up with my friends Kandace, Nichole and Peyton.  We lost the 4:40 pace group but it was ok.  We were still on pace for a 4:50/4:55 finish time.

At mile 8 we found our phenomenal friend Chantel who had driven out to cheer us on.  How awesome is that?!  Then at mile 10 we ran into Peyton's family who were cheering their heads off and proceeded to give all of us high fives and hugs.  There may or may not have been a little twerking action happening (from us, not the spectators). HA!

Unfortunately, it wasn't too long afterwards when the wheels fell off.  At around mile 12.5 I got a horrible side stitch.  Despite my very best attempts I could not get rid of it and at 12.75 I told the girls to keep going while I tried to walk it off and I'd try to catch back up if I could.  That never happened. Even while I was walking the stupid cramp would not go away and it wasn't until around mile 14.5ish that I got it to disappear.  By that point, I was mentally over it.  Going into CIM I knew that I was experiencing burnout.  I had lost my motivation and desire to train and skipped quite a few runs leading up to race day.  What I didn't know was just how burnt out I was!

From then on I literally walked.  Person after person and pace group after pace group passed me and I walked.  None of my usual tricks, games, or mental bribes could get me to start running again.  Even when I'd see running friends run up and pass me, I couldn't and didn't want to run.  That never happens!  I'm a chaser...I love to chase!  And if someone I know is in the vicinity during a race I usually do everything in my power to run with them.  But not this time.  

As I walked I chatted to people near me and did a bit of introspection.  I slogged (that's slow jogged just FYI) maybe a total of 2.5 miles during the second half of the race.  I couldn't even get myself to run the last mile of the race!  I only started running when I was maybe a quarter of a mile from the finish line.  Sad.  Really sad.  


When I saw the timer at the finish line I couldn't help but laugh.  Apparently walking for 10+ miles adds an hour to your marathon time. Who knew?!

Official finish time: 5:37:03

My mind quit on me that day in a way I've never experienced before.  I was completely over the race.  I had thrown in the towel and I didn't even care.  I knew I had done a lot of things wrong which impacted my race performance but I had no physical pains or injuries that were compromising my ability to run.  I was just mentally exhausted but hadn't known to what extent until it hit me halfway through the race.  See, although I "cut back" on the number of races I ran this year due to the physical burnout I had last year (running a minimum of one race a month, sometimes even a race every weekend, tends to do that to you), I actually ran more this year thanks to all of the ultra races and training.  I didn't take into account that the races that I ran were considerably further in distance and much more draining physically and mentally.  So much so, that I had hit complete and total mental burnout.  The truth is my head gave up.  I have no excuses.

Would I ever run CIM again?  Absolutely.  Despite my dismal performance, the course itself was fantastic.  There's magic there as evidenced by all the PR's my friends were posting.  I'll be back to conquer those hills again except next time I'll be bringing my A-game.


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

California International Marathon Traning

I'm alive!  After running the Marine Corps Marathon my ankle was super tight and I had pain when I tried to flex my foot a certain way.  In the spirit of "listening to my body" instead of pushing through and following my training plan despite the fact that I was obviously injured, I decided to go on full rest.  No running, no workouts.  It killed me!  However, it also worked because my ankle now feels 100% better.
 
Since I have the California International Marathon coming up in a few weeks I knew I needed to get back to running ASAP.  CIM was supposed to be my goal race for the year but given the setback due to my ankle injury I've reassessed my expectations for the race.  Instead of gunning for a PR I'm going to see how my body feels on race day and I'll run accordingly.  Whoa...when did I become all mature and realistic? Ha!
 
I gave my ankle a true test run this weekend to see how it would hold up.  My first real run was this past Saturday when I ran the Pacific Grove Lighthouse 5k.  Let me preface this by saying that I hate 5k's.  It normally takes me 3 miles just to warm up so trying to run fast right from the start is uber hard for me.  When I initially signed up for this race I had grand visions of racing it for a brand spanking new PR but obviously that wasn't going to be happening.  I lined up at the starting line and found my friend Cathy and her son Nicklaus who was running his first 5k.  Nicklaus is 6 years old and rocked the race by the way!  I quickly told her my situation and she agreed with my plan to keep it slow at around a 10:00 min/mile pace to test out my ankle, especially since the course consisted of rolling hills. 
 
Once the gun went off and the race started, I stayed with Cathy and Nicklaus for the first half mile thinking that they'd help keep me true to my pacing plan.  Yeah, not so much.  I glanced down at my watch and saw an 8:56 min/mile pace.  Oops!  And despite my best efforts that's pretty much how the entire race went.  I'd glance down at my watch, mutter to myself that I'm going too fast, attempt to slow down and somehow end up speeding up.  I even stopped to take pictures to try to force myself to slow down and I still ended up running faster! Who does that?!  My slow run ended up being a progressive run with my pace dropping down to a 7:33 min/mile towards the end.  The best part was my ankle felt great!  No pain or tightness at all.  And to make it even better, I got to see my friend Jodie cross the finish line!  Jodie is one of my running inspirations and has a heart of gold.  She always inspires me to do more and be better.
 
Mile 1: 9:02 min/mile
Mile 2: 8:56 min/mile
Mile 3: 8:40 min/mile (with a photo stop!)
.1 mile: 7:33 min/mile
Official time: 00:27:38

 
Jodie! Love her

The next day I was scheduled to run my last 20 mile run for CIM.  Spoiler alert: That didn't happen.  I met up with my friend Linda and we decided to run one of the toughest, hilliest courses in the area...Aguajito!  It's a challenging 7+ mile loop that's full of non-stop hills.  You either go up or down or up some more.  There is literally no flat road at all on this route!

It was a nice slow steady pace the whole way and we chatted almost the entire way.  I had forgotten to do my preventative inhaler before hand and didn't bring one with me so I was a little worried but I was pleasantly surprised that my breathing ended up being ok for the whole run.  We made it to the summit of the last major hill and decided to take pictures to celebrate. 'Cuz we're cool like that!

Once we got back to the starting point I had intended to finish up the remainder of the 20 miles but decided I wasn't feeling it (I truly hate solo runs) and instead joined Linda and our other friends Ben, Mariana and Tina for brunch and bottomless mimosas.  Best decision ever! 

I know I'll probably be kicking myself in the butt for not getting the 20 miles in that I was supposed to but I just couldn't bring myself to do it.  I made a promise to myself that I'd get 18-20 miles in this weekend just for peace of mind.  I know it's closer to race day than I'd like which means a shorter taper period but I'd feel better getting it in even though technically I know I'll finish the race just fine without it.  Basically it comes down to my not wanting to feel like death at the finish!

Linda was happy to reach the top


I own my goofiness
 
On a completely different topic, I came home on Monday to find this beautiful surprise in my mailbox.  This running skirt was handmade by my amazingly talented friend Handan.  Isn't it gorgeous?!  Runners really are the best people!
 


 
Have you ever had to deal with an injury during training?  How did you decide to handle it?

Sunday, November 2, 2014

2014 Marine Corps Marathon - Race Recap

The Marine Corps Marathon is one of my absolute favorite races.  I ran it in 2012 and literally had to outrun Hurricane Sandy.  I had such a horrible race both mentally and physically that I vowed to come back again and truly enjoy the course for everything that it has to offer.  I decided that 2014 was the year to make my comeback to a race that a meant so much to me.  Get comfy folks, this is going to be a long one!

My runcation trip to the east coast started with a red eye flight that left San Francisco at midnight on Thursday and got me into Ronald Reagan International Airport at about 10:30 AM.  Holy cow red-eye flights are exhausting!  I had worked the entire day on Wednesday so I was functioning on maybe 3 hours of sleep by the time I touched down in D.C.  I was picked up by two of my favorite sole sisters Michele (a.k.a. thepinkhatrunner) and Betsy.  My friends know me well and the first thing that we did was head into Georgetown to feed my belly!  The restaurant that we wanted to try out wasn't open yet so we spent time strolling through Georgetown and checking out the various stores, including a mandatory stop at Georgetown Cupcakes.

Love my sole sisters!

After a delicious lunch accompanied by equally delicious beer, we headed back to Betsy's home so that I could unpack and settle in.  We sat and chat and caught up on all of our respective life events and it was just like no time had passed since our last runcation together.  Once Betsy's kids got home from school we headed out to a local Mexican restaurant for some dinner.  Afterwards, we headed back home and basically called it a night.  I needed some major zzz's!

The next day we got up bright and early to head to the D.C. Armory for the Marine Corps Marathon Expo.  It's quite an experience to be pick up race bibs from Marines and have them lined up and down the expo giving us our shirts and free race goodies.  Despite the fact that I swore up and down that I wasn't going to buy more than one race item, I ended up leaving with a bag full of MCM gear.  How did that even happen?!

 Marine Corps Marathon Expo

While we were at the expo we were fortunate enough to run into several members of the Red Felt Running Club.  The RFRC is an amazing running club that I found when I first signed up to run the Marine Corps Marathon in 2012.  Although originally founded and formed by runners on the east coast, the club is now comprised of members all over the United States and throughout the world.  I cannot speak enough about how phenomenally inspiring, motivating and encouraging this group of runners is.  They embrace everyone with open arms from walkers to first time runners to experienced ultra runners.  Although the main race for the group is MCM, members run races all over the world and the group offers encouragement and support for every race.  If you're looking for a running group please consider the RFRC!

Some of the RFRC crew

Bib in hand and ready to go!

After our expo shenanigans, Michele headed out to meet her friends for dinner and Betsy and I headed over to her children's school.  Betsy is an AH-MAZING mom and happens to be one of the two parent mentors for the school's Odyssey of the Mind group.  You guys, kids are freakin' hilarious!  Their answers to the questions and problems presented to them cracked me up to no end.  I really wish here was a way for me to look into their little heads and watch their brains work 'cuz the things they said were seriously too funny!  I was thoroughly entertained.

Once the Odyssey of the Mind group finished their meeting/practice session, we all headed back to Betsy's house where we picked up her parents (who happened to be visiting from Oregon) and we all went out to dinner.  I really cannot thank Betsy enough for not only opening up her home to me but also sharing her time with her family.  I've pretty much adopted them!  After dinner we picked up Michele from the metro and headed back home to call it a night.

Saturday morning we woke up to meet RFRC at the National Mall for a shake-out run.  Since everyone in the group is spread out throughout the country (with the vast majority located on the east coast) I really try to spend as much time with them as I can during races.  It was like a huge family reunion with big hugs being exchanged all around.  Even those we were meeting for the first time got hugs because that's just how RFRC rolls!  The run was a short 3 miles and I'm sure we were quite a sight as we ran, especially with Darling taking the lead with our famous RFRC flag.  It was so much fun!

 I seriously love these faces!

Running it out 

Group pic during the run's halfway point

Once our group run was done everyone scattered to their respective next destinations so Michele and I grabbed a quick bite to eat before heading over to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.  Every time I'm in D.C. I have to stop by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.  Always.  My dad is retired Army and a Vietnam veteran so in his honor I always have to pay my respects to those who never made it home.  It could so easily be his name on that wall.

Never forgotten

Once I paid my respects, we started our walk back to the metro station and hit some of the major landmarks along the way including the Washington Monument and World War II Memorial.  We grabbed the metro, headed back to Betsy's house then all three of us proceeded to our hotel.  We dropped off our stuff in our hotel room then went to grab an early dinner.  After dinner we drove straight back to our hotel for an early night.  We had a 4:00 AM wake-up call in the morning!

Cali in da house!

The alarm went off way too soon and we went through our pre-race rituals before meeting our RFRC contingent in the hotel lobby.  Man, do I wish I had a group picture of us in the hotel lobby.  Our group had taken over and boy what a boisterous group we were!  The energy and excitement was palpable.  We all meandered over to the metro stop together and took the metro to the marathon start between the Pentagon and Arlington Cemetery.  It's humbling to start a race guarded on one side by those who are actively protecting our country and guarded on the other by our fallen heroes.

Ready to run

Of course, the RFRC passed the time before the race start in true form with lots of laughter, silliness and genuine camaraderie.  I had such a good time chatting with everyone that the time passed by quickly despite the fact that it was quite chilly.

The ladies before heading to the start line

RFRC family

Soon it was time to start walking towards the start line.  We all huddled together as the sun rose and the air around us started to warm up.  We got treated to one of the most spectacular race starts that I have ever seen with three skydiving teams jumping down to the start area, each with a large U.S. flag held out for everyone to see, including U.S. Marine and Medal of Honor recipient Cpl. William Kyle Carpenter, decorated Vietnam veteran Ret. Marine Col. John Bates and Ret. Army 1st Class Dana Bowman (a former member of the U.S. Army's elite parachute team, the Golden Knights, and a double amputee).  There was not one person who was not emotionally touched and affected by that sight.  Following that was the annual flyover start by two Marine Osprey MV-22B signaling the official start of the hand cycle and wheelchair athletes.  

As with most large races, the race start was really congested and I had a rough time getting a consistent pace going for the first 2-3 miles.  Once I got past the first three miles, my legs were warm and loosened up and I settled into a (way too fast) pace.  The first half of the Marine Corps Marathon is considered the hardest part of the race as it's comprised of a lot of small rolling hills which is exactly my cup of tea!  I was having the time of my life taking in all of the excitement and energy of my fellow runners, enjoying the gorgeous weather and views along the way, and thanking the Marines who were out there supporting us (every race should have hot guys in uniforms at their aid stations, amirite ladies?!).  I was having so much fun that I had a really hard time reeling my pace in and got a bit anxious when I started seeing sub-10:00 min/miles flash on my watch.  This was supposed to be my fun race...WTH was I doing "racing"?!  By the time I hit the blue mile I could feel the fatigue starting to set in and I made a conscious decision to stop and truly enjoy the experience.  So I stopped and walked through the blue mile and truly gave it the respect and reverence it deserved.  I took pics, touched each and every photo of our fallen heroes thanking them for their service and sacrifice, and high fived every family member and friend who was out there supporting the runners.  It was hard not to get choked up and I was so glad that I decided to stop and fully experience it.

Hits me right in the feels

Blue Mile

I may or may not have cried a little

After that, I party paced it while taking photos along the way.  Eventually (I think it was around mile 14 or 15) I ran into some of the RFRC ladies and decided to join their group for the rest of the run.  Best race decision ever!  They were doing 4-1 intervals which suited me just fine and having a heck of a fun time.  Lots of photos, lots of high fives and hugs along the way and lots of laughter. 

Love these ladies!

Why hello there!

Group pic on the course

Everyone was in great spirits and all we could talk about was getting to Mile 20.  See, every year RFRC has our own "aid station" around mile 20 on the MCM course where they have anything and everything that a runner could possibly need at that point in time.  They were stocked with cookies, chips, soda, gatorade, candy, water and even some fireball whiskey!  All we wanted to do was get to the Mile 20 party!  

Before we knew it, we hit mile 20 and turned the corner to hear a ridiculously loud RFRC cheer squad greeting us!  In 2012 I was in such a bad place mentally that I completely ran by the mile 20 crew.  Not this year!  This year I jumped right in for hugs and partook in the best tasting chips and Diet Dr Pepper of my life!  Then we proceeded to have a dance party and twerking session.  NBD.  Totally normal.

RFRC Mile 20 support crew

Freakin' love these weirdos

Dance party at Mile 20

Twerk it out

Unfortunately, the party had to end and we had to go on to "Beat the Bridge" so that we didn't get swept up by the sweeper bus.  The remaining 6 miles were a bit of a blur.  Almost everyone was struggling a bit at some point, whether mentally or physically, and we were all just supporting each other to get it done.  What I do remember is that once we hit the base of the .2 mile hill that took us up to the finish line, we all took off running as fast as our legs & feet could take us.  Marie, Maria and I joined hands before the finish line and crossed it together with Tonya and Nasra not too far behind us.  We did it!  We were MCM finishers!  The best part was that we got our medals from active duty Marines who thanked US for being there.  It didn't seem quite right so I made sure to thank each and every one of them for their service.

Thank you sir for your service!

We meandered over to the beer tent and somehow made our way through without standing in line (hooray for super secret back entrances) and found some more of our RFRC friends.  It was so good to see everyone and hear each of them tell their race story.

Beer party!

Happy runners

Once I found my roomies Betsy and Michele we walked back to the hotel to freshen up before heading out for the traditional RFRC after party.  These guys know how to throw a good party!  I was laughing so hard that my stomach hurt.  I'm claiming that as my ab workout for that day.  Seriously though, I absolutely LOVE RFRC (have I mentioned that yet? 'Cuz I do).  They are some of the most sincerely kind, generous, big hearted people that I have ever met and every single one of them is truly inspiring. 

RFRC after party

Train hard, race hard, party even harder!

I had the time of my life at the Marine Corps Marathon this year.  I have no regrets at all and I am so glad I opted to stop, slow down and really enjoy the race.  It truly is an amazing experience and a race that every runner should run at least once in their lifetime.  I know I'll be back again!

See ya again MCM! Thanks for the memories.